The Advantages of the Yoga of Desireless Action

The Gita recognizes that the practice of any of the methods of yogic concentration can be difficult and discouraging, as the human mind and heart are easily distracted or led astray by the appeal of the objects of the senses. Thus, whether one follows the austere path of the yoga of knowledge as it was traditionally practiced, or even the path of devotion which turns everything one sees and does into an act of divine adoration, the difficulty remains in that we tend to forget, lose our focus, and get ourselves caught up in the outer forms and forces.

For this reason, the Gita now proposes an additional method which it sets forth as pre-eminent because results will come even for those who cannot totally succeed with the other methods.

Sri Aurobindo describes this method and its role in the Gita’s yoga: “Then the way is to control the lower self in the act and do works without desire of the fruit. All fruit has to be renounced, to be given up to the Power that directs the work, and yet the work has to be done that is imposed by It on the nature. For by this means the obstacle steadily diminishes and easily disappears, the mind is left free to remember the Lord and to fix itself in the liberty of the divine consciousness.”

In fact, the Gita provides an ascending series of methods with this at the top! “…practice of a method, repetition of an effort and experience is a great and powerful thing; but better than this is knowledge, the successful and luminous turning of the thought to the Truth behind things. This thought-knowledge too is excelled by a silent complete concentration on the Truth so that the consciousness shall eventually live in it and be always one with it. But more powerful still is the giving up of the fruit of one’s works, because that immediately destroys all causes of disturbance and brings and preserve automatically an inner calm and peace, and calm and peace are the foundation on which all else becomes perfect and secure in possession by the tranquil spirit. Then the consciousness can be at ease, happily fix itself in the Divine and rise undisturbed to perfection. Then too knowledge, will and devotion can lift their pinnacles from a firm soil of solid calm into the ether of Eternity.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 12, The Way and the Bhakta, pp. 388-389