Freedom Through Inner Renunciation
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
The knower of Spirit, abiding in the Supreme Being, with unswerving discrimination, free from delusion, is thus neither jubilant at pleasant experiences nor downcast by unpleasant experiences.
—The Bhagavad Gita V:20
The yogi who roasts in a fire of wisdom all seeds of new desires becomes free from the thralldom of reincarnation. Nevertheless, not having finished the effects of all past actions, he encounters in his present life good and evil happenings, health or disease, flowing from his past karma. Possessing inner tranquility and the joy of Spirit, he is not excited at the advent of good fortune; neither is he depressed by calamities. He watches with a calm indifferent attitude the joyous and sorrowful scenes of his life. What have they to do with him? (bg p.562)
Unattracted to the sensory world, the yogi experiences the ever new joy inherent in the Self. Engaged in divine union of the soul with Spirit, he attains bliss indestructible.
—The Bhagavad Gita V:21
The yogi learns to control his chitta (primordial feeling), overcoming all likes and dislikes relative to external objects. Detaching his attention from the outer world into his true inner Self, he perceives the ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever new joy of the soul. When the Self is fully established in union with Spirit, his ever new joy becomes immutable.
Transitory Nature of the Material World
O Son of Kunti (Arjuna)! because sense pleasures spring from outward contacts, and have beginning and end (are ephemeral), they are begetters only of misery. No sage seeks happiness from them.
—The Bhagavad Gita V:22
Pleasures obtained through the senses are limited and transitory. Overtaxed, the senses give unhappiness. Eating to excess or listening to music continually produces discomfort instead of joy. A saint therefore speaks of all pleasures that arise from sense contacts as generators of grief; they often create unhappiness in the beginning and in the end. Even the desire for sense enjoyments and the process of indulging in them involve some form of suffering; if not in conscience or body, then in the thought that they must end.
Knowing that the transitory pleasures of the material world always end in sorrow, saints do not concentrate on deriving happiness from the impure source of the senses.
When a man's mind gets used to exciting pictures, it loses the ability to appreciate the serener forms of joy. Similarly, finding ephemeral pleasure from the tumultuous scenes of life and from a constant search for recreation, one loses the power to concentrate within and to find the happiness of meditation. (bg p.563)