Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 49

Skillful action requires both knowledge and practice. If you want to do something well, you need to know your subject…then you need to practice it to become skillful.  

Indeed, ordinary action is by far inferior to Karma Yoga, Winner of Wealth, so seek refuge in Knowledge Yoga. Those whose motives are for the fruits of action, are to be pitied.

Alternate translation:
Action-yoga (Karma Yoga) is necessary to become a ‘winner of wealth’, but first one must have knowledge of what Karma Yoga is. What it isn’t, is self-motivated action. Those whose actions are motivated by the results of actions are unhappy and unfortunate.

This verse calls our attention to two types of action: ordinary action and Karma Yoga (action-yoga), known in other texts as the Highest Action. We learned in the last verse that Karma Yoga refers to action that takes place when one is “fully occupied with union”. We are to understand that this Action Yoga is superior to the ordinary garden variety action of every-day life, and further, that, once knowing it, we would feel compassion for those who are limited to the ‘inferior’ kind.

This verse recalls earlier verses on the Yoga of Knowledge where the teachings on action began. This was where we were enlightened as to the truth about ‘action’ and our true nature as divine, non-physical individuals whose natural state is one of non-doership. It is imperative that we at least know about this in order to understand the truth about action, for it is necessary to understand the truth about action to understand Yoga. 

We are all familiar with ‘ordinary action’. We are engaged in this kind of action all the time. But the Yoga of Action, Karma Yoga, is not common but superior. So we are being advised to ‘take refuge’ in the Yoga of Knowledge from earlier verses to properly understand and practice Karma Yoga, lest we be one of . . .

Those whose motives are for the fruits of action. Such persons, which surely make up nearly all of humanity, are to be pitied.

Clearly, acting for the purpose of getting desirable results is being frowned upon. But equally clearly, there is something of much greater value being suggested here, so it is worthy of our attention. Apparently the Yoga of Action is where we’ll find the gold (after all, Krishna does call Arjuna “Winner of Wealth”).

Once we understand the truth about action and find ourselves fully occupied in union as per the last verse, we will be congratulating ourselves on our good fortune and wanting to shout it from the roof-tops. But alas, as you have surely gathered by now, such understanding does not come readily, but requires a few things most people are going to be reluctant, if not completely unwilling, to accept, and are more likely to string us up by our toes than thank us. So we remain silent. Or enigmatic.

So if you have just joined us, and are interested in sleuthing out the gold, you will want to investigate this chapter up to this point, and continue on from here. Welcome to our little band of eager seekers!

Namaste (I bow to the Real You),
Durga Ma

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Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 48

All action occurs in nature, but you are not nature. What you really are does nothing. Trick question: If what you are does nothing, how can you achieve your aims? 

Having abandoned attachments, indifferent to success or failure, all your actions are performed absorbed in Yoga, Winner of Wealth. It is said that indifference is Yoga.

Yoga = Union

When through indifference to success or failure attachments are abandoned, you become absorbed in Yoga and all actions are Yoga. When absorbed in Yoga, actions that occur are not yours because you have no connection with anything but Yoga and are naturally indifferent.

Note the payoff here: Krishna (God) has called Arjuna (You) “Winner of Wealth”.

Abandonment of attachments and indifference to success or failure. Abandonment of attachments means you give up holding on to something. In this case, you are abandoning holding on to concerns about successful or failed outcomes—you give up holding on to something being the way you want it to be (success), and are not upset if it turns out the way you don’t want it to be (failure)—you are indifferent to the outcome. Attachment cannot survive in the presence of indifference.

Indifference = Yoga
Abandonment of attachments to outcomes
= surrendering yourself to God in meditation
= Yoga

By applying this principle to your everyday life, you will find that your endeavors are automatically more successful. When you truly and finally give up on something you want, it is free to come to you. When you apply it to your meditation, success is inevitable.

All your actions are performed absorbed in Yoga. ‘Absorbed in Yoga’ means ‘fully occupied with union’. This describes Surrender Meditation. Non-attachment and indifference to outcomes led us to this Yoga in the first place, and every action that occurs is now automatically performed freely and spontaneously due to being fully occupied with Yoga (union).

Indifference is Yoga.  In Surrender Meditation, you are indifferent: you are surrendered to the Divine. You are not trying to meditate a certain way, to make anything happen, to stop anything from happening, or to get any certain result, so your meditation is automatically successful whether it looks that way to you or not.

The only difficulty here is that we come into this practice with preconceived ideas. Preconceived ideas become expectations, and expectations become attachments—we want things to turn out a certain way because we think they should. But for surrender sadhana to work, we take what we get. To us, “indifference to success or failure” means that we do not have any investment in what our meditation experience will be like, whether our meditation will produce the results the we think it should, or not. We abandon ‘shoulds’.

Surrender Meditation is the excellent practice of giving up both attachments and motives, for a specific time period, in a proper and conducive setting, and the meditation is spontaneous. For those of us who practice this radical form of meditation, our meditation is our ‘lab’ where we discover for ourselves that we are not the cause of action, that this was the Truth all along, that what we really are does nothing and never did.

