Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canto VI : the Yoga of Meditation

The steady-minded person (sthita-prajna) who is able to say truthfully, 'I do nothing at all, only my senses are busy', must be a very rare phenomenon. To dispel Arjuna's fear that he is not the candidate for such high-class spiritual achievement, Krishna provides the key shloka 40 of Canto VI. What matters in Yoga, he says, is not success but sincere effort.'The struggle for virtue (kalyan) is never wasted.'

Peace of mind is not a goal but a process. Krishna goes into some detail on the nature of this process, especially the signs by which it can be recognised. To begin with, the aspirants must discipline desire, he must learn to respect his atman by using it to control his animal impulses; he must discover the pleasures of solitude and solitariness; he must perform daily whatever physical yoga is required to discipline his body; he must practise the principle of golden mean in every activity; he must look on delight and suffering everywhere as his own.

Such effort and empathy characterise the true Yogi, who is superior to the penance-doers, the learned in theoretical knowledge, and the busily active. Such a person, explains Krishna, may not attain the supreme bliss (sukhamuttamam), but 'he is never far from me, and I am never far from him'.

The supreme bliss is not a product of determined seeking after it, but a possible by-product of honest yogic effort to improve the quality of one's humanity.

Krishna continued :

Whoever does his work selflessly combines renunciation and activity -- not one who does not work, or rejects the prescribed duties.

Right action is really renunciation. No yogi succeeds without discarding desire.

The man desirous of Yoga seeks action as the path; when Yoga is achieved, serenity takes over.

Then he is not bound either to sense-objects or to work, then he is rid of all desires.

The atman is the means of spiritual achievement. On no account should the atman be harmed. It is your best friend, do not make it your worst enemy.

It is a friend of the man who uses it to subdue it : it is an enemy of the man who does not.

The atman is the consummation of the tranquil-minded and the self-subdued, who are serene in heat and cold, disgust and delight, honour and infamy.

When a clod of earth, stone, and gold become alike, serenity is achieved.

Serenity is achieved by a man who considers impartially his friends, his lovers, enemies, kinsmen, even the wicked.

Living in solitude, mind and and body's passion in check, a yogi should strive for absorbtions in the atman.

And he should seat himself in a clean spot, not too high and not too low, spread over with the kusha grass, deer-skin, and a piece of cloth.

And fixing his mind on a single goal, subduing the demands of the eager senses, he should struggle in Yoga, to cleanse his heart.

And he must hold his body still, his head and neck erect, not let his eyes stray, but gaze only at the tip of his nose.

Tranquil and courageous, an avowed brahmachari, his mind subdued, his thougt focussed on me, he must sit, considering me his ultimate goal.

Thus absorbed, thus steadfast, lost in me, he will find peace, and bliss beyond peace, called Nirvana.

Yoga is not for the glutton, or one who fasts too much; it is not for the sleep-heavy or the sleepless.

Yoga destroys despair; it is only for the moderate in eating and resting, in sleeping and working.

You become tranquil when the subdued mind is established in the atman, when anxiety is overcome, and desires abandoned.

The flame of a wind-less lamp is never fitful -- a good smile for a controlled yogi, absorbed in Yoga.

When the mind is steady in Yoga and achieves tranquility, and when the atman reveals Brahman, when one is contented in atman;

When perfect calm comes, experienced by the liberated atman ( a goal from which there is no straying);

And when, having achieved this ineffable state, no anxiety disturbs --

Yoga is won ! And this is achieved after much hardship.

Forsaking desire, and controlling his senses, the yogi must not think of anything else.

Success will come by slow degrees. Should his fickle mind stray,

He must subdue it, reclaim it, and guide it by the atman.

The supreme bliss is found only by the tranquil yogi, whose passions have been stilled.

His desires washed away, the yogi easily achieves union with the Brahman.

He sees the atman in all beings, and all being in the atman, for his heart is firm in Yoga.

Who sees me in all things, and all things in me, he is never far from me, and I am never far from him.

He worships me and lives in me, whoever he might be, for he has achieved unity of being, he sees me in all things.

He treats delight and suffering everywhere as his own, he is the supreme yogi.

Arjuna said :

You have told me this Yoga of peace and unity of being, but my mind is restless, I do not understand what you say.

For the mind, Krishna, is powerful, violent, uncontrollable. Harnessing the mind is like harnessing the wind.

Krishna replied :

The mind indeed is all that you say, Arjuna, but determination helps; and renunciation curbs it.

Without determination, no man can reach Yoga, but the self-disciplined, struggling nobly, can achieve it.

Arjuna asked :

What happens to the well-meaning man who does not succeed in Yoga ; whose mind wanders, who loses control --

Does he not plummet down, is he not doomed like a tattered cloud ?

Dispel this doubt, Krishna -- you are the best remover of doubt.

Krishna replied :

He need not fear, neither now nor later -- the struggle for virtue is never wasted.

He reaches the worlds of the blessed, and lives a long time; then he is reincarnated in the homes of the prosperous and the righteous.

Or he finds birth among learned yogis -- a difficult birth to obtain, very difficult.

Then he gets back his former intelligence, and once again struggles in Yoga.

His primary struggle continues its momentum. Even a man who merely asks to be enlightened in Yoga is superior to the performer of mechanical rituals.

The yogi who perseveres, resolves through numerous births before reaching the supreme goal.

Be a yogi, Arjuna, for the yogi is above those who do penance, above the learned, and above the active workers.

And even among the yogis, he is the best who communes with me in his atman. I am sure of this.

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