Contentment is the highest heaven, and the greatest bliss. There is nothing superior to Contentment. Contentment heads all. When one contracts all his desires like a tortoise drawing in all his limbs, then the native effulgence of his own soul soon manifests itself.
Hinduism has a tradition of reverence for the learned and the guru. This tradition includes the practice of humility and submission (pranipatena) to a higher consciousness (IV.34). Obviously this submission to another living being can lead to mischief and has been abused by false teachers who consider their own ego, ambition, and bank account more valuable than your enlightenment. If you are fortunate enough to find a great and truly enlightened Master, then consider him or her as your own Self - just a little further along the Path. Treat them as you would the God within you.
A Indian swami, a woman, once wrote that the best guru is one who has already left the body. I found this rather humorous, but I did not doubt her sincerity. Connecting with the enlightened ones who reside in the higher realms can be a source of real knowledge and inspiration; and you can avoid any confusion that might arise from interacting with the gunas of a teacher who is still incarnate. However as always, you must be careful not to be deceived. I have written extensively on this website on the perils of the astral planes and the entities there, who are craving and literally advertising to get your attention. Exercise the highest discernment!
If you do not find a true guide, do not despair. Know that the ultimate teacher and friend dwells within you and waits patiently for your return. All seekers must eventually learn that the Self is the real teacher and come to listen in silence to the Within. The small personality identity-self ego is very noisy and arrogant. The ego tenaciously hangs on to its old miserable habits, constantly insisting on its own way. Humility, surrender, and submission to the God-within are the best of cures for the pesky ego.
Knowledge sought in the spirit of true humility will purify you and when you have become purified, your own sense organs will reveal the Knowledge of the Real (Abhinavagupta / B.Marjanovic). Until you reach this purity in humility, you will be drawn back into the illusion of multiplicity and the lower realms of consciousness by the Law of Magnetism.
Once you have realized in actual experience the Truth of the Oneness of this universe, you can never quite go back to your previous states of delusion. Now and then your guna-maya may trick you by force of habit, but this will subside. The power of the experience of Union eventually overwhelms all confusion and you abide with the One. Through this Knowledge you will see all beings in you and in God (IV.35). You see God in every Eye.
Even the worst can cross over ...
Krishna reassures us all in the most wonderful way and declares that even the worst of us, the most evil and sinful can cross over and transcend any transgression by this boat of Knowledge (IV.36). Once you have realized the Truth that God is within All, the Fires of Knowledge will consume and reduce to ashes every act in every life you have ever engaged in (IV.37). You will be forever changed - washed clean.
By Your own Efforts
Krishna tells his friend Arjuna that in this world there is nothing that purifies as Knowledge does (IV.38). This Knowledge that purifies is born through your own efforts. No one can do this for you. It will be solely your devoted effort and continuous practice that will bring you the Realization and Liberation (moksha) you seek. God Realization is not merely an intellectual discipline, and it is not only in the mind that Knowledge takes root. True Knowing must be cultivated in your Heart and lived as your very Being.
This is where faith comes in. When you are filled with faith (sraddhavan) and devoted to the highest Knowledge and consciousness, you will shed all doubt and move quickly (acirena) into Param Shantim, the Supreme Peace (IV.39). Doubt destroys faith and the ones who remain in ignorance without faith and devotion, who are riddled with doubts, find no happiness in this world nor in any other (IV.40).
Stand up, Arjuna!
In the final verse of Book IV, Krishna exhorts Arjuna to go forth and without any doubts engage in the Yoga of Action. Remember that our heroic warrior Arjuna has in despondency plopped himself down to sit in the pit of his chariot, which is parked in the middle of the battlefield Kurukshetra surrounded on both sides by 1000s of warriors all ready to fight. Krishna commands Arjuna to get off his posterior and stand up!
The Way of Knowledge weaves inextricably into the Yoga of Action
The Bhagavad Gita does not tell us if in fact Arjuna did arise, but he does speak. He wants Krishna to tell him which path is the best - the renunciation of actions or the Yoga of Action, Karma Yoga (V.1).
Krishna is often referred to as Sri Bhagavan in the Gita, these Sanskrit words are translated as the Blessed One, the great one, or the Blessed Lord. Since my understanding of Krishna is that he is God Realized in man and personifies the height of all consciousness, I like this term ‘the Blessed One’ - for surely any who have realized the God within them are blessed. Thus ‘the Blessed One spoke’ and tells Arjuna that both renunciation (samnyasas) and the Yoga of Action (Karma Yoga) lead to the highest, incomparable, ultimate happiness and bliss (nihsreyasa). However the Yoga of Action is superior and excels the renunciation of action (V.2).
The Mahabharata contains many discussions of the metaphysical and philosophical systems that were known and accepted at that time. It is not just in the Bhagavad Gita that we are treated to ancient knowledge and wisdom. The Shanti Parva is concerned with the behavior of kings and goes into considerable detail describing the Dharma of a good ruler. In the Gita, Krishna is constantly sorting through these ideas - which most Indians would have an understanding of. Krishna is pointing to what is worthwhile and most effective. He emphasizes that these various approaches to liberation are woven together and work as one.
Renunciation takes place in consciousness
The enlightened act in the world, but they do so in the conscious awareness of the non-attachment to results. This awareness emerges from experiencing the realization that we are not the Doer. It is Prakriti’s guna-maya, the mechanism (yantra-rudhana) that is on automatic propelling us through Time and Space - while the Self, the God-within, remains untouched. Therefore internally, in the mind as consciousness, the enlightened are indifferent to all polarities such as pleasure & pain and heat and cold, and thus feel neither hate nor the desire to possess (V.3).
