3.9 Wordly bondage occurs when actions are initiated for personal-material gain. Therefore, Arjuna, in your labors remain unattached and offer spiritual yajna as an inner-oblation utterly free from any attachment.
Paramahansa Yogananda sheds great light on the meaning of yajna:
Worldly people perform actions with selfish motives and the desire for material profit and happiness. Owing to that inclination, they are karmically tied to the earth throughout successive incarnations. The yogi, however, strives to perform good actions in a spirit of selflessness and nonattachment; he thereby quickens the evolution toward soul freedom. All such liberating divine duties may be termed yajna.
The word yajna has many meanings. It refers not only to the act of ritualistic worship, but to the sacrifice or oblation offered into the sacred fire; it is also the fire itself, and the Deity (Vishnu) to whom the offering is made. Yajna is a selfless act or sacrifice offered solely to God. It is the religious rite in which the soul offers itself as an oblation in the Fire of Spirit (Yogananda, ibid, pg. 347-48)
During my ministry as a prison chaplain over a twenty-year period, we used to engage in annual weekend-long spiritual-sessions with the inmates known as REC (Residents Encounter Christ). As part of the proceedings there would always be a “fire-ritual” on Friday evenings wherein the inmates would write-down on a sheet of paper anything they needed to have spiritually cleansed—this was a rite of penance. Meditation music would be played as all the participants watched as the fire consumed their sins. In a very real sense this kind of sacrifice is a form of spiritual-yajna. Here in the Gita, Arjuna is being advised by the Blessed One to make continual spiritual-oblations that will cleanse his inner-being for the Divine Union—a union that is likened unto a spiritual-fire, as any imperfections are completely burned-off and only the purity of spirit remains. Hence, Yajna is a most profound Spiritual-Action.
3.10 At the beginning of the formation of mankind, the Primordial Lord said, “Be fruitful and spiritually procreate; in this fashion your selfless actions will fulfill the Divine Purpose.”
Spiritual-Procreation is the willingness to participate in the preservation of Lord Vishnu’s spiritual-progeny.
3.11 Through your spiritual oblations you will draw the protection of the Divine-Devas. Hence, forget not to honor them who watch over your every step.
Spiritual-beings like the devas are protectors of the Dharma. They dwell in sundry dimensions traditionally known as the highest heavens. Even the Lankavatara Sutra itself has a reserved chapter on the dharani—those mantra-like incantations that do indeed bring spiritual protection for those who engage these divine agencies whose protective presence know no bounds.
3.12 Divine agencies will forever offer you spiritual protection and guidance; yet in return never forget to engage in selfless actions lest you take their divine presence for granted.
The best way to remain in spiritual-communication with these divine agencies is by actively engaging in daily meditative techniques that keep these mystical-channels open. In the Tathagatagarbatara Tantra ample reference was made as to how best engage and en-light that inner-spiritual-pranaic-fire in the chakra-regions. The chakras are actually vibrating spiritual-agencies that engage the psyche of the Yogin into a more perfect union with the Unborn. One must never take one’s sacred Yidam for granted. As referenced on numerous occasions, my own daily meditation with Akshobhya Buddha has reinforced and enlightened my self-realization of the true and special import of these divine spiritual encounters.
3.13 Good and faithful upholders of the Dharma partake in the fruits of the sacred yajnas; whereas those who focus exclusively on material-substance will forsake their spiritual heritage.
Nurturing the spirit through the inner sacrificial fire (yajna) must take precedence over the mundane urge to feed the desires of the flesh.
3.14 All creatures are sustained by food, and the divine rain brings an abundant harvest. Far greater still are the mystical-waters wherein one’s spirit is nourished by the inner-gnosis that initiates sacrificial action.
3.15 All action originates through the animating principle of the Unborn. The Unborn Spirit is all-pervading and sacrificial action ignites its Divine Imperatives.
3.16 The sacrificial cycle of the selfless-spirit turns the wheel of the Dharmadhatu, anyone who forsakes the Divine Imperative to spin that Dharmatic-cycle is doomed to remain forever attached to the suffering wheel of the karmadhatu.
3.17 The Self (Atman) is Eternal Delight. Anyone remaining-centered in this Unborn Self knows the full import of sacrificial action that results in the ultimate of Self-Satisfaction.
Apparent sudden-shift here from emphasis on yajna back to the fundamental element of paramount import—Union with the Self; yet, it relays the summation of the sacrificial action, which is that wondrous Union.
3.18 Once this ultimate Self-Realization is reached, no-thing more need be done, nor is there anything lost by doing no-thing less than basking in the divine Freedom of the Unborn.
This is akin to the principle of Wu-hsin: one gains more through the actionless action of the no-mind (no-thought in action). Just allowing Mind Itself to spontaneously meet what is required, or not required in a given moment: This was covered in the Platform Sutra blog-series:
“No-thought” in these passages is also rendered as “no-mind”, or Wu-hsin. This Principle is widely used by Hui-neng and essentially breaks-down as nothing calculated, but simply allowing Mind Itself to spontaneously meet, in non-formal fashion, what is required in a given moment. Hui-neng also includes, Non-form/ formlessness=Mind’s Essential Substance; It abides in no-thing as Its basis. Hui-neng drives home here the point that abiding in Mind-Only bests abiding in no-thing (sensate phenomena, including all thought-formulations) Hence, being un-fettered means to break the successive patterns of thought-obstructions by remaining “prior-to” them through spontaneous non-abiding via the principle of Wu-hsin that nullifies all impermanent phenomena through the exchange of the permanent Nirvanic-Element of Truth That is always ready to respond in appropriate and vivifying ways. Another way of looking at this is that one no longer has any relationship with the external, forever changing, environment; rather, one faithfully and spontaneously abides in the Nature of True Reality (Dharmadhatu), always prior-to and in union with the Pure Mind of Unborn Permanence. In Recollecting this Principle, says Hui-neng, whatever thought vexations appear will make no difference as you no longer abide in them (no-thing), but rather apperceive them through the Unifying-lens of the Nirvanic Mind.