In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 6th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 11 - 15. Sri Krishna gives guidance on how to meditate and focus on Brahman in the forest. Sri Krishna explains how we must fix our attention on our atman, our true self, and allow the senses and thoughts to rest on this understanding. Sri Krishna shares some more meditation tips that can help the mind remain steady and focused in one-pointed meditation. Sri Krishna explains how all energy can be transferred and directed to understand that Sri Krishna himself is the Formless Ultimate Reality. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna what one achieves by doing this practice, which is a perfect and complete union with the True Self. Krishna’s true self and your true self are one and the same.
Translation used: The Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive: A Radical Translation by Jeffrey Armstrong
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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 will be continuing on with my thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita. Before we do start, there's some announcements that I would like to make. If you would like to support the Bearded Mystic Podcast, do sign up to the podcast Patreon page for ad free and bonus episodes. Details are in the show notes and video description below. Another way is that you can sign up to our monthly subscription service that's available on Apple Podcasts app itself. The additional news to this is that there will be my commentaries on the Upanishads beginning very soon, only for those on Patreon. So I would say right now, pause this and go straight to Patreon and subscribe. Every Saturday there is a free meditation session that's followed by a discussion or q and a. if you would like to join, please find the details in these show notes and video description below. If you would like to have a one-on-one meeting with me, as a friend to discuss your spirituality and to help you and guide you, you can find the details in these show notes and video description below. Before we get to the recap, I just wanna say, I have either allergies or cold coming through. So if I sound a bit outta breath or if I sound a bit croaky or not my usual self, I do apologize. Hopefully I'll be better very soon. let's begin with the recap of the last episode. We discussed the 6th chapter of The Bhagavad Gita specifically verses 7 to 10. Sri Krishna guides us once again that we are to be victorious in being the Atman, we attain that peaceful balance of the Atman and that is by remaining united and one remains one with Paramatma, we don't see Paramatma as something else. We see that the true 'I am' is Paramatma itself. Also, in that episode we saw how Sri Krishna explains the difference between knowing something, which is Gyana and going through it through experience and practice, so therefore embodying the knowledge that is given. And that is called vigyana. Arjuna has to remember Sri Krishna's words here, that he has to be the same with family or foe. So he can't treat his family different, he can't treat his friends or his enemies different. He needs to treat everyone with the sameness from within. In that sense that he needs to see everybody with the same vision. So seeing the Atman in everyone, that's what that means. For ultimately Arjuna has trained his intellect and understood that his Formless Awareness itself, and then Sri Krishna also explained in the last episode how we need to remain in being aware of being aware. So that was the last episode that we did. Today we'll be looking at chapter 6: verse 11 to verse 15. So let's begin with verse 11.
Sri Krishna says:
When practicing yoga in the forest, one should choose a clean and stable location in which to sit that is neither too high nor too low. The yogi should then cover the ground with a layer of kusha grass, cover that with the skin of a deer, and upon that place a soft cloth of natural fibers. Now, when you listen to that, you know if you are vegetarian or vegan, you'll probably be like why would Sri Krishna talk about sitting with the skin of a deer. Now, things have changed a lot since 5,000 years ago 3- 4,000 years ago, obviously a lot has changed. We probably wouldn't sit on the skin of a deer today, we probably have better blankets that can help us, which were not available back then. And then Sri, Krishna does say, place a soft cloth of natural fibers. And this is interesting because before we go into the verse and we, we'd be looking at the verse as a whole, it's just that, He talks about natural fibers, again, showing that when you sit directly on something, it has to feel natural. it's an interesting verse, but again this is a practice to do mainly in the forest, which to be fair, not many people I know go to the forest. Majority of us stay in our own home, and that's the way we practice. Yoga isn't just the asanas remember. The whole point of yoga again just to emphasize it's not for asanas and not for physical postures alone. That's hatha yoga and that can have some benefits for the mind for sure. But that's not what yoga really is about. Yoga is really about meditation, getting you ready and prepared for meditation. The purpose of yoga is to have direct union with the