Gita Talk #6: And Now for Something Completely Different

Via on May 24, 2010

This week let’s try something different.  Let’s go through Chapter 6 stanza by stanza.

For this to work, you have to be willing to jump right in.  Write a comment.  Ask a question. Reply to what someone else has written.  If you’re thinking about it, but are on the fence, JUST DO IT!  I  hope you can see we’re a pretty friendly bunch here, and we’re very receptive to hearing everyone’s thoughts.

Let’s begin by talking about the first six stanzas of Chapter 6:

He who performs his duty
with no concern for results
is the true man of yoga–not
he who refrains from action.

Knowing that right action itself
is renunciation, Arjuna;
in the yoga of action, you first
renounce your own selfish will.

For the man who wishes to mature,
the yoga of action is the path;
for the man already mature,
serenity is the path.

When a man has become unattached
to sense objects or to actions,
renouncing his own selfish will,
then he is mature in yoga.

He should lift up the self by the Self
and not sink into the selfish;
for the self is the only friend
of the Self, and its only foe.

The self is a friend for him
who masters himself by the Self;
but for him who is not self-mastered,
the self is the cruelest foe.

If we were sitting around a room together, I would ask you these questions to get the discussion going:

1) How would you summarize these stanzas in your own words?
2) Give us an example of how you might apply these words to your own life.
3) Which lines of the text are difficult to understand?
4) Tell us anything else that comes to mind when you read these words.

Let’s see what happens.  If this works, then we’ll run through Chapter 6 this way.  If it doesn’t work, then we’ll try something else!

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About Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: "Live at Don Quijote" & "American Gypsy" (Free CD's) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.

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Comments

105 Responses to “Gita Talk #6: And Now for Something Completely Different”

  1. Good description, Greg. My only comment would be be that I have a far more positive view of the hapless "self" than you do. It seems to me that once we realize our infinitely wondrous "Selves", we can then look back and see that our "selves" are also an integral part of our wondrous "Selves".

    In later stanzas Krishna makes it clear that absolutely everything is part of the infinitely wondrous universe. Since nothing is left out, ultimately even all our senses, our bodies, every cell in our bodies, and even our very egos are ultimately manifestations of this infinite wonder of the universe (the "divine", if one feels comfortable with that term.)

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. Greg says:

    These stanzas repeat earlier concepts by pointing out the impermanent nature of the self and the need to come into awareness of our true nature, who we are as Self.

    On the one side we have the impermanent self — our false identity arising from identification with physical phenomena such as bodies — and on the other side the Self — our true nature as a non-material being of pure consciousness.

    The key concept is becoming unattached (stanza #4) or, in other words, achieving detachment. From what do we cease attachment? The impermanent self — our body, our emotions, our monkey mind, our identity in any one life.

    And yet the work is not nihilist, indicating that one who knows Self (consciousness detached from identification with physical phenomenon) still can find a "friend" in the self, which is something (a token, an assumed identity, a doll body) we use in the playing of the collective game.

    The last stanza appears to point out that we can live and master ourselves from the point of view of our true nature as Self or we can muddle about trying to make sense of our false and temporary self as though it had a true essence.

    Yoga allows us to achieve the cessation of attachment to that which is false self and come to know and master ourselves from the point of view of Self, our true nature.

  3. Karen M. says:

    The small self is what stands between us and knowing the happiness of the Spiritual Self. However as we start connecting with the Spiritual Self, we gradually start living our life through the clarity of our true Spiritual Nature and not through the distorted image of the small self. As we continue to embrace the Spiritual Self we start to stop sabotaging ourself. Because we have tasted the higher consciousness of the Self, we can easily let go of selfishness and perform right action…

  4. paramsangat says:

    1) How would you summarize these stanzas in your own words?
    If you "know" then you rejoice in life (automatically).
    And if you don't "know" (or is doubting), then practice action with non-attatchment to find balance for yourself.
    When you know your Inner Self, the world is a pleasant place and anytime you'd come out of balance you can return. If you dont know your Inner Self, you have nowhere to turn when things seem tough – you'll acctually believe in your own struggle/hell as reality.
    2) Give us an example of how you might apply these words to your own life
    Meditation has made me aware of that there is a beautiful calm and blissful place inside, where I can return anytime, anywhere.. as long as I remember that its there, it always is
    3) Which lines of the text are difficult to understand? –
    4) Tell us anything else that comes to mind when you read these words.
    That life is/can be really beautiful and could be viewed and reacted to in so different ways. The choice is upto every single one, focus the mind on what pleases us and relax into it. Enjoy fully meanwhile lasting.

