Statesman, yet friend to truth! Of soul sincere In action faithful, and in honour clear; Who broke no promise, served no private end, Who gained no title, and who lost no friend; — Alexander Pope
I create neither the faculty of acting, nor actions themselves, nor the connection between cause and effect. The Lord of the world creates neither the faculty of acting, nor actions, nor the connection between action and its fruits; but nature prevaileth in these. The Lord receives no man’s deeds, be they sinful or full of merit. The truth is obscured by that which is not true, and therefore all creatures are led astray.
Cause and effect are linked by Nature. Pain and pleasure are functions of Individualised Spirit, when invested with Matter. Nature or prakriti is said to be that which operates in producing cause and effect in actions; individual spirit or purusha is said to be the cause of experiencing pain and pleasure. For spirit when invested with matter or prakriti experienceth the qualities which proceed from prakriti, its connection with these qualities is the cause of its rebirth in good and evil wombs.
He, who seeth that all his actions are performed by Nature only, and that the self within is not the actor, sees indeed.
Thus, neither actions nor their fruits can affect Me. Actions affect me not, nor have I any expectations from the fruits of actions. He who comprehendeth me to be thus is not held by the bonds of action to rebirth.
The path of action is obscure. Wise is he who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction. Those who wish for success to their works in this life sacrifice to the gods; and in this world success from their actions soon cometh to pass.
The ancients who longed for eternal salvation, having discovered this, still performed works. Wherefore perform thou works even as they were performed by the ancients in former times. Even sages have been deluded as to what is action and what inaction; therefore I shall explain to thee what is action by a knowledge of which thou shalt be liberated from evil. One must learn well what is action to be performed, what is not to be, and what is inaction. The path of action is obscure. That man who sees inaction in action and action in inaction is wise among men; he is a true devotee and a perfect performer of all action.
Propelled into action by eternity, you cannot outwit Karman by abandoning action. A man enjoyeth not freedom from action from the non-commencement of that which he hath to do; nor doth he obtain happiness from a total abandonment of action.
Any action is superior to inaction. No one ever resteth a moment inactive. Every man is involuntarily urged to act by the qualities which spring from nature.4
But he who having subdued all his passions performeth with his active faculties all the duties of life, unconcerned as to their result, is to be esteemed. Do thou perform the proper actions: action is superior to inaction. The journey of thy mortal frame cannot be accomplished by inaction.
Inertia is false devotion. He who remains inert, restraining the senses and organs, yet pondering with his heart upon objects of sense, is called a false pietist of bewildered soul.
Dedicating all actions to Me is much wiser than pursuing your own ends. All actions performed other than as sacrifice unto God make the actor bound by action. Abandon, then, . . . all selfish motives, and in action perform thy duty for him alone. When in ancient times the lord of creatures had formed mankind, and at the same time appointed his worship, he spoke and said: “With this worship, pray for increase, and let it be for you Kamadhuk, the cow of plenty, on which ye shall depend for the accomplishment of all your wishes.”
Action devoted to Me is not only superior to personal action, Yet the performance of works is by far inferior to mental devotion. . . . Seek an asylum, then, in this mental devotion, which is knowledge; for miserable and unhappy are those whose impulse to action is found in its reward.
For those who are thus united to knowledge and devoted, who have renounced all reward for their actions, meet no rebirth in this life, and go to that eternal blissful abode which is free from all disease and untouched by troubles.
It is also superior to the renunciation of action. Only works devoted to Me can set you free from the bonds of Karman. Renunciation of action and devotion through action are both means of final emancipation, but of these two devotion through action is better than renunciation. He is considered to be an ascetic who seeks nothing and nothing rejects, being free from the influence of the “pairs of opposites” . . . without trouble he is released from the bonds forged by action. Children only and not the wise speak of renunciation of action and of right performance of action as being different. He who perfectly practices the one receives the fruits of both.
In any case, renunciation of action unaided by devotion is difficult. But to attain to true renunciation of action without devotion through action is difficult; while the devotee who is engaged in the right practice of his duties approacheth the Supreme Spirit in no long time.
