Krishna gives us a few steps in Bhakti; which is twofold–one is sadhana bhakti as a means, which we have been talking about until now, and the other is in terms of fulfillment, in terms of identification with Reality upon knowing the truth which will also be called bhakti. Both make up the 12th chapter.
In response to Arjuna’s question in verse 1 of this chapter Krishna says, `Contemplate on the Reality if you are ready for it’.
Mayyeva mana adhatsva mayi buddhim niveshaya |
nivashisyasi mayyeva ata urdhvam na samshayaha ||8||
In me alone may you place the mind; in Me you may place the intellect. Thereafter, there is no doubt that you will abide in Me alone.
In Vedanta, we don’t assume that the student is not ready. We respect the student, we give the student the benefit of doubt. In fact, we assume that as the teaching is being imparted, the prepared student will grasp it. If he is not that well-prepared, then some contemplation on Reality is recommended and the student should be able to get it.If that is difficult, then Krishna advises contemplation on Ishwara.
Atha cittam samadhatum na saknosi mayi sthiram |
abhyasayogena tato mam icchaptum dhananjaya ||9||
If you are not able to absorb your mind steadily in Me, Dhananjaya(Arjuna)! then through the practice of yoga may you seek to reach Me.
If that is also difficult, then, he says, do abhyasa yoga i.e keep trying, put in sincere efforts… Don’t give up easily, don’t give up if you don’t see results on the first day, because you are meditating on Ishwara now and there are a lot of details that require your attention. It is easier to think of Ishwara than of the non-conceptual Reality.
Abhyase’pyasamartho’si matkarmaparamobhava |
madartham api karmani kurvan siddhim avapsyasi ||10||
If you don’t have the capacity for practice (of this yoga) either, may you become one for whom action dedicated to Me is paramount. Even doing actions for my sake you will gain success.
If you can’t do that either, because you are worried about something or are distracted by your desires, if you can’t contemplate because you are troubled by all these things, then, he says, live a life of karma yoga. The karma yoga lifestyle will focus only on duties and contemplation.
athaitadapyasakto’ si kartum madyogam ashritah |
sarvakarmaphalatyagam tatah kuru yatatmavan ||11||
If you are not able to do even this, being one whose commitment is dedicating all actions to Me, then, with a disciplined mind, give up the results of all actions(to Me).
If focusing on duties is difficult because you have so many likes and dislikes, then, Krishna says, take care of your likes and dislikes in the spirit of karma yoga with Ishwara arpanam buddhi and prasada buddhi i.e looking at my actions as an offering/worship to Ishwara and the results as grace from the Lord.
The Bhagavad Gita gives us so many methods; this ensures that nobody is left out, everyone can start from wherever he or she is. You could start with karma yoga, expose yourself to Vedanta, then contemplate on Ishwara and, further, move on to the contemplation of Reality….But the Gita stops here. But what if a person doesn’t even have karma yoga buddhi to start with? That is where the other books, like the Puranas, etc., come in—these books have stories of Gods which can help one make an emotional connect and pray for the fulfillment of one’s desires, etc. So, you see, you can start from any point and go all the way up to fulfillment. People who are well-informed, effective, well-educated can definitely start with karma yoga and then go ahead to knowing the truth. Vedic literature is so vast that nobody can relate to everything and nobody has to relate to everything.
A contemplative mind is an effective mind. A mind that is tense, agitated, over-excited, or stressed cannot function effectively. A contemplative person– like a Zen master or a Vajra-mushti/Samurai warrior–has reached his peak of effectiveness with contemplation. For him it is natural to be calm and centered in all functioning. The common person i.e the vast majority of us believe we can be effective only when we are excited or pumped up. I will illustrate the limitations of this thinking with a small story. I would also like to highlight here the importance of a contemplative mind. It is not only for moksha, but you also need it for your day-to-day life as the following story shows…
Tom, a Shakespearean actor, was finding it difficult to get roles because he couldn’t remember his lines. One day Tom received a call. “This is urgent, Tom,’’ the caller told him. “An actor has fallen down and broken his leg, and, therefore, can’t take the stage. Would you like to take his role?’’ “Sure,’’ said Tom, “but what about the dialogues?….I need time to read the dialogues…’’ There is only one line to be learnt, Tom was informed. “When you go on stage, you will hear a cannon shot and all you have to say is, `Hark, is that a cannon shot we hear?’ Can you do that much?’’ Oh, that’s easy, said Tom. As he dressed up for the part, he kept repeating, `Hark, is that a cannon shot I hear?’ He kept repeating it in the cab on the way to the theatre. Backstage, they slapped his make-up on and pushed him on to the stage. The cannon boomed. And Tom’s reflex response to that was, “What the hell was that?’’ He was so worried about his line that he forgot to say it at the crucial moment. Instead, he responded to the cannon shot just as he would have if it was real. Had Tom developed a contemplative mind instead, he would have said what was expected of him. So, you see, it’s not only for knowing the truth that one needs a contemplative mind, one needs it in every sphere of life.
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