  5. YogiOne says:

    Not too many folks are attempting to respond to #3 so I'll give it a crack.

    "He who performs his duty" – This assumes we have duties rather than choices. Who says and where is the proof?

    "with no concern for results" – People who act like this cause a lot of damage to others – I want people to think more about the consequences of their actions not less.

    "is the true man of yoga –
    –not he who refrains from action." – Sometimes doing nothing is exactly what is called for. Doing no harm – ahimsa is preferable to doing somthing that causes harm. Rushing into action because a Blue Meany tells you to go kill your family isn't too yogic if you ask me.

    So, while I think I understand the text as it is written here, what I don't understand is how usually reasonable people could swallow such balderdash. I do get the aspect of this that refers to following your own path, but it seems to me that finding your own path is not one of those times when you can defer to the wisdom of others, no matter how powerful or beguiling they may seem.

  6. Here's what Eknath Easwaran writes about Chapter 6 in his translation of the Gita:

    This is surely one of the most intriguing chapters of the Gita, for here we are given a detailed explanation of meditation addressed to the layperson. The same meditation techniques are given in more esoteric writings, such as the "Yoga Sutra" of Patanjali, but the Gita does it more simply, without any unnecessary mystery or complexity.

    When was the last time you heard the Gita referred to as less mysterious or complex than the Yoga Sutra? This turns the conventional viewpoint on its head–that the Gita is less read because it's more mysterious and complex than the Sutra.

    My own experience is that the Gita and the Upanishads are just as accessible as the Yoga Sutra, if not more so, once one gets used to their rich metaphorical language. Of course, all three are indispensable.

    Bob Weisenberg

  7. integralhack says:

    1) How would you summarize these stanzas in your own words?
    The true "man of yoga" is one who walks the razor's edge of right action: This seems quite similar to the Middle Way of the Buddha. It also indicates that the Yoga of Action calls for renouncing attachment to sense objects and actions–so preparatory steps are required to become a "mature" man and walk the path of serenity.

    2) Give us an example of how you might apply these words to your own life.

    I am trying to apply the correlative Buddhist path in my own life. The similarities are striking!

    3) Which lines of the text are difficult to understand?

    Part of what I still find troubling is that people can think that they have renounced their "selfish wills," but "self" is often a much greater aggregate than people realize. Beyond what they take to be their own wills are affective ideologies, cultural grooming, and what the Buddhists refer to as samskaras–preferences and biases that become part of our psychological makeup. Our small selves are like Russian nesting dolls–there are many layers that go beyond our own skin!

    4) Tell us anything else that comes to mind when you read these words.

    I can't stress the importance of preparation enough for the serious yogi! If you try to take hold of the self too soon, without really connecting with the (big) Self, you may find yourself in trouble. True humility and patience are called for.

  8. lorraineya says:

    Hey, a passage that I understand with no questions!! :)
    This passage is telling me to act consciously without thought of the outcome, meaning I should not care about the result as in whether or not I receive any benefit. If I perform my duties with the right thought, then hopefully I won't hurt anyone in the process. I'm able to wrap my mind around this concept but admit that it's hard for me to act without worrying about the outcome. It's hard to remained detached.

  9. integralhack says:

    This is not completely accurate, but it depends a great deal in what you mean by "God." Buddha didn't deny the existence of Brahma, for example (in fact there are quite a few Brahma references in the Pali Canon). Buddha did, however, change the meaning of connected ideas and focused on practice rather than worship.

    For the real practitioner, Buddha and bodhisattvas are not really objects of worship, but they are meditational focal points and aids to cultivating buddhas in all of us. This is not to say, however, that you won't find sects that do worship "Buddhas."

  10. Greg says:

    Good explanation.

    The subject of God in Buddhism has been simplified and thus misrepresented by those who are attached to the ideas of atheism.

    The Buddha's presentation was quite nuanced and depends for understanding on the practice.

    There is probably no better place to come to a deep understanding of the concept but it is not a place one can go to when carrying a lot of baggage.

  11. Greg says:

    Not sure what I would say to entice you to take another closer look.

    Only you would know what it is that might inspire looking from another vantage point.