All action occurs in nature.
You are not nature.

Answer to the Trick Question: When you can give up attachments to outcomes, success will come. Things may not look quite how you thought they would, but they will be better than you expected. Indifference to success or failure is the key to reaching your aims and goals.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine You),
Durga Ma

Radical Meditation
Take the road less travelled. Schedule a Shaktipat Intensive. Shaktipat Intensives include shaktipat diksha and initiation into the authentic yoga of ancient masters that does all the work for you. I call this radical form of meditation, Surrender Meditation.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 47

All action occurs in nature, but you are not nature. Trick question: If what you are is not what causes actions, how can you be responsible for your actions? 

The Yoga of Action
(Karma Yoga) 

Your sphere of action is action itself, not its effects. Never consider yourself to be the cause of action or its effects, or allow effects of action be your motive for action. And never allow yourself to become attached to inaction.

Based on the Sanskrit, I count seven rules, or principles, of action stated in this one verse:

  1. Action is your ‘sphere of action’ (what you are entitled to). You are ‘connected with action’ (karmani) in this way only.
  2. Yoga‘ is action. So your sphere of action is Yoga.
  3. The effects of action are not yours. (Actions are none of your business, but are the business of Yoga.)
  4. You are not the cause of action.
  5. You do not produce the effects of action (action does that).
  6. Do not allow yourself to be motivated to act based on the effects of action.
  7. Do not suppose that these rules mean that you should resist action.

Action happens. It happens, as we learned in the last two verses, because of the interactions of the modes, or qualities, of nature (the three gunas). It is therefore inconsistent with the way things really are (dharma) to consider yourself to be the cause of actions, or a creator of the effects of actions, or to act based on what you expect the outcome of an action will be. It is the nature of nature to move, so trying to stop it is foolish because it is impossible. Action happens. Period.

Your sphere of action is action itself, not its effects. Actions will therefore happen without you. You don’t do anything in the first place. If you try to make something happen and it happens, you will fool yourself into believing that this was you doing something, you making something happen, when in truth, it was just nature doing her thing.

And never allow yourself to become attached to inaction. The same is true of trying to stop something from happening. Trying to stop something from happening is doing something. Trying to not do anything is doing something. You are still attempting to make yourself the actor by trying to stop action from happening. This is the core of the ‘ego’ (ahamkara, ‘I-doer’), and a waste of time.

This verse reveals the scope of the Bhagavad Gita as
a text on Yoga, 
a manual for achieving union with God,
eternal happiness, 
and liberation from rebirth.


The Science of Action

This verse explains Surrender Meditation, how it is practiced, and how it works to free you from sorrows, karma, bondage, and deliver you into the joy of union, Yoga.

Yoga is the science of action. It has roots so old they extend beyond known history into many, many thousands of years ago. The Gita was originally very short and to the point, and later expanded upon to give us what we call the Bhagavad Gita, the Song of God, which was later included into the heart and soul of the Mahabharata, the longest and oldest epic poem ever written. While the Gita is understandable as a text for understanding the nature of life and how to live it well, at its deepest level it is a complete text on achieving Yoga. Its origins are consistent with the origins of authentic meditation, or samadhi, and is pertinent to those who practice it.

Regarding Surrender Meditation

Shakti instigates all action. When you are surrendered to Absolute God in your meditation room, you accept what God brings. You are not invested in what that is — whether actions happen or not, whether you get any certain results or not. Consequently, Shakti is free to give you exactly what you need at any given moment.

You must not try to control the meditation or Shakti cannot work for you. Trying to remain perfectly still and inactive is an attempted action that will stop Shakti in Her tracks. Let go of your preconceived ideas about meditation and surrender to Her. She is God presenting as Divine Energy for your good.

One of the names of this practice is Karma Yoga, ‘the act of uniting with Absolute God’. Trying to make something happen or stop something from happening will prevent this unification (yoga, ‘union’).

Know this, but do not worry about it. Know that you surrender yourself as best you can, and that your surrender will increase over time, that all is well, and no progress is ever lost.

Answer to the Trick Question: You are not.
What you really are does nothing. It is only the ‘you’ that you believe yourself to be that believes it acts and assumes responsibility for actions and their effects (accumulates the karma that holds you in bondage). The Real You knows better. The Real You has always been free and in joy.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are),
Durga Ma

Radical Meditation
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Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 45-46

When you de-identify with nature, the Real You becomes apparent—you come awake to your true Self. 

The subject of the Vedas is the material world of the three gunas*. You must rise above this and become Self-realized Arjuna, transcending the gunas, ever of kind disposition, and free of duality and concern for safety.

Think of this as the firm resolve to fearlessly practice Yoga (previous verses), transcend materialism, and become Self-realized.

