Gita Talk #5: Sublimely Simple, Profound and Liveable

Via on May 16, 2010

The reading for this week was Chapters 3-4, p. 61-80. Please tell us what you think.  What did you like?  What did you dislike?  How does it relate to your life? What questions would you like to ask?  Can you see the themes I outline in my thoughts below?  Are there other big themes you think also deserve to be there?

It’s never too late to join Gita Talk.  If you are just joining us for the first time please see Welcome to Gita Talk.  We’re only reading 15-20 pages of verse a week, so it’s easy to catch up.  And even if you haven’t caught up on the reading, you’ll still find it easy to join in many of the conversations.

Here are my thoughts for the week:

The Bhagavad Gita is Sublimely Simple, Profound, and Liveable

Does this statement startle you?

I’m guessing that many of you feel the opposite about the Gita at this point–that it is complex, obtuse and perhaps even upsetting.

Last week we talked about complexity.

This week we’re going to talk about blinding simplicity.

What is the blindingly simple message of the Gita?

LIVE YOUR LIFE WITH LOVE AND PURPOSE,
DETACHING EGO FROM RESULTS

FOCUS THE MIND

EXPERIENCE THE INFINITE WONDER OF THE UNIVERSE

As they say about the Golden Rule, all the rest is commentary.

Here are the three cosmic truths underlying the Gita’s message:

Each of us is already infinitely wondrous—
miraculous, awe-inspiring, unfathomable
(divine if you prefer)

Our wondrous nature is the same as
the infinite wonder of the universe

We experience this infinite wonder
by waking up to reality

I hope you find this surprising and thought provoking.

I hope it helps give you a vision of where we’re going, so that you can better negotiate the challenges of the text.

If you are overwhelmed by the Gita, I hope you find it encouraging.

I suggest you come back to it often when you’re feeling confused.

And if you think I’m full of beans, I look forward to your critique.

The reading for next week is chapters 5-6, p. 81-98.

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About Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: "Live at Don Quijote" & "American Gypsy" (Free CD's) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.

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108 Responses to “Gita Talk #5: Sublimely Simple, Profound and Liveable”

  1. Susan says:

    No beans at all, Bob. I think you are accurate. The essence of vedantic theory those 3 sentences.

  2. Cynthia L says:

    What I came away with is that action negate wisdom. No need to have an attchment to the outcome because no matter what you do (and doing something is better than nothing) you will be rewarded with the wisdom of your experience if you’re listening. So yes Bob, simple in theory. Probably not as easy in reality. So now, how does this concept relate back to Arjuna’s task?

  3. Amy Champ AMY CHAMP says:

    Well, here we all are waking up. What a brilliant post, Bob. It's funny that I would write about sorrow in my last post, considering a dear friend passed away yesterday. Look at how powerful death is. Why is it at that moment that we realize how truly brilliant and profound someone was? Everything rushes right to the surface. And it's been there THE WHOLE TIME. This is why the Gita is simple. It's a wake up call.

    The problem is us. Everything is there in its profoundness, and yet we persist in making everything small. (I'm a big fan of "small," so I guess what I mean is LIMITED.)

    I think Chapter 3 is critical to understanding our relationship as householders and Westerners in relation to the practice of Yoga. There are so many practices of renunciation in Yoga, that people (me!) often get confused by this and what to do with "this world." As the book says, "action for men of action." I think Gita is very clear on this, and it cuts right through a lot of rhetoric in Yoga in America (ashrams, teachers, you name it) which emphasizes denying the physical–sex, booze, etc.

    When actions are performed as worship, then it's all good.

    I like this phrase "ritual action"

    Those who delight in the Self are sages. Blessed be. They still need to eat, so they also depend on the wheel of action.

    Renounce the results, not the action. Very important. I am not the doer. Swami Sivananda would say, "I am not this body. I am not this mind."

    "Let go of your grief and fight!" So awesome.

    Rajas, rajas, rajas. Devil duty. A big problem, for sure. We have these boundless, bountiful lives, and we are constantly pushing and pushing for more and more and more. I've got rajasic tendencies, so there's no power yoga for me.

    Kill desire, know the Self. I'll get back to you on that.

    (only made it thru ch. 3 today)

    Om Sri Gita Dev.

  4. Karen M. says:

    I have had the most extraordinary experience of considering my actions as worship. It has been so profound. Our very life can become yoga practice. Our very life, a praise to the Divine. I find I have accomplished more each day. I have more energy and the most amazing Bliss wells up in my heart at the most "strangest" time. While cleaning the garage; while mopping my basement after water got in after a big storm..even in Walmart !! Jai Shri Krishna !!!

    I have studied the Gita on and off for 40 years. It seems i'm finally "getting it."" It is simple..like riding a bike, you just have to find your center of balance.

    "The whole world becomes a slave to its own activity, Arjuna; if you want to be truly free, perform all actions as worship": (3:10) Thanks and Blessings to you, Bob

    • Hi, Karen. What a beautiful comment.

      I'm with you all the way. With this philosophy, the lines between "practice" and "life" begin to break down completely and, as you put it so well, every little thing that used to be mundane becomes part of the "Yoga".

      I also love your bicycle analogy. Just this morning I was thinking about this phrase people often throw out "centering", as in "you have get centered". As I tried to explain to myself what that really meant, I realized it is very similar to "balance", just like your bike example.

      Thanks for writing.

      Bob Weisenberg
      ElephantJournal.com

  5. Gotta admit the dog ate my homework this week…but I'll get to it.

    Nonetheless, your distilling of the message of the Gita reminds me of that famous anecdote about the famous rabbi, or somebody, who basically said something (I'm not really redeeming myself with this comment, am I?) to the effect that theTorah basically boils down to "[something like the golden rule]. The rest is details"…though I have yet to figure out how all that stuff about Yahweh telling the Israelites to commit atrocities against neighboring tribes and instructions on how to sell your daughter into slavery in a godly way point to toward doing unto others as you'd like them to do unto you…

    • Hi, Jay.

