Action With Awareness – In Gita Verse 5.4 Only the ignorant speak of devotional service [karma-yoga] as being different from the analytical study of the material world [Sāṅkhya]. Those who are actually learned say that he who applies himself well to one of these paths achieves the results of both.
Krishna says two things in this verse: the cave of the heart opens for one who knows, or, one whose heart opens will know. We will enter deeply into both.
How to know the divine? How can this knowing happen? In the Kaivalya Upanishad, there is only one way to awaken this knowing – and that is that all your actions must happen with awareness, with consciousness. There is no other way to grow towards knowing. People think that the way to knowing is in the scriptures, doctrines, in words – but this is not the way to grow in knowing. In this way you will only increase your memory, and there is a difference between knowledge and memory.
Memory is when something known by others has been passed on to you; you have borrowed it. Knowing is something that you have experienced in yourself – it is your own, it is individual. When you say that someone is a man of knowledge, that such and such a person has immense knowledge, what you usually mean is that the person has a tremendous amount of information, a big pool of memory. He knows the scriptures by heart, he has memorized the Gita, he has crammed the Vedas. But this is not knowledge, this is memorizing – and to memorize is not something very precious. It is mechanical. Even machines can memorize. Soon only machines will have memories, and man will leave this work to the machines.
True knowledge, knowing, is a very different phenomenon: it is to know directly, it is your own realization. It is your own experience, your own seeing; it is something that you have lived and tasted yourself. It is your own, not information given by somebody else. True knowledge is self-realization, direct. There are no scriptures or doctrines in between. So studying is not the way to grow in knowing. The way to grow in knowing is awareness. The more aware you become in your actions, the more your knowing will grow, will awaken. Awareness means that whatsoever you do, you do it with such intensity and meditativeness that there is no unconsciousness left in it at all.
Try this small experiment sometime, then you will understand how deep your unconsciousness is. Look at the second hand on your watch and decide that for one full minute you will consciously go on looking at it. One minute is not such a big thing; the second hand will just make one full circle and you will consciously go on looking at it.
Let me explain the meaning of consciousness to you so that the experiment becomes easy: you will not forget the moving second hand for one minute, and you will keep on seeing it moving ahead, ahead, ahead…sixty seconds will complete one minute. You will be surprised to discover that in sixty seconds, you will miss at least three times! You will forget what you were watching. Some other thought, some other idea will enter your mind and your mind will have strayed at least three times. It is difficult for you to focus your awareness even for twenty seconds! Then you will come to know how deep your unconsciousness is, because you will not be able to watch the second hand with remembrance and awareness even for twenty seconds. The second hand will go on moving, you will forget for a moment or so, and then again you will remember that you have forgotten. By then the second hand will have moved a few seconds ahead, and during that time your awareness will have wandered off to somewhere else.
Whatever work you are doing, try to do it with awareness. There is no need to make a separate time for this experiment. If you are eating, eat consciously, chew consciously. Nobody will ever know that you are doing some spiritual discipline. The spiritual practices of sankhya are not noticeable: nobody will know if someone is doing them or not. The spiritual practices of yoga are obvious, because they involve outer activity. Sankhya’s activity is within. Breathing is happening – just become aware of it. Buddha has put much emphasis on this.
Buddha has based his whole teaching on watching the breath – anapanasati yoga, the discipline of watching the breath coming in and going out. Buddha used to say that if a bhikshu, a monk, could manage only this, he would need to do nothing else. It might seem to be a very small task to you, but when you look at the second hand on your watch and miss it three times in one minute, you will realize how difficult this process of watching your breath can be. But if you begin, then someday the end will also come. If you begin, then someday you will also experience.
This is an internal process. It is much more difficult than chanting Rama-Rama, because to chant Rama-Rama your awareness is not needed. A man can go on chanting Rama-Rama mechanically, his awareness is not needed at all. And it can happen that he can go on doing all his other work and also chanting Rama-Rama. He is not aware of his chanting: it goes on automatically, mechanically. So if someone wants to chant Rama-Rama, two things are involved: one is his chanting, and the other is his awareness of the chanting. Only then is it beneficial, otherwise it is useless.
Instead of adding any new activity, it is better to bring awareness to the activities that you are already doing. Even if you have been chanting Rama-Rama, bring awareness to it. No matter what you do, decide on one thing: that you will go on making efforts to do it with awareness. You may fail today, you may fail tomorrow, but don’t be worried, because in every failure is hidden the seed of success.
And if your awareness continues and a constant impact happens, one day you will suddenly discover that you are able to perform any action with total awareness. On the day you succeed in being aware, the door to sankhya is open. Nothing else is needed. No other external action is needed – one simply enters the inner sanctum of the heart. Then you will know your inner witness, because awareness is the witness.
Krishna tells – When you do something with awareness, you become a witness. You are no more a doer. Whenever you do something in unawareness you become a doer, you are no longer a witness. Whatsoever you do with awareness…. You may be eating your food: eat with awareness and you will no longer be an eater, you will become a watcher of the act of eating. You may be walking on a path: walk with awareness and you will not be the walker, you will become a witness, a watcher of the one who is walking.
So if your awareness goes on growing, the witness will also go on growing in you. And when the witness in you is totally free of the doer, the outer shell of the doer breaks open and the witness sprouts forth.