How to Do Open & Closed Eye Meditation for Jnana-Yoga Nididhyasana Self-Enquiry (186)


Lesson 186 finalizes proper attitude/relationship to our work or career. New section of jnana-yoga shows indicators of jivanmukta/jnani.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54


  • VERSE 41-49:
    • Talks about career / daily duties (svadharma).
  • VERSE 41:
    • Caste = categorization of person's nature, no only throughout life, but also throughout various stages of life, including throughout the day.  Changes daily/yearly. Thus insensible to identify with any one.
  • VERSE 42:
    • Brahmana identified: guide / in touch with inner wisdom & rational / connects-the-dots.
  • VERSE 43:
    • Kshatriya identified: protector / executor / creativity / confidence.
  • VERSE 44: 
    • Vaishya: Generating or discovering resources.
    • Shudra: mechanic mode. Repeats what learned prior.
  • VERSE 45:
    • How to get to Karma-Yoga? 4 Levels.
      1. Align aptitude/personality to profession.
      2. Do profession with ethics even if noone is looking over your back.
      3. Ask, what larger thing am I representing? The nation, the company, the community, the Australian/Indian people? Etc.
      4. Ask, who/what am I REALLY representing? Ishvara. Because all actions are possible only because of Him, all actions go to Him, and all results (karma-phala) come from Him alone.
  • VERSE 46:
    • Ideal attitude towards:
      • ACTIONS (karma): All actions are going to alter of God. Would you offer pollution/impoliteness to God's alter? No. Then refrain from doing it to the world (which is God in form of world).
      • RESULTS OF ACTIONS (karma-phalam): You get what you DESERVE, based on your prior ACTIONS, put into the field (whether this life or previous lives). God (intelligence) doesn't give based on what you WANT (implies Bhagavan has likes/dislikes) or NEED (implies violation of your freewill).
  • VERSE 47:
    • Better to stick to your profession (aligned to your nature), or another profession which pays better, is more exciting and gives higher STATUS in society? Krishna advises former, as it's easier to practice Karma-Yoga while genuinely loving what you do.
    • What if I dislike my passion-career (low pay/unpleasant colleges)? It's advised to first seek ways to improve your experience by various means, and/or changing attitude towards it. Reason? Let's see in V48…

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 48:

sahajam karma kaunteya sadoṣam api na tyajet ।
sarvārambhāḥ hi doṣeṇa dhūmena agniḥ iva āvṛtāḥ ॥
Oh Arjuna! Though defective, one should not give up the inborn duty, for all duties are covered by defect, as fire [is covered] by the smoke.

  • sarvārambhāḥ āvṛtāḥ doṣeṇa; All professions/duties have defects. Every action is imperfect.
    • EG:
      • Boss who hires, must fire.
      • Teacher has tedious tasks of correcting papers.
      • Judge must give maximum sentence.
      • Arjuna’s actions to save the nation for corruption, also included killing his Guru/grandsire.
      • Wake up call to God on loud speaker, disturbs some.
      • To help devotees see the Truth, guru may be disliked for bringing out their shadow.
    • Because of this “zero sum nature”, Krishna says it’s unwise to give up your profession just because it’s challenging.
  • SOLUTION: Correct approach is to change our attitude about our profession.
    • How?
      1. There’s no perfect profession. It has PLUS like being near the fire. And MINUS like the smoke.
      2. See your profession as payment to the Lord (in form of your manager/company/customer).
    • These two = Karma-Yoga in action.
  • NEXT: What is the REWARD of taking to this devotional-God-centered approach?

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 49:

asakta-buddhiḥ sarvatra jita-ātmā vigata-spṛhaḥ ।
naiṣkarmya-siddhim paramām saṃnyāsena adhigacchati ॥ 
One who has self-mastery, whose intellect is detached from everything, and who is free from desires attains the supreme goal of actionlessness through renunciation.

