You know I was hesitant to start with this particular cycle of our study. One cycle we have finished, the second cycle we have just started. But I have still a great hesitation in starting this cycle because this cycle of our study is to some extent intellectual. The intellectuality that is involved in these four chapters – nine, ten, eleven, twelve is of the highest order and therefore we have to make a very special effort. And in that effort sometimes, the greenery of spiritual pursuit may seem to be missing because to some extent you might say that the world of intellectual thought is dry, it is colorless, it is abstract. You shift yourself from concreteness to abstraction. So first of all, I take your consent to enter into this field and if you feel dryness or abstraction, you feel that it is a part of the process through which we have to cross in order that in due course we again regain the greenness and concreteness and the joy of the spiritual experience.
So, let me start with the few intellectual exercises, which will be helpful to us to understand some of the difficult portions of these chapters, nine, ten, eleven and twelve. The first intellectual exercise starts by contemplation on a statement which I will start, − ‘Nothing exists’; this is the first statement that I am making. Nothing exists, and then you contemplate on this statement and you will find that you understand nothing. I will not take you through the understanding of it because it is not understandable. The statement ‘Nothing exists’ cannot be understood. When you find time later on, you again contemplate on this statement ‘Nothing exists’ and you may find some kind of paradox in the statement. Word “Nothing’ and ‘Existence’ these are the two words and the two words seem to be opposite to each other. The last word ‘exists’ makes a statement which is affirmative the first part of the statement is negative. The last statement is, exists, so if somebody asks the question, what is it that exists? The answer is − nothing. What does it mean, what is it that exists? Your answer is − nothing. We should actually expect an answer that something exists. The word existence implies a positive presence of something. But when you are told nothing exists, you really cannot really understand this statement. If somebody who has to say, − this exists, you can understand it but if you say nothing exists, the two words are sounding near each other but actually you do not make out, what is said exactly.
There is very beautiful sentence in Bhagavad Gita – nasato vidhyate bhavo na bhavo vidhyate satah. This is one of the most important statements in the Bhagavad Gita. There are many important ones but this is one of the most important. That which does not exist, can never exist, that which exists, can never become non-existence that is the meaning of this statement. ‘nasato vidhyate bhavo na bhavo vidhyate satah’, satah means of the existent, abhava is never possible that which exists, can never cease to be. If it really exists, it exists. The abhava of sat is not possible. Asata abhava, the existence of asat can never be. nasato vidhyate bhavo – vidhyate, means exist; bhava means being. The non-being can have no being and that which has being of that there can be no non-being. This is a very simple statement. Therefore, when you say nothing exists, it is to be studied in the light of this great statement of the Bhagavad Gita. It is one of the most metaphysically important propositions.
Now from this we can derive very important consequence. This statement is an intellectual statement in which intellect tries to understand because the function of intellect is to attempt to understand. And when it tries to understand, it has only one method of understanding, namely, the method of conception. In spirituality the method of understanding is experience. The method of senses is to have sense touch with something. The method of vital being is that of expansion, interaction, pulsation, growth and development. But the mental being whenever it exercises itself, its method is of conception; its only tool that intellect has is that of conception. The intellect itself consists of conceptions. If you ask the question what is the intellect? Normally we do not see intellect, we can see the body, we can feel the vital emotions but as far as the intellect is concerned, it is so subtle that if you try to see, where it is, what it is. It is nothing but a conglomeration of certain ideas. There are certain ideas which are collected together; you might say that is intellect. An image of this is for example, if there is a honeycomb − so many bees are all clustered on the honeycomb, but even that the honeycomb itself has some structure on which all the bees are hanging, but in this case you imagine only the bees put together. Similarly, there are certain ideas which are all clinging to each other. There are inter-relationships among those ideas and by those inter-relationships they are all hung together. So intellect is nothing but a few ideas which are hanging together but all these ideas have one thing common, namely, that these ideas are never empty. Therefore, if you put no content, nothing in the concept, it’s not a concept. Every concept has a content and that content has one basic element in it by means of which it exists, is the concept of the being. The word ‘existence’ is the very important word. The only thing that concept can conceive is existence. ‘Nothing exists’ cannot be conceived. Just now we have seen that exercise. What can be conceived is existence, so you might say that existence is the very breath of a concept. All concepts refer to existence; you take any ideas they always refer to existence.
Of course, you can say that Sarita is not in this room but if at all you have concept of Sarita, it could not arise unless Sarita exists somewhere. The concept of Sarita refers to existence of Sarita, somewhere. The concept of something that does not exist anywhere at all, for the sake of fun you can use the word but really speaking when you ask the question what does it mean, it does not mean anything at all. All meaning is a meaning pertaining to existence and concept is nothing but a content of meaning. A concept is an abstraction; concept is an idea which refers to existence. It could be anything, any kind of existence, but there must be a reference to existence.