    That might be a meditation exercise you could engage — ask what might allow or motivate you to view from another perspective. And consider the opposite as well — what is it that prevents me from considering another perspective? When you alternate between the poles of the dichotomy it can bring about change.

    Back and forth — what would allow me to see from another vantage point? what prevents me from viewing from another vantage point?

  12. Thanks for the clarification, Matt. I knew that:

    a) There are big differences between different schools of Buddhism.

    b) It depends on the definition of God, which is why I carefully defined it (as the definition in the Gita–(Brahman=God="Infinite Unfathomable Life-Force of the Universe"), no more, no less than that.

    c) I was not talking about worship at all. Conventional worship makes little sense when each of us is an integral part of God. We'd be worshiping ourselves (which I guess is why some religions feel the Gita is sacrilegious!)

    Your points are also precisely why I threw in the phrase "or at least not celebrate it like the Gita does", but even that might not be true for certain Tantric based schools of Buddhism.

    Bob Weisenberg

  13. lighthasmass says:

    I am subscribing. This is not a comment.

  14. Patrick McMurray says:

    I enjoyed reading stanza #6 right here, thank you to Bob for trying this approach!

    1) How would you summarize these stanzas in your own words?

    It almost seems to me like the "doing" is more important than the "being." In the first stanza, "…not he who refrains from action.." almost seems to me like a challenge to the reader to do something rather than nothing at all, in any situation. I am led to think of the notion of action with (or without) thought. But it seems as though the Gita is telling us "at least do something—don't just sit there!"…

    But also, the first stanza seems to say "do something, anything" but then "don't dwell on it, whatever it is that you do…" The other stanzas sem to bear out the first one by emphasizing that the "yoga of action" is the only true way and that by taking action and not worrying about the outcome you are somehow fulfilling the duty you have to yourself.

  15. Celia Aurora de Blas Aurora says:

    I just got back from a Satsang and these stanzas are giving me the same message that this whole evening has been ripe with…
    Be present and love ( be open).
    How I might apply it to life? Cut out the analyzation process of thought and dive right into the feeling part of myself and enjoy whatever it is that I'm experiencing. So, listen to someone speak, find the joy in getting stuck in traffic, pet my cats til something else moves me in another direction, eat, meditate, do everything with presence and openness.
    So here I feel the plastic keys below my fingers, I watch the cursor spell out words that I instruct it to, my jaw seems a bit clenched and I'm feeling hungry and tired and it's all what it is:) Time to get more present with my heart as I stroke my cats to sleep.

  16. paramsangat says:

    Hey, thanks for the Facebook message, I'm on and reading ahead :) I like the book and I like these excersises we get here to discuss,
    thank you!! :)

  17. Greg says:

    In response to Bob's question to me regarding "what is God?" I will present (piecemeal) stanzas from the Gita that parallel and/or explain what I have in mind…

    Ch 2 p 47

    Never was there a time
    when did not exist, or you.

    This speaks to the timeless nature of God. Not something that is temporal. Not something that partakes of the temporal and therefore not impermanent.

    p 48

    Nonbeing can never be
    being can never not be.

    This further speaks to the idea of timelessness. Not contained or constrained within the temporal.
    (Some will say "eternal" but I believe that is misleading as it may connote being in all time but limited to that which is temporal, as opposed to meaning "stands outside all time.")

    p 48

    The presence that pervades the universe
    is imperishable, unchanging,
    beyond both is and is not;
    how could it ever vanish.

    This, too, speaks to the timeless nature — not stuck within the confines of the material world where things come in and out of existence.

    It also speaks to the God or Self as being a "presence that pervades." This is a critical concept. A presence, a beingness, a consciousness that pervades differs from an identity with all things in the universe. This says that God consciousness can go throughout all space but it does not say that God consciousness is one and the same with the objects it pervades.

    This is perhaps the yogi's greatest challenge… to understand how one pervades spaces and objects but in so pervading one does not become that space or object. We take on the identity of a space or object as a game as a charade but never is our nature identical to that which we pervade.

    More…

  18. Cynthia L says:

    Everyone seems to be summing up my thoughts so nothing specific to add at this point. Immensely enjoying the discussions!

  19. freesoul says:

    Wow, I'm starting to understand the Gita! Great comments. First going back to something YogiOne stated: "with no concern for results" – People who act like this cause a lot of damage to others – I want people to think more about the consequences of their actions not less." I find myself in an interesting place these days, and here is how I apply the Gita by allowing others to take their responsibility, even when they have to be in their own discomfort. That includes myself. I see how easy it has become to point the finger and say not my problem and expect someone else to fix the mess. P. 92 "Attaining this state, he knows that there is no higher attainment: his is rooted there, unshaken even by the deepest sorrow." Acceptance of the good w/the bad. Everyday brings something interesting, but it is when I become complacent that I'm blown out of the water.

    Finally, if I have to sum it all up (and I'm sure it will change as I continue to read), p.94 "Mature in yoga, impartial everywhere that he looks, he sees himself in all beings and all beings in himself." I remember when I began meditating, I lived in New York city then. I would get on the train every day and find my place and so many times I would think to myself, "these people are so ugly" and then put my head down or go back to reading the paper. When I began meditating, I would get on the train, I would find my place and I started to look at these same people and I started to notice how beautiful they were. I started to make eye contact, looking at them eye to eye. It was then that I realized I was seeing into their souls, I was seeing their divinity, their birthright. And if I saw into their souls, I began to see deeply into mine own. he sees himself in all beings and all beings in himself!

  20. Vern Myers says:

    Hello, all– great discussion. So far, I've been lurking and trying to absorb what I can. I'm a novice to yogic philosophy but became captivated by the way it is put forth on the Yoga Demystified site. Today I picked up a copy of Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation, and will try to catch up. Whether vocal or not, I'll enjoy continuing to follow Gita Talk.

  21. Steve Goodheart left this inspiring and informative comment on Facebook:

    Ah, that Gita passage is my all-time favorite on karma yoga — the yoga of works. Do your work, and leave the results to the God—work without attachment to a sense of "me" or "mine." The Bible echoes this in the admonition that what we do, do "as unto the Lord."

    Here is what the great interpreter of the Gita, Sri Aurobindo says:

    All spiritual paths lead to a higher consciousness and union with the Divine and among the many paths one of the greatest is the Way of Works: it is as great as the Way of Bhakti or the Way of Knowledge.

    Do not imagine that works are in their nature nothing but a bondage, they can be a powerful means towards liberation and divine perfection. All depends on the spirit in our works and their orientation towards the inner and the higher Light away from desire and ego.

    Works are a bondage when they are done out of desire or for the sake of the ego, by a mind turned outwards, involved in the act and not detached and free, bound to the ignorance of this lower nature.

    To create the union of his soul with the Divine Presence and Power through a perfect surrender of the will in all his activities, is the high aspiration of the seeker on the Way of Works.

  22. Amy Champ AMY CHAMP says:

    Gita Chapter Six, first six stanzas.
    To me, it feels like this passage is about service and surrender. This just happens to be my most favorite passage of the Gita. When I was in yoga teacher training, the monk teaching us Gita (Swami Padmapananda) told us as we were reading this passage, to commit the first verse to memory. When we came back for class the next day, I was the only person who had done what he asked: memorized the verse. So this passage stuck in my mind. That was about five years ago.
    This bit about renunciation is so very powerful. We want recognition, but we have to realize that the work is important. Just do it, do the truth work. Pattabhi Jois often said, “Practice and all is coming.” I think our American side has this tendency to think, ‘Well, if I do this practice which is supposed to yield compassion, then I am going to get compassion, right?’ Not exactly.
    Karma and doing your duty are not straightforward. I think if you’re always trying to think up the ending, you also lose a lot along the way. These seem like pretty simple ideas, but I seem to confront this issue every single day. Even the outcome of a smoothie cannot be guaranteed. Why do we always focus on the end? Yoga of Action can teach us how to be in action while remaining balanced, centered and peaceful.
    This part of the Gita is speaking to our inner strength and integrity. The question is: are you friend or foe to yourself? Are you going to let your struggles take you down? Or are you going to be master of your own mind? Of course, this is easier said than done. But at the end of the day, the choice is up to you.
    This passage speaks to self-mastery, which the whole book points towards. It’s all well and good to have an understanding of the Essence of the Universe, but what you actually have to work with on a day-to-day basis is the body that you were given in this lifetime. That means you and your mind. You forever. Well, as long as the current incarnation lasts.
    “in the yoga of action, you first
renounce your own selfish will”
    This is so difficult. After all, it is “me” thinking all of this up, right? Yes and no, and I think it is here where the Buddhists have emphasized the ego (and renunciation thereof) in much more explicit terms in the contemporary context.
    This is just a very service oriented piece here. If not my will, then whose? Perhaps we can surrender to the outcome of the universe, the natural flow of karma, and depending on your spiritual inclination—divinity.
    It’s a very American, Western notion to react harshly to this idea of ego renunciation. It’s my way or the highway. And in less extreme forms, it is self-protection, which is often a fantasy of the self. People see their lives, ideas and stuff as belonging to themselves, when in reality, any of these things can change in a single instant. Witness: housing market bubble. Witness: stock exchange. Witness: global economy. The harder and faster we hold onto ideas about ourselves, the harder and faster we fall when they don’t hold up. Ideas about identity impact our daily lives, because these are the constructions which prop up our sense of selfhood and reality. In fact, these are all quite fluid concepts.
    Rather than seeing ego renunciation as a prison, we should see it for the freedom that it may afford us.

