At this moment we are totally identified with the body, mind and intellect though, in reality, we are something else. In order to know one’s own real identity, one has to prepare the mind. This preparation, that is, of quietening and purifying the mind can be achieved by following the path of karma Yoga given by Sri Krishna in the 3rd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.
लोकेस्मिन् द्विविधा निष्ठा पुरा प्रोक्ता मयानघ। ज्ञानयोगेन सांख्यानां कर्मयोगेन योगिनाम्।|
Th e Lord points out that a two-fold path has been declared in the Vedas. First, is the path of karma yoga, through which the individual purifies him/herself and brings the mind to a quieter level. Thereafter, one is ready to gain the knowledge of one’s own Self.
Karma yoga is the first step in this direction; as we follow this path, we should also strive to acquire the qualifications of purity of mind and single-pointedness of the intellect. Then, we should approach a teacher, gain the requisite knowledge and finally meditate.
In the fourth Chapter, the Lord talks about the importance of jnana. What is this jnana and how we can gain this knowledge?तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया He asks us to approach a teacher and learn. The teacher will teach from the scriptures. The scriptures are given by Ishvara Himself. There is a technique given in the scriptures for realizing the Self. We have to understand this with the intellect. As we understand, the mind will become purer and calmer. Once that understanding happens, we will become fit for meditation and realizing the Self.
But, without going through the earlier stages of preparation, meditation is fruitless. It is building a terrace without raising a building! On the path of spirituality, many people waste their time and energy in meditation without proper understanding and then feel frustrated. You can make the body still; you can watch your breathing; you can close your eyes; but then what?, Now-a-days many people offer meditation classes by providing a beautiful relaxed atmosphere and giving appealing names to the sessions. This is of little use. It is better to go to sleep than to meditate in this manner.
However, if we follow the steps properly, we will know the right path and be able to meditate to realize the Self.
Renunciation of Action
In Chapter V, Sri Krishna talks about a very important subject – karma sanyasa. If the seeker has followed the path of karma yoga, gained knowledge of the Self and is ready to take up the path of meditation, Sri Krishna advises him to take up karma sanyasa – the yoga of true renunciation or the yoga of renunciation of action.
The karma sanyasa of a seeker is different from that of a realized person. Here, a sincere seeker is advised to give up non-essential, unnecessary activities and devote more and more time to the path of shravanam (listening to the teacher) and mananam (reflection). Once that knowledge is gained, one can sit and meditate and drop the sense of doership – ahamkar. This is the karma sanyasa of a seeker.
The Lord warns Arjuna that, without proper preparation and knowledge, giving up all actions is not beneficial. First, it is very important to follow the path of karma yoga properly.
By: Swami Nikhilananda
–Appeared in Speaking Tree Website, 31st Jan, 2015