by Swami Krishnananda
There is another aspect of your personality. You are living in this world of nature. If you go against nature, you will fall sick. You may become seriously ill if you go against the law of nature. There are laws of gravitation and laws connected with sunlight, air, water, food, etc., with which if you dabble erroneously, you will have to pay the penalty. You must know how society acts. You must also know how nature works. It is a large living body that is before us which is called nature – and you know how a living body acts and reacts. I will not go into details along these lines because it is almost clear to you how dependent you are on nature's contributions to your very existence itself. Even your body is made up of the five elements. The building bricks of this body are earth, water, fire, air and ether. If that is the case, you seem to be having only a borrowed existence. The bricks with which the body has been built are the substance of the five elements. And you are alive due to the contributions made by these five elements – food, water, air, sunlight and the like – which is like saying that you do not exist outside nature. It is working through you, as is very obvious.
There is a third factor, which is your own self. Let society be there, let nature be there. What about yourself? How are you? What are you made of? Maybe you are made of the five elements, but are you made of something else also? Are you only the body of five elements? You have faculties of thinking, which work in many ways. Sometimes your understanding does not go hand in hand with your feelings. The personality is not always aligned properly. There is non-alignment of the internal constituents, mostly, in persons. You may be a great, highly learned person – a professor in arts and sciences, with a PhD, highly respected – but your emotions may be torn and you may be a very puny nothing in your house. You grieve and weep when you are alone, though you are a mighty learned person in outer society.
If your will, your emotions and your understanding do not go hand in hand, one with the other, you will be a torn personality, not an integrated one. A psychological cohesion of the parts of the faculties inside make you a whole being and not a sick individual. You may be physically sick, but the worst thing is to be mentally sick. To struggle with your own mind is worse than struggling with anything else. Today you think one thing; tomorrow you think another thing. Today you like this, and tomorrow you do not like it, without knowing why you are feeling that way. You may diagnose everything in the world, but you should diagnose your own phases of action inherent in the psyche. Knowledge of yourself is the greatest of knowledge, it is said. The knowledge of your own mind, to which I made reference previously, is greater than the knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology and astronomy. There is, on the other hand, your contribution to nature and society, which is very clear on the surface of it. But, what contribution can you make if you are a torn individual, with wrecked emotions?
The attempt to keep yourself in a cohesive, integrated mode – this attempt is highlighted and described in great detail in many of the sutras of Patanjali's Yoga Shastra. Yama, is there, of course, but there are other methods. You are hammered in from three different sides. On the one hand, you seem to be confronting yourself every day and finding it difficult to manage your own mind; secondly, you also cannot easily manage your connection with people outside; and thirdly, physically you fall sick in many ways due to interfering with nature's forces in an unbalanced manner. There is a fourth crowning factor in life – namely, the whole centre of the cosmos operating in you. There is an unknown factor behind everything in the world which is, perhaps, the deciding factor. All your efforts are decided, finally, by this Supreme Judiciary of the cosmos. Finally, it has to give assent to whatever you do, whatever you think.
There is a verse in the Bhagavadgita which mentions how your actions are determined by different factors and not only by your intention, individually, by itself. The condition of the body, whatever it is, decides to a large extent the capability of your performance. Every person has a different type of physical frame, fitted for a particular purpose. So the kind of contribution that you make through your activities is decided especially by the nature of your physical constitution. Secondly, there is another determining factor – namely, your capacity to resolve to fulfil the work and carry it on until the end. There are many people who start a work and then leave it in the middle, due to many difficulties. If they face a difficulty, they drop that work. To engage in some action and then drop it because of fear of troubles arising from it is called tamasa, or the worst kind of action, says the Bhagavadgita. This is another factor.
The third conditioning factor is the capacity of your sense organs themselves. If you are weak in your eyes, your ears and your sensations, your contribution to the world and contribution to your own performances, also, will be limited to that extent. Another factor that limits your performance is the diverse motives that you have behind your action. Why are you doing anything? Though you may think that the idea is clear in your mind, you will find that it is not always a clear idea at all. Your requirements, as you think them, seem to change their moods and their nature as time passes and you advance in age and, perhaps, in the process of evolution. But, there is a final thing. It has to be sanctioned by the structure of the cosmos. Whatever you may do should be approved by the constitution of the government. You cannot go against it, saying, "That is wonderful for me. I shall do that"
This is the fourfold conflict that you are facing every day – social conflict, personal conflict, conflict with nature, and conflict with the Almighty Creator Himself. You are distanced from society, distanced from your own self, distanced from nature, and distanced from God. This is the tremendous war of the Mahabharata before you. Everything is pell-mell and chaotic, and you do not know what you are supposed to do. "I am helpless in this condition. My mind is not working. Tell me, what is my duty?" This is what Arjuna spoke to Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Intelligent man that he was, with great willpower, and having decided to do something, he collapsed when he was required to exercise a total type of understanding in regard to what he was expected to do.
