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Dec. 18, 2022

Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 6: Verse 33 - Verse 39)


In this episode, we discuss the 6th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 33 - 39. Arjuna simply cannot see the practicality of such methods and teachings, he finds his mind is too restless. Arjuna provides his experience on how the mind is impossible to control because of its mere strength. Sri Krishna appreciates what Arjuna says and reminds him of his strengths and tells him he must do constant practice and vairagya. Sri Krishna makes a concession by saying yoga can be difficult but in the end, we have to discipline the mind, and remove avidya by strengthening the intellect with viveka, discernment of the Real and unreal.  Arjuna wants to know what happens if one tries their best with these practices but doesn’t reach perfection, what is their next birth like? Arjuna starts entering a defeatist attitude and says he will lose both Brahman and worldly success or even heavenly success if he doesn’t complete his yoga. Arjuna surrenders to Sri Krishna and knows that only He can remove all the doubts that he has. He puts his complete trust in Sri Krishna as he feels defeated by his own doubts. 

Translation used: The Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive: A Radical Translation by Jeffrey Armstrong

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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 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. But before I do begin, there's a few announcements that I would like to make. Please do give your support to the Bearded Mystic Podcast by signing up to the Podcast's Patreon page for ad free and bonus episodes, and you can get other benefits depending on the tier that you select. The details are in the show notes and video description below. Other ways to support the podcast is through Supercast and through the Apple subscriptions that's on the Apple Podcast's app itself. For the Supercast link that is also in the show notes and video description below.

Every Saturday at 11:

