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It is perception by the senses, Son of Kunti, that produces the sensations of winter and summer, difficulty and ease. These appear and disappear and are impermanent, so just put up with them, Descendant of Bharata.
Winter and Summer. The sensations of cold and heat.
Difficulty and Ease. The meanings of the words for ‘difficulty’ and ‘ease’ include their effects: unhappiness, discomfort, misfortune, and pain (‘difficulty’), and happiness, comfort, prosperity, and pleasure (‘ease’).
Son of Kunti. Arjuna is the ‘Son of Kunti’ (kunti – ‘lance’). Kunti* is the daughter of a Yadava prince, a descendant of Yadu (‘embracing’), named Shura (‘hero’), who gave her to his childless cousin Kunti, from which her name derives. Favored by Durvasas, an irascible sage thought to be an incarnation of Shiva, he taught her a mantra by which she could have a child by any god she wished to invoke. Arjuna was born to her of the god Indra, lord of the gods of the sky, the senses. Both Arjuna’s mother, Kunti, and Lord Krishna, are descendants of Prince Yadu.
Self-reference: You can invoke any god you wish, in order to achieve a desired effect. All you need is the mantra. For that, you need the goodwill of the Sage.
Descendant of Bharata. In earlier verses, we came across the epitaph, ‘Descendant of Bharata’ as that of the blind king, Dhritarashthra. So why is Lord Krishna addressing Arjuna in this manner? By calling Arjuna ‘Descendant of Bharata’, Krishna is not only pointing to Arjuna as being directly related to the king, but He is ranking Arjuna as the king’s equal.
Self-reference: Dhritarashthra represents ‘ignorance’ (unenlightened), but you are equal to the challenge of attaining enlightenment.
* Kunti is also a name of the god of love, often depicted carrying bow and arrow or lance.
The example of the opposites of winter and summer are given in this verse. Here the word for ‘senses’ is specifically related to ‘tangibility’ and the sense of touch, and the effect of contact of the skin with temperature, wind, and other tangible things, and the way those sensations feel.
If we want to get esoteric about this, it is not much of a leap to associate the feeling of the warmth of summer and the coolness of winter with the functions of prana (warming Life Energy) and apana (cooling Life Energy). Knowing what we do about these two, we could conclude that by simply putting up with them, the union of the two will occur without any help from us, through surrender sadhana. United as one, their opposition is neutralized and brings forth the evolutionary functions of kundalini.
It has been suggested in previous verses that the polarizing effects of opposites are detrimental to our sadhana and stand in the way of our enlightenment. We have discussed some of the resolutions to this dilemma that will occur spontaneously through our sadhana, but meanwhile what do we do? Apparently, we just have to put up with them and consider them ‘common’, as if one were no better or worse than the other. But this is not so easy to accomplish. Perhaps with a little more understanding, and some conscious personal experience of this phenomenon, we will have better luck.
The first thing to realize, is that everything that gets into the mind, gets there through the senses moving outward to pick up sights, sounds, tactile sensations, tastes and odors, and storing the information in memory. The difficulty arises due to our like or dislike of what is picked up. If we were indifferent, the stored information would have little or no influence. But everything in this world, and therefore everything in the mind, has a flip side, an opposite—hot and cold, good and bad, black and white, pleasure and pain, and so on—and due to the pull of the polarity of these opposites, we find ourselves favoring one or the other.
If we were to try to do something about this, it would have to involve equalizing opposites, so that one has no more pull than the other. I wrote the Mental Yoga course for this purpose. This is the first step, a step that can be taken and continued outside of meditation, regardless of what kind of meditation you practice.
Many people who are drawn to Yoga leave it when they hear things about abandoning desires, and becoming indifferent to the appealing effects of pleasure, enjoyment, and success, etc., but they misunderstand. The gradual process of Surrender Meditation will take care of this, but we must do the sadhana, maintain the body for its practice, put ourselves in a conducive place for it, and pay attention and be self-honest. Outside of our Surrender Meditation, we can speed up the process with the practice of Mental Yoga. Then, when things begin to change within us, we will find that the results are not quite what we had expected—we do not lose anything, but we gain everything.
So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The Song of God. The ‘original’ Bhagavad Gita in plain English.
Find the meditation that is natural for you, and meditate successfully with ease and delight.