Bhagavad-Gita, Plain and Simple—Chapter Six.
This is the tenth installment of my Bhagavad-Gita series. You can find the previous discussion here.
Krishna’s Instructions on Yoga and Meditation.
Arjuna: Who is a real yogi, a real renunciate?
Krishna: Someone who responsibly carries out her duties without being obsessed with what rewards it brings is a real yogi, a real renunciate. You don’t become a renunciate just because you have no roof over your head, nor do you become a yogi just by having no job.
Arjuna: Is there a difference between being a yogi and being a renunciate?
Krishna: No, Arjuna. They are the same. No one can become a yogi without renouncing selfish motivations. Actively working without selfish motivation purifies us, and allows us to gain the wisdom required to truly become a yogi, at which stage there is no longer any need for further deeds.
Arjuna: How do we know when we have attained that elevated stage?
Arjuna: How would I make further progress within this elevated stage?
Krishna: This stage is all about directly dealing with your own mind. Your mind can be your friend or your enemy; it can elevate, or degrade you. If you have control of your mind, it is your friend and inspiration. Otherwise it will work against you like a depressing enemy.
Arjuna: What is it like to have control over the mind?
Krishna: You will always feel peaceful, in touch with the divine soul regardless of external situations like cold or heat, happiness or distress, honor or dishonor. All your inner hungers will be understood and satisfied. You will dwell at the core of your being and be unaffected by sensual tribulations.
Arjuna: Why would I be so unaffected by external things?
Krishna: Because you will see everything with an equal eye. To you, gold will just seem to be a rock and money, just paper. And this neutrality will eventually extend beyond objects to people, too. You will have equal regard for sweethearts, relatives, neutrals, mediators, opponents, for enemies as well as for friends and for the pious and sinful alike.
Arjuna: What would be my duties at this elevated stage?
Arjuna: How is it done?
Krishna: Meditation is an effort to control the flow of thoughts in the mind without coming under their grip. The endeavor is to direct the flow of thoughts away from selfish desires and towards the spiritual. It must be done in seclusion, alone.
Arjuna: Please say more about the proper location for meditation.
Krishna: Find a sanctified place and make a place to sit out of kusha grass covered with deerskin, again covered by cloth. It will be a bit off the ground, but not too high. Sit there with good, steady posture and practice directing the flow of your thoughts to a single point, curtailing your external sensual activities. This practice will make your soul very clear.
Arjuna: Can you elaborate on the “steady posture?”
Krishna: Hold your torso, neck and head straight, balanced, firm and steady.
Arjuna: What about “curtailing the senses?”
Krishna: Restrain your perception from wandering here and there; focus your eyes on the tip of your nose and don’t look elsewhere.
Arjuna: And controlling the “flow of the mind,” how is that done?
Krishna: Follow the brahmachari path: let your thoughts pursue no lusts. Then you will be peaceful. You must also keep the mind from focusing on fears. Then your mind will come under your control.
Arjuna: When I have my mind under my own control, what should I do with it?
Krishna: Situate me within your pure mind. Make me your ultimate goal.
Arjuna: What results from this practice?
Krishna: If you dedicate your heart and soul constantly and regularly to this practice, you will attain the supreme shanti (peace), nirvana (liberation) and come to my position.
Arjuna: What are some pitfalls to watch out for, some guidelines for success on this path of yoga?
Krishna: Don’t eat too much, but don’t starve either. Don’t sleep too much, but don’t stay up all the time either. Be intelligent in how you eat, relax, work, sleep and stay awake. Then yoga will not be painful.
Arjuna: When is the path of yoga complete?
Krishna: The path is complete when your thoughts are fully under your control and thus remain fixed within the soul, freed from all selfish desires. Such a mind is like a candle in a windless place; it never wavers from its inward focus. By dedication to yoga, you will have stopped the outward flow of thoughts and directed them inward towards your soul, experiencing the satisfaction of truly seeing your self. This vision is so limitlessly and transcendentally delightful that you will never wander off from its reality. When you attain it, you will want to attain nothing else; nothing else will seem important. When you are within it, not even the most severe suffering can disturb you. By knowing it, your union with misery will be dissolved, and your union with reality established.
