Attaining Godhood – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 18, Vs 50-56

Godhood is Home
Godhood is Home

Attaining Godhood, Part 1

Now learn from Me briefly, how one who has attained perfection also attains Brahman, the Highest State: The senses are restrained, beginning with sound, the buddhi is pure, and attraction and aversion are abandoned.

He is saying that in attaining Perfection, you are attaining the state of Godhood, and that this is the Highest State. He goes on to tell us how this takes place: With the restraint of the senses (pratyahara), sound being the first, attractions and aversions cease and the buddhi is pure.

How It Works

Pratyahara – introversion and withdrawal of the senses. In this state, when the sense faculties are separated from the sense organs and can no longer bring sense objects (sound, sight, etc.) into the mind, then the buddhi is ‘pure’ (nothing is mixed in with it).

Buddhi – intellect, understanding, logic, reasoning, discrimination, judgement, and sorting things out. Buddhi is the part of the mind that knows the difference among things. It differentiates and understands. In pratyahara, the buddhi is ‘pure’ and free to do its job perfectly because it is not disturbed or distracted by objects entering into the mind via the senses. Then one sees only what is Real (God/Truth).

Pure buddhi – your ability to know, understand what you know, and what to do with it, is free. No tantalizing objects of sense can reach the buddhi because there is a disconnect between your organs of sense and your powers of sense.

Attraction and aversion – likes and dislikes. One’s indifference to them is achieved through pratyahara

“Sound being the first” – The experience of pratyahara, withdrawal or introversion, begins with sound because sound is the subtlest and the most all-encompassing of the five ‘sense objects’. It is directly connected to the whole of Creation, including the body itself. In the state of pratyahara this is experienced as Real and can be heard, felt and seen. 

Conditions for Attainment

Living alone and relishing solitude, taking recourse in the highest yoga meditation and eating moderately, the body, speech and mind under control and one is indifferent to worldly objects. Egotism, force, arrogance, passion, anger and possessiveness are abandoned, and this peaceful one is fit for Union with Brahman (Absolute God/Truth).

“The highest yoga meditation” – the primary practice of nivritti marga (the path going straight to the Goal).

“The body, speech and mind under control” – in life, this is monitoring them; in meditation this is pratyahara.

“Union with Brahman” – in life, this unification is evidenced by the emergence of the Real You; in meditation one is absorbed into Absolute God.


One who is absorbed in Brahman neither grieves loss nor desires gain. Propitious and impartial toward all living beings and devoted to Me, he gains the Highest. Devoted to Me, he comes to know Me as great, and also as I am. Upon truly knowing Me, he immediately enters into Me.

“He comes to know Me as great, and also as I am.” Some translators translate ‘great’ to mean all-pervasive, which is certainly true. Lord Krishna is saying to Arjuna that he will not only come to know Him as something bigger than himself, i.e., His Cosmic Form, but also as He is now — appearing as a human being who is Arjuna’s childhood friend and guru, even though He is also the Cosmic lord of all Creation.  

“Devoted to Me” means that, through constant devotion to Krishna/God, you will know Him completely.  

Upon truly knowing Me, he immediately enters into Me” is to be taken literally. You really do enter into Absolute God. This is called nirbija samadhi. (‘merging together un-caused’). 

Nirbija also means ‘without seed’, without anything left in a potential state of ‘becoming’ because all is now revealed. Samadhi means ‘union, joining together’ as well as ‘sameness’. At this point, you as a human being living on this earth, can enter into Absolute God at the drop of a hat. You will find yourself stopping what you’re doing and going there in an instant, whenever you like. 

Even though he performs many actions, he is surrendered to Me, thus attaining the realm of the eternal Imperishable Abode, by My Grace.

God's Eternal Abode“By My Grace” means that it is because of Absolute God Itself that you are able to enter into Absolute God. You have surrendered yourself to That, so That is what you get.

“Even though he performs many actions.” You have surrendered yourself to God, so you most certainly are not the doer of any actions that occur — nothing you do is done by you.

“Thus attaining the realm of the eternal Imperishable Abode” means that you can finally go Home to this realm of existence. At death, rather than some weigh-station where you await your next incarnation and start all over again, you will go Home and you won’t be compelled to return. It also means that while you are here in this world, you have contact with this realm of Immortal Masters.

All of this tells us how little is actually required of us to become God-realized. I cannot otherwise imagine how I have managed to reach this point with so much static, so many obstacles, all my worrying about tomorrow, and so much self-talk of unworthiness, not to mention my feeble attempt at succeeding with this yoga. I am not playing humble, I am telling you this in all honesty, because I want you to understand this one thing: If I can do it, you can do it.

God-realization is not different than Self-realization.

This is where all your reticence should end. Now you know that all these verses, in all these eighteen chapters, are telling you the same thing, over and over in different ways, so that you can finally get the message. If Arjuna can do it, you can do it. In chapter one we heard Arjuna stating his reticence only to find that everything he said was true, even though he did not understand his own revelations.

This last chapter is also telling you everything all over again. The question is, do you understand it? If not, get on board the train that goes there, do the work, and you will discover that this work is not only not difficult, but brings enormous satisfaction and the greatest happiness and joy.

The next question is, Do you want it? If you don’t, or if you’re not sure, consider the alternatives. It’s a no-brainer. 

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

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

V:20 Yoga, Sameness and Samadhi…

Continuing from the previous verses (“See the Same in Everyone”), this verse gives us additional guidelines for achieving God-realization through yoga (union).

One who does not exult over getting what is wanted or lament upon getting what is not wanted, understands, is God-knowing, and firmly established in God. 

Alternate translation:
A person who is God-realized doesn’t get elated when they get what they want, or disappointment when they don’t—or when they get something they don’t want.

“Understands”  Understands the previous teachings on indifference (impartiality, neutrality, sameness). He is saying that the person this verse describes understands that indifference is a characteristic of God/Truth and the Real You.

“Is God-knowing” – One who knows from personal experience, that sameness, or indifference, is a characteristic of God/Truth. 

“Firmly established in God” – God-realized, united with God, one with God.

We got here from ‘renunciation’, which is what this chapter is about. We came to understand that renunciation (‘letting go of, abandoning, casting aside’) is synonymous with ‘surrender’ as it applies to Surrender Meditation. This meditation requires our indifference to what happens in meditation as well as the results of it. We see indifference as the unconditional aspect of surrender to God in meditation.

We have been getting these teachings on indifference as it applies to just about everything, all of which point back to ‘action’ as the means of realizing this for ourselves. First, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that his dharma is action. Then he takes several routes trying to get across to Arjuna what action really is, and its place in Yoga as the means of liberation from the bondage it causes (karma means action).

Well, you can see the difficulty in trying to get something like this across to a soldier in the middle of a battlefield. Just think how long it has taken us, sitting here comfortably in our chairs, to get to where we are now! So it is no wonder that, along with Arjuna, we are getting these teachings as they apply to various situations, which gives Lord Krishna the opportunity to repeat the teachings until we can finally get the picture.

But what is the connection between renunciation and action?  And what is the connection of this to indifference, or sameness?

Renunciation refers to letting go of one’s identification with himself as the doer of action. Yoga (union) cannot be achieved without it.

Sameness refers to the indifference, or neutrality, present in this kind of action. We let go of (renounce) expectations, self-motivated desires, and preconceived ideas. This makes yoga possible, and brings about a tranquillity in which it is known through personal experience that this very pleasant peacefulness prevails because of equality and sameness. 

Lord Krishna goes on to give examples of sameness (i.e., verses 18-19), having already shown us that we are in God, and God is in us. So we have gone from renunciation as letting go of our identification as ‘doers’ of action, to realizing our sameness with each other, our unity with God and with all beings. And it is because of this that we reach samadhi.     

Yoga, Sameness & Samadhi

When the mind becomes uniform, equalized (the same), there is tranquillity. In this state, one realizes God/Truth. This state is called samadhi

  • Samadhi A uniform state of mind; equanimity; unity with the Divine. From sama (sameness, equality, impartiality, indifference, homogeneousness, peace) + dhaa (having).

This definition is not so different from the definition of yoga, or ‘union’, from the root yuj, ‘to yoke together; to unite’. So we have samenessyoga and samadhi all linked together by one word: sama.

Samadhi is the ultimate achievement of sameness. It may seem that fluctuating feelings and emotional states can’t exist in the context of sameness so they must be gotten rid of. But we must remember that it is the mind that becomes uniform. Emotions are in the body, not the mind; not all emotions are simply reactions to things in the mind.

In the development of yoga, the earlier states of samadhi are short-lived, but in advanced stages one can be walking around in samadhi, unbeknownst to onlookers. This stage of samadhi doesn’t ‘look’ like anything unusual. The yogi has gone beyond the earlier trance-like stages and landed in a homogeneous state of neutrality where he looks and acts like anyone else, even though samadhi reigns. This advanced stage of samadhi becomes possible by passing through earlier states acquired through the long-term practice of yoga, and all the stages of samadhi that come before it.

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