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Jan. 23, 2022

Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 2: Verse 58 - Verse 61)

Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 2: Verse 58 - Verse 61)

In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 58 - 61. Shri Krishna guides on how we can meditate on the Supreme Self and how to remain steady in wisdom!

Translation used: The Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive: A Radical Translation by Jeffrey Armstrong Available here on Amazon

If you would like to dwell deeper in the Bhagavad Gita, I recommend Swami Gambhirananda's translation with Adi Shankara ji's commentary: Available here on Amazon

I hope you enjoyed listening to the 16th episode of the Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita and if you are interested in listening to more episodes like this on further chapters and verses, or on Non-Duality, or you want to learn more about the wisdom of the Mystics please follow/subscribe to this Podcast.

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Transcript

Hello and welcome to The Bearded Mystic Podcast. And I'm your host, Rahul N Singh. Thank you for joining today to either listen or watch this podcast episode. Today, we will be continuing on with our thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita. If you would like to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast, you can sign up to our Patreon page and the link is in the video description and show notes below. In the last episode, we looked at verses 55 to 57, Shri Krishna explained that once we are able to observe our desires, rest in our Awareness, our Presence, our Being our Formless Self, then we love being established In the Self. Once our Self becomes established and fully relishes and enjoys the experience of being the Self, then Self-realization becomes steady. It does not fluctuate. Remaining in Brahman, our mind, our heart is not disturbed by pain nor controlled by pleasure. And the one who has overcome attachment, fear and anger, that person is a Sage. The person who is immune to material desires, who doesn't care about what pleases or displeases them nor do they care about their own likes and dislikes, or their preferences and aversions in anything, that person is steady in wisdom. They are able to unite the Atman and Brahman. Let's begin with exploring verse 58. When the Muni can completely withdraw the dasha indriyas, the 10 senses from their desired objects, just like a turtle pulls its limbs into its shell. Then they are firmly established in Prajna. So when the Muni can completely withdraw the dasha indriyas, the 10 senses from their desired objects. So what does the first line mean? Well, the first line is that the Sage is connected to Brahman. They are aware of Brahman and they are beyond desire and therefore, they are able to control their senses too. The question that may come up here is, but what are the 10 senses. Well, the 10 senses are broken down in two categories of senses. One is the Gyana indriyas and the other one is the karma indriyas. The Gyana indriyas they are five in numbers and they are the sense organs. So the sense organ of sight is the eye. The sense organ of hearing is the ear. The sense organ of smell is nose. Sense organ of taste is the tongue. And the sense organ of touch is the skin. Then the second type, the Karma Indriyas. Karma, as we know, means action and indriyas are involved in the actions and important functions and therefore they are called Karma Indriyas. So the Karma Indriyas is comprised of motor organs and they are also five in number. The motor organ of speech is the speech organs, the motor organ of grasp or hold is hands, the motor organ of motion is the feet. The motor organ of excretion or defecation is the anus and rectum and the motor organ of sex, which is the penis or the vagina. Those are the Karma Indriyas. Now the Sage is able to control the flow of these senses. So whatever the senses try to flow towards the Sage is able to stop and redirect it. For example, say that you're completely full and you've eaten a nice meal, but you see that delicious slice of chocolate cake. Now the senses will be one, the tongue will be thinking of the taste, the nose will be thinking of the smell and the hands will be thinking about grasping that fork or the spoon that will be able to cut through the slice of cake. All these senses invoke movement. Therefore the Sage is able to stop it. What they're able to do is see that chocolate cake, understand what the senses are processing and then turn around and say, you know what? I'm actually really full right now. Maybe I can take it to go instead of eating it right now, because my stomach is full. I need to be able to walk. I need to be in motion. I need to utilize my feet, but if I'm completely full, I'm going to feel inertia and laziness. The Sage is able to stop or redirect the senses. So for example, instead of thinking of the chocolate cake, the Sage will be able to observe the body and then observe the one that is observing the body. That is the way the Sage will be. The desired objects that come into our awareness, they may appear for the Sage, but the Sage doesn't go in the flow with this because the Sage only perceives Brahman, which is full itself. This reminded me of one of the prayers that