  • Regarding statement “whose intellect is detached from everything”? Objection: How is that possible in real life? What does it mean?
    • In BG CH3.4/5, Krishna explained to Arjuna that moksha cannot be reached by non-performance (detached intellect) of action, OR giving up what has ALREADY started.
      • Because non-performance leads to: laziness, hypocrisy [lip service], and suppression of saṃskāras (which reinforces moha due to lack of experience or involvement in world].
    • Instead Krishna advises:
      1. Give up wrong actions.
      2. Give up attachment to outcome while performing.
      3. Align the profession with aptitude.
      4. Look at your profession as MEANS to mind-purification.
        • How does a profession clean the mind when it’s so stressful?
          • Analogy: When gold ore is heated in fire, its impurities are removed. In same manner, actions (with spirit of Karma-Yoga) thrown into the Kurukshetra (field of action), ends up removing further likes/dislikes that reinforce the separate individual.
          • Because it’s training the mind to see through Vedanta-googles:
            • EG:
              • 3 Gunas, Putting-together-Intelligence, Presence of invisible Dharma.
              • No longer talking to a person, but jīva who has travelled many bodies, and whose mind is illumined by Self (atman).
            • Without Vedanta-googles, mind unconsciously interprets/judges/opinionates per ancient samskaras.
          • These 4 = Karma-Yoga.
  • Verse:
    • vigata-spṛhaḥ; Who else attains the highest goal? One is free from desires [personal fancies].
      • Why are they free of personal-binding desires?
        • Because recognizes no object/quality/skill has power to produce fulfillment. Else everyone with that quality/skill would be fulfilled.
          • This recognition produces objectivity (not giving objects worth they don’t have), which leads to jitātmā; self-mastery or contemplative mind.
    • Consequently, paramām naiṣkarmya-siddhim; the supreme goal of actionlessness is attained.
      • ORDER: personal-desires converted to Karma-Yoga > Jnana-Yoga > Knowledge is assimilated within the buddhi (other wise called moksha).
      • What is the direct understanding of an enlightened buddhi?
        • That which makes this buddhi conscious right now, is “I” (whose nature is free of this buddhi through which this self-inquiry is taking place). While this buddhi and the self-inquiry belongs to aparā-prakṛti.
        • SUMMARY:
          • The DOING of self-inquiry is taking place in buddhi. And the actions is done by the body, which incurs punya/papam. Belong to aparā-prakṛti.
          • The unchanging-presence in whom this changing-aparāprakṛti-DOING is occurring, is I, the one who is lending Existence-Awareness to this incidental BMI which is acting according to it’s guna composition.
          • This understanding is sometimes called:
            • Action in Actionlessness (BMI in present of Self), and…
            • Actionlessness in Action (Self lending Existing-Awareness to all actions. IE: Wherever there is mithya, that’s where satyam is.


VERSE 50-55: Jñāna-Yoga (emphasis on meditation; nididhyāsana)

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 50:

siddhim prāptaḥ yathā brahma tathā āpnoti nibodha me ।
samāsena eva kaunteya niṣṭhā jñānasya yā parā ॥ 
Oh! Arjuna. Briefly know from Me, how one who has attained purity (anataḥkaraṇa śuddhi), attains Brahman which is supreme culmination of knowledge.

  • Krishna focuses on jnana-yoga (specifically nididhyāsana).
  • Summary of jnana-yoga:
    1. Śravaṇa: Consistent and systematic study of Vedantic scriptures for a length of time under guidance of competent teacher.
    2. Mananam: Going back and recollecting definitions of terms like “ātmā/Self”. Revision with contemplation and resolving doubts (if occurs).
    3. Nididhyāsanam:
      • What is it? Find opportunity each day to dwell upon the teaching for sake of reclaiming one’s nature. Not meant for validating/acquiring the knowledge, but strengthening it within personality.
      • How is it done?
        • By REPEATED reading, discussion, teaching, listening, thinking about, writing.
        • In reference to closed eye meditation, it was mentioned in CH6:
          1. Dharana: Fixing mind onto object of knowledge (I am the aware-ing principle). Meaning must FIRST hear the teaching.
          2. Dhyana: Retaining the mind on the object (in form of Knowledge).
          3. Samadhi: Until dhyana, process is a struggle. Samadhi is effortlessness absorption into the teaching.
            • Metaphor: Flame inside enclosure. Samskaras are not blowing it.
        • Why important?
          • Through lifetimes, dominant samskara was “I am this small, separate entity”. Therefore nididhyasanam reduced the gap between the teaching and your lifestyle/behavior.
          • Without nididhyasanam, can’t gain the fruit of former 2 (shravana, manana). Like putting sugar into tea, and never mixing it. Nididhyasanam is mixing.
        • Shravanam VS Nididhyasanam: Former is assistance of teacher. Later is without.
  • How to arrive to Jñāna-Yoga? By Karma-Yoga (seeker attains qualifications) > comes to jnana-yoga and Jñāna-niṣṭhā is attained.
    • What is jnana-nishtha? Supreme culmination.
      • Effortless availability of Non-dual vision. Parā/aparā-prakṛti discrimination is automatic and permanent, especially during crises. What > So what!
      • Culmination is a firm conclusion: Nature of Self is whole and complete, limitless, actionless, ordinary, unborn, non-dual Existence-Awareness.
        • Then depending on one’s prarabdha and personality, jnani either chooses to teach, continues life single/married or whatever their destiny unfolds.

