There are several relationships that we are involved in. The Gita classifies them as three types:
– Relationship with one’s own body and mind (internal)
– Outgoing relationships (expression)
– Incoming relationships (experience)
Gita guides us on what should be the basic value in each of these relationships. These are mentioned in a compact form in 12.4.
– Relationship with one’s own body and mind – sanniyamyendriya graamam – discipline and control
– Outgoing relationships – sarva bhoota hite rathaah – seeking the welfare of all living beings
– Incoming relationships – sarvatra sama buddhi – equanimity in all situations
It is interesting to note that outgoing relationships are towards living beings and incoming relationships are with situations. There is a popular saying: “We should use objects and love people. It is a tragedy if we do the other way – love objects and use people.” The same sentiment is expressed in this verse of the Gita.
In defining the relationship with the senses and mind, Gita makes it very clear that the individual, as the decision maker is different from the senses and the mind. This is very clearly brought out in the verse 6.6, “The mind and senses are friends of the person who has them under his control. They behave as enemies to the person who does not have them under his control.” Gita goes to great length, especially in the second and sixth chapters, to explain how one should control the senses and the mind using the intellect. Gita recommends moderation in food, activity and sleep. (6.16-17) Gita gives instructions on how to sit and meditate. (6.10-14) It says that controlling the senses and the mind is not easy. (6.35) It has to be done gradually by repeated practice with a lot of persistence. (6.36, 6.25-26)
Our outgoing relationships are always with sentient people and living beings. Gita says there are three types of people we will have to interact with: people who are confronting us, people who are facing success and people who are facing misery. Gita recommends the attitudes towards them. We should not hate any living being, including those who are confronting us. We should be friendly towards the successful, without any feeling of jealousy. We should be compassionate towards the unfortunate who are facing some misery. (12.13) In several places, Gita says “consider every living being as your own self”, “see your self in all living beings and all living beings in your self”, etc. (5.7, 6.29-32) Gita says very clearly and repeatedly that it is God who dwells in the hearts of all living beings and experiences the results of our interactions with them. (6.30-31, 18.61, 15.14-15)
Our incoming relationships are with various situations in life. They are always dual in nature and keep alternating. At the physical level, they come as heat and cold, pleasure and pain, etc. At the emotional level, they come as joy and sorrow. At the level of the ego, they come as praise and censure. They come as success and failure, friends and foe, etc. Gita recommends that we maintain equanimity of mind in all these dual situations. (2.14, 2.38, 2.48, 6.7-9, 12.17-19) Gita says that it is the Lord who gives the results of our actions based on what we deserve. (9.17, 9.19, 5.29) So accepting and facing the situations without complaining and doing whatever is needed is the wise thing to do.
In short, Gita asks us to do everything as a gift to God and accept everything as a gift from God. (9.27) Thus, our only relationship in life is with God only, though it may be through various living beings and situations. Along with this, self discipline is also important.