VI:37-39 Falling from Yoga

Self-control is just as necessary in Yoga as it is in daily life. In the path of the Will, one uses their willpower to succeed in their practice. In the path of Surrender, one abandons control in meditation by surrendering to God/Truth. But what happens if you fall from Yoga? 

Continuing from the last verses in which Arjuna (you) asked Lord Krishna (God/Guru) some questions… 

Arjuna spoke:
If one has faith but is not controlled and falls away from Yoga without achieving success, where does one go?

Here we find yet one more Sanskrit word for ‘control’ within the word ‘uncontrolled’. The meaning of ‘uncontrolled’ here is that he is ‘not an ascetic’. Other definitions of this word consider that it is synonymous with ‘not making necessary efforts’ because one is ‘unrestrained, uncontrolled, undisciplined’ and therefore unable to achieve success—even if he has faith in these teachings of Lord Krishna.

In other words, he is not a true seeker if he is not making an effort. He cannot otherwise achieve restraint of the senses, and therefore the mind and life energy, and we need this to happen or we cannot get past the throat chakra and enter into a true meditative state. So we must be self-disciplined enough to at least maintain a regular practice and not fall from Yoga.

Ultimately, restraint, or control, has nothing to do with you at all, but with the senses, mind and prana (Life Energy). What we are seeking is their restraint—when the senses withdraw, the mind becomes still and prana concentrates in one place. This is called pratyahara. It will happen automatically in Surrender Meditation—the senses will spontaneously withdraw from their objects and ultimately separate from their faculties, and you will find yourself in the deepest possible state of real meditation.

When the senses are busy, the mind is busy. When the mind is busy, the life energy is busy. When the senses, the mind and the life energy are not busy (restrained), all are still and at peace (and so are you), and Real Meditation begins.

You have taken a road that is not generally practiced by others, with the promise of true and lasting happiness. But what if you have faith in the truth of these teachings but your self-discipline is a little shaky? And what if you find yourself skipping your meditation, or not finding the time for it? What if you ultimately give up on it altogether? What happens if you fall from yoga? This is Arjuna’s question.

A resolution to the possibility of failure is found in the verb root of the word for ‘controlled, or restrained’. It means ‘to be loyal to’ and ‘to give one’s self up to’—to commit yourself to surrender yourself to God.

Sounds rather pleasant, doesn’t it? This has indeed been my own experience (do you imagine I would have practiced yoga sadhana for forty years otherwise?). When something is pleasant, we like it. When we like something we are inclined to seek and find more of it, and self-discipline, self-control, is no longer an issue.

If he does fall from Yoga and has no solid ground, does he not come to nothing, like a thunder cloud torn asunder, and deprived of both ?

Arjuna wants to know what will happen to him if he is unsuccessful in ascending to yoga, but falls from Yoga, and expresses some of his fears about failure. He worries that if he continues but fails, he will not fit in anywhere—he won’t be able to return to the normal life he had before, and he won’t have achieved God-realization, either.

Arjuna’s previous orientation was to use his willpower to succeed at any undertaking, but Lord Krishna has suggested he surrender to Him, and now Arjuna’s orientation is forever changed. 

This conversation between God (Krishna, the guru) and You (Arjuna, the disciple) is on a battle field for a reason: It is a really Big Deal. It all sounds rather scary, but your certainty of its importance has caused you to make this huge investment. 

You are the only one who can completely eradicate my doubts, Krishna. Other than You, no remover of this doubt of mine exists.

What does one do in this situation if one has no guru? Not only is this a big investment, but it is likely to change you to the point that you find yourself on the outside of your usual social circles, and out of the groove for hitting the fast-lane to make a living. On top of that, you have only one place to go if you need help: guru.

Arjuna trusts Krishna and accepts that what He has been teaching him is True, but he also knows from what he has been taught (as have you and I), that he is his own means of success and can’t point the finger at anyone or anything else if he doesn’t make it. So now he is calling on his guru-disciple relationship with Krishna to put his mind at rest, and is no doubt hoping for some reassurance.

