Deepening within us, why do it?

Exploration and knowledge of ourselves

What does the reader think about his world, about the world he is living in? Of course, there is a close world, the environment of the person, and there is a global world, that which we usually only hear about, perhaps through the news. Perhaps the reader of these lines is a well-to-do person, without serious problems, who looks at the great world problems by distancing himself, or perhaps on the contrary is an activist for human rights, or for world peace. Even the reader may not be enjoying a pleasant nearby environment. We have all the possibilities.

This blog, like many others, is dedicated to disseminating and sharing a certain type of knowledge related to the inner space of the person; In modern advanced societies we tend to be totally turned outside of ourselves, and our inner space is quite forgotten, and therefore these writings are predestined to have almost no audience. Indeed, observing the whole range of possible readers, we can perceive that there are many people who, so to speak, seem to have a well-organized life and a “well-furnished head”, that is, a highly organized mind, and with coherence of ideas. and contents; strongly intellectualized people, natural product of our model of society and education, who have accepted, who have internalized ideologies and a philosophy of life that are useful for navigating through existence.

These people do not seem to suffer for them or for the misfortunes of others, the torrent of bad news that we see daily in the media does not affect them at all; it is not necessarily that they are not empathic, nor that they are indifferent to the suffering of others, which can also be, it is rather that they are “vaccinated” against all kinds of doubts or emotional discomfort, they take a pragmatic, necessarily distant position. Hardly this type of people will read any of the articles of this blog or others of the same style, as much will not pass the owner and the first paragraph, why would they be interested? They will see it simply as a waste of time. Their interior works like a clock, it does not bother them at all, they do not need or want to access it.

Motivation

If we put it this way, in terms of utility, who can be useful to investigate the issue of interior life? Leaving aside the application of attention-mindfulness techniques to increase productivity, which in fact serves only a particular aspect of our interior facets, attention, but only to remain focused on the outside, on the productive, we have the people who they are not fully satisfied with what they see on that exterior, with what they themselves and / or others live. There may be a concern, a desire to know more about the why of things, beyond the descriptions given by science, very detailed, very technical, but superficial in the sense of not answering the question of … why it is so?, or may feel no longer a concern, but a true restlessness, an inability to accept things as they occur, as they seem to be.

Depending on the degree of concern, because in people, as diverse as we are, we find the whole range of concerns to any topic, from total indifference to absolute dedication and even obsession, depending on that degree, the person can be a simple reader with some curiosity, or it can be someone who gets involved and practices Yoga, Qigong, meditation, etc, and this in varying degrees, from sporadic practices seeking a well-being to making practice a way of life. It is this restlessness that motivates the person to submerge in herself, in an unknown inner space, since it has not been explored previously, on the contrary, it has been rather ignored. And when exploring it, it may be that things move, that preconceived ideas fall, ideas about the world and about the person, about their self-image, their own concept of themselves. It is an exploration of unknown terrain that can change you at the root, and the unknown and deep changes always scare, therefore, to explore in depth one’s interior spaces requires courage and determination, demand constancy and a good motivation to move forward.

Deep, strong motivation

Most people interested in cultivating themselves stay on the surface, like those children we see on the beaches who dive into the shallow water with a tube to breathe, and they watch the bottom, only one meter deep. If they entered the sea, they would see that there, below the surface, there is an immense world to discover, not without dangers, of an incredible depth and depth. But to explore it requires a good team and a training, and of course, a strong motivation. This simile of underwater exploration shows us another important aspect of the exploration of ourselves: when we immerse deeply within, what we find is not only our inner space, but the inner space, as well in general; it stops being a local exploration, close, to become global, universal: the deep mind is identical in all people, what differentiates us is the superficial. At great depth, there is unity. Therefore, our own individuality is blurred, we are inseparable part of a whole. For explore at that level of depth, without fear of what you will find, without fear of personal, radical transformation that will happen to you, what kind of motivation is needed? Few people come to venture so far.

