Gita in a Nutshell #3: Focus the Mind.

Via on Nov 24, 2010

(Complete contents at
Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations.
For notice of each weekly blog,
please join our Facebook group.
)

It’s a great revelation to read the Gita by major theme instead of in the order it’s written. Today let’s talk about the third major theme:

FOCUS THE MIND

The Gita contains many powerful passages about meditation and focusing the mind, but they are scattered throughout the text. When you read them all together, as below, the main ideas jump off the page with crystalline clarity.

Read though these stanzas slowly and thoughtfully, jotting down your reactions as you go. Share your comments and questions, and we’ll get some conversation going:

(For those new to Gita in a Nutshell, the main voice speaking here is the infinitely wondrous universe itself, what some refer to as the “Unfathomable Life Force of the Universe” and others choose to call “God”. In the Gita these are one and the same.)

He who controls his mind
and has cut off desire and anger
realizes the Self; he knows
that God’s bliss is nearer than near.

Closing his eyes, his vision
focused between the eyebrows,
making the in-breath and the out-breath
equal as they pass through his nostrils,

he controls his senses and his mind,
intent upon liberation;
when desire, fear, and anger have left him,
that man is forever free.   (BG 5.26-28)

~

The man of yoga should practice
concentration, alone,
mastering mind and body,
free of possessions and desires.   (BG 6.10)

he should concentrate, with his whole
mind, on a single object;
if he practices in this way,
his mind will soon become pure.   (BG 6.12)

Constantly mastering his mind,
the man of yoga grows peaceful,
attains supreme liberation,
and vanishes into my bliss.   (BG 6.15)

You are right, Arjuna: the mind
is restless and hard to master;
but by constant practice and detachment
it can be mastered in the end.   (BG 6.35)

Meditate on the Guide,
the Giver of all, the Primordial
Poet, smaller than an atom,
unthinkable, brilliant as the sun.   (BG 8.9)

…to those who meditate on me
undistracted, and worship me
everywhere, always, I will bring
a reward that never can be lost.   (BG 9.22)

Concentrate your mind on me,
fill your heart with my presence,
love me, serve me, worship me,
and you will attain me at last.   (BG 9.34)

Those who love and revere me
with unwavering faith, always
centering their minds on me—
they are the most perfect in yoga.   (BG 12.2)

Concentrate every thought
on me alone; with a mind
fully absorbed, one-pointed,
you will live within me, forever.   (BG 12.8)

~

He who has let go of hatred,
who treats all beings with kindness
and compassion, who is always serene
unmoved by pain or pleasure,

free of the “I” and “mine,”
self-controlled, firm and patient,
his whole mind focused on me—
that man is the one I love the best.   (BG 12.12-14)

~

Give up all actions to me;
love me above all others;
steadfastly keep your mind
focused on me alone.   (BG 18.53)

Next:
#4: Each of Us Is Already Infinitely Wondrous
(Divine if you prefer)

Previously:
#2: Experience Infinite Wonder in All Things

(Complete contents at
Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations
To receive notice of each weekly blog,
please join our Facebook group.)

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.

1,958 views

Appreciate this article? Support indie media!

(We use PayPal but you don't need an account with PayPal.)

Elephriends - Mindful Affiliates

26 Responses to “Gita in a Nutshell #3: Focus the Mind.”

  1. writeonyoga says:

    I'm interested in how these passages apply to people's daily lives. What area(s) of your life have benefited from applying the type of focus these passages describe? How have those areas benefited? Are they more effective, less stressful, more enjoyable, more fulfilling?

    • Good question, writeonyoga.

      Over the years, I have found that the meditative state of mind has come to permeate my life. What started as a "sit down and meditate" kind of practice has evolved a kind of internal life style, as I tried to describe in “Effortless Wellbeing”: Meditation as Everyday Life.

      Much of this is doing exactly what the Gita urges above–to simply alway be aware of the infinite wonder of everything all around us (the same as the "me"=God in the excerpts) in everyday life.

      Bob W.

  2. Love these passages – the demonstrate the vital importance of focusing the mind, letting go of distractions, becoming one. The breath truly is the vehicle which develops this focus. Whenever I'm feeling harried/scattered a couple of long, deep, slow breaths helps to calm my body, focus my mind, prioritize my actions. I think my fav is BC 9:34 'fill your heart with my presence, love me, serve me' … simply beautiful.

  3. Welcome, freesoul.

    Your comment is one of the most beautiful things I've read in a long time about applying the Gita to everyday life.

