III:36-37 Outfoxing the Force

What is it that causes a person to act contrary to what will bring them what they seek? 

BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSES 36-37 

36
Arjuna spoke:
Then by what is one impelled to act so hazardously, even unwillingly, as if compelled by some force?

What is it that causes a person to act contrary to what will bring them what they seek? Even though we take a path best suited to our individual natures (verses 33-35) and do our best to practice these teachings faithfully, we can still be derailed. Why? What causes this?

37
The Blessed Lord spoke:
This force is desire, this force is anger, of which the rajas guna is the source. It is powerfully ravenous and consuming. Know it to be in this matter, the enemy.

Both desire and anger are problematic because of rajas, not because wanting something or feeling angry are inherently evil, but because of the consuming power of rajas, one of the three gunas (modes) of nature. Of the three, rajas is the most compelling—like a hurricane is compelling, or a tornado, or the heat of the desert, or the frozen tundra of the poles. For this reason, one practicing yoga sadhana is always wary of rajas.

“Desire and anger”

Desire (kama) and anger (krodha) are forms of ‘passion’ (rajas). Kama, desire, refers to sensual desire, and krodha, anger, refers to the reaction brought about by thwarted desire. In this way, they go together, anger being instigated by (thwarted) desire.

  • Desire is a function of the senses and the mind, anger is an emotion.
  • Desire is a want, anger is a feeling.
  • Both desire and anger rely on rajas.

Where desire and anger are concerned, rajas, passion, is the enemy, to greater and lesser degrees—with desire, the greater being lust and the lesser being what you want for lunch; with anger, the greater being wrath and the lesser being simple frustration with a task. 

“In this matter, the enemy” 

In this verse, we are talking about the rajasic nature of desire and anger making them “powerfully ravenous and consuming”. Rajas is said to be the source of both desire and anger. In other words, they cannot exist without some degree of rajas, and rajas, being a force of nature that is “powerfully ravenous and consuming”, cannot be suppressed. 

Rajas is not intrinsically bad any more that desire and anger are intrinsically bad. (By themselves, they might only be irritants.) Rajas is, after all, a property of nature and therefore divine in the relative sense. It is desire and anger that are the problem when they are powerful and ravenous. This understanding has led many a seeker to avoid anything of a rajasic nature, including food, people and places. Not a bad idea, really.

The Solution

It is often said that by increasing sattvas, tranquillity, the power of rajas is decreased, and that controlling desires controls lust, and that controlling lust controls anger. This is a logical stream of thought. Such practices can be effective, but require rigid willpower and must be constantly monitored.

The real solution to this dilemma is ‘indifference’. If nothing matters, desire is moot and there is nothing to become angry about. When you don’t care, neither desire nor anger can exist because rajas is not present, and both are dependent upon rajas for their existence.

So how do we get there? We take the teachings given by Lord Krishna seriously, and follow them. Chapters two and three are full of them, and more teachings on action will be coming up in chapter four to give us greater understanding. Their practice will bring us to a state of fulfillment where desires do not live. Once we have had a taste of this satisfying state, we will want more, and the more we experience it, the easier it will come, and desires will die a gradual and natural death.

Until that time, stick with your sadhana. Do not be too hard on yourself regarding desires, and control angry behaviors so as not to hurt or upset others, for it is simply not your inherent nature to do so. Such practices are money in the bank for making your road lighter and more fulfilling.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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III:33-35 Liberation! Conclusion

Better one’s own dharma done poorly than another’s done well. 

BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSES 33-35

33
Everyone, even the Wise, acts according to their own dharma. All beings follow their own nature. What will suppression accomplish?

“The Wise”  Those enlightened as to the truth of the teachings Lord Krishna has given to Arjuna.

“One’s own dharma” One’s natural characteristics and tendencies.
Lord Krishna has previously indicated that Arjuna’s natural path, the path that suits him, is Karma Yoga (the Yoga of Action). There are different kinds of Karma Yoga, but the path that Arjuna is to take is the path naturally suited to one with the ability to succeed in sun-moon union (hatha yoga).

“What will suppression accomplish?” Nothing. So why would we try to make ourselves into something we are not, when it is not going to work anyway?

When a new student comes to me, I usually will ask them what they want. They are often confused by this question because they expect that a teacher of Eastern spiritual disciplines will insist on their giving up desires. But it is an important question if I am to take them where the want to go, so I need to know where that is. Not surprisingly, most do not know.