Because many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:14

I think that no one will be able to go deep until they lose themselves simply because of a basically selfish motivation, such as being well, increasing one’s well-being, or satisfying a personal desire for knowledge. If your motivation is to do yourself a favor, in any of the many ways to do it, when you reach such a deep level that the “yourself” begins to fade, at that level you will stop, then, what’s the point? continue to the point that the subject seeking his satisfaction disappears as such subject? That will be an insurmountable barrier that will prevent further deepening, because that level implies the disappearance of the subject that wants to know.

So who will be able to continue deepening even assuming the fact that he will lose himself? The only motivation powerful enough to overcome that wall that represents your own dissolution is love, not love focused on yourself, but Love with a capital letter. It is that Love that, according to legend, led the Buddha to abandon his luxurious environment to seek enlightenment, because he was unable to assimilate, to accept, the suffering of others, to see them in misery, in sickness, old age and death, could not continue living as before after knowing it. This non-acceptance of suffering in general, not of one’s own suffering, but of suffering itself, is an expression of impersonal, general Love, and provides the necessary strength to deepen the internal, hidden reality, and reveal it, even at the risk of ceasing to be what you thought you were: the psychological “ego”.

It is a radical nonconformity, the person is unable to accept so much suffering from others; it is to have a connection with everything, together with a wanting to know why. When you have that combination, and you also have a high degree, is when the person forgets himself, his burning desire to know and do something about suffering have the power for to take us to the depths of the Self, and there, at last you will know, and you will understand the why of everything.

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Meditation and contemplation of the ultimate subject

In mental silence, I closely observe my surroundings.
I see no separation, but union, continuity, of all that surrounds me.
Even my own body is also part of the environment, it is one with it.
And my emotions are integrated with my body, so also part of the environment.
And my thoughts come from my brain, part of the body, so also part of the environment.
There is only one reality that embraces everything. Even myself. All.
This perception is called non-dual perception.

In that state you can not feel loneliness. How could you feel it?
Is impossible, because you feel one with everything.

Then I deepen my attention.
I bring it to the bottom of my mind, a calm mind, without thoughts, but awake, watching
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Then I deepen my attention.
I bring it to the bottom of my mind, that now is a very calm mind, without thoughts, but awake, watching.
And then, I perceive a presence, tenuous, but clearly.
This presence is called the ultimate subject, or the deep self, or the higher self.
It is distinct from the psychological self, for it is only detected in the absence of thoughts.

Only such ultimate subject, the one who observes, feels separated from the observed.
But that subject is nothing in particular.
It is not body, it is not emotions, it is not thoughts. Is nothing.
All this stuff is external to the ultimate subject.
And yet, the subject is someone. It feels as someone, but without any attribute.

Focusing the attention to that subject, with the mind in deep calm, I experience a presence, and a peace. I experience a sort of absolute stability. The ultimate subject is beyond all phenomenal experience, it feels unalterable.

When the mind, in deep contemplation of the ultimate subject, clearly feels the subject, we are in the state called realization of self, or self-realization. It is also called centering, because attention is placed in the center of the field of consciousness, in the subject who experiences the field.

From the center of the field of consciousness the mind is in a state of equanimity, peaceful, and I experiencing peace and bliss.
There are no problems to solve. There is a watch on life, the flow of life, a non-dual life that embraces all. There is acceptance of reality as it is. Such state is named mindfulness state.

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What is “realization”? Types of realization. Meditation for realization.

Meditation is an activity that allows us to train the mind to see the world and ourselves with another perspective. It can be used for practical purposes, such as better sleeping or more efficient, and also to realize aspects of existence that are not obvious, but real. This realization of the non-obvious, the subtle, is what is meant by “realization.”


There are several types of realization, depending on which aspect of reality we focus our mind. Next we see a script of meditation that takes us to the different realizations (the realization of several subtle aspects). We can not pretend to get all the realizations in a few minutes, of course, this script just wants to show a possible way, and by the way defines what each type of realization means. Each person has a tendency to develop some specific aspect, but in fact we can, and it is convenient to do so, to work with all aspects. At first all we can hope to feel is an intuition of truth, something that resonates to us as real, but still distant; with practice, is seen more and more clearly, the mind is opening to new ways of seeing, to subtle knowledge, until finally the knowledge is “fully” realized.

