Experiences are Neutral

Chapter II, Verse 51

Sri Nerode’s Translation:

51

The sages possessed with the devotion to the action and pure reason (evenness of mind) abandoning the fruits of action (for their selfish ends) and liberated (thus) from the fetters of births, go to the state of bliss beyond all evil.

Helpful Translation:

By transmuting the little human mind and prison-like intellect with the power of concentration, one becomes infinitely wise. Wisdom reveals an understanding of the laws of nature and thus the mind releases attachments. Without attachments, the soul no longer requires rebirth into a state of ignorance.

Commentary:

All experiences are neutral. Attachment to outcomes assigns harmful value to experiences. Anyone can arrive at this conclusion through contemplation.

Start with something easy, like “I want my team to win.” Your team wins and you are happy. Your team loses and you are unhappy. It is a personal attachment to the outcome of the game that assigns a “happy” or “disappointed” label to the result. If a law bound a person to a specific team (and there is no such law), then no one would ever be able to switch allegiance from one team to another – not even temporarily like many do during playoff season.

Observe other fans of your favorite sport. Most are attached to the outcome. They suffer at every loss and celebrate every win. But on occasion you’ll find a fan who celebrates the actions of talented players on the field. You’ll hear comments like “Yeah, it sucks we lost but the play made by that rookie was amazing.”

Sports fans who appreciate the game and the talent displayed by players more than the win/loss ratio, are the same people who are happier in life. Those who embrace the moment and place less value on outcomes adjust to change easily and adopt perspectives that keep their enjoyment present.

Fans with strong attachments to the outcomes vacillate between the extremes of celebration and discouragement. The stronger the attachment, the more personally harmful their reactions become. The fan attached to outcomes is driven to react to the win/loss as surely as the sun must rise each day for life to continue on earth.

On the other end of the spectrum of attachment, the reasoning appears to be a paradox to the ignorant. It’s illustrated by this dialogue (sorry, I don’t remember where this conversation originate).

The sage says, “Life and death are the same to me. My consciousness remains unchanged with or without this form.”

The critic replied, “So, why not die?”

The sage answered, “Because it doesn’t matter.”

Even this short dialogue illustrates that the ignorant critic places value on outcomes, while the sage is content to allow life to unfold as it is meant to be for him.

A sage who successfully liberates his consciousness from attachment is supremely content – to the point that not even attachment to human life can dictate his actions.

Easter Eggs:

Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:

Lack of attachment is the description of a liberated state of action. It differs from the next verse that refers to “indifference” which indicates lack of desire for action or the fulfillment of one’s purpose.

Buddhiyukta – bound to consciousness (as opposed to bound to experiences or “the fruit of action).

Often mistranslated, creating a variety of incorrect meanings, like “disciplined by intelligence”. Both discipline and intelligence are limited material concepts that do not apply to the consciousness free from attachments.

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