The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 6

The Bhagavad Gita translated by Antonio T. De Nicolas

The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 6

The Yoga of Meditation


The Blessed One said:
1. He who does the action that has to be done
But without resting on its fruit,
Is a man of disciplined engagement in action, 
He is a yogin, a man of renunciation, 
And not he who is without sacrificial fire and without ritual actions.

2. What is called renunciation, 
Know it to be the disciplined engagement in action, O Son of Pāndu. 
For no one becomes a yogin 
Who has not renounced compulsive purpose.

3. Action is the medium for the sage
who desires to ascend to yoga; 
Tranquillity is the medium of him
who has already ascended to such yoga.

4. For when one has renounced all compulsive purpose
And Is attached neither to actions nor to sense-objects,
He is then said to have ascended to yoga.

5. Let a man lift his self by his own self; 
Let him not lower himself; 
One’s self alone is one’s own self’s friend and foe.

6. One’s self is friend of one’s self when self-conquered; 
But the self of one not so self-possessed, 
Becomes hostile like an enemy.

7. The higher self of one who is
self-conquered and at peace, 
Is composed amidst cold and heat,
pleasure and pain, honor and dishonor.

8. The yogin who is satisfied with wisdom and understanding, 
Who is unshaken, with his senses conquered, 
To whom gold, a stone, a clod of earth are the same, 
Is said to be disciplined.

9. He excels whose understanding is the same, 
Amidst the well-disposed, the friendly,
the neutral arbiter and hostile, 
Amidst enemies and allies, 
Amidst the righteous and the sinful.

10. Let the yogin always concentrate his mind, 
Living alone in solitude, his mind and self restrained, 
Without cravings and (longing for) possessions.

11. Let him fix for himself on a clean place a firm seat, 
Which is neither too high nor too low, 
Made of Kuśa grass, a deerskin, and a cloth,  
One over the other.

12. Sitting on that seat, making his mind one-pointed, 
Controlling the activity of his mind and senses, 
Let him engage in yoga for the purification of the self.

13. Let him hold his body, neck, and head erect and motionless, 
Looking fixedly at the tip of his nose, 
Not looking in any direction.

14. And having his thoughts on me, absorbed in me, 
With the self calm and free from fear 
And keeping his vow of celibacy, 
Let him sit disciplined.

15. Thus continually disciplining himself and with his mind controlled, 
He attains peace, the supreme bliss, 
That which exists in me.

16. Yoga is not for one who eats too much or not at all. 
It is not for him, Arjuna, who sleeps too much or too little.

17. For one whose enjoyment of food and pleasure is disciplined, 
Whose engagement in actions is disciplined, 
Whose sleeping and waking are disciplined, 
Yoga becomes a destroyer of sorrow.

18. When one’s controlled mind abides in one’s self alone, 
Freed from yearning, 
Then one is said to be disciplined.

19. Unflickering, like a lamp in a sheltered place: 
So the man of disciplined thought 
Practicing yoga of the self.

20. That in which thought ceases, 
Stopped by the practice of disciplined concentration, 
And in which, seeing himself through himself, 
One is content in himself; 

21. That in which he knows that which is boundless happiness, 
Beyond the senses but perceivable by understanding, 
And in which, established, 
He knows this and swerves not from the truth;

22. That which, having obtained it, 
One thinks there is no further gain beyond it, 
And in which he is established, 
By no sorrow, however heavy, is he shaken;

23. Let this disengagement of the connection with sorrow 
Be known as yoga. 
This yoga is to be practiced with determination, 
With a mind free from depression.

24. Abandoning entirely all desires originating in compulsive purpose, 
Having exercised restraint on every side 
Over all the senses by the mind,

25. Let him be stilled little by little, 
Through understanding firmly grounded; 
And fixing his mind on the self, 
Let him not set his thoughts on anything else.

26. Having restrained the mind, restless, unsteady, 
From whatever it goes out to, 
Let him bring it into the control of his self alone.

27. Indeed, the highest happiness comes to the yogin 
Whose mind is peaceful, In whom passions are at rest,
Who is sinless, has become Brahman.

28. Continually exercising himself in disciplined-concentration in this way, 
The yogin free from his sin, 
Easily attains to the boundless happiness in touch with Brahman.

29. The one whose self is disciplined by yoga, 
Sees the self abiding in every being 
And sees every being in the self; 
He sees the same in all beings.

30. He who sees me everywhere, and sees all in me, 
I am not lost to him, and he is not lost to me.

31. He who standing in oneness, 
Worships me abiding in all beings, 
Exists in me, whatever happens.

32. When one sees the pleasure or pain of others 
To be equal to one’s own, O Arjuna, 
He is considered the highest yogin.

Arjuna said:
33. You have proclaimed yoga of sameness, O Madhusūdana, 
But I do not see a firm grounding of this yoga 
Because of man’s restlessness.

34. Restless, indeed, is the mind, O Krsna,
It is turbulent, strong and hard.
It’s restraint, I think, would be as difficult to accomplish as controlling the wind.

The Blessed One said:
35. Doubtless, Strong-Armed, the mind is restless and hard to restrain, 
But by practice and nonattachment, It can be held, Son of Kuntī.

36. Yoga is impossible to attain with an unrestrained self: So I think. 
But it can be attained with a controlled self In skillful ways.