Meditation on the realizations

  •  When the ego is active, love can only express itself as “I want.”
    I love you  because you make me feel good” is what the ego expresses.
    And if you stop being pleasant for that person, you fail their ego, you lose your utility for him. Then that ego says, “I do not love you anymore,” even saying “I hate you because you have failed me.”
  • When the ego is inactive, love shines on its own.
  • Love without ego is constant, demands nothing, does not seek to be useful.
  • If you remain calm with the ego inactive, and watch closely, you will feel your own love, shining in you.
  • The moment the ego reactivates itself, it loses that wonderful sensation, because the ego is incapable of realizing it, he is always waiting to get everything through something or someone, it never gives anything of itself.
  • If you immerse yourself in that feeling of inner love, you will see that it expands, which seems to encompass everything.
  • You will look around and everything will look bright, beautiful, because beauty and love both belong to the same plane, are aspects of the same thing.
  • This state is called the realization of love.

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  • When the ego is inactive, the mind becomes calm, ceases to seek, it relaxes.
  • If in that state you look attentively you feel the peace of a calm mind.
  • If you look more deeply, you perceive that someone is observing that peace, someone subtle, is not the ego, is not a thought, nor is it material, seems to be nothing, it is purely conscious presence.
  • This state is called the realization of your deep being, or realization of the Self in you, or simply, self-realization.

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  • Keeping the ego inactive, with the mind in deep calm, watch your surroundings closely.
  • You will feel one with everything. The separation between you and the world is a thing of the ego. It is relative, and ultimately false.
  • By observing both the world and yourself, with the relaxed mind, your consciousness is simultaneously containing your environment and yourself, your body, your emotions, your mind, everything is in your consciousness, forming a unity.
  • This state is called realization of non-duality.

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  • Meditating on the functioning of your body, a very complex biological machine, with innumerable cells, living beings cooperating with each other to keep you alive, we see the diversity of life creating an unity of life, you.
  • Breathing, feeling life in you, looking at the life around you, with the calm mind, you feel that all life is one, you are a focus in an ocean of life.
  • This state is called the realization of the unity of life.

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  • Looking, with the calm mind, how the world works out there, so complex, how everything seems to work alone, with mathematical exactitude, governed by natural laws, the whole cosmos functions like a precision clock, you feel there is an intelligence there, subtle, immense, that is in everything.
  • That same intelligence keeps you alive, second to second.
  • Your own personal mind is part of that intelligence,  it is an individual focus of that cosmic intelligence.
  • This state is called the realization of the unity of mind, or realization of the Universal Mind, “the Universe is a creation of the Mind.”

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  • Observing from the relaxed, open, centered mind, the Love that expands and is in everything, the unity of Life, the unity of the Mind, the non-duality of Consciousness, and your very profound being, encompassing all these aspects of reality with your consciousness, you experience a state of total oneness with Love, with Life, with Existence and with Mind.
  • This state is called the realization of the Self.

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Realization of the subtle, deep subject

There are a strong influence of Buddhist thought in the West, especially about Mindfulness, but there is also some acceptance of non-dualist currents based on Vedanta. Both Buddhism and Vedanta dilute the concept of individual, considering that ultimately there is only a luminous mind without content, a vacuum full of potentiality, or there is only consciousness, respectively. These are the two predominant Oriental tendencies in spiritual, non-religious thought, which is now more heavily weighted in the West. This is probably due to the intellectual rejection that has occurred with respect to traditional religions as an effect, since in this vision, ultimately, there is no personal subject, therefore there can be no God, no soul at all.

Yet, knowing that it is swimming against the current, I must defend here the real existence of a personal subject, more subtle than the psychological personality. And I’m doing it not following beliefs, but for personal experiences, supported by readings of diverse texts, many of them also oriental, in the line of Yoga.

I think evolution tends precisely to engender subjects, or individualities, more and more subtle. Thus, since the original explosion of the “Big Bang” that created the Universe, it went from a kind of “cosmic soup” of undifferentiated radiation, where time and space did not yet have a meaning, to the current complicated aspect, with galaxies , Stars, solar systems and planets, all defined physical entities, individual. After life was created from inanimate matter, undifferentiated, we have another step towards a more defined individuality: each living being is. Later in the history of evolution consciousness appears, when the living being acquires a nervous system sufficiently evolved for it. Consciousness allows the living being to be a subject that observes the exterior, separates it from the environment on a more subtle level, not only has a differentiated physical form, but also has a very simple cognition that separates it more subtly from the environment.