  23. Gita Chapter Six, first six stanzas.

    To me, it feels like this passage is about service and surrender. This just happens to be my most favorite passage of the Gita. When I was in yoga teacher training, the monk teaching us Gita (Swami Padmapananda) told us as we were reading this passage, to commit the first verse to memory. When we came back for class the next day, I was the only person who had done what he asked: memorized the verse. So this passage stuck in my mind. That was about five years ago.

    This bit about renunciation is so very powerful. We want recognition, but we have to realize that the work is important. Just do it, do the truth work. Pattabhi Jois often said, “Practice and all is coming.” I think our American side has this tendency to think, ‘Well, if I do this practice which is supposed to yield compassion, then I am going to get compassion, right?’ Not exactly.

    Karma and doing your duty are not straightforward. I think if you’re always trying to think up the ending, you also lose a lot along the way. These seem like pretty simple ideas, but I seem to confront this issue every single day. Even the outcome of a smoothie cannot be guaranteed. Why do we always focus on the end? Yoga of Action can teach us how to be in action while remaining balanced, centered and peaceful.

    This part of the Gita is speaking to our inner strength and integrity. The question is: are you friend or foe to yourself? Are you going to let your struggles take you down? Or are you going to be master of your own mind? Of course, this is easier said than done. But at the end of the day, the choice is up to you.

    This passage speaks to self-mastery, which the whole book points towards. It’s all well and good to have an understanding of the Essence of the Universe, but what you actually have to work with on a day-to-day basis is the body that you were given in this lifetime. That means you and your mind. You forever. Well, as long as the current incarnation lasts.

    “in the yoga of action, you first
renounce your own selfish will”

    This is so difficult. After all, it is “me” thinking all of this up, right? Yes and no, and I think it is here where the Buddhists have emphasized the ego (and renunciation thereof) in much more explicit terms in the contemporary context.
    This is just a very service oriented piece here. If not my will, then whose? Perhaps we can surrender to the outcome of the universe, the natural flow of karma, and depending on your spiritual inclination—divinity.

    It’s a very American, Western notion to react harshly to this idea of ego renunciation. It’s my way or the highway. And in less extreme forms, it is self-protection, which is often a fantasy of the self. People see their lives, ideas and stuff as belonging to themselves, when in reality, any of these things can change in a single instant. Witness: housing market bubble. Witness: stock exchange. Witness: global economy. The harder and faster we hold onto ideas about ourselves, the harder and faster we fall when they don’t hold up. Ideas about identity impact our daily lives, because these are the constructions which prop up our sense of selfhood and reality. In fact, these are all quite fluid concepts.

    Rather than seeing ego renunciation as a prison, we should see it for the freedom that it may afford us.

    Well since Waylon never responded to my request to write for EJ, I will just have to resort to polluting their comment fields.

  24. Amy Champ says:

    Thanks Bob, Speaking of academics, many -isms ignore a lot of what is going on in the real world to fit their own little vision of it!

  25. Sevapuri says:

    For the man who wishes to mature,

    this line cries out to anyone who is on a spritual journey, a path, its a call to listen closely to what Krishna is about to say, he is saying ,"here it is, i'm about to spell it out for yoü, all that you need to know is about to unfold in frount of you"

    the yoga of action is the path;

    and he repeats what he has said before but more clearly he says its the path , the way to know God, the Self, by now i have an sense of the type of action he talking about , not acting blindy for the sake of doing , not focused on my exspectations of the outcomes but to act in a way that relfects Krishas ( and my) highest spiritual nature.

    for the man already mature,
    serenity is the path.

