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Bhagavad Gita Study: Chapter 2, Verse 45

Integral Yoga Teachings   |   August 21, 2015  |   by  asokananda

The Vedas deal in the realm of the gunas of Nature.

A person performing the Vedic rituals in the hope of some personal gain still has his consciousness immersed in the manifested realm of Prakriti, which is composed of the three gunas. Sri Krishna is not discounting rituals. He wants us, though, to be clear of our motives for performing them. Rituals can be used for egocentric outcomes or for ego-transcending outcomes. It is also important that the practitioner does not confuse the means (rituals) with the end (Samadhi).

Arjuna, you are beyond these three qualities!
Know this and live free and unaffected by the pairs of opposites.

Remain ever-balanced in Sattwa, freed from the need to get or hold onto anything, and centered in your true Self.

The true “I” is beyond the realm of the gunas. To go beyond the gunas is to go beyond the mind; and to go beyond the mind is to go beyond Prakriti. Then, Krishna says time and again, we will discover ourselves to be the Atman or Pure Consciousness. “Know this and live free and unaffected by the pairs of opposites.”

In this verse, Krishna is describing three sadhanas that support each other: As our consciousness is less stuck in the gunas, we find ourselves more able to remain steady as we undergo the pairs of opposites (dwandwas), and this allows us to be “centered in our true Self.” Or, remaining balanced through the dwandwas will help us to thin out the gunas so that we can rest in the Self. Or, as we train the mind to get more comfortable resting in the Self, the gunas will not limit our consciousness, and we will not be shaken by the ups and downs of life. From whichever angle you come at it, these three will work together to free us. “Remain ever balanced in Sattwa, freed from the need to get or hold onto anything, and centered in your true Self.” Though Krishna affirms to Arjuna that he is beyond the gunas, He asked Arjuna to hold onto one of them—Sattwa. He says, “Nitya sattwa sthah”—remain ever established in Sattwa. It could be seen as a contradiction.Acquiring and holding onto stuff is not necessarily unspiritual. But we should recognize that when we are lacking possession of our Self, we will forever be desperately seeking something to grab onto. It is through the clarity of the sattwic mind that we are able to connect with That which is beyond the gunas and mind, and to enjoy “Atmavan”—being centered in the Self.

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.

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