The Baby and the Bathwater -Bhagavad Gita- Chapter 2 :14

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It is perception by the senses, Son of Kunti, that produces the sensations of winter and summer, difficulty and ease. These appear and disappear and are impermanent, so just put up with them, Descendant of Bharata.

Winter and Summer.  The sensations of cold and heat.

Difficulty and Ease.  The meanings of the words for ‘difficulty’ and ‘ease’ include their effects: unhappiness, discomfort, misfortune, and pain (‘difficulty’), and happiness, comfort, prosperity, and pleasure (‘ease’).

Son of Kunti.  Arjuna is the ‘Son of Kunti’ (kunti – ‘lance’). Kunti* is the daughter of a Yadava prince, a descendant of Yadu (‘embracing’), named Shura (‘hero’), who gave her to his childless cousin Kunti, from which her name derives. Favored by Durvasas, an irascible sage thought to be an incarnation of Shiva, he taught her a mantra by which she could have a child by any god she wished to invoke. Arjuna was born to her of the god Indra, lord of the gods of the sky, the senses. Both Arjuna’s mother, Kunti, and Lord Krishna, are descendants of Prince Yadu.

Self-reference:  You can invoke any god you wish, in order to achieve a desired effect. All you need is the mantra. For that, you need the goodwill of the Sage.

Descendant of Bharata.  In earlier verses, we came across the epitaph, ‘Descendant of Bharata’ as that of the blind king, Dhritarashthra. So why is Lord Krishna addressing Arjuna in this manner? By calling Arjuna ‘Descendant of Bharata’, Krishna is not only pointing to Arjuna as being directly related to the king, but He is ranking Arjuna as the king’s equal.

Self-reference: Dhritarashthra represents ‘ignorance’ (unenlightened), but you are equal to the challenge of attaining enlightenment.

* Kunti is also a name of the god of love, often depicted carrying bow and arrow or lance.

Neutralizing Opposites

The example of the opposites of winter and summer are given in this verse. Here the word for ‘senses’ is specifically related to ‘tangibility’ and the sense of touch, and the effect of contact of the skin with temperature, wind, and other tangible things, and the way those sensations feel.

If we want to get esoteric about this, it is not much of a leap to associate the feeling of the warmth of summer and the coolness of winter with the functions of prana (warming Life Energy) and apana (cooling Life Energy). Knowing what we do about these two, we could conclude that by simply putting up with them, the union of the two will occur without any help from us, through surrender sadhana. United as one, their opposition is neutralized and brings forth the evolutionary functions of kundalini.

It has been suggested in previous verses that the polarizing effects of opposites are detrimental to our sadhana and stand in the way of our enlightenment. We have discussed some of the resolutions to this dilemma that will occur spontaneously through our sadhana, but meanwhile what do we do? Apparently, we just have to put up with them and consider them ‘common’, as if one were no better or worse than the other. But this is not so easy to accomplish. Perhaps with a little more understanding, and some conscious personal experience of this phenomenon, we will have better luck.

Equalizing Opposites

The first thing to realize, is that everything that gets into the mind, gets there through the senses moving outward to pick up sights, sounds, tactile sensations, tastes and odors, and storing the information in memory. The difficulty arises due to our like or dislike of what is picked up. If we were indifferent, the stored information would have little or no influence. But everything in this world, and therefore everything in the mind, has a flip side, an opposite—hot and cold, good and bad, black and white, pleasure and pain, and so on—and due to the pull of the polarity of these opposites, we find ourselves favoring one or the other.

If we were to try to do something about this, it would have to involve equalizing opposites, so that one has no more pull than the other. I wrote the Mental Yoga course for this purpose. This is the first step, a step that can be taken and continued outside of meditation, regardless of what kind of meditation you practice.

Many people who are drawn to Yoga leave it when they hear things about abandoning desires, and becoming indifferent to the appealing effects of pleasure, enjoyment, and success, etc., but they misunderstand. The gradual process of Surrender Meditation will take care of this, but we must do the sadhana, maintain the body for its practice, put ourselves in a conducive place for it, and pay attention and be self-honest. Outside of our Surrender Meditation, we can speed up the process with the practice of Mental Yoga. Then, when things begin to change within us, we will find that the results are not quite what we had expected—we do not lose anything, but we gain everything.

So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Durga Ma


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Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Vs 38

Attraction and aversion are opposite sides of the same coin. Attraction is positive desire—you are attracted to things you like and are compelled to pursue them. Aversion is negative desire—you are repelled by things you don’t like and are compelled to avoid them. By achieving ‘dispassion’ you are not compelled. You are free.

Holding pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat to be equal, take up the battle and thus incur no misfortune.

Holding opposites to be equal, or the same, is often referred to as ‘dispassion’. By taking up this challenge one can achieve dispassion. When dispassion is achieved regarding any set of opposites, no misfortune is encountered where that set of opposites is concerned.


The Sanskrit means ‘difficulty’ — being scared, in pain, trouble, hardship, sorrow, and…well, you get the picture.

Pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, etc., are pairs of opposites. Opposites being equal is usually understood as not having excess joy or sorrow over either of a pair, i.e., we should not be unhappy about loss or pleased with gain.

