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

Godhood is Home
Godhood is Home

Attaining Godhood, Part 1

50-51
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

52-53
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.

Success!

54-55
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. 

56
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
durgama.com

Three Kinds of Resolve – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 18, Vs 33-35

Determined

Previously:
Now hear the three kinds of intelligence and resolve, together and separately, according to the gunas, Conqueror of Wealth — Verse 29

Conqueror of Wealth – By calling Arjuna Conqueror of Wealth, Lord Krishna is saying to Arjuna that intelligence and resolve are forms of wealth that he possesses.

Intelligence (buddhi) – intellect, reason, the ability to differentiate, discern and judge. Buddhi is the power of the mind that forms ideas, imaginations, conceptions, and knows how to differentiate and figure things out.

Resolve (dhṛtes) – standing firm in the course of your practice; courageously holding resolute determination without wavering. You don’t quit when the going gets rough, or when you aren’t getting what you think you want.

Resolve

Determination

33 — Sattvic Resolve
That resolve by which the functions of the mind, the vital breath and the senses are held unwaveringly in yoga, is sattvic.

  • Mind (manas) – the part of the mind that receives perceptions.
    • Attention – the flow of consciousness to perceptible ‘objects’.
  • Vital breath (prana) – the Life Energy that keeps you alive.
    • Attention and Life Energy always travel together.
  • The senses (indriyas) – the abilities that you have to hear, see, touch, taste and smell.
  • Held (avyabhicharin, ‘steady’) – withdrawn, stilled and concentrated in one place in the body . When the senses are withdrawn from external objects and steadily concentrated at the throat chakra without wavering, the mind and Prana follow suit. When this is accomplished, one experiences pratyāharā.
  • Yoga (divine union) – the equanimity of samadhi (sameness) and direct experience (experience without any via). Pratyāharā is the turning point of Yoga.
  • In verse 30, we discussed the two fundamental paths (pravṛitti and nivṛitti) in which the first, the use of the will is applied, and in the second it is not. We can look at sattvic resolve either way. This verse is generally translated for the path of the will (pravṛitti marga). Now let’s see what it looks like in terms of nivṛitti marga, the path of non-willful action, surrender to Absolute God:

Determined RenunciateWith the path of the will (pravṛitti marga), to meditate you use your will to (1) withdraw your attention internally, (2) hold your mind still, (3) and hold the Life Energy still.

In the non-willful path (nivṛitti marga), you do none of these. You don’t have to. You have realized through your experience with non-willful meditation that, if you truly surrender yourself to God, God will manage your meditation and take care of all this, and the senses, the mind and Life Energy will spontaneously stop moving.

When this happens you have turned a corner in your meditation. This is known as pratyahara, the magical moment in deep meditation when the door to samadhi opens. In the early stages of samadhi there are journeys filled with unimaginable adventures, places and beings, all wondrous to behold.

  • Samadhi – joining together, uniting (yoga), a unified state of mind, equanimity.

34 — Rajasic Resolve
But the firm hold to duty, desire and wealth, with attachment and desire for the results of actions, is rajasic.

Desire produces willful action. I have said this before, but be reminded that this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is what most people do. It is the norm. Everyone likes to be part of the norm in order to be accepted. But this comes at a cost … you don’t move on to the next phase of life in which your norm becomes the non-willful path of nivṛitti marga. If you do not move on to this, your progress will come to an end. If you do, you will regard your previous phase of pravṛitti marga as a blessing that got you to this place.

I have been accused of being elitist in my teaching of surrender yoga. But it is not a matter of one path being better than the other. It is a matter of one coming after the other, and which is most suitable for each individual according to their personal dharma and their stage of live (see verse 30 for more on this subject). 

35 — Tamasic Resolve
That resolve by which one holds on to the intoxication of imaginings, fears, grief and despair, is tamasic.

Described in this way, tamasic resolve seems to exclude any spiritual path at all. One is encumbered with cravings and sorrows to the point of being so completely distracted by them, that it is almost impossible to see anything else. This is a hard place to be. But one can use imagination to counter fears, sorrows and despair. The problem is that the tamasic person often has little or no contact with others other than those who are also living in this dark place, and so does not make this simple discovery.

A cave for a home is sheer determination!
A cave for a home.

Most people I have come across who are in this bind, cannot allow themselves to get out of it. Just finding a small interlude between traumas is difficult. They are ‘attached’ to this state of darkness. It is ‘who they are’. Identified with this state as who they are, they cannot imagine it changing or disappearing, for this would mean that they would disappear and cease to exist.    

Attachment is not only applicable to desires for likable things, but one may be attached to something not in their best interest and not even realize it. 

Perhaps you have had times like this and can identify with it to some degree. If so, try to imagine what it would be like to live in this state all the time, and allow your empathy to go to these suffering people with the love and compassion they so badly need.

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

The Yogi and the Devotee – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 12, Vs 2-4

I AM ETERNAL

The Bhagavad Gita appears in the story of the Mahabharata. It 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.

The subject of this chapter is Devotion.

