May one lift oneself by oneself, may one not destroy oneself. For, the self alone is one's benefactor (and) the self alone is one's enemy. B. Gita 6.6
This verse makes it very clear that you have to save yourself, that you should not destroy yourself or allow yourself to be destroyed. Why? Because oneself, is a great helper, a great benefactor, for oneself. In other words, you yourself are the benefactor. And who is the beneficiary? Yourself. Therefore, you are both the beneficiary and the benefactor. Krishna also goes on to say that you are also your own enemy, which means you can become a great friend, a benefactor, or an enemy to yourself.A person who is a man of meditation, a renunciate, has saved himself or herself totally from all that is undesirable — in other words, from the life of samsara, just as one saves oneself from drowning by pulling oneself out of the water. In fact, all of a person's activities are meant only to save himself or herself. The person wants to become secure, to be free of all problems, including loss of money or power, loss of health, old age, and death, which means that he or she wants to save himself or herself from insecurity. Thus, everyone is busy working for his or her own safety. Whether we call it self‑safety, self‑security, or self‑welfare, there is no question that the pursuit is ‘self‑ish’ — for the self alone.
Seeking an alternative life‑style is not what is implied here. Rather, the person is seeking answers to some very fundamental questions. Certain questions arise in the person, however vague they may be, which tend to disturb the usual activities that people naturally absorb themselves in. The questions themselves give a certain direction to one's life until the person comes to understand that he or she is under the spell of likes and dislikes, to use the language of the Gita. One begins to recognise that the natural pursuit, that everyone engages in, is out of these likes and dislikes — ‘I like it, I want it. Therefore, I do it.’ All one's responses arise from these likes and dislikes alone.
And, within this particular sphere of reality, everything becomes right; anger is legitimate; sorrow is legitimate; pain is legitimate. This, then, is where we get confused. Where anger is legitimate, it is legitimate to get angry. Therefore, if someone says you should not get angry, you get even angrier. Even if you do not get angry, you run into problems! Once the legitimacy is accepted by you, you can move ahead without disturbing your natural activity. But, when you begin questioning the very activity itself, you question the very life you are living. Only when you really question, when the flame of inquiry is proper, can you come to understand the fundamental problem.
There is a mature way of approaching this problem and also an immature way of approaching it. And, in the light of what we discover, there is something that can be called a prayerful life, a life of enlightened prayer, not blind prayer. There is a prayerful attitude or disposition, which is KarmaYoga. Karma yoga implies the acceptance or appreciation of the Lord, and living a prayerful life. This is what brings about the capacity to be contemplative, meditative. Such a life creates this kind of a disposition naturally, a disposition in which knowledge of oneself, takes care of itself. Thus, it is very clear that because of Karma yoga one can gain knowledge.
In this verse, the word atma refers to you, the individual, who, by nature, is already in the ocean of samsara. You did not suddenly slip into this samsara ; you were born into it, along with it. And how do you get out of it? By your own will, atmana you turn yourself about; you question yourself and your values. By questioning yourself, you re‑estimate the whole value structure and whatever there is about it that is confusing.
All problems are primarily due to improper priorities. Therefore, we have to reorganise our value structure and, in the process, our priorities will become proper. This inquiry, vichara into one's value structure is done by oneself alone, atmana eva ; it is an inquiry into right and wrong, what one is to do and not to do. Because of this vichara, your vision undergoes a certain cognitive change. This, then, is one stage of the inquiry.The next stage of inquiry is also done by oneself alone. By one's own inquiry, one appreciates one's helplessness in certain situations. This itself brings about a prayerful attitude on one's part. A given situation raises certain doubts in you; then, afterwards, there is an appreciation of Ishvara and then there is prayer. This makes a person a vashi one whose body, mind, and senses are together — all of which is done by one's own efforts alone.
Going to a teacher to gain the knowledge is also done by oneself and implies a certain effort on the person's part. In all of these ways, the person pulls himself or herself up. This is why Krishna says here that one's benefactor is no one else but oneself — atma eva atmanah bandhuh.
AN ENEMY TO YOURSELF
To have been born a samsari itself is destructive. If your mind is not in order, however, if your value structure is confused, then your entire life and the lives of those around you will be confused. Thus, Krishna also says that you are your own enemy. When your own mind, atma , your own will, is abused, or when it is not used at all, then it naturally becomes your enemy; it stands against you, it destroys you. The mind is where all the notions that, this or that will save us, originate. These ideas are indicative of a will that has been fooled — by itself and by others — because one allows oneself to be fooled. This means that the final fool is myself alone. Because I am a fool, I can be fooled! I allow myself to be fooled; therefore, I am my own enemy. What is the use of blaming anyone? I myself am an enemy to myself — atma eva atmanah ripuh.
DO NOT LOOK DOWN UPON YOURSELF
Therefore, Krishna says, ‘May one not destroy oneself.’ May you make use of the will and change, which does not happen without your undergoing some kind of inner revolution. This inner revolution is a quiet revolution; it is not the creation of a lot of conflicting ideas. Rather, a quiet, inner revolution takes place in one's way of looking at things, in one's understanding. Therefore, ‘do not look down upon yourself,’ is another way of taking the expression, atmanam na avasadayet, because to do so, is to destroy yourself.
In this process, you may sometimes have to mother the child within you and thus take care of it. If as a child you had been neglected then you have probably picked up some problems along the way. And who has to care for this ‘child’? Who is the friend to this child? You alone, as an adult, have to mother the child within. This is what Krishna was trying to convey when he said here, ‘May one lift oneself up .’
The verse can be taken in an absolute sense in that, at every level, one can say, ‘May one not destroy oneself ; may one lift oneself up.’ Since one has to take care of oneself at every level, in the final analysis, there is no other force, nothing external to yourself, that can help you. Oneself means one's own body‑mind-sense-complex. This body-mind-sense complex, along with the will, is both the friend of the self and the enemy of the self. In other words, you can be either your own benefactor or your own enemy.
This means that to become free of this samsara, another person cannot become a friend, a benefactor, for you. Only you can do what is to be done. To grow or to mature within the samsara, another person may be helpful to you, but to get out of the samsara, you have to release yourself. In fact, where moksha is concerned, the very person who was previously your benefactor could very well become an obstruction to you. Bandhu implies affection and friendship, which can also be binding, even though such qualities may be quite helpful to one's emotional growth. Therefore, in the final analysis, in terms of gaining moksha, you are the only one who can be a friend to yourself. And unless you become a friend to yourself, you become inimical to yourself and become your own enemy.
Om Tat Sat