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March 5, 2023

Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 8: Verse 8 - Verse 13)

This episode discusses the 8th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 8 - 13. 

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

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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. But before we start, there's a few announcements I would like to make. Please support the Bearded Mystic Podcast by signing up to the podcast Patreon page for ad-free and bonus episodes and other benefits depending on the tier that you select. Details are 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, and that is open for everybody regardless of where you live in the world. Please find the details in the show notes and video description below, if you are interested in meditating with the community. If you have any questions, you can ask them with the new series that we have, direct and unfiltered with the Bearded Mystic. More information is in the show notes and video description below. Please like, comment, and subscribe if you're watching this on YouTube. If you're listening to this on your favorite podcast streaming app, please give this podcast a five star rating and review the podcast and do follow or subscribe to get future episodes. Today we are going to be looking at Chapter Eight: Verse 8 to verse 13. And let's begin with verse 8. One who is constantly disciplined in yogic practices, meditating upon Me as the Parama Purusha ‘ Supreme and Ultimate Person’ whose thoughts do not wander to anything else comes directly to Me. Let's first of all establish what are these yogic practices? So these yogic practices is having the discernment of the Real and unreal, having a steady mind stabilized in wisdom and more or less established in Brahman. Letting go of the fruits of one's actions and doing everything as a Yajna, a sacred offering to the Divine. So these are the yogi practices that help us to unite with that supreme ultimate person. Now, that means really, if we understand what's being read between the lines, is we're talking about Nirguna Brahman here. Although if people find it easier to associate with a a personality, then you can utilize your Guru or you can utilize Sri Krishna. Those are the elements that you can use as a yogic practice. But the main thing to emphasize here is that one has to be constantly disciplined. So this has to be a continuous practice. This has to be a continuous effort. One should not just believe that just because you come across, a great sage or you come across a great Guru or you come across a great scripture that you will get there. No, it requires a lot of practice. So do not fall under the illusion that just because you are able to be in the company of some great teacher that you will get there. Everybody has to put efforts in. Everybody has to study. Everybody has to work with their intellect and make that stronger. So these are the simple things, but not everyone does them, and that's the challenge. Then Sri Krishna says that meditating upon Me as the Param Purusha. Sometimes the Param Purusha means the Absolute Brahman. We know that it's an Absolute Non-dual Self, but let's also just say that people may find it difficult to meditate upon something Formless, something attribute-less, something they cannot define in any way. Something they cannot grasp in any way. Something that does not like to be grasped that just is absolutely free and is, and you know completely dissolves any concessions that can be made about It. Now with that understood, we can utilize, like I said, the image of the Guru. We can use the sacred image, we can use the isht-devta. We can use anything that will help us establish ourselves in that meditation. So meditation simply here means remembrance, being aware of the Parama Purusha, the Nirguna Brahman so what happens is we go from Saguna Brahman to Nirguna Brahman. That's the path that we will take when we do this. The nature of thoughts is obviously to go here and there. We know this, whose thoughts do not wander. Now, the whole aspect of thoughts is to keep wandering from one place to another. Even sometimes counteracting itself or defeating its own self by having another thought. It that is the nature of the mind and the nature of thinking. So here, when we meditate upon that Formless and maybe by integrating a form of the isht-devta or Guru or, or a deva or anything. . What we need to understand is that our thoughts will start to slow down and they will stop going here and there. And this is what meditation really is, is to remain fixed in the awareness of Nirguna Brahman. So you remain in complete awareness of Formless Awareness. Now thoughts do move according to the vrittis that we have, the movements. So wherever our tendencies are, so maybe our tendencies that we love to eat food, so our thoughts will go towards food. Maybe we love to go to the gym, so our thoughts will be like, let's go to the gym. Anything that will stop it from, because what? What thoughts know is there's a center, there's a, an intelligence, even within thoughts to know that this is about to destroy me. If I continue to meditate in this manner, I will have no relevance. When really after enlightenment, thoughts still exist, but thoughts become a lot more potent, a lot more concentrated on the Divine. That's all. And actually we have to tell our mind, we are not looking to defeat you. We are looking to just take back control and we want you to function as you were functioning before, but without the power. That's all. We are putting the power where it rightfully is, and that is with Consciousness, with Awareness. So that's how simple it is. Now our vrittis, as we know, come from previous karmas habits and tendencies. So our karmas may cause it, you know, for example, one day say for a certain period of time