27. The Secret of Obedience
Towards the end of the sixteenth chapter, great emphasis is laid on sastra - tasmac chastram pramanam te - 'therefore let scripture be your guide.'
Therefore, let the scriptures be the authority in determining what ought to be done and what ought not to be done. Having known what is said in the ordinance of the scriptures, thou shouldst act here in this world. (16:24)
What are sastra?
It is a very serious question, if you are seriously interested in sadhana.
If you are not serious in sadhana, then of course you accept something on the basis of whatever you like.
If any scripture is your authority (it does not matter what it is), then you are safe.
The scripture contains something which suits you, and something which does not suit you.
Any scripture can be your guide.
A person, however righteous his actions may be, does not attain perfection if he is a slave to his own thoughts, concepts, ideas and cravings.
If you follow a scripture or the guru only to the extent you wish to follow, then you are lost, because you are following yourself, nobody else - neither guru nor scripture.
Obedience seems to be the key factor in all these religious traditions.
No religious tradition asks you to disobey a teacher or a scripture.
If you develop the faculty of total obedience, then doing what you wish to do - obviously in accordance with the dictates of your own mind and cravings - is suspended, and you are free, liberated.
You have found the key to unlock the door of the hideout of your ego.
It is an extremely difficult discipline to be totally obedient.
If you are totally (not selectively, conveniently) obedient, whatever be the guru or scripture, you are free.
Is it possible to have complete sraddha?
Sraddha is not mere faith or belief, but something totally different.
Sraddha is not faith in the sense that 'I have faith in you and therefore I will do what you ask me to do'.
In six months you might have dropped that and picked up something else.
That 'sraddha' was an ego trip.
When sraddha is there, there is total obedience, which is very different from what you and I call obedience.
In that there is an inner conflict.
This is what we found in our lives with the Master.
We never obeyed Him.
If He said something, there was no question; which means, that to us that was the right thing.
This is not intellectual understanding or emotional response.
These are fragmented, and they are bound to cause problems.
It is not easy to bring about an integrated total obedience.
But, is it possible for you to implicitly obey a teacher or a scripture without question and totally, without any part of your inner organism - neither the mind nor the emotion nor the physical being rebelling against it?
We think 'I will obey selectively when it suits me.'
I am sure you have heard this even if you have not observed it within yourself.
You go to a guru, and you find him wonderfully inspiring.
You do all that he tells you to do.
Then suddenly you discover (I am quoting) "He is not the same man that I met some years ago. He is alright, but I am not going to obey him now."
So, obedience is not possible for the human being ruled by the ego.
What is craving is ego, what is ego is craving; what is mind is ego, what is ego is mind, one is indistinguishable from the other.
If you detect a desire or a craving within yourself and observe it, you find that that is the ego.
If you can obey without reserve, you are liberated then and there.
You look within, and there is no discordant note, no rebellion.
The master says: "Do this."
The mind says: "Ah, that's it"; the heart says: "I love to do it"; and the whole body responds to it.
If that is possible, then you are free.
If you follow your own cravings (which arise in their millions every minute), you do not get anywhere.
If one is a slave to the restless mind, one is bound to be constantly restless.
There is no peace, no happiness.
He who, having cast aside the ordinances of the scriptures, acts under the impulse of desire, attains not perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme goal. (16:23)
Sraddha could also be called witness-consciousness, or what some great masters have called 'choiceless awareness' - an awareness in which there is no choice, awareness without judgement.
So, while living our daily life in accordance with the scripture, it is vitally important at the same time to look within, and see that this is not done because I like it, but because that is the command of the teacher, of the scripture.
It is so easy, and yet so impossibly difficult.
Nobody is going to tell you to do something which you cannot do.
Your guru will obviously know what you are capable of doing, and will not ask you to do something more.
But there is this inner resistance and disobedience: "Why should I do this? I want to do something else."
While doing what the teacher says, at the same time, you must observe yourself and see what goes on within.
If you are a yogi, body, mind and soul will be in total harmony; thinking, feeling and living will be in total harmony.
So, merely obeying the letter of the scripture will not do.
Then there is an integrated and total obedience which is not selective.
In such obedience itself is liberation, and therefore it is not 'obedience' .
The ego has been so completely and so thoroughly set aside that in you there is no other thought, no other feeling.
That is called 'sraddha'.
Sraddha is not faith based on the ego, but it is already self-transcendence.
It is the stuff of which your total being is made.
Sraddha is not faith in the sense that I have faith in you, and therefore I will do what you ask me to do.
In six months you might have dropped that, and picked up something else.
That sraddha was an ego trip.
Sraddha means the total response of the whole being.
Sattva, rajas or tamas could be predominating.
We shall not forget that no-one, from the most supremely enlightened man or woman to the silliest donkey, is totally sattvika, totally rajasa or totally tamasa.
If you understand this, only then can Gurudev's teachings, and how He was able to live with people of such completely different temperaments, be understood.
If a change has to happen, that has to happen naturally within you.
It should not be brought about by some external agency, because these three qualities, being constantly in a ferment, will keep changing.
Krsna does not condemn anybody.
He cautions that the mind functions on the basis of likes and dislikes and, as long as the embodied being is driven by these likes and dislikes, there is no salvation, there is no freedom.
Once you free yourself from them, you become the image of God, and you perform the role allotted to you by God.

The Bhagavad Gita - Introduction | EN

Swami Venkatesananda

The Song of God - Introduction - Swami Venkatesananda - enlarged 4th edition – 1984 - published by The Chiltern Yoga Trust, Cape Town, South Africa
1998 - 2017