ॐ about an 8 minute read ॐ
You haven’t heard much from me lately because I’ve been tip-toeing around these funky questions: Do I share too much? Not enough? Is it the right time? Do I even know who I am? Are all these photos, all this sharing, all this writing.. is it too selfish? I deactivated my Facebook account for 4 months and then reactivated while traveling in Puerto Rico because it made connecting with people so, so much easier. Had I let myself down by doing so? Or had I balanced out enough of the boundaries to let it be okay?
All these questions pushed me to start realizing that this conflict was strictly internal. I was the one judging, the one who was concerned. My head and my heart started to swell and I became overwhelmed. What on earth was I doing with my life? Sitting with my ankles crossed on sand or up in trees, I watched sunset after sunset recognizing that I had no idea where I was going, yet I was certainly in the right place.
I came back from Puerto Rico knowing big decisions were demanding my attention. I took deep breaths and examined each one. One of which, led me here.
The reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because I found clarity after reading this book, The Bhagavad Gita, literally translated as the “Song of the Lord.”
In this classic of Indian Spirituality, Sri Krishna is Bhagavan (the lord). The battle of the Bhagavad Gita is not Krishna’s fight, however; it is Arjuna’s. Krishna is disguised as Arjuna’s charioteer and advisor, yet he is an incarnation of God. And as soon as Arjuna loses his wit, he turns to his charioteer and asks what to do. Krishna enters into some seven hundred verses of divine instruction on the nature of the soul.
Because you may be able to relate and because I wanted to, I broke down my content into the following:
Light of light, Part I
– Introduction to The Bhagavad Gita
– Our fives senses and four stages of consciousness
Light of light, Part II
I won’t confuse you with characters or Sanskrit terms—many of them forced me to read pages over and over again, or look them up.
In the end, just know that The Bhagavad Gita (along with The Upanishads, and The Dhammapada) were sent to inform us that there is more to life than our everyday experience of our senses.
I read this book and the first page made my heart sing. The foreword paints a hallway in Anglo-Saxon England, just after King Arthur passes, in the dead of winter. A fire fills the space within the hall with warmth and light. And from time to time, a sparrow darts in for refuge from the fierce snowstorm outside.
The translator and author Eknath Easwaran explains, “we spend our days in the familiar world of our five senses, but what lies beyond that, if anything, we have no idea. Those sparrows are hints of something more outside – a vast world, perhaps, waiting to be explored.”
Those sentences hit me hard. Many of us are very content spending our lives in the familiar while others quickly grow restless and must explore the unknown. As part of the latter I know, I know there is something out there, beyond my reach. Like the travel bug, but not really… it’s more than that.
Easwaran mentions, “a brilliant neuroscientist I was reading recently says something similar in contemporary language: we never really encounter the world, all we experience is our own nervous system.”
In meditation we learn there are 4 stages of consciousness. The ordinary stages include waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep. The fourth, Turiya, is the unitive state. I understood this as the wider field of consciousness. Which the Gita explains is our native land.
So, we want to seek knowledge of an underlying reality. But, how?
“Because personality is a process, the human being is constantly remaking himself or herself. Left to itself, the mind goes on repeating the same old habitual patterns of personality. By training the mind, however, anyone can learn to step in and change old ways of thinking; that is the central principal of yoga:
Reshape yourself through the power of your will; never let yourself be degraded by self-will. The will is the only friend of the Self, and the will is the only enemy of the Self. (6:5)
The Gita speaks of this kind of growth as part of spiritual evolution. In its natural state, consciousness is a continuous flow of awareness.”
The goal of evolution is to return to unity: that is, to still the mind. Letting the soul rest in a pure state of joy.
“Since the Self is the core of every personality, no one needs to acquire goodness or compassion; they are already there. All that is necessary is to remove the selfish habits that hide them.”
The answers seeking knowledge of an underlying reality would then include:
- Selfless actions (giving)
- Accepting: I am the Self in the heart of every creature
Selfless giving and meditation are pretty self-explanatory (although difficult to master). The concept of viewing yourself as the Self in the heart of every creature is a vital part of Indian Spirituality, and an idea that I believe many religions were meant to teach.
I’ve read about the four stages of consciousness, how death should be compared to removing your jacket, the Rig Veda (1500 B.C.), the most ancient of Hindu scriptures, and how images of Shiva as Yogeshvara, the Lord of Yoga, suggest that meditation was practiced in a civilization which flourished a millennium before the Vedas were committed to an oral tradition.
The Bhagavad Gita is not a philosophy, it contains a bit of theology. The Gita is a message that shows that anyone who has real love, real love for self and all other creatures on this earth, will in the end, attain light of light.
The Gita brought me much needed clarity on beliefs such as the purpose of, or even definition of faith and on the other side of the spectrum, the existence of hell. The Gita also brought clarity to my yoga practice and my love. I write about these topics in Light of light, Part II.
“…we shape our world by what we believe and think and act on, whether for good or for ill…the field of dharma, where Arjuna and Krishna are standing for us all.”