we've been meditating for so many years and we've been doing so well, and then suddenly, something happens in life where we suddenly lose focus. Once we lose that focus, we don't know what's happened. That's kind of what happens with previous karmas, they are catching up and they may have an effect. And that's why what we need to understand is it is the Atman that meditates. If we think the body and mind does it, that's when we come under these delusions of, oh, I am bounded by my karmas, by these vrittis, by these habits and my tendencies. That's, that's what happens but the one who knows Brahman, every thought is Brahman centered. Every thought is Brahman centered. Nothing more needs to be added there. We are constantly centered, firm, stabilized, in stillness, in Brahman. That's all. So the context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna wants us to be Brahman centered and allow Bryman to enter every single thought that we have. Verse nine. One should meditate upon the Parama Purusha as Kavi—the original poet seer. Purana—the most ancient Anushasitara—the controller of all. Anor Aniyamsa—more minute than the atom. Sarvasya Dhatara—the supporter of all. Achintya Rupa—one whose form is inconceivable Aditya Varna—one who is golden and luminous like the Sun. Tamasah Parastat—one who is beyond the darkness of matter. So these are eight qualities that we've just seen of the Param Purusha. So first of all, one should meditate upon the Param Purusha as the Kavi, the original poet Seer. So one, it's the origin of the Vedas have come from these Kavis or Rishis so. Another name for Rishi is Kavi. The one that receives the insights from Brahm Gyana that is the Kavi. So they are the ones that truly understand this Brahm Gyana all knowledge and wisdom is from the Kavi. They're the ones through poetic compositions highlight to us what this Brahman is, what this Nirguna is, and the Guru is Kavi. So also the Guru is the one that helps us become the Seer and not the Seen. Purana - so the most ancient, it has no beginning and no end, and it is eternal and it is everlasting. So it is not constrained by time, not limited by time. Therefore, it's not limited by space. Therefore, it is beyond the three modes of time, of past, present, and future. Then, Anushasitara - the controller of all. The whole universe is controlled by the laws of nature. The laws of nature as pure existence controls all, and there is no difference between Brahman and existence. Again, just highlighting Sat-Chit-Ananda. So it controls everything because it is everything. And then Anor Aniyamsa - more minute than the atom. So it is the tiniest of the tiny. It cannot be seen. It cannot be detected, and it is our very own reality. That's how minute it is. So basically, by doing this, it's allowing us to understand that it is Formless and Shapeless and therefore it is not solid in any way, nor is it liquid in any way, nor is it gas in anyway. Then the fifth one is Sarvasya Dhatara so the supporter of all. This as Ishvara, this Brahman as Ishvara, supports us all in the form of existence, in the form of the shared being. It supports all. We can feel lonely, but never alone. As we are, as we always have Brahman with us, while we are in duality as well. Even though we may feel there's a duality, a difference between us and God or us and the isht-devta, but eventually what we'll find is there's actually a oneness. Therefore, we can never be lonely. In fact, there's only one alone. Brahman is with us. Even when we have that duality and even when we function in that duality and Brahman is Us when we are completely in non-duality. That's something to understand. Now, I'll repeat it again. Brahman is with us when we have duality. Brahman is us when we are completely in non-duality. Achintya Rupa so one whose form is inconceivable. It is absolutely Formless. Therefore, one cannot bring a form to it, an image to it, a color to it, nor can anything put a boundary to it. So it's very, very hard to conceive what it is. It's not made of concepts, and it's beyond imagination. So we cannot conceive a form because there isn't one. It's Nirguna completely. Without any attributes. So that's an important thing we need to understand. And then Aditya Varna, which is one who is golden and luminous, like the sun. It is bright and luminous. It is magnificent and beautiful, and there is no darkness of ignorance here. It shines by itself. It doesn't need anything else to shine. It is the complete light in itself. That's how wonderful it is. And then you've got Tamasah Parastat - one who is beyond the darkness of matter. So the Purusha, the Witness Consciousness, is beyond the material. It does not belong to material at all. And the material covers this awareness. And we are beyond this covering. We are the awareness itself. And in fact, the way to see this is that when we think the material is the only thing, it is darkness. When we understand that the material is an appearance, and Brahman is the only thing, that is when we go beyond the darkness of matter. That means we see matter for what it is. So it's no longer darkness. No longer does it represent ignorance, but in fact, we understand it to being Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna gives a guideline to Arjuna and us on how to perceive the Param Purusha, and these are the qualities that we also possess. We just have to find them within ourselves. Verse 10. At the exact moment of leaving the body, the yogi should steady their manas, holding an unwavering focus and united in deep devotional connection with Me. Held steady by the power of yoga, one should direct their focus between the eyebrows leading the Prana, 'the life force' in that direction. In this way, they are certain to ascend to the supreme realm of the Param Purusha. So we're gonna break this verse down a little, but it's a very important verse and a practice that is given that we