The Sixth Teaching
The Practice of Meditation
The man who does what must be done without concern for the fruit is a true man of yoga, not the man who shuns action.
Know that right action itself, Arjuna, is renunciation; a true man of yoga renounces his selfish intent.
For the man who desires to mature karma yoga (the way of action) is the path; for the man already mature raja yoga (the way of meditation) is the path.
The man who is detached from sense objects and actions, who renounces his own selfish will, he is mature in yoga. Such a man should lift up his ordinary self with his Self and not be selfish; the self is the only friend of the Self, and its only enemy.
The self is a friend of him who masters himself by the Self. But for the one who is not self-mastered, the self is his enemy at war.
When a man has mastered himself he is perfectly poised in cold or heat, in joy or suffering, in honor or disgrace.
The mature man fulfilled in wisdom, his senses subdued, looks with equal detachment at a lump of clay, a rock or a piece of gold.
He looks impartially on all: those who love him or hate him, his allies, his enemies, his friends, the good and even the evil men.
A man of yoga should practice concentration in seclusion, mastering his mind and body, free of possessions and desires.
The mature man should sit himself on a firm spot, neither too high nor too low, that is clean and covered with a grass mat, a deerskin, and a cloth.
He should concentrate with his whole mind, on a single object. Practicing this way, his mind will soon become pure: his head, neck and torso aligned, his posture steady and unmoving, gazing at the tip of his nose and not letting his glance wander. He should sit there calm, fearless, firm in his vow of celibacy, his mind directed and focused, his thought steady, intent on me.
Thus constantly mastering his mind, the man of yoga finds peace, attains liberation and vanishes into my supreme bliss.
Glutton has no discipline of mind, nor the man who starves himself, nor he who sleeps excessively or is always restless. Such a man will never succeed in the yoga of meditation.
The man who is moderate in diet and diversions, moderate in physical actions, and moderate in sleep and waking; all the sorrows of such a man are destroyed by yoga.
When his mind is controlled and clear, when he is without selfish desires, absorbed in the Self alone, he is said to be a true man of yoga.
“A lamp sheltered from the wind which does not flicker” is the simile with which a true man of yoga, whose mind has vanished in the Self, is compared.
When his mind has become peaceful by the practice of meditation, he sees the Self through the self and rests in the Self-rejoicing.
He knows the absolute joy that is grasped by understanding beyond the senses; steadfast he never wanders from the truth.
Obtaining this state, he knows there is no greater attainment; abiding there, unmoved, even by the deepest suffering.
This is true yoga: the unbinding of the bonds of suffering. Practice this yoga resolutely and with a courageous heart.
Relinquishing all desires aroused by his own selfish intent; a man should learn to retrain his unruly senses with his mind.
Gradually he becomes calm and controls his understanding; focusing on the Self, he should think of nothing else.
However often the restless mind may become unsteady and wander, he should rein it in and constantly bring it back to the Self.
When his mind becomes clear and peaceful, he enters perfect joy; his passions are calmed forever, he is utterly absorbed in the infinite spirit.
Constantly disciplining his mind and body, free from all sin, he easily achieves true freedom and finds an infinite joy.
Mature in yoga, seeing everything with an equal eye, he sees himself in all beings and all beings in himself.
He who sees me in everything and sees everything within me will not be lost to me, nor will I be ever lost to him.
He who grasps the oneness of life realizes that I exist in every being; wherever he is, he is in me.
When he sees all beings as equal in joy or in suffering, because they are like himself, that man has grown perfect in yoga.
You have taught that the essence of yoga is equanimity, Krishna; but since my mind is so restless, how can that be achieved? My mind is unsteady, turbulent, wild, and stubborn; I find it as hard to master as the wind.
Without doubt, Arjuna, the mind is unsteady and hard to master; but by constant practice and detachment it can be restrained in the end.
In my view, yoga is hard for those who lack self-restrain, but if you keep striving earnestly, in the right way, you can reach it.
Krishna, what happens to the man who has faith, but no self-control, wanders from the path before he becomes mature? Hasn’t he lost both the here and the hereafter? Doomed by his double failure, rootless and insubstantial, wouldn’t he fade like a cloud in the sky?
Krishna, this doubt troubles me; I beg you please to help me; for only you can dispel this doubt from my mind.
Neither in this world or the next, Arjuna, is that man lost. No one who does good work will come to an evil end. Reaching the heaven of the righteous, after endless years, that man is reborn in a house of upright and wealthy man.
Or he is born in a family of yogis; though a birth of this kind is very hard to obtain.
There he regains knowledge acquired in his former life; and from that point on he strives to further his ultimate goal, Arjuna.
Unconsciously he returns to his former practice; even a man who seeks to learn yoga passes beyond formal religion. Striving with constant effort, purifying himself of all sin through many lifetimes, at last he attains his ultimate goal.
The man of yoga is superior to ascetics, or the learned, or those who perform the rituals; therefore be a true man of yoga, Arjuna!
Practice yoga sincerely, with single-minded devotion; love me with perfect faith; bring your whole Self to me.
As I Understand It:
So far, Krishna has been teaching Arjuna about karma yoga, the way of action or service. In this chapter he initiates his disciple into the practice of raja yoga-the interior discipline of a spiritual life.
At the beginning of any spiritual path, great effort is needed. On the path to Self-realization willpower, self-help and personal effort are essential. As one gets closer to the spiritual summit, through the contemplative discipline, dimension of solitude, silence and stillness is added.
Atman has two meanings. It is one’s highest Self and one’s “ordinary” self. The ordinary self can be one’s friend (for those who have trained their mind and senses) or it can be one’s enemy (for those who are selfish, self-aggrandizing and have not mastered their self).
How does one conquer the self? By the practice of raja yoga or meditation. Through the practice one can train mind to be able to concentrate absolutely. Meditation is the direct means of becoming united with one’s truest guide and friend-one’s Self.
Krishna gives basic technique of meditation. (Stanza 11-15) Holding the body, head and neck in a straight line prevents drowsiness. For the advanced yogi it allows for the free flow of vital energy. Yogi is the one who is accomplished in meditation, who does his job with detachment from rewards and is the master of his mind.
Untrained mind is restless like a flame in a storm flickering wildly, constantly wandering to fulfill its desires. When unsteady mind wonders it must be brought back to its source and taught to rest in the Self. Once the mind is trained, it is at home in the depths of contemplation, and then it becomes steady like the flame in a windless place.
Success in meditation comes through moderation. One should neither eat nor sleep too much or too little. The body should neither be over indulged nor treated harshly as the Buddha teaches in his “Middle Path.”
Is Arjuna ready to begin meditation? Is he afraid that somehow he might fail if he tries? If he fails, would he lose all the worldly life he has given up as well as his goal of self-fulfillment?
The Bhagavad Gita, Translated for the Modern Reader with general introduction by Eknath Easwaran, chapter introductions by Diana Morrison. Nilgiri Press, Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, California.1996 (1st Pub. 1985).
The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna Counsel in Time of War, Translation and Introduction by Barbara Stoler Miller. Bantam Doubleday Dell Group, Inc. New York. Bantam Books, 1986.
Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation, Stephen Mitchell, Three Rivers Press, New York, 2000.