CHAPTER 6. DHYANA YOGA. TEXT 6.6
Bandhur ātmātmanas tasya
anātmanas tu śatrutve
Translation: For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.
Chapter 5 Karma yoga, action in Krishna Consciousness ended with Krishna giving the description of Ashtanga yoga in Verses 27 and 28 and in verse 29, he talks about Bhakti yoga. In chapter 6 Dhyana yoga, Krishna is elaborating what Ashtanga yoga (the eight fold path, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb)) is. These eight steps basically act as a guideline on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Basically it contains about Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
Yama and Niyama is basically is what should we follow or what we should not follow for any practices. Yama is basically the ethical rules that we need to follow for example Ahimsa: Non-violence, Satya: Truthfulness, Asteya: Non stealing. Niyama is the virtuous habits we need to follow like Saucha: Cleanliness, Samtosa: Contentment, Tapas: Self-discipline or Spiritual austerities. Then comes the Asana, the meditative postures we should do in yoga practices to help us to be relaxed, steady and comfortable. And the fourth stage Pranayama is where we are controlling the breath to calm the mind. These first four if we look at it they are mostly looking at the external factors like what are we practicing, how are we sitting or the postures, breathing and all. From the fifth to the eighth it is actually it is taking us inward. The 5th one is Pratyahara. Ahara means “food “and Praty means “opposite” so you are starving your senses thereby you are looking inward. The practice of Pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back from external world or external stimuli and take a look at ourselves. Our basic nature or external stimuli is to always look outwards. From the Pratyahara stage it is yogi starts to looks in to himself. Dharana means concentration or a single pointed focus. Yogis if we see they are either focusing on the tip of their nose or the tip of their tongue or on Krishna’s deity that is the stage of Dharana and that is concentrating on a single object. And Dhyana is contemplating on the object that the mind is focusing on. If you are looking at Krishna’s deity you are looking at his lotus feet like how he placed his feet, how red is his soles are, the anklets which he is wearing. Then we go up to his face. It is like when focusing on the object all your stream of thought is based on the light of the object, you are aware of what is happening on the object and everything is with that perceptive of that particular object. Dhayana is integrally related to Dharana, one lead to the other. Then last comes the Samadhi or spiritual state where in the mind is so absorbed on what it is contemplating that it loses its own identity and become in a trans stage.
Coming to the overview of Chapter 6 Dhyana yoga, it contains 47 verses. Verses 1 to 9 starts from “Aruruksha stage” to “Arudha stage”. For example take the yoga ladder when you are climbing it is the Aruruksha stage. Here the main focus is on what are the practices we do, how do we do, how to control the mind, how do we follow, what do we abstain from etc. When we reach the top it is the Arudha stage where we are perfectly seated on it. We have heard about Ratha ruda, which means the charioteer is perfectly seated on the Ratha, Garuda ruda which means MahaVishnu is perfectly seated on Garuda.
Dhyana yoga shows the path of renunciation by focusing on the path of meditative process. But there are some preliminary purification needed which is what described in verses 1 to 9. Verses 10 to 32 leads us to practice to attain perfection in yoga. It teaches you how progressively we can attain that perfection. Verse 10 to 15 talks about realization of Brahman. Verses 16 to 23 talks about realization of Paramatma. Verses 24 to 32 talks about realization of Bhagavan. Verses 33 and 37 talks about how to deal with the mind which is the main obstacle on yoga. In fact Arjuna in Verses 33 and 34 raises the question how the mind is so difficult to control. And Krishna answers in Verse 35 and Verse 36 that the mind is so restless and unsteady. If Arjuna felt like this what to speak of us. And from verse 38 to 45 he talks about if mind deviates then what happens to that yogi. What is his destination? Verse 46 and verse 47 talks about how the top most yogi finally fixes the mind on Krishna. Krishna is actually slowly taking us up to the yoga ladder where perfection is obtained by fixing the mind on Krishna. And the next chapter he discuss the alternate way of attaining liberation that is the Bhakthi yoga chapter.