can do right now. It's not something we have to practice later. So let's break this up a little and get to understand it more. At the exact moment of leaving the body, the yogi should steady their manas, holding an unwavering focus and united in deep devotional connection with Me. So we can do two things depending on where we are spiritually. Either we can connect with the form of the Guru or the isht-devta or we can fully enter into Nirguna Brahman, Formless, Awareness. We remain aware of this awareness even when we leave this body. So these are two things we can do at the time of death, and that should be able to steady our manas, our mind, heart, our emotions, our attachments, so steadying our thoughts and emotions, which represents the manas by focusing on a mantra or a form. So the form can be the isht-devta. Or if we are more advanced, we go for Brahman. Now our focus should be unbreakable. Nothing can change it, and nothing can take us away from it. So that focus has to be real, like really there. It has to be really focused, really centered, really firm. It should be like superglue has sticked it together. Like it's really hard to break it apart. That's how fixed it has to be. Now, one thing I'm going to say is that steadying one's manas also means that we have gone into vairagya. So we have that detachment. And also, not only detachment, but we are willing to give up any of the fruits of our actions, we are no longer attached to anything material. So that includes family and friends. Now it's very hard to say, very hard to practice, but we must understand that they do not belong to us and neither do we belong to them. Yes, we must function as society has established, but in the real spiritual sense, we cannot stop them from going, nor can they stop us from going. This body will eventually go. So Sri Krishna wants us to understand that we need to steady our manas and the only way to do that is through detachment. Yeah. And detachment is made stronger by discernment. So we have to utilize our viveka. Very important. Viveka and vairagya. Viveka is discernment and vairagya is detachment. So we have to be completely strong in our discernment and completely in the practice of vairagya of detachment. We are to be one in this deep devotional connection with Brahman. So we have to be completely in deep devotional connection with Brahman. Now, how can we be devoted to something Formless? Now, the way to do this is to just be in awareness. That's all. And there is incredible love that is there when one is in that deep immersing into awareness. When that is happening, there is an overwhelming sense of love that arises. Compassion, mercy, forgiveness, or acceptance, gratitude and one feels all that, that's that deep devotional connection with Brahman. We may sing bhajans, we may be happy, we may dance, and there's no music. That is the way of the devotee. So that's what happens. But at the time of death, you may not be dancing. You may, I dunno, but say you are in that last moment and you are drawing out your breaths. Even then you can do it with absolute peacefulness, with absolute calm. And not only are you centered, but your energy is centering those around you. Where other people will be thinking they're losing someone. They will find that in their hearts, you are still present regardless of the departure of the body, and that's how we should be preparing our loved ones. See, we don't do this. One death is normally a taboo topic in the house. Nobody likes to talk about death. They think it's a bad omen. If I talk about death, I, I dunno, I might, I might die. And this happens because of these silly things where we say, we attract what we think. No, you don't necessarily. If you attract what you think alone, if that was the only thing that determined it, then there's no point of Karma. So we have to understand these very little points here that you know, one should understand that we have to strengthen those around us. But first, be composed, be content, be stabilized within our own selves. Held steady by the power of yoga. One should direct their focus between the eyebrows leading the Prana 'the life force' in that direction. So here this sadhana of being in awareness of Formless Awareness, we can hold steady, it'll be very easy with this power of yoga, with this power of union. So now we have to direct our focus between the eyebrows. So we close our eyes and we just literally point our eyes towards the center here, and then we breathe deeply in that direction. So it's very deep breath and then one should feel the life force entering into that direction. Now what that's doing is actually taking us away from the connection of the body. So, and connecting us to the mind, and then stabilizing the mind. So that's what that is doing. Now our meditation should also be like this. I think it's someone like Osho or J Krishnamurti that said that meditation is death. It's simply death. You're dying. And we seem to associate death with just a body, but actually you are dying in every moment. You're never the same. And therefore, one should really understand that meditation should be as deep as that. So remember to rise above the body, enter into the third eye or the center between the eyebrows. Concentrate the Prana there, so actually feel the Prana go there and you may even, if you're lucky, feel it go over the head as well towards the crown chakra that's at the top here. And you may feel that subtle vibration that happens there too. Then Sri Krishna says in this way, they are certain to ascend to the supreme realm of the Param Purusha. So it is guaranteed that such a person will enter the supreme realm of Brahman. That person is given moksh liberated while alive. That is the ultimate goal - jivanmukti A lot of people think that after death, this will happen. You can do it now. This is the key. Context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna offers