14 – 15 The seat of action, the agent, the instrument, the many different kinds of actions, and the fifth, the will. No matter what action one undertakes with body, speech or mind, whether usual or unusual, these are the five components of action.
“Whether usual or unusual.” Usual or unusual also means ‘proper’ or ‘improper’. He is saying that what He is teaching here applies to action, regardless of whether an act is right or wrong, proper or improper, or understood for what it is or not. In other words, this is solely about ACTION itself and its five constituents.
“With body, speech or mind” reminds us that action takes place with the mind, the body, and the emotions and speech.
The Five Components of Action
The seat of action (adhiṣhṭhāna, ‘standing at hand’) – the origin or starting point, i.e., where the action is coming from and what prompts it.
The agent of action – the performer of the action.
The instrument of action – is the means of action, i.e., the body, senses and mind.
The action – the action itself, which is of many and various kinds.
The will – the faculty by which an action is determined and initiatiated.
You are constantly exercising your power every moment, because you are making choices every moment. This is precisely why you don’t see yourself as having power, and why you are constantly trying to get it. But this is a losing battle because you already have it, and you already use it.
By using your power of choice to make choices, you are “choosing to choose.” This is called ‘will’. Will leads to bondage and compulsory returns (rebirths) where you have another chance to get it right, but will have no control over where you’re going to land: “desirable, undesirable or mixed.“
When you use your power of choice to “choose not to choose,” this is called ‘surrender’. When you surrender yourself to God (by any name) you are worshipping God/Truth. Surrender is also called ‘sacrifice’ — you are the offering, the human sacrifice.
You always get what you surrender to.
In Surrender Meditation, you choose not to choose, but to leave everything — body, mind and feelings — to Absolute God/Truth. Having made this choice, your meditation is then directed by God/Truth for your benefit, and the choosing is over for the duration of your meditation period.
When things happen in meditation, such as movements of the body, mind or feelings, at first you have to ‘stand on faith’ that this activity was not of your doing. You take it on faith because, at first, it will feel like it is you doing everything. If you persist with this meditation, it will ultimately lead you to the highest enlightenment: the realization that WHAT you truly are does nothing and never has.
16 This being the case, he who, due to small intellect, looks upon himself as the Agent does not truly see, and realizes nothing.
In this verse, Lord Krishna is saying that once you understand what action is, and what you really are, you will no longer see yourself as a doer (agent).
He is clarifying the apparent contradictions of non-doing, i.e., “How can I do the right thing without being a doer?” “How can I have a meditation practice and somehow manage not to experience myself as the one doing it?” Etc. But all action is, is the gunas of Nature interacting.
All action occurs in Nature. You are not Nature.
Keep in mind that the real Self is ‘Absolute’, and, as we learned earlier in the Gita, the Absolute is The Eternal Non-Doer. Beings see themselves as performing actions, but all action is performed by the gunas of Nature. The Real You never does anything, and never has. The real Agent then, is the gunas.
Many people are confused about renunciation, and take it to mean that one must not act at all. Some take it to mean that they must not move a single muscle during their meditation. Others believe that renunciation requires poverty, having nothing and begging your food. Some even become couch potatoes in the name of spirituality. But our world is a place where change and movement are endless. Action is the nature of Nature — it will take place without any help from us, and without the ego attempting to cast itself as the cause of it.
“It is indeed impossible for embodied beings to abandon actions entirely.” — Verse 11
Surrender to Absolute God in meditation (Surrender Meditation) produces active meditation, as opposed to the usual static meditation that is taught in modern times. Active meditation is superior, for it is not possible for human beings not to act; those who try to master inaction are ultimately defeated.
During the practice of Surrender Meditation, one is a renunciate, and truly free. Because this is so, continued practice automatically leads one to the realization of non-doership and Liberation. Surrender to Absolute God in meditation is the highest and most efficient practice for attaining this joyous state. This is the God-practice that is being taught by Lord Krishna in this Gita.
The realization of non-doership is the highest form of enlightenment. Surrender to Absolute God in meditation is the highest form of practice.
12 The results of the actions of non-abandoners when they die is of three kinds: desirable, undesirable and mixed. But for renouncers, there are none.
“The results of actions of non-abandoners when they die” is a crapshoot. You cannot know what is going to happen at death or in the next life.
“But for renouncers there are none,” because the enjoined action for the renouncer is the surrender of himself to Absolute God, all actions are natural (not created by him) and therefore lead to Liberation (non-return).
The three fruits of action, “desirable, undesirable and mixed,” do not apply to one who is a renunciate, for the renunciate is situated in the knowledge that he is not the actor, the doer of actions. Indifferent to actions and their results, he is headed for Liberation and higher realms upon leaving the body at death.
How to Become a Renouncer
‘Abandonment’ is the abandonment of the results of actions. ‘Renunciation’ is the abandonment of oneself as the doer of actions.
