Bhagavad Gita Chapter Five: Renunciation and Action

The Bhagavad Gita begins with the pupil in a crisis and declaring that he intends to withdraw from active life and become a spiritual recluse. Far from approving this idea, the teacher says that he should not try to avoid his duties in life and ought to fulfil them with care. The way to inner freedom, says the teacher, is to do what needs to be done, but without attachment to the outcome of the actions; instead, to make our actions offerings to the higher reality that is the true Self of all.

Underlying this guidance is the knowledge that the supreme reality is not affected by the changes that take place in the world of space and time. To do our actions as offerings to Truth leads to the realisation of our oneness with that Reality and the independence of our Self from the world of cause and effect, including our bodies and minds.

This is deep and subtle teaching, and the teacher restates it more than once to help the aspirant properly understand. At the beginning of chapter three the pupil frankly declares that he is confused and asks the teacher to be clear about the way to bliss. And now at the beginning of chapter five, we again find the pupil asking a question with the suggestion that the teaching is not clear.

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This article is from the Spring 2018 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.