This post addresses the answer to Arjuna’s question on who has the best knowledge of Yoga, withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara), and equanimity (samadhi).


Previously:
Arjuna spoke:  Of those who are constantly engaged in worshipping You, and those who worship the Imperishable Absolute, which has the best knowledge of Yoga?

The Devotee

2
The Blessed Lord spoke:
Those who are always absorbed in Me as their highest objective, always engaging in worshipping Me with the highest degree of faith, I consider to be the My best devotees who are naturally attached to Me.  

  • Worshipping – ‘surrendering, loving, serving’

Alternate translation:
For those highest initiated, the mind easily becomes absorbed in Me and produces supreme faith, so they are naturally the most devoted to Me. 

In this verse, Lord Krishna is describing someone who worships Personal God as Himself. It seems then, that the answer to Arjuna’s question must be “those who are always engaged in worshipping Me” have the best knowledge. But Lord Krishna hasn’t really addressed this, only that they are the most devoted to Him as Personal God.

This verse is describing someone who has advanced significantly in their yoga practice. By referring to the “highest initiated” He indicates those who know the science of yoga and meditation, and understand the nature of its unfolding over time. But as to who has the best knowledge of yoga, He has yet to say.  

The Yogi

3 – 4
But those who worship the Imperishable Absolute, which by its very nature is inexplicable—eternally unchanging, intangible, invisible and everywhere—with all the senses subdued, the mind indifferent everywhere, delighting in affection for all beings and esteeming them as equal, they also attain Me.

Now we have our answer: both. Whether you worship Personal God or Impersonal God you can attain God, though the path of the invisible Absolute is more demanding..

“The senses subdued”

The subduction, control or restraint of the senses is called pratyahara, that magical state of meditation in which the sense faculties, or powers, withdraw from the physical senses. The ability (power) to hear, see, feel, etc., is separated from their objects (sound, sight, touch, etc.). In this state, the sense organs (ears, eyes, skin, etc.) naturally have no connection to sense objects. Once one has reached this point, samadhi (equanimity) is not far away.

This can be taken two ways: The yogi either tries to control the senses, or the senses automatically come under control. The first is the path of the will, in which one uses the will to achieve the desired results. The second is the path of surrender to God, in which one does nothing and leaves everything to God.

  • Pratyahara, the spontaneous withdrawal of the sense faculties from their corresponding sense organs, allowing for direct perception (without any means, i.e., the sense organs). The gateway to samadhi.
  • Samadhi is a state in which the mind is the same throughout, and either not moving at all, or moving uniformly.

“The mind indifferent everywhere”

This phrase describes the effects of pratyahara as the condition that produces and is present in samadhi.

The Sanskrit for ‘mind’ in this verse, is buddhi. Buddhi is the part of the mind that is intelligent, rational, and makes judgements. 

  • Buddhi: intellect, reason, the discriminative faculty of the mind. 

Outside of Meditation

Pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses, can also take place in everyday life. For one who practices meditation by surrendering to Absolute God, this will happen naturally. The senses will become disinterested and withdraw from their objects gradually over time. In the beginning, this may show up after the fact with the discovery that something that once attracted you has lost its power. Or you may have simply forgotten it and only realized this change later.

An example of my own experience of this, was finding a bottle of wine in the back of the refrigerator that had been there for weeks. I had been used to having a glass of wine when I came home from work in the evening, but had forgotten all about it. Then, one day when I was cleaning the refrigerator, there it was, an untouched bottle of wine. This heralded profound experiences in my meditation, the result of this phase of pratyahara in daily life.

The senses are otherwise always active, with the attention constantly flowing outward to perceive things, and bringing them back to the mind for storage. For this reason, those who practice willful yoga must work very hard to try to get the senses to stop bringing things into the mind, keeping it busy and aborting yoga. Some avoid people, places and things that keep the mind active. For instance, if a man becomes agitated in the presence of women, he will avoid women. But in surrender sadhana, pratyahara happens spontaneously and powerfully in meditation, and opens the door to samadhi naturally.

Of the devotee who experiences God as Personal, and the yogi who experiences God as Impersonal, both know Yoga and reach God. The only real difference is how.

Regarding Samadhi

Do you think that samadhi, or meditation for that matter, requires that you sit a certain way? If you do, these masters would not agree with you. Kripalu is dancing. Anandamayi Ma has risen in ecstasy. Shri Ramakrishna is in blissful bhava-samadhi with a devotee supporting him to avoid another fall. These saints are beyond caring what we think.

One usually thinks of samadhi as the final frontier of Yoga, but it is really a part of the process of purifying and clearing the mind, though in advanced stages, it is certainly very fulfilling. 

  • Samādhi समाधि sama (the same) + adhi (as above)

Also, the idea that samadhi only occurs when the mind is not moving is incorrect. The mind may be moving or not. As to the nature of its movements, the next common error would be that such movement would have to be sattvic (smooth-flowing and peaceful). But this is also incorrect. It is the uniformity that is the key (samadhi means ‘sameness’). The state of mental activity will depend on the nature of the purification. In the highest samadhi (nirbija) one surpasses this process.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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