Is there any kind of magic on the earth? Or is it “something of the heavens”? Is magic always an omen from God? Or there are certain kinds of black magic, which belong to another, otherworldly, “other realm”? What is mana, and how it is related to our personal and spiritual presence, being living creatures that think and act, rather than just react as dull material objects do? What is magic in the realm of the soul, rather than the unusual workings of material nature, that appear contrary to the order that we contemplate in our daily life? Is there a spiritual connection that can be derived? What about the position of the self, how is its constitutional position related?
A central term that is used, the “mana”, has been appearing in masses and philosophical conversations of modern days’ minds since the beginning of the previous century. What is mana? A vocal equivalent of the Sanskrit “mana”, meaning “mind”, mana is not simply a force, that is acted upon, but “action, quality and circumstance”. It is said to be at the same time, a noun, a describing adjective and a verb. Mana is a collective term, which does not relate to an experience of some sort, rather, it is how the experience is consumed, paving the road for another experience. How can an experience be consumed, or rather, digested, is a point to understand the structure of society by the term Potlatch, which means, simply a sharing of gifts.
The sharing of gifts is an ancient custom, which appears as early as the Ramayana, or Mahabharata, especially Bhagavad Gita shows, that gifts are an inherent part of our human relations we live to, a vital ingredient without which only a stale experience may come up, repeating the same mind set within the relationship. Although gifts have a tendency to become consumed, their real value is present in the thought behind the gift. The gift may become a person, as Krishna has given itself as a gift to Arjuna, the great warrior, becoming his chariot driver, who later instructed him in the manner of self-realization in the most famous conversation in the realm of yoga.
Since Arjuna took the gift spiritually, taking Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and his dearmost friend, Arjuna, although exhausted and consumed by the rival side’s politics, became inspired by the eternal instructions which enlivened him to take up to the battle, he thought as being lost, immoral and useless. His relationship with Krishna, having regretted calling him informal ways in the past, have proven to be a source of strength, in the moment of glory, when the gifts he had received, his Gandiva bow, his training, Krishna as chariot driver, all proved to be part of an eternal relationship, an eternal exchange that made Arjuna act to his utmost, in order to please Sri Krishna, the real Lord behind everything in the created universal world of phenomena.
On the other hand, Ravana accepted a chariot from Siva, who as a powerful demigod gave a blessing according to Ravana’s immense sacrificial offerings, one that cannot be defeated anywhere in the universe. However, when Ravana tried to use it against the Personality of Godhead, who showed Himself incarnated as the righteous powerful king Rama, Siva, a great devotee of the Personality of Godhead, could not let the chariot be used against Him. Therefore, ironically, the gift was there, in the hands of Ravana, but the intent was to reform the receiver, into a self-realized person, gradually to become a devotee of the Personality of Godhead. Finally, when Ravana tried it against Him, He was defeated and gained liberation from the miseries of material existence, losing his entire city of Lanka, and all the gold and women. An exchange of gifts was there, to liberate Ravana, but covered and masked with irony, in one extreme example there in the classic epoch.
Back to the Potlatch, which is an exchange of gifts in the material world. A reflection of the original exchange found on the plane of the absolute, that of a continuous blissful, eternal conscious exchange full of spiritual satisfaction, we see that also great societies and families in this world, only existed due to the exchange of gifts. The gift receiver, had to reciprocate the gift with the giver, or risk family, tribe or dynasty war. In the ancient times of this world, often disguised as an exchange with ancient gods, in modern times, the idea is the central thing that is given, perhaps because things cannot take place outside of this frame of exchange.
Described as being endowed with some kind of activity, a living being repeats his activities over and over in the material realm, unless given the mercy of a higher form of exchange. That exchange is the mana, and its consuming nature, simply propels the exchange upwards to the eternal realm or form. In this way, the idea that is shared, accepted and reciprocated cannot be separated from the actual act of giving. Receiving all technological breakthroughs and social revolutions, the process of gift-sharing on the personal realm, cannot be separated from us, but we may have the power to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead by it. How is it done?
“A devotee never loses sight of Me, nor am I lost to Him. It is possible for He sees everything in Me, and Me in everything.” – Bhagavad Gita 6.30
Therefore, whether one acts personally, in relationship to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or on the ordinary platform of social activity, if one pleases the Supreme Personality in his actions, one may remember and see Him in everything, as Krishna desired the Pandavas the rule the world, being righteous in the era of corrupt Kuru offsprings or descendants. That is the secret behind the mana, and of all magical inventions, that revolve around a central magician, who is unaffected by the state of affairs in the material platform.
“Whenever a devotee offers me with love and devotion a fruit, a flower, a leaf or some water, I accept his offering.” –
Bhagavad Gita 9.26
The main point about accepting a humble offering, is that Krishna accepts only the devotion and love of the devotee. He wants to reciprocate His love to the devotee, making him completely His own. Therefore, when the devotee offers a simple offering simply to please the Lord, whether simple or complex, the offering tells the Lord, the devotee is ready to receive the Lord’s mercy out of gratitude. The ordinary man, however gifted in speculation and academic degrees, cannot receive such a blessing, because he does not spare any time to enliven his connection with Krishna. Having no appreciation for the exchange of relations, in a humble state of mind, an ordinary person cannot conceive of Krishna in his mind, and as a result, he is negligent of understanding how a simple offering of devotion and love, can have an endless impact, for by satisfying the Supreme whole, Sri Krishna, everybody becomes satisfied as a hand attached to the body is satisfied, by receiving food from the stomach.
The result of offering something to the Lord, through the knowledge gained by self-realized persons, is transcendental, and is experienced as boundless sweetness and pleasure derived through Krishna’s pleasure potency, that is entirely Sac-cid-ananda, full of eternity, knowledge and bliss. A regular exchange of gifts, however thoughtful and generous, or sometimes provoking, cannot have the original quality of exchange on the original spiritual platform, because it is based on thoughts that are limited, and whose results are depleted in due course.