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The Gita and Yoga

A yogin can be said to be in union (with God) when he concentrates his mind on his own higher self and is absolutely unattached to all desires. By his efforts towards such a union (yoga-sevaya) he restrains his mind from all other objects and, perceiving his self in himself, remains in peace and contentment. At this higher state the yogin enjoys absolute bliss (sukham atyantikam), transcending all sense-pleasures by his pure reason, and, being thus fixed in God, he is never shaken away from Him. Such a yogin forsakes all his desires and controls all his senses by his mind, and, whenever the mind itself seeks to fly away to different objects, he tries to control it and fix it on his own self. Patiently holding his mind fixed in his self, he tries to desist from all kinds of thought and gradually habituates himself to shaking off attachments to sense-attractions. At this stage of union the yogin feels that he has attained his highest, and thus even the greatest mundane sorrows cannot affect him in the least. Yoga is thus sometimes defined as the negation of the possibility of all association with sorrows. One can attain such a state only by persistent and self-confident efforts and without being depressed by preliminary failures. When a yogin attains this union with himself or with God, he is like the motionless flame of a lamp in a still place, undisturbed by all attractions and unruffled by all passions. The yogin who attains this highest state of union with himself or with God is said to be in touch with Brahman or to attain Brahmahood, and it is emphatically asserted that he is filled with ecstatic joy. Being in union with God, he perceives himself in all things, and all things in himself; for, being in union with God, he in one way identifies himself with God, and perceives God in all things and all things in God. Yet it is no mere abstract pantheism that is indicated here; for such a view is directly in opposition to the main tenets of the Gita, so often repeated in diverse contexts. It is a mystical state, in which, on the one hand, the yogin finds himself identified with God and in communion with Him, and, on the other hand, does not cease to have relations with the beings of the world, to whom he gives the same consideration as to himself. He does not prefer his own happiness to the happiness of others, nor does he consider his own misery and suffering as greater or more important or more worthy of prevention than those of others. Being in communion with God, he still regards Him as the master whom he adores, as the supreme Lord who pervades all things and holds them in Himself. By his communion with God the yogin transcends his lower and smaller self and discovers his greater self in God, not only as the supreme ideal of his highest efforts, but also as the highest of all realities. As soon as the yogin can detach himself from his lower self of passions and desires, he uplifts himself to a higher universe, where the distinction of meum and teum, mine and thine, ceases and the interest of the individual loses its personal limitations and becomes enlarged and universalized and identified with the interests of all living beings. Looked at from this point of view, yoga is sometimes defined in the Gita as the outlook of equality (samatva).

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