III:4-5 Attaining Samadhi

If we believe that trying to stop the activities of the body, mind and feelings in meditation is necessary to reach samadhi and liberation, Lord Krishna is correcting our thinking.

NOTE: For those of you whose spiritual orientation is surrender, as is mine, my commentaries on the next several verses address this approach and tell how this path works. If your orientation is other than surrender, you will draw your own conclusions accordingly.

4
Not by abstaining from action can one get beyond action. Not by renunciation can one reach samadhi.

Alternate translation:

One cannot get beyond action by trying to make it stop. One cannot reach samadhi by trying to make it happen.

“Not by abstaining from action can one get beyond action

Action
Karma

You cannot become inactive by not acting. Because it is the nature of nature to move, trying to stop action is an action—not acting is doing something.

You cannot get beyond karma without action. Not acting is not going to clear your karmic slate. It is you believing yourself to be the ‘doer’ of actions that created your karma. Trying to stop action just creates more karma. When this is understood, it is easy to see that…

“Not by renunciation can one reach samadhi

Renunciation
Sannyasa

The word for renunciation is sannyasa, meaning ‘the abandonment of worldly concerns’, which is reflected in most translations. When one ‘renounces the world’ in favor of the spiritual path, what one is renouncing is the sense of ‘doership’, the assumption that one is the doer of actions. The effort of the sannyasi is to perform practices for reaching the direct realization that he is not the doer of actions. Some take vows of renunciation to commit themselves to this, but for those who are sincerely dedicated to the path, renunciation will come of its own accord, in its own time, with or without vows.

The essential meaning of the word sannyasa is ‘to make an effort, or exert oneself’. In this verse, one’s efforts, or practices, concern the renunciation of action, either through intention or realization, depending upon the stage of progress of the seeker. Even so, as it is says in the verse, you still cannot reach samadhi (the state of union) by trying to make it happen.

The Aim of Yoga is Samadhi

If we believe that sitting as still as a stone, mentally and physically, is necessary to reach samadhi, we are being corrected in our thinking in this verse. But this is how most people meditate. Perhaps this is because they are just seeking some peace. That subject was covered in chapter two, but now we are going forward and looking at canceling our karma and reaching samadhi and liberation. Lord Krishna is saying that avoiding action is not going to work for this purpose. Renunciation is not what will get you there.

Following a little logic, we might assume the reverse: Reaching samadhi is precipitated by some kind of action. We tend to think of the mind as our greatest asset, but Lord Krishna’s focus is on action—the union of two opposing forces in the body, represented here as the battle in which He is urging Arjuna to engage. 

* The battle - the clashing together of the Kurus (doers), and the Pandavas (risk-takers), that awakens the evolutionary force, kundalini.

5
Indeed, no one, even for a moment, is ever without action. All living beings are compelled to act by the gunas of nature. 

It is the nature of nature to move, so when we try to stop actions from happening, we are trying to control nature. Trying to control nature is doing something, and we are being told that we are not going to get away with this. We cannot stop nature from doing what it does best: it is always moving and always changing.

Some translations say that we are ‘helplessly compelled to act’, or ‘compelled to act against our will’, or ‘compelled to act in spite of our will’. However hard we try to use our will to sit still, and to make our minds be still, nothing is going to change the fact that this is not going to get us to the goal of the highest samadhi and liberation.

It is not you, but the interactions of the modes of nature, the three gunas, that are the cause of all action.

You can think of the gunas as similar to the way weather acts according to the interactions of meteorological conditions. They mix, confront and repel each other to varying degrees to produce numerous unique actions.

Gunas-ed

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
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III:1-3 Arjuna’s Angst

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Three
“The Yoga of Action”
Verses 1 to 3

Arjuna is rattled at this apparent contradiction of Krishna’s and addresses him as Agitator of Men, and in the same breath tries to mend his own agitation with a compliment calling him Handsome Haired One! Clever boy. But his question is a good one, for in chapter two, verses 38 and 39, Krishna extolls buddhi*, which we have mostly read as ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom’, yet He urges Arjuna to act. Arjuna is still confused about all this, so with his next breath he says to Krishna, Just tell me what to do!