us a guideline on how to die in full awareness of Formless Awareness. Then verse 11. I will now briefly explain the path and process that is followed by those who know the conclusion of the Vedic knowledge, who have withdrawn from sensual pleasures, who no longer have material attachments and who are constantly performing tapasya in order to return to the ultimate realm of Akshara Brahman - the Imperishable Abode. So we're gonna look at the whole verse together. Sri Krishna here is explaining what the process is, and this is to help us understand what the Gita is about, first of all, and what happens to those who follow it and who know this Ultimate Truth? What, what happens to those people? So first of all, it's the conclusion of Vedic Knowledge. They must be well versed in the Upanishads at the very least, this has to be understood. Now, I don't care if you've read the English translation. For me, it's very important that you read the Upanishads because the Bhagavad Gita is a cream of the Upanishads. So to understand the Bhagavad Gita, you need the context of the Upanishads, which is why a lot of these so-called groups like ISKCON do not understand the Bhagavad Gita because they have a crooked understanding, because they don't look at the complete Upanishads. They look at whatever suits their philosophy. Now, if they read the Mandukya Upanishad, they may have a whole different perspective. The only way to know is by reading the Upanishads, that gives us the context, very important to have. They should not be attached to sensual pleasures. They may partake in it, but they, they should be equipoised, centered in awareness. So if you have delicious food in front of you, eat it. Don't stop yourself, eat it. But remember, that you are beyond this. You are aware of the sensual pleasure. Sensual pleasure is happening to you, but is not you. Do not make it an identity and do not get so absorbed in it that you keep chasing it now. That it creates a memory, creates a desire, and then you keep chasing. So one should just partake, but then move on. They have no material attachment. Like I mentioned before, they should not be attached to any name and form. Simple as that. Nothing more needs to be said there. They're constantly in spiritual practice, meditating, serving others, being in Satsang, reading the scriptures. They may do rituals, chanting mantras, naam japa, so they can reach the imperishable abode of Brahman. That's the way, but also, as I say, all this remember that you must have the qualities of a decent human being. So you should be kind to others. You should be loving to others. You should be compassionate. If you live at home, be nice to your parents. If you are a parent, be nice to your kids. Give everyone the benefit of doubt. Sometimes we like to condemn another person. First look at the facts and then take the right action. And also, if you know somebody is taking advantage of your good nature, then you should put a stop to that too. But again, with decency and calmness with serenity, because these are the attributes of a stable mind. So one does not lose their temper all the time, one does not get moody. One does not think unjust of others. One is always broad minded. One is just full of love, one is always immersed in bliss. So how can someone who's immersed in bliss be angry with others? Be disturbed by others. In fact, we are not there to disturb others in that sense. We may disturb them with our knowledge, but we can't disturb them in terms of their life or disturb them in terms of disturbing their peace of mind. We are to make sure people find that peace of mind. So that's the responsibility that each person has when it comes to practicing the Bhagavad Gita. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna is going to give us the target to reach and then what does it look like? So he gave us a bit of a hint. Verse 12. Having withdrawn their awareness from all sources of external sensory experience, the yogi controls and closes the nine gates of the body. This confines the faculties of manas entirely within the hridaya ‘heart’. Next, the yogi focuses their atma prana ‘life force of the atma’ on the topmost point of the head. And this becomes completely established in dharana ‘the yogic process of one-pointed focus’. Kind like what I said earlier. I totally forgot that this was coming up, but let me go more in depth with it. So let's break this verse up. Having withdrawn their awareness from all sources of external sensory experience, the yogi controls and closes the nine gates of the body. So awareness goes from the body, mind, and senses, from everything Asat and enters into Formless Awareness. So whatever is changing, awareness goes beyond it. Awareness transcends it, and awareness discards it and says, that is not the complete truth. The only thing Real is this awareness itself. This 'I am.' The body is described metaphysically as the city of nine gates. So the two eyes, two ears, the two nasal passages, the mouth, urethra, and anus, those are the nine gates. Basically anything where things can enter or exit the body. So what it means by the yogi controls and closes, meaning they are detached from the body. That's what it simply means. Then the next part of the verse. This confines the faculties of manas entirely within the heart or the hridaya . So this then means that all of our emotions, our thoughts, our intentions, are totally within the heart. All emotional intelligence is in the deepest core of the mind referred to as the heart. Like I mentioned, there is going to be compassion, peacefulness, modesty, decency, love, all those positive emotions, qualities are going to be presented. They're going to be what people see when they look at us. When someone sees us, they say, I want to be calm like that person. I want to be loving as that person. Look how that person is so graceful. I want to be like them. Look how even in the most