Tantra and accepting your darker side

The following is an excerpt of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Radhikaji from her forthcoming book to be published in 2017. Chapter 4 Verse 35 - Chapter 5 Verse 5 are covered in this article.

Verses 35-37: The Virtuous vs the Wicked

Many times, seekers have experience guilt and shame because they feel they are not good persons. The best among us have done impure actions, actions that other people might call wicked or impure. We do not feel pure and therefore feel unworthy. This verse is an assurance, that even the most impure ones can also attain. Just as a blazing fire will burn anything into ashes, so the fire of knowledge will burn away the impressions or samskaras of the past into ashes.

Even a glimpse of samadhi is experienced as a new birth. It is an awakening and the beginning of a new life. That is why, when one is initiated in a new way of life, it is like an awakening or a new birth. The person sees life so differently from this point of time, it is like a metamorphosis, a complete transformation. Family members and close friends observing the person from an external perspective may wonder: what happened to the person we knew, where did he go, who is this new person? 

We may not think of ourselves as evil or wicked, but all the same all of us do have certain tendencies, perhaps a tendency to manipulate people to get what you want, lying to create a certain image about yourself, being unkind to animals. There are many little actions that we do knowing they are not really appropriate, you may not consider them as evil. When you think of evil, you think of serial killers and dictators, you think of genocides and torture. No doubt these kind of people are evil, but we all have a little bit of the wicked in us. 

Getting to know oneself at all levels can create situations where you seem to be in conflict with the conventions of society. Sages, who were truthful and honest were prosecuted, not just in the tradition of Sanatana Dharma but in all traditions throughout the world. Getting to know the lower self and going beyond it to the higher Self is part of the journey. However, exploring the darker side of the personality is an Tantric aspect that is tabu in all societies. This is why these teachings are not for the general public. These teachings are only for those students who are already prepared. 

Verses 38-42: Blind Faith vs Reasoned Faith

Reading about spirituality can inspire us, the lives of great sages may motivate us, the experiences that they share with us give us confidence that  we too can do it but these stories cannot give us freedom. To attain freedom direct knowledge of pure consciousness is required. Only those who have faith can attain it. A doubting mind will lead you to confusion. This faith is not blind faith but reasoned faith. It is based on experience. Having had a glimpse, you will keep walking on this path, irrespective of the difficulties and obstacles. You keep practicing your meditation daily, even though it is not easy to look at oneself day after day. Step by step, you strengthen your sankalpa shakti and attain more glimpses until one day you are established in eternal knowledge that will lead you to the Supreme. 

Now nobody can talk you out of it. Once you have seen the sun rising in the morning, you know it chase away the darkness of the night.  No amount of scientific and logical reasoning will convince you otherwise. So also when you see even a short glimpse of the dazzling sun of eternal knowledge, you know it will chase away the darkness of ignorance.

Chapter 5 Verses 1-5: Sannyasa or Householder Yoga?

Arjuna wants to know which is the superior path, the path of external renunciation or the path of the householder yogi. Sri Krishna response is very clear: Both lead to the Highest, but between the two, Karma yoga or the path of the householder yogi is superior. 

Why is Karma yoga superior? Ultimately renunciation is not merely about tyaga, renouncing worldly objects. Internal renunciation is non-attachment. The one who is beyond opposites, such a one is released from bondage. As long as you are not attached to the these objects, you can enjoy those objects and be released from the bondage.

Manifestation of samskaras is a very important aspect of our development, if we do not have the opportunity to live out certain samskaras it will cause terrible internal conflicts and hypocrisy. For example, if you take vows of celibacy and discover that you cannot reconcile your sexual desires, you would lead a life of hypocrisy and irresolvable internal conflicts. You cannot develop if you have internal conflicts. Internal conflict and a one-point of mind are two opposite things. To attain a one pointed mind you need to do a bit of both,: you need to develop non-attachment to worldly objects and the fruit of the actions, as well as allow certain desires or samskaras to be lived out.

The wise do not argue which is superior because both these paths lead to the Supreme good. Both are good provided they are followed properly.

So whatever path you follow, follow it completely and one day to your surprise, you will realize that both paths lead to the same place. Practice one path and you attain the fruit of both the paths! This is another way of saying, “action in inaction” and “inaction in action”.  You will find that you are living in the world, but yet you are witnessing. Or you will find you are sitting in meditation, but yet you are experiencing everything in your meditation. Either path you take, you come to the heights of Paramvairagya, or Supreme Non-attachment. We are not talking about a householder who is leading a materialistic life, we are talking about a householder who is on the path of karma yoga, a dedicated practitioner, who is conscious of a deeper purpose. Such a householder and a sanyasi are not far apart. If you are established in eternal wisdom and you are a child of the divine, a ripple in the ocean of pure consciousness, then it really does not matter, what your name is, what you look like and what you do. 

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