1
Arjuna spoke:
If you consider knowledge to be superior to action, O Agitator of Men, why do you urge me to terrible action, O Handsome Haired One?

2
With speech that seems equivocal you confuse my mind. This one thing tell me for certain: By which shall I attain the highest good. 

Buddhi is the ability to form and retain concepts, ideas, etc. It translates as knowledge, wisdom, intellect, reason, discernment, discrimination, judgement, mind, opinion, perception, thought, belief, and so on, depending upon its usage in the text.

3
The Blessed Lord spoke:
In this world there are two paths taught previously by me, Blameless One: the Knowledge Yoga of the followers of Sankhya*, and the Karma Yoga of the Yogis.

* Sankhya means 'taking into account all that can be known'. Sankhya is one of the divisions of Hindu philosophy. The followers of Sankhya are said to be knowledge-oriented.

“Blameless One” Oh, good. Krishna has exonerated Arjuna’s angst, so we too, can relax.

Krishna previously addressed Knowledge Yoga and Action Yoga in chapter two, but by attempting to discover which is better, it appears that Arjuna has not understood that both are valid paths to the same end. It is not a question of one being better than the other, but that Arjuna’s personal orientation is best suited to Action Yoga.

“The Knowledge Yoga of the followers of Sankhya”

The word for knowledge, jñāna ( ज्ञान ), refers to ‘knowing’, not just knowing by learning from an external source, but the knowing that is gained through meditation. In meditation, one comes to ‘know’ without the aid of the senses and the mind, and though one might not be able to prove the veracity of what gets ‘known’ to anyone else, it is proved to the meditator with certainty. This kind of knowledge is very different from the knowledge gained through conventional sources. It is in this sense that followers of Sankhya refer to Knowledge Yoga, knowledge (jnana) gained through union (yoga).

“The Action Yoga of the Yogis”

The word for action is karma ( कर्म ). Karma and yoga are practically synonymous terms, for one cannot have yoga (union) without action—the action of uniting one thing with another. Where the follower of Knowledge Yoga has knowledge as his focus, a yogi’s focus is on the action that delivers it.

Beyond this enlightenment, the yogi also seeks liberation from rebirth, which can only be attained when both the credits and debts of previous actions are settled. To this end, the yogi seeks the realization of non-doership and considers all actions as not his own.

Three Paths

It is generally taught that there are three paths—Knowledge, Action and Devotion. These three are said to reflect the different natures of people and their personal orientations: mentally-oriented, action-oriented, and feeling-oriented. So why are only Knowledge and Action mentioned in this verse?

Devotion, or bhakti, is necessary for Knowledge Yoga and Action Yoga to be effective, so it is automatically included in both. Some take the path of Devotion solely, believing that it alone is sufficient. It is conceivable that Devotion is enough, for when practiced comprehensively it will inevitably lead one to knowledge and action as well, as these two are inevitable for the serious seeker.

Knowledge Yoga – Jnana Yoga
Karma Yoga – Action Yoga
Bhakti Yoga – Devotional Yoga

Self-reference: To which are you most inclined? Throughout your day, whenever you think of it, see if you can determine which motivates your own actions the most. Are you mostly knowledge oriented, action oriented, of feeling oriented? Which one appeals to you, inspires you, and motivates you the most? Which is strongest for you?

Ultimately, whatever one’s personal orientation, after a time, sadhana (spiritual practices) will lead to all three, and one will be no stronger or weaker than the other.

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

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69 – 72 The Awakened State Reveals the Real

Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verses 69 – 72

69
That which is night to all beings is day for the sage. That which is day to all beings, is night for the sage.

Alternate translation:
The awakened state of the Sage is but a dream to everyone else; what is real to them is the dream to the Sage.

The awakened state reveals the Real. Our everyday sense of life and this world is the dream. The several verses leading up to this one have been teaching us how to attain this state that exposes the Real.

