Notes transcribed from lectures given September 20, 22, 1966.
The Bhagavad-Gita is an authoritative statement given to Arjuna by Lord Krishna. It must be borne in the mind that the Bhagavad-Gita was spoken on a battlefield. Before the battle, Arjuna declined to fight with his own kinsmen. After the Bhagavad-Gita was spoken, he changed his mind and fought. There was not much time for this discussion—one hour at the most—for the opposing armies were already lined up, and eager to begin the combat.
After hearing about the yoga of meditation, which requires going to a secluded place and sitting perfectly still with the eyes focussed on the tip of the nose, Arjuna said, “Dear Krishna, I think this system is too difficult for me, on account of my agitated mind.” In the material world our minds are agitated. The nature of the material world is such that we cannot be free from anxieties.
God has many names, according to His different activities. Arjuna here addresses Krishna as “Killer of Demons,” because Arjuna sees his own mind as a demon. The sum and substance of any yoga system is to control the mind. Arjuna said that his mind was so agitated, that it was impossible for him to practise meditation. Now, Arjuna, a great warrior, was a personal friend of Lord Krishna, and he was able to understand the Gita in less than an hour whereas today people can’t understand it in an entire lifetime. If Arjuna, who was so intelligent and spiritually receptive that he could understand the Gita in an hour, said that meditation was too difficult for him, what about us? We are not even in the same category as Arjuna, who was Krishna’s friend, and who was so intelligent. If it was impossible for Arjuna, can it be possible for us? It is impossible to still a hurricane, and it is equally impossible to still the mind by force. We can control the mind, however, by always thinking of Krishna. Krishna Consciousness is the perfect form of yoga.
Meditation was good in a former age, when people lived millions of years. In the age after that the best method was sacrifice. After that, it was temple worship. Today, the best method is to chant the Name of the Lord, especially “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Today, we don’t live long. We are unfortunate, disturbed and unintelligent. The whole world is fighting. In times such as these, how can we perform anything as difficult as meditative yoga? Bhakti yoga—Krishna Consciousness, and “Hare Krishna”—is recommended for the present age. Meditation for the sake of impressing others or yourself will never be successful for even Krishna said that meditation was too difficult in this age. Meditation requires renunciation, but today, even renunciation is too difficult.
In Krishna Consciousness there are only four things that must be renounced: illicit sex, intoxication, gambling, and meat-eating. These four activities agitate the mind. Renunciation of these is easy in Krishna Consciousness for the process of bhaktiyoga is so easy that these four things become distasteful. Krishna Consciousness does not completely discourage sex, but it discourages sex outside of marriage. One who is serious about spiritual advancement cannot encourage illicit or promiscuous sex. If we really want to control the mind it is not necessary to give up sex and food altogether. We can eat food that is properly cooked and offered to Krishna, and we can get married. Keeping the mind always in Krishna Consciousness is samadhi. When one is in Krishna Consciousness, he is leading a renounced life, even if he is not a monk. Success in any form of yoga is not possible without control of the mind.
Once we start on a yoga system, we must stick with it. The desire for spiritual advancement should be there. Out of many men, only a few will try for perfection. Out of thousands of these, only a few will reach it, for it is a difficult process. However, if you want to be a physician, you must study until you graduate. Spiritual advancement is just like that—except that the rewards are eternal.
Arjuna asked Krishna, “What happens to one who starts to study yoga and then gives up?” Krishna replied that when a cloud gathers together, there is a possibility of rain, but if the wind blows the cloud away, there is no rain. There may be thunder and wind, but there will be no rain. Similarly, if one starts the yoga process and quits, he will not have success. Arjuna asked this question so that, in the future, people would not get discouraged and quit.
Bhagavan means one who has complete and perfect riches, strength, knowledge, renunciation, beauty, and fame. Famous people come and go, but God is always famous. God, or Bhagavan, is One Who has the above attributes in completeness and perfection. Krishna is the proprietor of all riches but He can renounce them at a moment’s notice. We receive spiritual knowledge from Krishna, but He Himself had no need of a spiritual master. We must believe One Who is in complete knowledge. We accept the authority of the newspaper, so why insist on seeing before believing the Bhagavad-Gita? The Gita comes from the highest authority, therefore we must make an attempt to study the Gita well suffer no degradation, even if he fails. One who makes an attempt to study the Gita will never be vanquished. This the Lord guarantees.
When one is self-realized, he makes no distinctions between man and animal, or lower and higher. Ideas of high and low, and other pairs of opposites, belong to the material world. When one is in the transcendental position, and sees Krishna everywhere, he is fit to enter into the Kingdom of God. He knows the Supreme Soul, the workings of nature and of the body, and the relationships of these to each other. When one is in his relationship with the Supreme Lord, all things are of equal value. This is not to say that the living entity is seen as equal to the Supreme Lord, or that all distinctions are obliterated. This would be equivalent to being proficient in a language and not being able to distinguish nouns from verbs.
We are all part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. The realized man therefore sees all things as part of the Supreme Lord. He sees all things as Spirit Soul, in different dress. One who is bound to the material world in order to become fit to enter into the Kingdom of God. Krishna comes Himself, or sends His Son or servants to help us—but people still prefer to live on the level of cats and dogs. They want to exploit nature for business purposes, and live sensuously like animals.
The work of nature goes on under the direction of God, to give a chance to the conditioned souls. This world’s miseries remind us that we cannot be happy outside of the Kingdom of God. We have no control over the rain or the snow. We should understand that we are helpless—that whatever we do, we are forced to do. Even the blinking of our eyes is controlled by material nature. We have no independence. We are continually being slapped by material nature, and we keep asking for more. The intelligent person knows he is being slapped and kicked.
The condition of the world has deteriorated because we have fools for leaders and teachers. We must first realize the helplessness of our situation before we can surrender to God. We cannot get material nature to stop slapping us, just as a prisoner cannot stop the harassment of prison life. Wen must be released from the prison of this material nature, for material nature condemns us. When we decide to return to God, spiritual nature helps us. Just as we are free to move on land, but not in the water, so we are truly free in the spiritual world, but not in the material world.