Send back the Transmissions of the Five Senses
The etymology of the word renunciation is to send back a message. In this context, the message is made up of the signals transmitted to the brain through the sense organs. The sense organs were created by the God-within, who is the actual owner and recipient of all such transmissions.
Therefore when you ‘renounce’ this world, you are simply sending back to God what always belonged to God - even though you were under the delusion that the objects of the senses belonged to you. Attachment to the temporal is foolishness.
This process of renunciation will clarify your own comprehension of your true identity, meaning who you really are beyond the fleeting ego-self. Renunciation will strengthen your Union with God within your Heart. As you remove the five senses from their objects and return their transmissions to their Creator, you give up what was never yours anyway and return to that which you truly always are.
When you awake from this enchanted Labyrinth, you will realize that you have been spellbound by the deluding power of ‘I and mine’. The enlightened renounce the temporal illusory hologram in consciousness and come Home.
Knowledge must be lived
The realization that Prakriti’s gunas are not the real you, and that the God-within remains untouched by all your acts, is basic to the ancient knowledge Samkhya. Krishna says that the path of Knowledge (Samkhya) and that of the Yoga of Action are not in fact different. He tells Arjuna that those who separate these two ways are foolish. The wise know better and see truly that Samkhya and Yoga are one path (V.4-5). Knowledge must be lived and put into action before it can become fully realized in the temporal illusory hologram.
Whose Self has Become the Self of all Beings
The Self of one who is devoted to and established in Yoga (union), whose mind has been made pure and whose senses have been conquered, becomes the Self of all beings (V.7).
And to this day, [those] who...know the Self as I am Brahman [IS-ness], become all this universe.
When you experience the God-within permeating the All, you realize that the same God that dwells within you also dwells within all beings. How then can you hate your Self in others?
When you Become the Self of all beings, your consciousness can no longer be attached to actions because you know that you are not the Doer (V.8). From my own endeavors to break into this understanding, I am aware that this is not an easy concept to assimilate. It can only be realized through the practice of meditation and by feeling the mechanism of consciousness in silence. It takes work to see through our human nature and guna-maya, which was created to veil God from its eternal Oneness.
There will come a day when you will realize that when you talk, or touch something, or even open your eyes, what you are experiencing is only the sense organs (the five senses) operation on their objects. When you are able to abandon attachment and offer all acts to the God-within, you will find that you are untouched and free from the binding force of Prakriti’s guna-maya (V.9-10).
The one who does not live in this understanding of the Real and who is driven by desire (kama-karena) is bound by their acts. The wise find lasting peace (V.12) and the contentment that is the highest heaven, the greatest bliss - the best!
The City of the Nine Gates
In India, the human body is called the City of the Nine Gates, which are the openings - the eyes and ears, etc. - of the sense organs to the external. In a South Indian Telugu film, Panduranga Mahathyam, from 1957, there is a charming song that opens with: ‘Your skin is a bag with nine holes - sure to go flat!’ (https://youtu.be/Iz9EGAtMthw) Krishna says that the one who in the mind - which I interpret to mean in consciousness - renounces the fruit of actions, lives in happiness within this City, the house that is our body (V.13).
The Autonomy of Nature & Man
What Krishna says next (V.14) is perhaps the greatest of all metaphysical mysteries, and deals with the question of free will and predestination. God is All and creates everything. God creates Nature (Prakriti). Nature is the Matrix - the etymology of the word matrix is womb. The Matrix provides the hologram, the stage or environment for our adventure in Time and Space - Life. For Life to be an adventure and not a predictable controlled repetitious bore, the Creator grants autonomy to the created.
न कर्तृत्वं न कर्माणि लोकस्य सृजति प्रभुः .
न कर्मफलसंयोगं स्वभावस्तु प्रवर्तते .. ५- १४
na kartṛtvaṃ na karmāṇi lokasya sṛjati prabhuḥ
na karmaphalasaṃyogaṃ svabhāvas tu pravartate 5.14
God is All and yet this appearance of separation, and thus autonomy - which is also created by God - directs the design of this universe in such a way that the Lord of All does not create the means, the agency and instruments of action. Nature does that. Nor does the Lord generate the actions themselves - we as autonomous beings do that. Neither does the Lord unite actions with their results.
As for the consequences of action, they are not mediated out or administered by God directly rewarding the good or punishing the the bad; they derive from the world’s structural reality ... Man’s actions continuously modify the ambient reality and jell as its objective features which cannot be wished away. If man pollutes the air, earth and waters, the survival of mankind will be menaced.
(The Betrayal of Krishna, Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair)
There is no judgment outside the workings of our own consciousness. The Matrix always corrects for any transgression as Prakriti’s guna-maya will with ineluctable precision redress any imbalance. The only way to escape the Matrix is to Realize the Truth.
Actions, the agencies of actions, and the fruits that are born of actions fall into the domain of the Matrix = Prakriti = Nature. It is Nature and guna-maya that turns the wheels within wheels, while God remains untouched (V.14). Nothing you do or have ever done has altered God, nor can it - ever. What is changed ceaselessly is the apparent multiplicity of the Matrix as Prakriti’s guna-maya gyrates and moves inexorably through the Cycles of Time.
The Revenge of Gaia
The patterns in the Matrix are set into motion and ultimately Nature’s autonomy ‘cannot be violated’ (Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair). This relates to James Lovelock’s Gaia and the idea that the Earth is a being, a Mother who is eternally giving and patient. When the wisdom of her autonomy is threatened by the skewed autonomy of mankind, she will put a stop to our misguided, deluded, dangerous behavior and seek a cleansing - perhaps as Lovelock suggests, her revenge.
The Bhagavad Gita:
An evolving loving commentary by V. S. Ferguson