Chapter XIV: 24-25
|Alike in pleasure and pain,
who dwells in the self, to whom a clod of earth, stone and gold are alike, to whom the
dear and the unfriendly are alike, firm, the same in censure and praise,
The same in honor and dishonor, the same to friend and foe, abandoning all undertakings - he is said to have crossed the qualities.
These verses refer to the inner attitude of non-attachment and non-identification with the world, body and senses, not to any physical activity or inactivity. Ignorance of this great truth will inevitably lead the aspirant to tamasa inertia, heedlessness, delusion and destruction. Cultivate the inner attitude; the activity will take care of itself.
To whom a clod of earth, stone and gold are alike has given rise to grotesque misinterpretations. People imagine that the sage sweeps away golden ornaments, treating them as dirt. Only mad men do so; sages are not mad - even if their conduct is regarded eccentric by our perverted intelligence! To them a piece of gold, a stone and a clod of earth all have their own particular use and value - none greater than the other. Hence they are all alike.
Abandoning all undertakings has also been taken to mean a life of automation or sheer laziness - a deliberate suppression of all urge to life and activity. However, the sage knows his body, vital sheath and even his mental frame are all products of matter together with the gunas that govern all physical phenomena. He has crossed over them. It is only while one is crossing a stream that one tries to float along with the current or swim against it. Once on the other bank it matters not whether the current stops, flows or dries up.
One who has thus crossed the gunas will similarly not bother himself what matter (including his body and mind) does. However, it is clear that he will not do evil, for the evil fuel of desire is absent. Through him the divine will works; it knows what to do with God's creation (clay and gold) and in his creation (what activities to undertake). In such a sage life flows in total harmony and bliss.
Web Editor's Notes