Whether you are actively working in the world or have withdrawn from it, the most important consideration is not the work that you do or not do, but how effectively you have been able to uproot and destroy the deep-seated tendencies which lie hidden in your heart.
The principal objective of all spiritual practices is the removal of the deep-seated negative thought forms, impure habits, tendencies, and predispositions, which in Sanskrit are called the vasanas, and which have encased themselves deeply within you. They manifest in your thoughts and actions as the twin evils of attachment and hatred, or attraction and repulsion. You must cleanse yourself of all trace of these evils which have harbored themselves inside you.
If you just run away to the forest or to a cave without performing the appropriate exercises to remove your inner enemies, then, whether you like it or not, all your latent tendencies will continue to produce thoughts and actions that bind you. These impurities will lie there as seeds in your heart and prompt a stream of thoughts that will be saturated with likes and dislikes, desires and delusions. As a result, you end up forgetting your true human nature.
The Gita has shown that if you can root out the entrenched tendencies that cling to your heart, then you are free to perform any action without concern for the results. From that point on, you will not be bound by any actions that you may become engaged in. In other words, you will be freed completely from the fruits of your actions. People who do not understand this truth and end up renouncing all outside activities become mired in sloth and laziness. But the Gita has repeatedly warned that there is no room at all for laziness in the world of the spirit.
What the Gita teaches is the yoga of impersonal action, in which you remain totally detached and free of any personal interest in the work that you do and in the results that accrue from it. It means working with full concentration to the limits of your capacity for excellence, but orienting all your actions to the service of God and remaining established in God-consciousness. You will not be able to reach this high stage of desirelessness in your actions and renunciation of the fruits of your labors, as long as your vasanas which have arisen from past actions are unfavorable for spiritual progress.
You must first remove the negative tendencies which have driven all your ordinary, self-serving actions that have kept you bound, and replace these negative tendencies with positive, noble qualities which are associated with beneficial and selfless actions. Then, when you are firmly established in the stage of selfless service, wherein you perform only good actions, you can go on to the higher stage where you renounce the fruits of all your actions. From there, you will naturally rise to the stage of totally selfless, impersonal yoga. At that stage, you make sure that all your actions are of the highest purity and then you offer them all up to the divinity, to do with as the divinity wishes.
What is the inner secret of performing work? It is the Gita's proclamation that only through positive, laudable activities can the negative tendencies be removed. The Gita advises you to be engaged only in good actions so that you will steadily purify your heart. But it goes further than that. It asserts that true purity of heart can be achieved only by dedicating all your actions to the Lord. Every action that you perform must be offered to God; only then can your heart be fully cleansed. Consider an example.
When food is eaten after having been cooked and prepared in different ways, it is just ordinary food, and you are subject to the good or bad effects of eating that food. However, if special care is taken in the preparation of this food to make sure that it is pure and worthy of being offered to the divinity, and then, before consuming it, it is offered with full heart to God, then it becomes consecrated food. From that point on, this will no longer be ordinary food. Consuming it will confer divine blessings, for it will be the sacred gift of the divinity.
By the same token, all the many activities performed by you during the day fall into the category of ordinary actions. But when you perform these same actions, even if they are just little acts, with the intention of making them an offering to God, devoting their results not to your own pleasure but for the pleasure of the Lord, then your actions become sacred actions. In other words, your karma becomes karma yoga. It is only through such karma yoga that you will be able to rid yourself of all evil tendencies and make your heart pure.
What should be the qualities of the actions you offer at the feet of the Lord? How sacred should they be? Before an object is offered to an ordinary individual, you see to it that it has some utility, that it has some value, that it is pure and that it will be cherished. In other words, that it will be received with joy. That being the case in offering something to another individual, then how much more care should you take in making an offering to the Lord! How very pure and extremely fulfilling it must be! One must not offer all types of objects and all types of actions to the Lord. Before you offer anything to the Lord, you must first make it pure, you must make it sacred and great. Then it will be a fit offering for the Lord.