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Evolution of life. From Wikipedia.

But that being does not yet “know” that he is somebody. As the nervous system evolves, the individual mind appears, with an enormous power of separation: the living being catalogs all that observes, sees everything as separate objects: a tree, a cloud, another animal, a prey, and so on. Finally, he comes to perceive himself as separate, with an existence of his own.

In the human species, the evolution of the individual subject continues, generating an increasingly subtle individuality: the individual thinks to himself, becomes a concept, a psychological self, a personality that inhabits a body. By practicing meditation, the subject learns to separate the observer from his thoughts, moving another step in the evolution of more and more subtle individuality: what or who is that “observer” beyond thoughts, and emotions? And when we arrive here is when we find the denial of the individual who defend Buddhism and Vedanta non-duality. The whole course of evolution, of creating a more and more subtle individuality, reaches a point where individuality is simply lost, so they say. But there is another point of view: individuality continues to evolve, it comes to such a subtlety that it may seem that it does not exist, since it has run out of attributes, you can not define it with concepts, because it has transcended them, but still exists. There is still “someone” who experiences, who lives events, but from a nonphysical level, extraordinarily subtle. But not because it is so subtle it is weak: on the contrary, when it is realized, it is extraordinarily stable, it does not affect any external event, it does not depend on anything to be, it is no object, no concept, it is pure subjectivity.

When the person meditates for many years, constantly practicing, but only in the line of development of consciousness itself, expanding it, its development tends to lead to a non-duality, not to identify itself as a being with separate existence, seeing only the whole, the total Being alone. So we become what we develop, and if you work only in this line, you advance only in it and not in others. In the same way, if we meditate on the ultimate nature of the mind, and only in that aspect, we can reach the bottom of the mind, which is pure clarity without objects, and thus we do not develop our subject consciousness.

But we can also work in the line of searching, reflecting and meditating on the subject of all experiences, on the central point of our field of consciousness. Instead of simply expanding our consciousness to the infinite, expanding it, we can also deepen it, bringing it to its center, beyond thoughts and concepts, asking: who is conscious? This is the path of realization of the ultimate subject. And it is not incompatible with others, but complementary: we can, and I think it is the best, to work our conscience in an expansive, broad way, and also to deepen, reaching the bottom, its origin, that punctual focus that is our individuality deeper. In this way our development is complete, and in addition follows the natural course of evolution, which we have already seen tends to create more and more subtle individualities. We will then know that there is only one total Being, but it is also true that we live it through our individuality, which is the natural product of evolution.

Centeredness of attention

The focus of conscious attention

Attention is a function of the mind used to select which object we put into our field of consciousness; so sometimes the ability to be attentive and one’s conscience is confused. The ability to be aware incorporate the focus (attend) of any cognizable object and also its perception, while the consciousness field consists of all objects focused.

We say that the mind is concentrated when attention is held in a single simple object: the field of consciousness is narrow. Not the usual state, on the contrary, attention tends to change constantly from one object to another. For example, while we are doing a routine activity our thoughts come and go, and usually our attention follow them, so we are doing the activity almost unconsciously, unattended, in automatic mode, we can even seem absent during the activity, because our conscious attention is trapped in random thoughts.

This constant mental rumination is dysfunctional, as has been scientifically proven: produces a feeling of uneasiness and discontent. The various relaxation techniques and meditation seek to reduce this background mental activity calming the mind (for example, walking beside the sea, attending sensations) and moving the focus from thoughts to other objects, such as the body itself.

Attention captured by thoughts

Normally, our focus of attention are the body itself, the sensory information, and the thoughts, the latter being preponderant. Also, being the psychological self (also called ego) a mixture of thoughts and memories (we can say we think ourselves), the preferential attention to one’s thoughts is closely related to the sense of self: when a thought emerges, we believe that we ourselves are thinking, and obviously we full attend that thought. We could say that thoughts, self, and attention are entangled, making it difficult to discriminate between them. As more enmeshed they are, the person most difficulties will have for stop the automatically attending to all that the mind randomly propose him, whether good or bad, positive or negative, important or trivial; there is an identification of the person with their thoughts.