Its dire consequences will survive death and accrue in future lives. It is impossible for mortals to utterly abandon actions; but he who gives up the results of action is the true renouncer. The threefold results of action — unwished for, wished for, and mixed — accrue after death to those who do not practice this renunciation, but no results follow those who perfectly renounce. 1
Devotion through disinterested action is the best yoga. . . . there are two modes of devotion: that of those who follow the Sankhya or speculative science, which is the exercise of reason in contemplation; and that of the followers of the Yoga school, which is devotion in the performance of action.2
For, not only will it relieve you from the grip of Karman, it is also the most effective approach to spiritual development. . . . now hear what it is in the practical, devotional one, by means of which, if fully imbued therewith, thou shalt forever burst the bonds of Karma and rise above them. In this system of Yoga no effort is wasted, nor are there any evil consequences, and even a little of this practice delivereth a man from great risk. In this path there is only one single object, and this of a steady, constant nature; but widelybranched is the faith and infinite are the objects of those who follow not this system.3
Pure, just, impartial, unexpecting, equal-minded to friend or foe, the same in honour and dishonour, unaffected by pleasure and pain, indefatigable in action irrespective of the outcome, and with a heart full of love resting on Me: these are the hallmarks of a true devotee. My devotee who is unexpecting, pure, just, impartial, devoid of fear, and who hath forsaken interest in the results of action, is dear unto me. . . . He also is worthy of my love who neither rejoiceth nor findeth fault, who neither lamenteth nor coveteth, and being my servant hath forsaken interest in both good and evil results. He also is my beloved servant who is equal-minded to friend or foe, the same in honour and dishonour, in cold and heat, in pain and pleasure, and is unsolicitous about the event of things; to whom praise and blame are as one; who is of little speech, content with whatever cometh to pass, who hath no fixed habitation, and whose heart, full of devotion, is firmly fixed.
While you cannot avoid the battlefield of life, But if thou wilt not perform the duty of thy calling and fight out the field, thou wilt abandon thy natural duty and thy honour, and be guilty of a crime. Mankind will speak of thy ill fame as infinite, and for one who hath been respected in the world ill fame is worse than death. The generals of the armies will think that thy retirement from the field arose from fear, and even amongst those by whom thou wert wont to be thought great of soul thou shalt become despicable. Thine enemies will speak of thee in words which are unworthy to be spoken, depreciating thy courage and abilities; what can be more dreadful than this! If thou art slain thou shalt attain heaven; if victorious, the world shall be thy reward; wherefore . . . arise with determination fixed for the battle.
Still, through selfless action you can rise above Maya’s Opposing Forces. Make pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, the same to thee, and then prepare for battle, for thus and thus alone shalt thou in action still be free from sin.2
Thus thou shalt be delivered from the good and evil experiences which are the bonds of action; and thy heart being joined to renunciation and to the practice of action, thou shalt come to me. I am the same to all creatures; I know not hatred nor favour; but those who serve me with love dwell in me and I in them.
It is your actions that keep you bound to the wheel of births and deaths, ever demeaning yourself, and living in vain. But those who eat not but what is left of the offerings shall be purified of all their transgressions. Those who dress their meat but for themselves eat the bread of sin, being themselves sin incarnate.
He who, sinfully delighting in the gratification of his passions, doth not cause this wheel thus already set in motion to continue revolving, liveth in vain.
Dedicate your actions to Me, turn you thoughts to Me, place your heart on Me, and I will save you. For those who worship me, renouncing in me all their actions, regarding me as the supreme goal and meditating on me alone, if their thoughts are turned to me, I presently become the saviour from this ocean of incarnations and death. Place, then, thy heart on me, penetrate me with thy understanding, and thou shalt without doubt hereafter dwell in me.
The fetters of dualism are not broken by abandoning action but by rooting out your false individuality that makes you believe in Otherness apart from Oneness. Those who are free from pride of self and whose discrimination is perfected, who have prevailed over the fault of attachment to action, who are constantly employed in devotion to meditation upon the Supreme Spirit, who have renounced desire and are free from the influence of the opposites known as pleasure and pain, are undeluded, and proceed to that place which endureth forever.
The highest perfection of freedom from action is attained through renunciation by him who in all works has an unfettered mind and subdued heart.
