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From confusion to clarity – part II PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

esa te 'bhihita sankhye
buddhir yoge tv imam srnu
buddhya yukto yaya partha
karma-bandham prahasyasi


Thus far I have declared to you the analytical knowledge of sankhya philosophy. Now listen to the knowledge of yoga whereby one works without fruitive result. O son of Prtha, when you act by such intelligence, you can free yourself from the bondage of works. ||2:39||

nehabhikrama-naso 'sti
pratyavayo na vidyate
svalpam apy asya dharmasya
trayate mahato bhayat


In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear. ||2:40||

vyavasayatmika buddhir
ekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-sakha hy anantas ca
buddhayo 'vyavasayinam


Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one (eka-budhi). O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched. ||2:41||

In our last column we explored the distinctions between gyan (wisdom), buddhi (intellect) and man (mind). We also briefly talked about vaasanas (desire) and indriyas (sense organs) and its relationship with man (mind).

As I mentioned before the word yoga has been used liberally in Gita. Any technique that leads to a centering growth, in my mind is Yoga. We all have a center, but live off of the center. As we grow, we have the possibility of also moving towards the center. We have in our earlier columns conceptualized a conical growth versus a cylindrical growth. We all grow in age and while growing we acquire knowledge through education and prosper by accumulating wealth. This growth is a cylindrical growth. There is virtually no change in the state of being. It remains off center.

When Krishna uses the word yoga, he is signifying a centering process as well as a vertical growth. This is similar to an ant trying to go up a cone. As it winds up the cone, it goes towards the center as well. Patanjali defines Yoga as cessation of mind (yogaschitta vritti nirodhaya). Of course, this definition is more accurate. What we have to understand is that man (mind) is what keeps us on the periphery. In other words, once the mind is dropped, centering happens. We can also say that once you are centered, mind is not the master. Cessation of mind is not similar to non-existence of mind. Krishna has explained this relationship between man (mind) buddhi (intellect) and gyan (wisdom) beautifully in later chapters. Krishna wants us to understand that normally we let the indriya-vaasana-mind complex be the master and run our lives. And this according to Krishna is the problem. It is similar to a secretary running your office. The CEO has to follow orders from his secretary. In some ways whole effort of Krishna in Gita is to change this hierarchy. Krishna’s effort is to reverse the order. He wants the state of being and buddhi (intellect) to be running our lives and not the indriya-vaasana-man complex. We will explore this fully later in Gita.

In our last column we touched two techniques that are helpful in this path from confusion to clarity. Awareness is one of the keys. First of all, one needs to be aware of the necessity for a change. A thirst or a hunger has to be there. Duryodhana knows what he wants. He does not have any qualms about it. Gita starts with a simple question from Dhritrashtra. And the question is as to what is going on in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Then Duryodhan’s perspective is outlined. And Duryodhana wants to win. He is a great soldier and also a good leader. He has organized an invincible army.

Then we come upon Arjuna’s perspective. His awareness is at a slightly higher level compared to Duryodhana. He is sensitive to what is going on and what kinds of effects this war might bring upon to real human beings. This sensitivity actually is so intense that Arjuna becomes emotional and almost paralyzed. He drops his bow and arrow and declares that he will not fight. Gita calls this as Vishad (despair) yoga. And we have discussed in our prior column how Vishad (despair) can be yoga. The awareness in any crisis is heightened and need for change is paramount in such situations. Krishna takes hold of this as an opportunity to give Arjuna the peak experiences of his life. Krishna teaches Arjuna all the centering techniques during the course of Gita. And how fortunate are we that who can participate in this event in our times.

Awareness is the key to almost every known meditation or yoga technique. Whether it is a sitting meditation (vipassana) or it is chanting of mantra, if you are not aware of what is going on, you are not meditating. Sleeping with awareness or flying with awareness, a life with awareness is a life with meditation. And this awareness slowly and slowly brings closer to the center. When the centering happens, awareness remains. Awareness is not an effort any more. The mind does not go anywhere to such a man.

But, this does not just happen. Effort is needed in the beginning. Mind (man) is a wanderer by nature. And it is easy to slip and loose awareness. The indryias and mind hijack the whole individual many a times. We all go to loo-loo-land several times a day. Daydreaming is not that uncommon. And when Arjuna asks this question to Krishna, Krishna talks about the Abhyas (practice) yoga. We all know the saying that ‘Practice makes a man perfect.’ This saying applies to yoga as well.

Arjuna is in despair. He is down and depressed. His eyes are teary and his limbs trembling. And, Krishna just smiles. We have discussed this divine smile in our column before and how I feel that this smile was because Krishna could see more than what Arjuna could. Krishna then talks about the timing issue. How Arjuna’s intellectual arguments against the war was so untimely. The war was already there. Why did Arjuna not think of it before the war? Arjuna always wanted to fight and now when the war is knocking ate door, he goes numb. Arjuna was smart. His logic is great. Arjuna asks the question as to how killing a Guru could have anything to do with timing. Killing a Guru is always wrong. And this is when Krishna tells Arjuna that Arjuna is on the wrong track. And here is when the Gyan yoga starts.

It is interesting that the first yoga that Krishna describes is Gyan yoga. Gyan yoga is to do with the state of being. Knowing is enough. No effort is needed. This is also called Sankhya yoga. Kapila was one of the proponents of Sankya yoga and so was J. Krishnamurthy. Knowing not knowledge is all you need. Wisdom is enough. Rest will follow. It is interesting also because in our understanding of gyan, buddhi and man, gyan is the first. That is the order Krishna will like us to work. The next yoga Krishna will talk about is the buddhi yoga and then go on from there. All these are Krishna’s efforts to bring arjuna’s state of being of confusion to that of clarity. Mind is confusion and gyan is clarity. We will summarize the Gyan yoga aspect in our next column, “From confusion to clarity III.”

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