true self, which is Brahman. This is a good practice to begin with, you know that it should be a clean place because a place that is messy, that has a lot of clutter, it's very difficult to focus. You know, your mind would be distracted and you'd be thinking about so many different things. So therefore, having a clean space is very important. Even if we aren't fans of cleaning, I can certainly, accumulate mess, even though I try to keep everything minimal. It happens. You're not the only one that has to go through that. But what you can do is if you are going to sit down and meditate, just tell your mind, I'm gonna sit down to meditate for 30 minutes. And what will happen is because your mind is so cunning, it will suddenly start feeling it needs something to do. Why meditate? What are you gonna get from meditation? So then you'll think of cleaning. If you really want to meditate, then what I would do suggest to your mind, I'm gonna sit down for meditation for two hours and see what the mind does then. And you probably see that suddenly you get a new instinctive desire to clean. But the main purpose of the, the setting that Sri Krishna has said in this verse is that one needs to have some sort of stable practice, stable location. So if you are in a house, then what I would say is, one, make it clean as possible, try to keep us less clutter and less things around you. Obviously everyone is in different circumstances, so we can't expect everything to be pristine. I understand. The most important thing is to have less distractions. The best way for that is to do it in the early morning where most people are asleep. That's why in Sikhi, it's a very beautiful practice that they do their Japji Sahib during Amritvela and even, spiritual organizations like the Brahma Kumaris, they emphasize also the AmritVela time, and some people call it the Brahma-Mahurata aswell. That is ideal because there's less people on the road. I live right outside a, a main busy road, and sometimes during the recordings you can hear the cars or the sirens. Or if you're living in London, you may hear the underground trains or the trains itself. It's important to know that during that time between three to five o'clock in the morning, there's more silence and that's why it's more conducive for meditation Now how you sit is important here, and Sri Krishna offers that you sit on a place that is neither too high nor too low. For me, what he's really emphasizing is creating a cushion, so it gives you some basic amount of comfort. Now, in today's day and age, there's chairs, there's comfortable sofas. You can get these meditation chairs now on Amazon. So there's things you can utilize. What I will say is that all those things are just to help you meditate, just to make you get into the mood. But it's all about being comfortable. The only thing I will change with this verse is that the essence of it really is just be comfortable. A lot of people will say, you need to do this as Sri Krishna says, and let me tell you, even the most hardcore Krishna bhakts, do not do this. Trust me, You see that Guru that talks about the Bhagavad Gita, and they are always proponents of it? Watch are they sitting in the forest? No. Just remember that this practice is not one for everybody, but we can adjust it for the householder to make it more approachable for us. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna is giving guidance on how to meditate and focus on Brahman in the forest, but we can adapt it to the householder way of life. Verse 12. There assuming an appropriate asana, the yogi should focus the manas upon a single intention. Completely restraining both the thoughts and the senses, the yogi should remain entirely fixed upon their own Atman in order to become purified of any misconceptions regarding the true nature of their self. We're gonna break this up a bit. So let's look at the first part. There assuming an appropriate asana, the yogi should focus this upon a single intention. First of all, the appropriate asana is the appropriate position to meditate, one where we are comfortable. Then the yogi should focus the manas upon a single intention. What Sri Krishna means here is that the mind-heart complex, our being should focus on that Formless Awareness, that is the substratum of existence. That's the single intention. The single intention is to realize our true self and stabilize in That. We are to remain as Nirguna Brahman, as Formless Awareness at all times. Whether the Formless Awareness is in the background or the foreground, depending on our activity during the day as a householder, we need to make sure that that Formless Awareness is there whenever we want to go to It. Now, some of us need to get to practice. We may start with meditation every week, and then suddenly we can get to Formless Awareness more and more during the week. Some of us can do it at a moment's notice. We want to get to that point where we can get to it at a moment's notice. Nobody is in awareness. Well, everyone is in awareness 24 7, but in terms of the mind, it doesn't have to be in that awareness 24 7 because it has activities to perform. The next part of the verse is that completely restraining both the thoughts and the senses, the yogi should remain entirely fixed upon their own Atman in order to become