For example, if you want to offer a rose to the Lord, you first select a beautiful, fragrant bloom. Then you remove the insects from the flower. Next you remove the thorns and any imperfect leaves from the stem; and in a number of other ways you make your offering as beautiful and as pure as possible. Only then do you offer it to the Lord. Every action you perform should be like this flower which you offer to the Lord. Just as a fine fragrance is inherent in the flower you offer, so also your actions must be saturated with the fragrance of love and sacredness. Just as the flower that you offer is beautiful and pure, so also your actions must be good and pure. Such is true karma yoga. The Gita prompts you to offer only such kinds of action to the Lord.
You must be able to distinguish between wise action and unwise action, and for that you must understand the difference between wisdom and ignorance. You must develop your wisdom until it expands and merges with the cosmic wisdom, the divine wisdom. Anyone who wants to directly experience the Lord must develop this wisdom, and along with it a number of important qualities.
These qualities of a person endowed with spiritual wisdom are patience, determination, purity of body and mind, selfless love, an everpresent awareness and yearning for the indwelling divinity, and the six qualities which are known as the spiritual treasuresãnamely, control of the mind, control of the senses, renunciation of selfish desires, endurance and indifference to all kinds of opposites such as pain and pleasure, an unshakable faith in the sacred teachings and contentment derived from a steady, unwavering mind. Let us consider the first of these qualities: patience.
Patience or forbearance is one of the most important characteristics that every person should practice and possess. Many kings have been destroyed because they abandoned this quality of patience. Even great sages have lost all their spiritual merit because they neglected this quality. Countless scholars have come to ruin because they overlooked this invaluable characteristic. Patience can be thought of as the most important shield and armor for facing the battle of life. You quickly lose all your human qualities if you lose patience. As you have already seen, the quality of patience is an extremely important sign of a great person; without patience it would not be possible to become an enlightened being.
A resolute nature, in other words, the quality of determination and being endowed with a firm resolve, is the pre-condition for developing patience. Now, a resolute nature should not be associated with stubborn foolishness. In matters relating to the spirit, firmness and a resolute nature refer to a mind that is free from delusion and unsteadiness.
Whatever obstacle is encountered, whatever troubles and problems arise, with a resolute nature you will remain firmly committed to pursue the tasks which you have undertaken until you achieve your final goal. If you do not have this quality of determination, then patience will have no basis and cannot develop in strength. Patience and determination are twins; one cannot exist without the other. Without determination, patience cannot establish itself, and without patience, determination will degenerate into arrogance.
Next, let us consider purity. Just as you undertake various actions to purify your body, so also you must undertake various good actions to purify your mind. Through these acts, you can remove the attachments and desires that have polluted your mind with egoism. Only when these negative qualities are eliminated will you be able to achieve self-control. Just as a tortoise is free to loosen its limbs and come out of its shell, or to withdraw itself back into its shell, in the same way, you should be able to control your senses and use them when you need them. The Gita has affirmed that these are also very important qualities of a wise person.
It is in the field of action or karma that you most patently reveal your character and the type of human being you are. That is why so much importance has been given to performing all your actions without attachment to the fruits. Just as a mirror can show you the type of face you have, your actions will reveal the type of inner feelings you have. When you have some dealings with others, you can easily find out the type of people they are by examining their actions.
People may appear to be very fair, to be serene and mild, and have a very peaceful disposition; in other words, they appear to have a satvic nature. They may also appear to be individuals ready to undergo great personal sacrifice. You may believe that they are blessed with a sacred heart. But their actions may prove them to be otherwise. Their actions may be totally devoid of love and compassion and true caring and consciousness of others. Their actions may reveal an animal nature or even a demonic nature. Through their actions their hidden nature is revealed.
Other people, by the outer impressions they first make, may seem to be cruel. You may feel that they are curt and abrupt and lacking in civility or gracious manners. They may appear, in every way, to be very rajasic or even tamasic, the lower animal-like qualities previously-discussed. But, if in their actions people exhibit compassion and other great human qualities, then you must conclude that they are truly satvic in nature. So, if you want to ascertain whether a particular person is predominantly satvik, rajasic, or tamasic in nature, whether his inner being is serene and selfless, or desire-ridden and quick to react negatively, or slothful, vicious and mean, then you need only to observe his actions. People's actions will unmistakably reveal their inner nature.
The Gita has pointed out the type of actions that should be performed in daily life. The Gita has not commanded you to renounce everything, take up sanyasa, by which is meant that you detach yourself from all worldly possessions and interests, and go to the forest. Rather, the Gita has shown that an important duty and responsibility of every human being is to undertake useful activities in the world. Furthermore, the Gita proclaims that the secret of human life is to recognize and follow the path of dharma, which means engaging yourself in selfless and sacred actions that promote the welfare of your fellow human beings.
The Gita declares that human life lies in action; you would not even be able to sustain the body if you abstained from all actions. Therefore, every ordinary human being, as well as every spiritual aspirant, should enter into the field of activities and work. But the actions which you perform must be sacred actions; they must conform to the principle of dharma.
You have to convert your activities into karmas which are useful to others. You have to perform actions which are ideal, and you have to practice such ideal actions without any selfish motive. They must originate not from the compulsive drive of desire, but from the peaceful quality in your heart, devoid of self-interest and attachment to the fruits. Only then can your actions be considered satvic in nature. Ordinary people will not be able to perform actions completely without desire. You will have to orient your actions and your desires towards the purpose of seeking and experiencing God. When that sacred orientation becomes the basis of all your activities, then your karma becomes yoga. That will lead you straight on the path to your goal of becoming one with the divinity.
However, involved with all your actions, there will be the spell of maya or illusion which will frustrate your efforts to reach your divine goal. There are two powerful forces which make up maya; these are the veiling power and the projecting power. There is no particular form or shape to these two. First, consider the veiling or covering power. How does it cover? With what does it cover? How can you uncover this thing which it has covered? If it does not have form itself, by what means does it cover? How can it be removed? These are all questions that cannot be answered.
Maya is mysterious and inexplicable. Delusion and confusion are its very nature. Consider a rope lying on the road. In the darkness you are deluded into believing that this rope is a snake. What is it that has covered the rope? Try to understand what happened. You were suddenly filled with a feeling of fear because you imagined a snake lying on the road before you. So, it was in your mind that the rope got converted into a snake and you got frightened. Is the snake really there? No, there is no snake there. Then how can the rope be converted into a thing which does not exist and never has existed? This is the delusion.
Under what circumstances does this delusion exert its influence on you? It is during twilight or in the dark that you imagine you see the snake when there is only a rope there. It is through darkness that the delusion comes and envelops you. In truth, no snake has replaced the rope, but the delusion beclouds the minds of human beings and obscures their clear perception. This delusion is maya. When you shine your light on the area, you find no snake there; there is only a rope lying there. Thus, in the light, delusion disappears and the real object is seen.
That which exists will always exist; it will never cease to exist. It remains unchanged forever. There cannot be even the slightest variation in its existence. It is only the delusion affecting it which comes and goes. The form that this delusion takes in the mind is the second powerful force of maya, the projecting power, which superimposes imaginary creations and objects on the unchanging basis. In this case the projection was the snake. Another time it will be something else.
Moods, pains, pleasures, all come and go. They are something like relatives that come to visit you but do not stay permanently. In the same way, this maya comes and goes as a delusion for human beings. The delusion in your mind which covers the rope and hides it from view is the veiling power. The illusion which has been projected by your mind onto the rope is the projecting power. With the help of the light you see the rope as rope, and the snake vanishes. So these two aspects of maya have come in the darkness and have disappeared in the light.
Do these two powers of illusion always come at the same time, or can they come at different times? The veiling power and projecting power may appear and disappear at the same time, but, as happens in deep sleep when there is only the veiling power, they may appear and disappear at different times, also. Maya is inexplicable. It has no beginning. But it can permanently come to an end. When the light of wisdom shines on it, maya will finally disappear. Then the one unchanging reality will stand revealed. By teaching this great wisdom to Arjuna, Krishna was able to free him from delusion and helped him shine with the inner light.