      You may recall that my entire last blog, Gita Talk #4: Why is the Gita So Upsetting at First was about a scheme for dealing with troublesome passages: Disregard, Metaphor, or Explain.

      Having studied the Torah rather thoroughly myself in another era of my life, I can confirm that the Torah is far more desperately in need of this scheme than the Bhagavad Gita. With the Torah, you need to do that for one whole Book (one out of five)–Leviticus and countless other archaic or just plain scary passages throughout!

      Of course, it's really unfair to compare the Gita to the Torah, because the Gita is a very small text out of a huge body of sacred text of the time. But the fact that it has survived as such a generally popular work speaks volumes about its applicability to all ages.

      Bob Weisenberg
      ElephantJournal.com

      • Yeah, yeah, I remember that last post…just couldn't help throwing in that irreverent last bit. And I agree that, in terms of making that kind of comparison, one thing about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is that they're, relatively speaking "one-stop shopping" in terms of their most sacred texts–with the best and worst the faith has to give all between one set of covers (yeah, I know if ya wanna get scholarly, there's more to it than that, with the endless apocrypha, commentaries, etc., but you get my point…quit arguing with me, Bob…).

        • Silly me, Jay. I wasn't even aware I WAS arguing with you!

        • Whereas, it's relatively easy, particularly in the West, to have shelves loaded with books from the Buddhist and Hindu (note that I'm using the "H" word instead of "yogic" just in case those people from that debate about Deepak Chopra and Hinduism are reading this) traditions and think you're dealing with a far purer tradition–when, actually, you might just be dealing with a tradition that has a whole hell of a lot more sacred books, and it's equivalent of Leviticus probably won't be found in between the incense and crystals at the local New Age bookstore…and, speaking of sacred books…I gotta go read chapters 3 & 4 so I can leave some more relevant comments…

          • freesoul says:

            As a Jew who reads spiritual texts, such as the Torah and gets much meaning from it for my own spiritual relationship w/the universe, and I get you might be a cynic, but some of us, have respect for these books in our lives. I don't think anyone has to do it my way, but for the fact that the Torah has been around for 2,000 years, if one gets benefit, then don't knock it. It what allows me to live a complete, content life in a sometimes strange world.

          • I have to back you up there, freesoul. I obviously had enough interest in the Torah to study it seriously for many years. My favorite Jewish book has a Yogic sounding name and lots of very Yogic sounding ideas "I Asked For Wonder" by Heschel.

            (And of course I can compare and contrast because I was raised Catholic and educated by austere nuns before marrying into a Jewish family and raising Jewish kids.)

          • That's great that you get much meaning for your spiritual relation with the universe. I'm not knocking that, and I'm not knocking you. And, if that kind of thing was the only thing people use these ancient texts for, I certainly wouldn't knock them.

            Nonetheless, in these thousands of years, people have used them for a whole lot of other things, and continue to–specifically, as the basis for sexism, homophobia, racism, slavery, and endless bloodshed and oppression. Thus, we're allowed to say what we want about drunks in bar ranting about "bitches" and "faggots" and saying those who disagree with them should be killed, but we're supposed to show reverence to the religious leaders who express the same sentiments with backing from their sacred books, when the only difference is that they're a whole lot more dangerous. Those passages about slavery have been used for thousands of years as justifications for actual slavery. And countless other passages have been used as the basis for countless wars. As such, I find the idea that they should be considered above reproach not only wrong but itself offensive.

      • Jenny says:

        Ah. So maybe the BG is more comparative with, say, Psalms?

          • John Morrison says:

            I can't either….I think there is a unique message to be found in Eastern traditions (such as what is being taught in the B. Gita and Buddhism) that I never found in Christianity. I was raised in a fairly religious Christian family and I fell out of belief in any of it at a fairly young age.

            I caught a glimpse of what I was looking for when I was younger in psychedelics and so I chased after it thinking I would find the truth in sheets of blotter LSD and psilocybin mushroom caps or peyote buttons or glasses of ayahuasca but of course I could only glimpse this. When I met Lama Tashi Namgyal and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche they pointed out what I had been looking for and it had always been with me, I had just been looking outside myself. I think Krishna is trying to show Arjuna the same thing here – a path of bettering oneself. As a commenter stated above, action begets wisdom – Judeo-Christian traditions do not see it this way – that all actions are positive as they lead to wisdom – Judeo-Christian traditions are predicated upon dualities – this action is sinful as it is not pleasing to an external god who is arbiter of such things and this action is pleasing to this external god.

            This is a subject that flares tempers, so I do not mean to offend anyone, and I am also not sure I tied that thought together well, but so be it.

          • Hi, John.

            Not sure if you realized that you were practically quoting the Gita verbatim when you wrote "action begets wisdom":

            Better than any ritual
            is the worship achieved through wisdom;
            wisdom is the final goal
            of every action, Arjuna. (BG 4.33)

            So many interesting things in your comment. I grew up very strict Catholic, and while I'm sure it's one of the reasons I'm a highly moral person (my kids used to make fun of me when they were in junior high because I wouldn't allow them to copy their friends CD's–like stealing a candy bar from the store, I said), I left in disgust when I got to high school just to escape the sensual and emotional repression.

            I never did drugs, even though I was in college in San Francisco during the heyday of the S.F. rock/drugs culture. I was too absorbed in my music to care about that. And, probably because of my Catholic upbringing, I just felt it was wrong.

            I married into a Jewish family and found Judaism to be a much more compatible religion. Jews have a single Day of Atonement each year called Yom Kippur, where you acknowledge all your sins of the past year. I was once trying to explain to my Jewish family why I fled from Catholicism. In a moment of brilliance I said, "Catholicism is like Yom Kippur run amuck."

            Buddhism does seem to be different, but if so, it's not because of its early literature. In a recent blog on Elephant Journal I ended up defending Christianity against dismissive Buddhists: Original Sin vs. Original Perfection, where I wrote in frustration about the Dhammapada (one of the earliest Buddhist sacred texts and written around the time of the Gita):

            Furthermore, most of the austere, life-sucking, desire-suppressing, human-nature-denying recommendations of the Dhammapada are identical to those taught to us by the nuns in face-squeezing habits and broad starched-white collars who were my teachers through 8th grade.

