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Aug. 14, 2022

Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 5: Verse 1 - Verse 6)

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In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 5th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 1 - 6.  Arjuna asks a question that every seeker wants to know - is it better to renounce the world or should I live a normal life and be spiritual? What is easier and will both paths lead to the same destination? Sri Krishna responded by expressing that both Karma Yoga and Gyana Yoga lead to the Highest attainment which is mukti but of both paths - it is karma yoga that is easier. Understand that the Atma does not have the fruits like pain and pleasure of any action, this then brings freedom. Don’t naively claim one path will reach self-knowledge and the other will not. This is foolish thinking. Be smart and understand both paths reach the same outcome - Self-Realization. Sri Krishna explains how the path of action is what prepares the mind for Knowledge of Brahman and then this will lead to freedom. For the beginner on this journey, they should perform selfless actions, giving up all outcomes and then they will attain the Highest - which is this Gyana. How quickly we get there depends on how quickly and diligently we practice. 

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

I hope you enjoyed listening to the 38th 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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Rahul N singh:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Bearded Mystic Podcast and I'm your host, Rahul N Singh. Thank you for taking out the time today to either watch or listen to this podcast episode. Today, we'll be continuing on with my thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita. But before we do start if you would like to support the Bearded Mystic Podcast, you can sign up to our Patreon page. Which gives you ad free and exclusive content like Conversations with the Bearded Mystic, you can find the details in the show notes and video description below. Or alternatively, you can sign up to the Apple Subscriptions on the Apple Podcasts App. Also every Saturday, there is a free virtual meditation class that occurs at 11:00 AM every week. If you would like to join, you can find the details in the show notes and video description below. In the last episode we completed chapter four and specifically we looked at verses 39 to 42 and there Sri Krishna guides us on the importance of having shraddha and giving our complete focus on this Gyana and that is how we must balance ourselves in this most Supreme Brahman, this Ultimate Self. To be in contentment in this life and in the next, we need to go beyond the superficial purpose of living and enter a deeper understanding that pervades all of existence. And the way to do this is to see yourself as the Atman, this Brahman and watch every action of yours be based on humanity and those actions must be ethical as well. This chapter is brought to a beautiful end as Sri Krishna gives us the lesson we need to understand, and the natural result of its practice. And that is that we are nothing but the True Self, this Atman. Today we'll be beginning with chapter five, which is titled Sannyasa Yoga, or the way to renunciation of actions. Verse one. Arjuna said O Sri Krishna, on one hand, you recommend the yoga of discernment, giving up action in the world in favor of detachment from matter. On the other, you advise the practice of Karma yoga, which is correct actions performed as service to the Supreme. Now tell me, please definitively which of the two is the most effective form of Yoga? Let's look at the whole verse together. Really Arjuna wants a simple answer to his question. And this, is a significant question because we need to know what is the best option too? Like, is it Buddhi Yoga, Sankhya Yoga that he gave in chapter two? Or is it Karma Yoga, the yoga that he's been talking about in the subsequent chapters? Now he wants to know what is better. Is being detached much better and leaving the world and just seeking knowledge or should Arjuna perform actions as a service towards the Supreme, towards a higher Ideal? The path of the renunciant is that they will seek knowledge only, whilst the Karma Yogi will devote every action to the Supreme, to the Higher Self within, as a Yajna and that's the difference. That is what Arjuna really wants to know. He wants to clear the doubt that he has in his mind. Now, as I always say that whenever Arjuna asks a question, we most likely have had that question too, or we've not thought about that question, but this will help us have clarity towards what path we should take. The context of the whole verse is that this question is for every seeker who wants to know what is better, is it to renounce the world or should I live a normal life and be spiritual? What is easier? And will both paths lead to the same destination? Is it better for me to be a monk or is it better for me to be a householder? What is the best option? Verse two. Sri Bhagavan replied. Both Buddhi Yoga 'the yoga of cultivation of the knowledge of worldly categories