purified of any misconceptions regarding the true nature of their self. In this part of the verse, Sri Krishna is saying that the thoughts and senses must be restrained. They shouldn't be given any attention because remember, whatever you give attention to always grows. So let the thoughts pass by. Remember the practice I mentioned about how to see thoughts and emotions, sensations and feelings, memories and images and all sorts that are created in the mind, that they are like the clouds in the sky and your awareness is like the blue sky. So remember that no matter what the clouds are, the blue sky is unaffected. So our awareness is that blue sky. Always remember that. It says here, also completely restraining the thoughts and the senses. This is not repressing. So I want us to understand this. We are not repressing our thoughts. We are just directing them. We are saying thoughts you may pass by, you may have your time, but you will not be a guest that will overstay their welcome. You are to be here for the designated time that you are meant to appear. If you are meant to be here for a few seconds, you're here for a few seconds. That's all and we just have to remember that any time we have a thought or you have your senses going towards the sense objects., What you can do is go back to Formless Awareness, at any time. This is why we do this Saturday practice or the weekly practice to ensure that we at least can start bringing this more and more into our life, that we can go back to being aware of being aware. With the senses, they may direct your attention, remember, but you must bring them back to focus upon the Atman, which is the Formless Awareness, always do that. Your senses look at a chocolate cake. Suddenly thought starts being generated, desire has arisen, the fear of not having it starts appearing. All those things will start occuring but what we need to do is bring it back to Formless Awareness, and then with discernment, with our intellect decide whether we want that chocolate cake, that's called restrain. And if we are full, we are not going to eat it. Or if we do not need it, then we will not have it. It's as simple as that. Going through the process of Neti-Neti, negating all that, which is unreal, fix the Atman on That, which does not change. Remember that it's true nature of yourself is the Atman. Whatever is unreal, those contents of Consciousness, the objects of Consciousness, look at them, see if they change then negate them away. Negate them away because they're changing. Negate them away because they're unreal. But go to that Awareness, that subject, that is observing and watching, or is aware of that object yet has remained untouched by the influence of that object. It's a very subtle but distinct difference by being attracted. Remember, it's the mind that gets attracted to the objects. The awareness of the mind getting attracted is not attracted to the object. The subject is never, never attracted to the object. It is only the mind that does so, and because we think we are the mind, we fall under that delusion of change all the time. Now keep going back to Nirguna Brahman, Formless Awareness. So through Neti-Neti, take everything away, negate everything away that changes, so you're just directly, like literally face to face with Nirguna Brahman, where only Nirguna Brahman is the only thing. Keep practicing this, and there you will understand that this is your True Self. The biggest misconception is that you think you're not this True Self, that you are not Nirguna Brahman. That's your real nature. That's who you really are and purify yourself of all notions that you are not this Atman. Whatever tells you that you're not this Atman negated away through Neti-Neti. Remember, you are not your senses. You are not your mind. You're not your intellect, You're not your body. You are not the happiness related to the body. You are Sat-Chit-Ananda you are that Existence Consciousness Bliss. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna explains how we must fix our attention on our Atman, our True Self, and allow the senses and thoughts to rest on this understanding. Verse 13. Holding the body, neck, and head in correct alignment, motionless gazing neither entirely outward, nor completely within, the yogi does not allow their attention to wander and remain steady in the dharana 'the one pointed meditation within'. We're gonna look at the whole verse together. Sri Krishna offers guidance on how to keep the body, neck, and head in complete alignment, more or less just straight. You know, being comfortable, keep your head rested when you're meditating. So that's important. It should be motionless. Remember, if the body is motionless, the mind naturally calms down. If the body is in motion, most of the times it's fidgety and if it's fidgety, the mind will be going here and there with its thoughts. The gaze is normally said to focus on the tip of the nose. So here it says, gazing neither outward nor completely within. If you try to do that, that's by staring at the tip of the nose here. Now you can do that if you wish. That's, again, up to you what you feel comfortable with. This is a method that Sri Krishna thinks Arjuna can do. And if you feel that you closely associate with Arjuna, which most of us do actually, we can do this practice