Key Principles of the Karma Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita

The normal human consciousness sets up artificial divisions and oppositions and then acts upon them. This is due to the nature of the human mentality and its “either/or” logic track that wants to make everything “black and white”. It is difficult, in the extreme, for most people to accept two apparently opposite ideas as both being “true” at the same time. In modern society, with our technological prowess, we have found that this line of approach has very serious practical applications, and the “zero or one” logic we have built into the computers have allowed us to achieve some remarkable things in the material world.

Nevertheless, this approach has its limitations and when we go outside the framework of what it can actually deal with, we find that it is totally incapable of coping with the type and level of complexity found in Nature. A different standpoint is required to move beyond the limitations of the mind, which we may call the “divine standpoint”.

The Gita attempts to move us toward this new standpoint through the core aspects of its approach to Karma Yoga. Sri Aurobindo explains: “Its key principle, its spiritual method, can be summed up as the union of two largest and highest states or powers of consciousness, equality and oneness. The kernel of its method is an unreserved acceptance of the Divine in our life as in our inner self and spirit.”

While the mind separates “man” from “God”, the Gita’s approach stresses the unity of all existence in Nature as well as the unity between “Nature” and “God”. They are not opposites but actually ONE.

“An inner renunciation of personal desire leads to equality, accomplishes our total surrender to the Divine, supports a delivery from dividing ego which brings us oneness.”

Another contradiction that the mind is fixated on is the separation between active and passive being. This also, however, is unreal. “The Gita promises us freedom for the spirit even in the midst of works and the full energies of Nature, if we accept subjection of our whole being to that which is higher than the separating and limiting ego. it proposes an integral dynamic activity founded on a still passivity; a largest possible action irrevocably based on an immobile calm is its secret,–free expression out of a supreme inward silence.”

The Gita translates the two core aphoristic statements of the Upanishads, “One without a second” and “All this is the Brahman.” into a unified vision that recognizes that the key is Oneness, which means that the entire manifestation is real, or as Sri Aurobindo calls it in The Life Divine, “reality omnipresent.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 3, Self-Surrender in Works–The Way of the Gita, pg. 88

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