“The Sage”
Samyami

Samyami – ‘having restraint’, from samyama, meaning ‘holding together, restraining, binding, tying up’. The root is yama, meaning ‘reined, curbed, bridled, restrained’.

The Samyami is the Sage for whom something is being held together, restrained. What is restrained for him is his senses. You will recall that this is pratyahara, the state in which the senses become restrained, withdrawn from their objects. We are being reminded of this yet again, so reaching this state must be very important for revealing the Truth about how things really are.

Samyama

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the last three steps of yoga (union)—concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and the equanimity of union (samadhi)—taken together as one state, is called samyama.

The state of samyama can only be reached through pratyahara (restraint of the senses), the fifth step of yoga, which is reached through the fourth step, pranayama (life-force restraint). This is a natural sequence of events that occurs as one advances, and describes the Samyami, the Sage, for whom life is but a dream.

8 Steps of Yoga - Screen Shot - no shadow

70
Like an ocean becoming filled with water yet remaining unmoved, one for whom all desires enter while remaining unmoved, attains peace. This is not the case for one who longs for his desires. 

71
But that person who remains indifferent to desires, acts desirelessly. Indifferent and non-doing, he attains peace. 

Alternate translations:

Just as an ocean remains unmoved when water enters it, one who remains unmoved as all desires enter him, attains serenity, but not one who yearns for the fulfillment of his desires. 

That person who remains indifferent to all desires, acts desirelessly. Disinterested, without the sense of doership, he attains serenity.

Desires will continue to arise within us as the senses continue making contact with desirable objects, but by remaining indifferent to these desires we are not motivated to act on them. Thus we end-run our egos (‘I do’), and as ‘non-doers’ we find peace.

‘Indifference’ does not mean that we have no desires, but that we are not excited by them to the point that we mentally linger on them and become compelled to chase after them. Not being under the sway of the senses is consistent with the Truth that (1) we already have/are everything, and (2) what we really are does nothing (nirahańkāraḥ, ‘I am not the doer of actions’). Until this truth is realized within us, we cultivate its arrival by not allowing our desires to control us.

Self-referencing: Note the difference between the object of desire and the desire itself.

During your day, whenever you think of it, without self-criticism, try making this distinction when you are confronted by something you find desirable, by separating your perception of the object, from your perception of the desire for it. This simple exercise will help you to overcome the tyranny of the senses. Because you cannot be what you perceive, you will separate yourself both from the senses, and from desire itself.

This is the culmination of what this chapter started with. It presents us with the concept of ‘ego’ as acting from the assumption that we are the ones doing things (ahamkara, ‘I do’), and that this assumption is incorrect.

What we truly are already ‘has’ everything, is everything, is everywhere without limitation. Every desire we take so seriously that we feel compelled to act, ‘to do’ something, in order to obtain it, contradicts this truth. Conversely, in the state of samyama we are one with Truth.

72
Fixed in this God-state, Arjuna, never again does one become confused or unconscious. Situated in it even at the hour of death, God-Nirvana is assured.

“God-Nirvana is assured”

God Nirvana is Divine Beatitude, the eternal happiness and highest bliss that is God. We are being assured of this. Even if we only reach this state of ‘disinterested non-doership’ at the last minute of the hour of death, we are assured Brahma-Nirvana. Seems like something worth cultivating, don’t you think?

” Having renounced all actions precipitated by the mind, not acting nor causing action, the Embodied One (you) sits happily as the ruler within the city whose gates are nine (the body).”

— Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita, chapter five, verse 13

End of Chapter Two
The Yoga of Knowledge

________________________

This chapter is called the Yoga of Knowledge and yet we have long been discussing action, so I think we can safely say that we have gained some knowledge about action. What we have learned about action in this chapter has to do with enlightenment and Self-realization. With this knowledge, we can understand it and cultivate it until it’s a done deal. In chapter three we will learn more about what action really is.