V51-52 COMBINED: Checklist prior to Meditation / Nididhyasanam:

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 51/52:

buddhyā viśuddhayā yuktaḥ dhṛtyā ātmānam niyamya ca ।
śabdādīn viṣayān tyaktvā rāga-dveṣau vyudasya ca ॥ 
Endowed with a clear intellect (viśuddhayā buddhayā), having restrained the mind by will or firm resolve (niyamya ca ātmānam dhṛtvā), having renounced the sense-objects like sound etc. (tyaktvā viṣayān śabdādīn), one should give up [binding] likes and dislikes (rāgadveṣau).

vivikta-sevī laghu-āśī yata-vāk-kāya-mānasaḥ ।
dhyāna-yoga-paraḥ nityam vairāgyam samupāśritaḥ ॥
Who lives in a quiet place (viviktasevi), who eats lightly (laghvāśī), whose speech-body-mind are mastered (yatavākkāyamānasaḥ), taking to contemplation/dispassion (samupāśritaḥ vairāgyam), one should be ever devoted to dhyana-yoga (nityaṃ dhyānayōgaparaḥ).  (Swami Da./Pa.)

  • Verse 51/52 (Combined) gives preparatory steps for meditation via Asthanga-Yoga (CH6) or Open-eyes self-inquiry…
  • Asthanga-Yoga / Nididhyasanam Preparatory Steps:
    1. Fundamentals:
      • viśuddhayā buddhayā: Endowed with a clear intellect.
        • Vedantic meditation isn’t having a “thoughtless mind” (as is true in Yoga Philosophy), but bringing to mind’s-eye, a Vedantic teaching.
          • EG: Meaning of OM TAT SAT. This implies you must’ve already been educated about definition of OM TAT SAT. Therefore; need to be endowed with a clear intellect.
        • Clear intellect about what?
          • Nature of jīva, īśvara, jagat, nature of samsara, moksha, purpose of sadhana. Each topic is systematically studied.
          • Explaining the crux of jiva, jagat, ishvara:
            • STEP 1: Brahman is highest reality.
            • STEP 2: Define Brahman: Existence-Awareness (sat-cit), without a second blissful, whole, limitless (ānanda),.
            • STEP 3: Sat-cit enjoys capacity to manifest out of itself plurality. It’s capacity/power is called: Māyā.
            • STEP 4: When Māyā capacity manifests forms (by borrowing Existence and by it's upādhi, making Existence seem like it's shaped/molded into various forms, just as clay is shaped/molded into various potten-ware), then the totality of ALL manifest forms is called: Jagat.
            • STEP 5: Jagat consists of sentient/insentient objects. Sentient are called: Jīva.
            • STEP 6: When Jiva inquires into it’s maker (the Cause of the Universe), the maker/sustainer/destroyer is called: Īśvara (God, Lord).
            • STEP 7: Therefore what is Ishvara? Brahman being [seemingly; not actually] conditioned by Maya.
          • brahma satyam (asti) jagat mithyā asti, jīvaḥ brahma eva na aparaḥ; Existence-Awareness is the final reality. World is modification of Existence-Awareness. The jiva too is a modification, therefore not different from final-reality.
      • vivikta-sevī (V52): Living in quiet place. Implies already settled worldly accounts, since this is last stage of nididhyasanam.
      • laghu-āśī (V52): Eats lightly. Sattvic foods per CH17.
      • yata-vāk-kāya-mānasaḥ (V52): Speech-body-mind are mastered. Implies objectivity (giving objects their intrinsic value VS. personal value).
      • CAUTION: rāga-dveṣau: Meditation can only be done if managed likes/dislikes by prior Karma-Yoga.
    2. Asthanga-Yoga:
      • STEP 1: Āsana: Sitting still in a comfortable posture.
      • STEP 2: niyamya ātmānam dhṛtvā: Having restrained the mind by will. Pranayama.
      • STEP 3: tyaktvā viṣayān śabdādīn: Having renounced the sense-objects like sound. Pratyahara.
        • Use the chatter of “today’s-happenings” to remind you to focus on object of meditation.
      • STEP 4: samupāśritaḥ vairāgyam: Taking to dispassion. Meaning temporarily suspending your role (husband/wife/doctor). Dharana.
      • STEP 5: dhyāna-yoga-paraḥ nityam: One should be ever devoted to dhyana-yoga.
        • Open-eyes: Living prior steps, inquire non-stop into scriptural statements.
        • Closed-eyes: Set intention (EG: discerning CHANGING from UNCHANGING) and begin the meditation.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 53:

ahaṃkāram balam darpam kāmam krodham parigraham ।
vimucya nirmamaḥ śāntaḥ brahma-bhūyāya kalpate ॥ 
Having given up misplaced ‘I sense’ (ahaṅkāram), power (balam), arrogance/vainfulness (darpam), desire, anger, and possession (parigraham), being free from ‘Mine’ notion (nirmamaḥ), and remaining tranquil (śāntaḥ), one becomes fit for becoming Brahman (kalpate brahmabhūyāya).  (Swami Da./Pa.)