            Then when challenged on this, I gave copious examples. There are a few passages of repression in the Gita, too, but in comparison they are few and far between. But I want be quick to add that I agree Buddhism in general has not followed this early repressive lead.

            Bob Weisenberg
            ElephantJournal.com

          • John Morrison says:

            I'd agree of course it's a mixed bag. Any any sort of organized religion is going to run into troubles and inconsistencies – there are people involved in it. Pre-invasion Tibet wasn't Shangri-la – it was basically a feudal theocracy (one could argue that it was less repressive than the European feudal theocracies that come to mind – but I'm sure one could find evidence to argue against what I just stated as well).

            To me, what the big difference is between Christian tradition and Buddhism is that the Buddha implored his followers to use logic, test the things that he taught, and if one does not find them to be true for your situation, then by all means discard them – it would be foolish to carry on with them…

            "When these urges drive us, sorrow spreads like wild grass. Conquer these fierce cravings and sorrow will fall away from your life like drops of water from a Lotus leaf." (335-6)

            So with the quote above, one would give it a try – try to not be attached to your emotions and driven by greed, lust, hate, avarice, and so on….. After you've given it a shot, did it improve your life? If not, then fine.

            The difference is that with the Judeo-Christian tradition is that their holy books are the perfect word of god, not open to debate. Blind faith, even in the face of contrary evidence, would be seen as a virtue, rather than the testing, logical inquiry that the Buddha puts forth.

            So I think that the Dhammapada is flexible than the Bible. As the Buddha is not an all powerful creator god, we can look at the depiction of women in some sutras, and write this off as cultural baggage – of course many Christians write off Leviticus – but to me there seems to be a disconnect – if it's the perfect word of god – then how can you disregard the portions that appear reprehensible to our modern sensibilities? I'd love to hear from some people that are Christians about their thoughts on that – I was never that diligent of a student of the Bible….

          • John Morrison says:

            So, in conclusion, what I like about the Gita and Buddhism is that if you agree with nothing in either of them because you have tested them out and found them to be wanting, then you aren't condemned to eternal suffering – only your own actions can do that – not something as arbitrary as belief….

            I find the notion propounded in the Gita, that even a mistaken action that we take is positive in that we can the wisdom of experience from it to be quite uplifting versus the guilt, shame, and damnation that would accompany such an act in other religions. Yes, there is the notion of karma and cause and effect but I know Buddhists who take karma to be as mundane as "what goes around comes around" – for instance, Tiger Woods did a lot of hurtful and deceitful things – they came back to bite him as he has lost respect in the eyes of the world, taken a financial hit through lost endorsements, etc. And we haven't booted any of these people out of the sangha as heretics, even though their thought diverges from the Dhammapada

          • John Morrison says:

            Please ignore my terrible grammar and spelling above – typed on iPhone. Can we get an "Edit" feature IntenseDebate???

          • Hi, John. Here I go again, in the unlikely role of defender of Christianity.

            It is a hopeless distortion, no, it's a complete falsehood, to say that most Christians believe that "their holy books are the perfect word of God". That's only true for certain fundamentalist schools of Christianity. Many Christians see the Bible as an ancient texts that must be interpreted for today's world, just like Buddhist see their ancient texts. Christians disregard, metaphorize, and explain, just like Buddhists do. And they generally come to the very same conclusions that Buddhists do–that love and compassion are the key driving values for a better world.

            Just as serious, you seem to be making no distinction at all between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Even when I was a kid growing up in Catholic schools, we were taught that the Old Testament was old, filled with scary, archaic practices and rituals, and represented a wrathful unmerciful God, which Jesus came down to earth to replace with the New Testament, representing a loving, caring personal God and modern humane practices and forgiveness to replace the unremitting "Fear of God" orientation of the Old Testament. BIG difference!

            (Now remember, I also lived for a long time in a Jewish household. They have a slightly different interpretation of all this, which I won't go into now.)

            Bob Weisenberg
            ElephantJournal.com

          • John Morrison says:

            I should have mentioned that I was raised in a strict fundamentalist Christian household – and my knowledge / impressions are colored as such. My father worked for a Christian university where prior to enrollment – students would have to sign a lengthy document where you stated that the Bible was the perfect word of God and without error (along with a promise to not drink, engage in premarital relations, and a variety of other things that college students like to do).

            Needless to say I chose not to attend and obviously this experience has colored Christianity a bit negatively for me. So I welcome anyone to enlighten me on it…won't hurt my feelings a bit…my parents gave up on dragging me to church at about age twelve and I'd been drawing on the back of the bulletin for years before that rather than listening- so if I'm wrong, tell me…

            I think discussions like this are good. There are certainly some Vajrayana fundamentalist – self-appointed dharma protectors as Bill Schwartz would call them – who are quick to jump all over anyone who expresses an opinion of post 17th century vintage. So if I'm becoming one then help me out!

          • John Morrison says:

            Bob Weisenberg – Defender of the Faith :)
            Been thinking on your comment and what I wrote is likely not "Right Speech" and at best ignorant speech – projecting my negative experiences with fundamentalist ideology onto a large and diverse swath of beliefs and interpretations (and likely influenced by a distaste for the religious justifications paraded out by far-right-wing politicians).
            Many apologies to anyone I offended! 'Twas ignorance and not malice.
            Not to clutter this discussion with completely unrelated topics but it would be quite interesting for you to do a blog post on a more contemporary reading / interpretation of the Torah drawing from your background in Judaism – would be interesting to me at least!

          • That would be a stretch for me, because it was a very long time ago. But I do have a great place to send you. Our own Stephen Mitchell here has done his own translations of several books of the Bible, including Psalms, the Book of Job, and the Gospels. Just take a look as his Amazon page and browse the titles. Plus, he practiced Zen Buddhism for many years.. He might be just what you're looking for.