    Bob W.

  4. Martha says:

    Meditation upon God and the blessings of my life transformed my approach to yoga and renewed my life, despite all my shortcomings, mistakes, regrets, and so forth. When we are able to focus the thoughts of the mind in this way, powerful change can happen.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Will.

    Bob W.

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Pamela.

    Bob W.

  7. Ana Prpic says:

    That first passage (except for the God part) felt as if I was reading Buddha's words. I love it when I find such similarities in spiritual/religious texts.

  8. guest says:

    This is not a translation….odd one to use for a study group.

  9. [...] Gita in a Nutshell #3: Focus the Mind [...]

  10. This is so meaningful for me right now. I am really starting to get into my meditation practice and learning about the importance of breath through my yoga teacher training. I have seen a total transformation in my practice and how I am living my life. I am able to turn my mind off like never before and really get into a deep meditative state and I am enjoying my yoga practice so much more. I'm going to write down a few of these and put them up around my desk – but I particularly like this one (with my feminine edits):
    Constantly mastering her mind,
    the woman of yoga grows peaceful,
    attains supreme liberation,
    and vanishes into my bliss.

  11. Becky says:

    This Gita talk was thought provoking. The main concept that stood out the most was detachment. Ever since I first learned about multiple lifetimes, or reincarnation, without too much thought about why we reincarnate, but just the focus that we do reincarnate, it became a legitimate belief for me and detachment strongly accompanied it and transformed a lot of my beliefs/illusions (like thinking about finding a soul mate, thinking I have to get a bunch of stuff done in this lifetime (like visit all of the countries in the world), thinking truth is outside of me). Detachment also continues to help transform the small stuff in my daily current activities.

    I also watched the video posted by Padma. –From the video, ‘don’t draw into solitude. Renunciation is not enough. You must act, yet action mustn’t dominate you. In the heart of action, you must remain free from all attachment.’

    I used to want to hide, in solitude, thinking I’d be safe from pain of dealing with people and all of the messiness, including my own. That if I lived in solitude, I would become enlightened. However, I learned when I went home to visit my family, and my family involves a lot of physical work tending to kids and cleaning (both inside the house and outside work), I always left feeling more grounded. I realized I stepped outside of my self, out of my mind, out of the solitude. Tangible connections are as essential as solitude. The proverbial carried water and chopped wood? Balance…

    “But by constant practice and detachment” (BG 6.35). Unmoved by pain or pleasure, free of I and mine" (BG 12.12-14). Video: "the deepest movements of Krishna’s being – the true battlefield – you need neither warriors or arrows; each man must fight alone.” We’re all on our own paths. Krisnha/the Universe is everything, is in everything, we are everything, we are a part of Krishna/the Universe, we are our own battles on our paths. We have the truth in us.

    I used to think I’d find a soul mate, but now I believe ‘the one lives inside of me’. I believe this so much, that I wonder if I find someone, will the action of marriage and procreating be…mechanical mechanisms? Because 'the one' is inside of me, what's the point? I don't know if I've gone to far, or if I'll learn something new that will help this. I used to think life was a battle with other people. Now I know the battle is alone. I still play with focusing on detachment for things that are emotionally close to me, for instance, from the pain of say, family members who…are in struggle; doing so stimulates compassion, remembering each person is on the path. I try to ‘center my mind on Krishna/the Uni’ (BG 12.2), see the mound of earth/heap of gold with the same eye (video). If someone dies, I try to see the dog/the man who eats the dog (video), well, I think I interpreted that right. Detach – we’re spiritual beings having human experiences. I try to always remember to take a step back and see/reflect the dance of people and desires of ego and desires of the heart, reflecting on others, reflecting on my own. Nothing to be judged, ‘treat all with kindness and compassion, unmoved by pain or pleasure (BG 12.12-14). I try.

    I need a good dose of solitude to reconnect with the things I love, but I’ve learned and know I need to be out in the world -the balance is being a part of the mysterious path of action and practicing remaining free from attachments. I used to think it was a curse to be 'sensitive', but now I use it to my advantage and practice detachment a lot. It feels good. There's a freedom.

  12. hippiecupps says:

    this one is also meaningful for me right now, as I am learing how to meditate better, or get into a regular meditation practice, i don't think i was very good at it, but I am learning more, I do know that when I meditate I have a more peaceful mind especially when connecting it with my yoga too.

Leave a Reply