Then as now, you are developing only superficial understanding and outer vision. But it is the inner vision that is important; it alone is true and sacred. You lose sight of the one reality, of your own truth, because you pay attention only to the impermanent outer vision and completely forget the permanent inner vision. God's mission is to restore this sacred inner vision. This is what he does when he comes as avatar.
Krishna said, "Dear one, whatever actions you perform during the time you are on this earth, know that they are all impermanent. In time, you will discover that everything in this world is temporary. Your relationships, your attachments, your accomplishments, the sense of individuality you have developed, are all going to disappear. Everything gets washed away in the flow of time. If you try to catch hold of things and cling to things which are themselves being carried away by this flow of time, what chance is there for you to be saved? What chance is there for you to reach that perfection which is forever unaffected by this flow, and which not only is never subject to it, but is always its master?
"Arjuna, the things you are holding on to are all being washed away. Develop the firm conviction that in attaching yourself to temporary things you are wasting your life, that you are wasting the sacred opportunity that has been given to you to reach the permanent state that is your true reality. Surrender yourself to the divinity, hold on to that permanent entity always established in your heart, and you will surely gain the eternal joy, the bliss divine."
In this way, Krishna urged Arjuna to free himself from the attachments and illusions that were confounding him. Krishna said, "Arjuna, you yourself must purify your heart and remove the veil of ignorance that is beclouding you. Take to the path of righteous action, work for the welfare of the world and dedicate every act to me, your very self, residing in your heart."
There is no royal road for human life leading to spiritual awakening other than through karma yoga, through the path of sacred action. You will be able to enter the path of devotion only after you have laid a firm foundation through good actions. And only after you have purified your feelings and developed your devotion will you be able to enter the path of wisdom and proceed on to the highest level of God-realization. It is in the arena of action that you lay the groundwork for reaching up to the loftiest regions of the spirit, or plunging yourself down to the lowest depths of sorrow. Your good or bad circumstances are inextricably linked with your actions.
As part of your activities, you may perform the various scripturally-prescribed sacrifices and ceremonial rituals. But, as previously mentioned, these can take you only up to heaven. Krishna informed Arjuna that there was a state which was far beyond and far more sacred than heaven. "Do not consider heaven as a permanent place,"
Krishna said. "When you have exhausted your merits you will have to leave heaven and return to earth. Heaven is only a temporary camp; you will not be able to reside there permanently. Perhaps you think that in heaven you will be able to enjoy so many bodily and mental pleasures. But, in truth, the pleasures you get there are only a little greater than those you get here on earth. There is a state which is far, far beyond; far more sacred. That state may be reached by identifying yourself with God, by associating yourself with the atma, by merging your small individual self with your highest eternal self. In order to attain this state you will have to become totally desireless and selfless; you will have to perform all your actions without expecting any fruits from them."
Whenever you perform an action, there will always be a consequence, a resultant fruit from that effort. However, there is no rule that says that you alone should enjoy the fruit of your actions. A grandfather might have planted a seed which subsequently developed into a fruit tree. And this grandfather might have died before the tree produced any fruit. But the fruit of the tree might have been enjoyed by his grandchildren, some time later. Here is a case where a person performing an action did not personally enjoy the fruit; but some others had the chance to enjoy them.
The grandfather might have knowingly planted the tree without ever expecting to enjoy the fruit; he undertook the task originally with the broadminded view that the tree in the courtyard would give fruit to the generations who came along later; fruit which would be greatly enjoyed by them. And so, the fruit of his broadminded action was reaped by succeeding members of his family.
With what motive did the grandfather plant this particular tree? He might have done it with the slightly selfish motive that it would give enjoyment to members of his family. But the selfishness that comes from doing everything only for your own enjoyment is much baser and meaner than this grandfather's slight tinge of selfishness. The inner urge which leads you to undertake actions which are primarily for the welfare of others is always greater and nobler than the narrow feelings that lead you to act completely selfishly, expecting to derive all the benefits of your actions only for yourself. In this sense, the grandfather's action must be considered far superior to that of an individual who acts only for himself.
