Practical Yoga, Real Nirvana

2:6 The Results of Duty-Yoga

Arjuna asks, “Tell me about the qualities of those deep people who have realized practical intelligence, and thus attained samādhi. What do they say? How do they sit still? How do they walk around?” [54]

Krishna replies, “A ‘person with practical intelligence’ is totally freed from all the desires that roam the mind. He is fully satisfied by his own soul. [55] A ‘deep person’ is not aggravated by the mind’s pleasures and displeasures. She is a sage, free from passions, fears, and frustrations. [56] She has no special affection for anything, never strives for any good or evil, never especially praises nor criticizes; she is fixed in ‘realized intelligence.’ [57]”

The intelligent yogi experiences happiness from its source: within his own self. Therefore he naturally has no interest in complicated and confusing pursuit of happiness through external means – in sensuality. Desires always roam the human mind, just as advertisements always appear in the media. But the intelligent yogi finds them boring and unimportant.

Because she is not aggravated by sensual advertisements, the intelligent yogi develops no greeds, and therefore has no fears or frustrations. She neither hates nor loves the sensual world; she is interested in something else entirely.

“A person fixed in intelligence withdraws his senses from sense objects, just like a turtle withdraws all its limbs. [58] He does not do so by force, struggling to repress enjoyment while still hungry for pleasure. He does so naturally, being attracted to a superior experience of spiritual pleasure. [59] It is not possible to control the senses by force. They will bewilder even the most careful persons. [60] A person fixed in intelligence engages all his senses spiritually in me. Thus they easily come under his control. [61].”

This is an absolutely key section of Gītā, and a large portion of the rest of the book is based on the premise introduced here. Krishna recommends practical yoga – “intelligence put into practice.” Practitioners of such yoga control their mind and senses very easily and naturally, not by frustrated attempts at forced repression, but by enjoying a superior pleasure that comes directly from within the soul.

Practical yogis actively engage their senses and mind in Krishna, the Supreme Person. This brings a delightful experience of Rasa (ecstatic joy) from the depths of their very souls. Immersed in such delights, the mind and senses of the practical yogi have no interest in returning to any inferior subjects.

Arjuna may wonder why it is so impossible to control the senses by brute force of repression, so Krishna explains how repression inevitably leads to ruination:

“When we contemplate a sense object, we develop feelings for it. From these, desire arises. From desire, frustration arises. [62] Frustration and anger completely confuse us, and from confusion we forget our principles. When principles are forgotten, we make unintelligent choices. These unintelligent choices are our ruination. [63]

Frustration inevitably results from desire, because it is impossible to satisfy desires fully due to (a) the impermanent nature of the object we desire, and (b) the impermanent nature of our own senses.

“A person who casts off attachments and repulsions makes sincere effort to carefully regulate her interactions with sensuality. This attracts divine compassion. [64] Divine compassion destroys all her sorrow and distress. Her happy heart very soon becomes steady in practical intelligence. [65]

It is impossible to divorce oneself entirely from sensual life, but the sincere effort to do so attracts the compassion of the divine. Divine compassion (“prasāda”) is essential for the success of a practical yogi.

“Without divine compassion it’s impossible to attain practical intelligence, nor can the heart exhibit its inherent joy. Without joy there is no peace of mind, and without peace of mind how can there be pleasure? [66]

“The senses are like the wind and the mind is like a sailboat. Wherever the eye roams, the mind and heart follow. Sensuality can therefore destroy and replace intelligence. [67] So, Arjuna, try to control your senses and stop them from dragging you towards their own destinations. You are a big warrior, but can you control this force?  Only one whose intelligence is strong can defeat this foe! [68]

Practical yoga is to engage the mind and senses in divine activity centered upon the divine cynosure: Krishna. Practical intelligence allows the senses to perceive a different realm altogether – a divine realm, not a self-sensual one. Krishna illustrates this:

“When intellect controls your senses you will be alert to things that ordinary people consider fantasy; and what they perceive as real you will know to be fantasy. [69]

Arjuna may doubt, “How can anyone forego the powerful force of their own selfish desires?” So Krishna explains…

“Be like the ocean: Despite always being filled by the incessant flow of rivers, it remains steady and does not rise. A person who similarly tolerates the incessant flow of sensual desires achieves peace of mind. A person who tries to satisfy all these desires never knows peace. [70]

The only way the ocean can accomplish this is because it is huge. Similarly, the crux of practical yoga is to allow the soul to become bigger and more important in your life.

“By tolerating sensuality a human being becomes free from longing, free from possessiveness, free from egoism, and attains peace. [71]

“Arjuna, this spiritual path never results in confusion. Following this path to the end leads one to spiritual emancipation (“nirvāṇa”). [72]”


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