Chapter III, Verse 25
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
As the unwise toil but out of personal motives, O Bharata, so should the wise act but from an impersonal motive, considering the well-being of the world.
While attachment to results drives the activity of the ignorant, the wise man acts without attachment which helps to maintain a balance in the world.
Desire drives the human masses. “I want, therefore I earn (or take or create).” Personal desire creates attachment. Attachment creates ignorance. Ignorance creates pain and misery.
The wise man, one whose consciousness is no longer strictly bound to a single form, acts without attachment. Scriptures, including the Bhagavad Gita, describe how an enlightened human acts. There are many statements about what a wise man should do, will do, and won’t do. All of these statements are made to assist the ignorant person. Acting “like a wise man” expands one’s consciousness and prepares the individual to receive the flood of awareness that comes like Niagara Falls when the ego becomes the tool of one’s soul and no longer the master.
In actuality, it’s extremely difficult to say exactly how an enlightened being will act. Their actions are effortlessly in attunement with the needs of the situation at hand. Enlightened persons typically display ideal qualities like Bliss, Love and Peace. However, a situation may require that an enlightened individual appear to others as unhappy, hateful, or even war-like. Krishna is an example of an enlightened being who chooses to help Arjuna (the Pandava clan) in the war of Kurushektra. Krishna is wise but he is participating in a war.
Becoming enlightened is not an escape from the requirement to act. Ignorant humanity labels each action as “good”, “bad”, or somewhere in between. A wise person sees all action for its own sake and does not assign the labels born from attachment.
Enlightenment ensures that one acts correctly in every situation. Following one’s intuition to this degree should not be misinterpreted as predestination or an unalterable fate.
Think of attunement with the moment like this: When an enlightened person is confronted with a choice there is the “big option” of right action that progresses the situation and wrong action that could lead to a fall from enlightenment. Compare this grand choice between eating ice cream as the good decision and avoiding ice cream as the bad choice. Once the choice to eat ice cream has been made there is then the opportunity to select a flavor. Likewise, the good choices available to an enlightened individual are like a cornucopia compared to the Pandora’s box of bad choices available to the egotist.
Do your best with a positive attitude and without personal desire and you will become enlightened.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Bharata – The Average Human Devotee.
Arjuna is a descendant of King Bharata and this is a general epithet also
applied to King Dhrtarastra who in the Bhagavad Gita represents the intellect
blinded by the senses. In other words, Bharata is a devotee, but an ignorant
one who is new to the path of enlightenment. Contrast the root “Bharata” with
the root “Kuru” in other epithets for Arjuna. The “Kuru” dynasty represents
the ida nadi and the pursuit of worldliness, while the Bharata dynasty
represents the pingala nadi and the pursuit of enlightenment.
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