Truly disinterested, impersonal action implies total disregard for its fruits. The man who is devoted and not attached to the fruit of his actions obtains tranquillity; whilst he who through desire has attachment for the fruit of action is bound down thereby. The self-restrained sage having with his heart renounced all actions, dwells at rest in the “nine gate city of his abode,” neither acting nor causing to act.4
The bards conceive that the forsaking of actions which have a desired object is renunciation or Sannyasa; the wise call the disregard of the fruit of every action true disinterestedness in action. By some wise men it is said, “Every action is as much to be avoided as a crime,” while by others it is declared, “Deeds of sacrifice, of mortification, and of charity should not be forsaken.”
Impersonal action ranks above meditation, knowledge, and meditation, in that order. If after constant practice [of concentration], thou art still unable [steadfastly to fix thy heart and mind on me], follow me by actions performed for me; for by doing works for me thou shalt attain perfection. But if thou art unequal even to this, then, being selfrestrained, place all thy works, failures and successes alike, on me, abandoning in me the fruit of every action. For knowledge is better than constant practice, meditation is superior to knowledge, renunciation of the fruit of action to meditation; final emancipation immediately results from such renunciation.
Throw every deed on Me, and with mind set on Me, fight your weaknesses without anguish, or expectations. All actions are effected by the qualities of nature. The man deluded by ignorance thinks, “I am the actor.” But he . . . who is acquainted with the nature of the two distinctions of cause and effect, knowing that the qualities act only in the qualities, and that the Self is distinct from them, is not attached in action.
Throwing every deed on me, and with thy meditation fixed upon the Higher Self, resolve to fight, without expectation, devoid of egotism and free from anguish. Those men who constantly follow this my doctrine without reviling it, and with a firm faith, shall be emancipated even by actions; but they who revile it and do not follow it are bewildered in regard to all knowledge, and perish, being devoid of discrimination.
Let not the fruit of action and inaction be thy motive. 4 Let, then, the motive for action be in the action itself, and not in the event. Do not be incited to actions by the hope of their reward, nor let thy life be spent in inaction. Firmly persisting, in Yoga, perform thy duty . . . and laying aside all desire for any benefit to thyself from action, make the event equal to thee, whether it be success or failure. Equal-mindedness is called Yoga.
Please the Self within by doing what you believe is your duty to do, oblivious to both occasion and outcome. But the man who only taketh delight in the Self within, is satisfied with that and content with that alone, hath no selfish interest in action. He hath no interest either in that which is done or that which is not done; and there is not, in all things which have been created, any object on which he may place dependence. Therefore perform thou that which thou hast to do, at all times unmindful of the event; for the man who doeth that which he hath to do, without attachment to the result, obtaineth the Supreme.
Set an example to others by acting impartially. . . . whatever is practised by the most excellent men, that is also practised by others. The world follows whatever example they set.
As the ignorant perform the duties of life from the hope of reward, so the wise man, from the wish to bring the world to duty and benefit mankind, should perform his actions without motives of interest. He should not create confusion in the understandings of the ignorant, who are inclined to outward works, but by being himself engaged in action should cause them to act also.
. . . he who is perfectly enlightened should not unsettle those whose discrimination is weak and knowledge incomplete, nor cause them to relax from their duty.
Although there is nothing that I can possibly obtain, I am indefatigable in action. There is nothing . . . in the three regions of the universe which it is necessary for me to perform, nor anything possible to obtain which I have not obtained; and yet I am constantly in action. If I were not indefatigable in action, all men would presently follow my example. . . . If I did not perform actions these creatures would perish; I should be the cause of confusion of castes, and should have slain all these creatures.
Act, therefore, without any desire for reward, unrecognised and unthanked by the world, with mind and body subdued, the same in success and failure, contented with whatever you may receive fortuitously. Those who have spiritual discrimination call him wise whose undertakings are all free from desire, for his actions are consumed in the fire of knowledge. He abandoneth the desire to see a reward for his actions, is free, contented, and upon nothing dependeth, and although engaged in action he really doeth nothing; he is not solicitous of results, with mind and body subdued and being above enjoyment from objects, doing with the body alone the acts of the body, he does not subject himself to rebirth. He is contented with whatever he receives fortuitously, is free from the influence of the “pairs of opposites” and from envy, the same in success and failure; even though he act he is not bound by the bonds of action. All the actions of such a man who is free from self-interest, who is devoted, with heart set upon spiritual knowledge, and whose acts are sacrifices for the sake of the Supreme, are dissolved and left without effect on him. The Supreme Spirit is the act of offering, the Supreme Spirit is the sacrificial butter offered in the fire which is the Supreme Spirit, and unto the Supreme Spirit goeth he who maketh the Supreme Spirit the object of his meditation in performing his actions.
