The Big Picture – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 10, Vs 1-5

1
The Blessed Lord spoke:
O Mighty Armed One, because you are dear to Me, and because you are taking such delight in listening, hear once again as I repeat in a manner giving you the greatest advantage, these teachings of Mine. 

Read the Prelude to this chapter 

Lord Krishna acknowledges Arjuna’s devotional state, which is discernible by his eagerness to listen to Him. He is going to go over things again, only now He is going to present His teachings on the secret of yoga in such a way that Arjuna can be most benefited. This time he will expand on them and give Arjuna the big picture so that he can grasp the magnitude of what he has been taught.

Before now, Arjuna has gone from depression, resistance, disagreement and confusion, to finally urging Lord Krishna to “please just tell me what to do.” Now that he is in this devotional state and at his most receptive, Krishna determines to put things into a different light and address Time and the Creation of the world on a truly grand scale.

2
Of all the gods and great sages, none know my origin, because I am the source of the gods and the great sages in every way.

To begin, He tells Arjuna of the universality of His greatness by calling his attention to the fact that even the gods and the great sages have their origin in Him. He is the source of their origin. They exist subsequent to Creation which emanates from Him alone, Imperishable Absolute God without beginning or end. 

Even the source of Lord Krishna’s origin as an avatara cannot be known to the gods and the sages because they are beings, and the comprehension of beings is dependent on the senses and the mind, which can only provide indirect perception.

This indicates that it is He, Absolute God, rather than our own willful efforts, who is behind our successful journey, before we even understand all this, before we even understand God and what That really is. He goes on to suggest….

3
He who knows Me as existing eternally without beginning, Lord of all the Worlds, is not confused. He is released, freed from all troubles and misfortunes. 

One who knows God as Absolute, knows God to exist eternally without beginning, and as the ever-present divine force permeating all worlds, and all beings that reside in them. Knowing this as distinct from the relative nature of physical worlds themselves, clears up all kinds of confusion and misconceptions. Knowing God as Absolute, one will not make the mistake of surrendering to God as this world or anything in it, including beings, events, conditions or circumstances, for these are all relative, and we are to resort solely to His Highest existence. 

Although we are beings with the limitations of mind and senses, it must surely be possible to know God. Previous chapters and verses have shown us the way to perception and comprehension without the use of the senses and the mind through true meditation. With continued practice, our comprehension continues to unfold.

He is saying that if we understand all this—what He has taught us and what He is going to tell us next—we won’t get stuck and hold ourselves back; we will flow with greater ease through the ever-changing stages of our journey and its transitions.

Absolute God has no beginning and therefore no end, is not a born being and so has no journey to take. God is with you from the very beginning of your journey and will be with you until the end, when you become one with That, all suffering and sorrow ended.

4-5
Intelligence, knowledge, freedom from delusion, patience, veracity, self-restraint, tranquility, pleasure, pain, birth, death, and fear and fearlessness…
Non-violence, impartiality, contentment, austerity, charity, fame, disrepute, the manifold conditions of beings, arise from Me alone.

These Relative (changeable) characteristics of human beings suggest His presence as the Absolute (unchanging) behind them. Here we see yamas and niyamas mixed with other states (intelligence, knowledge, enlightenment) as well as opposites (pleasure and pain, birth and death, fear and fearlessness) and other characteristics.

It is God who guides our complete journey Home through time; these things will arise within us in the process of becoming successful due to the purification process that is inherent in change. When they do arise, we can remember this verse telling us that they arise from God and be comforted—progress is being made.

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

VI:45-47 The Final Destination

Now we will end this chapter by hearing about the end result of successful Yoga practice. 

Continued from “From Desire to Fulfillment” (verse 44):

45
By persevering in his efforts, the mind withdrawn from anything else, he is completely purified of faults, and after many births is perfected and goes to the final destination.

“By persevering in his efforts”
Now he keeps going no matter what. This yogi knows something of what is ahead through his own experience, and will not be stopped.

“With the mind withdrawn from anything else”
The yogi is now steeped in Yoga. He thinks of nothing else. Any thought seemingly outside of it that should arise, is associated with God/Truth and his Yoga. Anything that is not, is dismissed.

“He is completely purified of faults”
These ‘faults’ are not really his, they are in the packaging, and Shakti wants to get the package to be like the Divine Individual that this yogi really is.

Shakti – Divine Energy. The intelligent, activating force of Nature.

The purification process that is going on in the body is sometimes uncomfortable, but our yogi knows what is going on, so he doesn’t fight it, but regards it as a sign of progress and happily continues his Yoga practice. 

Purification – The reordering of things to get them in their proper places, inside or outside of the body, mind and feelings. This ultimately gets one in sync with the Real Self. (See Yama and Niyama for descriptions of what this would look like). 

Purity

Because prana (Life Energy) can heal anything, it is often thought to be imprudent to avail oneself of resources considered to be unnatural. But this is unnatural—we are here on earth when we’re here, not at some other time. There are different resources available now than were available hundreds (or thousands) of years ago. Forcing oneself to endure something that might otherwise be relieved can cause more trouble from the stress it creates.

Self-Honesty

At this stage of sadhana, one really must be self-honest. Without self-honesty, mistakes will be made. Because of what is at the core of the mind (‘ego’), self-honesty is a difficult undertaking, so one must start immediately to practice it so that this skill is already developed and in place.

Sadhana – Spiritual practice. Sanskrit: The means of going straight to the goal. Mastering, cure, completion, perfection.

There is often (in any age) some difficulty determining what to do. One eventually gets the means of contacting inner guidance, but that alone isn’t always enough because of the mind’s propensity for interfering and causing mistakes to be made. Inner guidance must be more than just listening to your feelings or your mind, or confusing either with intuition. The mind will cause you more trouble than you can imagine, and feelings have their roots in the mind.