            Bob Weisenberg
            ElephantJournal.com

          • Greg says:

            It is so easy to step on toes as these topics — our spiritual history, our spiritual essence, the nature of life, origins, etc. — all are sooooo loaded with karmic emotion. Knock you on your butt type of emotion.

          • Greg says:

            Not sure that accurately characterizes Christianity. It is more nuanced than one might at first imagine.

            And within Christianity you will find differences. The different sects come at it with differing degrees of understanding and sophistication. The Catholic paper Nostro Aetate that came out of Vatican II might surprise you in its inclusiveness.

            Personally, I do not find a conflict between Buddhism and Christianity. I work with both. Thich Nhat Hanh has written a work on Jesus and Buddha that might also be of interest.

          • Greg says:

            The New Testament provides a similar path. Particularly the Gospel of John and Paul's writings regarding his conversion. The events of Pentecost, which are celebrated this weekend, bear some similarities.

            Later on in works such as The Soul's Journey Into God by Bonaventure and works by St. John of the Cross (as well as Bernard of Clarivaux) one will find similar aspects.

            Augustine wrote about some of these issues as well.

            The Benedictine tradition of monasticism touches upon similar issues. See The Gethsemani Encounter for details of Buddhist and Benedictine retreat. (It was initiated in Boulder, btw.)

            The works of Merton help.

            There is a wonderful multi-volume collection called The Teachings of the Masters of the East that purports to describe the ministry of Jesus in terms consistent with Eastern teachings.

          • Thanks for this very interesting list, Greg. Yes, I agree, Christianity is incredibly rich and varied. Sometimes the ultra-fundamentalists are so vocal and well-organized that they drown out all the other different voices. I find Merton particularly interesting.

            I haven't read this, but it might also be interesting on Christianity and Yoga:

            Jesus in the Lotus: The Mystical Doorway Between Christianity and Yogic Spirituality

            Bob Weisenberg

  6. Margann says:

    In response to your email question, I am grateful to you for this project. I've read the Gita before, and I'm reading it now along with the Gandi version. In the past I've had difficulty seeing the relevance to women, but this time I guess my mind is more open and I'm enjoying it. I see the descriptions of castes and gunas and "inner nature." Still, the promise of moksha isn't resonating with me at all.

  7. Meaghan says:

    Ok, so I can understand and embrace the "big picture". Thanks Bob for giving a clear statement of this broad message and the three "cosmic truths". What my very literal and detail-oriented mind needs now is some nitty gritty detail.

    In the beginning of Chapter 3 Krishna mentions the two main paths: the yoga of understanding and the yoga of action. The rest of this chapter relates to the Yoga of Action. In the next chapter we start using the word wisdom – can I assume the yoga of wisdom and the yoga of understanding are the same path? Or am I confusing something?

    I'm interested in hearing people's opinion of "wrong action". Does this mean action that does not fulfill your dharma? Or is it action with some sort of moral wrongdoing? Or even action with attachment?

    Starting on page 76 in the verse that begins "Some men of yoga pray to the Gods" and continuing for the next 6 verses, there are descriptions of different types of yoga (the first seems to describe bhakti yoga). Again, I would be interested to hear what type of yoga people see in each of these descriptions. I'm particularly confused by:

    "others offer their sense in the fire of self-abnegation; others offer the senses' objects, in the fire of the senses"

    and

    "others, intent on control of their vital forces offer their in-breath into their out-breath or their out-breath into their in-breath; others, while fasting, offer their in-breath into their in-breath".

    And finally I'll just share a passage that really resonates: "all actions are turned to ashes in wisdom's refining flames. Nothing in the world can purify as powerfully as wisdom; practiced in yoga, you will find this wisdom within yourself". A great example of the Gita teaching us that we are the divine, the infinite and that ultimately what we need and what we seek is already within us.

    • Great questions, Meaghan. Thanks for writing. Before I jump in I want to give others a chance to respond.

      • John Morrison says:

        I would be interested to hear some other people's thoughts on wrong action as well….
        I really like that quote as well Meghan – where you point out: "all actions are turned to ashes in wisdom's refining flames. Nothing in the world can purify as powerfully as wisdom; practiced in yoga, you will find this wisdom within yourself"
        I dug up the version I read in college and they translate that passage as: "As the blazing fire reduces wood to ashes,
        Similarly, the fire of Self-knowledge, Reduces all Karma to ashes, O Arjuna." I certainly prefer Mitchell's rendering!

        • Greg says:

          Wrong action accumulates karmic imprints. Karma.

          When self-knowledge is attained one views all previous wrong action "as it is" (thus with wisdom) and in that viewing the karmic imprints evaporate (turn to ash).

          In this manner, self-knowledge at the level of wisdom burns down (or vanishes) the karmic cage in which we have become imprisoned by our own actions.

          Our lack of wisdom, or ignorance, results in wrong views which give persistence to the detritus of Karma. Karmic accumulation can be found in all samsara. it is manifest in the karmic imprints of our mind and in the physical conditions we observe.

          Essentially, in yoga, or Buddhism, or Christianity, we come to recognize wrong action as the cause of our individual and collective samsaric conditions.

          Does that make sense? It is probably consistent with your practice of Buddhism, right? You may want to take it further or into more detail.

    • svan says:

      So far, I'm reading "wrong action" as action that is motivated by a desire for a particular outcome – an agenda, if you will. The agenda is an expression of ego and self-interest… "right action" seems to be equated with "worship" or selfless action…

      The other passages you quoted, I interpret as possibly referring to specific yogic practices of ritual offerings, asceticism, pranayam, renunciation etc.

      A passage that resonates for me: "When you realize it (Truth), you will never fall back into delusion; knowing it, you see all beings in yourself, and yourself in me."

    • Sevapuri says:

      I got a sense that the yoga of wisdom somehow arises from the Yoga of action. I know Arjuna asks which is best and he does get an answer but i cant help feel that our actions and renouncing the fruits or benifits of those actions and the practice of renuinciation or control of the senses(gunas) lead somehow to the wisdom Krishna talks about. This or that, the Gita abounds with Arjunas quest for knowlegde Krishna step by step lays out the path, each step or undersatanding helping to lead to the next.

