The fifth chapter titled “Karma Sanyaasa Yoga” began with Arjuna’s question to Shri Krishna. The question was : what was better, renouncing all actions and becoming a monk, or performing actions as a karma yogi? Shri Krishna addressed this question by reiterating a nuance that Arjuna had missed.
Renouncing of actions did not mean giving up the physical performance of actions, it meant renouncing the sense of doership, the sense that “I am doing something”. In order to get to this stage, one has to have purified one’s mind completely of desires. In that regards, performing actions in the spirit of karmayoga was the correct course of action for Arjuna, since he still harboured desires. As one continues to dedicate the result of actions to Ishvara, one’s sense of enjoyership and doership automatically diminishes.
Next, Shri Krishna expounded upon the vision of realized seeker. He provided a detailed illustration of body, mind and intellect functioning on their own, including the acts of perception, cognition and intellect’s response to stimuli. All these acts in reality happen without the involvement of “I”. The illustration that the “I” resides in a city of nine gates was given to further drive home the point.
Another aspect of the realized seeker’s vision is his “sama drishti” or the sameness of vision. The realized seeker sees the same eternal essence in a human, elephant, dog, dog eater. Not only that, he also sees the same eternal essence in positive and negative experiences. He holds the convictions that these “defects” or modifications are part of prakriti. He does not view these defects as part of the eternal essence since the eternal essence is ever perfect.
Then Shri Krishna explained that just like the eternal essence in the body does not cause action, so too does the eternal essence at the cosmic level not cause action. Neither does the eternal essence connect results to actions, nor does it dole out sin and merit. All these transaction happen inside prakriti or nature. The example of the Pac Man video game was given in order to illustrate that prakriti is an automated system that works just like a video game. It rewards and punishes actions based on well-defined rules, without the need for external intervention.
In the closing shlokas of the fifth chapter, Shri Krishna slowly begins pointing us toward meditation. Meditation is the only way for the seeker to get fully established in the eternal essence. The primary goal has to be the realization of eternal essence and nothing else, this thirst is needed. Next, Shri Krishna informs us that it is the sense contacts that are obstacles to meditation. Our mind rushes our due to the urges generated desire and anger. Only by controlling this urge can we progress towards meditation.
Lastly, Shri Krishna elaborates on the state of a liberated seeker. Such a seeker has discovered the infinite joy within himself. He finds no need to rush outside into the world for joy and bliss.