In the next verses, Lord Krishna alleviates Arjuna’s discomfort—and ours—with the hoped for reassurance.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

VI:33-36 Yoga – Sameness in the Midst of Change

There are really only two paths to Realization. Both paths are Yoga by any name, and one is not better than the other. We will all use them both at one time or another.

Arjuna spoke:
I do not see how this Yoga, which you call ‘sameness’, can have any lasting foundation because of instability. 

Arjuna is asking Lord Krishna how one can enter a state of sameness in a situation in which nothing is stable because of the actively changing nature of life.

The mind is unsteady, harassing, powerful and unyielding, Krishna. I think holding it down is, like the wind, extraordinarily difficult to do.

Even the mind is always changing and busy with something or other. It seems impossible to Arjuna that all this activity in the mind can be held in stasis long enough to reach the goal. But Lord Krishna has the solution…..

The Blessed Lord spoke:
Without doubt, the fluctuating mind is difficult to restrain, except by practice and indifference to worldly affairs.

Even though this is true about the mind, there is a solution: the practice of Yoga, and indifference to worldly affairs.

The outcome of the practice of Yoga, is yoga (union). Yoga takes place in the midst of action (change) but culminates in a state of sameness. The yogi experiences happiness in his practice, and gradually becomes indifferent to worldly affairs in favor of yoga.

In order to reach this state of union, one chooses the one thing that is eternally the same—Absolute God—and surrenders to That in meditation.

Equality, equanimity, evenness, homogeneousness,

impartiality, indifference.

Yoga is difficult to attain for one who has no self-control. But if one is self-controlled, it is possible through the proper means by striving. This is my view.

This verse exposes two paths: The path of the will and the path of surrender. This has been the case all along, but this verse was crying out to make it evident. Here are two more translations to demonstrate this, both taken from the Sanskrit:

Yoga is difficult to attain by one who has no self-control. But for one who is self-controlled, it is possible to attain by striving. This is my view.

For one who has no self-control, union (yoga) is difficult to attain, except for one who is submissive (surrendered). This is the proper means. This is my view.

There are two different words being used in this verse that are translated as ‘self-control’. One means ‘attentive, self-contained, subdued’. The other word can mean either ‘subject to the will, desire, or control’, or ‘willing, submissive, subject to or dependent upon’.

Will – Desire based action. Subdued by controlling the attention by means of using one’s willpower.

Surrender – Surrendered action. Willingness to subject oneself and be dependent upon God through surrender.

Translators of Sanskrit mystical texts must settle on something, and are inclined to settle where their training takes them. Some are scholars with little or no personal experience of yoga sadhana to draw from. Those who do practice Yoga will draw from the teachings of their own path, most of which will be technique-oriented (using the will). Both of these make up the published translations of this text with one exception: those practicing non-technique-oriented yoga sadhana, which are few, and which represent my own translations.

The issue of self-control is valid for both the path of the will and the path of surrender. If one has not developed any self-control in life, they are not likely to want to follow the path of surrender anyway, for there would be little to surrender, and the experience would be weak and uninspiring. The path of surrender is really only useful to those who have had enough of control and the responsibilities and repercussions that go with it. 

Whether the path of the will or surrender, self-control is necessary just to get yourself into the meditation room, espceially in the beginning. So we can’t ignore it. But we can look at it closer:


  • Using the will (to try to achieve a goal)
  • Self-discipline (going ahead no matter what)
  • Self-motivation (you don’t need to be told to do something, you just do it)
  • Correctly and honestly monitoring one’s practice of spiritual principles in life (Yama and Niyama)

In the beginning, it is difficult to keep the attention on one thing long enough to reach a state of yoga. This is true of either path. In the path of the will, you will use your will to try to remedy this. In the path of surrender, you will continue to surrender yourself to God in meditation and let Shakti work this out. Both paths require enough self-discipline to meditate regularly.

