Excerpts from God Talks With Arjuna by Paramahansa Yogananda
The Battle of Life
From the moment of conception to the surrender of the last breath, man has to fight in each incarnation innumerable battles— biological, hereditary, bacteriological, physiological, climatic, social, ethical, political, sociological, psychological, metaphysical—so many varieties of inner and outer conflicts. Competing for victory in every encounter are the forces of good and evil. The whole intent of the Gita is to align man's efforts on the side of dharma, or righteousness. The ultimate aim is Self-realization, the realization of man's true Self, the soul, as made in the image of God, one with the ever-existing, ever conscious, ever-new bliss of Spirit. ...
The yogi, the awakening man, is confronted not only with the external battles fought by all men, but also with the internal clash between the negative forces of restlessness (arising from manas, or sense consciousness) and the positive power of his desire and effort to meditate (supported by buddhi intelligence) when he tries to reestablish himself in the soul's inner spiritual kingdom: the subtle centers of life and divine consciousness in the spine and brain.
The Gita therefore points out in its very first stanza the prime necessity to man of nightly introspection, that he may clearly discern which force—the good or the evil—has won the daily battle. To live in harmony with God's plan, man must ask himself each night the ever pertinent question: "Gathered together on the sacred bodily tract—the field of good and evil actions—what did my opposing tendencies do? Which side won today in the ceaseless struggle? The crooked, tempting, evil tendencies, and the opposing forces of self-discipline and discrimination—come now, tell me, what did they do?"...
When the soul descends into body consciousness, it comes under influence of maya (cosmic delusion) and avidya (individual delusion and ignorance, which creates ego consciousness). When deluded and tempted by cosmic delusion or psychological Satan, the soul becomes the limited ego, which identifies itself with the body and body's relatives and possessions. ...
Actions of each human being are determined in several ways. A man may be guided by
or by the influence of prenatal karmic tendencies (the habits and effects of actions carried over from past lives),
or by the suggestions of postnatal habits,
or by environmental vibrations.
Very seldom does man realize that his health, success, and wisdom depend in great part on the issue of the battle between his good and bad habits. He who would establish within himself the rule of the soul must not allow the bodily kingdom to be occupied by bad habits. All such evils must be banished by training diverse good habits in the art of victorious psychological warfare. ...
So another important battle the soul must win consists in rising above all personal desires—whether for money, mental power, physical health, possessions, name, fame—whatever binds the soul to matter and makes the consciousness forgetful of God.
Desirelessness does not mean an ambitionless existence. It means to work for the highest and noblest goals without attachment. (p.7-8, 11, 32-33)
When the ego or "I" consciousness has sided with the materialistic forces of creation, it is said to have six faults (doshas):
1. kama (lust)
2. krodha (anger)
3. lobha (greed)
4. moha (delusion)
5. mada (pride)
6. matsarya (envy)
Only when man has conquered these does he acquire knowledge of his true soul nature. ...
Lust, anger, and greed—these constitute the threefold gate of hell leading to the destruction of the soul's welfare. These three, therefore, man should abandon.
—The Bhagavad Gita XVI:21
The soul, being unlimited, does not allow itself to be circumscribed by the ego's narrowness. The destruction of ego consciousness does not mean that we should live aimless lives, but that we should not limit ourselves by being identified with ego's attachments. We are not to throw away our possessions, or not take care of the things we have, or cease trying to possess what we really need; but in the course of performing our duties, we should eliminate the bondage of attachment. Those who free themselves from ego's narrowness and the consciousness of ego's possessions hold dominion over earth and heaven. A child of Spirit who is free from ego's material attachment may surely have everything that is in the universe as his rightful divine inheritance. All his desires are satisfied. (p.91, 97)