if it helps. When we look at the tip of the nose, we see that our eyes aren't looking too much outward, nor is it too much inward. You're in between, think about it. If you have your eyes completely open, you can get distracted by anything that's going around. If you have your eyes closed, you can fall asleep. Those are things that can happen. This method helps the attention remain steady and doesn't allow it to travel. This mainly keeps us stabilize in dharana 'one pointed meditation within'. This will keep us totally focused on Nirguna Brahman. Remember, Nirguna Brahman is neither inward nor outward, it's all-pervading. We need to remember that our single intention, our single focus, is always Nirguna Brahman. And to get there, we can utilize Neti-Neti, using that approach to get rid of anything that is Asat, anything that is unreal, and keep our meditation pointed towards that. The target is one, and remember, one has hit the bullseye once one is absorbed in Brahman and realizes that their true nature is Brahman itself. That's the true meaning of Aham Brahmasmi. The context of the whole verse is that again, there's more tips shared by Sri Krishna that can help the mind remain steady and focused in one pointed meditation. Verse 14. Entirely satisfied within their own Atman, all fears completely removed, established in the vow of brahmacharya 'restraint and correct circulation of their sexual energies' within the manas faculty calm and attentive, the yogi should meditate upon Me as the Ultimate Reality. There's a lot to unpack in this verse. If you need to pause it right now to get a glass of water, do that now. This is something we need to really focus upon because a lot of misunderstanding can happen from this verse if we do not understand it's real intention. And remember, we have to understand that Sri Krishna is Brahman here, and that's the number one thing I'm gonna mention, but we'll go deeper into explaining this.
The first part is:
entirely satisfied within their own Atman, all fears completely removed, established in the vow of brahmacharya, which is 'restraint and correct circulation of their sexual energies'. Once you're totally satisfied within your own mind, within your True Self, that is when all fears are completely removed. That's when they disappear, they dissolve away and all your attachments dissolve away too because remember, fears are based from our attachments, and once attachments are dissolved away, that means greed is also dissolved away, all anger has dissolved away and all desires have dissolved away. Everything is based on fear. So once fear's gone, you're more or less free. That is true mukti. That's liberation. I would like to give a disclaimer before I start this verse that I'm about to discuss sex. If you are not comfortable with this, you may check the chapter heading for when the discussion ends. Now the main thing is, what does brahmacharya mean here? Because Sri Krishna has mentioned this word, so this can have different meanings for different people. Now, for a renunciant, brahmacharya is literally abstaining from any type of sexual activity, whether that's having sex with somebody or it is masturbation and it should be to such an extent where one doesn't even think of sex. So once the idea of sex, appears, one should negate that away. Now, most of us listening to this probably are not renunciants nor are we desiring to be monks right now. If you are, obviously what I've just said applies, but if you are not, then how are we meant to interpret this? Well, some of the people will see it as absolute celibacy, but to be honest, we look at some of the traditions out there that promote celibacy can't really fully do this because they repress it rather than actually dealing with celibacy. So what I mean by dealing with it is actually observing their sexual energy because they think it's wrong and a sin, they repress it. So it only grows. But if you actually observe it, it's much easier, which is the Hindu way of doing things. The Dharmic way is not to repress it, it's to observe it. You watch that sexual energy arise and then you redirect it to Brahman because you want to get rid of that energy. Now in this sense in the verse, I also wanna say it's unrealistic for Arjuna because he's married, so he's a householder, he has a wife as we know, Draupadi so he cannot be celibate. He cannot take this vow of celibacy. So what does he do in this situation? Here, Sri Krishna talks of restraint. Now this implies that sexual energy is to be controlled or directed. What does it mean to have sexual energy controlled? On one sense, it is to remain devoted to the common norms of society. Like today, if you have a partner, then it's best to stay with one partner. Now, I didn't say spouse because I think that if you have a partner, this is how you should maintain yourself. is to stay focused with one partner and remember that in today's day and age, we have all types of relationships. Whether they are heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual. So some of us are polygamous, some of us are monogamous, so there's all types. Obviously there may be an understanding of polygamy and that's fine, but if one is in a monogamous relationship, then one should respect the guidance that goes along with that. Now if your polygamous, obviously you stay within the boundaries that you set between you and your partners. On the same aspect, it is important that one has sex not just for pleasure but they can make it a special act of meditation. It can then be another form of asana and another form of posturing in yoga because you are in union. Some of you will know that Osho used to talk about from Sex to Samadhi, from Sex to Super Consciousness or Ultimate Consciousness. In that book, Osho describes how when one has an orgasm, one gets a glimpse of what it's like to be in complete union with the truth and how one can be in complete awareness, and it's true, when you do have sex and you and your partner are really aligned, when you have that orgasm, there is a moment of complete silence. There is a release, your senses just kind of dissolve away and there is this expanded Consciousness. So that is true. Now, if you're just having sex for pleasure, you will not notice this as much unless you do this as an act of meditation. So that's why I've mentioned that sex is not just for pleasure, but you can make it in special act of meditation. When you do that, remember, if you're having sex in awareness, that is something different. It's a different quality. There's a different vibe to it. There's a different vitality to it. So that's what brahmacharya can also mean. Using the act of sex to get to Brahman. Now this may be really controversial, but really it isn't. It's even mentioned in the Kama Sutra. So it's not really a new idea. It's very ancient. And obviously we also have Osho, who emphasized this as well. And again, he was misunderstood for what he said. The reason why we have such regressive views about sex is because society in itself, even with some organizations that are female led, but they have this vow of celibacy, most of it is actually stemmed in misogyny. Sri Krishna also mentions the correct circulation and this means that say one is not to masturbate or one is not to have sex, then one can redirect the energy. Sexual energy to understand it completely is very, very potent, very, very strong. We do know that all energy can be transferred. So when you have that sudden desire for sex, to, to have sexual pleasure, what you can do, say at that time, it's not available for you to have sex with your partner, what you can do is start meditating. All that's happening is that you're just transferring the energy. Remember, energy itself does not see itself as sexual or non-sexual. We say that through the mind and we contaminate it by saying sex is bad or good. Yeah, energy is energy. So if you just see that in itself, all you're doing is utilizing one energy directing it to another form of energy So it's not incredibly controversial or bad at all. Just by transferring the energy, we're not repressing it, nor are we suppressing that sexual energy, but directing it towards focusing on Brahman Remember, this is how we are to view sex as a householder. Now a lot of Hindus may not like what I've just said. They may even say this is totally, contradictory to the text or contradictory to some of the smrities and all this. Let me just say one thing. We have to understand that times are changed. We have to also understand that Sri Krishna's words are eternal, so they will change according to the time in terms of how they are to be practiced and implemented. So this subtle point is only understood by a few. And trust me, a lot of people read the Gita in India and that population has been growing. So It's not so bad. But anyway. The next part of the verse is with the manas faculty calm and attentive, the Yogi should meditate upon Me as the Ultimate Reality Once we have calmed the Manas faculty and it is at peace, it is now ready to be attentive and is on the cusp of being at that one pointed focus that we were talking about earlier. Now, the yogi should meditate not on the physical form of Krishna, but who they really are or who Sri Krishna really is, which is Nirguna Brahman, this Formless Awareness, that is who Sri Krishna is. Remember right now he's not the friend of Arjuna, neither is he the friend of us. Right now he's the Guru. Remember, we surrendered in chapter two, so did Arjuna. So now he is Nirguna Brahman. This 'Me' that Sri Krishna refers to, I just want to emphasize is Nirguna Brahman and nothing less than that. Do not bring a form here. If you bring the form, the Bhagavad Gita is not understood. If you think Krishna is a physical form during these teachings, then the Bhagavad Gita's message will be missed. The Ultimate Reality is that which does not change. So that is the attribute-less Brahman. That's Formless Awareness. So this 'Me' is within us too. Remember, it's all pervading. It surrounds us at all times. And as the Formless Awareness, It is the Subject, everything else is the object. So we must start being aware of being aware. This right now has to be our practice. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna explains how all energy can be transferred and directed to understand that Sri Krishna himself and us are just this one Formless Ultimate Reality. Verse 15. By constantly disciplining their Atman in this way, the yogi gradually subdues and focuses all the faculties of the manas achieving complete tranquility. and by doing so, reaches a state of Param Nirvana 'becoming both enlightened to their own true nature and detached from all forms of material reality.' Eventually through this process, the yogi connects directly with Me and we remain together permanently linked in that perfect yogic union. The first part is by constantly disciplining their Atman in this way the yogi gradually subdues and focuses all the faculties of Manas achieving complete tranquility and by doing so, reaches the state of bottom nirvana, which means becoming both enlightened to their own true nature and detached from all forms of material reality. We need to use this process to keep on disciplining the mind, to keep coming back to our True Self, to its true nature. Eventually all our thoughts, impressions, our vasanas, our memories, our sense projections, enter a complete rest. They will be completely calmed down at the point of stillness and then bring all these elements to focus upon one thing alone, which is this Nirguna Brahman. So once they're calmed down, you can then direct them. So you have a thought, you can direct it to Nirguna Brahman. You have any impressions that occur, you can direct it to Nirguna Brahman. You have any memories you direct it to Nirguna Brahman. What I mean there is that you go back to being aware of being aware. You go back to being Formless Awareness. That's all I mean here. Now, due to entering complete tranquility, you reach the highest Nirvana, the Parama Nirvana. What is this highest nirvana? When you realize and are established in your true nature, totally absorbed in the Ultimate Reality, then at the same time you are detached from all forms of material reality, you're no longer the body or the mind or the senses or people's thoughts and ideas about you. None of these things can even touch you. That is the state of the yogi, that's the state of you if you practice these teachings, if you make this from Gyana to Vigyana. From knowledge to practical application of that knowledge. The next part of the verse is eventually through this process, the yogi connects directly with me and we remain together, permanently linked in the perfect yogic union. Through this process where one is established in the True Self and is detached from all material reality, remember all the material reality's gone, disappeared. We only are at that changeless, substratum and that is the only thing that's there. The yogi recognizes that that is the True Abode. Now, the yogi then is able to directly connect with Nirguna Brahman because that's the only thing there now. It is only the subject 'Aham Brahmasmi', 'Tat Tvam Asi'. 'You are That' or 'I am That' is the only thing that can be said in that state, and that connection is forever established. It is permanently linked to meaning that nothing can destroy it. It's not temporary. It has always been permanently linked, but now we realize it. Now we have the knowledge. We got rid of avidya, we got rid of ignorance to see that it's always been there. We've always been linked. In fact, when the Changeless meets the Changeless, it is an automatic union and recognition of sameness. So remember that. This is a union that's beyond any name and form beyond any naam and roop. One thing I will mention is that Sri Krishna says, "we remain together". So once you become together, what may happen is that we think Krishna is different and we are different. Now He says we remain together, so we get together. Then he says permanently linked so we can feel that we've been grasped here. And then at the same time, we are holding each other and then we're in perfect yogic union. There's a complete immersion. There's a complete dissolving into oneness. Then you can't separate the two. There's only one. So that's what we need to understand here with this part of the verse, and remember directly with 'Me', that 'Me' is Nirguna Brahman is Formless Awareness. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna tells Arjuna what one achieves by doing this practice and that is a perfect and complete union with the True Self. Sri Krishna's True Self and your True Self is one and the same, and we must never ever forget this and we'll end the episode on that note. Now, before you do go, 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 The Bearded Mystic Newsletter. Join the Bearded Mystic Podcast WhatsApp group. Details are in the show notes and video description below. If you would like to support the Bearded Mystic Podcast, do check out the podcast's Patreon page, details are in the show notes and video description below. Or support the podcast through Apple Podcast subscriptions, and you can find this on the Apple Podcast app itself. If you would like to have a one-on-one meeting with me as a friend to discuss your spirituality. Remember, you can find the details in these show notes and video description below. Please do rate and review the podcast on my website, www.thebeardedmysticpodcast.com. Please do like and comment on this video and subscribe to this YouTube channel. And also if you're listening to this on your favorite podcast streaming app, do follow it and do like and comment if possible on your app. Thank you very much for listening, we'll end with feeling peace itself with the Shanti mantra. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti. Aum Peace Peace Peace Namaste.