00 AM Eastern Standard Time. There is a free virtual meditation session along with discussion and Q and A for around an hour, so please find the details in the show notes and video description below if you're interested in meditating with the community. Sometimes we need some personal help with our spirituality or we have questions that we personally want to ask. As a friend, I can help you through a one-to-one meeting via Zoom. You can find the details in the show notes and video description below. Please do like, comment, and subscribe if you're watching this on YouTube. If you're listening to this on your favorite podcast streaming app, please rate and review the podcast and do follow or subscribe to get future episodes. Now, let's get to the podcast. Let's do a recap of the last episode. We discussed the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita specifically verses 29 to 32 and Sri Krishna gives a powerful message showing the importance of union through yoga, and that we see the Atman as one and the same as all beings and this is a very important teaching. Sri. Krishna also provides us with a key insight into what happens when we connect with Sri Krishna as Formless Oneness and see all beings as this Formless Oneness. We adore Sri Krishna, but in his Formless roop, in his Formless form, his Formless image, which is Brahman, and we create a connection that can never change because we associate it with that changeless Brahman. Sri Krishna also gives an important lesson that the Atman is one and the same for all and the world is full of sukha and dukha and our body and mind will experience this regardless of our spiritual attainment. Yogic perfection lies in accepting what we experience in this world and reminding ourselves that we are this Atman, we are this Formless Awareness, that is changeless. It's the same Atman as Sri Krishna himself. Today we will be continuing on with chapter Six, verse 33 to verse 39. Verse 33. Arjuna said, O' Sri Krishna. The method of yoga that you have described seems impossible to attain. The faculty of Manas is chanchala 'inherently unstable and fickle', and I do not see how even yoga can achieve the steadiness you are describing. We are gonna break this up a little. Arjuna, said, O Sri Krishna, the method of yoga that you have described seems impossible to attain. Now whatever Arjuna says, we must understand his perspective, and that's because we most likely have the same perspective as him. There's no point thinking, oh, this question is useless or Arjuna is someone that is full of doubts and he should be looked down upon. Actually, no. He's doing US service by asking these questions, by clarifying, so there is no confusion for himself and for us. We need to see that whatever he does is a sewa to the whole of humanity in the sense of that if anyone picks up the Bhagavad Gita Arjuna is representing them. This is an important understanding to have. Otherwise we will totally misunderstand what the Gita is trying to portray to us. In the whole desire for practical spirituality, we pretend that the methods are not practical enough and because we are lazy, we just say it isn't practical. Sometimes we approach or we see a, a spiritual Guru and we think that they're giving spiritual advice that is practical, and then when it comes down to it, actually we're not practicing what they're saying. It sounds good. It sounds like we can practice it. It sounds approachable. , but it's not approachable enough for us to practice. Arjuna says that whatever you are describing to me seems impossible. I don't know if I can do this and we do the same thing. Oh, the path of bhakti is too difficult. How can we surrender? The path of Gyana is too difficult. How can we understand? The path of Raja yoga? Meditation. I find it hard to focus completely on Brahman and then karma yoga? Same thing. How can I be the observer? How can I be selfless in every action that I do? How can I not think of the results of every action that I do? It seems impossible. How can I do this? But these are all words of a lazy person. Someone overcome with tamas and because we cannot understand how simple this is, we complicate it. We complicate this truth, we complicate the practice. Otherwise, it's very simple. It's not complicated. All it is that we are the same changeless, Atman, as Brahman as the Ultimate Reality. We are not anything different As I may have said last week, or I often say is that the understanding in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads is very simple. That we are not the body and mind. We are the Atman, but we have a body and mind. What we need to understand is this very simple Truth. It's not complicated, very simple. What seems simple may be simple only when we put it into practice. So it's kind of a catch 22. You have to practice in order to see the simplicity, otherwise it looks difficult. Or the other thing is we just cannot admit that we do not understand the theory. So many convoluted ideas have been created out of the Gita. Today people talk about how the Gita is therefore motivation to support corporate culture. No, I don't think Sri Krishna had this in mind, and neither did he really think about corporate culture. I'm sure an element of it existed in the past too because there were institutions and all sorts. But his whole point was actually I am not here to make your worldly life happy. I'm here to make you understand that this world is an appearance and can never make you happy, but you are happiness itself. That is Sri Krishna's message Sri Krishna wants you to be centered to be in balance. He doesn't want you to have highs and lows. But are we willing to accept this? Are we willing to allow the message of Sri Krishna to enter our heart? The other thing is that we just do not understand the theory. We don't understand that we are the Atman and that this body and mind is a changing one. Therefore, it's unreal. It's Prakriti, it's nature and we are the Purusha, the witness Consciousness. But we do not accept this because we do not understand the theory of Brahm Gyana, the insights into Brahman. We do not understand it. We pretend we do, but we don't. We say high words, but our actions are limited at best. And I often say this, if your close ones, they may not like the amount of time you spend on spirituality, but if they do not see that you are a great person, if they do not see that you are a Rishi in the making, a sage in the making, a great being, even if they disagree with the amount of time that you take on your spirituality, if they can't see the results, if they can't see that change, that transformation, then you have to ask yourself, are you really transforming? You have to analyze yourself. Question, am I really there? And obviously we know that the methods that Sri Krishna has given so far seems impossible for Arjuna. He cannot see how he can practice them. How can he unite with that Formless Awareness when his mind is not clear? And that's the whole predicament that he's in, that my mind is not able to comprehend this. The next part of it is this. That the faculty of Manas is chanchala ' inherently unstable and fickle', and I do not see how even yoga can achieve the steadiness you are describing. Arjuna is being honest here, and I will be very clear that because of his honesty, he is far ahead than a lot of us. We pretend to be sincere, but we are more chanchala. One slight disturbance in our mind, we turn that molehill into a mountain, in a second. Arjuna is honest. He says his mind is chanchala. His manas is chanchala, the movements in his mind is unstable. It's fickle. One moment, it's connected to Brahman, to its true nature. The next second it's broken because a desire has occurred. Our emotions are here and there and everywhere. Our thoughts jump from one thought to another. Therefore, our mind is constantly active and cannot rest. That is why this Manas is chanchala because we cannot control the movement of the mind. Its instability is rooted in fear. Fear of what? Fear of death. If there is yoga, if there is union, if one attains it, one thinks what is left in life? If I have to renounce my desires as Sri Krishna has been saying, if I cannot desire even for success, because I'm not meant to think about the fruit of my actions, what is the point of living? If I'm going to die if my karma is not going to be exhausted, what is the point of living? But that is fear. Fear to act, fear to put into practice, fear to being, and because Arjuna hasn't practiced it, he cannot see the results. He cannot understand how the results can even happen. But one hasn't practiced and we have to ask ourselves, are we practicing too? Are we, or are we just pretending? Arjuna also may not have grasped everything that Sri Krishna has been talking about, and that's possible. That's realistic. The main question here is that what Arjuna is trying to say to Sri Krishna is where the saying, throwing the bathwater with the baby comes to mind. We haven't even tried and we've already made conclusions. When we don't practice spirituality, we say the spiritual practices aren't worth it, the Gyana isn't working. We haven't even put one energy of effort, one slight movement towards effort and we've already made the conclusions, and Arjuna has done the same thing here. Whether he knows he's done it, but he's done it innocently. He's not done it out of being ignorant. He's done it out of innocence because he's now doubting with the sincere heart. He's being honest, not like us. The context of the whole verse is that Arjuna simply cannot see the practicality of such methods and teachings. He finds his mind is far too restless to come to that aspect of union. Then verse 34.