the Upanishads begins with and that is "All, this is Full. All, that is Full. From Fullness, Fullness comes. When Fullness is taken from Fullness, Fullness still remains. This is what happens. When you are completely associated with Brahman and there is no duality between the two, then the Sage is able to observe that Brahman is Fullness. That Formless is Full. That Formless is always perfect and complete. We don't need to go towards the senses because they create more karma and more actions and therefore results and consequences. But at the same time, they cause us to go in the other direction where we will not be able to focus on our spirituality. Those that are serious about their spirituality will want to look at honing in on the senses and controlling the senses. Remember the way to do that is meditation. Meditation is the key in this. Without that focus, we cannot observe our senses. Only when we are able to understand our senses, can we then see what the senses do in action? Otherwise it's all theory. People say they can control the senses, they're realized. We all know that it's just not as easy as that. Shri Krishna continues in that verse that just like a turtle pulls its limbs into its shell, then they are firmly established in Prajna. The imagery of the turtle is used here to show how the turtle wants to protect itself and it uses its shell. So it brings its limbs in and its head inside the shell. The shell can withstand thousands of pounds of pressure, which shows how strong the shell is. Therefore, whenever our desires arise, the same way the Sage can protect itself with the knowledge of Brahman, that Brahm Gyana that we've been talking about, that can protect the Sage and that does protect the Sage. When one is completely established in Prajna, as Shri Krishna mentions, we were able to be steady in that wisdom. Remember that Prajna is the unfluctuating awareness of the Atman and Brahman. We need to be able to practice our wisdom so we can be strong just like that. It doesn't matter how strong the desire becomes or is, if we have intellectually understood the wisdom, practice the wisdom following the intellectual understanding, then that desire is not as strong as the Knowledge of Brahman. Once you know, Brahman is complete, then what it is a desire and its achievement to you and its attainment? Nothing much, therefore the same way. We need to understand that like a turtle puts it's limbs, at least see the limbs as the senses, turn the senses inwards towards Brahman. The shell of Brahman, the Knowledge of Brahman. Remember, we've been talking about the Sankya Yoga, where the Buddhi Yoga, where we know what is real and unreal, this is what we're establishing in. Obviously this shows that we are steadying ourselves in the wisdom of Brahman, that's what the Sage shows. Prajna, as we know is the unfluctuating awareness of Atman and Brahman. Last week, we looked at how the Atman is that localized Awareness and Brahman is that Universal Awareness. Localized awareness. Why? Because we're in the body, we think we're the Atman, we may feel that we are separate self for a bit. There's a bit of subtle duality, that's required to function in the world. So we have that localized awareness in the mind and the heart. Remember the manas. Now Brahman is that Universal Awareness, where it has no form. It has no limit. It has no image. It has no shape. It has no time. It has no space. It has no color and so forth. It's infinite. Therefore we have to remain in that unfluctuating awareness, yeah, that stable awareness, that stillness in awareness. The context of the whole verse is that when the Sage can fully withdraw his senses from the pull of desires or the push of desires, then like how a turtle protects itself with the shell, the Sage utilizes that Knowledge of Brahman and becomes established in the unfluctuating awareness. This is the key in this verse. When we have a desire, when our senses go crazy, how alert are we? How aware are we? Because these senses and the desires, they disturb our mind, they disturb our manas. At least the practitioner should look at where the disturbance is happening and how to reduce that disturbance. Let's go to verse 59. When the objects of the senses no longer compel a person to have contact with them, still the memory of past pleasures and experiences remains. But even that memory is removed for one who has had a direct vision of the Supreme Reality. Let's look at the first line of this. When the objects of the senses, no longer compel a person to have contact with them. As we know, the object of the senses are the organs themselves, the eyes, the ears, nose, the tongue, the skin, whatever they perceive the taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight. Those are the sense objects. When we look at something, we get attracted by it. When we smell something, we get attracted by it. When we touch something, we get attracted to it. So it's all about controlling that perception. It's not about not perceiving it. It's about having the perception of all those things, but not being led by them. You're actually making a conscious choice to go towards them rather than unconsciously going towards them by habit or by character. What happens is with meditation, it rewires our brain or our mind so that we can redirect our understanding. We can redirect the