In Verse 6.1 the yogi is primarily working for purification not taking any shelter of the results of his actions (phala). The essence of Verse 6.2 is we should work for the pleasure of Krishna and not for our pleasure. In Verse 6.3 talks about how a neophyte in the beginning stage of “Aruruksha stage” does the work for spiritual advancement. But when you come to the “Arudha stage “ or the advanced stage then there is a cessation of activity, which means is person still need to do his personal activity , but abstaining duties from Varnashrama and does not interact with the world. His main focus is trying to connect with the Supreme lord inwards. In Verse 6.4 defines Yoga muda, as a person he is not engaging in or desiring in any sense gratification gratification. From Verse 6.5 the next 3 verses talks about the mind. So why we are in the situation is because we have an uncontrollable and unsteady minds and the mind is the friend of the soul as well as the enemy and Krishna is giving a broad framework of what is involved in purification.
The first obstacle that yogi face while looking inward is the mind so the door to the consciousness is the mind. We perceive the outdoor world through the mind. For example if a materialistic person enters the temple they mainly focus on the chandeliers of the temple, the marble floor, walls, they hardly see the deities that is their consciousness or the stage they are in or identify with. So if someone says there is the deity they just mechanically fold their hand and bow down. Their mind is not opened to Krishna at all, they are more opened towards the material things. So what happens is the bond between the soul and material thing increases and when bondage increase there is no hope for liberation. We are tied to this material world and keep coming back to material world again and again. So Krishna here says that we have a choice either we can focus on the worldly objects or on Krishna it depends entirely on what we want to focus on, so he is alerting that the mind of the human being cause the bondage as well as liberation. It is for us to choose what we want to do.
Our mind get deviated from lots of things in this material world. So we need to have a conscious consistent cultivation that is what Krishna is talking about. By practicing various yoga postures and breath control we are trying to bring our unsteady and active mind under our control which is always either looking back or dwelling in the past or always looking for the best thing. The purpose of Yoga, The breath control and the Asanas is to bring awareness to the body and the current moment that is what is happening right now, so that we need to be conscious of every minute and understand that mind is wandering child we have to bring it back and that takes lots of efforts from our side. And second thing is we have to be consistent to train our mind to bring it back or else it will lead to confusion.
Now we will be wondering how the mind can be a friend as well as enemy that depends on who is controlling. A friend is a person who is actually helping you guiding you and standing up to you and saying wrong when you are wrong, help you and correct you. How we relate to friendship is also important. Inwardly we have our mind and soul. Mind be your lower self and soul being your higher self. Mind cannot do anything by itself. It need always a companion. If our soul succumbs to the temptations of the mind and give its reins to the mind then we can imagine we are in the path of self- destruction. If the soul is riding the mind then we get liberated and more elevated. So it is the choice.
Conflicts can happen in our life each and every day, but we need to have self- discipline or else we will be self- destructive. So regulation are necessary. If there is no stress in life we won’t progress in life, there will no chance of self- improvement, our performance and stress will be like an “S” curve. If stress is low the performance is also low. As stress level goes up the performance level also goes up. When the stress level goes way high the performance level also comes down. There is good stress which help you to progress and bad stress. For example if we get promotion at work we feel enthusiastic. It lifts you up, gives good spirit and short lived. If it is not short lived then it will turn in to bad stress. It becomes a chronic stress. In co-operative world the promotion which we get is compared to giving a biscuit to a dog each time. At some point of time we lose the quality of our life. Good stress won’t reduce your quality of life. Quality of life means spending time with kids, family , taking care of your body, doing exercise, and focus on god doing spiritual activities . Everything should be balanced. Stress should not compromise your other aspects of life, or priorities of life because chronic stress cause lots of health problems. Now stress is linked to even DNA mutation. Good stress means mind is a good friend. Bad stress means mind becomes your enemy causing lots of health problems, mental problems etc. So we should see what kind of stress you have in life and address accordingly.
