Gita Daily Readings

May 12th
Chapter Six: 16-17
Verily yoga is not possible for him who eats too much, nor for him who does not eat at all, nor for him who sleeps too much nor for him who is (always) awake, Oh Arjuna.

Yoga becomes the destroyer of pain for him who is moderate in eating and recreation, who is moderate in exertion in actions, who is moderate in sleep and wakefulness.

Commentary

Yoga is not a physical, mental or psychic feat. It is life itself; not the kind of restless life swinging constantly between the two extremes of exhilaration and depression, indulgence and denial, sensuousness and asceticism, but the harmonious flow of the divine will along the wise middle path. The Kathopanishad characterizes the spiritual path as "the razor's edge," difficult to tread. The razor's edge is difficult to tread, not on account of the fear that it may injure our feet, but because it is so sharp that it is invisible.

On both sides of this subtle middle path there is danger, pain and suffering. Both of them (extremes) imply a strong identification of the body, mind and the personal ego with the self. Yoga aims precisely at the removal of this false identification, and the consequent private desire and "seeking" under whatever label it appears.

The man who loves eating is a glutton; but the man who refuses to eat is an egoist. The former identifies the self (atma) with the body; the latter, with the vain personality or egoism which swells with pride at its ability to go without food. Both of them are confusing the self with the not-self. The yogi, however, dissociates the body, mind and ego from the real self, while allowing God's nature to reveal itself through all these.

In gluttony there is pain, as also in abstention. Pleasure is invariably followed by pain. Vanity is accompanied by fear or injured pride. The yogi who pursues the middle path is blissfully free from all these. Only he lives; others drag on in miserable existence.

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