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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III:1-3 Arjuna’s Angst

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Three
“The Yoga of Action”
Verses 1 to 3

Arjuna is rattled at this apparent contradiction of Krishna’s and addresses him as Agitator of Men, and in the same breath tries to mend his own agitation with a compliment calling him Handsome Haired One! Clever boy. But his question is a good one, for in chapter two, verses 38 and 39, Krishna extolls buddhi*, which we have mostly read as ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom’, yet He urges Arjuna to act. Arjuna is still confused about all this, so with his next breath he says to Krishna, Just tell me what to do!

Arjuna spoke:
If you consider knowledge to be superior to action, O Agitator of Men, why do you urge me to terrible action, O Handsome Haired One?

With speech that seems equivocal you confuse my mind. This one thing tell me for certain: By which shall I attain the highest good. 

Buddhi is the ability to form and retain concepts, ideas, etc. It translates as knowledge, wisdom, intellect, reason, discernment, discrimination, judgement, mind, opinion, perception, thought, belief, and so on, depending upon its usage in the text.

The Blessed Lord spoke:
In this world there are two paths taught previously by me, Blameless One: the Knowledge Yoga of the followers of Sankhya*, and the Karma Yoga of the Yogis.

* Sankhya means 'taking into account all that can be known'. Sankhya is one of the divisions of Hindu philosophy. The followers of Sankhya are said to be knowledge-oriented.

“Blameless One” Oh, good. Krishna has exonerated Arjuna’s angst, so we too, can relax.

Krishna previously addressed Knowledge Yoga and Action Yoga in chapter two, but by attempting to discover which is better, it appears that Arjuna has not understood that both are valid paths to the same end. It is not a question of one being better than the other, but that Arjuna’s personal orientation is best suited to Action Yoga.

“The Knowledge Yoga of the followers of Sankhya”

The word for knowledge, jñāna ( ज्ञान ), refers to ‘knowing’, not just knowing by learning from an external source, but the knowing that is gained through meditation. In meditation, one comes to ‘know’ without the aid of the senses and the mind, and though one might not be able to prove the veracity of what gets ‘known’ to anyone else, it is proved to the meditator with certainty. This kind of knowledge is very different from the knowledge gained through conventional sources. It is in this sense that followers of Sankhya refer to Knowledge Yoga, knowledge (jnana) gained through union (yoga).

“The Action Yoga of the Yogis”

The word for action is karma ( कर्म ). Karma and yoga are practically synonymous terms, for one cannot have yoga (union) without action—the action of uniting one thing with another. Where the follower of Knowledge Yoga has knowledge as his focus, a yogi’s focus is on the action that delivers it.

Beyond this enlightenment, the yogi also seeks liberation from rebirth, which can only be attained when both the credits and debts of previous actions are settled. To this end, the yogi seeks the realization of non-doership and considers all actions as not his own.

Three Paths

It is generally taught that there are three paths—Knowledge, Action and Devotion. These three are said to reflect the different natures of people and their personal orientations: mentally-oriented, action-oriented, and feeling-oriented. So why are only Knowledge and Action mentioned in this verse?

Devotion, or bhakti, is necessary for Knowledge Yoga and Action Yoga to be effective, so it is automatically included in both. Some take the path of Devotion solely, believing that it alone is sufficient. It is conceivable that Devotion is enough, for when practiced comprehensively it will inevitably lead one to knowledge and action as well, as these two are inevitable for the serious seeker.

Knowledge Yoga – Jnana Yoga
Karma Yoga – Action Yoga
Bhakti Yoga – Devotional Yoga

Self-reference: To which are you most inclined? Throughout your day, whenever you think of it, see if you can determine which motivates your own actions the most. Are you mostly knowledge oriented, action oriented, of feeling oriented? Which one appeals to you, inspires you, and motivates you the most? Which is strongest for you?

Ultimately, whatever one’s personal orientation, after a time, sadhana (spiritual practices) will lead to all three, and one will be no stronger or weaker than the other.

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

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69 – 72 The Awakened State Reveals the Real

Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verses 69 – 72

That which is night to all beings is day for the sage. That which is day to all beings, is night for the sage.