Arjuna: How do I begin on this path?
Krishna: Begin with strong conviction and deep determination to practice it wholeheartedly. Then you can gradually give up all the conviction you had for selfish desires. This will enable you to more regularly discipline your mind and senses, in more and more aspects. Gradually your intelligence becomes stronger and eventually takes full control. At this point, it invests your mind’s thoughts and emotions within your soul, and never even considers anything else.
Arjuna: But when I attempt to fix the mind within myself, it wanders.
Krishna: It will wander here and there at first, because it is a restless and unsteady thing. Wherever it goes, bring it back and again place it under your control.
Arjuna: It is a monumental effort. What is gain that would inspire me?
Krishna: You will become a spiritual being, without impurity, without the obscuration of materialism. You will gain the utmost happiness within your radiantly peaceful mind.
Arjuna: Where does this happiness come from?
Krishna: By casting off impurity, you come into constant union with soul. You find yourself immersed in unlimited happiness because you are always enjoying the caress of spirit.
Arjuna: How can I have “constant union with soul” while I am still in this material world?
Krishna: You will see spirit in everything, and everything in spirit. Everywhere you look, you will see the same thing: spirit.
Krishna: Seeing that “spirit” you will see me. You will see me in everything, and everything in me. You will never lose touch with me, nor I with you. See me in everything and you will be singularly engaged in my devotion, always and everywhere. You will be a yogi always immersed in me.
In my opinion, such a person is the paramount yogi. She treats all living things as dearly as her own self, and feels their happiness and sadness as if it were her own.
Arjuna: Krishna, slayer of evils, the yoga of equipoise that you describe seems impossible for me. I am too distracted and unsteady for it. O Krishna, my mind is very impatient, overpowering, distorted and stubborn. I think it would be easier to control the wind than control the flow of my thoughts.
Krishna: No doubt the mind’s restlessness is very difficult to curb, my strong friend. But you can do it by practice and detachment. Without these, yoga is impossible, but with these you can attain success.
Arjuna: If I were to sincerely try, but fail to control my mind and attain perfection in yoga; what would I achieve? Would I not then have failed in both a worldly and spiritual sense, like a piece of cloud torn off and then disappearing into the sky? That is my fear, Krishna. I don’t think anyone other than you can completely destroy this doubt.
Krishna: Arjuna, if you made sincere effort in yoga, you would never face failure; neither in this world nor beyond. My dear, one who does good never attains ill.
Arjuna: Then what, exactly, would happen to me?
Krishna: If you die as an imperfect yogi you would first goes to the realms of paradise. After spending many years there, you will again appear on Earth, in a blessed and pure family, or even in a family of wise yogis. Ah, what a rare and valuable birth. It will then be natural to revive the spiritual intelligence you worked for in your previous incarnation, and continue further towards perfection.
Krishna: Your former practice will certainly magnetize you towards automatically being curious about yoga. Thus, you would quickly pass through all the scriptures.
Arjuna: What if I again fail in that lifetime, too?
Krishna: The process continues, even if it takes several lifetimes. Eventually your endeavors become very tenacious and all the faults which trouble your progress are cleansed. Eventually you will attain perfection and the supreme goal.
Arjuna: What did you mean when you said, “You would quickly pass through all the scriptures”?
Krishna: The scriptures are, for the most part, a collection of principles to regulate selfish deeds. You would quickly become better than that, and move on to interest in philosophy and knowledge. Again, you would quickly assimilate the wisdom of scripture, and thus become a yogi, dedicating the flow of his thoughts to union with the spirit.
Arjuna: So, a yogi is the best type of person?
Arjuna: Of all yogis, which type is the best?
Krishna: In my opinion, the very best of all yogis is the one who sincerely loves me, seeking me within the core of his own self.
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He is also a practicing astrologer, prolific writer and former guitarist and song writer in the popular underground spiritual-punk band, 108. His astrology website is available here.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas
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