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April 24, 2022

Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 3: Verse 27 - Verse 29)


In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 3rd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 27 - 29. Sri Krishna guides Arjuna that nature has a hold over us, the three gunas have an impact and therefore, we get confused that we are the body. The more we understand that we are the Atman through a humble inquiry, we understand that we transcend the ego respectfully and rest in the Atman. With the understanding that we are the atman, the gunas of the senses will not lead the seeker away, they understand the compulsions for more material satisfaction but will remain detached. Sri Krishna wants us to understand that we should not disturb those who are deluded by the forces of nature, the gunas as their intellect is not sharpened by discernment. 

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 26th 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 taking the time today to either watch or listen to this podcast. Today we will be continuing on with my thoughts and the Bhagavad Gita. Just before I do start, if you would like to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast, if you like the content that you've listened to or watched, it would be really great. If you can support the podcast by signing up to our Patreon page, the details are in the show notes and video description below. There's different tiers that you can join and support the podcast and the support that you give is greatly appreciated. If you are interested in meditation, I do host a meditation class every Saturday at 11:00 AM. Eastern standard time. You can find the details again in the show notes and video description below. Just to recap, the last episode. If you remember, we looked at Chapter Three, verses 22 to 26. Sri Krishna guided Arjuna that despite the fact that He, Krishna has no compulsion to act, and there's nothing for him to attain in the world, yet he still acts in this world. We all must follow the example of Sri Krishna because we must also act in the world with detachment, knowing full well that we are the Supreme Being Brahman Itself. Now if for example, Sri Krishna did refuse to act, then human beings would also follow the same way because they will say, well, Sri Krishna did it, then I can do it. Therefore he understood that if he did this, it will cause great harm in the future and to the balance on earth and also to the devas. So Sri Krishna gives us an insight into the future if we do not act as enlightened beings. If we act according to our suffering, then we will cause great extinction to this planet. Sri Krishna wants Arjuna and all of us to understand that we are karma yogis, if we do act for our own benefit, then we must also keep in consideration the greater wellbeing of all beings in this universe. Sri Krishna instructs, that we do not tell others what to do, but we show others how to perform actions with unselfishness through our own personal example. This is the best way to show someone enlightened living. Today, we'll be looking at Verses 27 to 29 of Chapter Three. Verse 27. All actions instigated by human beings within Prakriti are impelled first by the forces of the Three Gunas. This is because when the Atman is bewildered by the faculty of ahamkara, they mistakenly think 'I am my body and I am the sole creator and controller of the final results of my actions'. We are gonna break this up, it's very deep and we need to understand some concepts here and then we'll continue on. So the first line is all actions instigated by human beings within procreate are impelled first by the forces of the three gunas Firstly, let's explain what the Gunas are. In the Vedas, the two realms of existence are described as the luminous realm of Brahman and the dark unconscious realm of Prakriti. The realm of Brahman can also be seen as Purusha. Now within Prakriti, within nature, matter is called the 'gu' a dark, inert and unconscious substance, which passes through three dynamic states of manifestations known as the goodness. The first is 'rajas' the creative stage where energy is infused into matter, giving it a temporary form. The second stage is 'sattva', the maintaining and sustaining stage where something exists for a certain period of time. And the third is 'tamas', the deconstructive stage where objects are destroyed or recycled. The goal for the yogis is to go from tamas to rajas and then to live in 'sattva' guna as much as possible. Avoiding tamsic destructive behavior and rajasic, selfish behaviors and practicing universally beneficial Sattvic behaviors. As we go according to whatever nature wants us to do, it destabilizes our viveka, our wisdom. So if we are more to go with our destructive behavior, the tamsic behavior, then we look to destroy things, we look to cause harm and suffering. If we go towards rajasic, again, we go towards suffering and being selfish in our acts. Whilst when it comes to Sattvic behaviors, it's more pure. It's made of compassion. These are the things that we do according to nature. They're all within us, the good and the bad and the ugly. It's all within us. These are the three forces of nature that decide our actions going forward. So nature will always impose itself upon us, as we are to act as human