senses towards Brahman. Eventually once we have made it into a habit, a practice to not to go with the flow of the sense objects, we actually refuse to follow where it will lead us. And that with practice, we can break those old habits, but they may still appear for us right? It may be that the object of the senses compels us. But for that Sage, that person, they are no longer compelled. They no longer go where the senses leads them. The next line is still the memory of past pleasures and experience remains. We'll always look at the past with rose tinted glasses, we think is better than the present, that constantly happens. We look at the past and we say, "Oh, it was so brilliant back then." But we were also suffering in that time. We just forget about it because you're so consumed by the suffering that we have in the moment or what we think about in the moment or what we're thinking about in the future. We avoid the present because the present is everything and is in balance with it. Remember the moment, the present moment is always in balance, it's when we go towards the past and the future and we remain there. It's not about not remembering the past or not thinking about the future. It's about when we remain in those two states. That is when we're not in balance, that's when we are not in harmony. The memory is mainly one of a subtle type and it shows itself when we least expect it. You may practice being connected to Brahman. You may practice meditation for many years, but once you think of that chocolate cake, your mind would think of that time when you had that chocolate cake and it was really tasty. It was so rich. And now you want to try it again. That's what we talk about the memory of past pleasures and experiences. You can recall a memory and remain alert and aware and somehow you can stand back from it. But here, what we're talking about is people can still get swayed by the past memory. Even with practice, we can face these challenges. But Shri Krishna goes further to say, 'But even that memory is removed for one who has had a direct vision of the Supreme Reality.' Once one has had that direct vision of the Supreme Reality, we've seen Brahman, we perceive Brahman, we now continuously remember Brahman that memory of the past pleasures and experiences, that disappears. That subtle experience and memory dissolves away. What actually disappears is the emotional aspect, but you can still remember past experiences, past memories, but you don't crave for those memories and experiences to repeat itself because remember nothing ever repeats itself. What I do now is going to be different to what I do in the next moment. No matter if I'm recording this podcast, so many things can go wrong in this time in my environment. Yeah. The power could go out. Anything could happen. So therefore remember only in this present moment, can you remain alert and remain focussed because no experience is ever repeated. The context of the whole verse is that our memory is what keeps the identification of the ego. Once this is transcended with the direct vision of Brahman, the Formless Self, then one is able to remove the emotional impact of past pleasures and experiences. Now we go to verse 60. Listen Arjuna, the hungry turbulent and insatiable indriyas, the senses can carry away the manas of even of a wise person who is striving to control them. We are going to look at the whole verse for this one, instead of looking at line-by-line. What Krishna is doing here is bringing Arjuna back into the moment, to ensure that Arjuna takes special note about this, because it's very important that we remind ourselves about this. The senses that we have are always hungry. They are always looking for more. They always want more. They are never satisfied and they are continuously desiring more and looking for more, wherever it can get more, it will go towards, whatever can disturb our present peace. It will do so because it's nature of the senses is actually not to be withdrawn, but it is actually to perceive things. But what we have to do is understand that not everything needs our attention. So what we're doing is just diverting your attention when necessary. Not necessarily meaning that you will forever be withdrawn from your senses. No, you telling me that the enlightened person cannot taste what that chocolate cake tastes like? Of course they can. They can taste a chocolatey-ness of it. They can taste the cake-ness of it. All those things occur. Those things do not disappear. The senses are always hungry. What we have to remind our senses, when we are alert and we are aware is you are actually right now fulfilled. Why are they (senses) turbulent? Because they take us in all directions. They are never still. Sometimes the senses can even fool us. We think we have control over them, but actually we think they're quiet and then they take a turn and the senses take us to the extreme again. You may feel that now you've controlled your senses. Whenever there's a sound, you don't automatically jump up and try to see what's going on because someone might be trying to come into your house or someone is trying to steal something from you. It's not that your senses aren't alert about those things. It is, but it recognizes when there is danger and when there isn't danger. When it's in the imagination of your mind, for example, you