Attaining Freedom From Duty

Chapter III, Stanza 17

Literal Translation:

But the individual who loves the soul and is satisfied with the soul and finds contentment in the soul alone, for him no duty exists.

Poetic Rendition:

The man who loves his self respect, and is satisfied protecting it by performing right duties and behaving properly toward others, leads a contented life on earth and does not have to be counseled as to what he should do. Some people on earth follow an inner guidance and automatically do what is right individually, socially, morally, religiously and in every way. Such people do not need others' counsel. Those who know how to be respected and respect others by performing right actions-for them no "duties" exist.


The Yogi who withdraws his life and mind from the five senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight and lets his consciousness and life-current flow toward the ever-new joy in the soul by deep, ecstatic mind-soul united meditation is completely satisfied-for he finds perfect happiness within. Such a Yogi is contented because, having found the all-desire quenching happiness of the soul, he does not seek temporarily pleasure-producing sense enjoyments.

Such a devotee, who has made actual contact with the soul's complete happiness by life-control and mind-control methods of meditation, has achieved the goal of life and thereby has automatically performed all earthly duties for which he was sent into this world.

Man is generally surrounded by the temptations of brief sense pleasures, but when he uses his discrimination and heeds the counsel of sat-sanga (good company), he finds the superior ever-new Bliss hidden in the Soul. So he forsakes evanescent pleasures and momentary worldly duties and keeps his consciousness riveted to the supreme Soul happiness. Such a person finds all the desires of many incarnations satisfied, and thus has no obligatory duties to perform. To be united to Inner Bliss is to be united to God and thus to gain His grace.

God gives such a Yogi a pension from all duties. But-all slothful devotees beware! For idle people never try to remain united to the soul or to work for God. yet they have certainly not earned release from worldly duties. It is only by intensely practising all life-control and mind-control techniques, and also spiritually helping others, that genuine freedom from all duties can be attained.

Western Scriptures also illustrate this point. Mary chose Jesus and was completely satisfied to serve Him, so she had no other duties to perform-for she was serving God. But Martha thought of worldly duties first, and hoped through their performance to find God. So she had to reach God through her actions (karma yoga), whereas Mary chose the Supreme Divine duty of serving God devotedly (bhakti yoga) and was thus released from all worldly duties.

Chapter III, Stanza 18

Literal Translation:

Such a person has no purpose (of gain) in this world by performing an action nor does he lose anything by non-performance of actions, nor is it necessary for him to be dependent on any object.


He who can switch off his life-current from the senses and unite his life with eternal life does not gain anything by keeping his senses working, or not working.

All mortals who come on earth just to live and work, without trying to find the purpose of life and its connection with Eternal Life, are elevated by performance of -proper actions and degraded by evil actions. But for the Yogi who has attained the supreme goal of life by finding the Infinite, no actions are compulsory. Indeed, such a Yogi has fulfilled all his desires by finding the supremely Blissful Spirit (Who alone can completely satisfy all human cravings), hence he cannot have any purpose for consciously initiating any gainful action.

The accomplished Yogi may perform dutiful actions just to set a good example to those who need to be purified by good deeds but, having fulfilled all his personal desires by finding God, he cannot act for any selfish purpose of his own. Some great Yogis live and teach in the world, just to show mortals the way to free their souls from this prison of flesh, while other great Yogis remain in complete ecstasy with the Spirit-never mixing with the world.

Of course I prefer the first kind of Yogi-the one who shares God with others. Yet I can understand the Yogi who wants only to be with God and not to bother with the world-for he knows whether his ever-present Lord wants him to work to save others or not. Many self - appointed "soap - box preachers" try to save others without having saved themselves, and certainly without having received Divine permission to save others. But God guides the enlightened Yogi to action in the world or to complete withdrawal from it.

Chapter III, Stanza 19

Literal Translation:

Therefore, do then always perform material actions (Karyam) and spiritual actions (Karmam) without attachment. By doing all actions without attachment, one attains the highest.


Anyone who does not use the senses only as a reflection of Divine joy within becomes attached to the lesser material pleasures and prefers them to the superior inner joy felt during meditation. So the Gita advises the Yogi to perform material actions without attachment, and never for the pleasure of his ego. For example, the Yogi should eat not with greed-but to preserve the temple of God and please Him.

Worldly people work night and day to gain ephemeral material objects. The Yogi becomes more and more attached to spiritual actions or meditation, God-contact, etc. and thereby displaces the material desires by spiritual ones. Then, says the Gita, when attachment to Divine actions has produced contact with God, one no longer has to be attached to spiritual actions either -just as one may discard a needle after using it to extract another needle stuck in the foot. Both needles are then unnecessary.

Non-Attachment To Action

This is what is meant by performing all actions with non-attachment-because all actions end after the final goal of vibrationless Spirit is attained. All actions are motions confined to the realm of vibration. Most material actions performed with desire lead one away from God, while spiritual actions lead one to God, but when the soul is united to the Infinite, it reaches beyond all action to the vibrationless state.

All material actions are performed by engaging the mind and life-current to the senses; all spiritual actions of meditation are performed by withdrawing energy and mind from the senses. At first one must not be non-attached to spiritual actions as well as to material actions. Rather, the devotee should by attachment to spiritual actions do away with all desire for material actions. Then when the soul is united with Spirit, the devotee may rise above both material and spiritual actions.

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