Centeredness of care

In conscious relaxation we relax and attend to the pleasant sensations that produces relaxation,  and in meditation we learn to calm our mind. When we have acquired some practice in such techniques, it becomes evident, and this is a fact proved by experience and also by science, there arises a new deeper self, one that is not any thought but is directly experienced, lived. For this deep I, which is also commonly called the inner witness, we have not yet scientific theories that explain it is, but we know the effects produced by: a mental stability and peace is achieved. Such deep I is experienced at first stages as something vague, like a calm presence that is watching without acting.

When we have some practice to feel it, we can start trying a more advanced meditation practice, one we know as centering of attention from the inner self, or simply centeredness. It consists of, from the inner I, acting as if we were him, observe the entire field of consciousness: our body, emotions, sensory information, and thoughts, but not jumping from one to another, as usual, instead,  watching them all at once, like all of them were a unique pack; all the possible objects of consciousness are incorporated into a wide field of consciousness, observed from the deep self.

We call the body-mind centering the ability to align or combine three human capacities: thinking (mind), feeling (emotions, feelings) and make (body) – Luis Lopez – Relaxation in the classroom.

Centeredness … is learning to stand and stay (in the deep identity) as long as we can. I am that who are seeing, feeling, doing physically – A. Blay – Self

Centeredness in the sense of identity merging with pure attention, it is not ideas about oneself. This enables addressing all aspects of the person at the same time and also have a sense of freedom of action upon them.

Centeredness exercise

I transcribed below the exercise of centeredness as I am doing in my daily practice; remember that it is not an exercise for initiation to meditation, if you try before having achieved a certain mental stability, through initial relaxation exercises and meditation, chances are that no results are obtained. But if we have already experienced, we became aware of this profound I that observes everything that happens without action, beyond thoughts, then we can try this more advanced practice.

Preliminaries
We find ourselves in our favorite meditation position, in the right place. Relax the body, releasing tension. Breathe deeply, slowly, deliberately, two or three times.

Then we made our favorite relaxation exercise or meditation, in order to calm and relax the mind. Whatever the technique chosen, to the end we have to be in a relaxed state but mindfully. We dedicate a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 20 to this stage.

Centering
Then we close our eyes and take care of our body: we note their presence, we focus our attention on it,  without any purpose, without judging or thinking about it, we just attend, we are there. Note also their weight, the pressure points that body weight exerts on the chair or mat. We spend about three minutes.

Then we attend to our senses: in succession, focus each of them, touch (throughout the body, the clothes we wear, the air in contact with skin), smell (which smells detect?), taste (what flavor we have in the mouth?), hearing (noise both inside our body, in the room, and also far away). About three minutes.

Then we attend to our emotions, our emotional state: what is? We feel that physical, soft feeling, which is the emotional state when we are relaxed, focusing our attention there for a few minutes.

In the next stage we attend our thoughts, our mind: “observe” the interior space where thoughts arise, perhaps at that time does not arise any but the space is there. If you experience any, then observe how thought appears and disappears again in the space of mind. We were there about  two minutes.

Now try to attend to all of the above, but not in sequence but in block: the entire field, including the body, senses, emotions and thoughts. To do this, we can imagine that “we step back” to gain perspective and mentally become able to cover everything with our attention. We stay there all we can, experiencing the feeling of cover the whole field of consciousness without identifying with any of its contents.

Exiting: As usual, breathing deeply, gently mobilizing joints, opening eyes and slowly getting back to normal physical consciousness.

The inexistent self of Buddhism, and the trans-personal self

The inexistent self of Buddhism: a brief description

In the Buddha’s Discourse on the Not-self (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.059.mend.html), he stated the reasons for his claim about the non existence of any self. Shortly, Buddha says us we human beings are the result of five aggregates. The impermanence is a key concept of Buddhism doctrine, also used in the Four Noble Truths (see, for example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noble_Truths) for explain the roots of suffering.

Then, the argument of “there is no self” is:

  1. The five components are impermanent.
  2. If there was a self, it would be permanent, and the self has the control over the five components
  3. A person is no more than the five skandhas (this is the exhaustiveness claim).
  4. Therefore there is no self.

