2:39 "This is the wisdom of Sankhya -- the vision of the Eternal. Hear now the wisdom of Yoga, path of the Eternal and freedom from bondage."
Now that we know all about the nature of the soul and its immortality, it is time to turn to how the soul can acheive freedom by how we live this life. The next few verses explain the nature of Yoga. The term "yoga" has come into common use in the West to mean the physical exercise of postures or asanas, as in Hatha yoga or Bikram yoga (I shall, for convenience, adopt the convention of referring to this meaning with a lower case "y"). In its broader context here, however, Yoga is a pathway, a holistic approach to creating peace within in order to carry the soul forward toward enlightenment.
2:40 "No step is lost on this path, no dangers are found. And even a little progress is freedom from fear."
Anything we do on the path is of value and the path itself is not dangerous. As we progress, we experience less fear.
This is an interesting note in that it tells us a way to judge progress.
2:41 "The follower of the path has one thought, and this is the End of his determination. But many branched and endless are the thoughts of a man who lacks determination."
Yoga is goal oriented, and the practitioner concentrates on the desired outcome, not on the method of getting there. If we don't have a specific goal in mind it is not possible to direct energies toward it. This is very much like the method used in the popular book The Secret.
2:42 "There are men who have no vision, and yet they speak many words. They follow the letter of the Vedas, and they say: 'There is nothing but this.'
2:43 Their soul is warped with selfish desires, and their heaven is a selfish desire. They have prayers for pleasures and powers, the rewards of which is earthly rebirth.
2:44 Those who love pleasure and power hear and follow their words: they have not the determination ever to be one with the One."
Okay, so I mentioned The Secret. The authors talk about using single-minded, goal-oriented concentration to achieve the heart's desires; to use the Universe as "your catalog" and get whatever you want. It appears that the Gita is saying, yes, that works, but it will buy you another rebirth here on earth for your trouble. You can spend a lot of time and effort building your dream home, but, in the end, it gets you nowhere.
Oh - and just because you read the Vedas doesn't mean you know everything.
2:45 "The three Gunas of Nature are the world of the Vedas. Arise beyond the three Gunas, Arjuna! Be in Truth eternal, beyond eartly opposites. Beyond gains and possessions, possess thine own soul."
The three Gunas are Sattvas, Rajas and Tamas: light, fire and darkness. A man living in harmony in the world, as a base, lives in equilibrium of these three. Krishna is telling Arjuna to rise above even that level and into a level beyond it, one that transcends the effects of all three Gunas instead of merely keeping them in balance. In such a way, he becomes master of his soul.
2:46 "As is the use of a well of water where water everywhere overflows, such is the use of all the Vedas to the seer of the Supreme."
Why would you continue to use a well if the water came to your door? If you have an understanding of the principles underlying the Vedas, you are beyond their use. So, it really isn't about memorizing the textbook, it is about understanding the theory. And you get to keep taking the course over again until you pass...