But, clearly, there is an even greater action, one that goes beyond all selfish considerations; that is when you perform an action as an offering to God. That is the greatest of all actions and that is what you should strive for. You should endeavor to perform all your actions selflessly and disinterestedly, offering them to God, without expecting to reap any of the fruits. Such action is truly yoga.
Using your intellect to plan out an action, the fruits of which would benefit someone else, as was the case of the grandfather planting a tree that was enjoyed by future generations of his family, can be called buddhi yoga. In buddhi yoga, you inquire into the consequences of your actions, and thereby base your actions on the reasoning power of your intellect. Intellect goes far beyond the narrow selfish considerations of the lower mind and the senses. But even here there is still a tinge of selfishness.
When you are completely free of all selfishness, totally indifferent to the results, acting effectively and with full concentration, but without any attachment or desire, and offering all your actions to God, then you are practicing karma yoga; that is far superior to buddhi yoga. Such a high state is not easily accessible to ordinary people. But that does not mean that you should give up trying to attain it. With whole-hearted effort and with God's grace, seemingly impossible things can be achieved. If you persist in your efforts, then with practice you will be able to reach this high level of karma yoga in all your activities.
To succeed in this, the inner vision must be developed. In order to firmly establish that inner vision, you must keep a particular principle constantly in mind. It is this: no matter how hard you search, whether it be in this physical world or in the world of your dreams and imaginations, or any other world, all you will ever see, wherever you look, will be combinations and variations of the five elements, either in their gross or subtle forms. They are the only things you will ever be able to find anywhere. There can never be anything else; there is no such thing as a sixth element.
These five elements are all reflections of the unlimited effulgence of God. They are his aspects. Their basis is the one divine principle. Therefore, perform all your actions with full consciousness, regarding all objects in the world not as the different, multifarious names and forms that they appear to be, but as mere combinations of the five elements, energized and illuminated by the one divine principle. When you know that, when you see everything in the world to be the sacred manifestation of divinity, then all your actions will automatically become offerings to God.
By keeping such lofty ideas in view while performing your actions, you effectively turn your vision from the limited outer vision to the liberating inner vision, and thus become a sacred human being. Constantly reflecting, in this manner, on the divinity that is everywhere, is the best way to develop the inner vision that will establish you in karma yoga. But such inner vision is very rare among people; even the greatest pundits and scholars are steeped only in the outer vision. Here is a story that illustrates this.
Once upon a time, King Janaka called an assembly of great scholars. Noted academicians participated. Famous pundits and logicians came from all over the realm. Scholars of renown, who were extremely articulate in their arguments, streamed in. A number of highly gifted persons who were capable of impressing the whole world with their intellectual and verbal prowess came to the great hall of the palace where the assembly was being held. This assembly was composed of such giants that there was no room at all for ordinary people to enter.
The daily meetings were presided over by King Janaka himself. Of the highly select group in attendance, only the most outstanding and accomplished were given an opportunity to speak and present their views. Into this magnificent and august assembly, young Astavakra, a young boy with a hideously deformed body, sought to gain admission. But who would permit Astavakra to enter? He did not have any credentials or any recommendation whatsoever. He did not have the help of any great teacher or sponsor. The only help he had was his deep faith in God.
Whoever has an abiding faith in God will not be put to any insurmountable difficulties. Temporarily there may be some obstacles, but in the end he is sure to meet with success. For three days Astavakra waited at the gate of King Janaka's palace through which all the participants to the great assembly entered. There, while waiting, Astavakra observed all the world-famous scholars who were coming to attend the meeting. Although only recognized scholars were being allowed inside, Astavakra was not prepared to give up his resolution to join the assembly and participate in its deliberations. 'I, too, have a chance,' he said to himself and continued to wait patiently at the gate, day after day.
