What have people written as their spiritual goal?
– I want to have a clear understanding of my true nature. So at this point in time in order to achieve that, I work on अंतःकरणशुद्धि | So I approach all the different activities in my life with कर्म योग बुद्धि:, while also pursuing the study of वेदान्त |
– I need more time to inquire about myself and learn about वेदान्त/ भगवद्-गीता | And moreover Swaminiji’s podcast has been very helpful, as one thing has become very clear i.e. until I can do my studies on वेदान्त, I need to perform धर्म- my duty towards family, my parents and everyone. So that is my spiritual goal for now.
– To have more emotional maturity and grow in that aspect. As well as not get too carried away with my senses. And make new boundaries for me, as well as people around me~ outwards & inwards. And also bring in a little more balance in all my roles; not being in one role too much, so being able to balance that out. As well as taking out more time for self reflection and self contemplation. And also giving more thought towards what I’m reading, to be able to revisit these again, and in so doing hopefully grow more.
– To have reduced wants, and to have a mindset of an acceptance of all the events as ईश्वर प्रसादम् | And to have समत्वम् and कौशलम् as a lifestyle, and not just on hindsight or else I still end up being very reactive, and then in hindsight I feel like this is how I could have handled it better. So I really want to reach a state where there is equilibrium in acceptance of all the circumstances. How I intend on achieving it is by being a more ardent student of वेदान्त and by ensuring that I dive into this more deeply than what I am doing currently.
So, it is important to have clarity about the nature of the spiritual goal and also where I am at. There should be honesty, one is not deluding oneself, and that is most important.
There are the two lifestyles of कर्मयोग and साङ्ख्ययोग (lifestyle of a संन्यासी). And because of popular media and conditioning, we may think and believe wrongly that I am less because I am following the कर्मयोग lifestyle i.e. I am not able to have the maturity that is required. Then, from time to time I have this romantic fantasy called संन्यास | Or, sometimes I may think- Oh, I’m so glad I never went in that direction, because it’s possible that I may have been disillusioned by some of the संन्यासी-s that I have met. And so this कर्मयोग lifestyle works for me. So either way, we may have a view/certain position.
What is भगवान् श्री कृष्ण saying? And this is an important verse for anyone to refute the belief that कर्मयोग is less-
* श्लोक ५ *
यत्साङ्ख्यै: प्राप्यते स्थानं तद्योगैरपि गम्यते ।
एकं साङ्ख्यं च योगं च य: पश्यति स पश्यति ॥ ५॥
य: पश्यति – the one who sees,
साङ्ख्यम् & योगम् – साङ्ख्य referring to संन्यास and योग referring to कर्मयोग |
साङ्ख्यं च योगं च एकं – they are one.
With respect to what? With respect to स्थानं प्राप्यते |
So, the goal for a कर्मयोगी, and the goal for a संन्यासी is एकं/one |
Earlier you will remember that भगवान् said(श्लोक ४) that people who think that they are different, they are बाला:, they are childlike i.e. the prattling of an infantile mind. So, they don’t know, but they say that it’s different.
So that which is attained by साङ्ख्य/संन्यासी is that which is प्राप्तस्य प्राप्ति: i.e. it is a प्राप्ति (gain) of what is प्राप्तस्य (already gained). You are accomplishing what is already accomplished. But it is ‘gained’ little faster only because time, effort, energy spent in this pursuit exclusively is greater, perhaps, than for a कर्मयोगी |
But the same goal, तत् योगै: अपि गम्यते ~ so by कर्मयोग also, the same goal is attained.
What is the goal?
स्थानम् – generally, literally translated means place, but स्थानं can also refer to the goal/परमम्/पदम्, so different words are used.
So this same thing is reached by कर्मयोगी-s also. So when we use the word कर्मयोग, we mean it as-
(i) a lifestyle where we are pursuing धर्म, अर्थ, काम along with मोक्ष |
(ii) The second usage of कर्मयोग is in the context of the disposition i.e. what we bring to every कर्म that we do. So we transform our कर्म into कर्मयोग by the attitude of ईश्वर अर्पण बुद्धि: and प्रसाद बुद्धि: i.e. offering all our actions to ईश्वर, and being cheerful and graceful and gracious about receiving our कर्म |
(iii) The third usage of कर्मयोग is in the context of the purpose being अंतःकरणशुद्धि | अंतःकरणशुद्धि is not a goal in and of itself~ that I have emotional maturity, that I am free of रागद्वेष | And so what about it? Fine, you’re emotionally mature, so what? I am still a कर्ता, I am still a doer. I’ve learnt to manage my life well- I have कौशलम् & समत्वम्, so what about it?