It is important to take a path that does not conflict with one’s own dharma, but rather than telling someone what to do based on age and caste, I would much rather let students come to it on their own.

A person’s natural dharma usually shows up in what they truly want. This is not a matter of chasing desires, but of using knowledge of a person’s desires to help that person get to the bottom of them, which is where their true calling will lie. This will then suggest the best path for him. Once on their natural path, they will be lead to the elimination of the compulsion to chase desires, and desires will die a natural death over time.

Two Paths

There are two types paths: one of intention (pravritti), and one of surrender (nivritti). Some wants, or desires, will lead in one direction, and some in the other. So a person must know what they want lest they find themself engaged in practices that take them in a direction that conflicts with their dharma.

One may have wants that a teacher will identify as being a path of knowledge, action, or devotion, and associated with that of a student or scholar, a householder, a hermit, or a renunciate, which generally show up at different ages, though there are some exceptions.

Once the teacher knows what the student truly wants, he can then be guided in a way consistent with his dharma. When a student doesn’t really know what he wants, the teacher may give the student the means of determining this, or may proceed with instructions based on (1) personal tendencies and age, or (2) what the student thinks he wants.

In the second case, the teacher will watch to see if instructions need to be adjusted until his true calling asserts itself. This is certainly more work for the teacher than the first, but I find that when a person gets to the bottom of the endless desires pulling him in one direction after another, his dharma and what he wants will match.

34
Attraction and aversion have their source in the senses coming into contact with their objects. One should not come under the control of these two—they are truly one’s two adversaries

This was discussed at length in earlier verses. In short, what a person wants, he wants because he likes it. What he likes and doesn’t like—’attractions and aversions’—is determined by his experiences with what is picked up by his senses. What goes into the mind gets there through the senses, and what the mind holds it tends to either like or dislike. Hence the term ‘desires of the mind’.

These desires confuse nearly everyone about what they want in life. Earlier in life, one may know what they want, but it is not long before this is forgotten due to wanting ‘this’ in order to get ‘that’, and the original want, which was closer to the truth, is lost due to massive pile-ups of these subsidiary wants. Hence the necessity to get to the bottom of things.

Everyone has two life purposes:
One is unique to the individual, the other is the same for everyone.

Then there is the problem of the control these desires exert over one’s life by creating actions and behaviors, and even more desires, that have little or nothing to do with the person. In the end, this becomes “who I am”, which is of course, completely illusory. Indeed one does get ‘lost’. So considering ‘attachment and aversion’ your ‘enemies’ is very much to the point, and a wise thing to do, because…..

35
It is better to perform one’s own dharma poorly than to perform another’s well, even if death comes in the process, for performing the dharma of another invites extreme danger.

Lying beneath all our likes and dislikes, all of which are opposites, we will find our true dharma, or life-purpose, and the spiritual path that will support it. Anything less just leads to disaster and wastes time, and life itself.

Self-reference:  To get to the bottom of things, ask yourself what you want, why you want it, what is so desirable about it, and see what you get. Then ask these same questions about the answer you get. Repeat this with every answer (which will be some kind of mentally based desire) until you get as far as you can go. This may or may not be the ‘bottom’, but it is a start.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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Seating is very limited, so please call or come in to register in advance
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III:30-32 Liberation!

If you are interested in God, think only of God. If you think only of God, all your actions will be God-actions. God-actions are free of karma. Free of karma, you become free of the hidden dictates that rule your life—you are liberated—YOU ARE FREE.

BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSES 30-32

30
Disinterested and indifferent to worldly concerns and thinking only of Me, surrender all actions to Me. Fight, your fever departed.

In this verse, Lord Krishna gives us the means of divesting ourselves of ‘ego’ (ahamkara, ‘I do’), which was mentioned in the last verses as vital to our success.

If you truly think only of God, you will not be interested in or thinking of anything else, so all actions will naturally be spontaneous God-actions. If you can understand this teaching and continue to practice it, it will take you nicely down the road to liberation. It is that significant.

“Surrender all actions to Me”

Meditation is the steady, unwavering flow of attention to one thing. In Surrender Meditation this happens on its own. By surrendering yourself completely to God, actions occur spontaneously, and lead to union with God. Disinterested and indifferent to everything else, you become aware (‘thinking’) only of God. 

Meditation for Liberation

In Surrender Meditation, one’s attention is not always on one thing, but it becomes so. When the attention finally settles in one place, so does the prana (life energy). With the prana remaining still, the mind remains still, thus producing true meditation, dhyana, the meditative state, and samadhi.