The prior argument has, from my point of view, one weak premise: the third; are we sure we are no more than the aggregate of five skandhas?.

And also the second premise contains a weak assumption: the control; we can live a state of consciousness in which we are mere observers, no taking control of the flow of things.  The weakness of this two assumptions, “a person is no more than their aggregates” and “the self are the controller of the aggregates” are two reasons that support an alternative position: there are a permanent self, an “I”, beyond the aggregates, and this “I” is not controlling anything, on the contrary, is a mere observer, untangled from the world.

Let me distinguish two levels of self: the psychological (the personality) and a transcendent one. For me, Buddha refers only to the former. The second self, the transcendent, is the one which we pay attention now.

And “I” that takes no control

We must be able to let things appear in the psyche. For us, this is an art which most people do not know anything. We are usually interfering, helping, correcting or denying, without letting the psychic process is developed in peace“. – Carl Jung, The Secret of the Golden Flower, 1962, pg. 93

Jung speaks of a mind that does not interfere or react with the contents of consciousness, an idea that reminds us to the modern definition of Mindfulness: when we simply observe, without interfere, a deeply therapeutic result occurs, a relaxation in the experience of the moment present, and cease trying to control everything. We realize that if we stop fighting for control, the world does not fall apart, and we still are somebody, we accept the conditions of life, and found a new source of satisfaction.

The meditative traditions continue where psychoanalysis ends … we cut the roots of the reaction … That eliminates much suffering. Then you become master of your own mind and experience.” – Daniel Brown, MindScience.

As Buddha said, the liberation of the automatic process of reaction for control things brings us peace and relieve us of a big piece of our suffering; yet when nobody controls anything, we still feel we are somebody. Who we are?

An “I” that is only an observer, not implicated in then world

Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled. – Bhagavad Gita –

The second Buddha’s weak argument is about a self formed exclusively by the sum of the five aggregates, so is a material “I”. There are many spiritual traditions that claims the contrary, like the classic Hinduism, but nowadays even in the field of Psychology we can find alternative approaches:

Transpersonal Psychology is concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness. – Lajoie, D. H. & Shapiro, S. I. “Definitions of transpersonal psychology: The first twenty-three years”. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol. 24, 1992

There are other higher levels of personality which all of us also have, less or more developed: higher affectivity and higher mind. The last is characterized for not be centered on the individual, but on the knowledge itself, we can say: on the truth. Is impersonal, not interested in personal ideas and opinions but in see things as really are.

On the higher affective level there are not personal reactions against external data, instead, the good, the goodness, are perceived as universal facts; when we contemplate a beautiful landscape the sense of harmony and grandiosity is universal, the same for all. All of us have such level, more or less developed.

Conclusion

I think, basing on other traditions, modern Mindfulness meditation, and also on Trans-personal Psychology, that we can live at higher level than our habitual “I”, our individual personality, who, like Buddha states clearly, is only a virtual being, the result of the sum of impermanent aggregates; instead, we can live as a higher “I”, that can retain the sense of be somebody while at the same time is living a whole connection, a trans-personal feeling.

Untangling

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Whereas those who, being impelled by their desires, work with a selfish motive become entangled because they are attached to the fruits of their actions.  – Bhagavad Gita –

The most common human being have their mind, desires and sense of “I am” entangled, confusing the three as if they were an unbreakable block; therefore, is unable to resist their desires, believing he is his own desires.

With meditation and deep reflection, however, we become able to untangle the desires and our sense of I. As a result, desires lose a large part of their power, because they depend on our identification with them.

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With time, we also disentangle our thoughts and our “I”, and also thoughts are dramatically reduced, following the same mechanism as desires: most of our mental rumination is due to our identification with our thoughts. Indeed,  desires and thoughts exists thanks to our automatic identification with them.

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In such estate, still there are desires and thoughts, depending or our residual identification with them, but now we are able to see them as something external to our self, and they are not able to control us anymore.

Eventually, while we are in a full mindfulness state, thoughts and desires almost disappear, only self left: that is realization of the self.

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Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled. – Bhagavad Gita –