Ideally, you should consult your guru. In the event that your guru is no longer on this earth, the adepts who know their way around yoga can be called upon to advise you. If you don’t have direct contact with them they may send you dreams, in which case you will need to know how to understand dreams.

You should also consult scripture. Its purpose is to help you with this very thing. Then contemplate the yamas and niyamas to determine the correctness of your conclusions. It is also very helpful to talk with others on your path who are having similar experiences.

“After many births he is perfected and goes to the final destination”
I don’t think anyone can make it to or through this stage of sadhana without self-honesty and a whole lot of meditation experience (years). But it is very inspiring to know there will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, when one is finally, successfully ‘perfected’. 

46
The yogi is superior to the ascetic, the learned, and those who are active in good works. Therefore, be a yogi!

The yogi, the ascetic, the learned, and those who do good works, are all the greatest of devotees, but in this verse the yogi is ranked the highest. The ascetic is ranked higher than the learned, and the learned higher than those engaged in good works.

For many people, asceticism is the practice of severe self-discipline, sometimes even self-mortification, and abstention from all forms of pleasure. But we learned earlier that this is not the intended message. ‘Ascetic’ was defined as “one who is self-motivated, self-disciplined, and inspired, and can be a saint, sage, seer, monk, devotee or hermit”. The learned, on the other hand, is meant as someone who knows a lot but doesn’t have the personal experience behind the knowledge that the yogi and the ascetic have. 

47
Of all yogis, one who loves Me with faith and considers Me as in himself and himself in Me, is united with Me, and is the highest of all.

This verse speaks for itself.

End of Chapter Six
The Yoga of Meditation

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

 

IV:28-30 Sadhana, the Practice of Yoga…

These verses paint a picture of Yoga sadhana and present us with the kinds of things that happen inside and outside of meditation that prepare the way for the equanimity of union with the Divine. 

Yoga – union.

Sadhana – spiritual practices: ‘the means of obtaining proof and mastery; the means of bringing about fulfillment, completion, perfection.’

28
Physical-material sacrifices, purification, yoga, self-inspection and the study of the scriptures are sacrifices offered by sincere aspirants.

“Sacrifices offered by sincere aspirants” – forms of sadhana performed by determined aspirants.

Physical-material sacrifices. In meditation: spontaneous actions of body, breath and energy. Outside meditation: living simply, selfless service, monetary gifts, food, etc. to the teacher.

Purification. In meditation: spontaneous purification of body, mind and feelings. Outside meditation: attention to diet, the practice of yama and niyama, asana, pranayama.

Any kind of spiritual path taken to the full will involve purification, whether through purification techniques or purification brought on by yoga itself.

Purification is one way to understand the Sanskrit word tapas, the third niyama. Usually translated as ‘austerity’, tapas means ‘to burn, melt down, warm’. This gives us a clue as to the kind of purification that is going to come of yoga itself. Whereas physical purification usually takes place by impurities leaving the body, when purification is achieved through yoga, impurities of all kinds melt away (tapas).

Yoga. In meditation: spontaneous asana, pranayama, pratyahara and union (samyama: concentration, meditation, samadhi). Outside of meditation: asana and pranayama.

Self-inspection and Study. In and out of meditation: contemplation and self-referencing with self-honesty, contemplation on the self and the Self; studying scripture, listening to and reading scriptural teachings, receiving oral teachings, teaching others.

A sincere aspirant will not stop just because he or she is taken out of their comfort zone. To do this is to refuse progress, for progress involves change, and change is rarely comfortable.

29
Other offerings are apana into prana, and prana into apana. Another offering is both prana and apana, restraining the movement of the life energy.

The offering of “apana into prana and prana into apana” is, on the surface, a reference to breathing out and breathing in, which is how some translations are worded. But it is also a specific pranayama (anulomaviloma) in which the breath is taken in through the left nostril (apana), held for a time, and released through the right nostril (prana), then repeated in reverse beginning with the right nostril. This is a very relaxing and balancing breath that anyone can practice.

The offering of “both prana and apana” results in “restraining the movement of the life energy” as the breath is held. Another, deeper way to understand this though, is that kundalini awakens with the marriage of prana and apana; their mutual ‘restraint’ is then understood as kumbhaka. From this point of view, it is a description of how kundalini is awakened and paves the way to the breathless state and samadhi.

30
Also, restraining food or livelihood is an offering of prana into prana. These are sacrifices made by sacrifice-knowers whose stains are diminished or destroyed through their sacrifices.

Stains – The Sanskrit for ‘stains’ refers to karma that has an injurious effect on oneself or others, and nullifies ‘good’ karma.

One of the first ways people try to improve their lives is through diet, which is reflected in this last form of sacrifice. The sacrifice of ‘restraining food’ as an offering of prana into prana, indicates that this sacrifice is made by means of intention, or will. However, with the practice of natural yoga, attention to diet comes about naturally.   

The Sanskrit word for ‘restraining food’ includes ‘livlihood’ and may be interpreted as living simply, which also comes about naturally for one who takes their sadhana to the full. A yogi has no time or interest in working for a living in the fast lane.

______________________

Verses 24-30 tell of different kinds of sacrifices, the various ways people do sadhana to diminish their ‘stains’. This brings more ease into their lives as they enjoy more inspiring meditation experiences, and augment their progress.

Verses 24-30:
24-25 All Is God and So Are You
26-27 Direct Perception

Does everyone who takes up the spiritual journey always run into these same things? In one lifetime or another, yes, and in every lifetime to some degree, all of them. To know what they are is to take aim and score!

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

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