Dissociation from Association

Updated: Aug 20

To avoid miss-understanding about absolute happiness being experiential, Lord Krsna adds one more explanation for the word yoga.


taṃ vidyād duḥkhasaṃyogaviyogaṃ yogasaṃjñitam |

sa niścayena yoktavyo yogo’nirviṇṇacetasā ||6.23||

...may one know that dissociation from association with sorrow, to be what is called as yoga. That yoga should be pursued with clarity of purpose with a mind that is not discouraged.


May one know that the culmination of vedantic meditation which is abidance in the nature of the self is named yoga - yogasaṃjñitam, which is 7)duḥkhasaṃyogaviyogaṃ - dissociation from association with sorrow. The word yoga commonly is understood as uniting/connecting. When union/connection happened, usually involves two things or more. When we contemplate on the nature of the self, it seems like the union of me and nature of ātmā. This is the sense we generally get from the word yoga. But there are some defects if it is understood in this way. Firstly, whenever two things come together, they can be fallen apart. It may imply that one can get back to the life of samsārah after moksa is attained, because there is no permanent union. Secondly, any entity should have parts/attributes to associate with others. But ātmā is part-less/attribute-less, therefore real association is impossible here. Therefore Lord Krsna redefines it here in the opposite sense - viparītalaksana, meaning that the word is used in its limited sense and then the limitations are knocked off by redefining it. This method is used in vedānta teaching for one to understand the nature of ātmā which is attribute-less.


He defines yoga as dissociation from association. Association with what? Association between ātmā and anātmā. But nature of ātmā is without attribute, then there is no association is possible for ātmā. Therefore this association with anātmā is superimposed. And this superimposition is possible only when ignorance about the truth is there. Just like in the case of rope-snake, it is seen as a snake only when there is ignorance of the rope. Since the connection itself is born of ignorance, therefore there is no actual physical withdrawal from anātmā is possible, it can only be done by knowledge. Only by knowing my true nature, then dissociation from the superimposed association with anātmā is possible. And this superimposed association is the source of sorrow. Since this association is there for so many births, therefore for changing to correct orientation takes time. Thus one should equip with conviction - niścayena and perseverance - anirviṇṇacetasā. Therefore one shouldn't feel frustrated while one couldn't concentrate during meditation. It is explained in next verse.


yato yato niścarati manaścañcalamasthiram |

tatastato niyamyaitadātmanyeva vaśaṃ nayet ||6.26||

For whatever reason the unsteady mind, always in the state of flux, goes away, bringing it back from that, with reference to the self alone, may one bring (the mind) into one's own hands.


Our mind is always drawn by any sense object or thought as the cause of distraction when we try to contemplate on ātmā. This is the most common complaint we heard from people who attempt to meditate. How to make our mind stay in the object of meditation? Whenever the mind is going away, just bring it back. This is the practice, just like one who doesn't know how to swim, the only way of learning is swimming itself. Many kinds of preparation can be there, but the actual action is swimming itself. In the same way for meditation.


One should understand the meaning of ātmā before one can do vedantic meditation, unlike other kind of meditation, where we can concentrate only by having the perception of the object of meditation itself, or even imagination. Understanding of ātmā and anātmā will make the mind stay focus. When we know that objects of distraction are of the nature of anātmā, whose existence depend upon me - ātmā and yet they can't affect me. By knowing their limitation, one lost interest in them. Also by managing like and dislike toward them, one develops dispassion and will not under their control. In this manner by the strength of practice meditation, the mind of the contemplator is settled in oneself.

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