06.08 – What does seeing stone and gold equally mean?
The Bhagavad-gita (6.8) recommends puzzlingly that we see stone and gold equally. Let’s unravel this puzzle at three progressive levels:
1. Detached material level:
Gita wisdom indicates that the value of material objects is relative. For example, Cricket is deemed valuable by Indians, but not by Americans; baseball is deemed valuable by Americans, but not by Indians. Fashions offer another graphic example. If a dress is dubbed fashionable, its value skyrockets. If it is dubbed unfashionable, its value nosedives.
This relativity extends to everything material – even paper currency, which many people consider objectively valuable. If economic upheavals impel currency devaluation, the notes remain, but their noteworthiness diminishes or even vanishes – as happened infamously in Zimbabwe a few years ago.
If we can unemotionally extend such penetrating material analysis to stone and gold, we can see the relativity of the value-tags assigned to them – and thereby see both equally.
2. Detached spiritual level:
Gita wisdom gives us knowledge of our identity as indestructible non-material souls. This knowledge helps us recognize that we spiritual beings can never get any happiness from anything material and so can equally disregard everything material – both stone and gold.
3. Engaged Devotional level:
Gita wisdom soars higher than the previous detached intellectual (jnani) level to the engaged devotional (bhakti) level. At this pinnacle, we value material things from Krishna’s perspective, based on whether they can be utilized in his service and whether they can bring us closer to him. Consequently, devotees may accept stone as if it were gold if it can be used to construct a temple for Krishna and may reject gold as if it were stone if it allures them away from Krishna.
This Krishna-centered equality of vision is the zenith of all spiritual realization.