First, Practice Abandonment in Life
Abandon the Fruits of Action
The practice of Abandonment is to let go of attachments to desiredresults. For some, it is easier to begin with the practice of Abandonment by abandoning the fruits of action in everyday life. This is easy to practice and doesn’t demand any extra time.
Start by simply noticing those times when a certain result or outcome is important to you, and allow yourself to let go of your attachment to the results being any certain way.
One of the things you may notice as a result of this practice, is that outcomes — ‘fruits’, results — often turn out to be better than originally hoped for or expected. New vistas open up, and you will be inspired to continue this practice.
Another outcome of this practice is that you may make your own discovery that it is when you let go of an attachment to getting something you want, the desired object or objective that you were previously attached to, appears without any effort on your part.
When you give it up, you’ll get it.
Step 1 —Notice when you are doing something for the purpose of getting a certain result.
Step 2 —Decide to let go of your attachment to the results of what you are doing.
Step 3 —Let go of your attachment to getting this result.
Then Practice Renunciation in Life
Abandon Desire-motivated Actions
Whereas Abandonment has to do with abandoning the results of actions, Renunciation has to do with action itself.
The practice of Renunciation is to abandon self-motivated actions — acting for the purpose of getting desires fulfilled. Desire drives all actions for anyone who does not take up this simple practice, and can only lead to uncertainty in death and rebirth.
In Surrender Meditation, when actions occur without desire for certain outcomes, they are not considered to be actions. Because you have surrendered yourself to Absolute God, all actions that occur are not yours (even if it seems to you that you have acted) and therefore called ‘inaction’. Such actions are spontaneously carried out by Goddess Shakti during your meditation.
Shakti – female God who instigates all actions.
To experiment with this concept, follow these five steps:
Step 1: Notice when you are doing something for the purpose of getting a certain result.
Step 2:Notice what this hoped-for result is, and have a good look at it.
Step 3: Now let go of your attachment to getting this result.
Step 4: “Go on faith” that it is true that WHAT you really are does nothing.
Step 5: No matter what result the action produces, or whether you like it or not, give it as an offering to Absolute God/Truth (what ever your name is for That).
Some prefer to begin their journey to Renunciation by first practicing Abandonment, and then practicing Renunciation. Others prefer to do both by practicing Abandonment in daily life, and practicing Renunciation in the meditation room with Surrender Meditation.
Surrender Meditation is the fast track that covers both Abandonment and Renunciation. In this context, Surrender is synonymous with Renunciation and is easy to practice. The only thing that may be difficult at first is getting yourself to do it. You will need to carve out some time every day for it, even if you are profoundly busy. But if you are truly interested in advancing yourself, you will find a way.
Even without specifically practicing Abandonment in life, Surrender Meditation will bring it on anyway, spontaneously, and advance you quickly. It is known as the ‘spiritual jet’ for a reason.
In either case — Abandonment or Renunciation — through the practice of one, one ultimately comes to both. So it doesn’t really matter where you start, for in either case, you will ultimately be lead to the realization of non-doership, Self realization and Liberation.
Knowledge is useless if you don’t understand what you know.
Knowledge can only be understood by putting it into action and keeping watch.
Be willing to be right.
Be willing to be wrong.
Be willing to take different points of view about anything.
Make Surrender Meditation your lab and personally experience what you think you know and understand, and then it will be proved to you … one way or another.
Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are), Durga Ma durgama.com
In our last post we discussed the nature of Time as both personal and cosmic. The above picture of Mother Kali is significant to this, for Her name, Kali, has the same root and the word for Time, and both are said to be destroyers.
In the story of the Mahabharata war, this Bhagavad Gita 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.
This post addresses the removal of obstacles to yoga, non-doership, the onset of real yoga, enlightenment and surrender.
Last week: 32 The Blessed Lord spoke: I am Time, the destroyer of all beings and all worlds, come to destroy these people in this world. Even without any action on your part, none of these warriors here in the opposing army will be spared.
33 Therefore, you, who can shoot an arrow with either hand, stand up and attain glory! Having conquered the enemy, you will enjoy a prosperous and flourishing kingship, for these enemies have already been killed. You are merely the instrument.
Lord Krishna reminds Arjuna of his prowess and assures him of a victory that will bring about the return of his kingdom, and that he will be pleased with the results. He may as well accept this, for it is already done. No matter what Arjuna does in the way of killing the enemy, this action is not really of his own doing.
The killing of the enemy suggests the purification of obstacles. “It is already done” suggests that the Real You is already perfect.
Krishna (God/Guru) and Arjuna (You) are standing together in the middle between two armies. These two armies represent the two forms of Life Energy in the body (prana and apana) that, with the commencement of the battle, come crashing together. This causes the Life Energy to act as the Evolutionary Force (kundalini).