may hear the creaking of a floorboard, you're alone in the house and suddenly, because you've heard it, you're now thinking of, uh, what could happen? You're thinking 'Oh may be someone's in my house, maybe there's a ghost.' The mind creates so many stories. So many instances which will not occur. That's why we need restraint. That's why we need to ensure that our senses don't go crazy. And remember also that the sense organs is what creates desire. When we're going down the high street, or in a mall of some sort, that we don't get attracted by everything. You see things, be in yourself, don't get carried away. You see something you like, don't go too crazy. See it, look at it with childlike wonder, that's the best way to be. The mind-heart, the manas of a wise person has to be careful as the senses can carry them away. It can disturb them even whilst they're striving to control them. The practice takes time. We have to always remain focused on Brahman and at the same time, remember that it takes extreme amount of focus to get there. Don't rush this process. Don't rush this whole journey. Take your spiritual practice with slow and steady pace. What will happen is slow and steady will run the race basically. That's utilizing the example of the turtle, but you can be like that just. That it will take time. Remember your senses have had a habit of just going here, there, and everywhere. As you're controlling them, it's going to take time and that's the way it is for all of us. My senses sometimes also go crazy. Sometimes I have to reign in my senses and say, calm down a little, it's okay. In a way, this is also telling us not to prematurely feel that we have conquered our senses. We have to remain in vigilant awareness. This can happen very easily. You see a lot of people that follow non-duality and I've noticed this that they actually have no control over their senses. Why? Because they haven't made it a practice or they keep saying is, "Oh, there's no self there's no person. There's no story. There's no this, there's no that." And therefore they don't work on themselves. They just have the intellectual surface level understanding, but not the real practice of controlling the senses. But the Sage understands that they have to be vigilant in the awareness. They're not to be carried away. This whole process is encompassing and understanding that the transactional reality is there. And also understand that Brahman is there. This is what the Sage is able to do and therefore, does not prematurely announce that they are enlightened, that they understand. They take their time. Adi Shankara ji also says in his commentary that someone may have the Gyana, the wisdom, but they must not allow the mind to let go of that discernment, even when he is aware of this. Think about what he's saying here. It's not meant to be taken lightly. He said they must not allow the mind to let go of the discernment, even when he is aware of this, keep the discernment of what is real and unreal. This is very important. What's the context of the whole verse. Stay focused on the path of being aware and be watchful of the flow of the senses because they are always hungry. They can never feel full and therefore the wise person must always remain vigilant and must always remain alert that they cannot be carried away by the flow of the senses. Now verse 61. Therefore disciplined in yoga, one should sit and meditate upon me as the Parama, the Ultimate and Highest Supreme, the possessor of Prajna should stand firm, controlling their indriyas. So this is something we're going to go into a little bit and we're going to have to understand it properly. Therefore disciplined in yoga, one should sit and meditate upon me as the Parama, the Ultimate and Highest Supreme. So the discipline of Yoga is being in union with the discernment and understanding that what is Real and unreal. So when we have that viveka and then that union with Oneness, the Non-Dual Brahman. We're going to have to understand this line a bit more because it says,one should sit and meditate upon me as the Parama, the ultimate And Highest Supreme. Many people can misunderstand this line. Now we first have to question, is it Krishna, the human being that is speaking? Or is it Krishna, the one who is established in Brahman speaking? Once we are able to discern this, we will have the right understanding. Let me go further on this. We first have to question, is it Krishna the human being, the manifestation that is speaking? Or is it Krishna the one who is established in Brahman speaking? The one who has the discernment of what is Real and unreal. Now think about it. Once we're able to discern this, then we have the right understanding. We can go further in understanding what the Parama is. But if we think Krishna is the Parama the one with the body and the form, the one who is speaking in the Bhagavad Gita, the name and form, the naam and roop, then we have failed to understand, but there might be a subtle nuance here, which we will discuss. Many see this line and they say that Krishna is a manifestation and they just refer to Krishna as the most Supreme manifestation. But this shows their lack of discernment The manifestation, like everything else is subject to modification, therefore unreal. So if you say Krishna is the most Supreme, thinking of the Naam and Roop, then we have