Like the river that offers its water to all, the wise man has compassion for everyone...

Like the river that offers its water to all, the wise man has compassion for everyone…

In the twelfth verse of the same chapter, Krishna literally bowls us over. He says, `Knowledge is better than your practice of meditation..’ Then he says, `Compared to knowledge, meditation is better…Compared to meditation, karma yoga is better….’ Why? Because the peace is immediate. But what Krishna is saying seems highly contradictory, because your practice of contemplation does not deliver the goods. You have to know what you’re contemplating on. However, contemplation backed with knowledge is fine, that’s the right thing to do, because the whole thing is meant for owning up the knowledge. But to own up the knowledge you need meditation. Therefore, he gives it a spin by saying `Dhyanam is better’, because to own up the knowledge you need meditation. He says, `Compared to dhyana, karma yoga is better’, because if you have not been able to free yourself from worry and anxiety by living a life of karma-yoga, then you will not be able to contemplate either.

In karma yoga, he says, the peace is immediate, because you have chosen to accept the result. Success, failure, good, bad, ugly—there’s a sense of acceptance. This `acceptance’ here, he technically presents as `tyaga’, giving up’. Once you learn to accept, then where is your worry and anxiety? Therefore, he gives the whole thing a little twist to draw your attention to the fact that the base of the whole pursuit of moksha is karma-yoga….So karma-yoga is not about working without expecting results, but working with a high degree of prioritization with the attitude of ishwara-arpana-buddhi and prasada-buddhi as well as pursuing the knowledge of the truth in life.

Further, there are a few verses dealing with the question `Who is a wise person?’. One who hates nobody–this person may not like somebody, he may feel that certain things are wrong but there is no hatred in him. The wise person is friendly to everyone, Krishna adds, he has compassion for everyone, he is free from the sense of ownership, there is no false ego in him, and he has a sense of balance in joyful as well as sorrowful situations. Krishna is highlighting the same thing he had said in the seventh chapter.[pullquote]Krishna is talking here about `emotional independence’. What he means is that the wise person is not dependent on anyone to make him happy, because he has already discovered that the source of happiness is himself. That is why a wise person is called `Ananda’.[/pullquote]

Besides giving us a description of the wise person, he also tells us about the one who is on the track. This person is always cheerful, he is of firm resolve, he who is making an effort to know the truth, and is totally committed to Ishwara. That person is very dear to me, says Krishna.

Advesta sarvabhutanam maitrah karuna eva ca

Nirmamo nirahankarah samaduhkhasukhah ksami

The one who has no hatred for all beings, who has the disposition of a friend, who is compassionate, free from possessiveness, free from doership, equal in pleasant and unpleasant (situations), and indeed, one who is naturally accommodative  (Verse 13)

Santustah satatam yogi yatatma drdhaniscayah

Mayyarpitamanobuddiryo madbhaktah sa me priyah

… the one who is completely satisfied, who is always united, who has mastery over his mind, whose ascertainment is firm, whose mind and intellect are resolved in Me, who is My devotee, is beloved to Me  (Verse14)

Krishna continues: One who is not troubled by the world and nor does he trouble the world, one who is free from emotional yo-yo-ing, such a person is a wise person. To all these qualities, Krishna also adds, `the one who is not dependent’. Take the case of all of us living in the city. The city does not produce anything, it only consumes. Food, water, electricity, etc., all these things come from outside and we are dependent on all these things. Then how can we call the wise person as one who is independent? Krishna is talking here about `emotional independence’. What he means is that the wise person is not dependent on anyone to make him happy, because he has already discovered that the source of happiness is himself. That is why a wise person is called `Ananda’. In a very beautiful description, he uses the word `udaaseena’. The literal translation of this word is `indifference’, but in Sanskrit it means the love and compassion with which the parent will allow the child to experiment and make a mistake and learn from it. This is how the wise person looks at the whole of society. He may know that the person is on the wrong track, he may point it out, and after that he will let the student be, he will let the student make the mistake and learn from it. This attitude of recognizing the autonomy of another person to such an extent that you’re ok if the person makes a mistake, you’re ok if the person burns his fingers, because he has to learn. This attitude is there towards the whole world—there is love, there is compassion, and, at the same time, there is a letting go, letting be. So this is not `indifference’ the way it is commonly understood. You could call this `indifference with a difference’. This sort of indifference recognizes that the person has to go through experiences in order to grow. The wise person allows another to make mistakes but he is there to offer support when needed.

The wise person is not a cold, unfeeling person; that is what most people understand the word `detachment’ to mean. It’s just that the wise person doesn’t yo-yo emotionally. A wise person is sincere enough to rejoice with people in a happy situation, to empathize with the sorrow of people in a sad situation, and at the same time remain independent of it. It’s a peculiar situation but that’s what makes the wise person a wise person.

Krishna ends by saying, `Those who follow this Vedic wisdom are definitely going to know the truth and gain moksha.’ I would like to add here that moksha is not something external nor internal for you to gain. Moksha is discovering my innate freedom from my sense of limitation, from my existential problems of isolation, disconnectedness, loneliness, purposelessness, etc. This happens to be the true nature of myself. Therefore, to know myself is to be free and enjoy a sense of fullness and completeness irrespective of the situations I find myself in. This is Vedic wisdom—the knowledge of the Gita.

 

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