    When practicing to be to be detached from the outcomes dont become attached to the practice of it, remain calm and peaceful. When i think i'm "getting somewhere in my practice , in my understanding, and thoughts of achievment arise Krisna gives good cousel here, to be quiet to reflect , to come back to essence of the journey.

  26. Louise says:

    In response to Bob's request, "just let us know you're out there" …

    I quote Dr. Seuss' people of Whoville: "We are here, we are here, we are here!" ;~

    The conversation is fascinating. As a newcomer to the study of the Gita, I am more inclined to read, absorb, consider and appreciate all the comments being posted, rather than add my own voice just yet. Thank you to all those who are sharing their views and insights!

  27. william says:

    Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose

    The first stanza here is one which I internalized many years ago as “be unattatched to the fruit of your labors.” This has given me great solace – especially at times when I was working at unfulfilling labor jobs, like kitchen work. I found that it was best to focus on working well, even though something unexpected could mean doing the whole thing over.
    This is not the best example, – not especially spiritual, – but for me it has often been the chalenge to find the spiritual dimension in ordinary work. I think this is what Krishna means by ‘duty’ – to do the work that is at hand.
    Some times I find myself thinking that I should be doing ‘better work’, and this feeling really undermines any sense of peace or well being. I have also seen others treat their work with a cavalier and slipshod attitude because they think the work is beneath them. Often this means that others must pick up the slack for them. This has far reaching impact on both the economy and the wellbeing of people.
    So the idea of renunciation here is to do the work at hand and not focus on the money you will get from it or the promotion that you should recieve. In a larger sense, there are peple depending on us, I was married once, and I was very concerned about making enough money to be able to take care of my wife and child. Maybe it seemed a little selfish to my co-workers because I wanted more money, but most of them were in the same situation. In this way all the selfish preening and trying to look good was done in the service of trying to better my chances of taking care of the family. In a way the small self is ‘me the worker’ and the larger sense is ‘me the family man’ But then the Family Self is just a small one in the scope of society and our culture is just a little ‘self’ in the perspective of the world.
    All these layers of “self” can be very confusing so Krishna must mean for us to cut through all of that and see from his perspective where all activity (including selfish activity) is a manifestation of him.

    The last two stanzas are a bit of a riddle: “self is the only friend /of the Self, and its only foe.” In a way, It sounds as though he is saying its all in you head, because the small self is the only friend of the greater self. The small is also the foe of the larger because by focusing on the small concerns we loose sight of the larger.

  28. Sawennatson says:

    He who performs his duty
    with no concern for results
    is the true man of yoga–not
    he who refrains from action.

    Knowing that right action itself
    is renunciation, Arjuna;
    in the yoga of action, you first
    renounce your own selfish will.

    Having previously spoken about renunciation, Krishna reminds us of the importance of karma yoga. He suggests that instead of renouncing actions and living as a hermit-monk for the sake of being a renunciate, it is the results of our actions that should be given up. Paramahansa Yoganada writes, “The key word…then, is to ‘play one’s part’ with conscious non-identification.” –The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita p.248.

    For the man who wishes to mature,
    the yoga of action is the path;
    for the man already mature,
    serenity is the path.

    When a man has become unattached
    to sense objects or to actions,
    renouncing his own selfish will,
    then he is mature in yoga.

    Krishna gives the pith instruction in karma yoga; short and to the point. Can you tell that Mitchell likes the Tao Te Ching? The first of these two verses sounds like it came straight out of the mouth of Lao Tzu.

    He should lift up the self by the Self
    and not sink into the selfish;
    for the self is the only friend
    of the Self, and its only foe.

    What!? This verse sends me (this self) for a loop. Big “S” “Self” refers to the unknowable “divine”. What does it mean to “lift up the self”? It is probably obvious to other readers, but this verse threatens to drive me crazy. How is the self a friend and foe of the divine, unknowable Self?

    The self is a friend for him
    who masters himself by the Self;
    but for him who is not self-mastered,
    the self is the cruelest foe.

    Oh. Wait. I think I get it, maybe.

  29. […] Gita Talk #6: And Now for Something Completely Different […]

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