October 17, 2012

Yoga: The Art of Action. ~ Vic DiCara

Bhavagad-Gita, Plain and Simple—Chapter Two, Texts 31-53

This is the fourth installment of my Bhagavad-Gita series. You can find the previous discussion here.

Here is extremely practical and downright “real” yoga for everyone—moms, dads, husbands, wives, young and old—which you can practice all the time, everywhere—in the kitchen, bedroom, office, at your desk, in your car or on a mountaintop.

Make sure to read the second section, “Wisdom in Action;” this is where everything starts to come together there.

This section begins with Krishna switching gears from the previous metaphysical section on eternality, into a new section of practical moral principles.

Stick by Your Responsibilities.

“Now think about your personal responsibilities, which one should never hesitate to fulfill. You are a warrior, so is there any greater responsibility for you than to fight for a good cause? Warriors who fight for such causes, without selfish motive, find the gates of paradise open wide to bless them. If you don’t take up your role in this fight, you will be neglecting your responsibilities and will thus lose your glory and gain the stain of guilt.” [31-33]

Arjuna is about to protest that he doesn’t mind becoming infamous. So Krishna says:

“I know that you are a moral person. For a person like you dishonor is worse than death. People will talk about your dishonor forever.” [34]

Arjuna is about to protest: “Why do you think they will dishonor me? Maybe they will honor me as a good man who renounced the world for the sake of non-violence.” So Krishna says:

“We are talking about warriors. They hold you in the highest esteem now, but if you leave the battle all they will be able to think is that you fled out of cowardice. They will terribly slander and condemn you. What could be more painful than this?” [35-36]

Arjuna’s wanted to abandon the fight because fighting would bring him terrible suffering and misery. Krishna already expressed that this is a selfish, and therefore immoral, attitude; now he has taken the conversation down to address that angle.

“If you are killed you will enter the gates of paradise. If you are victorious you will enjoy a great kingdom. So stand up, Arjuna! Fight without doubts!” [37]

Now that he has explained that misery will also come from abandoning the fight, Krishna wants to immediately return to the higher principle: that we must stick to our responsibilities regardless of whether they bring success or failure, pleasure or displeasure. So he says…

“Pleasure and displeasure, loss and gain, victory and defeat . . . treat them all the same and fight merely because it is your duty to fight. Doing so, you will not incur bad karma.” [38]

Wisdom in Action.

“People usually describe ‘intelligence’ in a philosophical way, but now let me explain how to put intelligence into practice. Practical intelligence will liberate you from the bonds of action and reaction.” [39]

“Even a little effort towards practical intelligence frees us from terrible fears and gives results that neither fade nor disappear. Those who strive for it are resolute and focused. Their thoughts are not scattered to countless distractions.” [40-41]

“The scattered thoughts of fools rush towards the flowery promises of materialistic culture, thinking, ‘This is all there is.’ Their hearts are set on pleasure and paradise, in hopes of name and fame; and they make so many elaborate efforts towards power and enjoyment. Those whose hearts are stolen by addiction to power and enjoyment can never know resolute intelligence, ‘samadhi’. Materialistic culture, even if it is ‘Vedic,’ is focused on sense objects produced by the three qualities of illusion. Rise above this, Arjuna! Become singularly resolute, grounded in what is everlastingly real, unconcerned with acquisition, and grasp your own self.” [42-45]

Arjuna would doubt, “But materialistic culture serves a purpose of gradually shaping and reforming materialistic people. Isn’t it dangerous or wrong to completely reject it?” So Krishna says…

“Whatever you can get from a small well you can certainly get from a deep lake. Whatever true benefit comes from materialistic culture is easily attained by one who deeply realizes spirit.” [46]

Having introduced the idea of practical intelligence, Krishna begins to describe what it actually is:

“You can perform your duties but you can never control their results, so never strive for specific results and never give up your duties. Fulfill your responsibilities while using practical intelligence to give up attachment to their results. This indifferent equanimity towards success or failure is ‘yoga.’ Stay far away from irresponsible actions and always strive to take shelter of intelligence. Don’t be a selfish fool, acting for the sake of specific results.” [47-49]

Krishna is saying that you have no control over success or failure, so don’t focus on such things. You do have control over your own actions, so concentrate on them.Never give up your responsibilities, but use your intelligence to become indifferent to their apparent success or failure. Never do what is not dutiful. Always do your duty selflessly, for the sake of playing the role you are meant to play in the world.

“Strive for this yoga, the ‘art of action.’ This yoga of practical intelligence will liberate you from good and bad karma alike. Great people with practical intelligence renounce the fruits of their endeavors, and thus become liberated from the bondage of birth and death, attaining a condition free from infirmity.” [50-51]

Selfishness binds us to an illusory concept of existence, because it is antithetical to the reality of what we are at the core of our being. Acting for one’s own sake causes good and bad reactions, depending on if the action is done with deference to human culture or not. To really become liberated and attain yoga, one must cease selfish activity altogether. We are to cease not from activity, but from the selfishness in our activity.

“When you reclaim your intellect from the brambles of delusion, no offers from materialistic culture will ever attract you. Undisturbed by such advertisements you will become steady and immovable. Your intelligence will find unwavering samadhi. You will have achieved ‘yoga.’” [52-53]


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Vic DiCara (Vraja Kishor das) practices Gaudiya Vaishnava sadhana in Southwestern Japan. His blogs are Bhagavatam by Braja and Bhagavad Gita Plain and Simple.

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.



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