Non-Attachment in the Hologram: Remove the Senses from Their Objects
Your own Armageddon
Yoga is Skill in Action (II.50)
Krishna has revealed to his friend Arjuna the ancient secret: Do not be attached to the fruits of your acts. It is our attitude towards the actions that we perform, meaning the consciousness we generate in the moment we act, that can bind, enmesh and entrap us in the temporal illusory hologram. Freedom lies in acquiring and mastering the ‘skill’ to act without the expectation of the result.
You can easily see the wisdom of this in your own life. How many times have you given something or done a favor for another, expecting them to react and behave in a certain way - only to find that your intent was not in any way realized or sadly the person was actually harmed by your seeming generosity. Because this happens so frequently, the phrase ‘unintended consequences’ has become common in our everyday language.
Krpanas is the Sanskrit word used to describe the person who is motivated by the expectation of results, the fruits of their actions, and can be translated as either despicable or pitiable (Winthrop Sargeant). Both of these express Krishna’s frank disdain. Expectation is not useful and leads to pain, the pain of attachment and disappointment.
Unlike most western thinking, the Bhagavad Gita reveals to us that it is not only bad deeds that will draw you into attachment to the hologram and a subsequent loss of wisdom. Good acts done in expectation also delude our consciousness. Whatever charitable acts you do, for example, should not be done to impress others or used to barter with God.
Acquire the skill of letting go
Through this process of learning non-attachment, letting go of expectations, and realizing that you are not the gunas of the small personality identity-self, you will cultivate an intelligence that has the power to cross over and transcend the endless gyrations of multiplicity. As you pass beyond delusion, you will leave behind all the bewildering, conflicting, and false teachings you had previously studied (II.52). J.A.B.van Buitenen: ‘You will become disenchanted with what is supposed to be revealed, and the revealed itself.’ You will have experienced Yoga when, in meditation, your intelligence becomes unmoving (samadhav acala buddhis) and you are fixed in Union with the One.
All contentment comes from within
Arjuna then asks Krishna to describe one whose insight is steady, and Krishna says that the one who is no longer subject to the desires that form in the mind has achieved the insight of wisdom (sthitaprajnas). In this state all contentment comes from the God within and one is pleased in the Self through the Self alone (II.55).
Imbued with the wisdom of inner-sight, even when we are surrounded by pleasures, we do not experience longing. We become free from desire (kama). Passion (raja), fear (bhaya), and anger (krodas) can no longer take root in our mind (II.56-57). The state of being saturated, suffused and inspired by the God within, the Self (Atma), makes all the external compulsions weaken and pale in comparison. When you become the genii, you don’t need three wishes.
Remove the senses from their objects
As a tortoise can withdraw its limbs into its shell, the one in wisdom withdraws the five senses from their objects (II.58). The five senses transmit information to the brain as impulses of sound, sight, touch, etc. Think how differently we all see and hear. As a painter when I walk into a room, I look at the pictures there; but I have observed that many people barely notice their environment. Perhaps they are more focused on what they hear or what they will say.
We all only see and hear, etc. what is in our own consciousness, which formulates and interprets whatever data is received via the five senses. Thus external objects belong to the senses (indriyani). Like a turtle, you can withdraw the senses from their objects and send these impulse transmissions to the God within.
The suppression of your desires and the practice of abstinence will never remove the ‘taste’ (rasa) for them. The senses are powerful and will torment and harass until they destroy the will (II.60). Only the actual experience of Oneness, the highest state, will induce disinterest in the sense objects (II.59).
Krishna as the Self
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna identifies himself with the Self, the God within us that permeates All - Vasudeva. Therefore when Krishna says that we should sit ‘intent on me’ (II.61) - meaning Krishna - my way of interpreting this and other similar verses is that Krishna represents and epitomizes God-in-man at the very highest levels, pulsating with the finest supernal frequencies. I have nothing against the term Avatar, unless it is used to make people feel small and powerless.
Wisdom will come to us and expand consciousness when we restrain the wild-horse five senses - just as Krishna controls and directs the horses that pull Arjuna’s chariot. With a disciplined mind, placing our entire focus on the God within, the Self (Atma), we learn to control the five senses and their organs.
Abhinavagupta points out that self-mastery does not mean the austerity that produces a weakened body. A poor diet and lack of sleep will only make you vulnerable to mental confusion and cult indoctrination. Moderation combined with an alert intelligence is the ticket. As Thomas Jefferson once said: The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Frustrated desire turns to anger & delusion
Human consciousness is configured so that our thoughts have a kind a magnetism that draws to us, sooner or later, whatever we hold in the mind. If you spend your days thinking of cake, you will begin to want cake, and you will become more and more attached to this desire. If your desire for cake goes unfulfilled, you will become frustrated and eventually that frustration turns to anger.
Anger (krodhas) destroys your ability to think clearly and deludes your consciousness. Delusion will in turn bring about the loss of memory. Perhaps you will wrongly blame any innocent person and make them the culprit who keeps you from the coveted cake. With you memory wandering away (sammohat smrtivibhramah) through such delusion, you will lose the power to reason. Without reason, you are lost (II.63).
