Chapter 6. Meditation

1One who works without seeking rewards
is both a sanyasi and a karma yogi;
one who merely avoids work is neither.
In the original, the expression for avoiding work is: “one who lights no fire and does nothing”, indicating someone who neglects his responsibilities.

A sanyasi is one who renounces the rewards of action and not the action itself. The idea of a sanyasi here is different from the typical image of an old man who has given up everything and has fully retired from active life. A karma yogi is one who works without attachment to results.

2Arjuna, sanyasa is indeed yoga.
One can’t become a yogi
without giving up selfish motives.
Sanyasa refers to ‘renunciation of rewards’
and yoga refers to ‘selfless action’.

3Work is the path for one
who wants to advance in yoga.
Serenity is the path for one
who has already attained yoga.
If we want to climb to a high level, we have to work hard;
once we reach the top, we have to remain calm.

4One ascends to yoga when
he renounces selfish thoughts and
is not attached to actions or to sensations.

5One should advance by one’s own efforts;
one should not degrade oneself;
for the self alone
is one’s true friend or enemy.

6When one has self-control
one’s own self becomes a friend.
When one lacks self-control
one’s own self becomes a hostile foe.

7One who has conquered the self
is united with the supreme.
He is always at peace – in cold or heat,
in pleasure or pain, and in honor or dishonor.

8A yogi is one who is steadfast in yoga.

He has conquered his senses and
his mind doesn’t waver.

He has equal regard for
gold, mud, or stone.

He has attained fulfillment
through knowledge and wisdom.

9He behaves in the same way
with his family, friends, foes,
a mediator, a bystander,
a saint, or a sinner.
Thus, he attains excellence.

10With mind and body under control,
free from ownerships and desires,
a seeker of yoga
should go to a secluded place and
steadily meditate on the atman in solitude.
‘…free from ownerships and desires’ indicates a reasoned disregard towards possessions. Atman is the inner, higher self.

11In a clean place,
one should set up a firm seat,
neither too high nor too low,
covered with kusha grass, deerskin, and cloth.
Kusha grass is a kind of Bermuda grass; it is a sacred grass for the Hindus. The cloth is put above the deerskin, which in turn is placed over the grass.
12One should sit on that seat,
control the senses and thoughts,
direct the mind to a single object, and
practice meditation for self-purification.

13Keeping the body, head, and neck
straight, steady, and still,
looking at the tip of the nose,
not letting the eyes wander,
14remaining calm and fearless,
sticking to principles of brahmacharya,
with the mind under control,
one should sit resolute,
thinking of me as the supreme goal.
We cannot see the tip of our nose however wide we keep our eyes open, so the idea is merely to look at no external thing in particular.

Brahmacharya (following the path of brahman) refers to leading a life of purity and not letting the mind wander around trivial things.

15Thus, a seeker of yoga
constantly disciplining himself
with a steady mind –
attains the supreme blissful peace
that abides in me.

16Indeed yoga is not for one
who eats too much or too little.
It is also not for one
who sleeps too much or
stays awake for too long.

17Whereas, yoga destroys all sorrows for one who
takes the right measure of food,
is moderate in sleep and in staying awake,
works in a disciplined manner, and
enjoys moments of recreation.

18With the mind under control,
freed from desires, and
absorbed in the atman,
one attains yoga.

19A yogi who has mastered Thought
by meditating on the atman
is like a lamp that does not flicker
when sheltered from the wind.

20With thoughts restrained and mind silenced
by the regular practice of yoga,
the yogi sees the atman through the atman
and rejoices in the atman.
See 2:55.

21A yogi will never stray from Truth
once he attains infinite bliss
that transcends the senses and
can be perceived only by intuition.

22Upon gaining infinite bliss,
he knows that there is no greater attainment.

Once he is established thus,
he is not moved by even the deepest sorrow.

23He should practice yoga
with undaunted determination
for it is a blissful state of being.

24He should renounce, without exception,
all desires born of selfish motives.

He should completely control his senses
with the power of the mind.

25Little by little,
thinking of nothing else,
he should attain
stillness of mind and
focus it firmly on the atman.

