If You Can’t Do That, Do This – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 12, Vs 9 – 10


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The mind is made of consciousness. You have a brain because you have a mind.
The mind is made of consciousness. You have a brain because you have a mind.

The Bhagavad Gita appears in the story of the Mahabharata. It is a conversation between Lord Krishna and his devotee and childhood friend, Arjuna. Listening in, we receive the teachings of Lord Krishna as he relates them to Arjuna.

The subject of this chapter is Devotion.

This post addresses what to do if you are unable to practice as taught in the previous verses in order to reach Self Realization as described in verse 8.

Previously in verse 8:
With your mind fixed solely on Me, your power of discernment will follow and cause you to stay with Me henceforth. Of this there is no doubt.

Now we begin a string of what are usually considered to be different ways of proceeding if you can’t do as taught in verse 8. But they can also be seen additional practices. Or you might consider them as different ways to understand the same thing. Those of you who practice surrender sadhana will find that they represent different forms your meditation will naturally take with the arising of kriyas.

If you are not able to keep your attention fixed on Me, practice Yoga with your desire to reach Me.

Alternate translation:
If you are unable to be firm, fix your attention on your desire for Me and then practice Yoga.

Your Attention flows from you to Other-than-you so you can be conscious of it.
Your Attention flows from you to what is other-than-you so you can be conscious of it.

“Keep your attention fixed on Me”

The Sanskrit for Attention is chitta. The root (cit) is the same as for ‘consciousness’.

The sole purpose of Yoga is to reach God/Truth, and liberation from the cycles of birth and death. This is accomplished by establishing a steady flow of Attention on Absolute God/Truth. This is also the definition of ‘meditation’, and reveals the dependence on meditation for successful spiritual development and self-improvement.

  • Attention is a flow of consciousness to anything you can be conscious of.
  • Meditation is a steady flow of attention to one thing..


Your perception is dependent on your Attention flowing to something that can be perceived, so you may see in some translations, “Meditate on Me.” This is saying that your Attention must become established on only one thing—”Me”, God—so that only God/Truth is what you are conscious of.  

The simple expedient of surrendering to Absolute God/Truth is the obvious shortcut. By surrendering yourself to God in meditation, the attention becomes established on God without you having to do anything to make it so.

We westerners like to think that all we need to do to meditate is to think about something, even if it is the the now, the silence, the void. Even dictionaries define meditation as ‘thinking things over’. But “meditate on Me” does not mean that you should think about God and try to sustain that thought. Well, this is close, but the Attention must be anchored and established exclusively on God, not on a thought. Attention is the key.

Attention is consciousness moving from the mind to perceive things so that you are conscious of them. In this verse, you are being asked to choose Absolute God/Truth instead of other things, and if you can’t do that, to allow your attention be drawn to, and fixed on, your desire for God/Truth.


“Practice Yoga with your desire to reach Me”

The practice of yoga has been described over and over again, most recently in verses 6 – 7. This verse is telling you what to do if and when you can’t keep your attention on God: Let your Attention go to your desire for God, and allow your Attention to stay on that desire. This is a tricky little subterfuge, for with your Attention on your desire for God/Truth, your Attention is on God. You are using desire, which can otherwise be troublesome, to bring you into union with God. In this case, desire is not the enemy. Instead, it will save you. 

This desire is the key to yoga. In another place in the Gita, Lord Krishna says, “I am that desire in man which is not contrary to dharma (Truth).” So by letting your mind become fixed on your desire for God, on the fulfillment of this desire for God, and your feelings of devotion for God, you will get God because this desire IS God.

Your desire for God is God

If you try repeatedly and still cannot keep your attention on Me, hold My action as the Highest Action and assume My state. Thus by performing action you will attain success.

Alternate translation:
If you try repeatedly and still cannot do this, then hold My Highest Action as My state, and assuming My state, perform action anyway, and you will attain success.

In Meditation

Lord Krishna is calling this meditation His ‘Highest Action’. Everything He is saying is in this context. There is a saying among those of us who practice this yoga, that one acts “as if” until it is so. So if you are not successful practicing according to the former instructions, act as if you were—assume His state as a non-doer, and perform actions anyway.

“Mentally renouncing one’s sense of being the doer of actions (you surrender yourself to God), the embodied one (You) sits happily as the Master within the city of nine gates (the body), not acting or causing action.” Ch 5, Vs 13By following this instruction, actions will occur spontaneously on their own.

He is saying in effect, “Don’t worry about it, just go ahead anyway. Don’t get caught up in trying to figure out who or what is doing these actions, just let action take care of itself.” If you assume His state you won’t interfere with actions that want to take place. So in your meditation, act as if actions are happening on their own and that you are doing nothing, even if it seems like you are.

The reason this works is because you really are not doing it. All action occurs in Nature, and you are not Nature. So taking this position will get you to a place where all doubt and confusion about who or what is doing or causing action, will disappear.

This Highest Action refers to this spontaneous action that occurs as a result of surrendering yourself to God in meditation. When you approach yoga with this surrender, you are guaranteed success. How could it be otherwise?

In Everyday Life

You may not always find yourself in a situation where this yoga can be practiced. In this case, whatever you do in your daily life, do it for God. You can think of this in more than one way: You can offer whatever you do, whatever you have, whatever you enjoy, to God. You can offer the results of what you do to God. Or you can see God as the actor and yourself as the instrument for God’s purposes rather than your own. This easy practice is very clever, for it will serve to keep your Attention on God, even in the midst of chaos!

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma

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