Arjuna continued:

Not only is the manas faculty chanchala, it is also turbulent, unyielding, and powerful. In my experience, it would be easier to control the wind than to control the unsteadiness of Manas. Wonderful statement. But again, it shows a lack of experience from Arjuna. Let's break this up a little. Not only is the Manas faculty chanchala, it is also turbulent, unyielding, and powerful. First of all, again, respect to Arjuna for at least being honest about where he is spiritually. Most people aren't even courageous to admit that they are not realized. I will admit to you and I will admit to myself. That, in my opinion, I'm very comfortable in saying that I'm not realized, and I'd rather be honest about it. I would love to be aware 24 7. I would love that. And yeah, I can recognize that I'm making progress, but I haven't reached there yet. There's a lot of work that I need to do, and so that's why I respect where Arjuna is and what he is saying. I can relate to him a lot more than someone that probably has arrogance that they understand the truth, but really their life, their practice is not even there. Now Arjuna recognizes that the mind is unstable and fickle, and he knows that the mind can get angry at any small thing. We know that too. But now he mentions turbulent. A tempest is brewed up when our desires are unmet. We know this and it becomes unyielding because whether it's our attachment, our greed, our anger, or fear, it is unwilling to give way to peace and joy and to tranquility. This mind is very powerful. Osho used to say that the mind is a terrible master, but a beautiful servant and the mind can convince us of anything. It can plunge us into the light. Therefore, it's a beautiful servant, but it can also plunge us into darkness where anxiety and deep depression sets in and that's where the mind is a terrible master. We need to utilize the mind. We cannot get rid of the mind, otherwise we can't function in the world, but we have to allow it to serve us and not become our master. Arjuna's dilemma, even though it shows his lack of insight and maturity, his understanding of the mind, however, is very clear and is getting to the point where he can practice. Hence his questions, Then he adds on in the next part. That in my experience, it will be easier to control the wind than to control the unsteadiness of manas. Arjuna is great for this one statement. In his experience. This is what it says. In my experience, this is very telling that he's observing his own life, his own actions, his own mind, his own intentions, his own desires. Then he uses the example of the wind. That even though we have no power over the element of wind, we can put up certain defenses. We can also put up certain equipment to redirect the wind, and we find that that's possible. But with the mind, he says it's more difficult to control than the wind. And this is somewhat true. The mind gets out of control when it comes to our fears, our anger, our jealousy, et cetera. One thing doesn't go our way and that's it. Our mind cannot take it. It's so unsteady. One slight disturbance, just a slight disturbance, just a slight movement, and it becomes unstable, unsteady. This is a very interesting observation made of his own self, and I appreciate Arjuna's verse here because the whole context really is that he's providing his experience on how the mind is impossible to control because of its mere strength. Arjuna has obviously given his questions. Now Sri Krishna gives his response.

