Here is the deal… This whole world is upside down – just like a tree standing on a lake shore is upside down when reflected into the lake. The material world is an upside down tree [Gita 15.1]. The reflection is kept alive by the water it reflects upon. What is that water? Selfishness .
The real tree is where we belong. We need to get rid of the reflection and get into the real tree. [3-4]
Yeah, fine. Easier said than done. How am I supposed to do that???
You already know the upside down tree of this world exists as a reflection upon the waters of selfishness, so get rid of selfishness and you get rid of the fake tree. You get rid of selfishness by not trying to control anything for your own interests . Stop trying to control people and things to serve your own interests, and the fake tree will disappear.
When the fake tree disappears, what then?
Then you will be drawn like a bird into the branches of the real tree of existence. It is a beautiful place, self-luminating, free from doubt and full of joy. Once you sit in that real tree, you will never leave it  – it is that wonderful.
OK, that’s inspiring, but I can’t just drop all my selfish habits and actions on a dime. What happens to me meanwhile, when I stay within the false, reflected, upside-down tree?
You will struggle.
You will work and struggle.
You will toil and labor and work and struggle.
Because you are not a reflection! You are a real being. You do not fit in with reflections. You are part and parcel of the real tree – and the ultimate form of that real tree is the Supreme Person, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. As long as you are out of touch with your real root, you will struggle and wither, like a leaf disconnected from the branch and root.
You will struggle to enjoy a reflection.
You will struggle with your senses .
All the desires to enjoy the reflection are harbored by you in a thing you call “the mind” or “the heart.” This mind carries you around like the wind carries aromas . It carries you into one body. You struggle with the senses of that body. You cannot fulfill your dreams. So it carries you to another body. Again you struggle. Again this repeats. And repeats .
Thus we come to today’s verse, the 10th verse of the 15th chapter of Gita.
उत्क्रामन्तम्́ स्थितम्́ वापि भुञ्जानम्́ वा गुन्̣आन्वितम्
विमूद्̣हा नानुपश्यन्ति पश्यन्ति ज्ञान-चक्स्̣उस्̣अह्̣
utkrāmantaḿ sthitaḿ vāpi bhuñjānaḿ vā guṇānvitam
vimūḍhā nānupaśyanti paśyanti jñāna-cakṣuṣaḥ
The synonyms for these Sanskrit words:
utkrāmantam — quitting the body; sthitam — situated in the body; vā api — either; bhuñjānam — enjoying; vā — or; guṇa-anvitam — under the spell of the modes of material nature; vimūḍhāḥ — foolish persons; na — never; anupaśyanti — can see; paśyanti — can see; jñāna-cakṣuṣaḥ — those who have the eyes of knowledge.
A translation (from Bhagavad Gita As It is by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swāmī Prabhupāda)
The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this.
Prabhupāda’s Comment on this verse:
The word jñāna-cakṣuṣaḥ is very significant. Without knowledge, one cannot understand how a living entity leaves his present body, nor what form of body he is going to take in the next life, nor even why he is living in a particular type of body. This requires a great amount of knowledge understood from Bhagavad-gītā and similar literatures heard from a bona fide spiritual master. One who is trained to perceive all these things is fortunate. Every living entity is quitting his body under certain circumstances, he is living under certain circumstances, and he is enjoying under certain circumstances under the spell of material nature. As a result, he is suffering different kinds of happiness and distress, under the illusion of sense enjoyment. Persons who are everlastingly fooled by lust and desire lose all power to understand their change of body and their stay in a particular body. They cannot comprehend it. Those who have developed spiritual knowledge, however, can see that the spirit is different from the body and is changing its body and enjoying in different ways. A person in such knowledge can understand how the conditioned living entity is suffering in this material existence. Therefore those who are highly developed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness try their best to give this knowledge to the people in general, for their conditional life is very much troublesome. They should come out of it and be Kṛṣṇa conscious and liberate themselves to transfer to the spiritual world.
And now, back to you, Vraj…
This verse comes right after Kṛṣṇa explained that when we remain in the upside-down tree we get carried around it from body to body. It’s commonly called “reincarnation.”
The question is, “Reincarnation??? If it’s true that we are carried by our minds from body to body to struggle with enjoying various types of senses… how come people don’t know about reincarnation? How come we can’t see it happening?”
Krishna’s answer is this text.
People can’t see what is going on because they are entranced.
When you are alive you are forgetful of your previous lives. When you die and go to a new body you will become completely forgetful of this life. Why? Why? Why? Because you want it that way. Or more precicely, you need it that way.
If, my friend, you or I suddenly saw the full memory of each and every life we have ever had, what the hell would become of us? What would become of our plans to excel on our new Xbox game? What would become of our plans to build a secure fortune? What would become of anything and everything that we know and cherish?
It would all shrink, reduce, and vanish to the size of a mote of dust in the enormous eye of infinity.
And guess what, neither you nor I wants that.
We are still holding on to our plans to excel at Xbox, or in college, or as a parent, or as a famous teacher, astrologer, or whatever has our attention this time around. We don’t want to give up those plans, and that reluctance is exactly what blocks the memories of our past lives.
Even in this lifetime many memories are blocked. For example someone experiencing a terrible trauma during childhood will block out that memory entirely so that he or she can continue to function as a reasonably normal person. Such persons don’t want to remember these memories because the memories would impair their ability to function the way they want to function. The mind complies and locks away those memories. This is exactly what is happening with all your past life memories. To remember them would be a mind-shattering, explosive trauma. Therefore they are completely held in stasis – in the subconscious mind, out of the way.
Blocking the painful memories is not a real solution. This is why such people need therapy. They need to gradually be guided to accept those memories and cope with them productively. The various paths of spirituality are therapies to allow us to embrace the memories of our past lives, which reveal the utter insignificance of our ego and egocentrism and thereby liberate us from the traumatic experience of living in an upside down world of reflecsions.
That is why Kṛṣṇa adds, “not everyone is bereft of knowing their past lifes and seeing transmigration first hand as an empirical fact. Those who are “jñāna-cakṣuṣaḥ” can see it all firsthand.”
When our eyes are liberated by true knowledge, they will be willing to accept the trauma of remembering the infinite string of our petty, meaningless lifetimes.
First, though, you have to let go… of everything.