failed to understand the discernment in the beginning, in the Sankhya Yoga, the Buddhi Yoga of the Real and unreal. Now the form of Krishna is unreal because it's subject to time and space. As we know, Krishna is not eternal because he would be alive in front of us today, if that was the case. Krishna has left this earth, left his body, and therefore we now have to understand what he means by the Parama and the Parama is the Highest and Supreme. Nothing more than that. That's a very simple understanding of it, of the one who understands the wisdom. Now, when we discern this correctly, then we understand that at that moment, that Krishna accepted Arjuna as a disciple, he transcended the manifestation, the naam and roop, the name and form, and became that Everlasting Awareness, which is Brahman. What Krishna is saying in this line is that the person should not meditate on the form of Krishna because then one again is back into the wrong understanding. Then you're focusing on the unreal, however, we'll go into the nuance in a minute. But the Ultimate and Highest Supreme is Brahman and only this can be the one that we can meditate upon because Brahman is One without a second. This is something we have to understand and really, really meditate upon. The one that is disciplined in this union, this Yoga with the One, understanding the Knowledge of Brahman only needs to meditate upon Brahman. For them it's very simple, but not everyone is there and we have to understand that. The one with the right understanding will see that you and Krishna are one and the same. The Atman remains the same. Remember because the Atman is Brahman. Nowhere does it state in the Bhagavad Gita, that Krishna's Atman is more superior. If this was the case, then it will mean that the Atman is many and not one, but Krishna has established that there is only the Real and that it is Changeless and Indivisible. It is one. So there's one Atman, one Brahman. What can happen is that sometimes we need the naam and roop, to help us in our bhakti and our devotion in understanding something. It's fine if people want to use Krishna as their Isht Devata (Personal Divine Figure) and that's all good, but we all need to understand the Devata that we most adore and love is this Supreme Brahman Itself. Let us understand that eventually when we have focused ourselves entirely upon the Isht Devata, the Isht Devata moves away and brings the Supreme Brahman in front of us. This is something we need to really understand and really remain firm upon. As Adi Shankara Ji himself says in his commentary that the idea is he, the Sage should remain concentrated on thinking 'I am no different from Him.' This is the key understanding here in Advaita Vedanta that we are not different to Brahman. Aham Brahmasmi. 'I am Brahman.' This is the understanding here. Krishna is talking about the Parama, meditate upon me as the Parama. He's not talking about Shri Krishna that lived in Vrindavan or anywhere else. Or the person that was talking to Arjuna. No, because the moment he became the Guru for Arjuna, he became Brahman Itself. We must remember that Krishna is Brahman right now, not the naam and roop that we think he is. Further in the line that Shri Krishna says is the possessor of Prajna should stand firm controlling their indriyas or their senses. Whoever has this wisdom, this unfluctuating awareness of Atman, of wisdom and can control their senses, they should remain firm in that Awareness. Practice is the key here. That's all we can say here in this line. It's very simple to understand that no matter what happens, that when we are focusing on Brahman, we should ensure that we can control our senses at that time during our meditation, and that we should remain firm on this, that only Brahman is. I'm only going to go where Brahman takes me that's all. While there's duality, you think Brahman is taking you somewhere but where Brahman is taking you is already here right now. You are this Brahman, this Indivisible One. So when we talk about focusing on, when Shri Krishna says focus upon me as the most Parama, the most Supreme and the Highest. Remember it's talking about the Real, that Changeless Brahman. The context of the whole verse is that the most Supreme is the awareness behind all experience and knowing. The one practicing wisdom has to keep practicing, controlling their senses and when they sit to meditate on the most Supreme Brahman itself, and they never look to let go of the sight of this One. This is the end of the episode. We've discussed a lot today and there's a lot to take in, but what I would suggest is, think about what has been said, meditate upon it. And if you have questions, let me know. A new episode is uploaded every Sunday. You can follow me on social media to keep getting new updates, the details are in the show notes and video description below. If you would like to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast, there are a number of ways you can do so. You can utilize Patreon to get extra content, to check other ways of supporting you can check the linktree account in the video description and show notes below. Please rate and review the podcast. Thank you very much for listening. And we'll end with the Shanti mantra that we normally end with. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti Aum Peace Peace Peace Namaste.