Gita Daily Readings

May 5th
Chapter Six: 5-6
Let a man lift himself by his own self alone, let him not lower himself. For this self alone is the friend of oneself and this self alone is the enemy of oneself.

The self is the friend of the self for him who has conquered himself by the self, but to the unconquered self, this self stands in the position of the enemy like the external foe.

Commentary

How often do we blame our failures on others, on external conditions and on the weather? Everyone is given what we call "some blessings" - some misfortune and some good fortune. All these are mixed very nicely. It is not that some people are favored and others are not favored. Life does not know any distinction whatsoever. The real trouble lies within ourselves - why do we want to look elsewhere for a solution? The wise man knows that his own impure mind is his worst enemy and the pure mind his best friend.

Yet it is not as though these two are distinct and different. Hence Krishna uses the same word "self" risking confusion. Just as we have one body with a head and limbs, even so we have an antahkarana (inner instrument or subtle body), the mind, which has its different aspects and functions. Just as a single iron rod may be hot at the end close to fire, and cold at the end farthest from fire, the same mind is pure and strong where it is turned towards the indwelling presence of God, and impure and weak where it is turned away from him and towards the world of sense-experiences.

God has given every man the free-will to adjust the mind in such a way as to bring the whole of it close to God, or to remain turned away from him. The worldly man chooses the latter alternative and thus his own mind becomes his worst enemy, tormenting him with desires and cravings, love and hatred, likes and dislikes. In the case of the wise man, however, the whole mind is close to God and is, therefore, luminous with the knowledge of the indwelling omnipresence.

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