“One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.18)
“Please read the top line for me. Okay, now read the line below it. Close your left eye and read this line. Now close only your right eye. Alright, you are good to go.”
An eye examination may be conducted in this manner, necessary for prescribing glasses or allowing a person to operate a motor vehicle. If you can see things at a certain distance, make out which characters of the alphabet are showing, then you have a certain level of vision.
Perfect vision equates to perfect identification. From the Vedas we get different symptoms that give proof of flawless vision. Such a person actually sees, though their vision as measured on an examination may not be perfect.
1. Sees action in inaction
The Sanskrit words are karma and akarma. The first means “work” or “action” and the second is simply a negation of the first. Karma appears in many important discussions of the spiritual variety, even though at the root definition the word pertains specifically to the material world.
Material means a place where the living being is conditioned. Take a naked person and put clothes on them. The clothes don’t stay on forever. They can be swapped multiple times in a single day. The clothes don’t permanently identify the person.
In the material world the essence of identity is the spirit soul. This is the individual. When we speak of a person, we inherently reference this spark of spirit, which rests within a covering composed of material elements, gross and subtle.
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego - altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)
Karma is action that leads to future development of the body. It has no bearing on the soul other than where it continues to reside. The person who actually sees understands that there could be action in inaction.
For instance, I could be sitting around doing nothing one particular day. This is inaction, or akarma. But actually there is future development of the body occurring. There are future consequences, as well. If I had to be at work and didn’t show up, there is a negative reaction to my inaction. If I am staying away from eating food that is bad for my health, the inaction brings a positive result. In either case there is still future development.
2. Sees inaction in action
This is a little more tricky to understand. You are actively engaged in something. You are working, but there is no attachment. It is something like driving the car to work, but not paying attention to the turns. The subconscious takes care of everything. You are thus not entangled by the specific stopping, starting and turning.
In the spiritual sense inaction in action is doing work, but ceasing future development of the body. No more rebirth through the actions you take. The best example in this regard is the famous bow-warrior Arjuna. He was engaged in a ghastly war, fighting for the side defending righteousness. Since he was following both dharma and bhakti, his karma, or action, was actually inaction. Since he followed prescribed duties, he was not becoming further entangled in a network of desires.
3. Sees the spirit soul in all creatures
The spirit-body paradigm is there in everything that lives. This includes both the moving and the nonmoving. The tree is just as much a spirit soul on the inside as a human being. The person with perfect vision is able to see this. They understand that killing an innocent cow is the same as killing a dog; the spirit soul is forcibly separated from the body, prematurely.
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)
Seeing the spirit soul in all creatures is the equivalent of the spiritual vision. It is an extended version of the manmade concept of equality. Don’t judge a person by their skin color, gender, or ethnicity. The person who actually sees extends this concept out to the furthest extent possible. Not that you should treat the tiger the same as you would an infant human, but know that the same kind of spirit is inside of both. They are both living beings going through the cycle of birth and death in the material world.
4. Sees time in all three periods
This is a unique ability of the saintly person. They see inaction in action, action in inaction, and the spirit soul inside of every living thing. Since they know the nature of karma and its influence, such a person can also see kala, or time, in all three periods.
Past: Though the spirit soul looks a certain way right now, in the past they did not. Going far back, there were the previous lives. A white person may have been black in a previous life. The American was perhaps Indian a few lifetimes ago. Going back more recently, the same person might have had a different appearance yesterday, prior to getting their haircut.
Present: This is how the individual is manifest at the current time. Since time continues to operate, the vision will not remain; it is not static. Eventually things will change. That is the way of the world.
Future: The saintly person understands that the afterlife will arrive. It is not a fairytale. The present is the afterlife from a previous time. Though you may be suffering right now, eventually the future will come. Though things look good today, the guaranteed end to this life is death. After that the spirit soul will continue to live on.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
5. Sees the influence of Krishna everywhere
The vision of the spirit soul inside of every creature can be viewed as an abstract or collective. It is like a singular energy pervading all of known space. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna refers to this as seeing an undivided energy within the divided.
“That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all existences, undivided in the divided, is knowledge in the mode of goodness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.20)
All energies, both spiritual and material, come from Him. Thus the saintly person also sees Krishna everywhere. He is never lost to them, nor are they lost to Him. This is the highest vision a person can have. If they see God wherever they turn, in His all-attractive form, then they don’t even require physical eyes. They have come to an understanding that so many yogis have aspired for, spanning many lifetimes.
The five-year old prince named Prahlada had this vision. He saw Krishna everywhere and in everything, and so he couldn’t help but practice devotional service, bhakti-yoga. Prahlada tried to pass this vision on to the father, Hiranyakashipu. But the king refused to acknowledge the existence of God, and in the end he received a painful lesson on how the Supreme Lord can exist even within an inanimate object like a pillar.
Can be consequences with inaction,
And detachment even through action.
Spirit soul inside of me,
In all beings, even the tree.
Time existing in periods three,
Each one of them wise can see.
Most important in everywhere the hand,
True vision when Divine to understand.