Arjuna said:
37. What way does one go, O Krsna, 
Who is undisciplined but possesses faith, 
And whose mind swerves away from yoga 
Before he has obtained the ultimate fulfillment in yoga?

38. Fallen from both, not having become firm, 
And bewildered over the path to Brahman, 
Does he not perish, O Strong-Armed, 
Like a severed rain cloud?

39. You must cut off completely this doubt of mine, O Krsna, 
For there is no remover of this doubt 
Other than you to be found.

The Blessed One said:
40. Son of Prthā, neither in this world nor the next
Does such a one know destruction.
For, my dear one, no one who does good goes to an evil end.

41. Having attained the worlds of the meritorious, 
Having dwelled there many years, 
The one who has fallen from yoga Is born
In a house of the pure and prosperous.

42. Or else he is born in a family of wise yogins: 
Of course, such a birth in the world is more difficult to obtain.

43. There, he gains the mental traits of his previous embodiment, 
And once more from that point 
He strives for fulfillment, O Joy of the Kurus.

44. By his previous practise alone, 
He is carried onward, 
Even without willing this. 
He who desires the knowledge of yoga is beyond the Vedic rule.

45. But the yogin who strives with perseverance,
Who is purified of sin,
And is perfected through many lives
Goes to the highest goal.

46. The yogin is greater than the ascetic, 
He is considered greater than the men of knowledge; 
He is greater than doers of ritual works: 
Therefore, become a yogin, O Arjuna.

47. Of all yogins, the one who full of faith, 
Worships me with his inner self given over to me, 
I consider him to be nearest to my vision. 

This is the end of the sixth chapter, entitled
“The Yoga of Meditation”

About Sunday morning

Sunday Morning Contemplation is informed by Eastern and Western contemplative traditions. The first, lectio divina has its origins in 6th century Europe. It unfolds in four steps or stages: reading (lectio), reflecting (meditatio), responding (oratio), and silent abiding (contemplatio). Our Eastern inspiration come from the Indian Upanishads (800-200 BCE), where contemplative practice consists of three steps or stages: listening (śravana), reflecting (manana), and meditating (nididhyāsana or dhyāna). Our contemplative practice on Sundays embraces both approaches, and each contemplation will be based on a reading from either tradition.

The texts and teachers I have chosen played a significant role in my life and I believe have much to offer. I will read presellected texts, slowly, with pauses between verses or quotes. The readings will be accompanied by soothing background music. To lessen distraction, I suggest participants close their eyes and listen. However, the screen will display the text so that people can choose to read along or mute the sound and read on their own. If there is time remaining after the contemplative period, participants can choose to either leave or stay for a short discussion.

As a preface to the reading, I will provide a 10-15 minute introduction to the text. When relevant, I’ll review facts about the author/teacher’s life. I will also present a brief explanation of the terms and language encountered in the reading.

Finally, when the contemplation is over, all texts read will be available online to read and/or download at any time on the website.

What I mean by
The Symbolic Life

This website makes liberal use of classical Indian visual art and refers mostly to traditional Indian texts (for example, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras) in the courses, seminars, and discussions on offer. However, I am not presenting lessons in Hinduism; in fact, teaching mainstream Hinduism is neither my area of interest nor expertise. Rather, my interest in Yoga and Tantra is grounded in the concrete situation in which we find ourselves, in the places where we arrive and from which we depart. Beginning in the here and now, we will explore the underlying meaning of the symbols, stories, images, philosophies, and techniques found in Indian philosophical texts and practice, in light of our world and our current circumstance. We will excavate the meaning of the aphorisms and teaching stories; the symbolic figures of gods, people, and nature; and the sometimes terse, sometimes poetic, philosophy of the texts. Thus, in referring to the Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra, I mean not just the symbols themselves, but the rich explication of life that the symbols represent.

Our lived, concrete situation is wonderfully captured in the Sanskrit word loka, whose ancient meaning is “the world.”  The root meaning of both the Sanskrit loka and the English locate (and local, locale, and location) is identical. In the ancient Indian mind, the world is where we are located, in our current circumstance. Thus, the meaning of the symbols of Yoga and Tantra can occur only in the now, in the places where we find ourselves, and not in any imagined ancient and/or foreign world.

To emphasize our place of origin and return, I use the terms “archetypal” and “symbolic” quite frequently. Archetypal meaning is associated with the universal and collective aspects of human experience—what we intimately share with all others regardless of culture or era or epoch—while symbolic language forms a bridge between the realms of the universal with the culturally specific and local. Symbols are the scaffolding upon which human beings build a world and imbue it with meaning.

Think for a moment of pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, hatred and love, and greed and generosity—universal experiences that ancient Indian thinkers called the dvandva-s. This Sanskrit term is a combination of two words, or rather, one word spoken twice: the word dva (meaning the same as the English “two”) duplicated. Dvandva is commonly translated as “the pair of opposites” or literally “the two-twos” (dvadva). The ancients who coined this compact symbol gave voice to an archetypal human experience that can be further unpacked to reveal deep insights into the human condition. Once we gain an understanding of the various symbols of Yoga and Tantra, we can further excavate their meaning and the archetypes they convey, and thus gain access to, in a practical and meaningful way, the vision of life experienced by the sages. These insights are available to us and are still relevant today, as are the resilient and adaptable techniques and forms of practice that can help us lead richer and more fulfilling lives