Know that You are Not the Doer
Krishna has revealed that it is indeed dangerous to live the Dharma of another and that death is preferable to ignoring and abandoning one’s sense of inner-duty which, although written in the Heart and always available to us, becomes concealed by our self-created delusion (guna-maya).
Kama & Krodhas as Compulsion
Arjuna asks Krishna what impenetrable force drives men to the harmful compulsions that only serve to separate them from the Truth within. Krishna identifies the compelling force as anger (krodhas) born of desire (kama). The guna which produces anger is Rajas (III.37-40). Desire and anger are always acting in collusion, and frustrated desire quickly turns to anger.
The writer Doris Lessing once penned an expression of this power that desire has over intelligence; and while it is raw and perhaps a bit out of rhythm in the profound context of the Bhagavad Gita, it is nevertheless worth repeating here because it is so on the mark, so humorously accurate. Lessing describes her feelings as she encounters a certain man whose presence inflames her passions and says something like, ‘All my brains fell down between my legs!’
In his book Freedom & Transcendence (1982), the Indian scholar Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair states that ‘resurgent libido can capture all the resources of man.’ When the frequencies of anger emerge out of the frustrated desire to possess, our ability the think clearly and to reason with equanimity is overwhelmed and clouded to the point of total delusion. That’s when we all do stupid things.
A life dedicated to God does not destroy autonomy
With his usual discerning insight, Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair observes that, ‘The erroneous self-identity hardens on the basis of the illusion that a life dedicated to God will destroy the self’s autonomy.’
I find this particularly interesting as I have observed it in my own life. There is something very defensive about the small personality ego-self that over time becomes quite clever in protecting its own misguided existence. In spite of the fact that over and over it fails to find fulfillment, the temporal ego can defend even the most miserable of schemes to realize its endless and inevitably futile desires. I have gradually learned to notice how my small identity-self is afraid of the God within me and that fear does stem from its fear of losing autonomy.
The exact opposite is the Truth! In my life it is only when I act in alliance and partnership with the God-within that I feel truly good, without any fear of losing that subtle sweet nurturing feeling. When I manage to listen to that still small voice within, I am inspired with insight, energy, and creativity. The gunas that define the small identity-self are intended to be the instrument of the God that dwells in the Heart, and not the other way round. How could the Creator be the servant of the means and mechanisms of Its creation? Was Michelangelo the slave of his hammer and chisel?
Krishna urges his friend to kill the anger that destroys intelligence by controlling the senses (III.41). He uses the word devil or evil being (papmanam) to define these forces. This is the deeper understanding of the term demonic. On the one hand you can personify sin as ugly annoying demons right out of a Hieronymous Bosch painting - or you can think of them as energies, thought frequencies, even wave forms that resonate with our own thoughts and are thereby created and attracted to nest and inculcate themselves in our consciousness. The demonic is characterized by their tendency to repetition, and phantasmal false promises that leave you drained.
Control of the senses is achieved by understanding that the mind is higher than the five senses. Higher than the mind is intelligence and higher than these is the Self, the God-within (III.42). Only through an alliance with your real Self, can you achieve mastery over the wild-horse whirlwind gunas.
This Knowledge was Lost
In the beginning of Book IV, Krishna tells Arjuna that this Knowledge of Yoga he is revealing on the battlefield Kurukshetra was once known to the ancients and passed down through the generations; but has been lost (IV.1-3). I take this to mean that the subtle veils of delusion that fell over human consciousness during the Dvapara Yuga - the cycle of time which precedes the Kali Yuga - made people forget the Truth of their inner being. As God Realized in man, Krishna works for the well-being of the world (lokasamgraha) and brings this knowledge to us in the form of the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita will remain to serve us throughout the Kali Yuga.
Krishna knows his many births and in the ancient days it was Krishna, as God fully realized in man, who declared this knowledge. Whenever there is a decline in righteousness and integrity, Krishna - who epitomizes the highest in all - incarnates in human form. He is the ultimate super hero, but on a metaphysical scale. He is born into every age to protect the good and destroy those who do evil (duskritam).
