In the Bhagavad Gita, dharma has dropped and 2 opposing sides have drawn up for battle on the Kurukshetra plains of India. Many of the warriors are siddhas, able to hit their targets without fail. Prince Arjuna, leader of the Pandavas, is offered either Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, or his army to assist him. He chooses Krishna. They ride a chariot out between the 2 battle lines and a deep discussion ensues.
Arjuna sees the situation as impossible as it will only end in destruction. Krishna teaches him the value of right action, of restoring dharma, and of Yoga, withdrawing from the senses through transcending the mind and thus discovering the deeper reality within. Established in Yoga, the intellect is unwavering, the mind is clear, and action effective. Arjuna’s enlightenment unfolds.
The turbulent senses, O son of Kunti,
forcibly carry away the mind even of
a discerning man who endeavours
(to control them)…
Pondering on objects of the senses,
a man develops attachment for them;
from attachment springs up desire,
and desire gives rise to anger.
From anger arises delusion;
from delusion unsteadiness of memory;
from unsteadiness of memory destruction of intellect;
through the destruction of the intellect he perishes.
But he who is self-disciplined,
who moves among the objects of the senses
with the senses freed from attachment
and aversion and under his own control,
he attains to ‘grace’.
– Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, verse 60, 62-4
Translation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
In the first verse, Krishna describes how attachment to the objects of our senses leads the mind here and there.
Attachment leads to a desire for more. The frustration of that desire leads to anger. This leads to stress and action against life. Yet the cause is attachment, not life.
Railing against our life leads to mistaken ideas, like that we’re not good enough or expecting life owes us something. This is delusion. Delusion leads to mistakes of memory as we’re out of touch with the reality of our life.
Without a stable perspective of life and with faulty memory, the intellect cannot distinguish the truth and makes bad choices. That can lead to our demise.
We’re seeing this being acted out in the world now. Delusion and “fake news” are widespread, with many confused about what is true.
Most of us don’t fall quite as far as death, but we can certainly get ourselves twisted in delusion. Without the anchor of the Self within, we are adrift on the ocean of change, samsara.
Notice how he says in the first verse this happens even for the person trying to control the senses. This is a key point that is often missed – especially with verses like the last. “Under his own control” suggests this is the means. However, the first verse has said otherwise.
The key is “freed from attachment.” Otherwise, the senses are still in charge. How do we free attachments? By transcending the mind and intellect and experiencing our true nature within.
This also develops a stable platform for the intellect (which becomes resolute with Self Realization) and we progress back up the chain, resolving memory, delusion, anger, and attachment.
He whose intellect is united (with the Self)
casts off both good and evil [duality] even here.
Therefore, devote yourself to Yoga.
Yoga is skill in action.
– Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, verse 50
What is Yoga?
Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind
Then the observer is established in the Self [in his own nature].
– Yoga Sutra of Patanjali Chapter 1, verse 2-3
This brings the ability to be self-disciplined naturally, without trying. Free of attachment, we achieve grace.
Another important part from this chapter:
You have control [choice] over action alone,
never over its fruits [results].
Live not for the fruits of action,
nor attach yourself to inaction.
Established in Yoga, O winner of wealth,
perform actions having abandoned attachment
and having become balanced in success and failure,
for balance of mind is called Yoga.
– Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, verse 47-8
In this case, the Yoga is established. Established in Yoga is established in the Self or Self Realized. The mind is balanced because the drivers described earlier are resolved, the intellect is resolute, and the Self is established.
The Bhagavad Gita is a brilliant discourse on living a practical and fulfilled life.