26Whenever and wherever
the unsteady, restless mind
tends to stray away,
then and there
he should pull it back
and bring it under his control.

27A yogi attains supreme joy
once he overcomes restlessness,
keeps his mind calm,
breaks free from evil, and
tunes himself to brahman.

28Free from all sin and
ever in unison with the self,
a yogi at once feels boundless joy
that comes from merging with brahman.

29In that state,
the yogi sees the atman in all beings
and all beings in the atman;
everywhere he sees the same atman.

30He who sees me everywhere
and sees everything in me,
I am never lost to him
nor is he ever lost to me.

31The yogi who is aware of this oneness
worships me as the one who lives in all beings;
he abides in me, regardless of his way of living.
Such a person is always connected with the supreme, regardless of where he is, what he does, or how he is treated by society.

32He is indeed a yogi, Arjuna,
who sees true equality of all beings and
thus relates to the joy and sorrow of others
just as he relates to his own.
A true yogi doesn’t discriminate between himself and others; he knows that he is one with the rest and feels their joys and sorrows.

33You have taught me that yoga is,
in essence, equanimity of the mind.
But I don’t think it’s possible
because the mind is so fickle.

34The mind is restless, Krishna.
It is turbulent, powerful, and unyielding!

Controlling the mind
seems as difficult as
controlling the wind.

35Without doubt, O mighty one,
the mind is restless and tough to restrain.
But the mind can be controlled
by practice and by detachment.

36In my opinion, yoga is hard to attain
for one who lacks self-restraint.
But one who has self-control
can attain it by proper practice.

37What happens to him
who is sincere but lacks self-control,
when he strays from the right path and
fails to attain perfection in yoga?

38Having fallen from both,
gone astray on the path to brahman,
with no place to stand,
will he not perish
like a cloud scattered and lost in the sky?
Here, ‘both’ refers to self-control and proper practice. 
Alternatively, it may refer to the material and the spiritual:
“by giving up the material and improperly following the spiritual, won’t he miss out on both?”

39Only you can completely dispel my doubt, Krishna!
Who else is better suited to answer my question?

40One who strives to do good
never ends up in misery.
Whether in this world or beyond,
he never perishes, my son.
Liberation is the ultimate goal; but those who fall short are not condemned. There is no urgency for liberation either; each can work at his own pace. What truly matters is one’s sincerity of purpose.

41One who falls short of perfection in yoga
reaches the world of the righteous,
dwells there for a very long time, and
is reborn in the house of the pious and wealthy;
42or he may be born into a family of yogis
who are endowed with wisdom;
but such a birth is rare in this world.
Those who fall short of liberation are reborn in this world. Rebirth bears imprints from previous life, and this influences not only the inherent tendencies and aptitudes but also the lineage or the family in which one is born.

‘…the house of the pious and the wealthy’ refers to a good home that provides a healthy atmosphere to enable spiritual growth.

After all, birth and death are happening all the time: the previous moment is dead, the next one is born; what we did in the previous moment impacts what we do in the next.

43In the family of yogis,
he regains the knowledge
that he had in his previous life.
From there,
he strives once again
for perfection.
We are not born with a clean slate. The soul carries experiences from previous births, which to some extent influence the present life (for better or worse, depending on the nature of the experiences).
Birth is a new opportunity but has roots in the past. See 15:8.

44All that past experience
guides him on the path of yoga.
He transcends the rewards
gained by performing rituals
by just being on this path of yoga.

45Striving with great effort over many births,
a yogi cleanses himself of his defects
and attains the ultimate goal.
The ultimate goal is to attain brahman, which is the same as liberation from the cycles of birth and death.

46A yogi is superior to an ascetic,
he is also superior to the learned, and
is far superior to a ritualist.
Therefore (aim to) be a yogi, Arjuna!
An ‘ascetic’ is one who practices severe penance, ‘learned’ refers to one who is well-versed in the scriptures, and ‘ritualist’ is one who performs religious rites merely seeking favors. All these people are entangled to some extent, so Krishna advises Arjuna to be a yogi.

47Among all yogis,
the most dedicated ones
sincerely worship the supreme
with true humility.

<< Chapter 5. Renunciation

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