समत्वम् is in terms of being a better भोका | So, earlier I had भोक्तृत्वम्~ I am the experiencer. Now, that भोक्तृत्वम् has been transformed into प्रसाद बुद्धि: i.e. I am being gracious, learning to accept. But who is the one who is doing this? You will say it is a भक्त/devotee- fine. Does a devotee experience प्रसाद? Yes. What does that make the devotee? भोका/experiencer. So still limited.
Therefore the goal of अंतःकरणशुद्धि is only preparation for मोक्ष |
अंतःकरणशुद्धि is not an end in itself. If it is an end in itself, there are two struggles that will happen-
1) If I am not a sufficient भक्त, I will whip myself black and blue, thinking- I don’t have freedom from रागद्वेष | I am still buffeted by the winds of what I must have, and what I should not have in my life, and the struggle/battle in my mind is just too much.
But when you see that all that is here is given, even the psychological order that is there, the influencing factors that have played a role in my life, it is all ईश्वर | Then the resistance reduces. Still, I am a भोका/experiencer.
So the शुद्धि is such that I am so free from रागद्वेष that when the गुरु is teaching the शास्त्र, my mind goes along with the words and I am able to say- yes, अहम् ब्रह्म अस्मि, yes that’s true.
Because understand that- when we listen, we are reacting often. Very rarely we are able to just listen without any sense of threat. Because sometimes you’re like- okay, I have to defend myself, or if I perceive some attack, then again we close up. So the heart is opening-closing, opening-closing. And often it’s closed only. And then I’m saying- no, no, this is not right, or it should not be said, or I want to hear more of this. So reaction, lots of reaction.
So in other parts of life, as I reduce the reactivity, by ईश्वर अर्पण बुद्धि: and प्रसाद बुद्धि:, then that same mind is available to me and वेदान्त | So, don’t think something radical is going to happen in वेदान्त class but it is not going to happen in the rest of your life. But of course, in वेदान्त class, you have the advantage that you don’t have to really do much. You just have to listen. Oh, but this just listen, is not just listen, it’s very difficult to listen without reactivity, to listen with surrender; That what is being wielded is the शास्त्र, I go along with it.
So you can see the kind of maturity that is required to listen to the शास्त्र | Because at a very subtle level we are reacting, and at a gross level definitely.
2)Then the कर्तृत्वम्- earlier I was a कर्ता ~ struggle struggle struggle. Because I’m always evaluating myself- did I do enough? Did I not do enough etc., all the time. Now that कर्तृत्वम्, that sense of doership is replaced by ईश्वर अर्पण बुद्धि: – that whatever is given to me, I make the most of it. A lot changes when you make this shift. Because you see~ body is given to me, mind is given to me, senses are given to me, so I make the most of what is possible. Then the anxiety, the stress, the constant hindsight thinking- should I have done, should I not have done; the furious mental activity reduces. But still ईश्वर अर्पण बुद्धि: means that still little कर्तृत्वम् is there. So that कर्तृत्वम् I am able to see that- that also is sustained by me the आत्मा |
So the lifestyle of a कर्मयोगी is to be able to have अंतःकरणशुद्धि, but the goal is very clear- it is मोक्ष | मोक्ष is the ultimate goal, it may not be my immediate goal, and that’s fine. But ultimate goal it is, so when there is little time, leisure etc. I pursue. So I am pursuing मोक्ष alongside other things.
And for such a person, anyway it is प्राप्तस्य प्राप्ति:, the goal is already reached- you are already the आत्मा, अकर्ता-अभोक्ता |
So, both the संन्यासी and the कर्मयोगी will definitely attain मोक्ष | This must be clear for everyone. And this is the verse you want to go back to. Because you will come across readings and translations, because remember we have FOMO (fear of missing out), so we will read this, we will read that, then somebody will say something, and then you say- oh, maybe I don’t have the maturity, etcetera, etcetera. No.
So right now, bringing up my child is very, very important. Yes, it is काम, but काम is a valid pursuit. And I do it as धार्मिक-ly as possible. And that is what will give me the maturity, because in being a भक्ता, you are worshipping at the altar of धर्म. That’s your worship- that every कर्म is offered to धर्म which is a manifestation of ईश्वर |
So you may not be doing a पूजा every moment, but through your कर्म, symbolically you are doing as in a typical puja- offering your flowers, waving the incense, and lighting the lamp.
So look at it- your life is blessed.
And the goal of मोक्ष is really recognizing that you were never away from yourself, you were always the आत्मा, just not recognized.