      • Well put, Seva. Graham Schweig points out in his affectionate commentary that Krishna feels no compunction to be consistent about his recommendations. He gets all excited about whichever type of Yoga he is expounding at the moment, and for that chapter, at least, that seems to be the highest form of Yoga!

        But certainly in Chapter Four, Krishna says explicitly what you wrote in your first sentence above:

        Wisdom is the final goal
        Of every action, Arjuna. (BG 4.33)

  8. Greg says:

    The passages in the Gita are crystal clear and straightforward for me.

    The bone I am chewing on has more to do with the responses of those who read the Gita and yet hold to the views of materialism (aka naturalism) and reject reincarnation. How is this possible?

    I would think that one who rejects the transcendent and reincarnation would toss the Gita on the trash heap. Why does this not happen?

    Bob, do you rip pages 71-73 out of the book? Or do you pass them off as ornate poetry to be discarded? Or, if you consider the Gita to be instructional, how do you process these passages?

    When the Gita says:

    "Many times I have been born,
    and many times you have, also,
    All these lives I remember,
    you recall only this one."

    how do you address the conflict with your own strongly held position that such is not possible?

    When the text reads:

    I taught this imperishable doctrine
    to Vivasvat, god of the sun,
    more than a hundred billion
    years ago.

    do you dismiss it as hyperbole? Or do you consider it might be accurate? (The Lotus Sutra of Buddhism tells of similar lineages of teaching.)

    How do you reconcile the differences in your views with the Gita? What plan of study and practice arises from the contradiction? Given the straightforward exposition of reincarnation and the transcendence of the human body, with a continuity of consciousness, how do you address your current views? Does this not cause some discomfort?

    This is where my curiosity goes while reading the text.

    • Hi, Greg.

      We live on different spiritual planets. I don't think there's much to talk about if you believe this 2500 year old text is the literal truth throughout. I wouldn't ever consider trying to talk you out of that. I sure that's what's right for you.

      But a great many of us don't see it that way. I enjoy hearing your point of view, partly because it is so different than mine. But I would urge you to accept that others have different points of view, like we accept that you do.

      Thanks,

      Bob Weisenberg

      • Greg says:

        I accept you have a different view. Non-acceptance was not intended. The different view is what motivated my question.

        (If you saw the work as I did, I imagine I would have no question or little reason to discuss. We could just nod.)

        I genuinely wondered how you reconciled the differences between the Gita and your views. Is that not a valid topic for discussion? Is it not a valid topic for introspection? Do you not pause when you read the text and discover it directly contradicts your views? What response or action or thought does that bring about?

        You have given a partial answer — you consider texts written 2500 years ago to have reduced validity. And you do not consider the Gita to be literal truth. Those are very important views for others to understand as you discuss the work, right? (Do you not agree?)

        How would you characterize the two passages I quoted? Mysterious? Deluded? Fantasy? (Is that not a valid topic of discussion?) Is not this kind of exploration the practice demands?

        Does one push the text aside, considering it of limited value or does one narrow in and explore "why do my views differ from the words on the page?"

        If a teacher says the flower is red but you always thought is was blue, would you not stop and explore the issue of your perception? Would you not ask yourself, "How could this be?"

        When you turn to your practice where does the Gita fit in? How would characterize the overall work? To what extent is it valid, though old, to what extent is it true, though not the literal truth?

        I am genuinely curious about your thought process when you hit come upon the disparity between your view and the text.

        • Hi, Greg.

          My best answers to all these very valid questions are in my last two blogs, Gita Talk #4: Why Is the Gita So Upsetting At First? and the current one, Gita Talk #5, above.

          Bob Weisenberg

          • Greg says:

            Did not feel like I understood how you addressed the situation, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

            In these chapters (3 &4) there are passages that are so specific in this regard that one has to outright reject what is written in order to hold a non-reincarnation view. It is clearly a case of A and Not A. Wondered what happened when you hit those passages. Discussion of those kinds of specifics can be very beneficial from the viewpoint of practice — if one can stomach them. In some cases, it is too much to address so one lets it go until later…

          • I think it's an individual decision. I urge people who don't believe in reincarnation to either disregard it entirely, or to do what I do–turn it into a powerful metaphor for the impact that all our actions have on future generations.

          • Greg says:

            Those actions in themselves might be an excellent subject for further observation (meditation).

            When we choose to disregard the text what are we really doing?

            Are we reinforcing unconsciousness? Are we making stronger the darkness that stands between us and enlightenment? We may want to observe all the attachments and clinging and emotions that attend to a desire to shut out a point of view in what we otherwise believe is a valuable text.

            If we believe a text has value as a spiritual guide what are we saying about our spiritual path if we choose to disregard the text? What statement (unspoken) are we making about the author of the work? What is our emotional relationship to the author when we decide to disregard his words?

            Likewise, if the author says, "This is how it is. This is my story," and we choose to call it metaphor what are we doing, exactly? Are we placing a layer of alteration between us and author? What emotions do we tap, what attachments do we energize when we decide to alter the communication so our biases are safe?

            When we respect a text enough to make it the subject of community study, what are we doing when we reject the content of that same text?

            Does it not make more sense to use the mismatch as a chance for us to inspect our own state? Is this not an opportunity to for us to look at our own "mental narration" and decide to disregard its desire to censor and reject? Is it not time for us to look at our own perceptions and wonder to what degree they are divorced from reality so as to form a "metaphorical" lens that monitors reality?

            It would seem the value of the Gita or the teachings of the Buddha come from their ability to challenge our reality. As the teacher challenges us we must inspect our thoughts and our condition with a diligent heart that desires new awareness. When we monitor and censor and disregard the teacher out of hand are we not aborting the process intended to bring us new insights?

            Once again, I am curious about the process that takes place when one makes the decision to reject the teachings that one otherwise embraces. How does the disparity affect one's thoughts?