The body shakes, the mind trembles and the emotions are fear-struck when you take to the path of yoga, on account of the associations you wrongly make in terms of these four facets of your relation. The Bhagavadgita is an answer to all these conflicts. It answers your query concerning your duty towards society. This is highlighted intensely throughout the chapters, and all other things are also highlighted, gradually. The eleventh chapter, which is the crowning edifice of all the teachings, tells you there is only One Person doing all actions in the world. "Everything is My view, My action." Even if you lift a finger, it is not your action, finally. The muscles and nerves are there, of course. Your will also is there. But all this that you have inside yourself, and what you are, is a replica of the original, which is far away – beyond space and time, as it were – and which controls you totally.
Who is doing anything in this world? If you are a good student of your relationship with these facets of philosophical theme, you will realise that there is a great truth in this wondrous statement of the Bhagavadgita, "I do everything; you act as an instrument." This appreciation of One Being actually performing all actions – this acceptance from the bottom of your heart – will not only free you from conflicts of this kind, but will give you such a hope of possible perfection in your life that you will feel a sense of energy entering into you, energy which you had blocked by assertion of your personality or ego-ridden individuality. If you open the avenues of the entry of these forces which are operating throughout the world, you will find a peculiar strength arising from within. It is not the strength of the food that you eat, or the money that you have, or the esteem in which people hold you; it is another strength altogether – an intrinsic strength, you may call it. All other strengths that you have are extrinsic because they are contributed by factors which are outside you. But here, a total factor of the creative process entirely takes an upper hand. Here is the gospel of the Bhagavadgita for you. It is not karma, it is not bhakti, it is not raja; it is nothing of the kind. It is all things at the same time. Reason and will and emotion and action go together and make up one enterprise.
Sa brahma-yoga-yuktatma sukham aksayam asnute (B.G. 5-21), says the Bhagavadgita. It is not called by any known name. It is called Brahma-yoga, the yoga of the Absolute. Your personality rises into action, totally, in all the layers of your being – not merely the physical, the astral or the causal. The entire spirit rises up as the sun in the sky dazzles in all its glory when the clouds of these sheaths of our personality – which are not solid objects, really, but are layers of condensed energy – are dispersed by the light of the sun of the soul that is illuminating and shining within you, for ever and ever.
This, I believe, is the gospel and the teaching of the Bhagavadgita. There is no need of reading too many books. As the Cosmic Being spoke the Gita, an individual person will not be able to appreciate much of its meaning. It was spoken by all mouths, all ears, and all eyes. The Mighty Person of the total cosmos spoke it and, therefore, a puny mind is unable to appreciate its connotations. Hence we require so many commentaries. The Visvarupa, as it is called – which is the whole of existence speaking from all sides – is the context of the gospel of the Gita. In a verse it is said that nobody knows what the Gita says. Krsno janati vai samyak: only He who spoke it knows what He spoke. Arjuna knows something of it. Actually, he forgot it totally. Later on he asked Sri Krishna, "I have forgotten everything that you told me at the beginning of the battle. Would you kindly recite it to me once again?" Sri Krishna's answer was, "I cannot repeat it again. I was in union with the Absolute when I spoke that and you should not ask me to recall it again." It was the Absolute that spoke, in a cosmic form, from every angle of vision. Vyaso va vyasa-putro va: Vyasa knows what the Gita is; he himself recorded it. Vyasa's son Suka knows it, and Vyasa knows it. Anye sravanatah srutva: others only hear it as anything that is told to them. It does not enter the heart.
Make a thorough study of the Gita. Of course, you are free to read any commentary in order that you may be facilitated in forming an opinion about it. If God speaks to you, you know how you will think at that time. Place yourself in the context of God speaking to you. "My dear boy, listen to me!" If God speaks to you like that, what will you do at that time? That kind of attention is necessary in order to do yoga practice.
Yoga is not a profession. It is not even a religion. It is not something that you are expected to do among many other things. It is the only thing that you have to do, and in that one thing that you do, every other activity is included. It is included because it is a comprehensive focussing through all the aspects of life to which I made reference just now. For a moment, think deeply; place yourself in the context of God speaking to you. That is the Bhagavadgita speaking to you. And God speaking to you is not yesterday's matter, or tomorrow's; it is just today's.
So, I gave you a free and brief conspectus of the system of yoga which operates in various phases on account of the response emanating from the different aspects of your personality. Remember: the practice of yoga is everything. Meditation is all things. It is a wrong notion that meditation is somewhere, sometime in life, and all your other time goes to your duties. You think that all other things that you do are your duties, and that meditation is not a duty, that it is only a concession that you are making to some religious requirement. It is nothing of the kind.
All your duties are summed up in one duty of meditation on this stupendous theme of your placement within the context of the reality within everything. Sarvatah pani-padam tat, sarvato'ksi-srio-mukham; sarvatah srutimal loke, sarvam avrtya tisthati (B.G. 13.13): Everywhere It has eyes, everywhere It has ears, hands and feet. If you touch anything, you are touching His legs, His feet, His hands; your eyes are His eyes; your ears are His ears. The whole of the Gita is this much. Its quintessence I have placed before you. The All-yoga – karma, bhakti, raja, jnana – everything is inside this.
Remember again – I want to repeat this once more – yoga is not one of the things that you are doing; it is the thing that you are doing, inclusive of all things. You will be a very good office worker, a very good cook, a very good sweeper, a very good soldier – everything you will be if yoga is operating through you at that time. You will be the best in every field of life because you are in the best of circumstances when you are in deep meditation. Be happy that you may be blessed and good days are coming to you!