Verse 20: How then, can there be conscious choice?

tasmāt-tat-saṃyogāt-acetanaṃ cetanāvat-iva liṅgam |
guṇa-kartṛtve-api tathā karteva bhavati-udāsīnaḥ ||

saṃyoga – conjunction

acetana – that which is without consciousness
cetanā – consciousness
iva – as if

guṇa – attribute of nature
kartṛtva – having agency
karta – that which is separate
iva – as if
udāsīna – that which is indifferent
bhava – produces

Conscious choice is an illusion that arises from a co-presence of Spirit and Nature.

  1. How can there be conscious choice if:
    1. Spirit (Purusa) is inactive and can only witness.
    2. and activity resides in Nature (Prakrti) through the three Gunas
    3. and the three Gunas are not sentient.
  2. There is a co-presence of Spirit and Nature.
  3. This co-presence looks like a union but it isn’t – it is a kind of shared resonance due to proximity that causes attributed to mingle.
  4. This kind of co-presence and mingling of attributes is common in nature:
    1. If I place an iron ball in a fire the iron takes on the qualities of heat and light from the fire. The iron ball appears like (but is not) a ball of fire.
    2. If I place a cold water in a jar the jar feels cold, if I place warm water in a jar the jar feels warm.
    3. If I walk around with a group of thieves (even though I myself am not a thief) others may think that I too am a thief.
  5. The co-presence of spirit and nature functions in a similar way and creates a unified effect.
  6. The effect of this union creates an impression that Spirit (Purusa) can act and that Nature (Prakrti) is conscious.
  7. However, both of these are illusions.
  8. Nature acts but is not conscious and Spirit is conscious but cannot act.

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