  9. Sevapuri says:

    There has been a lot of comments on wether the Gita is literal or metaphoric, and i think we all come to the Gita as we are, as Kriishna says in the end All come to me. Just as Arjuna struggles with differant questions through out the Gita we struggle with questions through out our journey, but sometimes i miss the questions , thinking i already know something, sometimes my opinions block me from opening up to a differant point of view. Krishna so gently and lovingly guides Arjuna throught his doubts, his blocks , his opinions. When i read the Gita, I'm like blotting paper absorbing what Krishna says as truth and reality otherer wise how can i test it out in my day to day life. To have a Krisna is our lives is a blessing but if not reading the Gita is the next best thing. In my yoga tradition the relationship of Krishna and Arjuna is seen as the most beautiful Guru disciple relationship. The Gita will exspand on this later. .

    • Hi, Seva. Thanks for this very insightful comment. I like the way Mitchell in the Introduction describes the way Krishna comes at Arjuna from one angle after another until he finally starts to get it. But the different angles are also vital because each one appeals to a different type of person, Yoga of Knowledge, Yoga of Meditation, Yoga of Selfless Giving, Yoga of Love, etc. I do look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Guru Disciple relationship later.

      Thanks for writing

      Bob Weisenberg
      ElephantJournal.com

    • Karen M. says:

      Beautiful !

    • Greg says:

      Seva, nicely stated. As we approach such study we engage in observation, including observing how we interact with the material. How do we grapple with contradiction? How do we grapple with those things that are outside our comfort zone?

      • svan says:

        Hey Greg, Bob offered a few techniques in his intro to Gita #4: ignoring the difficult passages for now; looking at them metaphorically; and looking for alternative explanations.

        I think a "take what you need and leave the rest" approach is common to many areas of our lives, perhaps especially to our spiritual practice. I recognise all these tactics and use them myself.

        I find it easy to accept teachings that my experience supports. It's more challenging to delve into those areas that I don't understand. Accepting my own ignorance gives me the space to practice patience and perhaps even cultivate faith and equanimity… faith in myself and in the teachings… faith that what is currently hidden will be revealed through effort and grace… and equanimity to accept the unknown as unknowable.

        And you know, some days it all seems like pointless bullshit. That's when I pray for a sense of humour…

        How do you deal with contradiction and discomfort in your studies/practice?

        • Greg says:

          My approach has been much more based on rip it up and take it apart and see how it works.

          In other words, contradiction is a motivation to explore and examine.

          Contradiction is a warning, a red light, that says something is not right. If we have A and we have Not A then it makes sense to explore whether A is correct or Not A is correct, or both are incorrect.

          Now this applies only when one has determined that the work in question (or the teacher in question) has sufficient value or insight to be studied. Once one decides to study a work then it makes sense to take up things that go against our views and inspect them more closely. As you note, patience and diligence and a good practice are required.

        • Sevapuri says:

          Dealing with contradictions and discomfort in my studies sometimes i just gotta say "dont know" but i try to hold that "dont know open", try not to shut down around it and then when some insightful moment arises i'm able to know a bit more. With a lot of Yoga scriptures i feel, well if i knew everything that they''re talking about i would have written the book but since i dont i love to just try to understand. There was this course i went on, 6 weeks of reading gyana yoga texts, i am by no means an interlectual far from it but just reading the stuff for 6 weeks changed how i felt about myself and my journey , my meditation practice was changed forever. Theres a saying that if you stand next to a sandalwood tree long enough you start to smell like sandalwood.My chosen method is to read, to be ok with not knowing, absord the words and see how they affect my life.

          • svan says:

            I love that saying about the sandalwood…

            karma yoga = become the doing
            jnana yoga = become the knowing
            bhakti yoga = become the loving

          • Love this, Sevapuri. That's why I personally keep hanging around the Gita. And that's one of the reasons I'm loving Gita Talk. It just takes me deeper and deeper into it.

          • Greg says:

            Exactly. One does not disregard. One does not relegate to metaphor. One simply says, I do not yet know.

            But one remains open to knowing. One places oneself in the uncomfortable position of allowing observation (meditation) to fall on one's biases, assumptions, and areas of unconsciousness.

            My approach has been to go stand next to the sandalwood tree that stands across the field from where I have been comfortable standing so that I might allow the insights to seep in.

          • Vanita says:

            Loved this post Sevapuri. I'm no scholar in the material – but, when I read certain passages I 'feel" them down to my bones; others – not so much. I like to think that I'm getting what I need right now for where I am.

            I catch myself cutting pieces of or deleting posts here because I think I am too far away from what might be the scholarly interpretation of the passage held by most – and what I, personally, took away from the reading.

            The sandalwood saying is great!

          • Hi, Vanita. I think that's exactly the right way to approach the ancient Yoga texts. They are only meaningful to the extent they have personal meaning to you. The Gita, in particular, is an intensely personal work.

            As for the "scholarly interpretation", there is no one such thing. There are only multiple and highly contradictory scholarly interpretations. And these are based on the personal spiritual orientations of the scholars.

            There are many passages in the Gita itself, and in the Yoga Sutra and Upanishads as well, that make it clear that ultimately spiritual development is a highly individual thing. Some wise person, I wish I could remember who, said:

            "In the end we all write our own scriptures."

            Bob Weisenberg
            ElephantJournal.com

          • Greg says:

            The problem with stopping at the boundaries of our existing knowledge is that we fail to grow.

            Krishna, throughout the Gita, is introducing Arjuna to knowledge he did not previously possess.

            And Arjuna is asking questions, attempting to open up his understanding of causes and conditions.

            if we all write our own scriptures there would be no need to study the Gita. If we reject out of hand the content of the Gita there would be no reason to study it.

            Too often we let the blackness of our karmic imprints obfuscate our view. Perhaps the key to reaching enlightenment as a yogi or a Buddhist is in understanding that we stand, at present, in the darkness and we need the humility to recognize that darkness and allow the light from the teachings to shine in the corners where we cannot see.

            The topic of reincarnation, repeated throughout the text, is not an incidental or arbitrary concept. It is foundational to the lessons Krishna teaches. Without an understanding of the topic the subject is truly gutted.