Where the attention goes, prana flows.
When the mind stops moving, prana stops moving.

When prana stops moving, the mind stops moving.
The state of the attention is the state of prana.

Just as we practice yoga in order to achieve yoga (union), we practice meditation in order to achieve meditation (dhyana). Perhaps we should call this practice Surrender Yoga, for it is the surrender of oneself to God that leads to union with God, and liberation.

“Fight your fever departed”

The word ‘fight’ takes us back to the beginning of this dialogue, where we learned that the ensuing battle represents two opposing forces in the body that are about to come crashing together and awaken kundalini. Thus the accumulation of conflicting energies causing heat in the body—the ‘fever’—is relieved by this ‘fight’, and kundalini gets on with Her job.

31
Those who continually practice these teachings of Mine faithfully, without spite or ill will, are released from the bondage of action (karma).
 

By the above described practice done either regularly (the householder) or continually (the renunciate), one’s karmic bondage is gradually loosened and ultimately neutralized, and liberation is attained.

“The bondage of action” – The words ‘action’ andkarma’ are synonymous. ‘Bondage’ is commonly understood to be the constant repetition of rebirths that is generated by the effects of choices made in favor of personal desires. When these desires are either fulfilled or cast off, the account is settled and one is no longer compelled to return.

By ‘cast off’ I mean that desires are disregarded until they die a natural death. Fulfilling desires counts, but the difficulty with trying to reach liberation this way is the multitude of additional desires that are generated in the process, making this strategy practically useless.

“Without spite or ill will” is said in connection with these teachings of Lord Krishna. You can back-track through chapter three for them.

WARNING: Persons with fragile egos who wish to retain them, should probably not read the following verse and commentary:

32
But those envious critics who do not practice My teachings, being deluded by one teaching after another, know them to be corrupted, unconscious and lost.
 

Lord Krishna tells us that such people become deluded by hopping from one teaching to another, one teacher to another, causing them to become ‘corrupted, unconscious and lost’.

You become ill and see a doctor. The doctor gives you a remedy. But you are not immediately satisfied and go to another doctor who gives you a different remedy, which is also ineffective. So you go to yet another doctor who gives you yet another remedy and still you feel ill. Finally, in desperation, you go back to the first doctor. When he discovers you have been using three remedies he says, “How can I possibly know what is doing what, and what is working for you, if you do not stick to one thing? And how can I know that your problem doesn’t persist simply because you have been mixing the medicine!”

We Westerners are a spoiled lot, expecting that a little positive thinking will get us what we want. The fulfillment of desires is practically a religion with us. Most of us reject having to do anything to reach a state we think of as spiritually ‘advanced’. Rather than sincerely trying to understand and practice the teachings of those who have succeeded, we try to make the words fit our circumstances, and pat ourselves on the back for our greatness. When anyone or anything would suggest the truth of the matter, we believe we already know it, and speak ill of anything or anyone propounding what is other than our own (convenient) beliefs.

It is fashionable in the West to be ‘eclectic’. One thinks that he or she can know more by taking up many different teachings, but until one has had one’s own direct experiences and become a sage who no longer needs any medicine, mixing the medicine will only stall the process. Short of reaching this stage oneself, it is better to take refuge in the sage.

A certain amount of ‘shopping’ is good sense, but one must not just keep on shopping. One must settle down and get on with it. And one must be beyond ‘spite and ill-will’ and ‘envy and criticism’, lest one become ‘corrupted, unconscious and lost’.

Coming this week: Liberation!, Conclusion.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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III:28-29 Fast Track to Freedom, Conclusion

By persisting with the practice of the teachings as prescribed by Lord Krishna, enlightenment begins as simple knowledge that you trust to be true, but do not entirely experience. Continuing with your practice, you come to experience and understand it. Over time it becomes so obvious that it seems ludicrous to have ever thought otherwise. 

BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSES 28-29

28
Having understood the truth about action and the gunas—that all actions are the gunas acting among themselves—one is not attached (stuck, bound).

“All actions are the gunas acting among themselves”

All action is the interaction of the primary properties of prakriti (f. Nature), the original producer, or power, of Creation. The three primary properties of prakriti are:

Rajas – very active, fast moving
Sattvas – smooth-flowing, easy-going
Tamas – very slow or still

It is these three modes of nature acting among themselves that is the cause of all action. This is encouraging—to divest yourself of ‘ego’ (ahamkara, ‘I do’) you have only to unconditionally accept this to be true. 

