Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bhagavad Gita and the Practice of Yoga

The Bhagavad Gita is a story, a poem actually and the title translates as "The Song of the Blessed One".  My teacher has called it "a guide to peace of heart.  a love song to god, a psalm, to reality (both the darkness and the light)"
The story takes place on a battle field and is based on a conversation that takes place between a warrior named Arjuna and his chariot driver, Krishna (who is God incarnate).  Just before the battle begins between Arjuna and his evil cousin Kauravas and 100 sons of the blind King Dhritarashtra, Arjuna drops his sword and refuses to fight because he is overwhelmed with pity and dread for the probable death of so many brave warriors.
Krishna then stops time and begins a conversation with Arjuna about life, eternal life, duty, non-attachment, Self, love, spiritual practice and a deeper reality.
Arjuna's first question is whether or not to fight.  This can be considered a metaphor for the forces of good and evil within our own heart or mind.
Below is the introduction to Chapter 2 - The Practice of Yoga
Read this:
"As Arjuna sat there, overwhelmed with pity, desperate, tears streaming from is eyes, Krishna spoke these works to him: "Why this timidity, Arjuna, at a time of crisis? It is unworthy of a noble mind; it is shameful and does not lead o heaven.  This cowardice is beneath you, Arjuna; do not give in to it.  Shake off your weakness.  Stand up now like a man."
 Arjuna said:  "When the battle begins, how can I shoot arrows through Bhishma and Drona, who deserve my reverence:  It would be better to spend the rest of my life as a pauper, begging for food, than to kill these honored teachers.  If I killed them, all my earthly pleasures would be smeared with blood.  And we do not know which is worse, winning this battle or losing it, since if we kill Dhritarashtra's men we will not wish to remain alive.  I am weighed down by pity. Krishna; my mind is utterly confused. Tell me where my duty lies, which path I should take.  I am you pupil; I beg you for your instruction. For I cannot imagine how any victory --even if I were to gain the kingship of the whole earth or of all the gods in heaven-- could drive away this grief that is withering my senses."
Having spoken thus to Krishna, Arjuna said: "I will not fight," and fell silent.
As Arjuna sat there, downcast, between the two armies, Krishna smiled at him, then spoke these words....Bhagavad Gita, translation by Stephen Mitchell
Now, here is an opportunity for us to close our eyes and identify a personal life situation where we might be having our own inner battle between good and evil.....
Can we go beyond the normal modes of thinking by transcending attachment, loss or gain, failure and success?
Can we maintain a balanced state of mind through the practice of Yoga?
Can we practice being "okay with what is"

 It was perfect timing for me to read this passage, as I have had an internal struggle about how to connect with my extended family.  In the past I have tried to ignore the discomfort of our distance and disconnects, or I have tried to push through the obvious miss-understandings by offering myself in another way (thinking I must have done something wrong). But, neither has gotten me the result which I desire, which is a closer relationship with my family.  So I sit writing this with the discomfort of "being with what is" not ignoring that there is a distance between us,  and not acting from the place of feeling like I am not enough.   I surrender to a force greater than my own and wait to be moved with courage, strength and grace into action.
Then, there is the matter of letting go of the outcome and being non-attached to it's success or failure.  Is my heart strong enough for this.... What if I fail?  What if I say the wrong thing, make the wrong choice?  
Shake off the weakness, said Krishna. 

Namaste (The light in me honors the light in you)

1 comment: