III:36-37 Outfoxing the Force

What is it that causes a person to act contrary to what will bring them what they seek? 

BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSES 36-37 

36
Arjuna spoke:
Then by what is one impelled to act so hazardously, even unwillingly, as if compelled by some force?

What is it that causes a person to act contrary to what will bring them what they seek? Even though we take a path best suited to our individual natures (verses 33-35) and do our best to practice these teachings faithfully, we can still be derailed. Why? What causes this?

37
The Blessed Lord spoke:
This force is desire, this force is anger, of which the rajas guna is the source. It is powerfully ravenous and consuming. Know it to be in this matter, the enemy.

Both desire and anger are problematic because of rajas, not because wanting something or feeling angry are inherently evil, but because of the consuming power of rajas, one of the three gunas (modes) of nature. Of the three, rajas is the most compelling—like a hurricane is compelling, or a tornado, or the heat of the desert, or the frozen tundra of the poles. For this reason, one practicing yoga sadhana is always wary of rajas.

“Desire and anger”

Desire (kama) and anger (krodha) are forms of ‘passion’ (rajas). Kama, desire, refers to sensual desire, and krodha, anger, refers to the reaction brought about by thwarted desire. In this way, they go together, anger being instigated by (thwarted) desire.

  • Desire is a function of the senses and the mind, anger is an emotion.
  • Desire is a want, anger is a feeling.
  • Both desire and anger rely on rajas.

Where desire and anger are concerned, rajas, passion, is the enemy, to greater and lesser degrees—with desire, the greater being lust and the lesser being what you want for lunch; with anger, the greater being wrath and the lesser being simple frustration with a task. 

“In this matter, the enemy” 

In this verse, we are talking about the rajasic nature of desire and anger making them “powerfully ravenous and consuming”. Rajas is said to be the source of both desire and anger. In other words, they cannot exist without some degree of rajas, and rajas, being a force of nature that is “powerfully ravenous and consuming”, cannot be suppressed. 

Rajas is not intrinsically bad any more that desire and anger are intrinsically bad. (By themselves, they might only be irritants.) Rajas is, after all, a property of nature and therefore divine in the relative sense. It is desire and anger that are the problem when they are powerful and ravenous. This understanding has led many a seeker to avoid anything of a rajasic nature, including food, people and places. Not a bad idea, really.

The Solution

It is often said that by increasing sattvas, tranquillity, the power of rajas is decreased, and that controlling desires controls lust, and that controlling lust controls anger. This is a logical stream of thought. Such practices can be effective, but require rigid willpower and must be constantly monitored.

The real solution to this dilemma is ‘indifference’. If nothing matters, desire is moot and there is nothing to become angry about. When you don’t care, neither desire nor anger can exist because rajas is not present, and both are dependent upon rajas for their existence.

So how do we get there? We take the teachings given by Lord Krishna seriously, and follow them. Chapters two and three are full of them, and more teachings on action will be coming up in chapter four to give us greater understanding. Their practice will bring us to a state of fulfillment where desires do not live. Once we have had a taste of this satisfying state, we will want more, and the more we experience it, the easier it will come, and desires will die a gradual and natural death.

Until that time, stick with your sadhana. Do not be too hard on yourself regarding desires, and control angry behaviors so as not to hurt or upset others, for it is simply not your inherent nature to do so. Such practices are money in the bank for making your road lighter and more fulfilling.

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

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III:28-29 Fast Track to Freedom, Conclusion

By persisting with the practice of the teachings as prescribed by Lord Krishna, enlightenment begins as simple knowledge that you trust to be true, but do not entirely experience. Continuing with your practice, you come to experience and understand it. Over time it becomes so obvious that it seems ludicrous to have ever thought otherwise. 

BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSES 28-29

28
Having understood the truth about action and the gunas—that all actions are the gunas acting among themselves—one is not attached (stuck, bound).

“All actions are the gunas acting among themselves”

All action is the interaction of the primary properties of prakriti (f. Nature), the original producer, or power, of Creation. The three primary properties of prakriti are:

Rajas – very active, fast moving
Sattvas – smooth-flowing, easy-going
Tamas – very slow or still

It is these three modes of nature acting among themselves that is the cause of all action. This is encouraging—to divest yourself of ‘ego’ (ahamkara, ‘I do’) you have only to unconditionally accept this to be true. 