disturbing of circumstances they remain calm and composed. That is the expectation of everybody that takes the refuge of this type of knowledge. Yeah. Very important to understand. Anyone that has Brahm Gyana that is like the basic thing you need. This is not, that's not even the advanced thing. Those are the basic things. So if you haven't got that right yet, forget Jivan mukti, then you're a long way away. So this needs to be understood. The next part of the verse is Next, the yogi focuses their atma prana ‘life force of the atma’ or the mind on the topmost point of the head and thus becomes completely established in dharana ‘the yogic process of one-pointed focus’. So at the very back of the head, like I said at the, the core here, in the absolute top center is where the Prana is also sustained, especially for the Atman. So even for the Jiva, even for the mind, when we go from the center between the eyebrows and allow it to expand into the, the whole brain basically that's what we need to do. So we may feel this when we are in meditation, and it's also known as the crown chakra. Then our dharana, our complete, one pointed focus is on Brahman. That's the whole yogic process is to be connected, in one pointed focus on Brahman. There is nothing but the atman, meaning nothing but Brahman. And we live our life, but our focus is on the Formless Awareness. So we live normally. We live like decent human beings. We are decent people of society, decent members of society. We serve others, we are kind to others. We are compassionate. You know, we are a source of inspiration without even seeking to inspire. That's how it should be. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna gives us a technique of how to connect with the Atman through Prana, and then establish a one pointed focus with Formless Awareness. Then verse 13. In order to re-enter into Akshara Brahman, the yogi constantly chants the sacred one-syllabled mantra aum and remembers Me in every moment. Removing any sense of identification with the five element body the yogi at last reaches param gati ‘the final and ultimate destination’. First part of the verse is, In order to re-enter into Akshara Brahman, the yogi constantly chants the sacred one-syllabled mantra aum and remembers Me in every moment. Sri Krishna understands that we are householders. So what do we need to do? What do we need to establish here? To enter the ultimate and everlasting abode of Brahman, how do we reenter this? Because we've been in this before, and we may already be in it, but how do we consciously reenter? So Sri, Krishna tells us we need to constantly meditate upon Aum. This is a must. And actually when you do meditate on Aum, you do feel that pranic energy. So that's an interesting thing to note. Then we have two options, which is to either remain in Formless Awareness or think of the isht-devta. So that's completely up to us on where we are and what we feel comfortable with. However, the isht-devta will take us and should take us to Nirguna Brahman. So eventually we will go to Nirguna Brahman or Formless Awareness. So remember that Aum is Brahman and that they are not two exclusive things. So this needs to be understood. They are integrated oneness. Then in the next part it is removing any sense of identification with the five element body. The Yogi at last reaches Param Gati 'the final and ultimate destination'. So this is very clear, now and again that this is based on chapter two of the Bhagavad Gita, that you have to keep going back to that to understand what this means. So remove all sense of identification with that, which is Asat, which is unreal, which is constantly changing or modifying in some way. So that is ultimately unreal. Our body changes, hence, it is Asat. We must remove all sense of identification with the body. We must become detached from this identification and remain as our true nature. Formless Awareness. So even transcending the name, because remember the name is given and the mind captures the name, the ego, the ahamkara captures the name, and we constantly think that we are this name and form. Together body and mind, but with understanding in chapter two, what is Sat and Asat, we understand that this body and mind is not true because I am aware of the thoughts, I am aware of the the images. I am aware of the body. I'm aware of my hand. So that means this 'I am' is prior to everything. Then we go to jivan mukti, which is to be liberated while we are alive. And being liberated, being free is the ultimate destination and most of all, the final one, the final destination, nothing is beyond this. This is where you go and this is where you stay and this is the only thing that does exist. We will not reincarnate, we will not go back into the cycle of birth and death again. That cycle is completely ended. That cycle comes to complete stop, to a complete end. So the context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna instructs us to remove all identification with the body and remove ourselves from reincarnation and enter Formless Awareness as the final destination. That is the end of the episode. Please 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 the podcast discussion. Details are in the show notes and video description below. If you would like to support the Bearded Mystic podcast, check out the podcast Patreon page, details are in the show notes and video description below. Please do rate and review the podcast on the website, or on your favorite podcast streaming app. Please like and comment on this video and subscribe to this YouTube channel. Please follow or subscribe to this podcast on your favorite podcast streaming app, and do not forget to give it a five star rating. Thank you very much for listening. Let's end with the Soham and Shanti mantra. Soham Soham. I am That. I am That Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti Aum Peace Peace Peace. Namaste