“The proper means” for the path of the will is to follow the directions of the guru. The proper means for the path of surrender is to follow the directions of the guru to leave everything to God/Shakti and accept what happens or doesn’t happen in your meditation.

The practice of Yoga as it is presented in the previous verses, and verses to come, will deliver you from any concerns. All you have to do to reach a state of sameness (yoga, samadhi) is to follow these teachings.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma


VI:29-32 The State of Yoga

When you become Self-realized, you are God-realized. When you become God-realized, you are Self-realized. No matter by which door you enter into this sameness, it is the same room. 

Now we take up the subject of sameness again. This began in chapter five, with “In the City of Nine Gates”. This time however, we will see sameness as a state—the state of yoga (union).

Seeing himself in all beings and all beings in him, he who is constantly engaged in yoga sees the same everywhere. 

Lord Krishna is saying that by continued yoga practice, you will come to realize that Everyone is in Everyone. This is inevitable in Surrender Meditation where your surrender to the Absolute is a surrender to Everyone.

Once again, we are reminded of ‘the embodied one‘, the Real You, which is absolute, eternal and unchanging, and ‘the being’, the physical human role you are playing. It is the ’embodied one’ that the yogi recognizes as the same Absolute in himself as in everyone else, and visa versa.

Rightly beholding Me in all, and all in Me, I am never forgotten by him, and he is never forgotten by Me.

It is not possible for any of us not to be in constant contact with God, for we are not different from That. But because we are being human, we tend to think of God as some human-like figure. Even so, God being what God is, God has no limitations and can be anything we want It to be. Now what does this tell you about yourself? (Think about that.)

When you Realize that Everyone is in Everyone, you are realizing God.

Established in this union, the yogi worships Me in all beings. In whatever way he acts, he lives in Me.

Because what you really are is present Everywhere in Everyone, when you are surrendered to God, you are worshipping Real Others—you are accepting them as the same as You. And no matter what is going on, nothing you do can affect the Embodied One (God, the Real You and Real Others).

Worship: Surrender

One who by comparison to himself correctly sees the same everywhere, in all cases, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is the highest of yogis.

“One who by comparison to themself correctly sees”
You are able to see God everywhere, in all cases, in all others and in all things, because God is also in You—it takes one to know one. 

At first, one is able to reach this state of union (yoga) only under conducive circumstances, but as time goes by, one’s practice predominates circumstances, and union is achieved regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant circumstances may be. 

When you know, directly experience, or even simply understand, the truth about yourself as a Divine Individual (the Real You), you will see that we are all exactly the same in what it is that we really are, no matter what the being does or does not do, and regardless of surrounding circumstances.

As beings, we are misidentified with something other than our Real Selves, so we make mistakes. We act in ways that are not consistent with ourselves as Divine Individuals. This interferes with our ability to comprehend our Real Selves, and affects everyone else as well. So it behoves us to remedy this error through continued practice, until we become “the highest of yogis”.

By knowing your Self, you will know God.
By knowing God, you will know your Self.
When you know God or your Self, you will know You, God and Everyone as the same. 

How to Know Your Self

The way to know your true Self, the Real You, is to stop identifying with your body, your feelings, your personality, your mind, and all the things you do and have and want. But this is a tall order, so what can you do?

There can never be too much said about the Yamas and Niyamas. These ten spiritual principles are the key to you knowing You. They will guide you to Self realization. They describe You, tell you what it would look like for you to be demonstrative of them, how to act in order to bring this about, and what the payoff for success will be.

Each Yama and each Niyama is a one-word teaching full of wisdom. The illustration below will provide a quick look, and give you some clues as to the nature of their teachings, their results, and their payoffs. They are worthy of your attention and your efforts to Realize them…for all our sakes.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

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Yamas and Siddhis

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