Since every action comes from Me, and sacrifice is performed by action, I am always present in the sacrifice. Beings are nourished by food, food is produced by rain, rain comes from sacrifice, and sacrifice is performed by action. Know that action comes from the Supreme Spirit who is one; wherefore the all-pervading Spirit is at all times present in the sacrifice.
All these sacrifices of so many kinds are displayed in the sight of God; know that they all spring from action, and, comprehending this, thou shalt obtain an eternal release. Seek this wisdom by doing service, by strong search, by questions, and by humility; the wise who see the truth will communicate it unto thee, and knowing which thou shalt never again fall into error . .
As the leaf of the lotus is unaffected by water, so impartial action will leave you untainted by sin. The man of purified heart, having his body fully controlled, his senses restrained, and for whom the only self is the Self of all creatures, is not tainted although performing actions. The devotee who knows the divine truth thinketh “I am doing nothing” in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving, sleeping, breathing; even when speaking, letting go or taking, opening or closing his eyes, he sayeth, “the senses and organs move by natural impulse to their appropriate objects.” Whoever in acting dedicates his actions to the Supreme Spirit and puts aside all selfish interest in their result is untouched by sin, even as the leaf of the lotus is unaffected by the waters. The truly devoted, for the purification of the heart, perform actions with their bodies, their minds, their understanding, and their senses, putting away all self-interest.
Overwhelmed by the transcendent nature of Krishna, Arjuna feels shameful and sinful, begs forgiveness for his former conduct, and asks Krishna to appear in a human, agreeable form: Having been ignorant of thy majesty, I took thee for a friend, and have called thee “O Krishna, O son of Yadu, O friend,” and blinded by my affection and presumption, I have at times treated thee without respect in sport, in recreation, in repose, in thy chair, and at thy meals, in private and in public; all this I beseech thee, O inconceivable Being, to forgive. 2 [Arjuna:] I am well pleased with having beheld what was never before seen, and yet my heart is overwhelmed with awe; have mercy then, O God; show me that other form, O thou who art the dwelling-place of the universe; I desire to see thee as before with thy diadem on thy head, thy hands armed with mace and chakra; assume again, O thou of a thousand arms and universal form, thy four-armed shape! [Krishna:] Out of kindness to thee by my divine power I have shown thee my supreme form, the universe, resplendent, infinite, primeval, and which has never been beheld by any other than thee. Neither by studying the Vedas, nor by alms-giving, nor by sacrificial rites, nor by deeds, nor by the severest mortification of the flesh can I be seen in this form by any other than thee . . . Having beheld my form thus awful, be not disturbed nor let thy faculties be confounded, but with fears allayed and happiness of heart look upon this other form of mine again.
Only by total self-surrender and single-minded devotion to Me and love of all beings, I can be approached, seen, and known in Truth. . . . I am to be approached and seen and known in truth by means of that devotion which has me alone as the object. He whose actions are for me alone, who esteemeth me the supreme goal, who is my servant only, without attachment to the results of action and free from enmity towards any creature, cometh to me.
For, the ultimate object of wisdom is a conscious Unity through the plurality of forms, where Me, you, and ALL are ONE again. . . . I will now tell thee what is the object of wisdom, from knowing which a man enjoys immortality; it is that which has no beginning, even the supreme Brahman, and of which it cannot be said that it is either Being or NonBeing. It has hands and feet in all directions; eyes, heads, mouths, and ears in every direction; it is immanent in the world, possessing the vast whole. Itself without organs, it is reflected by all the senses and faculties; unattached, yet supporting all; without qualities, yet the witness of them all. It is within and without all creatures animate and inanimate; it is inconceivable because of its subtlety, and although near it is afar off. Although undivided, it appeareth as divided among creatures, and while it sustains existing things, it is also to be known as their destroyer and creator. It is the light of all lights, and is declared to be beyond all darkness; and it is wisdom itself, the object of wisdom, and that which is to be obtained by wisdom; in the hearts of all it ever presideth.
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