Then य: पश्यति स पश्यति – the one who sees that both कर्म योग and संन्यास are एकम् |
The lifestyles are geared towards one goal only, which is मोक्ष |
य: पश्यति स पश्यति – that is the person who really sees.
Otherwise you are just indicating your राग for one lifestyle.
* श्लोक ६ *
संन्यासस्तु महाबाहो दु:खमाप्तुमयोगत: ।
योगयुक्तो मुनिर्ब्रह्म नचिरेणाधिगच्छति ॥ ६॥
Still, it feels like कर्म is a burden for most of us, or some types of कर्म feel like a burden~ I don’t feel like doing, I don’t want to do, I wish I didn’t have to do etc., etc. So whether it is taking tough decisions on medical aspects for aging parents- I wish I didn’t have to do it, I wish someone would do it for me. Or decisions about which college/school the child needs to go to, how to bring up the child. And of course decisions at work, etcetera, etcetera. They feel like a burden, not all the time, sometimes. But surely संन्यास is easier…
But, भगवान् श्री कृष्ण sounds a word of caution. What is that? संन्यास is very difficult.
संन्यास: तु दु:खम् आप्तुम् अयोगत: – संन्यास will give you दु:ख/sorrow. If you ever choose this lifestyle, अयोगत: i.e. without having a life that is immersed in कर्म योग, it will only cause you दु:ख/sorrow.
Because ritually you have been absolved of all duties and responsibilities. The वेद that tells you how to live your life in the context of धर्म, अर्थ, काम, also says now you are free. You are not going to incur पापा if you don’t perform your responsibility. So one thinks- Wow, so this is great, I can choose whether I want to do certain things, or if I don’t, पापा doesn’t affect me. Therefore no suffering for me. No problem. Sounds wonderful.
But, do I have the maturity for संन्यास? In many ways, these two years of the pandemic have given us a glimpse of one aspect of what a संन्यास lifestyle might be like, because one’s activities were restricted. Of course, it was an external imposition because of the pandemic, but activities were restricted, engagement was restricted. Of course, at home depending on the numbers of people in your family, the activity may have just shot up, so that’s possible also. Still, you know the great dream we have- I will do nothing, I will be by myself, solitude here I come. Not everyone takes to it nicely. We all know how distracted we are. Because we can’t be with ourselves.
Now things have changed in terms of the customer care people calling us, but there used to be a time, maybe 10 years ago, and maybe even now it applies, that the wait is long, so they will say- you have to wait for one minute, somebody’s going to attend to you shortly etc. And they will play music, because they know that we can’t be with ourselves.
Or once upon a time when there used to be telephone booths, you would see all the doodles in the telephone booth. People enter the telephone booth and obviously nobody goes into it to draw, but distraction and fidgetiness is so much, there is so much buildup of energy and you have to do something so you draw.
Or like even now in this mistaken notion of multitasking, to just stay with something, even when just watching a movie- we are eating, we are drinking, we are talking – so maybe we are multitasking. That’s okay. But that बुद्धि: that I have to make the most of my time, and I have limited time on earth, so I have to do do do etc. What can I do? Maybe I can have two or three windows open when I’m even listening to वेदान्त class, maybe I can get notifications. So for certain things I do multitasking because it’s all routine, mechanical and I can manage two tasks, perhaps. But I’m talking about the orientation that then filters into all areas of life. That unless I’m multitasking, I’m wasting time. Look at what our modern living has done to us, we have become slaves.
So संन्यास, what do you have to do? Morning, afternoon, evening with the शास्त्र and that’s it.
So same thing? There is no innovation? ब्रह्मन् is the same, I am ब्रह्म that’s it. So you are reading, you are talking, you are discussing, you are teaching, all the way same.
So when we have retreats, after the third day, people start to get a little restless. This is an observation. Then we will introduce a different activity. Or if it’s in a place like Rishikesh, then we will say- okay, why don’t you go to this place, and of course there are some beautiful places to see also. So one is advised to do this different activity, for a change. Because the intensity is actually just an exclusive pursuit. But it may get too intense- my God, it’s too much to handle.
So this is संन्यास life- there is no scope for achievement. So if today I just did जप, okay great. But what did you achieve? So, if you are the kind of person who asks that question- what did you achieve, are you closer to your goal? Always evaluating, evaluating, then you can imagine you will go crazy in this lifestyle. Everything is relaxed.
Maybe one is not teaching either. There are a lot of संन्यासी-s who don’t teach. On the banks of Ganga they do some जप, some तपस and that’s it. Nothing more. What more is there to achieve in this life? Nothing. So we can see that just hearing all this makes us feel a little awkward.
