But, Arjuna, one can renounce only through Yoga of Action
The Wise following Yoga reaches the ultimate freedom 5.6
One in Action, pure in mind, conquering senses, reaching within
Reaching Self through the self, is without blemish 5.7
The Wise one knows ‘I do nothing whatever’
Though going through all actions 5.8
All body and mind senses functioning,
The Wise one disengages from the sense objects 5.9
One who acts but with no attachment never sins
Untouched as a lotus leaf is by water 5.10
The Wise act through body, mind, intellect and senses
Yet unattached purifying their Self 5.11
Steady mind, unattached to outcome, is peaceful and free
Unsteady mind, greedy for outcome, is enslaved 5.12
Krishna asks: What can you renounce when you have nothing?
If a King renounces his kingdom, it’s a big deal. If a beggar renounces, what does he renounce? When there is no action and therefore no outcome, what is there to renounce? Who would like to take over another’s poverty?
Krishna’s words are a slap in the face of the entire tribe of those who make a virtue of simple living only because they don’t have the means to live any better. The cult of hippies in the sixties and many that have followed sought to make a statement by not doing anything productive, simply because they were too lazy to act in the real world. This is pure ‘Tamas’, ignorant laziness that prompts one to opt out because one does not have the stomach to face the world.
In Vedic times, in the era Krishna lived in, there was no concept of sanyas or renunciation without going through the stages of brahmacharya or learning, grahasta or married life, and vanaprastha or disengaged living. The concept of the order of monks came with Buddha and Jaina, and a thousand years later incorporated into Hinduism by Shankara. Buddha and Shankara tried to correct the excess materialism of their times through personal examples of renunciation. That’s not Krishna’s way.
This is why the Gita has been a beacon to generations over thousands of years. Krishna’s words are meant for the common man and woman, you and I, and not for the rare exceptions like Buddha and Shankara, or a later day Ramana. Despite being the creator of the Hindu order of monks, Shankara mocks the material monks in his Bhaja Govindam. He says: With matted hair and shaven head, displaying robes of different colors playing roles, these rogues do not realize what they see, merely hell bent of filling their stomachs.
For every genuine person who has renounced, there are thousands pretending to! They all wear robes, saffron, yellow or white!
Do what you have to do, Krishna says, and you must, but without getting obessed with the results.
In modern psychology, starting with Jung and followed by NLP etc., one talks about association and disassociation. Association is linked to feeling and disassociation to thinking, when interpreted through the Jungian classification of internal state as thinking or feeling. If one wishes to change a behavior pattern, it’s considered important to disassociate from the emotions of resident memories.
It’s also about the internal process of sensing or intuiting. Senses seeks the external as observed through the filters of the mind. Intuition moves beyond the senses inwards. How we see and act depends on whether we associate or disassociate, and on whether we sense or intuit. The yogi Krishna holds in esteem is disassociated and intuitive. Arjuna, the human meta program, on the other hand is associated and sensory.
The former Krishna says is peaceful and free, and the latter enslaved in greed. We can choose!