  • During stage of nididhyasanam (in V51/52), asuri-sampat qualities will come out. Take caution and refuse to follow them…
    • ahaṅkāram: Identification with past beliefs / memories of someone who hurt your body-mind.
      • Solution:
        • Closed-eyes: Continue interrupting by bringing focus to object of meditation.
          • EG: For first 5 mins, say “Clear” to every thought that arises.
        • Open-eyes: Remind yourself, body-mind (to whom all stories belong) is a mere vehicle to be used for Vedantic study/assimilation. Therapy methods.
    • Balam: Playing power-games. Wishing to be seen/heard/recognized as an accomplished being who never makes mistakes.
    • Darpam: Arrogance. “I am self-made”.
    • Kāma: Desire for personal fancies overshadowing desire for Vedantic study / Karma-Yoga lifestyle.
    • Krodha: Anger/self-criticism may arise when (a) find yourself returning to old ways (b) finding it hard to retain the knowledge (c) Life becomes seemingly unfair (EG: Ongoing physical illness).
    • Parigraham: Ones happiness still depends on surrounding self with possessions. Solution: Simplify life.
    • Nirmamaḥ: Sense of ownership/possessiveness due to “mama-kara-samskara”. Solution: You are a temporary trustee. Have no right to claim ownership of things you don’t own.
      • OBJECTION from ignorance (justifying mama-kara): If I am Brahman, then isn’t everything mine?
        • ANSWER: We only desire objects believed to be away from us. EG: Noone makes a goal to own their arm of leg. Because it's obvious, “It's already mine”. Ignorance (identification with body) is striving hard to make things “mine” (which is always relative to body, and never to Brahman; since Brahman is everything already).
  • What’s the reward of keeping above under control? śāntaḥ; tranquility of mind that’s able to capture nuances of reality.
    • Example of a nuance:
      • This BMI is an offering of the Intelligent-Order. While I am the EVER-PRESENT-KNOWER (sākṣī-ātmā) of this Intelligent-order (manifesting itself in form of this BMI and universe).
      • What is the definition of EVER-PRESENT-KNOWER (sākṣī-ātmā)?
        • I am not a part, product, property of the body-mind.
        • I am the independent formless-Existence-Awareness which pervades and enlivens this body-mind.
        • I am not limited by the boundaries of this body-mind.
        • I continue to survive after the fall of this body-mind.
        • And upon death of this body-mind, it will seem to others AS IF I am no longer accessible. But in reality, I am the very same Awareness which is aware-ing their minds right now.
          • In otherwords, I am space-like. The all-accommodating principle.
      • The mahāvākya (aham brahman asmi) encompasses all above definitions. The mahavakya refers to the spontaneous narrative in a trained mind by repeated nididhyasanam. The mahavakya is not explicitly stated. It points to an implicit process within buddhi of a jnani.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 54:

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasanna-ātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati ।
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu mat-bhaktim labhate parām ॥
Having “become” Brahman [“I” identity shift within buddhi], the tranquil-minded one neither grieves nor longs for anything. Being the same towards all beings, he attains supreme devotion towards Me.