There was one observant and sympathetic old scholar who noticed Astavakra standing by that gate whenever he entered and exited through it, morning and evening. The kindly old scholar informed King Janaka of the boy's presence. He told King Janaka that there was someone standing outside waiting for days to enter the assembly, although he did not have any of the usual qualifications necessary for being permitted inside. He told the king that this was not an elderly scholar, nor even a middle-aged one, but a very young person who did not seem to have much experience and who did not wear any of the accepted marks of achievement in scholarship, nor was he personally recommended by any of the pundits present. In short, nothing was known of this person or his qualifications except that he had been continuously waiting to come inside.
King Janaka directed his attendants to find the boy who was waiting at the gate outside and to bring him into the assembly hall. Shortly after King Janaka had taken his seat and the meeting began in the solemn and sacred atmosphere befitting such an august assembly, Astavakra entered the hall. The moment they saw this young boy with such a crooked form come to take part in the assembly, most of the great scholars who had gathered there began to laugh. King Janaka, who was keenly observing Astavakra as he entered, did not laugh.
Astavakra carefully looked around the hall, and then quite inexplicably started laughing even louder than the scholars who were seated there. This loud burst of laughter from Astavakra was quite inadmissible and greatly surprised the scholars. It became a real problem for them. 'Why should this young scamp be laughing at us?' they thought. 'There certainly is reason enough for our laughter, considering how funny he looks, but there is nothing at all strange about us, so what conceivable reason does he have for all this laughter?' They were very disturbed and irritated by what they considered the boy's impertinence.
You find this to be a rather common experience in the world, that when ordinary people see someone who has a physical defect which gives him a crooked appearance or makes him appear strange or unusual, they are inclined to laugh. Such gross behavior can only be considered a sign of ignorance. It is totally different from the warm smile of an innocent child. A small child will smile at any person, regardless of their appearance. When the child smiles, every other person seeing this child will also smile along with it. Such a child's smile, which infects everyone who sees it, arises from the sacredness of innocence. But in that assembly hall, the laughter that Astavakra met with was very different from a child's innocent smile. That hall was packed full with very great and noted scholars, persons of exceptional accomplishments in learning; but there was no child-like innocence to be found there.
The assembled scholars were eagerly waiting to find out why this strange-looking young lad who had just come in was laughing so loudly. One of the scholars was bold enough to speak to Astavakra. He asked, "Young stranger, who are you? We do not know you. When we looked at you as you came in, your form made us laugh. In response to our laughter, you are laughing even more loudly. What is the reason for this? What is so ludicrous about all the renowned scholars seated here that you have not stopped laughing even for a moment?"
Astavakra replied, "I entered this gathering thinking it to be a sacred assembly convened by the famous Emperor Janaka to discuss the holy scriptures. If only I had known what kind of people were attending this assembly, I would not have bothered to come. I waited patiently for many days and then entered this hall thinking that the greatest living scholars would be assembled here. I looked forward to being in the company of such sacred souls. But, alas, I find nothing but common cobblers here, only shoemakers, who stitch sandals and work with leather."
When they heard this, all the scholars became furious, feeling deeply insulted by Astavakra for using such abusive words. But Astavakra continued in the same vein, "Cobblers is the proper word to describe you. Only cobblers, only people who work with hides would think about the worth of a particular skin; others will not be bothered about it. All of you are laughing at my skin and have obviously decided that it is not worth much. But not even one of you has made any effort to know my spiritual understanding. Pundits should have the capacity to look inward, but you only seem to care about the outer covering. If you have not developed your inner vision but are only concerned with the superficial outer vision, then you cannot be considered scholars at all. Then you are only cobblers, shoemakers, specialists in hides." Thus spoke Astavakra.
The scholars hung their heads in shame. King Janaka, who understood very well what Astavakra was saying, invited him to take a seat in that assembly and subsequently bestowed numerous honors upon him.
As was the case then, so is the case now throughout the world. However great people may be, they have developed only the external vision. They do not bother to cultivate the inner vision. When you examine a person, you pay attention to his physical features, his wealth, his status, his education and degrees and so on. On the other hand, when God examines a person, he looks at the purity of his heart, he pays attention to the peace that is within him. You should also develop such inner vision and inner peace. Whatever be the circumstances, you should not be subject to quick excitement. You should allow time for the nobler feelings to well up from inside you and manifest themselves.