beings. We live as human beings, so nature will eventually have its hold upon us. No matter how much we may try to be spiritual, until we get to self-realization, we are always going to be subject to these three gunas that I mentioned tamas, rajas and sattva. Most likely we will adhere to the forces of the lower nature, but there is an opportunity to advance them. And this is the whole point of Karma yoga is that we get to advance these lower natures into something higher, into something more pure and that's through remembering who we really are, remembering our true nature. Slowly creating that practice of going to the background of Brahman and not allowing the forefront of external material forces to have its effect upon us. Even when we go towards sattva, which is more pure. Even there a subtle ego can be created by acting as if we are being pure, we are doing things for God. We're doing things for divinity. We're doing things to be better human beings, but we're looking to become saints. And therefore, by doing this little act, we create a subtle ego being saints and, and being rushes or sages or being decent human beings. It creates a subtle ego, which is hard to destroy because we cannot see it unless we have a teacher or we use Brahman, the Light of Brahman's knowledge to shine upon that. The next line is this is because when the Atman is bewildered by the faculty of ahamkara, they mistakenly think I am the body and I'm the sole creator and controller of the results of my actions. So when the ego or the false sense of self identifies only with the body, and not with the Atman, then we face the consequences of our actions. So this way of thinking only strengthens the ego. What we mean is we have fallen under the identification that 'I am the doer. I am the human body. I am the mind I am the thinker of thoughts. And this I am is then clouded by the doing aspects of what we do. Instead of I am being the pure state of Brahman. Now, this is what we need to understand is that when it's talks about the Atma is bewildered by the faculty of ahamkara. Remember it's talking about the Jiva, not necessarily talking about the Atman Itself, Brahman Itself, the Pure Awareness, that is not changed, that remains pure, but it doesn't get bewildered. The Jiva gets bewildered because the Jiva starts thinking it is the body, but if the Jiva understands it is this Atman, this Brahman, then it will not be under any delusion. It will not be bewildered in any way. So if the Jiva saw itself directly without the ego mind, it would understand that it is not the body, that it is not the creator and therefore there is no control over the final results of actions. With these Gunas, what we need to do is go beyond them steadily and with caution. Not with ego or arrogance, but by understanding that the Atman is beyond nature. It is the infinite Self. it is the Infinite Brahman and it is not the body and all things associated to it. Once we can understand this and we are able to realize this, then it makes complete sense. Then we understand that these Gunas do not control us. In fact, what controls us is nothing because Brahman is pure and free. So we need to be able to get our mind to understand this slowly and that's with practice. The one who is deluded by ahamkara will think that they are the doer of all action. Therefore they are deluded. If they think I am the doer, I'm doing this all. we fall under the illusion of we will get the results because we are doing things. So if we are to let go of the outcomes of the results, or to let go of the attachment to results. Then we have to let go of the idea that I am the doer. And this can only come with practice. If we keep practicing, the fact that we are this Purusha, we are this witness consciousness, the more we go back to that, the better. But the more we adhere to whatever we think Prakriti is and we see Prakriti as nature, this material world, if we keep associating with that, then our ahamkara will be strong. But the more we remember that we are Brahman, we are this Pure Consciousness, we are this Pure Awareness then we go back to Brahman. We live in the state of being Brahman. Then we are always in that pure state. So just remember, like I said, that the Atman here is referred to as the mind. We need to remember with this verse specifically, when we read it, we may read Atman, but remember that sometimes the mind is mentioned with the same word. It's always important to understand the context of the verse to understand what is being said. Adi Shankara Ji also states that he who imagines the characteristics of the body and organs to be his own, who has self-identification with the body and the organs and who through ignorance believes the activities to be his own, he thinks I am the doer of these diverse activities. Adi Shankara ji is just only emphasizing the point that I've just mentioned. When we think that we are the doers, then ego comes in, the false identification enters, and therefore we get confused and bewildered. And this is the nature of what will happen if we believe that we are the doers. So the context of this whole verse is that Sri Krishna is guiding Arjuna that nature can have a hold over us. The three gunas have an impact and therefore we get confused that we are the body. The more we understand that we are the Atman through a humble inquiry, we understand that we can transcend the ego respectfully and rest in the Atman. So here we can talk about inquiring into the Jiva, understanding what the Jiva is, and then understanding that it is not the body, that actually the Jiva is the Atman. Jiva is Brahman Itself. And therefore we can have the real understanding and get rid of the false identification. Verse 28 Oh Arjuna, one who understands how the three Gunas function within matter also realizes that the compulsive attractions of our body for desirable objects are in fact created by the Gunas. Therefore those who are thoughtful say to themselves, 'the truth is the gunas of my senses are merely attracted by the gunas of their objects.' As a result, they themselves remain detached from such material compulsions. So again, we'll break this up a little . So the first line 'Oh Arjuna one who understands how the three Gunas function within matter also realizes that the compulsive attractions of our body for desirable objects are in fact created by the Gunas. So once we understand and know how the Gunas function within matter itself, within this universe, then we realize how closely associated it is within the body. For example, the weather may affect us and we may feel lethargic. Therefore, a desirable object, there may be a cup of coffee or a cup of chai, which will probably give us a bit of energy. So even sattvic guna may be that we eat vegetarian food and our body will do this because our mind knows that this will be seen as pure. So you can become a bit egoic. The desirable object is twofold here. The vegetarian food that is tasty, it functions with the senses there. And also the fact that being vegetarian may give off the vibe that we are spiritual. We are holy. We are doing the right thing. Again, look how the Gunas create compulsive attractions for our body. Even for our mind that yes, we would be seen as something special. So we are to be ever mindful of our compulsive attractions and we should see how it is interconnected with the gunas. ' Therefore, those who are thoughtful say to themselves the truth is the gunas of my senses are merely attracted by the gunas of their objects. As a result, they themselves remain detached from such material compulsion.' So the forces of nature within our senses are attracted to the forces of nature that are present in material existence. Once we understand that our senses are only going to be attracted to nature, when it sees something it's going to go towards that. Once we understand this and we're able to control the senses and say, you know what, I'm going to direct where you're going to go. I'm not going to let you direct me. I am going to be in control of this for a moment, and I'm not going to follow wherever you go. So what happens is say, if our eyes see that chocolate cake instead of quickly going towards that chocolate cake, what we do is say, okay, well, have I had my meals for the day? Is there any need for me to eat this? Is it gonna help my body? Is it going to do anything of benefit? We go through that process and therefore we don't follow whatever our senses get us to do. We control it. We go back and we say, you know what? Let's calm down a little. So we build up that discernment to ensure that we can remain detached from these material compulsions. These material compulsions can happen to anybody and they're natural and they come up. Even if you're enlightened, the fact is once we let go of this discernment, once we let go of viveka, we can go back into the fold of our senses again. So this is why it is said to remember Brahman as much as possible. The more you remember Brahman and the more you concentrate on Aum, the more you concentrate on that divinity, the less you're going to go towards your senses. If you have more time spent in the remembrance of Brahman, of remembering your true nature, how are you going to be chasing whatever your senses looks for and then is compelled to act upon? And your mind is not going to be fixated on those things. It may be that when you're meditating these ideas of the chocolate cake may arise or something you want. You may want to just start going on your phone to buy something from Amazon. Our senses may take control there even during meditation. That's why we have to understand restraint. Restraint doesn't mean that you basically let go of doing the act, like completely renounce action. No, you don't renounce action. What you do is you let go of the hold of doing the action. So what you may do is when you have that compulsion to buy something from Amazon, instead of going into the app and doing that, you will think about whether this thing can wait. That's why the concept of minimalism is very good. I forgot the name of the lady that talks about, you know, buy something if it brings you joy and let go of those things that don't bring you joy. So always ask yourself when you're going to buy something, is this going to give me joy? Most likely what we find in that question is that we're mainly buying things for our wants rather than our need therefore, if it doesn't support our need, it's not going to give us real joy. And if it's a want, the joy is going to be very fleeting. It'll give us joy for a few moments but after that, we're going to let it go. It happens when we have a new car. For example, we may look after the car a lot in the first few months or first few weeks, maybe even the first year, but get past that when we start making concessions, like for example, eating in the car, or we make concessions like allowing rubbish to pileup. When we start making those concessions, then we start looking for the next car because now we feel that this car has become old. Subconsciously, this is what happens to us. So this is why we have to keep building upon our discernment. And until we completely identify as Brahman and we can understand the power of restraint, of going back to asking whether it brings us joy, whether it is needed, whether this item is going to bring true happiness, until we can do that, we will not be able to have that detachment. And that's why detachment is really important when it comes to this spiritual insight of having viveka. So they will not look at every desire basically and chase it. They will watch it from the point of view of the Atman, of Brahman. Therefore, anything that we look at, we're not going to chase after it. We're going to be able to control ourselves and see that if it's not going to give me everlasting joy, is it needed? Is it required? Can I live without it? A lot of things we can live with. And therefore maybe if we are a great in terms of our discernment, we'll be able to perform better actions. Not because we want better outcomes, but because it's just the best thing to do. So maybe instead of spending a hundred dollars on an extra piece of clothing, what we can do is donate that $100 somewhere else. Or we can save that $100 for some other big thing that may be required. Maybe a bigger house, because we need a bigger house, whatever it is, the need of the day. Again, like I said, it's not bad if you're chasing after a better car or a bigger house or bigger pay salary or a bigger pay packet, those things are fine. They're not a problem. The only time it becomes a problem is when we stop feeling joy about it. If it doesn't bring us joy, we gonna feel empty. When we feel empty, we gonna start having thoughts of not being happy, which would then lead to suffering. So we have to remember that everything we look at, everything we desire has to come back to our own inner happiness. If it doesn't create happiness within, it's not going to create happiness outside. So what happens is with discernment, with viveka is that instead of chasing the external, we go towards the internal and within is the greatest joy, because that's where we find that Brahman is always there. And then eventually when we've internalized Brahman so much, we'd be able to see Brahman as the whole world and that is the beauty. The context of the whole verse that with the understanding that we are the Atman, the gunas of the senses will not lead the seeker away. They understand the compulsions for more material satisfaction will remain detached. So maybe they will follow what those material satisfactions are, but they won't be attached to it. If it happens, it happens. They won't be attached to it. If for example, their car is stolen, they won't go into suffering. They may be upset initially. What they will do is be able to move on. The thing is, it's about moving on, it's about letting things be and remembering that this too shall pass. That's how simple it is. Verse 29. Those who are sincere but are still unaware of the distorting effects of the Gunas continue to act by compulsion. Therefore, those who do understand should be careful in educating those who do not yet understand so that the necessary actions and responsibility of their lives are not disrupted. ' Those who are sincere, but are still unaware of the distorting effects of the Gunas continue to act by compulsion.' That's the first line and what Sri Krishna here is telling us that sincerity is not enough. If we are still acting according to the Gunas, according to nature, then we are still not in control. We need to be alert enough to see the effects of nature and these people who look for results are nothing but compulsive people. And at the end of the day, you know, he says distorting effects. They distorted our reality because we do not see nature from the state of Brahman. We see nature in the form of the mind and the mind likes to divide things. It likes to identify with things. Therefore, once that becomes me and mine, we start looking to possess things. So for example, owning a home will never be enough until you own the country. You know, that's how we go towards. So in fact, we just become more compulsive and we end up distorting exactly what we need in life. 'Therefore those who do not understand should be careful in educating those who do not yet understand so that the necessary actions and responsibilities of their lives are not disrupted.' So this is a two way thing and we'll break it down a little. That Sri Krishna is giving a warning here that those who do understand the impact of nature and understand how the forces of nature do function, they should be careful in guiding others who do not understand. The reason being that those who do not understand may not want their lives to be disrupted in any way. They may feel that there is nothing more to do and if you tell them there is, they will feel disruption and they will not want to know you. It may cause the opposite effect of what you desire. So do not unsettle someone's beliefs. Even if you feel that there's something wrong with it, there's no