What do you mean there is nothing to achieve? Look at world poverty, look at what is happening in Ukraine, etcetera, etcetera.
So a complete harmony that is born of कर्म योग | If I am immersed in that, only then I am suitable for a संन्यास lifestyle. Because ritually I have given up responsibilities. And therefore you’re not even earning for a living. So you have to be dependent on society for whatever they provide, if they provide that is.
So I have always lived a strong independent life. But now? In some ways, I am at the mercy of whatever society wants to provide for me. Not easy.
We define ourselves by how productive we are, right? What do you do? I do this ________. That same orientation comes as a वेदान्त student also. What are the texts that you have done? How many years you’ve been studying? It’s still about the pursuit- what you have done. And so to have a lifestyle where there is not even scope for increasing your maturity.
Some tasks can be given, but generally a संन्यासी is an independent person. So unless there is a setup like in Ramakrishna Mission or even Sivananda ashram, where a lot of संन्यासी-s have different designations, they have different positions in these well organized setups. So there you will be given something to do, whatever सेव is there in the ashram. So that much scope is there that you can work through your रागद्वेष-s. But scope is very limited. Your opportunities for learning, and for growing in the context of अंतःकरणशुद्धि are limited because there is decreased interaction with society.
You can’t go partying, and you can learn a lot when you go dancing. You’re not going to work as such. You’re not earning for a living. You’re not struggling with what’s my relationship with my parents, my relationship with money, my relationship with my body-mind, my relationship with children, my relationship with the fact that I didn’t make the most of certain opportunities. So all that is a part of अंतःकरणशुद्धि that comes with the कर्म योग lifestyle.
So if at all people have any romantic ideas of संन्यास, then भगवान् श्री कृष्ण is saying- please, it’s very difficult to accomplish without कर्म योग | So a lot of immersion in a कर्म योग lifestyle is required.
Whereas, the one who is योगयुक्त: i.e. the one who is immersed in this कर्म योग, that person is a मुनि |
So, मुनि ~ मनन शील: | मननम्- being able to think through different perspectives, raising doubts, answering them, holding a particular topic in your mind. That is a कर्म योगी |
Because with all that’s going on in one’s life, and there’s a lot that’s going on, there is enough time and leisure to think about the big questions of life, to do the inquiry that is required, to not be satisfied with false ends.
So that’s the problem with logic. We think we’re very logical- so the ‘what if’ game we play~ what if I make a presentation and everybody laughs at my face? I have not answered this question. The question itself is a false end. Okay, people laughed. So, do people have the freedom to laugh? Yes, but they should not laugh at me. So, what if they laugh at you? Are you still going to have your coffee and tea? Are you still going to live? Are you still going to go about doing your routine, whatever is a part of your lifestyle? Yes. Are you still going to go to work? Yes. Are you still going to interact with those colleagues? Yes. Are you still going to have happy moments in life? Definitely, yes. So, it’s a false end that we make a conclusion about. Actually, there is no need for this overwhelm.
Immersion in कर्म योग means that there is no disenchantment with life. That you see life as a blessing. Earlier you saw life as a burden- Oh my God, new day, same old, when is this going to end? When am I going to get some relief etc., etc.
So, you have converted the burden into a blessing. Not by positive thinking, but by being a भक्त | Why you are a भक्त? Because you recognize the connection that was always there. Earlier you just ignored it, that’s all.
So you are living a busy life, मोक्ष is an important goal, along with other things, and you are capable of doing विचार/ inquiry. It’s not like you start thinking about something, then there is a notification on your phone, then you go with the phone. So if you are not committed to one thing, you will be distracted by everything, mark my words. If you are not committed to one thing, whatever that one thing is at that time, you will be distracted by everything. And we complain of distraction, but we don’t question whether we are really committed to what we are doing. Because it’s so easy to get distracted if you’re not committed. It applies in a committed relationship also as you can be distracted by whoever else is passing by. Or you fantasize- oh, it might be a little nicer to be with that person, compared to this nagging person next to me, etcetera.
So the capacity to reason, we are not talking about some rocket science logic, just the time and the leisure to think about one’s life, to think about what I really am in the light of the शास्त्र |
And so continuing on from verse #5, भगवान् श्री कृष्ण in verse #6 says-
न चिरेण अधिगच्छति ~ so this person who is immersed in a कर्म योग lifestyle, gains ब्रह्म quickly. So there’s a double negative- it does not take the person too long to gain ब्रह्मन् i.e. to see the Truth.