Gita Yoga
Swami Chidananda

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Worshipful homage unto the Divine Presence. He who is manifest as all that exists, who is infinite, having innumerable names and forms for our constant edification, for our constant uplift and reminder of His all-pervading omnipresence. The perception of this omnipresence is real sight; not to perceive this omnipresence is true lack of sight. It is a vision that goes beyond the visible and perceives the invisible.

That is the spiritual vision that the Srimad Bhagavad Gita wants us to receive from its wisdom teachings, to adopt for our view of all things, and to keep it as a basis for our approach to all things—this inner vision of penetrating beyond the visible and perceiving the invisible. “I am the hidden essence of all things. I am the Eternal hidden within the non-eternal.”

Man’s vision has two defects. Man’s vision is directed upon names and forms, and he fails to perceive that which the names and forms hide. His vision is always directed outward and, therefore, he fails to perceive that which is inside, that which is more immediate, nearer.

Turn the gaze within. Thus admonishes the Gita wisdom teachings in the sixth chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. “Your vision is outside, O Man, therefore you do not perceive Me, who am shining in the chambers of your heart. Turn the gaze within. Then you will become instantly aware of Me.” Thus the Lord says.

And, likewise, in so many words, Yamadharmaraja tells the boy seeker, aspirant, jijnasu and mumukshu, Nachiketas, that you must have avritta-chakshuh (the eyes averted from sensual objects). You should have a desire to see that which is inside, not that which is outside. Then you will attain immortality.

The Gita has many verses in it that are verbatim repetitions of the verses of the Kathopanishad. Again and again, they both speak of discipline, of turning the gaze within, controlling the senses and desiring to see that which is within—avritta-chakshuh pratyag-atmanam aikshat (with eyes averted from sensual objects, he sees the Atman within). He desires to have that which shines within, not that which is without, for that which shines within is a light greater than all lights put together. It is the Light of lights beyond all darkness. It is that supreme Light which is more effulgent and brighter than any light that we know—the sun, moon, stars, fire, lightning. Na tatra suryo bhati na chandra-tarakam nema vidyuto bhanti kuto’yam agnih. Tameva bhantam anubhati sarvam tasya bhasa sarvamidam vibhati (The sun does not shine there, nor do the moon and the stars, nor do lightnings shine and much less this fire. When He shines, everything shines after Him; by His light, all these shine).

It indwells your heart. Therefore, turn the gaze within. That is the light of the Divine. So that is the most important place for you to turn your attention to–your spiritual heart within. Isvarah sarvabhutanam hriddese ‘rjuna tishthati (God dwells in the heart of all beings, O Arjuna). It is the region of the inner spiritual heart which is the most important place in the whole universe. We have forgotten it because our gaze is on diverse things.

Therefore, if you want to turn the gaze away from diverse things, to turn it within and become aware of the radiance, the region of your spiritual heart, then you must practise sitting quiet, alone, where there are no things. That is why spiritual aspirants will sit in a corner and face the wall. Then they see nothing except what they want to see, perhaps either the form of their ishta or the symbol of OM.

If you sit facing the wall, turning your back to the world, then, at one stroke, many things that distract have no scope to bother you. That is why seekers go to a lonely place where there are not many things. Then it becomes less difficult to perceive or become aware of the One. Therefore, sit for some time alone, withdraw the vision from outer things and fix it upon the Supreme Reality. This is abhyasa, this is practice, this is Gita Yoga.

What about those times when you cannot go and sit in a corner and face the wall, when you have to turn towards the world and see everything, behold everything? No problem. The Gita says that whatever you behold, that also is that which you are seeking. It is that which is the ultimate Reality. But the only thing is: perceive Its hidden presence.

“All things are indwelt by Me. I pervade all things. Having enveloped this entire universe and all things in it, I am still in My supreme transcendence. I am above all things, but I am very much in all things. I am very much all around you as all things. I alone appear as the many. I am in all things, and I alone exist in the midst of the seeming many. I am the one that exists like a thread running through the beads of a necklace. The beads are many, variegated, different, but the thread is one, the same, continuous, non-different, akhanda. I am the sutratma (the immanent deity of the totality of the subtle bodies). Know Me as such, see Me as such and become established in My vision.”

Samam sarveshu bhuteshu tishthantam paramesvaram vinasyatsu avinasyantam yah pasyati sa pasyati (He sees, who sees the supreme Lord existing equally in all things, the unperishing within the perishing). This is the outer Yoga of the Gita—the Yoga of the so-called battlefield—that which beholds the One as the common factor in the many.

In a hundred different things made of cotton, the common factor is cotton only. In a hundred different gold ornaments, the common factor is gold and gold only. In a hundred pots and bowls in a potter’s shop, the common factor is clay only. Even so, in a million different things, the common factor is the God-principle only, is the Divine only, is the Atman only, Idam sarvam vadayam atma (All these are the Self, O dear). Thus the great sage, the towering personality, Yajnavalkya, tells his wife, Maitreyi, “Oh ye, listen, know, all this is no other than the great Reality, the Cosmic Being, the Supreme Spirit, idam sarvam. All this here is nothing but the Atman.

This is the Gita Yoga. This is the Gita vision. This is the Gita abhyasa, practice. This is the one thing needful if you want to constantly keep an unbroken undercurrent of God-remembrance, God-thought, God-perception—seeing the One amidst the many, seeing God in and through all things in this world. Thus the meditative state is able to continue even into the active state.

During this period, as we are approaching the Srimad Bhagavad Gita Jayanti, may we exercise these various types of Yogic activities, these processes. May we try to perceive the One within the many, the Divine that indwells Its own creation. Let the Gita, the Gita view, the Gita approach, be constantly meditated upon, reflected upon; and seek to cultivate this Gita vision and Gita abhyasa. Make it the basis for your life. Awaken from within you the Gita vision. Make a diligent study of it.

May the God within you grace you to perceive His presence within and to live in His presence, so that the sweet aroma of His presence makes your life fragrant even as the fire burning at the tip of the incense stick draws forth the fragrance hidden inside, wafts it all around and fills the surroundings with fragrance. Let the fire of this knowledge, the ever-burning fire of this awareness, draw forth from within you the fragrance of your divine Reality.

And may this fragrance of divinity drawn forth from within you waft around you and make everything fragrant. Let it manifest itself from within you through your speech, through your thoughts, through your actions, and may you be able, wherever you go, at all times, to take with you this divine fragrance and fill your immediate environment with it. That is divine life! May the indwelling Divine bless you!


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