The Bhagavad Gita is the story of an ancient battle in the 3D matrix of the mind, and foundation of Hindu philosophy. It reconfirms the laws of Nature and timeless techniques for personal empowerment and ascension. With each chapter the Gita lessons are getting more refined and specific. This chapter is about the benefits of meditation. Just enjoy and listen with an open mind, as you’re hearing a story.
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, Gods ruled the Earth, and all learning took place in the form of stories and sacred verses, that people memorized and passed down with each generation.
The warrior prince Arjuna and his chariot driver the God Krishna, gaze over a vast battlefield. Arjuna and his virtuous Pandava brothers are standing at the brink of a huge battle against their evil Kaurava cousins. Thousands of warriors are assembled there on both sides to fight to the death. Arjuna is horrified and refuses to fight. The Supreme God Krishna shows up as his chariot driver and divine guide explaining the secrets of life, death, and why he should fight. Krishna explains the soul never dies, and shows him how to focus the mind to carry out this righteous war without incurring sin or Karma. Ultimately Arjuna accepts his destiny. He fights the war. He and his brothers decimate the enemy, and finally ascend to the heavenly realms.
Krishna has explained the path of pure action as service without fixating on the results or rewards. He introduces the next technique to ascension through training the mind in meditation. He says the mind can be your best friend, or it can become your enemy. If your mind is untrained you can never experience happiness, peace, or ascension, because the mind is restless and tends to create trouble. We can learn to calm the mind in meditation to attune ourselves to higher virtues. He explains where to sit, how to discipline the mind, how to balance the body, to eat and sleep regularly. In meditation, he says you must withdraw the mind away from selfish desires and focus it on the greatest good. When the mind is restrained from material activities, likes, and dislikes, you become strong stable, and balanced in all circumstances. This allows you to live a happy life of divine bliss and leave behind all stress and pain, even while you live in a body.
He describes meditation as contemplation, a path to achieve inner quiet. It’s not a meditation of thoughts, nor a devotional mantra, not a prayer or a chant. Not a visualization. It is not what we sometimes call mindfulness, which is more a practice of being present in the moment. He explains a meditation that is purely quieting the body and mind, observing your thoughts and restraining them to discipline and calm the intellect to focus it on God. Without this training, he says happiness is impossible. He says over time this meditation makes a person strong, resilient, and impervious to stress. The training is difficult to master, but it is never lost, even in death, and you can pick it right up again to bring it to the next level in a subsequent life. It protects you from evil and becomes a continuous path of purification, until you attain Moksha, meaning union with God and freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth. So, in short this chapter is about training and quieting the mind through meditation, rooting the mind in God, and offering all actions to God without fixating on money or rewards. That’s it. Krishna uses the word Yoga, as a discipline or path, not a movement. He calls a practitioner of the path a Yogi, which he considers the highest and best kind of human that exists. As you listen to the verses, I invite you to ponder these questions:
- What are the primary benefits of meditation?
- How does meditation train the mind to be impervious to stress?
- What is the specific practice of meditation that Krishna describes? How does one do it?
- Do you have a meditation practice? How would you describe it, and how does its benefit you?
- What are your favorite quotes from this chapter to remember for life lessons?
- What parallel events in the modern world illustrate these concepts?
Bhagavad Gita 6.1
The Supreme Lord said: Those who perform prescribed duties without desiring the results of their actions are actual sanyāsīs (renunciates) and yogis, not those who have merely ceased performing sacrifices such as agni-hotra yajña or abandoned bodily activities.
Bhagavad Gita 6.2
What is known as sanyās is non-different from Yoga, for no one can become a yogi without renouncing worldly desires.
Bhagavad Gita 6.3
To the soul aspiring for perfection in Yoga, work without attachment is said to be the means. To the sage who is already elevated in Yoga, tranquility in meditation is said to be the means.
Bhagavad Gita 6.4
When one is neither attached to sense objects nor to actions, that person is said to be elevated in the science of Yoga, for having renounced all desires for the fruits of actions.
Bhagavad Gita 6.5
Elevate yourself through the power of your mind, and not degrade yourself, for the mind can be the friend and also the enemy of the self.
Bhagavad Gita 6.6
For those who have conquered the mind, it is their friend. For those who have failed to do so, the mind works like an enemy.
Bhagavad Gita 6.7
The yogis who have conquered the mind rise above the dualities of cold and heat, joy and sorrow, honor and dishonor. Such yogis remain peaceful and steadfast in their devotion to God.
Bhagavad Gita 6.8
The yogis who are satisfied by knowledge and discrimination, and have conquered their senses, remain undisturbed in all circumstances. They see everything—dirt, stones, and precious gold—as the same.
Bhagavad Gita 6.9
The yogis look upon all—well-wishers, friends, foes, the pious, and the sinners—with an impartial intellect. The yogi who is of equal intellect toward friend, companion, and foe, neutral among enemies and relatives, and impartial between the righteous and sinful, is considered to be distinguished among humans.
Bhagavad Gita 6.10
Those who seek the high state of Yoga should reside in seclusion, constantly engaged in meditation with a controlled mind and body, eliminating desires and possessions for sensory enjoyment.
Bhagavad Gita 6.11
To practice Yoga, one should make an āsan (seat) in a sanctified place, by placing kuśh grass, deer skin, and a cloth, one over the other. The āsan should be neither too high nor too low.
Bhagavad Gita 6.12
Seated firmly on it, the yogi should strive to purify the mind by focusing it in meditation with one pointed concentration, controlling all thoughts and activities.
Bhagavad Gita 6.13
He must hold the body, neck, and head firmly in a straight line, and gaze at the tip of the nose, without allowing the eyes to wander.