The Ubiquitous Law of Magnetism
God incarnates into limited forms. Few indeed these days are those who Know the God-within. Krishna is in complete alliance and partnership with his own inner Divinity (divyam); and those who understand Krishna's nature as the embodiment of the God within us all, come into the frequency of consciousness that bears a similitude with the Creator. We merge into Krishna’s consciousness, or what is in the west often called Christ consciousness. As we move into the eternal frequency of enlightenment, we are released from the delusion that we were ever separate from the All.
Krishna says that those who have realized who he is and therefore have achieved their own union with the God within, are not reborn (IV.9). Those who have Become are released from rebirth. After you are liberated (moksha), the decision to take on other embodiments for the well-being of the world, as does Krishna, would be your decision.
The Law of Magnetism applies in consciousness, and consciousness is everything. Each thought carries a frequency and like attracts like. Your enlightenment opens the door to that realm of frequency wherein all enlightened ones dwell. The Truth does set you Free!
Purified by the Austerity of Knowledge
The austerity of Wisdom Knowledge (jnanatapasa) has the power to purify your consciousness (IV.10). I found this verse illuminating, because Krishna does not say the austerity of self-denial, a hair shirt, or any other sort cruel self-inflicted ritual. Rather he advocates the austerity of Knowledge. To me this means that Knowledge itself has the power to transform and purify consciousness into liberation (moksha) from delusion.
You just Know! As you learn to live in the understanding of non-attachment to your actions, in a balanced evenness without any expectation, the demons of greed (raga), fear (bhaya), and anger (krodhas) will slip away out of your thoughts, out of your being. Absorbed in union with the God-within, you attain the same state of consciousness as Krishna’s, which was your real nature all along.
The God that is within us simultaneously permeates the entire universe and responds in kind to whatever way any of us approach our own interior Sacredness (IV.11). This is the reason why tolerance of all forms of worshipping and finding God is not merely respectful - the acceptance of all paths Home is God’s Way. Why would God create a universe of infinite diversity and then limit Its Self to only one Path of Return.
ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम् .
मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः .. ४- ११..
ye yathā māṃ prapadyante tāṃs tathaiva bhajāmyaham
mama vartmānuvartante manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ 4.11
All paths are God’s Path
As human beings around the planet we follow in God’s path, meaning we are all in movement towards our Return to the Source. The Kashmir Saivite Abhinavagupta says, ‘Everything in the universe follows the Lord’s desire’ (B.Marjanovic). This universe is born of God’s desire. The concealment of divinity in Time, Space, and Matter is God’s desire for enjoyment (bhoga); as is Remembrance and the Liberation from temporal Illusion.
In Hindu metaphysics there is the idea that all souls must incarnate here on Earth as human beings in order to achieve enlightenment. The human form is the microcosm of the macrocosm, and the universe exists holographically within us as the chakra system. Abhinavagupta interprets ‘in the world of men, action brings quick success’ (IV.12) with this understanding.
The Uddhava Gita, in the Bhagavata Purana, says that the rewards of heaven are as transient as the pleasures of earth and that the wise develop a distaste for the heavenly realms.
Nothing we do alters the Creator
The apparent differences that distinguish all human beings as individuals are the result of the distribution and allocation of the three gunas (rajas, sattva, and tamas), based on our actions (guna-karma-vibhagasah) in all of our lives (IV.13). The Creator is the ultimate Source of all qualities, the gunas, which are ever in motion seeking to correct their imbalances; but the Lord of All remains eternally untouched by this creative power of the qualities (guna-maya).
If God was in any way altered by our thoughts and actions, this universe would have imploded on itself eons ago! God is eternal and imperishable (avyayam). Never bound by any actions, God is the supernal Non-Doer.
