What is Buddhi Yoga?
Buddhiyoga is the practice of uniting the mind with the higher consciousness through the proper use of buddhi, the power of discretion and understanding. Buddhiyoga enables us to use the faculties of our minds effectively for self-realization. Through Buddhiyoga we learn to control the senses and quite the mind. We learn to discriminate the right from the wrong and the appropriate from the inappropriate. We also become conscious of the nature of the the three gunas and the movement of the breath and other energies in our physical and mental bodies. The Bhagavadgita deals with the concept of buddhiyoga in greater detail. In the following paragraphs we have presented a brief description of buddhiyoga as explained in the Bhagavadgita.
According to the Bhagavadgita, even mindedness is called Buddhiyoga (2.48). It is difficult to achieve because of the conditions in which we live. Our minds remain mostly disturbed and preoccupied with some problem or the other. According to the Bhagavad-Gita, equanimity of mind should be cultivated by practicing control of the mind, the body and the senses through inner discipline and detachment. Even mindedness culminates in samadhi, the state of equality, where one is beyond the senses, the sense of all duality and completely immersed in himself, unaware of and detached from the external world. It is the yoga which finally brings "dukha samyoga viyogam" (disconnections from the union with pain) ( 6.23)
"Buddhi" is the intelligence that exists in all of us in contrast to 'chitta" or pure consciousness. Buddhi gives us the power to discriminate and decide what is good for us and what is not. It is the force behind our wisdom and our reactions to the outside world. A man of lesser buddhi is constantly driven by the senses and the desire for sense objects. He thereby remains in a constant state of turmoil and sorrow arising out of union and disunion with the sense objects.
So buddhiyoga teaches us how to overcome this weakness of the mind and achieve the state of equanimity so that one can remain alike in pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat (2.38) and thereby remain free from the bondage of all actions(2.39). Disinterested action through "vyavasayatmika buddhi (cultivated mind) is the aim of buddhiyoga.
In this path there is no loss of effort. Even a little practice protects one from the fear of birth and death (2.40). Perfection in this path cannot be achieved by the mere study of the Vedas or engaging oneself in flowery speeches and debates (2.42), without necessary effort to control ones desires and detaching oneself from pleasure and power. It is by overcoming the three gunas enumerated in the Vedas, by conquering the sense of duality and by establishing oneself in sattva one can obtain enlightenment (2.45). By developing even mindedness in success and failure, renouncing the fruit of actions, detached, the buddhiyogi becomes free from bondage of mortal life. (2.48-51).
How to know whether one has achieved perfection in this path ? What are the marks of a true "sthithapragna "(expert in stability) ? The yogi of stable mind gives up all cravings of the mind, withdrawn and satisfied in himself (2.55). He is not afraid of adversity, nor does he crave for happiness. He is the stabilized sage (sthithadhir muni), who is free from passion, fear and anger (2.56). Without friends or relations (anabhisneha), equal to auspicious and inauspicious events, he remains detached, unconcerned and absorbed in himself (2.57).
The senses are responsible for the delusion and the disturbances of the mind. By establishing contact with the outside world, the senses bind the mind to the sense objects. Out of this attachment is born the desire for the sense objects. Out of this desire arise passions, delusion, anger, loss of memory, confusion and finally loss of buddhi or intelligence (2.62&63).
Knowing this the Buddhiyogi tires to achieve stability of mind by withdrawing the mind form the sense objects, the way a tortoise withdraws its limbs (2.58). He stops enjoying the sense objects and thereby ends all his sorrow. By controlling his senses, devoting himself, heart and soul to God , he becomes firmly established in God (2.65). He becomes the awakened Yogi, who is awake (spiritually) when all beings are asleep (in ignorance) and who is asleep (mentally) when all being are awake in the world of desires (2.69). He becomes the ocean itself, undisturbed by the rivers of information flowing into him from all sides (2.70).
To achieve such a Brahmic State through buddhiyoga, one has to practice atmasamyamayoga or the yoga of self discipline which is described in the sixth chapter (10-19). The yogi should concentrate his mind constantly on his Self, leading a solitary life, controlling his mind, free from desires and possessiveness. Placing his firm seat in a clean place, neither too low nor too high, covering it with soft clothe, deer skin and kusa grass, he should practice yoga for self purification, keeping his mind, senses and activities under firm control. Holding the body, the neck and the head straight in one line, concentrating his gaze on the tip of his nose, undistracted, with peaceful mind, fearless, practicing celibacy, subdued in passions, he should becomes become established in God and attain highest peace and nirvana (6.10-15).
There is no place for extremities in this yoga (6.16-18). This yoga is neither for the voracious eater nor for the non-eater. It is neither for the constant sleeper nor for the chronic insomniac. The buddhi yogi who is regulated in diet and relaxation, in sleeping and waking, becomes impervious to all sorrow. Resting in the self alone, freed from all desires, he becomes established in the yoga of equanimity. In that state, he realizes his hidden Self, becomes satisfied in the Self (6.20), finds unlimited happiness, develops an understanding of the transcendental state through his pure intellect and remains immobile to all sorrow. He enjoys the extreme bliss of union with Brahman and develops the unified vision of the Universal Self, seeing the Self in all and all in the Self (6.21-29).
Buddhiyoga is the the foundation for success and perfection in all other paths. Without self control and discipline of the mind, success in the three paths of knowledge, action and devotion is not possible. A true karmayogi has to control his desires and develop detachment to be able to become a true sanyasi and offer the fruit of his actions to God with a true sense of sacrifice (3.7&5.3). A true devotee of God must be able to control his mind and desires so by truly detaching himself from all and attaching himself only to God, he can concentrate his mind on Him and become absorbed in Him completely (Chapter 9&12).
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Buddhi, Discriminating Intelligence
- The History, Practice, Benefits and Types of Yoga
- Bhakti, Spiritual Devotion To God
- The Seven Fundamental Teachings of the Bhagavadgita
- Karma Yoga, the Yoga of Action
- The Concept of Atman or Eternal Soul in Hinduism
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- Belief In Atman, The Eternal Soul Or The Inner Self
- Brahman, The Highest God Of Hinduism
- The Bhagavad Gita Original Translations
- The Bhagavadgita, Philosophy and Concepts
- Bhakti yoga or the Yoga of Devotion
- Hinduism And The Evolution of Life And Consciousness
- Why to Study the Bhagavadgita Parts 1 to 4
- Origin, Definition and Introduction to Hinduism
- Symbolic Significance of Numbers in Hinduism
- The Belief of Reincarnation of Soul in Hinduism
- The True Meaning Of Renunciation According To Hinduism
- The Symbolic Significance of Puja Or Worship In Hinduism
- Introduction to the Upanishads of Hinduism
- Origin, Principles, Practice and Types of Yoga