contrasted with Brahman' and Karma Yoga ' the yoga of action with no attachment to the fruit' lead to the highest state of perfected being. However, yoga that is practiced through action is superior to that yoga which gives up all action only to cultivate knowledge. The first part that we look at, Sri Bhagavan replied both Buddhi Yoga 'the yoga of cultivation of the knowledge of worldly categories contrasted with Brahman' and Karma Yoga, the yoga of action with no attachment to the fruit' lead to the highest state of perfected being. First let's look at what Buddhi Yoga is. That is simply the knowledge of what is Real and unreal, what is Sat and Asat. That, which is unreal is always changing. And that which does not change is always Real. Therefore buddhi yoga is constantly discerning between the changeless and the changing. And this is practice by seeing the whole of existence, which is always changing as prakriti and seeing the Purusha as the Eternal Witness Consciousness within, as the Changeless, this Purusha is the one that observes and yet is untouched. The way to better explain this is the world that is changing is the images on the screen and the Formless Awareness is the blank screen that is unaffected by any change that occurs to the images. The images may change. It may be a movie and in the movie, a character is crying or happy or sad, elated. Having a mystical experience that could all be happening, but the observer, the blank screen remains unchanged, unblemished, untouched by those images. When the movie switches off, the blank screen remains as it is. If the movie is turned on, the blank screen remains as it is, it does not change. And that is the best way to explain the Purusha and Prakriti. So then what is karma yoga? Karma Yoga is when we commit to actions of the world, yet we perform them selflessly. We do not care to gain any benefit from these actions, nor do we care if we incur losses from these actions. We remain balanced because we are offering all of our actions to the Supreme or to that Eternal Formless Awareness, which we call Brahman. The best way to explain this as well, is that we see everything as a yajna. So everything is a sacred offering to the Divine. So our actions being a sacred offering, because we remember our true nature or Brahman first, we get rid of the notion of 'I am the doer'. So the whole point is that obviously, we recognize that we are doing the action and we are performing the action, the body and the mind, but the Eternal Consciousness within is not doing the action. So we go to That, which is not doing the action and we recognize that as the True Self. That's how we understand this wisdom completely. The main thing to understand is both yogas do reach the highest. So we should not see one as better than the other. The way to see it is what is easier for us and what would be more difficult or more complex. That is probably the best way to interpret this. Now, Sri Krishna in the second part says. However, yoga that is practiced through action is superior to that yoga, which gives up all action only to cultivate knowledge. Let's understand this a bit more. So Sri Krishna is being straightforward in his answer that Karma yoga is easier than buddhi yoga, but since we observe the world of multiplicity, it is better for us to be karma yogis. As in the beginning, we find that we are the doers of action. So in the beginning we find that we are doing the action. When we do something, someone says you did this, or whenever someone says that you did this or say someone didn't acknowledge that you did something, you will say, oh, well, I did this. We recognize that in the beginning, we are the doers of action. But when we apply the knowledge that was given of Sat and Asat. We then unite with that Formless Awareness that is in the background, the Purusha through contemplation. Then we perform our actions as a sacred offering. By doing this, we give up the fruits of that very action. So whatever reaction we will get from the action we give up, we ' tyaag' it, we renounce it. This is what takes us from doership to non-doership. That's the process. Being the doers of action, it is better for us to utilize action than seeking knowledge alone. So it's basically, we'd be utilizing action to get to inaction or non-action. Only a few can truly just seek knowledge and Sri Krishna is going to explain why union through action is easier than union with knowledge exclusively. The one thing I'm going to say is it's very difficult for someone to give up everything in life and just study the scriptures. This is what it means. So when it says giving up action to just seek knowledge, even giving up the karma kanda aspect in the Vedas too, one will give up that as well. To do that, to renounce everything and say, I just want to study the scriptures is not for everybody. Only a few will ever be successful in this because Sri Krishna will go into why that is and I won't go into it now and you'll find out in a verse that we'll discuss. But the point is that only a few ever really can seek the knowledge alone. What we can do is apply that knowledge to our actions. We find that process to be a lot easier. So that's what Sri Krishna is saying when he says it's more superior for us, remember, he's saying it's more superior for Arjuna. Not necessarily, we can put that as a blanket statement for everybody. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna expresses that both lead to the highest attainment, which is mukti perfected being, but of both paths it is Karma Yoga that is the easiest. Verse Three. One who neither hates nor hankers after matter and is indifferent both to sukha and dukha is known to have permanently disassociated their Atman from prakriti and is thereby freed from all forms of material bondage. This is the path that is taken of Karma Yoga. The first part - one who neither hates nor hankers after matter. First of all, we shouldn't hate any part of creation. Remember in sat-chit-ananda, the 'sat' aspect is the ground of all existence, the ground of being. So we shouldn't hate creation. Some people despise creation. They say Maya is completely bad for us, but actually that's not true. In fact, we will be utilizing Maya to get to the non-dual understanding. We shouldn't hate it and to hate it is to hate the creative principle, which we may refer to as God or Ishwara or Saguna Brahman. So to hate it would be ridiculous. Yeah. That would be hating Brahman then. You will find that there is so-called pious people, people that you admire that will say this creation is bad and evil, stay away from it. , but what is the point of that spiritual path that does that? What joy is that going to give you? All that's gonna happen is that you're gonna resent creation, whatever takes you away from spirituality, you're gonna end up despising it instead of continuing on and motivating yourself towards spirituality. And in fact, the one thing that you despise may have a great quality that you're ignoring because you're seeing it through one dimension. That's why Sri Krishna has to say one who neither hates nor hankers after matter, very important that he emphasizes this. Therefore the real aspirant is beyond loving and hating creation. Remember beyond that, nor does the aspirant seek to have more desires towards worldly things. We see the nature of having desires. It's not that desires are bad. What happens is their mind isn't constantly desiring one want after another. Desiring a need is important. For example, if you desire to have a glass of water, because you're really thirsty, that's absolutely fine. That's a necessity for the body and you need to quench that thirst. Totally understandable. But say you keep wanting something that you don't really need. Say you can't afford something and you want it and you end up buying it and end up creating more debt for yourself. That would be something that is detrimental because that will end up causing more suffering because one day you're going to worry about not being able to pay the credit card bill. And that will create anxiety, that anxiety may cause depression. And then that depression will take us to a place of darkness where we will find that the light is very dim. Not that the light has extinguished. We'll find it very dim. That's why in the spiritual path, it is said to reduce our desires, to get rid of desires is very difficult. And I will say there's nobody in the world that is totally free from desire. Everybody desires something, even if it's very subtle. But the thing is, we need to go beyond the notion of, we will be happy if we get to what we desire. Yeah. If you get what you desire doesn't mean that you're going to be happy. If that was the case, then every billionaire will be happy. And we know that that's not true. These individuals that do not constantly desire one want after another, they simply live within what is needed and are content and fulfilled. And if they get what they desire, that is great. If they don't get what they desire, that is great. They are able to be balanced. Also one shouldn't even hate desires because again, like I said, I use the example of quenching your thirst. Now I would say that if you were suffocating, do we not in that moment, then desire to breathe? Do we not then want a gasp of air? So not all desires lead to ignorance. Some desires are necessary for the body's function. So understand the difference and this comes with the discernment between the Real and the unreal. Remember that desires aren't bad, they are necessary. They're not evil. We have to make sure that we utilize those desires that will help us on the spiritual journey rather than be detrimental. And nobody can turn around to me and say, well, if I get everything I desire, then I'll be spiritual. In my opinion, you'll be just hanking after one desire after another, which is why I don't necessarily propose that people should follow the path of the law of attraction or manifestation, because I believe that makes us concentrated more on the material things than the spiritual things. Although one will have this pseudo, spiritual feeling. That's not in every case, but in most cases, that is what happens. Then the second part in that verse that we are looking at is, and is indifferent both to sukha and dukha, and is known to have permanently disassociated their Atman from prakriti. So the Karma Yogi is indifferent to pain and pleasure. Neither