All action is the interaction of these three gunas and not of your doing no matter how it seems to your mind, or how you experience it or feel about it. It is not you. So when in Surrender Meditation you wonder if you made some kriya happen and begin to coubt your surrender, remember this: ALL ACTION is the interaction of the gunas.

29
Not understanding this, people become intoxicated by the gunas and attached to the actions of the gunas. These unhappy people who do not understand the whole of it, the complete knower should not disturb.

Confused and bewildered by the properties of nature, non-knowers fully engage themselves in actions and become attached to them as their own. Stuck in this belief, they cling to their investments—convinced of having done these actions themselves, they believe the fruits of these actions to be their own as well. This makes letting go very difficult and creates karma that continues to hold them in the bondage of good and bad actions. Still, people cling to this mode of living when simply understanding and accepting the truth about action could put them on the fast track to freedom.

This verse is not telling you that you have to be a fully enlightened sage. You have but to accept these teachings about action as the truth. This is not so very difficult. It is certainly easier than living in bondage just to be able to keep an ego in tact.

Self-reference:  As you go about your usual day, think about this from time to time, e.g., you pick up a file folder from a desk, you notice this action and remind yourself of this teaching: “This is Nature’s doing.” Have fun and see what happens. Make a few notes to remind yourself of your observations, and let us hear from you. (Click “Leave a Reply” below.)

Having given you this simple exercise, I do hope I have not overly “disturbed” your mind. If I have, I am fairly certain that you will pass over this self-referencing bit and ignore the whole thing, no harm done. On the other hand, if your mind is not too “disturbed” and you give it a go, you are probably on your way to a subtle but very powerful shift within yourself and your life.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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III:27 Fast Track to Freedom

What you truly are does nothing at all and never has. What you seem to be doing is really nature at work. It only seems like you are doing something because you are identified with nature. But you are not nature, you are you. Knowing this, and constantly reminding yourself of it, is the fast track to freedom. 

BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSE 27 

27
All actions are performed by the gunas of nature. Deluded by the ego, one imagines oneself to be the doer of actions. 

What you are is different from what you do. What you are is divine, perfect and Absolute. What you are being is human, imperfect and Relative. What you are does nothing. What you are being does. What you are being is in the Relative realm of nature. All action occurs in nature, instigated by shakti and performed by the interactions of the three fundamental modes of nature: stillness, ease, and intensity. Imagining yourself to be the doer of actions is the result of mistaken identity with these modes of nature. This mistaken identity is known as ‘ego’.

Ego: ahańkāra, ‘I do’. This is what the word ‘ego’ means in yogic teachings. Ego is the belief that you are the doer of actions. You seem to be doing things because you are identified with nature, i.e., your body.

Ego, and other such terms used in these writings are not to be confused with similar Freudian psychological terms.

Self-reference:  When you become aware of doing something, you have become aware of ‘ego’—you have become aware that you are identifying with nature. Noticing this, you become deidentified with nature, and with actions as your own doing. This simple approach works because you can’t be the thing that you are perceiving.

Once having noticed this, ask yourself, Who’s looking?

Mind No Mind

It is said that the ego is the core of the mind, so what happens if you don’t have an ego? Do you become mindless?

Enlightenment is often thought of as the absence of ego, the absence of ‘me’. If there is no ‘me’ there cannot be identification with anything because there is no ‘me’ to become identified. But ahamkara (‘I do’) suggests that it is the sense of doership that is ego. The sense of self remains, but the difference is, once enlightened, you know what that is, and ‘me’ becomes moot.

By persisting with the practice of the teachings as prescribed by Lord Krishna, enlightenment begins as simple knowledge that you trust to be true, but do not entirely experience. Continuing with your practice, you come to experience and understand it. Over time it becomes so obvious that it seems ludicrous to have ever thought otherwise…and you catch yourself laughing at yourself in the midst of meditation!

When one finally reaches nirbija samadhi, then the sense of self does truly disappear (and you are certainly ‘mindless’), but returns upon vyutthana, an elevated state that follows. This blissful state persists for some while—hours, days, weeks, or…..

Anatomy of the Mind
(Graphic Illustration)

Coming this week: Fast Track to Freedom, Conclusion.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

Shaktipat Intensives
Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga – Surrender Meditation
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