Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Bhagavad Gita (Part 2 of 3)
I decided to take a yogic philosophy workshop this Fall on the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most beloved texts in India. I discussed our first meeting here. We had our second session recently where we moved the discussion away from who the characters represented (our ego and the divine) and delved into the meaning behind chapters 3 - 10. I am summarizing greatly here other wise this would be a very long post indeed.
Chapters 3-6 discuss “Selfless Action” or Karma yoga. I must admit, I had a little chuckle because I’ve been watching off and on My Name is Earl, where Earl figured out that bad things happen to him because he’s been a bad person. He drew up a list and is trying to rectify all the bad things he’s done, often with quite funny results. But I digress.
Karma yoga is defined as, “the way of action”. Also: we reap what we sow; law of cause and effect, or our actions determine our destiny.
It is here that we learn a couple key lessons - Do not avoid work, but perform those duties without selfish attachment to the fruit or outcome of the work. And, we must act in selfless spirit, with out ego involvement and with out getting entangled in whether things work out the way WE want.
I particularly liked these passages:
(3:19) Act selflessly with out any thought of personal profit.
(3:35) Stick to your own Dharma and don’t worry about someone else’s Dharma.
Chapter 4 is titled Wisdom in Action and focus’s on how wisdom is the goal of selfless action and knowing is the fruit of doing.
Chapter 5 is titled Renounce and Rejoice and we come back to how it is essential in karma yoga that the selfish ego not expect gratification from work. Here the Gita emphasizes that nobody is more important than anybody else.
In Chapter 6 we start to see a shift in philosophy from karma yoga to jnana yoga (self knowledge), where the character Arjuna (our ego) asks, “Who is the true yogi?”. It is in this chapter Krishna tells Arjuna what the true yogi looks like, but also advises Arjuna to take up meditation to train the mind to be one-pointed or in other words, fixed upon God.
This is to prepare us for Chapter 8 - Eternal Godhead. In the yogic understanding it is about understanding death. All this is to practice one-pointedness in preparation of death so one can die consciously, focused upon God.
As illustrated in (8:5) Those who remember me at the time of death will come to me. Do not doubt this.
Chapter 9 - The Royal Path. To paraphrase, the purpose of life is to realize God and until this happens, the soul cannot escape creating more karma which has to e worked out, however long that may take.
Like I mentioned, I am greatly summarizing. I may have to come back at a later date and go through each chapter one at a time. This is an absolutely fascinating study.
The version we are reading for this session is by Eknath Eswaran, copyright 2007.