do they love or hate pain nor do they love or hate pleasure. This is very important to understand. They see pain and pleasure as part of nature, as a natural byproduct of being in the world. Therefore there's no need to entertain it too much. Just let it be. Just let it flow as it should. The karma yogi learns that while doing actions, they can be like a sannyasi by giving up the fruits of all actions. The fruits here being pleasure and pain. They realize that their true nature, this Atman, this Formless Awareness does not perform any action. And it is only the body and mind that performs action. Or you could say it's the prakriti, the body and mind as prakriti, that is performing actions. Therefore, they permanently disassociate their Atman from prakriti 'name and form'. Very wonderful teaching here and if we can practice this, this is even greater. And I just wanna go back to the previous part that we looked at. When we talked about desires, one thing I will say, you can look into the lives of billionaires. You can look into the lives of people that have a lot of money, or they seemingly live that Instagram wonderful lifestyle. The thing is, what I will say is you do not know what is actually going on 24 7 in their lives. If they have a marriage that has broken up, relationships that aren't lasting, friendships where there is little trust, then you can understand there's not gonna be much happiness. So don't always go by what you see on an IG feed or by what you see by the numbers that is associated with their net value and net worth. The real net worth is how much you value yourself. And the only way to have a boundless value for yourself is to see yourself as the Atman, to see yourself as Pure Formless Awareness. And that's my take on it. Let me know what you think. Do you agree with me or do you disagree with me? Let me know. Send me a message, write in the comment in this YouTube video. The third part and is thereby freed from all forms of material bondage. This person is free. They're liberated, nothing can bind them now for they have renounced all their actions. Remember, once you renounce the fruits of those actions, you've renounced the actions itself because you don't not care if you get pain or pleasure now, you submitted that to the Supreme. Now think about it. Something bounded like pain and pleasure, once it enters the boundless, it naturally gets lost in that boundlessness. It dissolves in that boundlessness. The context of the whole verse here is understand that the Atman does not have the fruits like pain and pleasure of any action. Once you understand that the Atman is not associated to pain and pleasure, then you can understand that there's only freedom within, and that is what we need to discover and unveil through practicing this wisdom. Verse four. It would be foolish to assert that Sankhya Yog and Karma Yoga are opposed to each other, when in truth they are two different methods of approaching the same ultimate goal. Though both employ different techniques, the phala or 'outcome' is the same. We're gonna look at the whole verse itself. Some will claim that only those that take sannyas, who give up on life and seek knowledge alone are truly spiritual. You'll find that some monks will say that they are doing the best work or they are the ones that will attain mukti because they are focusing all their attention and time to this truth. There may be an element of truth there, but here Sri Krishna is saying that this is not the only path and likewise giving up action and performing action in the eyes of spiritual attainment are not in opposition. If you commit to actions and remember this Formless Awareness, or you remember that the Formless Awareness is not the doer, and it's just the body and mind that is doing the action. Therefore, the body and mind will receive the Karma and not the Atman, which is your True Self. And you've truly identified yourself as the Atman, the Jiva now identifies with the Atman and not with the body and mind, then all is good. If you think about it, you need Gyana Sankhya Yoga, and Karma Yoga together. Without both of these, you will not be able to go further. Whoever claims that these things are opposite to each other and that you need to pick between one or the other, or you're gonna fail, I will say run away from them as soon as possible. See both Sankhya Yoga and Karma Yoga as methods and find the one that works for you. What suits your personality, your nature, your svadharma more. Here for Arjuna and for most of us, the path of Karma yoga is the best. In the end, the outcome is the same. The phala is the same. Which is the realization of our true nature, which is this Formless Awareness. The sanyasi gives up all and just contemplates on this knowledge 24 7 while the karma yogi performs actions and gives up the fruits of the actions. And does this by remembering its true self, which is this Changeless Formless Awareness. And again, that is done 24 7 as well. Either way you'll have the same outcome. The context of the whole verse here is don't naively claim that one path will reach self knowledge and the other will not. This is foolish thinking, be smart and understand that both paths reach the same outcome, which is self realization. Verse Five. That which is attained through Karma Yoga is also attained through the practice of Sankhya or Gyana yoga. The two methods lead to the same destination. One who sees this perceives correctly. Sri Krishna maybe is reemphasizing this point because he wants us to understand that the state of freedom, of liberation is reached by both paths, karma yoga and gyana yoga. So anyone that says that karma yoga or gyana yoga, or bhakti yoga or raja yoga, that you have to follow one of them or none of them, you know, that type of mentality is not good. He wants us to understand that practicing is key. As long as you practice one of them, you will get to the destination. The person who understands this, perceives everything correctly. We know from this on how to recognize a true Sage. If you find that a Sage says to you that Karma yoga will not get you to the truth. I will say, stay away from such a person. If someone tells you that only Gyana Yoga will take you there, stay away from that person because essentially the person will only tell you what's worked for them, but they may propose that you do something different. So don't just go by their words alone. We need to understand that a sannyasi may be someone who has followed karma yoga before in a previous life, but wasn't able to realize their true self. So in this life they possess a mind that is ready to get this Gyana straight away. They can intellectually understand it and therefore practice it straight away. Whilst the Karma Yogi is that one that performs actions by giving up its fruits and remembers this Sat - Formless Awareness and will attain the mind that is ready to understand and follow the path of Gyana and that will lead to liberation. Just remember that both would lead to liberation and with Karma yoga, the only difference is that you will be giving up the fruit of your actions and this will make your mind ready and fertile enough to receive that Gyana yoga in this life. You want to achieve it in this life. Don't think about the next life. Don't make the aim that in the next life I'm going to achieve something, do it in this life, commit yourself to this, and you will get the outcome. That is being promised. We can understand here that action performed without any desire whatsoever for the result is known as yoga or union, and the performers of such actions are known as yogis. They surrender the result of the action to existence or to God. And by being purified through action, they become fit for knowledge, which leads to liberation. Remember everything is a Yajna for them, a sacred offering and this is why householders can easily commit to this wholeheartedly. They can perform this because they go out in the world and they work. And while they're out there working. They can do it as a Yajna. That doesn't mean that they will not receive the fruits of their actions, but they will not be influenced by the fruits of their actions. That's the difference. I want us to understand that the body and mind will receive the fruits, but the Atman does not receive the fruits. The Atman remains in its Changeless Pristine Formless Self, as it always has been and always will be. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna explains how the path of action is what prepares the mind for the knowledge of Brahman and then this will ultimately lead to freedom. Verse six. O Arjuna, detachment from matter is extremely difficult to attain without yoga, but the muni who is steady in yogic practice attains Brahman very quickly. Let's look at the first part. O Arjuna detachment from matter is extremely difficult to attain without yoga. So detaching oneself from the material plane is very difficult to do without this Karma yoga for the majority of us. And Krishna is saying that this is true for Arjuna. So one needs to perform actions in order to renounce them. If you don't perform an action, how are you going to renounce it or offer it to the Divine? It's by understanding this, that one will perform actions in order to renounce them and then by understanding the Formless Awareness within, we then discover that oneness, that connection, that union. Therefore renouncing requires a mind that already keeps remembering the Formless Awareness. And this is the key we have to keep reminding ourselves that our true self is this Formless Awareness, the blank screen, and the world, and this name and form of the body is images. The True Self remains as it is. There's a very beautiful example that Rupert Spira gives, which is of John Smith playing King Lear. For example, when John Smith goes onto the stage as King Lear, he's completely King Lear, but John Smith is still there. John Smith is still present behind the performance of King Lear. Now, once John Smith leaves the stage, he will no longer be King Lear. He ultimately knows that he's John Smith. Now, if he leaves and he pretends and he goes out in the world and starts acting like King Lear people will say to him, what are you doing? You are John Smith, not King Lear then he remembers himself that he's John Smith and not King Lear. Likewise, the teacher will tell us that you are not this body and mind, you are this Formless Awareness. You are