Bhagavad Gita Commentary – Chapter 18 – Part 1
Those with understanding do not avoid the unpleasant or cling to the pleasant, but perform what must be done, in harmony with their nature, without believing themselves the instigator of these acts. It is a misunderstanding to see oneself as the sole author of action.
Action is unavoidable, only selfish intent is renounceable. Acts performed without thought of selfish gain, without a sense of individuality, do not bind one’s essence within the cycle of rebirth.
The stubborn reject action due to a lack of consideration, the passionate reject action due to the fear of pain, but those with understanding do not reject action befitting their character, ever accepting what must be done.
The stubborn perceive only a single part of the totality as the whole, the passionate perceive the totality as unconnected divisions, but those with understanding perceive the same underlying essence within all, indivisible.
The stubborn, inappropriate and pessimistic, perform actions rooted in misunderstanding and thoughtlessness. The passionate, incited by emotion, selfish and cruel, perform actions rooted in desire and ambition. But those with understanding, unattached to outcomes, perform actions rooted in impartiality and altruism, unswayed by infatuation or revulsion and free of selfishness.
The stubborn perspective twists dark into light, seeing the corrosive as necessary and nourishing. The passionate perspective, impulsive and focused on itself, misses what is wholesome and necessary. But the perspective that comes from understanding knows what is necessary and what not to fear, discerning what binds the essence and what sets it free.
Stubborn dedication is sustained by thoughtless inflexibility, passionate dedication is sustained by desire for reward, but for those with understanding, dedication is sustained by a disciplined mind.
The stubborn receive happiness from what masquerades as sweet, yet is bitter from beginning to end. The passionate receive happiness from what is at first sweet, but bitter in the end. Those with understanding receive happiness from what is at first bitter, but sweet in the end.