What Is Real Never Ceases

The Bhagavad Gita

Passages for Meditation

The Self dwells in the house of the body,
Which passes through childhood, youth, and old age.
So passes the Self at the time of death
Into another body. The wise know this truth
And are not deceived by it.

When the senses come in contact with sense-objects
They give rise to feelings of heat and cold,
Pleasure and pain, which come and go.
Accept them calmly, as do the wise.

The wise, who live free from pleasure and pain,
Are worthy of immortality.

What is real never ceases to be.
The unreal never is. The sages
Who realize the Self know the secret
Of what is and what is not.

Know that the Self, the ground of existence,
Can never be destroyed or diminished.
For the changeless cannot be changed.

Bodies die, not the Self that dwells therein.
Know the Self to be beyond change and death.
Therefore strive to realize this Self.

Those who look upon the Self as slayer
Or as slain have not realized the Self.
How can the Self be killed or kill
When there is only One?

Never was the Self born; never shall it
Cease to be. Without beginning or end,
Free from birth, free from death, and free from time,
How can the Self die when the body dies?

Who knows the Self to be birthless, deathless,
Not subject to the tyranny of time,
How can the Self slay or cause to be slain?

Even as we cast off worn-out garments
And put on new ones, so casts off the Self
A worn-out body and enters into
Another that is new.

Not pierced by arrows nor burnt by fire,
Affected by neither water nor wind,
The Self is not a physical creature.

Not wounded, not burnt, not wetted, not dried,
The Self is ever and everywhere,
Immovable and everlasting.

The Self cannot be known by the senses,
Nor thought by the mind, nor caught by time.
If you know this, you will not grieve.

Even if you mistake the Self to be
Subject to birth and death, you must not grieve.
For death is certain for those who are born,
As rebirth is certain for those who die.
Why grieve over what cannot be avoided?

We perceive creatures only after birth,
And after they die we perceive them not.
They are manifest only between birth
And death. In this there is no cause for grief.

Some there are who have realized the Self
In all its wonder. Others can speak of it
As wonderful. But there are many
Who don’t understand even when they hear.

Deathless is the Self in every creature.
Know this truth, and leave all sorrow behind.

The Bhagavad Gita (“Song of the Lord”) is India’s best-known scripture. This passage has been translated by Easwaran for meditation and is published in his spiritual anthologies, “God Makes the Rivers to Flow” and “Timeless Wisdom.” The audio recording is by Eknath Easwaran’s wife, Christine Easwaran.