Sri Krishna replied:

You are right, O mighty Arjuna the Manas is very restless and unsteady and it is extremely difficult to become free from its grasp, but with constant practice and vairagya ' complete determination and indifference to material objects', it can be finely controlled. Sri Krishna here gives a complete response. It's actually absolute in itself. But we need an intellect that will understand the foundation of this to make it easier. Let's break this verse up a little. The first part is Sri Krishna replied: You are right, O mighty Arjuna The manas is very restless and unsteady, and it is extremely difficult to become free from its grasp. So Sri Krishna gives his response and he acknowledges Arjunas statement. He accepts Arjuna's statement and as a Guru, he understands that Arjuna is talking sense and is seeking an answer. He's being a true seeker here. At the same time as a Guru, he's saying that Arjuna is mighty, Arjuna is strong. He has all the power. He's not allowing Arjuna to think even for a split second that he's weak because of his questions. That is the greatness of Sri Krishna. I've heard many people condemn Arjuna for his questions, and I will differ with them on this. That Arjuna was an honest devotee. An honest disciple because he asked questions, he asked for clarifications, and Sri Krishna was more than happy to share. We know that the mind is unsteady and it's restless. We've established this before in the other episodes. One thought can cause havoc. One emotion can break us down, and one karma can bring our downfall, that is how unsteady and unstable and restless the mind is and how life is. Sri Krishna also admits that it's very difficult, extremely difficult. He acknowledges this completely and he's not downplaying how difficult it is to set oneself free from the mind. He understands this and that acknowledgement shows his compassion and his relatability. The one thing that is important here is how relatable Sri Krishna is to Arjuna. Arjuna can actually understand Sri Krishna because of that. If Sri Krishna condemns Arjuna for his questions, that means one - Sri Krishna's whole journey of being a spiritual avatar will be questioned. The other thing is, it would put whole doubt into whether Sri Krishna did he actually achieve anything spiritually? Is he really enlightened? All this will come under question if he condemned Arjuna's questions. In the second part he says, but with constant practice and vairagya ' complete determination and indifference to material objects', it can finally be controlled. Now one thing is Sri Krishna first acknowledges Arjuna's dilemma, and then he gives the message that he wants, the method that he wants, the expectation on how to get there. This part of the verse is the main message, and we should take heed to this part. It requires constant practice. A lot of people rely on grace on kirpa, but grace isn't enough. You have to practice. You have to put in the effort. One must keep on strengthening their viveka, their intellect. One must devote every action to Brahman and transcend any desire for results, then also have 'vairagya' complete determination and indifference to material objects. We must have complete determination that we can attain Yoga, attain union with Brahman. Also, whether or not we get any material success, we should be indifferent. We should not be attached to the fruits or the results of our actions. Even the spiritual ones. Even liberation, even mukti, even moksha. Even freedom. Even bliss and happiness, peace and tranquility. We should not be attached to those too. We must never lose our peace of mind when it comes to success or failure, profit or loss, or any pairs of opposites. With constant practice and 'vairagya' the mind can be controlled, all it needs is to focus its attention back on Brahman, Formless Awareness. Constantly go back to it. One needs to be completely determined that one, that the path that Sri Krishna is giving can take one there and determination that no matter how difficult it gets, we will get there. And whether getting there means we lose everything in terms of material success or material objects, or we gain the world and every success and every material object, we must be indifferent. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna appreciates what Arjuna says and reminds him of his strengths and tells him he must do constant practice and vairagya. He needs to be completely determined and indifferent to material objects and then this mind will be completely controlled. Verse 36. Sri Krishna continues that: I agree that yoga is difficult to perfect if the Atman is not disciplined, but it is my opinion that any Atman who practices yoga with great determination will reach the goal. Sri Krishna is truly the boss when he says something like this. In the first part he says: I agree that yoga is difficult to perfect if the Atman is not disciplined. This is as far as Sri Krishna will concede and make a concession. Yoga is only difficult if the mind is not disciplined properly. That's what it means by the Atman here. If the Atman is in avidya, in ignorance, then it is not disciplined. If it's viveka is not strengthened, it is in ignorance. It is not strong. So how do we bring that discipline? It's by strengthening our intellect with viveka, with the discernment of what is Real and what is unreal, what is Permanent, and what is transient. That's what we have to do. Keep on discerning on what is changeless, what is changing? What is Real? What is unreal?