How do we recover from bad stress? Stress is everywhere when you are with a friend, at work etc. so what should we do is analyze the problem, figure out what is in your control and what is not in your control and don’t worry about what is not in our control. To handle all these things we need a mental strength and mental flexibility. These two things are important to analyze the situation and to come out of it. If you don’t have these two thing you will be stressful and mind will agitate you. And how do we develop these two things is by chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”. It is important to chant this Mahamantra. It makes you mentally strong, and give mental flexibility also. This is time tested and proven, it is not something theoretical. Spiritual practice is totally important that is why Krishna talks about in 6th chapter. Our mind is restless (chanchala) bring it back by resilient practice. Sometimes what happens in our life is when we face these stressful situations we tolerate it or adapt to it thinking we cannot do anything and just take it that is not the truth. As our mind sees an obstacle it wants to give up but we should apply our intelligence, analyze the situation and find the right thing to do so we need to have spiritual strength and that spiritual strength comes from chanting and reading spiritual scriptures. That is why “Sankalpa” accept something favorable to your ego, desires and likes and that if is not favorable give up or “Vikalpa”. The world is programmed with problems, we cannot run away from it and how do we recover from it is due to the mental flexibility to adjust things and move forward in life.
In the purport of this verse Srila Prabupada says that the constitutional position of the living entity is to carry out the order of the superior. As long as one’s mind remains an unconquered enemy, one has to serve the dictations of lust, anger, avarice, illusion, etc. But when the mind is conquered, one voluntarily agrees to abide by the dictation of the Personality of Godhead, who is situated within the heart of everyone as Paramatma. This shows that whether we like it or not we are the servants. We can decide whether we want to be the servant of KRISHNA or MAYA or to lust, anger, avarice, illusion which are the anarthas that Krishna is talking about. Some people they don’t want to have sense gratification and same time they don’t want to serve Krishna either. But we cannot stay in that position of longer, because the law of gravity acts and it will be pulling towards the lower nature, and instead of going up we will be going down the path. To disobey the mind means we have to obey our Krishna and if we disobey Krishna we become obedience servants of MAYA looking for material stimuli of this world like sleeping whenever you like, watching Television, and going after material things etc.
There is a famous verse in Chapter 18, TEXT 66
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
Translation: Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
So instead of “mam ekam” surrendering to Krishna, it will be “maya ekam” so we become the servants of maya if we don’t listen to Krishna
In one of HH Radhanath swami Maharaj quote in Dandavats.com, it is said that according to Bhagavat Gita yoga cannot be practiced unless we practice mind control. Uncontrolled mind restricts the soul from reaching its natural blissful stage which a practitioner is trying to achieve through yoga as mind is always agitated and like a monkey. Our mind is like a television set made with plastic, metal, glass fitted with some circuits inside. This box can be tuned in to waves of energy transmitted by satellite to produce images and sounds. The pleasure that we are looking in this world can be compared to the transmission from the satellite. These transmissions can be picked up by millions of Television sets. But not all Television sets are tuning in to the same channel and doing the same program. Some are watching cooking, sports channel, movies etc. For human being the senses are like antenna, the tuner receiving whatever station the tuning device which is the mind chooses. And the tuning device is the mind. We tune in whatever our mind focuses on. What we tuned in to is that affects our life. People get affected by watching advertisements. Once they tune in to one particular product what happens is you will be attracted to that particular item and buy it. Similarly we will be affecting by whatever we are tuning in to. That is the law of the nature. We become what we associate with. For example iron rod if we put it in hot fire it will become red hot. If it is put in ice it will become cold. So it is association plays a important roles. Yoga simply means tuning our mind in to a spiritual channel. In Bhagavat Gita Chapter 2, Verse 62
Dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ
kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate
Translation: While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
Contemplation is the minds way of tuning in. This is the first step. Our whole direction in life is based on what we contemplate or what station or channel we choose to tune our mind. The mind contemplates and the senses are activated. If some beautiful objects are there beside of you but instead of focusing on that if we focus on Krishna then the mind is not affected. So Bhagavad Gita says that one who controls the mind, the mind is the best friend, and when one is not able to control the mind the mind is the worst enemy. The only enemy a person can have is his or her uncontrolled mind. If the mind is controlled then there is no enemies outside. So we should try to avoid tuning in to negative forces if we do the positivity reduces. If we avoid all other stations and we tune in to the channel of supreme power then the receptivity of spirituality will become deeper.