            This does not mean that one must believe. It does, however, mean that if one is serious about the study one must not turn away with a dismissive mind but rather one must ask questions. One must inquire as to how reincarnation could be possible. How might that work?

            One must inquire and ask why reincarnation is so important that Krishna includes it in the explanation. One must ask, "What is it about this concept that eludes my understanding?" And "What is there about this concept that is vital to the Gita?" On might also ask "What about my current views and beliefs would need to be changed to be consistent with the Gita? What would that mean to me emotionally?

            Where one finds disparity between the text and one's views one also finds the gold of the spiritual practice. It is here one attempts to articulate with great detail how one currently views and how one might view from the point of view of Krishna. In that exercise lies the value of reading the text.

    • lorraineya says:

      "I'm like blotting paper absorbing what Krishna says as truth and reality otherer wise how can i test it out in my day to day life. To have a Krisna is our lives is a blessing but if not reading the Gita is the next best thing. In my yoga tradition the relationship of Krishna and Arjuna is seen as the most beautiful Guru disciple relationship."

      Such beautiful words! I'm feeling the same thing as I read the Gita.

  10. Ronnie McCarthy says:

    I feel that the most simple yet all encompassing message of the Gita is just love the Divine. The Divine-the ALL ONE-Every Being! If we do this, everything that we are supposed to do we will do. If all we do is out of love, for all, then we have no need to worry about the fruit of our action anyway as our actions will always be out of good intentions. :)

  11. Vanita says:

    What I took away from this reading, like many others who posted above, is that everything we do should be an offering – to the God of our understanding, humanity, and/or each other. After I noticed it – I saw it in at least 10 verses.

    I liked the teaching of leading by example in 3.21 and 3.26.

    I do have questions about a couple verses. In 4.13, where Krishna says he is the eternal non-doer, I am not sure what he is trying to tell Arjuna. Along the same lines, I had a question mark by 4.20 – "he does nothing at all, even when fully engaged in actions." I feel like I'm missing something regarding doing nothing.

    • Great thoughts, Vanita.

      Here would be my answer to your question about Krishna. Elsewhere in the Gita, Krishna makes it clear that he is the eternal doer as well. He delights in throwing out apparent contradictions, the cumulative effect of which is to drive home the fact that he is the entire universe itself, but even more than that, he is both the driving force and the unmoving presence behind the universe.

      Take a look at the photo at Earth: Just a Small Place We Call Home and see if the phrase "eternal non-doer" doesn't make more sense.

      As for "he does nothing at all, even when fully engaged in actions", is a reference to what is called "Witness Consciousness" which I described this way in Highlights (Gita Talk #4): “What is God to You?” & “Dealing with Our Emotions”:

      What the Gita asks us to do is be human selves completely, feel deeply all our human emotions, but develop the ability to step outside ourselves and calmly witness those emotions in a completely non-judgmental way.

      The "non-doer" is the witness. At least that's my interpretation. What do you think?

      Would like to hear from others as well.

      Bob Weisenberg
      ElephantJournal.com

  12. paramsangat says:

    * Please tell us what you think:
    I'm still enjoying, still understanding well without re-reading :) Great!
    * What did you like? I liked how it was explained that your own wisdom is the best one..that no book can replace your own "knowing".. i.e. when you "know".. haha …akso liked alot the part explainingthat when you "know"..just act from that place and let the "ignorant" be inspired instead of told what to do.
    * What did you dislike? its a lil bit repetitive, but its alright… And that thing about non-desire and non-action..when all was really ok if you "knew"..so non-desire and non-action would be a path for the ignorant before "knowing"?

    cont. next comment)

  13. paramsangat says:

    (cont. from prev.)
    * How does it relate to your life? I feel I can act from that place of knowing, but not at 100%, I'm falling back into doubts and fears in certain subjects.
    * What questions would you like to ask? (Had some Q, above, related to the Dislikes)
    * Can you see the themes I outline in my thoughts below?
    I can see the simplicity of the message, when you know you know, and then its very simple…if you dont know or is doubting..its complicated.. I guess..
    * Are there other big themes you think also deserve to be there?
    ..not what comes to mind right now..

    • paramsangat says:

      ..What I meant with the "when you know you know".. was that.. when you know that all is eternal, nothing to fear etc… it comes natural to act from love…and be detached from resaults… it becomes a play, a game..

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to share all these thoughts with us, paramsangat.

      I think you're right on in everything you say, and you are clearly experiencing the Gita this time around with a lot of clarity and depth.

      Please keep writing often. I'm enjoying you comments.

      Bob Weisenberg

  14. Satyam says:

    Namaskar,

    Great topic – great discussion – interesting array of comments…

    One thing that strikes me is that when the message of this section of the Giita is so simple – Do the loving action without any harboring attachment to the results or ego – why do we find ourselves enmeshed in a world that is currently drowned in selfishness, power maneuvers, name, fame, lust, jealousy, conceit and so much more.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not a pessimist – rather quite optimistic.

    I see the question as an essential one: Why have so many been led astray. What is pulling them / us that we cannot lead a life that is so simply pure and loving?

    It seems to me that without knowing what the challenges are and why people are pulled in the wrong direction, this very simple recipe of life that has so many positive benefits will remain elusive – out of our grasp, i.e. in the books only.

    Here the point is not to focus us the negative but rather to adequately equip ourselves to follow the positive and meet the challenge. Just as a mountain climber or doctor will be aware of the inherent hurdles, shouldn't every aspirant also be aware.

    Satyam

    • Hi, Satyam. Thanks so much for joining us here, and for your interesting observations.

      (Satyam is a good friend of mine from the Yoga Journal Community, where we have had many interesting and valuable exchanges. He has extensive direct experience in India, and has been very helpful to me in understanding Yoga philosophy. See his profile at http://bit.ly/aNXS9C , where he relates, among other things:

      Many of my years practicing, studying and learning about yoga came under the direct tutleage of swamijis in the Himalayas. It is their love, insights, wisdom and ideas that keep me ever moving forward on the path.)