The warriors on both sides are Arjuna’s relatives. They represent all your personal assets and liabilities (obstacles) because of their relationship to you. What will be killed are all the things that stand in the way of your forward progress. This can only happen when the two armies come crashing together. This is what yoga really is and what the word means: ‘union’.
Once this real yoga begins, purification begins in ernest. Having already prepared the way with proper conditions for your meditation, the dam breaks and out comes all the muck. Your mind speeds irrationally, you are overcome with emotion, your body moves around in strange ways. Kundalini-shakti has taken center stage and aids your progress by killing the enemy: all the things that hold you back. Thus we have an expert archer hero (you) in the leading role of this tale, with Goddess Kundalini doing all the dirty work.
“These enemies have already been killed. You are merely the instrument.”
Lord Krishna is saying that in killing the enemy, these actions are not really your own, however much it may seem otherwise. Taking up this course of action makes you an instrument of the inevitable destruction of these warriors (obstacles), but not the doer of it. This tells us more about the principle of non-doership.
Through surrender to God/Truth in meditation, even though action occurs, one does nothing.
Surrender to God/Truth is the means of attaining yoga and enlightenment easily. Through it, the ‘ego’ is automatically overcome during the period of your meditation.
‘Ego’ is ahamkara in Sanskrit. The word literally means, “I do.” The sense of doing, ‘ego’, is dependent on the use of the will. When you surrender to God in meditation, you abandon the use of your will. Only through this practice of surrender to God will you come to understand this experientially. It will not happen any other way.
The sense of doing—’ego’—is dependent on the use of the will. Using the will fortifies the ego.
While it is possible to have direct experience of Truth/God using a technique (will), the experience is very short (1/16th of a second), and though it may justly be called an enlightenment experience, it is only the beginning. Overcoming the domination of the ego is the overcoming of the sense of being the doer of actions. This is true enlightenment, and the beginning of Real Yoga.
“You who can shoot an arrow with either hand”
Lord Krishna is not only commending Arjuna’s prowess with bow and arrow, but suggesting the nature of the course his path is now taking. Arjuna has reached a fork in the road that leads in a direction that has not been clear to him and is taking eighteen chapters to fully comprehend. The message here is that all this takes Time.
The Sanskrit for “either hand” actually means ‘left, left hand, or North’. It is translated as “either hand” or “both hands” by most translators and diverts the idea of Lord Krishna teaching the Left-hand Path, so despised by most yogis due to misinterpretation.
When you face the east (your face is the east of your body), south is down and on your right, and north is up and on your left. The right-hand path is known to everyone, but yogis seek the upward trending of kundalini going North.
I once went into an ashram store looking for a picture of Kali with her left knee raised. She is usually shown with the right knee raised, and the person in charge of the store was horrified at my request. Probably thinking I was depraved and needed guidance, she insisted on the other form of Kali and warned me about the one I sought. But I was adamant. She went into a back room and brought out pictures of Kali. We finally found one with the left knee raised, and she sold it to me, probably saying prayers for my redemption as I left (she was a very kind person).
Kali Ma was originally the Creator (Brahmā), Sustainer (Viṣṇu) and Destroyer (Śiva) all rolled into one dynamic female God. Eventually though, She became relegated to the single and fearful position of Destroyer.
So what is the big deal about the Left-hand Path?
The Left-hand Path has gone through periods of descent into madness over the centuries. Some have taken ‘left’ to mean ‘south’ (probably because of the Ida, the channel for the downward flowing apana on the left of the body) and referring to sexual practices, human sacrifice, and all kinds of craziness. But this was due to misunderstandings of correct teachings off and on over the centuries.
The only way to get all the Life Energy to rise (north) is for the downward trending energy to be brought up by something equally powerful — the upward trending energy has to descend (south) to do this.
This paints a picture of prana, the upward flowing Life Energy, falling to the basal chakra, uniting with the apana, the downward flowing Life Energy, and both going upward togetherthrough the central channel as kundalini. Thus is Kundalini ‘awakened’ and hatha yoga (‘sun-moon union’) begun.
This is the story of the Ramayana, the saga of Lord Rama and his beloved Sita. Rama goes south to get Sita and together they go North. Their journey North is hatha yoga.
prana – the upward trending warming Life Energy in the body flowing upward through the Pingala channel from the Right: Sun.
apana – the downward trending cooling Life Energy in the body flowing downward through the Ida channel from the Left: Moon.
kundalini – the evolutionary force in the body activated by the union of prana and apana. This union takes place at the first chakra: South.
With Kali’s left knee raised, She demonstrates the upward-going of the normally downward-going energy, apana. Not only is this usually misunderstood, but Kali Herself is misunderstood. Yes, She destroys, but what She destroys is ignorance, impurity and other obstacles to yoga. Kali Ma is seen as another form of Durga Ma, or as Durga Ma’s instrument for this purpose. Thus is Kali revered by all true yogis.
In our next installment, we will have a look at some of the obstacles Kali obliterates.
Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are), Durga Ma durgama.com