Alternate translation:
The awakened state of the Sage is but a dream to everyone else; what is real to them is the dream to the Sage.

The awakened state reveals the Real. Our everyday sense of life and this world is the dream. The several verses leading up to this one have been teaching us how to attain this state that exposes the Real.

“The Sage”

Samyami – ‘having restraint’, from samyama, meaning ‘holding together, restraining, binding, tying up’. The root is yama, meaning ‘reined, curbed, bridled, restrained’.

The Samyami is the Sage for whom something is being held together, restrained. What is restrained for him is his senses. You will recall that this is pratyahara, the state in which the senses become restrained, withdrawn from their objects. We are being reminded of this yet again, so reaching this state must be very important for revealing the Truth about how things really are.


In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the last three steps of yoga (union)—concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and the equanimity of union (samadhi)—taken together as one state, is called samyama.

The state of samyama can only be reached through pratyahara (restraint of the senses), the fifth step of yoga, which is reached through the fourth step, pranayama (life-force restraint). This is a natural sequence of events that occurs as one advances, and describes the Samyami, the Sage, for whom life is but a dream.

8 Steps of Yoga - Screen Shot - no shadow

Like an ocean becoming filled with water yet remaining unmoved, one for whom all desires enter while remaining unmoved, attains peace. This is not the case for one who longs for his desires. 

But that person who remains indifferent to desires, acts desirelessly. Indifferent and non-doing, he attains peace. 

Alternate translations:

Just as an ocean remains unmoved when water enters it, one who remains unmoved as all desires enter him, attains serenity, but not one who yearns for the fulfillment of his desires. 

That person who remains indifferent to all desires, acts desirelessly. Disinterested, without the sense of doership, he attains serenity.

Desires will continue to arise within us as the senses continue making contact with desirable objects, but by remaining indifferent to these desires we are not motivated to act on them. Thus we end-run our egos (‘I do’), and as ‘non-doers’ we find peace.

‘Indifference’ does not mean that we have no desires, but that we are not excited by them to the point that we mentally linger on them and become compelled to chase after them. Not being under the sway of the senses is consistent with the Truth that (1) we already have/are everything, and (2) what we really are does nothing (nirahańkāraḥ, ‘I am not the doer of actions’). Until this truth is realized within us, we cultivate its arrival by not allowing our desires to control us.

Self-referencing: Note the difference between the object of desire and the desire itself.

During your day, whenever you think of it, without self-criticism, try making this distinction when you are confronted by something you find desirable, by separating your perception of the object, from your perception of the desire for it. This simple exercise will help you to overcome the tyranny of the senses. Because you cannot be what you perceive, you will separate yourself both from the senses, and from desire itself.

This is the culmination of what this chapter started with. It presents us with the concept of ‘ego’ as acting from the assumption that we are the ones doing things (ahamkara, ‘I do’), and that this assumption is incorrect.

What we truly are already ‘has’ everything, is everything, is everywhere without limitation. Every desire we take so seriously that we feel compelled to act, ‘to do’ something, in order to obtain it, contradicts this truth. Conversely, in the state of samyama we are one with Truth.

Fixed in this God-state, Arjuna, never again does one become confused or unconscious. Situated in it even at the hour of death, God-Nirvana is assured.

“God-Nirvana is assured”

God Nirvana is Divine Beatitude, the eternal happiness and highest bliss that is God. We are being assured of this. Even if we only reach this state of ‘disinterested non-doership’ at the last minute of the hour of death, we are assured Brahma-Nirvana. Seems like something worth cultivating, don’t you think?

” Having renounced all actions precipitated by the mind, not acting nor causing action, the Embodied One (you) sits happily as the ruler within the city whose gates are nine (the body).”

— Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita, chapter five, verse 13

End of Chapter Two
The Yoga of Knowledge


This chapter is called the Yoga of Knowledge and yet we have long been discussing action, so I think we can safely say that we have gained some knowledge about action. What we have learned about action in this chapter has to do with enlightenment and Self-realization. With this knowledge, we can understand it and cultivate it until it’s a done deal. In chapter three we will learn more about what action really is.

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

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