What is needed, Arjuna, is a one-pointed determination.
Without a firm resolve, many-branched and endless are the thoughts,
causing the mind to veer in all directions.
Sri Krishna makes it clear in this verse the one most needed quality to tread the spiritual path: a clear resolve in terms of what is most important to us. It may be that Self-realization is not actually that difficult; getting to the point where it moves to the top of our to-do list is what takes lifetimes.
One-pointedness is the name of the game. If we gather the scattered rays of the mind, and work with a consistent and determined effort toward a goal, one day we will achieve it (in this life or the next). Rather than fretting or becoming anxious over temporary setbacks, we will see them as an opportunity to learn important lessons that propel us with even stronger momentum toward our goal. We won’t waste our time and energy blaming others, feeling self-pity, or whining over the spilt milk.
We often don’t accomplish what we want because we have so many thoughts and desires—some of them mutually exclusive—that the strength of the mind gets exhausted. When a confused and distracted mind half-heartedly pursues a goal, it digs a lot of shallow wells, but never hits pay dirt.
While this one-pointed and unwavering mind is necessary for achieving anything in life, it is especially important on the spiritual path. Our outer environment may not be supportive of our direction; our inner environment, i.e., the mind, may not be with the program. There is likely to be some confusion and doubt about what it is exactly we are trying to achieve. And, even if we get clear about it, success is going to take quite some time. Without a firm conviction, we’ll get right to enlightenment—right after I pay my rent, get even with that co-worker who slighted me, and catch that new movie that I’ve been looking forward to seeing. The true seeker may still do all these things, (well, hopefully not the getting even part) but she finds a way to tie them in to her quest to experience the One Self. As Sri Ramakrishna said, “In whatever direction a ship may be sailing, the compass needle in it always points to the north. Even so amidst all eventualities in life the mind of the knowing man is always fixed on the Ideal.” For the skillful aspirant, everything is used to further this one pursuit.
Swami Sivananda: “If thoughts cease samsara also ceases. Mind generates endless thoughts and this world comes into being. Thoughts, and names and forms are inseparable. If the thoughts are controlled, the mind controlled and the Yogi is liberated.”
The Bhagavad Gita is a 2,500 year old Sanskrit text that offers profound insight into the deeper practices of yoga. As the seeker in the Gita metaphorically prepares for the battle of spiritual transformation, he asks his teacher a series of questions. In his answers the teacher explains the many challenges and stages of the yogic spiritual path.
IYTA members receive a 45% discount on the Bhagavad Gita at Integral Yoga Distribution.
Upcoming Related Programs in 2015:
- “Advanced Hatha Yoga Teacher Training” from August 9-30, 2015 with Swami Asokananda
- “Understanding the Bhagavad Gita” from August 21-23, 2015 with Yoganand Michael Carroll
*Use this Sanskrit dictionary to look up words.