  • brahmabhūtaḥ: Having “become” Brahman by means of firm knowledge (jnana-nistha, sthita-prajna, jivanmukti); question is: How to test that jiva is a jivanmukta?
  • Indicators of jivanmukta:
    • prasanna-ātmā: Tranquil/reassured state of mind, even during crises. Frequency of disappointments comes down because:
      • Jivanmukta is immersed in one’s karma-yoga / devotion.
      • Jivanmukta knows world is mithya order of reality. “I” am free of all this.
      • Jivanmukta lives in simplicity / minimizes chances of drama. Because there’s nothing in it for him to win or lose.
      • Jivanmukta’s perception first recognizes/acknowledges the Self in all things. And then the 5-kosha's. One first recognizes sinlessness/innocence/purity in the individual before the personality traits are noticed. Even in case of crow or barking dog; the Existence-Consciousness is first acknowledged, then the sound/sight.
        • Reason for this order?
          • Existence-Consciousness is that which is nearest of the nearest to both the seer (IE: because I Exist and am Conscious, there is perception of “THAT”), and the seen (for “THAT” to display those personality traits, it first and foremost must EXIST). This is true perception.
            • CORRECTION: Involves changing focus long enough and repetitively until it’s effortless. In Christian language, “Only then are the eyes of Christ yours”.
          • If the defect/sin is recognized first, it shows one’s intellect is mostly identified with 5-koshas (the defect). Meaning how we perceive the world gives away our internal process.
            • CORRECTION: “THIS” (defect) I would not see because he/she is One with Me.
    • na śocati: Neither grieves. Not easily overpowered by sorrow. Intensity of thought/verbal/physical expressions comes down.  What > So what!
    • na kāṅkṣati: Nor desires.
      • Freedom from binding desires (GETTING for sake of body-mind). Whatever desires left, are to GIVE/contribute. Jnani helplessly gives.
      • What’s the logic for jnani’s absence of binding desires?
        • Nothing can add nor subtract from Me (the one free of the BMI want-er). This understanding brings permanent contentment.
        • I (Atman) have nothing to lose nor gain. Thus addictions over time fall away.
    • samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu: Remains objective towards all beings. No longer in jiva-srishti, but ishvara-srishti. No longer living in own world of philosophy/beliefs. But available to the requests of NOW.
    • parāṃ madbhaktim labhate (advaita bhakti): Has supreme devotion towards Me.
      • Jivamukti’s bhakti is the most-in-touch-with-reality / highest… because it’s the “closest” to the object of worship (THE Reality). The worshipper and worshipped are not-two.
      • Krishna restates that bhakti and jnanam don’t contradict each other.
        • Explanation: At beginning there is distance between 2-new-couples. The more they get to know each other (through exchange of information; knowledge-sharing), the less distance they feel between each other (AKA: More comfortable).
          • Thus distance is proportional to love. And since advaita is no distance, it is of the highest love.
      • Jivanmukta may even worship the Lord with assumed notion of separateness; it doesn’t contradict abidance in Self. – Nārada-bhakti-sūtra 18.
  • SUMMARY of Jnani indicators:
    • Frequency of disappointment comes down. IE: Involved in duty & knows to be free of world/jīva.
    • Intensity of thought, verbal, physical expressions comes down. IE: Not easily overpowered. “So what!”.
    • Recovery period is shorter. How quickly one forgets and moves on.
  • Because of above indicators, in Vedantic scriptures, even Jnani’s are graded (despite all directly knowing “aham brahmāsmi”). Because assimilation (nididhyasanam) takes such a long time.
    • 4 Gradations:
      1. Brahmavid: Much need to act in the world. Many residual vṛttis. Many not fancy meditation, due to raja-guna dominance. They are attracted mostly to path of Karma-Yoga (being of service by doing). May even have identity with “looking good”.
      2. Brahmavid varaḥ: Lesser residual vrittis. Still feels or has concern for maintenance of body. But more introverted. Outside world is quieter, because “voice of Self” is louder.
      3. Brahmavid varya / variyan: Few vritts. Needs to be awakened by alarm or someone to come out of samadhi (whether open/closed eyes). To help you relate with this: Have you ever been immersed in some work, and couldn’t hear someone calling you? It’s like that. Further, need to be occasionally reminded to maintain body or even to eat.
      4. Brahmavid variṣṭha: Miniscule to no awareness of body. We’ve heard many cases of “naked sadhus”. No thoughts of family/world. Total introversion. Oblivious to outer world. Mostly spends time meditating. Impractical in real world; as they have no need to teach, talk, socialize, give charity.
  • ABOUT 4 Gradations:
    • The 4 stages is another trap which spiritual aspirants identify with. This is ahamkara (see above) trap.
    • A jivanmukta alternates between the 4 stages. Sometimes one is highly dispassionate towards the world (brahmavid varistha), other times highly active (brahmavid).
    • Furthermore, above 4 stages also indicate the natural progression of jivanmukta who continues their sadhana.
    • Any of the 4 stages reach videhamukti (no rebirth).
    • 4 Stages explain the variety of jinvamuktas. Some impolite, loud. Others quieter, polite. Etc.
    • Grading shows nididhyasanam is a gradual process and it can’t be sped up.


Keywords:  varah, varishtha, varishta, brahma satyam jagat mithya jiva brahma eva na apara, brahmaiva napara, shravanam, nididhyasanam, para-apara-prakriti, jitatma, vaiśya, śūdra, dhāraṇa, dhyāna, samādhi, jnana-nistha, sakshi-atma

Resources:  L186 Mind-Map

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 4 Oct, 2022


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