Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda


That man of action is free from karma who receives with contentment whatever befalls him, who is poised above the dualities, who is devoid of jealousy or envy or enmity, and who looks equally on gain and loss.
—The Bhagavad Gita IV:22

That man of action is free from karma who receives with contentment whatever befalls him, who is poised above the dualities, who is devoid of jealousy or envy or enmity, and who looks equally on gain and loss.

The wise man sees the Spirit everywhere. Devoid of longings for self and of any will to gratify selfish desires, he is content to receive whatever comes naturally for fulfilling the needs of his body, mind, and soul.

He rises above all dualities, the manifestations of which are either good or evil; both cause bondage. Having found the Unity, he has no consciousness of "me and mine." He entertains no inimical thoughts toward anyone, beholding in all the one Spirit. Attaining the Ultimate, he is indifferent to worldly success and failure. In performing dutiful actions for God, he is ever nonattached and unbound.

By "contentment" a yogi displays his faith in the Lord's power to direct all happenings to a Final Good. Free of selfish desires, happy and fulfilled within himself, he automatically relinquishes the excess material baggage of unnecessary "necessities" and egotistical strivings in favor of God-ordained dutiful actions imposed upon him by his body and his obligations to family, society, and the world.

To attain spiritual freedom, the aspirant must also learn to free his mind from extreme sensitivity to cold or heat, pain or pleasure. In Indian hermitages, the true guru teaches the students not to be affected by externals, that the mind may become an altar for the changelessness of Spirit. By catering to the demands of contrary sensations, worldly people are unnecessarily restless—one of Nature's most cunning ploys to keep the consciousness ensnared. The advice in this stanza, however, does not mean that the devotee should deliberately expose himself to extreme cold and catch pneumonia, or burn himself crisp under the midday sun. He should practice titiksha (dispassionate endurance), even while adopting reasonable measures to remove external discomfort. In the practice of titiksha, evenmindedness is cultivated by will and imagination (powerful suggestions to the mind); neutrality is attained scientifically by yoga meditation wherein the yogi learns to disconnect the ego from the sensations received through the mind. (See II:14)

A devotee who cannot remain calm under difficulties is still a slave of the phenomenal world and its calamitous pairs of opposites. Worldly people are constantly catering to the effects of cold and heat and other extremes, thereby increasing the bondage of the soul to the body.

The aspiring devotee must keep the soul uncontaminated from the dual consciousness natural to the body. This practice is difficult because the soul, empathizing with the finicky, sensitive bodily friend, puts on its good and bad characteristics. In order to free the soul from identification with the variable states of the body, the devotee is urged to noncooperate mentally with the misery-making dual consciousness of the body and the mind. The worldly man becomes jubilant at the advent of pleasure and depressed during the reign of pain, but the successful devotee is always inwardly calm, unaffected by the various upheavals that constitute the "normal" state of life.

During sorrow or pain, the yogi remains concentrated on his soul's bliss; unlike the worldly man, he is clever enough to retain his equanimity and joy under all favorable or unfavorable physical or psychological circumstances. He is able to sympathize with sufferers without being overwhelmed by their misery; thus, by his inward joy, he is frequently able to remove the sorrows of others. By the example of his calmness he teaches worldly people not to engage in emotional reactions.
The yogi who is not envious, who bears no enmity toward anyone but accepts friends and foes alike, does not fall into the pits of dangerous anger and jealousy. Worldly people who indulge in these scarring emotions lose not only their happiness but sometimes their bodies too, by committing murder and suffering capital punishment, or alas! by resorting to suicide.

Whether a yogi meets gain or loss in the course of performing dutiful actions, he remains evenminded. Both success and failure are bound to come at various times in response to the inherent duality in the structure of the body, mind, and world; the devotee who constantly reminds himself of his soul has little temptation to identify himself with the physical and mental phantasmagoria.