Advanced Yoga Meditation explained in Bhagavad Gita

The following is an excerpt of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Radhikaji from her forthcoming book to be published in 2017. Chapter 2 Verses 38-46 are covered in this article.

Verse 38: Alliance between karma and samskaras 

Sri Krishna is motivating Arjuna to go beyond all dualities, become a Witness, a Sakshi and see all the hidden negative qualities in the light of consciousness. This is a bhava, which comes when the Self chooses the Self. When it comes of its own accord through the spiritual evolution which has taken place through many lifetimes, then it is a gift. And when it does come to you do not give up, prepare yourself to face those ancient samskaras. The battle is to destroy the ancient alliance between karma and samskaras.

Verse 39-40 Yoga darshana and Buddhi

For progress on the spiritual path you need a solid theoretical foundation accompanied by practical experimentation. Now Sri Krishna is going to expound on Yoga itself, that which will help you to attain the state of union and be free from the bondage of karma. 

Sri Krishna reassures us that whatever action you perform in terms of your own spiritual development is not lost. There are many young seekers, who do not have a good foundation in theory and these young seekers, get very tensed about their practice. They feel that they have to attain in this lifetime, else all is lost. This idea comes from a modern worldview. With the rise of science a lot of people have doubts about rebirth. They have acquired these doubts unconsciously and passively. With this doubt in the unconscious mind, young seekers create a lot of pressure for themselves, wanting to attain the highest state of consciousness in this lifetime itself. While this is a good and noble purpose, it can create unnecessary stress which is counterproductive. 

Buddhi is the discriminative intellect, it is the one who judges and decides. There are various words for it, such as conscience, inner guide, inner voice, inner wisdom. Many different ways of translating the word Buddhi,  but none quite capture the essence. The root of the word Buddhi is the same as Buddha, which has over 20 different meanings in Sanskrit, such as awakened, expansion, enlightened, known, wise, conscious.

Verse 41: Buddhi and One-pointed mind

Besides Buddhi the term one pointed mind is another misunderstood term in yoga  meditation. Yoga schools with teacher training courses have done much to promote the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The study of the Yoga Sutras is however entirely intellectual. In these academic books on the Yoga Sutras the term one pointedness is defined as a single thought that is constantly flowing in the mind.This is indeed an excellent technical definition of one-pointedness. A scholar, a pandit, an intellectual would define it like this, but how would a meditator define one pointed mind? 

For the meditator  an one pointed mind is mind, which has resolved its internal conflicts. A meditator does not study the Yoga Sutras, he studies the mind. The sages and yogis studied the mind and analyzed its processes. They discovered that the mind has four major functions. They called these Antahkarana or the “inner instrument”.  Antahkarana is made up of manas, buddhi, ahamkara and chitta. Manas coordinates the ten indriyas or five cognitive and five active senses. Ahamkara comprises of the false identities with which we relate to the world. Chitta is the storehouse of all our memories and impressions. Buddhi is that fine aspect that judges and takes decisions. 

In an one-pointed mind all the functions of the mind are well coordinated. Manas is well trained and follows the instructions of Buddhi. Ahamkara is subservient to Buddhi and Chitta is purified. When all the functions of the mind are aligned and there are no internal conflicts, such a mind is one pointed; such a Buddhi is decisive and only such a sharp buddhi can lead the mind. If you do not have a sharp buddhi, that leads the other aspects of antahkarana, then your mind is divided and scattered.

The mind is generally scattered and divided. Manas is dragged around by the various senses in different directions. For instance, the sense of taste longs for different flavors, the sense of touch craves sensuality, the eyesight wants to feast sensory objects. Ahamkara has many identifications in conflict with each other. The chitta, which is the storehouse of ancient memories, not just from this lifetime but from many lifetimes, is bubbling with powerful emotions such as anger, jealousy, self condemnation, self-pity, pride, greed. The mind is dragging you around in different directions, sometimes opposing directions, creating conflicts. There can be no peace. Peace is established only when the conflicts are resolved.  Peace means having an one-pointed or ekagra mind and the paramount requirement for attaining a one pointed mind is a sharp buddhi.

Verses 42-44 Futility of ritualism and intellectual study

If you do not have a sharp Buddhi, you will be stuck in ritual worship of the Vedas and intellectual study of the Upanishads. The Vedas are a body of poetic spiritual literature. The early Vedas in particular are full of rituals. The rituals are all about satisfying desires. If you want to have a good partner, a child or a job, the Vedas have mantras for it. A major part of the Vedas comprises of rituals to fulfill desires and attain heaven. Heaven is a subtler plane of consciousness, but it will not lead to samadhi, and ultimately to moksha, freedom from the cycle of karma. If you attain heaven after death, you will still be reborn and have to go through the cycle of birth and death.  With practice of rituals and intellectual study, you will be stuck in this duality. A sharp Buddhi is required to go beyond these dualities.

Verse 45-46: Freedom through direct experience of supreme knowledge

These dualities, the pairs of opposites, attachment and aversion, love and hate, hot and cold, man and woman, day and night, create the world around us. Sri Krishna is advising Arjuna to go beyond these dualities. He is not recommending rituals, instead he is challenging him to enter into the ultimate battle to fight and destroy his own samskaras. 

The Vedas speak of worldly and other-worldly success. Attaining heaven or the subtler levels of consciousness is other worldly success and much emphasis is placed on this in the Vedas. This verse compares the ritual worship of the Vedas to water flooding all around. This water is everywhere but not very deep. Ritualism is everywhere but it does not go deep and remove the root cause of suffering. The direct experience of supreme knowledge through meditation is compared with a deep well. Only supreme knowledge can free you from the bondage of karma and samskaras.  


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