Then Sri Krishna says:

But it is my opinion that any Atman who practices yoga with great determination will reach the goal. Interestingly, Sri Krishna seems like a politician here by saying his opinion, and this may be because he feels his words, or methods may not be eternal. So what I mean here is that Sri Krishna is not being political when he says this. He's being very realistic that in the future, people will not understand the message of the Gita. Their buddhi will be so low, so weak that they will not be able to grasp the subtlety of the message. But also Sri Krishna is doing this where Arjuna gave his opinion. Now Sri Krishna is giving his own opinion. It also may be because he understands that the next Avatar will have a different method for a different time, that things will have to change according to the times that we are in. So some of the teachings may have to be tweaked in order to get to the Truth because this is my opinion that Sri Krishna was a visionary. He understood the long term. Unlike a lot of people that talk about Sri Krishna today, they cannot think in the same way that he did. The whole point of the Bhagavad Gita is to take us from being Arjuna to Sri Krishna and if we are not doing that in our understanding, then we're not utilizing this message. I do agree with Sri Krishna that anybody that does practice this yoga with great determination will reach the goal. I a hundred percent agree with him that it's absolutely possible that if somebody is convinced, if somebody focuses all their attention on spirituality, they will reach the goal. All it requires is that we are sincere in our practice. That's all it requires. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna makes a concession by saying yoga can be difficult, but in the end we have to discipline the mind by removing avidya, and that is by strengthening the intellect with viveka, the discernment of the Real and unreal. All it requires is that we are determined to achieve the highest goal. Before I end that now, that's the conclusion of Sri Krishna's answer for the first question that Arjuna asked. Now, Arjuna is gonna ask questions on top of that answer. Verse 37.

Arjuna asked:

O Sri Krishna, what is the destination of a yogi who pursues the goals of yoga with great conviction and determination, but does not attain perfection in one lifetime? Where does such a person take birth in their next life? We're gonna look at the whole verse here. Arjuna responds with two questions and these are important for him to know, and not only for him, but for everybody else. It's one question that a lot of people ask even to me that what if I can't practice everything in one lifetime? What if I don't get to that point of completeness. What if I do not become Brahman in this lifetime? Where will I be born next? If someone does do their very best, where do they go? Can one complete their yoga in this one lifetime? Is it possible? Yeah. Sri Krishna talks about reaching the goal but he didn't say in this lifetime. See, Arjuna wants complete clarification. This is why I've said continuously that there's not been a disciple like Arjuna. These questions are unique and if every seeker asks these questions, they will get to the top. They will get to that complete yoga. But nobody does. Nobody's sincere enough. Nobody's serious enough. We want ready made answers, boiler-plate answers. We want to listen, but we are hear with one ear then take it out with the other. That is not the way and say if one doesn't complete their yoga. Many of us may feel this, so where do we go? Where do those people go? This seems like Arjuna actually does know, has a gut feeling that he may not be able to achieve completion here or perfection. Remember, no human will be perfect. But Brahman is. Our Atman is perfect. Once one understands that they are Brahman, then only that which is Brahman, that true 'I am' is perfect, is complete. But the body and mind due to karma, may still have imperfection, and that's natural. The context of the whole verse here is that Arjuna wants to know what happens if one tries their best with these practices that Sri Krishna has given, but they don't reach the end goal. Verse 38. Are they simply dispersed like a small cloud in a windy sky? It will seem that they have failed to enjoy this world and have also failed to find the path to Brahman. Having attained neither, it appears to me that they would be completely lost, with nowhere to stand in either realm. We're gonna break this verse up. The first part is are they simply dispersed like a small cloud in a windy sky? It will seem that they have failed to enjoy this world and have also failed to find the path to Brahman. What we can see here is that the defeatist attitude is now creeping in with Arjuna as he lets his mind wander again and go into several directions. Now, I like the analogy that he uses, the metaphor of the small cloud because it has very little existence, and therefore Arjuna wants to know that if that's the same for the person that doesn't complete their yoga, that doesn't attain moksha or mukti. He makes a very interesting observation, and I really like this observation. I really enjoy what he has said. He says that it would seem that they have failed to enjoy this world and have also failed to find the path to Brahman. It's a very interesting sentence and it can mean many things, but let's just look at a few ways that what this could mean. Now, if somebody's practicing this yoga, putting their complete determination, their complete focus into it and say they do this, but they will not be doing the karma portion of the Veda. Yeah. So the karma-kanda. At the same time, the pursuit for spiritual attainment means less time on material success, less time on spending on material goals. Then this also means that we may not unite with our true nature, which is Brahman. Arjuna is very right that this would be a double loss. If I am half-hearted in my approach towards this path, towards this yoga, neither will I get material success. I want to enjoy this world. I want to enjoy the delicacies of the world, the beauty of the world. I won't be able to have the better house, the better car and all this. And at the same time, I would also fail to find the path to Brahman. It's a very interesting observation, very interesting statement. He's very right that this will be a double loss, an absolute double loss.

