The only kind of action that does not produce karma is action that has no self-motivated purpose.
Action does not affect Me, nor do I desire the fruits of actions. He who understands this is not bound by action.
“Action does not affect Me, nor do I desire the fruits of actions”
In an earlier verse (IV:10) we learned that it is possible to attain the same state as that of Lord Krishna. In this verse, He has provided us with more clues to this state: He has (1) no attachment to either action or (2) to obtaining the results of actions. This was previously described as a state of ‘non-doership’.
“He who understands this is not bound by action”
By saying that He is not bound by actions, He is saying that He has no karma, He is not bound by anything, He is liberated, free. He has already told us that we can attain this state. This verse is giving us the key, the formula for it, and an idea of what it might look like to achieve it…
The State of Non-Doing
Even though there is action, if one has no attachment regarding the action or its results, the action is not binding. Put another way, when there is no investment in getting something, or getting something to be a certain way, there is nothing to motivate one to act, so one naturally does not assume the role of doer. Action that takes place in this desireless (indifferent) state is not binding—it produces no ‘karma’.
Action is binding when performed with self-interest, for it automatically puts one in the role of the doer. With the effects of karma on your slate, you are a slave to the law of cause and effect, life and death, birth and rebirth. It is one thing to say, “Well, I want to come back anyway,” and another to have a choice in the matter. A slave has no choice in this matter.
- Surrender to God and only God (IV:10)
- Perform action without self-interested motivation (vs. 14), i.e., without desire, fear or anger (IV:10).
Knowing this, the ancients performed action for liberation. Therefore you must perform action as it was performed by them.
“Knowing this” means understanding what we know. The ancients knew and understood that this was the way out of bondage, so this is how action was performed by them, and if we seek liberation we must also perform action in this manner. What is being taught here is not just a state of mind, it is a state of being. All actions, including physical actions, truly have no binding effect in this state.
Krishna tells Arjuna that he should perform action in this manner to achieve liberation. He does not tell Arjuna what he should not do.
Throughout this and the previous chapter, Lord Krishna has been giving us the knowledge we need for attaining this state of non-doing, and yet these teachings have been presented in the context of ‘action’. This suggests that non-doing takes place in the midst of action, not some static, fixed state.
We have been constantly reminded of the secrecy enveloping this subject for the purpose of protecting these teachings from obliteration, and yet we have been given the actual formula for its attainment. So what is going on here? What is not being spoken?
We must understand what we now know, and there is only one means of gaining this understanding: Experience. So how do we acquire this experience?
Acquiring the experience needed to understand action as it was performed by the ancients begins with shakitipat diksha followed by a special practice that is not commonly known. I call it Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, or Surrender Meditation.
The ancients were discussed earlier as the bearers of these eternal and imperishable teachings of Yoga for the attainment of liberation from the bondage of karma.
To become liberated is to get off the merry-go-round of interminable cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. If this doesn’t interest you, you won’t want to practice these teachings. You are probably more interested in getting good karma and having a good time. Good luck to you on that, for karma of any kind binds. But if you want freedom, you must understand and practice these teachings.
Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
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A SPECIAL NOTE to practitioners of SKY surrender sadhana regarding these teachings:
It is tempting to find examples of being in a state of surrender outside the meditation room. Yes, this is certainly possible to varying degrees and is worthy of your notice, but you should understand that what is being taught in these verses is the standard for true surrender as it pertains to action as it was performed by the ancients. Being fully surrendered in this manner during ordinary life is almost impossible in any case. You must confine your practice to the privacy of your meditation room and keep a schedule. Otherwise, the mind will begin to get into the act and create illusions that will not be in your best interest.