Be The Change

teachings Jun 21, 2021


न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम् ।
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान्युक्तः समाचरन् ॥ २६ ॥
na buddhibhedaṁ janayed ajñānāṁ karmasaṅginām
joṣayet sarvakarmāṇi vidvān yuktaḥ samācaran 
na — not; buddhi — intellect; bheda — breaking, tearing, cleaving, hurt, injury, disturbance, conflict, discord; janayet — (he should) produce, generate, cause, create, beget, ; ajñānām — of the ignorant, of those not possessing knowledge; karma — action; saṅginām — who are worldly, hanging on, clinging, attached; joṣayet — he should delight in, enjoy, devote oneself; sarva — all; karmāṇi — activities; vidvān — a person with spiritual knowledge; yuktaḥ — yoked, joined, united, engaged in; samācaran — practicing, performing, observing virtuous conduct (to move towards the sum totality of all)
[The wise] should not cause discord in the intellect of the ignorant, who are attached to action. The person with spiritual knowledge, yoked with the sum totality of all, should inspire them towards devotion in all activities. 
I have been thinking about this verse the past week. The word for word translation above is my own of the Sanskrit and Devanagari. This verse is one of my favorites from the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient treatise on Dharma.
What is Dharma? Dharma has as one of its roots, dha- which means to contain, to hold, to possess. Ma is nature. Dharma is the very essence of a thing. It is our essential nature. It is us flowing in perfect alignment with the nature of God, and the end teaching of the Vedas, Vedanta, is that we are all collectively God (Brahman). Thus, we can say that Dharma is our nature. We can call it the Law. It is the one Law that we all collectively abide by, the Law of the Spirit within. Thus, Dharma is also the Yamas and the Niyamas of Yoga. Yama is the Lord of Death and Dharma in the Vedic teachings. The Yamas are characteristics we are to die to in our own system that go against our own alignment with God within. The primary Yama is himsa (attacking, hurting, harming, violence). We are to not harm ourselves. We are to not attack ourselves. What we do to ourselves, we naturally project onto others. If we are attacking ourselves in our mind, we will attack others with our words and actions. So Yamas are inside of us and outside of us. Ni- means to go within, inside. The Niyamas are totally inside of ourselves. They do not have any involvement with anything outside of us. They are things such as inner purity and surrender to God. When we practice Yamas and Niyamas we are practicing the Law of Dharma and we naturally display the fruits of the Spirit.
The above Bhagavad Gita verse discusses how we are to treat those individuals who do not practice Dharma. Great caution should be taken to make sure that we ourselves are indeed practicing Dharma fully before we think ourselves so noble as to include ourselves in the category of the Dharmic. Yamas and Niyamas are not so easy to practice. We catch one of them, and the others will put us to shame. To be loving, kind, to not harm anyone mentally, emotionally, or physically (including ourselves), and to be truthful and not deceive even our own selves much less others all at the same time is a tall order. And that is only covering two of the five primary Yamas outlined in Patanjali Yoga Sutras (there are ten Yamas and ten Niyamas if we look into other texts). It is difficult to practice the Yamas and Niyamas.
Patanjali Yoga Sutras is a summary of all the Vedas. Patanjali was brilliant, in my opinion, and no Yoga text has rivaled it yet. Even Vyasa (the compiler of the Vedas and author of Mahabharata and The Bhagavad Gita) wrote a commentary on Patanjali Yoga Sutras. There is a reason that Patanjali says Yamas come first in the eight limbed practice of Yoga, and there is a reason that he places Ahimsa (non-violence) as the number one Yama and Law of Dharma. All of Yoga can be summed up in Ahimsa. The ultimate violence that we create is to separate from our own Self within. To reunite with our Self within is Yoga. Thus, in undoing this greatest violence, we achieve the whole of Dharma.
All of us are ignorant because all of us have separated from our own Self. It is part of the design of this material world. There are 24 evolutes (Tattvas) of God extending into the material world. The first two are Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha is the immutable Spirit within us. Prakriti is the material world (Material Nature) made up of three kinds of energies called Gunas. The most dense of these three energies is called Tamas. This Tamas creates a veil over our ability to see and know that we are God. It is much like taking black mud and covering over a mirror. Our ability to see ourselves is veiled. The Sanskrit word Avidya means ignorance. Vidya means "to see, to have knowledge". A- means "not". Thus, we cannot see that we are that which we seek, God, because of the veil of the densest of energies in material nature. This veiling and subsequent ignorance affects us all. It is this inability to see and have knowledge of our own Divinity that causes the separation from our own Divinity.
This Bhagavad Gita verse affects us all. We are all ignorant. To point out someone else's ignorance is Ahimsa. When we go after what we feel another does not know or what we feel is wrong in their actions, we are attacking them. There are very few people who will allow another person to come after their own Tamas, their own ignorance. The Tamas in that person will react back. It will cause bheda, discord, in the individual's mind. It causes conflict, disturbance. There already are these things going on when we are not following Dharma. Our natural state leads us to be in alignment with peace and Love. When we turn against our own nature due to ignorance, we are already suffering. There is already inner conflict and discord that another energy of Prakriti, Rajas, tries to appease through desire. It says, "I know you are not ok inside, let us desire these things (and it usually suggests things for us), and through getting these things, we will feel better." Any solution is only temporary and we are always trying to do whatever we can moment by moment to feel better. We are never content and peaceful. We are always disturbed, if we are truly practicing Satya, truthfulness. So to further disturb an individual by pointing out his or her activities that are going against Dharma is a further disturbance in the intellect.
Our five senses (eyes, ears, skin, nose, and tongue) bring in information from the material world, and it goes into our Manas (mind). Memory is invoked, and we have a reaction to that information as all of the past memories, including the things we liked and did not like, are also invoked. All of that data and its memories are passed to the Buddhi, the intellect. This intellect analyzes, discriminates, cleaves things into good and bad, likes and dislikes, and creates biases, opinions, and judgements. It makes decisions on what to do and then passes that information along to the Ahamkara, the ego, to carry out an action based on that intellect. This action is Karma. We do this process all day long, every second of the day. This is the Vritti cycle, the cycle of thoughts. It is a never ending cycle. That intellect is what this verse is saying we should not disturb. A disturbed intellect will produce a disturbed Karma (action), and that Karma will be not only affect that individual but also ourselves. The Vedic teachings tell us there is Karma that we do ourselves, Karma done to us, and Karma that we observe as a passive bystander.
We are all plugged into this great machine called Maya (illusion), and if we could do better in any given moment, we would do better. None of us want to suffer. Every one of us, even the most horrible among us, want to feel better. We act out of our own Prakriti. This is what the next Gita verse 3:27 tells us. We are all puppets of Material Nature, and our strings are pulled by Her. The above Vritti cycle causes us build up a certain permutation and combination of energies inside of us that will cause us to behave in a specific way, as if compelled by some strange force (as Arjuna tells Krishna in the Gita verse 3:36). We can learn better, but when we do not have that knowledge, to expect us to or to try to force us to is a form of violence. So what is the wise to do?
The wise can only focus on himself. We cannot forcefully impact anyone else. We cannot try to convince them that they need to be any different than they already are. We can give them all the knowledge that we can give them, but ultimately they have to change themselves, and that change has to come from within their own intellect. The only thing that we can do is inspire others through our own actions. We are responsible for ourselves only. We should focus on yoking ourselves with the sum total of all things within us, that Spirit within. To yoke ourselves is challenging enough for us, much less trying to get another person to behave the way we think they should behave. As the Gita tells us in 3:35, it is better to do our own Dharma imperfectly than to try to do someone else's perfectly. Through our own devotional actions and adherence to Dharma, that will undoubtedly change our character to be more unconditionally loving, and then we can be an inspiration to others. The inspiration will not come from anything we tell them to do or try to teach them. It will come from them seeing our own actions and character and them wanting to change themselves accordingly. Love will create love. There is nothing we have to do but work on becoming Love ourselves. The other's own intellect will become curious. All we need to do is practice what we preach, and our own practice will create our character, and that will be the inspiration. We will then become a Living example of the Vedas, a Shastra (holy text) in the flesh.
Jai Bhagwan (victory to God),
Jennifer Jacobsen