Breath of Clarity

true Self in the Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita depicts how devotion to the true self propels right action. Initially, Arjuna was “weighed down by pity” (47). Then, Krishna illustrated “sorrow is sheer delusion” by describing how those who are devoted to being grounded in knowledge of our ever-present essence do not sink into grief (48). Her noting the immortality of the soul was a way of showing that the soul is not bound by any limits and is all-powerful in the face of any struggle. She emphasized the immense love contained in the path of devotion by illustrating it “will shelter you from great sorrow” (53). She then tied equanimity into the path as she said “resolute understanding is single-pointed” (53). It revealed synchronicity in that the true self is consistent and is seen through a focus that is unwavering.

Krishna emphasized meditation being right action as a totally accessible way to experience the true self. The imagery “having drawn back all his senses from the objects of sense, as a tortoise draws back into its shell, that man is a man of firm wisdom” prompted me to consider a person’s perspective shifting from the sensory sensations to the inward stillness. Then, as Krishna guided Arjuna to “focus his whole mind on me,” it illustrated that when the sensory sensations fall away, the peace we experience within in itself is the same as Krishna. The text illustrated how Krishna is the atman as she said “there is nothing more fundamental than I […] a single thread […] the life in the living” (100). It revealed that this fundamental, divine energy is the excellent, definitive essence of anything. It guided Arjuna to consider that he is no exception. As Krishna mentioned, “He who finds peace and joy and radiance within himself — that man becomes one with God and vanishes into God’s bliss […] absorbed in me” (86 and 91). Meditation generates fruits that, from a place of devotion, are poured back into focusing on the energy propelling the laws of nature that created them (54). Krishna depicted it as “an unending hymn to my endless love” (116). Since endless love is totally safe, it’s liberating to devote oneself to Krishna.

Furthermore, Krishna guided Arjuna to “perform all actions as worship” (63). By the end of the book, Arjuna is immersed in worship as he celebrated “Again and again I bow to you, from all sides, in every direction. Majesty infinite in power, you pervade — no you are — all things” (140). It’s interesting how the repeated action of worship is so sacred because it alters the relationship between the identity of the worshipper and the worship. As Arjuna is absorbed in the worship, he lets the existence of the doer fall away out of his perspective, and all that is left is the Knower witnessing the action in itself. Also, Krishna said, “he who sees that all actions are performed by Nature alone and thus that the self is not the doer— that man sees truly” (155). It is amazing that, over the course of repeated worship, the Knower’s existence merges with the essence of the worshipping action and it is clear that the two are one in the same. Krishna clearly drew the link as she said “the Self is the essence of all things; its creative power, called action, causes the whole world to be” (107). So, if Arjuna simply focuses on honoring the fragment of Krishna within him as the force of his action, it takes care of clarifying his decision about going into battle. As Krishna described “those who take refuge in me know absolute freedom and the Self, and the nature of action” (105). The degree to which we trust the divine, our light is vivid.

It goes to show our dharma is to perform all actions in worship by letting our divine essence of who we are shine and operate through us. Krishna said “surrender all actions to me” (145). Spontaneous action then occurs as we are in constant awe of God. Krishna said to Arjuna that “no one who truly loves me will ever be lost” because “focused on me at all times, you will overcome all obstructions” (119 and 193). Therefore, in moments we are overwhelmed with worry and confusion about what to do, we are to simply focus on soaking in love from being grounded in the knowledge of who we truly are and trust its course of action.


Mitchell, Stephen. Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation. Three Rivers Press, 2006.