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

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SURRENDER MEDITATION 
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REMOTE SHAKTIPAT
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PRACTICAL MEDITATION
This link will take you to nine progressive courses in authentic meditation for both beginning and experienced meditators. I have designed these courses to provide basic essentials for anyone on any path (or no path), and so that the meditation that is most natural and comfortable for you becomes apparent to you.

67 – 68 Fixing Bumps In The Road

Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse 67 – 68

Verses 67 and 68 are in answer to the dilemma presented in verse 66: “There is no intelligence or meditation for one whose senses are not restrained, and for one who does not meditate there is no serenity. Without serenity how can there be happiness?”

67 – The Bump
When the mind is filled with the acquisitions provided by the roaming senses, it carries away one’s Intelligence, like the wind a ship on the water. 

You’ve made good progress and have some real wisdom, and along comes a bump in the road and you start missing your meditation practice. Not because it is difficult to meditate, but because the ‘roaming senses’ are busy 24/7 and you’ve gotten caught up in things and can’t find the time. You may think it is because you are a responsible person and have so much to do. But this is not why you are not meditating.

You are not meditating because, looking for a little happiness, you get seduced by the things in your mind “provided by the roaming senses”—your thoughts about these things, your thoughts about your thoughts, and the way they make you feel. And the “I-do-stuff” part of your mind (ahamkara) can’t relax, can’t leave these things alone.

Happiness. Verse 66 above very clearly states that you’re not going to get it without meditation. All that rustling around and duty-doing isn’t going to do it. Meditation is.

You have a right to happiness.
It is your natural state.

68 – The Fix
Therefore, Mighty Armed, endeavor to withdraw completely the senses from the objects of sense, thus reestablishing your Intelligence.

This verse is giving us the remedy for the occasional bump in the road when we get caught up in things. ‘Things’ are always sense objects even when they look like ‘shoulds’—the roaming senses pick up on ‘things’ (that’s what senses do) and into the mind they go, and there they work their evil magic and get us all excited and involved again. Now the mind is a whirlwind of activity, “like the wind a ship on the water”… in a storm.

You may think that something that is up in your life doesn’t qualify as a sense object, so let me clarify that. Anything you can perceive, be conscious of, is an ‘object of sense’ because it is a product of what the senses have brought into your mind where you are conscious of it*.

* The exception to this is memory of direct experience.

“Mighty Armed”

By addressing Arjuna as Mighty Armed, Lord Krishna is calling you ‘strong'; He is saying to you, “You can do this, so make the effort.”

Effort? What happened to surrender? Well, that is for the meditation room, so it’s off to the meditation room and away from all the glitter and guts. That is the effort. Now that we’re here in the meditation room, we can breathe a sigh of relief as we take this opportunity to surrender to the Divine, and turn things over to That—It always knows what It’s doing, even when we don’t—and kick back.

Here in the meditation room we know we’re not doing anything, we’ve delegated all that. In here we are completely free. In here the magic of pratyahara will relieve us of our distress by withdrawing the senses from their objects and bring us serenity and happiness.

So if you want to know why you have trouble getting yourself to meditate, this is it: You are living in a storm of things in your mind creating havoc. Make the effort to walk away from it (it only takes a second or two) and get into your meditation room. Once you’re there, you know what to do: NOTHING. Your mind may rebel, but your soul will rejoice.

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


SURRENDER MEDITATION 
Through shaktipat diksha and initiation into this radical meditation, you will put God in the driver’s seat. Surrender to the Absolute will do all the work for you, and Kundalini will awaken naturally and safely. Schedule a Shaktipat Intensive.

REMOTE SHAKTIPAT
If you can’t manage a Shaktipat Intensive in Phoenix, you will be glad to learn that Remote Shaktipat is back with a new program that provides as much information, teachings, and guidance as a person could ever want, need, or expect to get online.  

PRACTICAL MEDITATION
This link will take you to nine progressive courses in authentic meditation for both beginning and experienced meditators. I have designed these courses to provide basic essentials for anyone on any path (or no path), and so that the meditation that is most natural and comfortable for you becomes apparent to you.