Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Yoga — the Divine Union
O Winner of Wealth (Arjuna), he who has relinquished work by yoga, and who has torn apart his doubts by wisdom, becomes poised in the Self; actions do not entangle him.
—The Bhagavad Gita IV:41
This stanza refers to the two main paths:
(1) union of the soul with God through Raja Yoga;
(2) perceiving the Infinite by wisdom.
(1) Those who perform the gradated actions of yogic meditations become united to God. Through these and other divine actions in daily life (sadhana) they rise above all attachment and desires, and become true renunciants.
(2) Devotees find spiritual fulfillment by concentrating their minds with devotion and faith on scriptural and guru-bestowed wisdom. Dispelling doubts by reason and ultimate inner intuitive conviction, their whole concentration becomes poised in the Self.
Taken together as one path, as advised in the all-inclusive Raja Yoga, or followed separately as singular paths, both the yogi and the sage find that even though they work with the body, they are no longer bound by fruits of action; God dwells within them as the true Performer of works. Unidentified with the ego, egotistic actions, and the body, these devotees become free.
The relinquishing of actions by yoga signifies that the yogi performs actions only for God. The Gita again and again points out that literal "renunciation of actions," relished by "spiritual" idlers, is not the true renunciation. Acting for God and renouncing the fruits of action—not actionlessness—mark the true man of renunciation. Such a devotee is a yogi and a man of renunciation because he is united to God and has renounced the fruits of action. This is the meaning of "relinquishing work by yoga." By renunciation of love for all worldly objects—no longer desiring those fruits of actions—a devotee escapes from the phenomenal world into the noumenal world of truth. He tears asunder the ego's illusory doubts about what is Reality and what is unreality, and becomes poised in his true Self, transcendentally free of the binding effects of the karmic strings that knit the ego to the world. (pg.527)