Krishna has told us how not to act, and now will tell us how to act.
“Fixed in yoga, perform actions, having abandoned attachment and having become indifferent to success or failure. It is said that evenness of mind is yoga” (2:48).
Fixed in yoga, perform actions
The first, all-encompassing factor of right action is the fixing of the mind and heart in yoga–that is, being constantly engaged in the interior process of yoga whatever the external situation or action. Ultimately it means to do all things with our consciousness united with Divine Conscious–with God. That is easy to say, but what does it really mean? Krishna is not wasting our time with lovely thoughts that have no substance or effect but a warmy-goody feeling. He is being eminently practical.
The only way to act united to Divine Consciousness is to hold on to that Consciousness. That, too, is abstract, but Krishna is quite concrete in his instructions on how this is accomplished. “Established in yoga concentration, uttering OM, the single-syllable form of Brahman, thus meditating on Me, he…goes to the supreme goal. He who thinks of Me [in this manner] constantly, whose mind does not ever go elsewhere, for him, the yogi who is constantly devoted, I am easy to reach” (8:12-14). There we have it as easy to see as the oft-cited amalaka fruit in the hand. That is why Patanjali simply says about Om: “Its japa and meditation is the way” (Yoga Sutras 1:28).
Elsewhere in the Gita Krishna says:
“I am Om [Pranava]” (7:8).
“I am Om [Omkara]” (9:17).
“Among words I am the single-syllable Om” (10:25).
Om is not a symbol of God or a thought about God, It is God. Those who continually repeat (intone) Om both in and out of meditation will certainly have their hearts fixed on and in the Supreme. Then all will go well. For “from it [the repetition and meditation of Om] result the disappearance of obstacles and the turning inward of consciousness” (Yoga Sutras 1:29).
Having abandoned attachment
One of the major obstacles in our life is attachment to the fruits of our actions. This, too, will disappear through our immersion in yoga throughout all our acts. This is because through the japa and meditation of Om our consciousness will turn inward, the inner divine eye will open, and seeing all things in their true nature, the fruits of our actions will no longer seem relevant to us.
Once we have tasted good food, bad food loses all attraction for us. Once we have “tasted” the Supreme, have touched “the hem of His garment,” external attainments will mean very little–and in time will seem nothing. But this holy indifference can only come from touching the Divine. Mental gymnastics in the form of analyzing objects of desire and recounting their defects is ultimately without worth and is even harmful, for thinking so much–even though disparagingly–about them will attach us to them and draw them to us. “For a man dwelling on the objects of the senses, an attachment to them is born,” Krishna will tell us in the sixty-second verse of this chapter.
We detach ourselves from objects by attaching ourselves to God. It is the only way–not just the best or the easiest.
Become indifferent to success or failure
Even-mindedness in success and failure is virtually impossible to achieve by mind-gaming, and in the final analysis worthless. Here, too, it is the fixing of the consciousness on/in God that does the needful. “Keep you mind on Me alone, your intellect on Me. Thus you shall dwell in Me thence-forward. There is no doubt of this” (12:8). When a person dwells in God, what outside success or failure can mean anything to him? What desire or attachment can arise in someone who is united in consciousness to the Source of all?
So often in spiritual life we think of what we should not do, rather than be intent on what we should do. For example, in the consciousness of spirit greed cannot arise. So there is no need to go around telling ourselves: “I must not let greed enter my mind.” Instead we should be intent on remembering God, fixing our mind on Divinity through the japa and meditation of Om. Then greed will become impossible to us.
It is said that evenness of mind is yoga
Evenness of mind is possible only when the awareness is centered in that which is perfectly stable and still. And that is only a single thing: Spirit. Everything else is changing and therefore unstable and subject to anxiety and compulsion. “Change and decay all around I see. O Thou Who changest not, abide with me,” says the song. But God always “abides” with and within us. The problem is that we do not abide in the consciousness of God. And this is what is yoga: the uniting (joining–yoga) of our mind with God.
“Om is the bow, the arrow is the individual being, and Brahman is the target. With a tranquil heart, take aim. Lose thyself in him, even as the arrow is lost in the target” (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.4).
Read the next article in the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: Right Perspective
Bhagavad Gita for Awakening links:
- The Battlefield of the Mind
- On the Field of Dharma
- Taking Stock
- The Smile of Krishna
- Birth and Death–The Great Illusions
- Experiencing the Unreal
- The Unreal and the Real
- The Body and the Spirit
- Know the Atman!
- Practical Self-Knowledge
- Perspective on Birth and Death
- The Wonder of the Atman
- The Indestructible Self
- “Happy the Warrior”
- Buddhi Yoga
- Religiosity Versus Religion
- Perspective on Scriptures
- How Not To Act
- How To Act
- Right Perspective
- Wisdom About the Wise
- Wisdom About Both the Foolish and the Wise
- The Way of Peace
- Calming the Storm
- First Steps in Karma Yoga
- From the Beginning to the End
- The Real “Doers”
- Our Spiritual Marching Orders
- Freedom From Karma
- In the Grip of the Monster
- Devotee and Friend
- The Eternal Being
- The Path
- Caste and Karma
- Action–Divine and Human
- The Mystery of Action and Inaction
- The Wise in Action
- Sacrificial Offerings
- The Worship of Brahman
- Action–Renounced and Performed
- Freedom (Moksha)
- The Brahman-Knower
- The Goal of Karma Yoga
- Getting There
- The Yogi’s Retreat
- The Yogi’s Inner and Outer Life
- Union With Brahman
- The Yogi’s Future
- Success in Yoga
- The Net and Its Weaver
- Those Who Seek God
- Those Who Worship God and the Gods
- The Veil in the Mind
- The Big Picture
- The Sure Way To Realize God
- Day, Night, and the Two Paths
- The Supreme Knowledge
- Universal Being
- Maya–Its Dupes and Its Knowers
- Worshipping the One
- Going To God
- Wisdom and Knowing
- Going To The Source
- From Hearing To Seeing
- The Wisdom of Devotion
- Right Conduct
- The Field and Its Knower
- Interaction of Purusha and Prakriti
- Seeing the One Within the All
- The Three Gunas
- The Cosmic Tree
- The All-pervading Reality
- The Divine and the Demonic
- Faith and the Three Gunas
- Food and the Three Gunas
- Religion and the Three Gunas
- Tapasya and the Three Gunas
- Charity and the Three Gunas
- Sannyasa and Tyaga
- Deeper Insights On Action
- Knowledge, Action, Doer, and the Three Gunas
- The Three Gunas: Intellect and Firmness
- The Three Kinds of Happiness
- The Great Devotee
- The Final Words
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Read the Maharshi Gita, an arrangement of verses of the Bhagavad Gita made by Sri Ramana Maharshi that gives an overview of the essential message of the Gita.
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