16. Verses 16 to 21 deal with the pathway to Enlightenment.
Na karmani – Atman does not act. Actions are caused by vasanas.
The sequence of thought is: Verse 16 – Stages to Truth Verse 17 – That State with reference to the past. Vasanas are destroyed. Verse 18 – With reference to the present the Realised One has equal vision. Verse 19 – The Enlightened One has no more birth. Verse 20 – Realisation with reference to external and internal conditions. Verse 21 – The final state of God Realisation.
Long before the sun rises darkness vanishes. This is why dawn, Aruna, is portrayed as the sun’s charioteer. In the same way all doubt, sorrow and misery go long before Realisation. Then the sun follows by itself. Atman reveals Itself after ignorance is destroyed by knowledge.
Most people just want respite from agitation and suffering. They may not be interested in getting to Godhood. Far less effort is required to overcome the challenges of life and be in a happy zone. Then the confusion, doubt and indecision go. You gain strength and clarity. You become confident. You are able to handle the problems of life. You are at peace with yourself.
In this peace you gain knowledge of Self. The two ailments we suffer from are vikshepa agitation and avarana shrouding of Atman. Vikshepa goes first and then you overcome avarana.
17. Realisation is described as the state of non-return. This is true even in the worldly sense. Once you escalate to a higher level you cannot regress to the lower. An adult can never go back to childhood. Once you learn a language well you will not make grammatical errors. After you learn refinement you will not behave in a crude manner. Similarly when you move to the fourth plane of Consciousness and gain infinite Bliss you can never return to the state of finitude and bondage.
To get there the entire focus of your life must be on Atman. You must breathe Atman, think Atman, love Atman, live in the thought of Atman. There must be a merger of mind and intellect. The mind surrenders to Atman and the intellect constantly thinks of Atman in and through your daily, mundane activities.
Steadfastness, consistency, constancy is the key. The law is ‘As you think so you become’. You have thus far been thinking of body, mind, and intellect all the time. You have become matter. Hence you are tossed around by the world. Think constantly of Atman. You will become Atman. You will be free from the world.
Then all sin will be destroyed. Sin is mental agitation caused by unfulfilled desires. Desire comes from vasana, ignorance. When ignorance goes and you gain knowledge of your infinite stature you will no longer crave for anything.