Bhagavad Gita 6.14
Thus, with a serene, fearless, and unwavering mind, and staunch in the vow of celibacy, the vigilant yogi should meditate on me, having me alone as the supreme goal.
Bhagavad Gita 6.15
Thus, constantly keeping the mind absorbed in me, the yogi of disciplined mind attains nirvāṇa, and abides in me in supreme peace.
Bhagavad Gita 6.16
O Arjun, those who eat too much or eat too little, sleep too much or too little, cannot attain success in Yoga.
Bhagavad Gita 6.17
But those who are temperate in eating and recreation, balanced in work, and regulated in sleep, can mitigate all sorrows by practicing Yoga.
Bhagavad Gita 6.18
With thorough discipline, they learn to withdraw the mind from selfish cravings and rivet it on the unsurpassable good of the Self. Such persons are said to be in Yoga, and are free from all yearning of the senses.
Bhagavad Gita 6.19
Just as a lamp in a windless place does not flicker, so the disciplined mind of a yogi remains steady in meditation on the self.
Bhagavad Gita 6.20
When the mind, restrained from material activities, becomes still by the practice of Yoga, then the yogi is able to behold the soul through the purified mind, and he rejoices in the inner joy.
Bhagavad Gita 6.21
In that joyous state of Yoga, called samādhi, one experiences supreme boundless divine bliss, and thus situated, one never deviates from the Eternal Truth.
Bhagavad Gita 6.22
Having gained that state, one does not consider any attainment to be greater. Being thus established, one is not shaken even in the midst of the greatest calamity.
Bhagavad Gita 6.23
That state of severance from union with misery is known as Yoga. This Yoga should be resolutely practiced with determination with an undeviating mind free from depression.
Bhagavad Gita 6.24
Completely renouncing all desires arising from thoughts of the world, one should restrain the senses from all sides with the mind.
Bhagavad Gita 6.25
Slowly and steadily, with conviction in the intellect, the mind will become fixed in God alone, and will think of nothing else.
Bhagavad Gita 6.26
Whenever and wherever the restless and unsteady mind wanders, one should bring it back and continually focus it on God.
Bhagavad Gita 6.27
Great transcendental happiness comes to the yogi whose mind is calm, whose passions are subdued, who is without sin, and who sees everything in connection with God.
Bhagavad Gita 6.28
The self-controlled yogi, thus uniting the self with God, becomes free from material contamination, and being in constant touch with the Supreme, achieves the highest state of perfect happiness.
Bhagavad Gita 6.29
The true yogis, uniting their consciousness with God, see with equal eyes, all living beings in God and God in all living beings.
Bhagavad Gita 6.30
For those who see me everywhere and see all things in me, I am never lost, nor are they ever lost to me.
Bhagavad Gita 6.31
The yogi who is established in union with me and worships me as the Supreme Soul residing in all beings, dwells only in me, although engaged in all kinds of activities.
Bhagavad Gita 6.32
I regard them to be perfect yogis who see the true equality of all living beings and respond to the joys and sorrows of others as if they were their own.
Bhagavad Gita 6.33
Arjun said: The system of Yoga that you have described, O Madhusudan, appears impractical and unattainable to me, due to my restless mind.
Bhagavad Gita 6.34
My mind is very restless, turbulent, strong, and obstinate, O Krishna. It seems more difficult to control than the wind.
Bhagavad Gita 6.35
Lord Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, what you say is correct; the mind is indeed very difficult to restrain. But by practice and detachment, it can be controlled.
Bhagavad Gita 6.36
Yoga is difficult to attain for one whose mind is unbridled. However, those who have learned to control the mind, and who strive earnestly by the proper means, can attain perfection in Yoga. This is my opinion.
Bhagavad Gita 6.37
Arjun said: What is the fate of the unsuccessful yogi who begins the path with faith, but who does not endeavor sufficiently, due to unsteady mind, and is unable to reach the goal of Yoga in this life?
Bhagavad Gita 6.38
Does not such a person who deviates from Yoga get deprived of both material and spiritual success, O mighty-armed Krishna, and perish like a broken cloud with no position in either sphere?
Bhagavad Gita 6.39
O Krishna, please dispel this doubt of mine completely, for who other than you can do so?
Bhagavad Gita 6.40
The Supreme Lord said: O Parth, One who engages on the spiritual path does not meet with destruction either in this world or the world to come. My dear friend, one who strives for God-realization is never overcome by evil.
Bhagavad Gita 6.41
The unsuccessful yogis, upon death, go to the abodes of the virtuous. After dwelling there for many ages, they are again reborn on the earth plane, into a family of pious and prosperous people.
Bhagavad Gita 6.42
However, if they had developed dispassion due to long practice of Yoga, they are born into a family endowed with divine wisdom. Such a birth is very difficult to attain in this world.
Bhagavad Gita 6.43
On taking such a birth, O descendant of Kurus, they reawaken the wisdom of their previous lives, and strive even harder toward perfection in Yoga.
Bhagavad Gita 6.44
Indeed, they feel drawn toward God, even against their will, on the strength of their past discipline. Such seekers naturally rise above the ritualistic principles of the scriptures.
Bhagavad Gita 6.45
With the accumulated merits of many past births, when these yogis engage in sincere endeavor in further progress, they become purified from material desires and attain perfection in this life itself.
Bhagavad Gita 6.46
A yogi is superior to the tapasvī (ascetic), superior to the jñānī (a person of learning), and even superior to the karmī (ritualistic performer). Therefore, O Arjun, strive to be a yogi.
Bhagavad Gita 6.47
Of all yogis, those whose minds are always absorbed in me, and who engage in devotion to me with great faith, I consider them to be the highest of all.