that Essential Self. You are the Eternal Observer, that is changeless. And that's what we need to understand. It is a very wonderful example that Rupert Spira gives, but it will help us understand the difference that we need here. As I often describe one who performs actions at the forefront, but in the background is this Nirguna Brahman, this Formless Awareness. So you may be at work, you may be at school. You may be recording something. You may be watching something. You can be doing all types of actions at the forefront consciously. But in the background, this Formless Awareness remains and the journey of self realization is where we understand that this Formless Awareness is always there in the background, while we are in the relative reality and performing our actions. Therefore, we do not find that this relative reality or Maya is completely false. Therefore we do not see any difference. We see this whole existence as Brahman itself. The second part is but the muni who is steady in yogic practice, attains Brahman very quickly. So the Sage who is then able to perform actions and renounces all ideas, thoughts of the outcome of those actions and the mind is therefore balanced is able to become Brahman. In fact, does not become Brahman. It understands it is Brahman. This is the key. One has to practice and practice and practice. Whenever the thought of 'I deserve this', or 'I don't deserve this' appears, then that means we are still attached to the outcome. We are to transcend this thought and feeling. Whatever the outcome, we are to go back to the neutral background, Formless Awareness, and remember that we are the blank screen and this world and the phenomena and the way the senses attract and find things repulsive. This is all images on the screen. Really, we have to go back to the blank screen whenever the images become too overwhelming for us. Whenever our senses overwhelm us, which can cause anxiety or depression or addictive behaviors, or we may fall under egoic behaviors, what will happen is we'll go back to that Formless Awareness. We don't get perfected overnight or in an instant, we have to work on it. So Practicing is really important. That's why anyone that keeps practicing and then going back to this Formless Awareness will attain Brahman very quickly. We have to be steady in this yogic practice, whatever we do, we see the Formless Awareness in there. We see Brahman in everything, therefore, if we see everything as Brahman, then everything is seen as sacred. And if everything is seen as sacred, you are living a life that is spiritual 24 7 by default, without any effort and that's the beauty. The context of the whole verse is for the beginner of this journey, they should perform selfless actions, giving up all the outcomes, and then they will attain the highest, which is this Gyana and how quickly we get there depends on how quickly and diligently we practice. The sooner we practice, the better and let me know if you're practicing this and let me know what you're going through. Is it helping you? What are you finding difficult? Let's discuss this as a community. Join my Patreon community. Join me on discord. There's many ways we can communicate with each other and discuss this. When we discuss things together, we advance our wisdom. I learn from you, you learn from me, we learn from each other and that's the whole point of this. And that's the purpose of my podcast is not to just be the person that just speaks. But I also love listening and I love reading the comments that I received from you all because it helps me refine my message and helps me understand how I can better express things. You know, those of you that have asked me questions, I sincerely and genuinely really appreciate it and really love you for it because it it really has helped me so much. And this is the end of the episode. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family who may enjoy this content. Do follow me on social media to keep getting updates, subscribe to the Monthly Bearded Mystic newsletter. Join the Bearded Mystic Podcast discord server and you'll find the details for all those in the show notes and video description below. As I mentioned in the beginning of the episode, if you would like to support the Bearded Mystic Podcast, do check out the podcasts Patreon page or you can support the podcast through Apple Podcasts Subscription and you can find this on the apple podcast app itself. And the details for the Patreon page are in the show notes and video description below. Please do rate and review this podcast on the website, www.thebeardedmysticpodcast.com. Again, you'll find this in the video description that show notes below. Please do like, and comment on this video and subscribe to the YouTube channel that you're watching this on. And if you're listening to this, do follow or subscribe to this channel so you can get updated on any new episodes. If you're watching this on YouTube, do put on the notifications so, you know, when a new episode has been uploaded or whenever I go on a live stream. Thank you very much for listening and we'll end with the Shanti mantra. Aum Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Aum Peace, Peace, Peace. Namaste.