Suppose someone insults you what will you lose by their insult? You should not respond to such insults with any agitation or excitement. If you remain peaceful, all the anger of the other person may freely pour out. But if you try to obstruct others' strong feelings by preventing them from venting their anger, it could possibly lead to a dangerous situation. Consider, as an example, that someone has become sick, that he is feeling quite nauseous and is throwing up the contents in his stomach. What is the reason for his being sick and vomiting? It is because some impurities, some toxic substances have entered his stomach. Wherever there are impurities you will soon find germs or poisons, and along with them come sickness and diminution of health. For this reason, it is most important that no impurities enter your system.
The body is carefully arranged to immediately throw up and expel any toxins that attempt to enter it. When the body reacts naturally by vomiting out the poisons, it would be incorrect to give medicines to stop that vomiting. If medicine is given, the toxins will not be thrown up; instead they will remain in the stomach and soon poison the whole system. Therefore, one should allow all the impurities to come out and not obstruct them by giving medicine which suppresses the nausea. After all the impurities have been thrown up, then one can give some healing medicines.
Once the vomiting and nausea are over, a person will feel very weak. Then he will do whatever you ask; that is when he will obey you. So this is the best procedure to follow when someone is vomiting out poison. The same thing applies whenever someone is very angry and is vomiting out poison, in that form. Let them do it; do not obstruct them. Whatever they want to say, let them say it as long as they want to. Until such time as it all comes out, you should remain peaceful and patient. Why should you subject yourself to a lot of disturbance and excitement? Instead of becoming upset, your patient attitude will actually promote feelings of peace and happiness within you. This itself is the experience of heaven, namely. to maintain your equanimity and compassion under all circumstances. Why should you deny yourself the joy of such heavenly feelings?
Patience is a most important quality. Of all the good qualities a person can have, patience and forbearance rank at the very top. Baba has said a number of times that forbearance is truth, forbearance is righteousness, forbearance is nonviolence, forbearance is happiness. Forbearance really is equal in value to everything that you can find in all the worlds. If a person has forbearance, then he will be able to acquire all the other important qualities such as mind control, sense control, renunciation, fortitude, faith and equipoise. All these make up the state of inner purity.
You use soap and water and powders and perfumes of various kinds to purify yourself externally. In the same way, you develop these six spiritual treasures and put them into daily practice in order to purify yourself internally. Inner purity is extremely important; it is even more important than outer purity. The Lord is ever present both inside and outside. The entire place where the Lord is to be found must be purified and sanctified, both inner and outer. Then the indwelling God will protect you wherever you go.
Krishna taught Arjuna all the qualities which make one an ideal person, firmly established in wisdom. They have been previously mentioned but let us examine them once again. They are:
> Peace of mind,
> Sense control,
> Renunciation of desires,
> Fortitude under all circumstances this means that whatever be the test, whatever be the circumstances, you maintain a steady, undeluded and unwavering mind,
> A firm faith in the teachings of the scriptures, as well as in the words of the guru and the great saints who have trod the spiritual path before you, and,
> Being contented under all circumstances and having complete equanimity of mind.
Only when you have equanimity of mind will you be able to develop firmness and fortitude. Only when you have fortitude will you be able to develop firm faith. Only when you have intense faith will you have some sacred feelings and renounce desires. Only when you have disgust for the objects of the world will you have sense control. Then when you have achieved sense control, you will gain peace of mind. Where there is peace of mind there is inner and outer purity. And where there is inner and outer purity, patience will be second-nature to you and you will dwell automatically in that peaceful state. Therefore, you must make an effort to develop these basic qualities which are so vital to progress on the spiritual path.
By reading or listening to these teachings on the Gita, or even committing various passages to memory, you will not be able to achieve much. Along with these activities of the mind, you have to put at least one or two of the injunctions given here into practice. Only then will the fragrance of the Gita enter your heart. It is Baba's wish that all these great teachings which you have been enjoying be put into practice by you, so that they can become your inner treasure and be an integral part of your expression in all your day-to-day activities.
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