“Self-realized” — You know who and what you really are. God is constantly in your thoughts. Truth/God constantly pervades your awareness. God/Truth is all you think about. When thoughts of ordinary things arise, they arise within this context. You put this first before all else. Everything is all about God/Truth and your spiritual practice for maintaining union with That.

“Transcending the three gunas* — Getting past being identified with nature. Through meditation (dhyana), one ultimately becomes indifferent to the interactions of the gunas and can remain steadily in union. It is possible to learn how to behave in such a way as to portray this state to the satisfaction of onlookers, but this is not transcendence but very accomplished behavior. To transcend the three gunas of nature is to become truly free of ‘worldliness’. Meditation will naturally move one in this direction over time.

* The Three Gunas — The three qualities, or modes, of nature: Tamas - Fixed, slow-moving. Darkness, ignorance, mindlessness, laziness. Couch potato. Rajas - Intense, fast-moving. Passionate, desirous, lustful. Stimulus junkie. Sattvas - Smooth-flowing, easy-moving. Tranquil, clear, subtle. Easy-going.

One guna is not better than the other. The gunas are simply fundamental characteristics of nature. They affect each other like weather fronts affect climate.

“Ever of kind disposition” — Continuously established in kindness you are harmless, honest, self-honest and at peace. These are qualities of the Real You.

“Free of duality” — Free of concern for the effects of pairs of opposites. Opposites and their effects have no influence. You are truly independent, pure and content. These are qualities of the Real You.

“Free of concern for safety” — When God/Truth is ever present in your awareness, this takes care of itself. You cease to be concerned about acquiring or keeping things in order to feel safe and secure. This doesn’t mean you won’t have or keep things, but that you are not attached to them, distracted by having or getting them, or worrying about keeping them. You are non-possessive and non-attached, and the issue of security is moot—you are invulnerable. These are qualities of the Real You.

As much value as there is in a well when water is flooding on every side, so much is the value in all the Vedas for a God-person who Knows.

“The Vedas” — Consider this to be a reference to religious doctrines, dogmas, and belief-systems.

“A God-person who Knows” — A person of Wisdom, someone who is enlightened as to the Truth of how things really are. This is a quality of the Real You, a reference to what we have been taught up to this point being absorbed, understood and applied.

Remember my saying, ‘All action occurs in nature’? All action is the result of the interactions of the three gunas. That’s it. That’s all. Get this and your karma is over.

Namaste — I bow to the divine, perfect one that You really are,
Durga Ma

Radical Meditation
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Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 44

You have unlimited power—you have only to access it. You can afford to be desireless because everything you want is already yours—you have only to realize it. 

Being attached to enjoyment and power, the consciousness of the unenlightened is stolen away. They do not have the ability be singularly unwavering and cannot attain samadhi

“Being attached to enjoyment and power.” The purpose of this attachment is to fulfill desires. Attachment is itself a desire, a desire to hold on to something. In this case, one wants to hold on to enjoyment and power. So what does this tell you? This tells you that you must already have enjoyment and power or you couldn’t be concerned about keeping them.

“The consciousness of the unenlightened is stolen away — they do not have the ability to remain unwavering … so they cannot attain samadhi.”  Now we come to the point. ‘Consciousness’ refers to the attention—a flow of consciousness to what the mind is being conscious of. Desires keep the mind extroverted and in constant motion, preventing unwavering attention (stealing it away) and therefore, samadhi.

“Samadhi” — Equanimity, ‘equal-mind’. Remember where this started? With the equalization of opposites. And here is the prize: samadhi, ‘a unified state of mind’, whereby you can discover the real You (Self-realization). But samadhi can only be attained through the meditative state (dhyana) where there is an unwavering, uninterrupted flow of consciousness and life energy in one place for a sufficient length of time.

In addition to stealing the attention away and preventing the very thing we desire most, there is another liability inherent in desire:

Desire is an affirmation of lack.

A desire for something can only exist when there is a belief in the mind that you do not have it. A common technique for alleviating this perceived deficiency is to do positive affirmations, but by doing these affirmations you are strengthening the idea in your mind that you do not have what you want. Desires, especially acting on desires, give energy and strength to the (subconscious) belief of lack. Neither belief of lack nor mental agitation are harmonious with enjoyment and power, or samadhi.

This verse is not trying to make you feel guilty for having desires, for wanting power, for wanting those things in life that make you feel good. That is not its purpose. What it is trying to tell you is that you feel hungry for these things because you know their wonder and worth, and that you can only know this through your own experience.

Desiring something says “I want”, but why would you want something you already have? How could you possibly know what it would be like to have a desire fulfilled if you didn’t already know from your own experience? Chasing desires just drives you around in circles and accomplishes nothing.

Bonus Key

This verse is also giving you the key to reestablishing yourself in your true nature, your real Self. Such a beautiful and blissful state, and you know this, and you are hungry for it. It is not power and pleasure you want, but to reveal the You that is already perfect, powerful, and in-joy.

Namaste — I bow to the divine, powerful and joyous one that You really are,
Durga Ma

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