2:66 "There is no wisdom for a man without harmony, and without harmony there is no contemplation. Without contemplation there cannot be peace, and without peace can there be joy?"
The roots of peace are within ourselves. If we fail to attend to our own inner harmony, we cannot achieve true peace and joy. Everything hinges on quieting our inner turmoil so that we can, through contemplation, open ourselves to wisdom. So it is that the Gita suggests meditation as a foundation of life.
2:67 "For when the mind becomes bound to a passion of the wandering senses, this passion carries away man's wisdom, even as the wisdom, even as the wind drives a vessel on the waves."
We Americans put a lot of stock in passion. We throw the word "love" around to describe everything from our spouse to our cars to brands of cat food. We are exhorted at work to be passionate bout our jobs. We argue passionately about our politics. We are taught that allowing ourselves to be carried away is not only desired, but expected.
To pursue a contemplative life has never been easy. If it were so, we would not need roadmaps like the Gita.
2:68 "The man who therefore in recollection withdraws his senses from the pleasures of sense, his is a serene wisdom."
Think back on 2:66. The route to joy is through contemplation, not "the pleasures of sense". True joy is gained through pursuing wisdom, not passions. Think of the radiant joy you feel in the presence of one like the Dalai Lama. Serene wisdom.
2:69 "In the dark night of all beings awakes to Light the tranquil man. But what is day to other beings is night for the sage who sees."
In reading this, I am reminded of the treatise of St. John of the Cross: The Dark Night of the Soul. Writing perhaps 2000 years later, St. John of the Cross describes coming to the peace and love of God through a metaphorical night of suffering (the following link is to Loreena McKennit's adaption of the stanza):
"Upon that misty night
in secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
than that which burned so deeply in my heart
That fire t'was led me on
and shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where he waited still
it was a place where no one else could come"
The night becomes brighter than the day to the man who lives in the serenity of wisdom. What others would see as an impediment, the wise man finds the path to God. Even suffering becomes a part of the road to enlightenment.
2:70 "Even as all waters flow into the ocean, but the ocean never overflows, even so the sage feels desires, but he is ever one with his infinite peace."
The wise man does not become an inhuman machine, rather, he feels the same desires and even passion. The difference is that he takes them in stride rather than allowing them to overcome him. He lives in a state not just of peace, but of "infinite peace", one that can take the assault of emotions and remain undisturbed.
2:71 "For the man who forsakes all desires and abandons all pride of posession and of self reaches the goal of peace supreme."
Abandoning "pride of posession and of self" is not something commonly sought by people nowadays. We are absorbed in getting the newest, biggest, shiniest posessions and showing them off. We are taught that pride of self is not only desired, but essential to get along in this world. Again, the wise man walks the opposite path.
2:72 "This is the Eternal in man, O Arjuna. Reaching him all delusion is gone. Even in the last hour of his life upon Earth, man can reach the Nirvana of Brahman -- man can find peace in the peace of God."
Once again, St. John of the Cross:
"I lost myself to him
and laid my face upon my lovers breast
And care and grief grew dim
as in the mornings mist became the light
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair."