The verse we will focus on today is verse 11 of Chapter 12 from “The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita”. However, we will also be looking at some of the preceding verses because they are connected. These verses highlight how kind and compassionate Gita is towards the devotees.
All devotees like us are trying our best to find God. Paramahansa Yogananda (Master) said that these verses make the Gita so sweet, sympathetic, and useful in healing the manifold sicknesses of suffering humanity. These verses manifest that the Gita shows great compassion to all of us who are striving.
As you know, the Gita is a teaching conversation between Krishna and Arjun at the eve of the battle. As Master has explained, this battle is representation of the inner struggle witnessed by the devotee every day. Swami Kriyananda (Swamiji) aptly calls Arjun as “devotee every man”, as, in effect Arjun represents all of us and asks right questions to Krishna.
Krishna says that as we strive to know and find God, we need to focus all our thoughts and emotions on God. He talks about heart and mind. Heart is the Centre of emotions, while mind is where the thoughts arise from. Hence both heart and mind need to be fixed on God. When we can focus 100% of our thoughts and emotions on God at the spiritual eye then we will reach a higher state. The Gita directs us to the light at the point between the eyebrows and we can reach a state where we can be unified with the God. We call it “Samadhi” but to achieve it, we need total concentration upon God manifested as the light appearing at the spiritual eye.
Krishna says, if you cannot concentrate one hundred percent on God (me) then give me your service. While Gita is relevant on many levels, being meditators, we will consider these verses in the context of meditation. Service in this context is nothing but “Kriya”. Kriya means activity… thus, service means practicing the techniques of Kriya. Master urged that after practicing the Kriya techniques, we should hold the attention at the spiritual eye as much as possible.
In 1920, when Master went to America, he had said that if you hold your attention at the light at the point between the eyebrows, your brain cells will change. Now, medical science recognizes that if we hold our attention at the prefrontal lobe, our brain cells change.
Interestingly, it is not necessary that this is to be done for a long stretch or long period of time. Science confirms that if we hold our attention even for 10 minutes every day for two or three weeks there will be a change in the prefrontal cells and there will be a change in the brain function.
This is because less and less energy will go in the primitive parts of the brain. The primitive parts of the brain are responsible for anger, hatred, fear and anxiety. During meditation and deep concentration, maximum energy goes to the prefrontal lobe of the brain and lesser energy goes to the primitive part of the brain which allows us to function at our higher self. Thus, modern medical science is nearly one century late in recognizing this phenomenon.
Swamiji says we have polarities – we have darkness as well as light, and a whole range in between dark and light. So many a times, we can recognize that there is darkness manifesting in us which results in a feeling of contraction, a feeling of being selfish. It can be seen in the way we work, the way we relate to the others, the way we relate to the world, the way we think or the way we feel.
The critical question is how to change our consciousness which will effect change in what we are. This is the reason why we must keep our attention at the spiritual eye and offer everything in our meditation to God, or to the light at the point between the eyebrows to change our consciousness. This is bound to change our brain cells and propel us to function from our higher self.
Taking one step forward, in the next portion of the verses, Krishna says, “If you cannot even concentrate or do the techniques properly, give me your failure.” We may interpret that this sentence or verse is for the losers. Actually it is not. This instruction is as important as the earlier two instructions i.e. focus 100% on God or do the Kriya techniques.
We as devotees have come to learn that if we do anything well, we should say “God did it through me”. However, when we make a mistake, we intuitively don’t feel right to say that God did it through me. We feel a resistance to say that. But we should not have such resistance. We should freely offer any mistakes as well to God; we should not hide it.
Instinctively, when we make a mistake, we hope that nobody saw it….we want to hide it. But Krishna says there is no need to hide anything. In any case, it’s not that we can hide anything from God. God knows everything. It’s not for the sake of Gods enlightenment that we should not hide, it is for our own enlightenment that we should not hide.
As Paramhansa Yogananda in his poem “When I’m just a dream” has said: “I will speak to you through your conscience”. So, when our conscience is awake, and when we are able to listen to our conscience, then we become aware of what we need to change, what is not so right in us and only when we are aware of it, can we offer it to God and to the light.
As we grow up, we are always told to do the good things and to avoid the bad things…. many a times when we do the mistakes, we are either frowned upon or we are blamed. May be sometimes, we are punished.
But God is not judgmental. God’s love for us is unconditional. The Guru’s love for us is unconditional. They accept us as we are. We may have passed lifetimes, some of which may not be so kind or not be so good. However, we have now reached the state of devotees.
The soul in us is a spark of God and that soul has been with us from lifetime to lifetime, but as a silent witness. Thus, in our flaws, in our shortcomings we need not say “oh! I made a mistake…..I’m so bad”. God wants us to see it calmly like a witness and say “ok….this happened….fine……I’m looking at it calmly and God is with me…..the Guru is with me…..I offer the mistake to you Guru, I know you will take it….you will receive it, and I have total trust in your love”.
He does accept it. In this manner we need not focus on our shortcomings, we need to focus only on our love towards God and Guru. That is the most essential thing. If in our whole lifetime we have spent only just one hour loving God that’s the hour that counts.
Swami Kriyananda was leaving America to come to India and was blessing devotees in 2012 (he passed away in 2013). He had organized a little get together and was blessing people one by one. He told one devotee “Thank you for the love you have given me all these years.” This devotee knew that she had many shortcomings and Swamiji was aware of them. But Swamiji softly directed the focus on her love that she had given to God and Gurus rather than towards her shortcomings.
Devotees in America thought and felt Swamiji to be a channel for God and Guru. So giving him love would be equivalent to offering love to God and Guru. So she realized that Swamiji is telling her to forget the shortcomings, offer them up into the light but remember only the love she had for God. It is said that when we reach one hand up towards God, then God reaches down to lift us up. We should always remember that it is the direction in which we go is important and therefore we should keep on trying, keep on moving forward without focusing too much on our flaws and our mistakes but only on the love towards God
Thus, The Gita is very compassionate and kind towards devotees as it inherently recognizes that all devotees may not be able to concentrate or focus one hundred percent on God or do service (i.e. Kriya techniques) correctly or may commit mistakes along the way. However, by stating unequivocally that God is willing to accept whatever devotee offers with love, even his mistakes, Gita nudges the devotees to strive forward towards his higher self.