But this verse is not telling us what we should not do. Sukhaduhkhe same kritva simply says, “Ease (sukha) and difficulty (duhkha) have the same effect (same kritva)” — one of a pair is not stronger than the other so the effect is equal. This paints a different picture than simply having no effect at all, one way or the other. It is a picture of two opposites becoming equal in value and strength, and in this way, attraction or aversion to either is also equal, so there is no contest.

However one might understand achieving dispassion, it will happen on its own if you have the means. The simplest means is to surrender yourself to God/Truth in a conducive environment that allows this to take place naturally and fully, such as Surrender Meditation; between meditations, Mental Yoga can be practiced.

Find more on how neutralizing opposites works in verse 15, and in “Neutralizing Opposites” in verse 14.

Self-reference:  The next time you find yourself reacting to something, try to identify it, give it a name, and look for its opposite.


In an attempt to be helpful, a friend says to you, “That outfit you’re wearing looks terrible; you are grossly out of fashion.”

Your internal reaction is that you have been insulted by your friend. You try to identify this feeling and realize that you are angry (even though you have managed not to show it). You quickly contemplate an opposite to anger and decide on happiness — there may be other opposites, but you choose ‘happy’ and try to move into this state, if only temporarily. When you get home, you use this incident to practice moving into the state of ‘angry’ and then into ‘happy’, back and forth, until they are the same and you can move as quickly and easily into one as the other. By using this Mental Yoga, you have increased your degree of dispassion, and where this pair of opposites is concerned, you will incur no ‘misfortune’.

Durga Ma

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The Dharma of Karma 3 – Desire

As I sit here in my sunny room, doors and windows open, looking outside at the grass greening, the blooms beginning to open and a few clouds scudding across the sky, a nice breeze on my cheek, I find myself drifting back to an old desire. I guess no matter how good we may have it on any given day, there’s always another desire waiting in the wings. And I am very proficient at having both conditions present in the same moment. I am content, but there’s that other thing I want that would make even a day like this, seem better.

Dharma – Law. The established nature, character, peculiar condition or essential quality of anything.

Karma – Action. From, kri, meaning ‘to do’.  

The Dharma of Karma – The law of cause and effect: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

As a yoga practitioner, this would be an excellent opening for a discussion on how desires keep us bound in ignorance, but I am of the opinion that suppressed desires have a way of becoming the most powerfully domineering desires of all (we talked about how that works before).

Anything that we suppress becomes hidden from us—that’s the whole point of suppression. This includes thoughts and feelings, but hidden desires have a foot in both worlds (mind and emotion) and they drive us to try to force life, even though we may not realize it. Hidden desires relentlessly drive us to get them satisfied. They dominate our lives. We adjust things to meet their demands, and we turn into raving fast-laners or couch potatoes. Some of us wonder why we’re so stressed or depressed and what we’re doing wrong. Some of us blame someone else, preferring to try to control the people and things around us to practicing a little self-honesty and looking inside. But inside is where the solution lies.

I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t have what you want. What I am addressing is the problem of those pesky hidden desires and what you can do about them, not to mention the ones you do know about—you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones you’ve tried everything possible to get to come to fruition and it’s just not happening no matter how hard you try, no matter how many affirmations you do, no matter how much you try to stay positive.

Incidentally, it is a smart move to watch out for this insidious type of suppression: “Oh well, I really didn’t want that anyway, what I really want is _________,” or “All those affirmations I’ve been doing must be working, just look at that parking spot I just manifested!” These tactics just push away from you the very thing you’ve been wanting. They are evidence that you are still in a state of want, whether you admit it to yourself or not.

Want, or desire, is an affirmation of lack that reinforces the thought-idea that you don’t have what you want. This negative affirmation stops the manifestation of the object of desire. Tricky, isn’t it? This principle is what is behind the teachings of ancient sages who tell us to abandon desire—not because desire is bad or wrong, but because it doesn’t work. Not only does it not work to nurse a desire, it has the opposite effect.

Desire is a negative affirmation of lack.

The key is self-honesty and bringing hidden desires to the fore. You won’t succeed in this without self-honesty. It is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever undertake to do. It can be down right humiliating, and even scary. But if you want to make improvements in your life, you really must practice self-honesty. It has a way of creating profound shifts of a very rewarding nature.

What does all this have to do with karma? Well, I’m thinking about how self-honesty allows for the opportunity to avoid creating more karma. I’m also thinking about the difference between the presence of a desire, which doesn’t of itself create any karma, and acting on that desire, which does create karma. Our karma is what binds us, limits us, so who wants more of that? More bondage, less freedom.

Riding the Desire

While you’re practicing self-honesty and waiting on The Big Shift, here’s something else you can try: Enjoy the desire itself. Ride the desire. It’s already there and you didn’t put it there, so why do anything with it? It is enjoyable in itself, so enjoy it, don’t avoid it—that would be doing something (= karma).

Desire: don’t drive it … ride it !

That’s what I was doing this morning before I started writing this to you. I was content, but when the desire I spoke of surfaced, I just enjoyed the desire itself. I didn’t try to do anything about it because I knew that trying to do something about it would ruin the contentment I already had, and just create more karma.

I’ll close now, and wish you happiness and the effortless fulfillment of all your desires.

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


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