Perennial Psychology of the Bhagwad Geeta

  • By Swami Rama
  • January 2002

The Path of Meditation                        

1.    Without resorting to the fruit of action, he who performs the action that needs to be done, he is a renunciate and a yogi, and not one who has renounced ritual fires nor one who is action less.
2.    That which is called renunciation you should know that to be yoga, O Pandava. No one who has not renounced desires can become a yogi.

The previous chapter teaches that renouncing desire for worldly pleasure and gain helps one to attain control over the mind. By giving up desires and gaining control over the mind, one can attain liberation. The highest liberation is attained only with Self-realization. In the first and second verse of this chapter, Sri Krishna says that sannyasa (renunciation) and karma yoga (the path of action) share certain requisites: performing one’s own duty without any desire for the fruits, controlling the senses and the mind, and attaining a state of tranquility.

Difference between Renunciation and Karma Yoga. Now let us describe these two paths without considering one to be superior and one inferior and find out how they are distinct. In the path of renunciation, renouncing the fruits of actions comes later. First comes tyaga, literally abandoning all of one’s personal possessions. There main desires called three eshanas are renounced: the desire for a spouse and children, for wealth and for name and fame. Along with this the practice of non attachment (vairagya) is also strengthened, without which renunciation cannot be accomplished. It is said that a bird having two wings, tyaga and vairagya, is able to soar from this shore of life to the shore of eternity. The renunciate who is firmly established in the art of non-attachment and who has nothing of his own is a true renunciate. Such a renunciate is always revered because it is not easy to renounce the world of thine and mine. This path is for the fortunate few and not for the ordinary masses. It is called sannyasa yoga or jnana yoga.

The other path is the path of action. In that path one can have a wife, children, a home, and other means for living in the world, but non-attachment is strictly followed. In the path of action there is an important question to be considered: is it possible for the yogis who follow the path of action to perform actions in such a way that they do not create barriers and obstacles; can action become the means of liberation and lead one to Self-realization, the goal of human life? There are two main responses. First, good actions performed selflessly and with the fruits given, as offerings to the Lord who is in everyone have no binding power. Selfless service is important. Second, good actions also bring good fruits, and those fruits can be utilized merely to enable one to live in the world so that he can discharge his duties effectively.

No matter which path one follows, he has to do actions; he cannot live without acting. Therefore it is important to understand the nature of an action before one performs that action – whether he is doing sattvic action with self-mastery or is being controlled by rajasic or tamasic qualities and acting as a slave to those qualities. Sattvic actions alone lead one to the state of tranquility. Sattvic actions performed without the desire for fruits are considered to be liberating actions. All other actions bind the human being. Yogis who wish to attain the state of tranquility do their actions and duties selflessly and skillfully. They have all the necessary objects of the world but use them just for the sake of doing their duties.

Many students wonder how it is possible for anyone to realize the pure Self while doing his duties, for the renunciates say that without complete renunciation Self-realization is not possible. Renunciates also do their duties but only for Self-realization. They do not believe in doing actions for the people of the world. Renunciation is an inward journey, whereas the path of action is external, though the aim of both paths is one and the same. In the path of action there are allurements, charms, and temptations. In the path of renunciation, it is the samskaras (Latent impressions) that are not yet dealt with that are the obstacles; Samskaras have a deep impact on human life. Because of their samskaras, yogis on the path of action are often led to do something that is not to be done. Therefore purification of mind, action, and speech must be constantly practiced in both paths. These two paths have one and the same goal, though they seem to be distinct. Neither should be considered superior or inferior.

In practicality the real yogis and sannyasins are one and the same. O both the paths of action and renunciation, the key points is renouncing the fruits of actions. Those who have renounced the path of action but still lust for the fruits of action are not true renunciates. In the path of renunciation no external sacred fire is lit, and no sacrifice is offered to the fire. Rather, renunciates light the fire of knowledge and burn their samskaras. The path of renunciation is also referred to as yoga, for in the path of renunciation anything and everything is renounced but not the purpose, which is union of the individual self with the Self of all. That union is attained by the renunciate through meditation and contemplation. In the path of action one can attain that union by giving up all the fruits of actions and remaining completely non-attached.

3.    For a meditator (muni) desirous of ascending in yoga, action is said to be a supportive means. And when the same one has already risen in yoga, tranquility becomes his support.
4.    When he is no longer drawn to the objects of senses nor to actions, having renounced all volitions of desire, he is then called ‘one who has ascended to yoga.’

One who wants to have perfect control over the mind and its modifications should master his internal states. It is only possible for one to attain that control when he learns to practice in silence. A muni is one who practices mauna (silence) in order to attain perfect silence. When the muni makes efforts to achieve profound control over mind, action, and speech and maintains perfect silence, he attains the state of tranquility. Until one experiences perfect silence, he is not aware of the profound difference between leading a life in the external world and treading the path of the inward journey.

The systematic method that leads one to the deepest state of silence is called meditation. Sleep is very necessary for all creatures of the world in order to have physical and mental rest, but the rest acquired through meditation is far superior to the rest given by sleep. There is a difference between sleep and the deep state of silence. The ignorant person sleeps every day and comes out of sleep no less ignorant because sleep offers only rest. But if one learns to go a deep state of meditation, he is rested and at the same time his whole personality is transformed. That transformation cannot be attained without the inward method of meditation. Through meditation the mind attains a state of tranquility.

Meditation leads to mastery of the mind, and with that mastery, one attains quietude. Such a tranquil and equable mind, having no desire for sense pleasures, also has mastery in the performance of actions. Those who have gone beyond the jabbering of the mind, (samkalpa and vikalpa) attain the highest state of yoga,

It is true that students, friends, and loved ones can make us lonesome. One should learn to establish friendship with the eternal friend within. Then he will never be lonely. Real mediators are never lonely, so those who do not wants to be lonely should learn to meditate and go on doing meditation until they meet their beloved eternal friend who is seated in the silent chamber in everyone’s being. Loneliness vanishes forever in that state of silence where the true friends reside. Loneliness and silence are two entirely different states of mind In silence one has company, but in loneliness one is all alone. They yogis learn to attain that state of silence, and then they are able to realize directly the nature of both the external and internal worlds. Those yogis can observe both within and without from height of tranquility.

What is the way for the people of the world who do not have much time for meditation and do not know the right method of meditation? The answer is to practice meditation in action as the Bhagavad Gita teaches. Be conscious of the Truth, the center of consciousness, and perform your actions selflessly with non-attachment. No matter where you are – in your office, in the kitchen, in the shopping center, or in the midst of a crowed-meditation in action can be practiced. Learn not to forget the center of consciousness within you. Do not allow your mind to be scattered, and whatever you do, do it with full attention. Beneath all your deeds there should be awareness of the center of consciousness within. If one thinks he is fit, he should practice meditation in silence. Otherwise meditation in action is the message of the Bhagavad Gita, without which the path of action is difficult to tread.

10.    The yogi should incessantly place himself in yoga, dwelling in solitude, alone, his mind and self-controlled, having no expectations, receiving no input the senses.
11.    Placing one’s stable seat in a clean place neither too high nor too low, made of cloth, a back antelope skin, and kusha grass, one on top of the other,
12.    There making the mind one-pointed, with the mind, self, a

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