He continues in the next part:

That having attained neither, it appears to me that they would be completely lost, with nowhere to stand in either realm. If they achieve neither Brahman nor success in the world, then all is lost according to Arjuna. To him it's a complete failure, an absolute failure. Neither can that person be happy in heaven nor on earth because nothing was achieved. They didn't do the karma-kanda portion because they're trying to achieve this union with Brahman through the Gyana portion. The context of the whole verse, that Arjuna has started to enter a defeatist attitude and says he will lose both Brahman and worldly success or even heavenly success, if he doesn't complete his yoga, he's already creating conclusions. Then in the last verse of this episode. Verse 39. Arjuna continues O' Sri Krishna, this is my deepest doubt and I ask you to remove it. No one other than you can possibly remove this disabling doubt. We're gonna look at the whole verse altogether. This is Arjuna's obvious, deepest doubt. You can tell this by what he has been saying, and he just simply can't get it out of his mind. It's consumed him completely. He asks this question. and he wants an equally deep answer to uproot his doubt, to remove it, because remember, he says, this is my deepest doubt. He doesn't say doubt, deepest doubt. That is a hint to Sri Krishna that he needs to give an equally deeper answer to that doubt. And again, here Arjuna surrenders to Sri Krishna, He feels defeated completely. As he says, my deepest doubt, and I ask you to remove it. He knows that only his friend here, his true friend, his Guru can remove this doubt. And Again, this doubt is no ordinary doubt. If one doesn't remove this doubt, then it will not allow him to live in peace and happiness. So he says, remove this disabling doubt, this doubt that is not allowing me to move forward in my spirituality. That's not allowing me to understand your beautiful message Sri Krishna. This is what Arjuna is saying. The context of the whole verse is, is that Arjuna surrenders completely to Sri Krishna again, and knows that only Sri Krishna can remove all the doubts that he has, nobody else can answer them. Again, he's modeling the right behavior of a seeker. If you approach a teacher or your spiritual friend, you need to put your complete trust, just like Arjuna has done for Sri Krishna. Arjuna tells Sri Krishna, and you can tell here that Arjuna feels absolutely defeated by his own doubts, and therefore, Sri Krishna needs to answer this. it's here we need to ask if we have the same doubts, and if we do, then we can look forward to the next episode where Sri Krishna will give his answers. That 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. Join The Bearded Mystic Podcast WhatsApp Community Group to continue this podcast discussion. Details are in the show notes and video description below. As I mentioned earlier, if you would like. Support the Bearded Mystic Podcast. Do check out the podcast Patreon page or Supercast or Apple subscriptions. The details are in the show notes and video description below. Please do rate and review the podcast on our website, either on your favorite podcast streaming app, or on www.thebeardedmysticpodcast.com. Please do like and comment on this video and subscribe to this YouTube channel. Please do follow or subscribe to this podcast on your favorite podcast streaming app, and even like it if your app allows you to. Thank you very much for listening and let's end this episode with the Soham mantra and also the Shanti mantra. Soham Soham. I am That. I am That. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti. Aum Peace Peace peace. Namaste.