Practice and Objectivity

Updated: Sep 10

arjuna uvāca |

yo'yaṃ yogastvayā proktaḥ sāmyena madhusūdhana |

etasyāhaṃ na paśyāmi cañcalatvāt sthitiṃ sthirām ||6.33||

Arjuna said,

Madhusūdhana (Krsna)! This yoga that you have talked about as sameness, I do not see its steady vision due to agitation (of the mind).


cañcalaṃ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa pramāthi balavad-dṛḍham |

tasyāhaṃ nigrahaṃ manye vāyoriva suduṣkaram ||6.34||

In fact, Krsna! the mind is agitation, a strong, well rooted tyrant.

I think of it as impossible to control as the wind.


Arjuna presented his problem here, described his mind as agitation - cañcalatvāt, therefore he couldn't see this vision steadily. He described the mind is not just only restless, but like turbulence which also agitates the physical body and senses as well. And it is so powerful and firm, difficult to control. How difficult? Just like one attempts to control over wind. "With this kind of mind, how could I have steady vision about this oneness you have talked about?"


It is ought to say that only mind which is composed and steady, is the proper tool to receive and retain this knowledge. Arjuna is a qualified student to receive ātmā-jñānam, but because of strong agitation of mind, self-knowledge doesn't retain easily. Student of Vedanta can be broadly categorised to tree kinds. First is adhama, this type of student for somehow get some interest to learn ātmā-jñānam, but he/she just couldn't grasp the understanding about the teaching even the person has learned for a length of time. Second type is madhyama, this type of student meets certain degree of qualification, therefore he/she can grasp the understanding of the teaching, but the teaching is hard to retain. This is nothing to do with memory, since the subject matter is self-knowledge, the problem lies on owning up / assimilating in one's life. Here is presented by Arjuna's himself, because of the agitation of the mind which caused by strong, rooted attachment, mind just forgets the teaching as though. Just like in chapter 2 verse 62 & 63 say "In the person who dwells upon objects, an attachment is born with reference to them. From attachment desire is born and from desire, anger is born due to unfulfilled desire. From anger comes delusion and from delusion comes the loss of memory. Because of the loss of memory, the mind becomes incapacitated and when the mind is incapacitated, the person is destroyed." Lost of memory, showing the incapacity to retain the teaching which started from deep attachment towards anātma. Third type is uttama, highly qualified student who is like gunpowder, taking up the fire right away when it being lit up. In the same manner this type of student right away owned up his/her true nature when the teacher unfolds the oneness "tat tvam asi" - "you are that brahman".


Therefore the rise of knowledge is through śravanam - listening through the sentence of mahavakya, "tat tvam asi" - "you are that brahman", for highly qualified student. And for others, mananam - resolving doubts and nididhyasanam - contemplate on the teaching are needed.


Therefore, Arjuna's question relates to ways and the means for gaining the mind that will easily assimilate this knowledge.


śrībhagavānuvāca |

asaṃśayaṃ mahābāho mano durnigrahaṃ calam |

abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyena ca gṛhyate ||6.35||

Śrī-bhagavān said: No doubt, Arjuna, the mighty armed! the mind is agitated and difficult to master. But, Kaunteya (Arjuna)! it is mastered by practice and objectivity.


Arjuna accepted that his mind is agitated, this is the first step one needs to progress. In fact in every aspect, we need to accept our lack then we can learn, and progress. Agitation can't be removed just like that. Main cause is the condition of the mind which gets agitated easily. Therefore instead of working on not to get agitated, we need to work on the conditioning of the mind by shifting our mind's pattern through abhyāsa - practice and vairāgya - objectivity.


Our mind is used to identify with anātmā alone, therefore abhyāsa - repeatedly bringing the teaching into our mind, in another saying identify more with ātmā our true nature and identify less with anātmā. Meditation works very well here, since we are engaging ourselves fully without any other activities, only dwell on the teaching itself. But abhyāsa is not enough if we don't have objectivities - vairāgya toward anātmā. Usually we know vairāgya as dispassion, but before total dispassion toward objects of enjoyment, there must be certain objectivities towards them, by not superimpose extra value on them. Objectivity is the capacity to look at things as they are, then one can be free from longing/ dispassion that implies superimposition. Just like we know that money is important, but we don't value money above everything else. Everything in this world has its own role and value in its own respective field. Only by being objective, towards them including my own body-mind-sense-complex, one can have a mind which is not attached, and only with a non-attached mind towards anātmā, one can repeatedly seeing the truth of his/her self and firmly retain it as one's own self.

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