need to disrupt it, especially if they feel nothing is wrong with those beliefs. We can slowly try to make them understand, but direct truth is not what they're ready for. It's not everyone is going to be ready for the complete truth. So we have to be careful when we talk to others. If they are ready for the message, for sure, we can give them the message. But if they're not, there's no need to pursue any further. Let these people continue as they are so that life or the forces of nature can show them the better way of living. This will be completed by their own actions and responsibilities. So let nature do its thing. You see the beautiful thing about nature is that it doesn't really want you to be truly identified with it. Eventually, it will be so exhausted by its trying to attain your attention and retain your attention that it will make you start feeling dissatisfied naturally. So for example, you may achieve all the material comforts and you may get tired or maybe you haven't got enough material comforts and you realize the futility in it. It's not always that those who are rich, who feel the futility of material desires or material objects. In fact, even people who are poor, who may not be able to afford the next meal may see that this transient nature is not everything and therefore they don't chase after material objects, but they find that inner peace. This inner peace doesn't matter. It doesn't just go for people who are rich or people who've achieved their desires. It can be attained by anybody, poor, rich, whatever your caste may be. It doesn't care. So we have to understand that nature will do what nature has to do and it's better to let someone allow nature to bring them to the truth. So for example, it may be that by chance, we suddenly feel that this material objects aren't satisfying us and we are looking for something more and something deeper and that's when we will change. So it's important that we don't disrupt anybody's life. If somebody believes in something and they're happy in that belief, maybe they do not want Brahman. Maybe they don't want moksha or mukti. That's fine. Let that be, if they don't want to be liberated, that's absolutely fine. There's no need to disrupt their life. That's why, you know, for example, on TikTok, I will never go on someone's page, who is of different beliefs to me. For example, whether you believe in the philosophy of ISKCON or whether you believe in the philosophy of duality, or you follow a religion, whose philosophy I may not completely agree with, but I will never comment or disturb the people that follow those things. In fact, all I want to do is concentrate on my own self and strengthening my own understanding because I don't feel love, understood Advaita Vedanta completely or the message of Sri Krishna completely. So it's important for me to concentrate on my own and learn and commit time to self study. Now there are people who may enter my TikTok lives or there may enter my comments and try to disrupt my learning. The best way to approach that is just block and just don't do anything about it. There was a time when I used to entertain these and try to change the views and opinions of these people. But what I realized was that when someone's stuck in their ways, let them be stuck in their ways. Don't try to disturb them. Unless someone puts their hand out to get out of the rut that they're in, they're stay in that rut. They don't want to be taken out of that prison of beliefs. So it's really important that as spiritual people, that if you are following any philosophy that you don't look to say that your ways are better. Obviously defend your beliefs when you have to. I do agree with that, but again, with respect and with dignity. If you act in a manner which is aggressive or angry, then people will not see that peace and if they don't see that peace then what value does your teaching or your beliefs have then? So it's really important that we don't get disillusioned, that we stay focused on our own path and we focus on our own learning. There's enough for us to practice without telling others on what to do. Therefore just focus on your own self. The context of the whole verse here is that Sri Krishna wants us to understand that we should not disturb those who are deluded by the forces of nature or the Gunas as their intellect is not sharpened yet by discernment. And this is why it's important that you know what is real and unreal and you just focus on that. Remember the Real is that which does not change, which doesn't modify and that which is unreal is that which is changing, subject to modification, subject to birth and death. Remember, we are to discern so much that only the Real remains, only Brahman remains. You can follow me on social media to keep getting updates. You can also subscribe to the monthly Bearded Mystic Newsletter, and you can join The Bearded Mystic Podcast Discord channel. 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 for a monthly price, or you can check other ways to support me and that's in the link tree link below. If you can please rate and review the podcast on The Bearded Mystic Podcast website, that's www.thebeardedmysticpodcast.com. It'd be really great if you can give a review on there. Thank you very much for listening Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti Aum Peace Peace Peace Namaste