As long as we remain rooted in the mental consciousness, which functions on the basis of separation, division and fragmentation, we are bound within the actions of Nature working through the Gunas. As we undertake the process of the Yoga, we begin to experience the calm, wideness, stillness, unity of consciousness which begins to create a new platform for our experience and our action.
Throughout the history of human civilization, humanity has grappled with basic and essential questions of how to apply principles, whether moral or ethical, to the situations that arise both in one's individual life and in one's relation to society and social norms and expectations. For the most part, our solutions proceed from the normal human standpoint and represent some accommodation between various conflicting duties or principles as defined by the society within which we live and act.
When we undertake the practice being recommended by the Gita, as an aid to quieting the mind and withdrawing from the entanglement of the senses and their objects, we quickly find out that this is not as simple as it sounds. Once one begins to seriously attempt this, one recognizes that the mind tends to jump around from object to object, the external impressions force themselves on the senses and impact our inner awareness, and we are constantly moved to respond, reach out, interact with and otherwise maintain our involvement with the external world and its forms and forces.
While reading Christian Thorne's excellent essay "To the Political Ontologists" in Dark Trajectories: Politics of the Outside (Joshua Johnson, ed), I found myself thinking once again what on odd idea "political ontology" is. As Thorne beautifully puts it,
The political ontologists have their work cut out for them. Let's say you believe that the entire world is made out of fire: Your elms and alders are fed by the sky's titanic cinder; your belly is a combustion engine or a mtabolic furnace; your lungs draw in the pyric aether; the air that hugs the earth is a slow flame-- a blanket of chafing-dish Sterno --shirring exposed bumpers and cast iron fences; water itself is a mingling of fire with burning air.
If one studies the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, one finds that there is a very significant focus on the attainment of the state of Samadhi, an inward drawn consciousness, separated from any attention to the outer existence, the senses, the mind or the ego-sense. Therein is described several stages of Samadhi, each one successively deeper and more abstracted from the world.
I have grown increasingly annoyed at a prevelant tendency in my corner of academia: judging a book by its promises rather than its achievement. The phenomenon jumped out at me most forcefully with Zizek and Milbank's Monstrosity of Christ -- people were so excited by the very idea of the debate between the two that they ignored the fact that the book itself was a poorly-edited, virtually unreadable monstrosity.
A great deal of confusion of meaning occurs through the use of terms that have varying meanings based on context. One such term is "nirvana". The primary sense of this word has been developed through the use of it in the Buddhist tradition. In both cases, it implies a status of conscious awareness that is separated from involvement with the senses, the objects of the senses and the human ego-sense and intellect attached to and acting up (and being acted upon) the objects of the senses.