All action is the interaction of these three gunas and not of your doing no matter how it seems to your mind, or how you experience it or feel about it. It is not you. So when in Surrender Meditation you wonder if you made some kriya happen and begin to coubt your surrender, remember this: ALL ACTION is the interaction of the gunas.

29
Not understanding this, people become intoxicated by the gunas and attached to the actions of the gunas. These unhappy people who do not understand the whole of it, the complete knower should not disturb.

Confused and bewildered by the properties of nature, non-knowers fully engage themselves in actions and become attached to them as their own. Stuck in this belief, they cling to their investments—convinced of having done these actions themselves, they believe the fruits of these actions to be their own as well. This makes letting go very difficult and creates karma that continues to hold them in the bondage of good and bad actions. Still, people cling to this mode of living when simply understanding and accepting the truth about action could put them on the fast track to freedom.

This verse is not telling you that you have to be a fully enlightened sage. You have but to accept these teachings about action as the truth. This is not so very difficult. It is certainly easier than living in bondage just to be able to keep an ego in tact.

Self-reference:  As you go about your usual day, think about this from time to time, e.g., you pick up a file folder from a desk, you notice this action and remind yourself of this teaching: “This is Nature’s doing.” Have fun and see what happens. Make a few notes to remind yourself of your observations, and let us hear from you. (Click “Leave a Reply” below.)

Having given you this simple exercise, I do hope I have not overly “disturbed” your mind. If I have, I am fairly certain that you will pass over this self-referencing bit and ignore the whole thing, no harm done. On the other hand, if your mind is not too “disturbed” and you give it a go, you are probably on your way to a subtle but very powerful shift within yourself and your life.

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

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Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 45-46

When you de-identify with nature, the Real You becomes apparent—you come awake to your true Self. 

45
The subject of the Vedas is the material world of the three gunas*. You must rise above this and become Self-realized Arjuna, transcending the gunas, ever of kind disposition, and free of duality and concern for safety.

Think of this as the firm resolve to fearlessly practice Yoga (previous verses), transcend materialism, and become Self-realized.

“Self-realized” — You know who and what you really are. God is constantly in your thoughts. Truth/God constantly pervades your awareness. God/Truth is all you think about. When thoughts of ordinary things arise, they arise within this context. You put this first before all else. Everything is all about God/Truth and your spiritual practice for maintaining union with That.

“Transcending the three gunas* — Getting past being identified with nature. Through meditation (dhyana), one ultimately becomes indifferent to the interactions of the gunas and can remain steadily in union. It is possible to learn how to behave in such a way as to portray this state to the satisfaction of onlookers, but this is not transcendence but very accomplished behavior. To transcend the three gunas of nature is to become truly free of ‘worldliness’. Meditation will naturally move one in this direction over time.

* The Three Gunas — The three qualities, or modes, of nature: Tamas - Fixed, slow-moving. Darkness, ignorance, mindlessness, laziness. Couch potato. Rajas - Intense, fast-moving. Passionate, desirous, lustful. Stimulus junkie. Sattvas - Smooth-flowing, easy-moving. Tranquil, clear, subtle. Easy-going.

One guna is not better than the other. The gunas are simply fundamental characteristics of nature. They affect each other like weather fronts affect climate.

“Ever of kind disposition” — Continuously established in kindness you are harmless, honest, self-honest and at peace. These are qualities of the Real You.

“Free of duality” — Free of concern for the effects of pairs of opposites. Opposites and their effects have no influence. You are truly independent, pure and content. These are qualities of the Real You.

“Free of concern for safety” — When God/Truth is ever present in your awareness, this takes care of itself. You cease to be concerned about acquiring or keeping things in order to feel safe and secure. This doesn’t mean you won’t have or keep things, but that you are not attached to them, distracted by having or getting them, or worrying about keeping them. You are non-possessive and non-attached, and the issue of security is moot—you are invulnerable. These are qualities of the Real You.

46
As much value as there is in a well when water is flooding on every side, so much is the value in all the Vedas for a God-person who Knows.

“The Vedas” — Consider this to be a reference to religious doctrines, dogmas, and belief-systems.

“A God-person who Knows” — A person of Wisdom, someone who is enlightened as to the Truth of how things really are. This is a quality of the Real You, a reference to what we have been taught up to this point being absorbed, understood and applied.

Remember my saying, ‘All action occurs in nature’? All action is the result of the interactions of the three gunas. That’s it. That’s all. Get this and your karma is over.

Namaste — I bow to the divine, perfect one that You really are,
Durga Ma
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