Act Knowing You are Not the Doer
The Creator has no desire for the result of any act - the Creator already is the All and needs no thing. In a similar vein, the man or woman who abides in union with the Creator understands the power of desire-less action, and is released from the binding ropes of guna-maya and its seductive attraction of attachment into the hologram. Krishna tells his friend that the ancients - I interpret these ‘ancients’ as those beings who incarnated in the previous cycles of time - who were seeking liberation performed actions without attachment (IV.14-15). Therefore Krishna tells Arjuna to act!
The Deeper Way of Wisdom
Krishna then concedes that discerning the difference between action and inaction is indeed subtle, and that the wise and even poets are confused. Because of the immense complexity of the interconnected threads of the holographic fabric of this universe, none can know exactly what their actions will achieve. This impenetrable nature of action is no reason to withdraw into inaction, rather we understand in a deeper way the wisdom and necessity of acting without attachment to results.
There is no ‘spiritual’ justification to shirk our duties (Dharma) and our responsibility to the well-being for the world (lokasamgraha), and to retreat into a sheltered life of ritual as an escape. Even though we have achieved enlightenment, we begin to act - not cloaked in purple robes and seated on a golden throne, but perhaps ‘disguised’ as very ordinary human beings - with a devoted passion that is not attached to the outcome, nor to our personal ambition.
We do the very best we can and through that experience, we learn to do better. Our storehouse of accumulated wisdom to act with a regard for others in this world is never stagnant; it is always evolving, changing to suit the need of the moment, adapting to circumstances and our deepening sense of connection to the God within All.
There will never come a time when you will say, ‘OK, now I’ve learned everything, my knowledge is complete, my enlightenment done.’ Enlightenment is only the beginning of your life long partnership with God. Yes, we have the experiences and we know that we are the Self; then time gives us the opportunity to deepen this understanding and Become even more, even closer to God. Why should it end? God never does.
Dependent on No One!
The wise see ‘inaction in action’ because they know that they are not the Doer. The wise, who have realized their union with the God-within that also permeates All, see all actions of all beings as their own (IV.18). The wise act without desire or motive, and thus their karma - the accumulation of past actions done in attachment - is burned up in the Fires of Knowledge (jnana-agni-dagdha-karmanam). The wise are always satisfied and content, dependent on no one. Even when they are engaged in actions, they in fact do nothing at all. At One with God, they know they are not the Doer and therefore they incur no fault, no guilt, no sin. (IV.19-21).
Your Best Friend & Real Partner
United in the best of all possible partnerships, the partnership with God, we find that we are content (samtustas) and as if we had entered into a new world, we are quietly satisfied with whatever comes our way and which often appears spontaneously by chance. We are no longer overwhelmed by our successes and failures (IV.22).
We prefer to remain immersed in the Love that sustains us, the Love that has always been and always will abide in the Heart of All. Even though we do what we can to make this world a better, more loving and harmonious place, the Knowledge and Remembrance of our real being prevents our consciousness from again attaching itself into the hologram’s sticky illusory webs. We are no longer bound. We are free.
The Others Are You!
When you work from Love in the spirit of sacrifice - meaning the altruistic concern for others which is rooted in the knowledge that they are you - your work will not bind you in the temporal illusory hologram (IV.23).
An easy simple way to remind yourself of the Truth is to make everything sacred by offering it to God. Everything is God and therefore the ultimate reality is that everything you do, all the things you possess, the food you eat, and the smile that radiates across your sweet face is God. By offering everything to God, you are openly acknowledging what is already true in every moment and therefore you are aligning your consciousness to the greater Truth (IV.24).
Remain resting in the Self
Through acts of altruistic sacrifice, we realize the Sacredness of the entire universe and remain resting in our own Self (Abhinavagupta/B.Marjanovic). We abide with the Creator in our Heart and gain in similitude.
It is through this knowledge of the true meaning of sacrifice (IV.32), as those altruistic acts we engage in without any attachment to results, that we are released in consciousness from the illusion that we were ever bound in the multiplicity of the temporal hologram, separate from God.
Whatever you do, any sacrifice you make, do so in the Knowledge of Wisdom (IV.33). The inner knowing of the Real, that can only emerge from Union with the God-within, prevails over - and yet simultaneously and entirely suffuses the external.