The Waterwheel: Yantra-Rudhani
The real truth is that you will never achieve lasting happiness (sukham) until you have disciplined the unruly compulsive behavior produced by the gunas interacting with the five senses (guna-maya). (II.66)
The gunas are like a machine on automatic and in perpetual motion. They react and repeat reactions again and again. This is why most of us begin to notice specific patterns in behavior, not only in others, but more importantly in ourselves.
Krishna talks about this machine-on-automatic in the final book of the Gita. He calls it the yantra-rudhani, which can be read as ‘fixed to a mechanism’ or ‘mounted on a machine’ (XVIII.61). J.A.B.van Buitenen translates yantra-rudhani as ‘the water wheel’ and I particularly like this image because water symbolizes consciousness and the waterwheel is perpetually propelled into rotation by a stream - perhaps in this case the stream of consciousness.
Water often produces phosphorescent rainbow mists when it is turbulent or sprayed, and I have seen this whirling phosphorescence around the subtle body with the eye-of-my-mind.
भ्रामयन्सर्वभूतानि यन्त्रारूढानि मायया .. १८- ६१
bhrāmayan sarvabhūtāni yantrārūḍhāni māyayā 18.61
As if mounted on a machine (waterwheel) turned by an illusive power.
Like the little silver sphere in a pinball machine
As long as the gunas (guna-maya) have control of your mind, you will never experience lasting happiness. You will be tossed and bounced about like that little silver sphere inside a pinball machine! You may light up the display for a moment and even score big - but sooner or later you are going back down into that small dark hole, only to be shot back out again and again in subsequent lifetimes to repeat the same experiences all over again.
Psychology, self-help books, new age workshops, and psychic readings have no durable value. Nothing can ‘fix’ you from the outside. These excursions do provide temporary comfort and often a welcomed relief from isolation in the group warmth of the like-minded. But none of these understandings are based on and rooted in the truth of primordial metaphysics. They do not know the metaphysical mechanics of human consciousness which Krishna reveals to Arjuna.
You will not gain enduring wisdom until the gunas and their data-collectors the five senses are controlled - which means that you have to recognize their pattern of controlling you. The Wisdom of Knowledge only emerges from focused concentration and peace. (II.66)
Krishna compares the mind that is forever wandering and running after the impulses of the five senses to the errant winds that destroy a ship on the sea (II.67). When you lose your ability to reason, you are lost in the ruinous deadly forces of your own compulsions.
The Need for Solitude
Wisdom can only begin to take root in your consciousness when you have withdrawn the senses from their objects, and to do this you must go into the silence beyond the gunas (guna-maya) - and for this you need solitude. Only an accomplished practiced Yogi, one who has achieved Union, can remain in the sattvic state of Peace in a tumultuous crowd of people and their whirlwind holograms.
Once you observe the mechanics of the interaction between your own five senses and the gunas (guna-maya), you will realize that everyone is in the same helpless hapless condition - even when they are on the ‘up’ side of a cycle and appear to have it all. From this realization you will develop genuine compassion for others - not sympathy, which is based in superiority.
Sensing the spin-cycle wild-horse gunas whirling all around in a crowd or group of people, you will understand that the hologram of their unconscious mind is bumping up against yours and seeping into your thoughts, at least temporarily. You need to find real solitude to practice remaining in a focused state of non-attachment that will allow wisdom to grow. You need to retreat from the tsunami waves of delusion and metaphysical ignorance, at least for a time.
Your own Armageddon
This is the work that is to be done and no one can do it for you - you have to walk this lonesome valley by yourself. I don’t care what any guru or teacher promises you - you have to do this alone. And thank God for that! If anyone really could touch you with a magic wand and bestow enlightenment on you, then you would never be free. You would be indebted to them forever.
That is not God’s play, the play of God veiling Its Self in time and space, in matter and delusion, to emerge and realize Its Self once again. The game is one of Self-realization and liberation (moksha) - and for that, you have to work alone. This work will be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life, I promise, and will be your own private personal Armageddon.
I am not sugarcoating this because that would deceive you. But I do give you my word that this work and the Becoming in close alignment and ‘partnership’ with the God within you will be the most fulfilling, lasting, meaningful, and blissful experience you will ever have. It is the reason for Life. God veils Its Self in mankind to Become, to search for truth, and discovers that all along God dwells in the Heart of each and everyone of us.
When you realize that you are not the five senses and their impulses which send the gunas spinning, when you begin to learn non-attachment from desire and possessions and egotistical cravings - then you will be free from longing and delusion. Krishna tells Arjuna (II.69-72) that this is the divine state (brahmi sthitis) and if you remain fixed in this consciousness at the time of your death you reach the Bliss of God (brahmannirvanam).
The struggle against your mind
Towards the end of the Mahabharata after the great war is over, Krishna tells Arjuna’s brother, Yudhisthira, that the time has come to ‘prepare to carry out the struggle against your mind, and by dint of abstraction and the merit of your own Karma, you must reach the other side of the mysterious and unintelligible.’ Yudhisthira will not need any ‘weapons or friends or attendants’ because the ‘battle’ is to be ‘fought alone and single handed...’ (M.N.Dutt; Ashvamedhika Parva Ch.12, 13-14). So it is with each of us.