Chapter II, Verse 49
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
O, Arjuna, the action and deed (performed with the desire of results, rather than of right motive) is far inferior to that performed with a mind, undisturbed by thoughts of results. Seek refuge in this evenness of mind or pure reason. Wretched indeed are those who follow the path of virtue for the fruits they can reap.
Actions motivated by desire are inferior (less helpful to the fulfillment of one’s purpose) than actions motivated by wisdom. Turn to meditation born intuitive wisdom to guide choices in life. The dictates of desire for results lead to misery.
The enlightened man lives solely by the intuition born from a continuous state of expanded awareness.
Yoga is “balance”. Yoga is “living in the moment”. Yoga is “action without thought of either the past or the future.”
Many translations and commentaries miss the deepest meaning of this verse. For example, many have paraphrased this verse as “Action is inferior to wisdom”. Action is a requirement of human existence! I have given two separate “helpful translations” above to illustrate this point.
The best parent learns to love their child unconditionally. Unconditional love requires that the mother and father convey the highest lessons that they have learned about life, while also withholding judgment when the child makes mistakes after the age of puberty. (Before puberty, punitive correction is necessary to guide a child to adulthood. Any correction should be explained to the child in terms their state of development can understand.)
The average parent shares their life lessons with the expectation that their child will grow up to be like them. Or worse, the bad parent hopes that their child will grow up to fulfill a goal that they were not able to fulfill in their own life. Study hard to become an engineer, a doctor or a lawyer instead of study hard to learn the benefits of concentration and self-discipline that alone allow you to rise above the median of your peers.
Similarly, this verse admonishes the one who seeks conscious liberation from the reincarnation cycles of human birth and death to follow the guidance of intuition while observing the feedback from the senses with equanimity.
The wisdom that is preferable to action in this verse is the intuitive attunement with expanded states of awareness. Krishna throughout the entire Gita admonishes Arjuna to 1) take action and 2) be guided by the highest intuition currently available to him.
The ignorant have a conscience, a sense of right and wrong. A conscience, even one that appears after the action, for example as regret, is the most basic form of intuition. The evolving human experiences intuition as an infinite variety of subtle experiences, from a firm principled emotion “I know this is right” to prescient dreams and visions. The enlightened individual proceeds forward as if on the cutting edge of a knife. The storm experience swirls around the enlightened personal threatening his balance. The knife edge is clear and narrow and requires unbroken peace and concentration to follow correctly.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Dhananjaya – Conqueror of wealth.
In the Bhagavad Gita, this usually means one who is enlightened and acts solely in the moment from intuitive awareness.
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