Question: When the soul inspires you to do something, then that is the true action, if you follow your instincts, then do you go into the right path?
There is the word, which you use: ‘instinct’,
That is also an intermediate stage: you use two or three terms, which are very important. The first word you use is ‘instinct’; second is the word ‘soul’; and third word you have used earlier: ‘the Divine Himself doing the doer-ship’. These are three things, and there are three levels of action.
What is ‘instinctive’ is valid for those people who live on instinctive level: animals, even human beings are largely instinctive, so what you said about ‘instinctive’ is only valid at that level.
There are some who live at the ‘soul’ level.
Comment: What does that mean: ‘at soul level’?
What you said about ‘soul level’, even at that stage, it is only intermediate, because soul level is still the level of effort: at that stage you are looking for what is the right action. There is the path of ascension, gradually rise from level to level: that is intermediate stage.
The third is when what ‘God inspires’, it is not ‘soul inspires’, but what ‘God inspires’ in you: that is the highest level of action. And the Gita’s teaching is that what is in your soul’s movement, you have to carry it forward until you reach a point where you know what is the Divine’s will, and you become inspired by God, and that action should be allowed to proceed from you. That is the real teaching of the Gita.
So, this is the relevance today and the difficulty of this teaching is that in the country, people are not clear about that confusion of which I spoke: ‘work as duty’ and ‘ultimate justification of everything is renunciation’. These two opposite ideas are playing in India, and unless there is a great clarity on this, that first of all duty itself is now bombarded, and that from the divine’s point of view the world is not meaningless, that, world has a great meaning, and therefore, action has a great meaning and there is a possibility of fullness of spiritual action, fullness of divine action: unless these two ideas are put forward in India, India will not become liberated truly
This is what we need, but very difficult. In fact whenever you speak of Gita, people think that ultimately you speak of Moksha (mokṣa), going away from the world. In spite of Gita’s clear teaching where Sri Krishna says that, “Between the two paths of Knowledge and Action, I still prefer Action”; in such bold terms it is written, and yet people tend ultimately that Bhagavad Gita ultimately teaches you that you be liberated. Even when Sri Krishna says that, “I am going to teach you by which even while doing action you are liberated”, that “doing action” is left out into the cold, and going back into liberation. That is like a ‘dog’s tail’: even if you try to stretch it and say: “no, look this is what Sri Krishna says very clearly, boldly, repeatedly!”
But it is not going into the Indian consciousness because of this tremendous habit of one thousand years, in which the idea that the world is meaningless and you have to come out of it as soon as possible. This idea has me taken home; it is conflicting with the idea of duty, but then they try to do only this much that is ‘do your duty, but ultimately you have to come out of it’. Now, this is where Indian mind is now located, and locked as it were, you cannot open that lock very quickly, even the best!
Recently there was a lecture by somebody, which I attended. There was a Swami who had come. Now, he was a scientist professionally, but he had now taken sannyāsa. So, he was telling the audience the following; now you see the psychology at work: “I am giving you the idea of the latest scientific knowledge”, (I am only quoting him, not exactly in his words, but what he wanted to say was the following):
“I have done a lot of science and I am giving you all the scientific teaching to you all. Now, it is all of you people who are in the world, they have to carry forward this knowledge. As far as I am concerned I am Sannyasin now; therefore I have nothing to do now; so, I have now my duty is only to be Sannyasin, and to leave all the works to you all people because you are attached to work. Therefore, you carry on this work as far as you are concerned”. Now you see the psychology that, “Now as all work is to be done by you, as far as I am concerned I have reached the point where I have nothing more to do. I am Sannyasin now, given up, because that is the highest teaching, I am doing the best thing in the world by leaving all the world. As far as the work in the world is concerned, you are attached to the world, you are attached to work, therefore you do that work”.
So, he makes a big distinction between the duty of the worldly man, and the duty of the Sannyasin. Now, this is a lecture, which he gave only on Sunday last. And he is himself a very nice man; but this is the psychology, which has gone home into our country so much! He was himself teaching the Gita at that time, he was giving a lecture on the Gita, on the Upanishad, on the Veda, ‘all that’. The very title of his lecture was: ‘Vedic Cosmology’. So, he brought in all Veda, Upanishad, Gita, in his own way, but ultimately his message was only this: you people who are yet attached to the world and doing worldly action, you continue the scientific discoveries more and more. As far as I am concerned, I am Sannyasin and I have given up everything. So, it is no more my duty to continue more with the research in Science.
This is the psychology which is troubling India, and that is why we are not able to do our work fully. We are only doing our work in a small field, and that trying to run away from it as soon as possible.
Question: That is what Arjuna was trying to do also?
Yes, because of that reason, as I told you, in his time also, this division was greatly made: path of Knowledge and path of Action. And this is right from that time this cleavage continues in India. If there is one great melody, it is ‘this’ melody: the philosophy that world is meaningless, basically, and we are here only to come out of it as soon as possible; and the trouble is that you cannot come out of this world unless you do some actions at least. So, let us do that much and then come out of it.
To realise, that even when you are free, you still can do the divine work, and you have still to do the Divine’s work, because Divine is not Sannyasin; He has not given up the world; He is in the world; and He Knows, He is the Master of the work, and He gives His own example that, “Even when I do all actions I am akartā”. So, you also be like that: that is called the divine action: yoga-saṁnyasta-karmāṇaṁ (IV 41) is this! That even while doing action, you are still, you have been able to renounce action: that is the secret. The whole of the 5th chapter is therefore given to the exposition of this idea: what is sannyāsa, what is sannyāsakarma, the Karma, which is renounced, what is the meaning of it.
And Sri Krishna even goes forward to say that, “Those who make a big division between Sankhya and Yoga, between path of Knowledge, and path of Action, they are bālāḥ: they are children”. Actually there is no distinction. He says that, “Actually one who sees the path of Knowledge and path of Action to be identical, it is ‘he’ who perceives really”. In fact, this is the basic teaching of the 5th chapter: one who sees that Sankhya and Yoga are one, it is ‘he’ who perceives. You just see the next two or three sentences of this 5th chapter.