    • Greg says:

      Satyam, you have identified the key variable—what is pulling us so that we cannot lead a life that simply pure and loving.

      Karma is identified as the factor that creates this situation but it is rarely understood.

      The state of our minds is such that karmic imprints dictate our actions and obfuscate our perceptions. We live in the illusion of the accumulated storehouse mind.This has become so intimidating that the first step—getting up courage to look—has become a major challenge.

    • Rhonnielive says:

      Satyam,

      This touched me,
      "I see the question as an essential one: Why have so many been led astray. What is pulling them / us that we cannot lead a life that is so simply pure and loving?
      It seems to me that without knowing what the challenges are and why people are pulled in the wrong direction, this very simple recipe of life that has so many positive benefits will remain elusive – out of our grasp, i.e. in the books only."

      I agree with you. For me what I am learning that is already within me/us is always available. My family has done their best. I understand now that their pain body has been my learning. However, more powerful is this internal burn "there is more". While it has felt like I am searching through a maze in the dark, reaching for every wall and corner to determine which way to go, I kept reaching. Now I see light. I have moved from dim to bright. Moving some days more gracefully than others to illuminant. So, while I don't blame, I do see that I was not taught this recipe. It was elusive and not even considered through books in my families lives.

      As long as I can remember I have had this feeling inside "there is more", not material just this feeling. I kept asking myself what is it? what is it? This is where I have read the books and sought deeper understanding intellectually, still inside "there is more", now as I have connected more deeply to yoga I am experiencing "more". I am at the infancy of experiencing after years (and even now) living as the "doer".
      "Doing" has been my way of coping with fear. I learned very young to "do" for approval, to protect and love. Always feeling "there is more". What is this? Why am I allowing this? Why am I suffering?
      Actions are really performed
      by the working of the three gunas;
      but a man deluded by the I-sense
      imagines. "I am the doer."
      I only knew how to "do", how to "act", "make it happen". The gunas were not in my awareness.

      I see the suffering as those that I connect with go from situation to situation searching as I have done. As I work with clients and design, I create experiences that move others to feel good about their bodies, life and love. One Body~One Life~One Love. It's One. The following spoke to me,
      The wise man does not unsettle
      the minds of the ignorant, quietly
      acting in the spirit of yoga,
      he inspires them to do the same.

      As this discussion is titled Sublimely Simple, Profound and Livable. Interestingly, this is the foundation of the over 200 books that I have purchased over the years on my search. Gives me a giggle actually….200 books??? yep. I guess I'll call it the Coo-Coo way!

      Quietly, with gratitude ~One Love
      Rhonda

  15. Satyam says:

    Thanks Greg for your reply…

    Agreed, karmic imprints or samskaras create a huge hurdle for us, as does the attractive, binding force of maya (avidya maya).

    I do appreciate your point however that it is not impossible to overcome but stands as a "major challenge".

    How then to convert this discussion of adhering to this simple truth into practice? How are we able to discern where the path of benevolence lies and how do we recognise when we are merely being allured by maya? What life practices to do need to adopt to awaken our intellect and jumpstart our engines?

    Satyam

    • Greg says:

      I will rewrite, with more concise language, a post I wrote in response to YogaCynic in the last segment that outlined in generic terms the levels of practice that make this possible. As soon as I find some time…

      in a nutshell, I would say these first chapters speak to our nature, our true essence. The first step is to look closely at what the text is telling us and then do an inventory of those thoughts, emotions, binding forces, that cause us to reject that nature.

      Many practices — yoga, Buddhist meditation, prayer, etc. — can bring about a separation of consciousness from the physical body. When that occurs a person recognizes, to a much greater extent, that this is their true nature.

      The clinging or being bound is broken temporarily and a new viewpoint from which one can view is found. Without this experience, which comes from diligent practice, the words of the Gita at this stage seem somewhat nonsensical or they demand we disregard them or relegate them to the metaphor bin. In so doing we deny our true nature, the discovery of which is the purpose of the Gita. Does that answer the question?

  16. lorraineya says:

    Chapter 3 is Beautiful! Can you imagine if everyone in the world followed the advice of "perform all actions as worship?" We would live in a much more peaceful, compassionate world, for sure! That quote is my favorite part of Chapter 3.

    When Krishna says, “let go of your grief, and fight,” I read this to mean don’t let grief get in the way of what you need to do. This also corresponds to “It is better to do your own duty badly, than to perfectly do another’s; you are safe from harm when you do what you should be doing.”

    The basic message of the yoga of action is to control our senses and desires, as desire creates suffering. Selfless action, free of attachment, will set us free.

    In reading the passage about Krishna taking on human form and being born in every age, I am reminded of Christ, as the Son of God, being born as human. It just reaffirms my own beliefs that God is God whether he is called Krishna or Christ or another name.

    Question: What does Krishna mean when he says he founded the four-caste system? Is this a metaphor for creation of the world?

    P.S. Where are people getting the verse numbers (3.10) from? Are those from other translations of the Gita?

    • Hi, Lorraineya. Thanks for your insightful comments.

      Mitchell and others suggest that any discussion of the caste system should be disregarded as archaic and "culture-bound". I've seen other commentators explain that the caste system back then met something different than it does today, more like "everyone has a job to do" kind of thing. Personally I go with Mitchell's approach–I just disregard it.

      The verse numbers are at the top of each page in the Mitchell edition.

      Thanks again for writing.

      Bob Weisenberg
      ElephantJournal.com

      • lorraineya says:

        Interesting about the verse numbers….I'm reading the Kindle edition and I have no such numbers. I always thought an ebook was an exact duplicate of it printed counterpart. I'll have to email a complaint to the publisher.

        • Wow, that's pretty serious, Lorraine. I can see exactly what happens, since I have Kindle on my PC now.

          Kindle preserves all the text, but does not keep the page numbers from a book. I'm not sure why. Even just the page number references are critical for any kind of references coming in from the outside. At any rate, the page numbers in most books are in the header or the footer, so Kindle just takes the header and the footer out.

          Most stanza numbering would be in the text itself, next to each stanza, but in the case of the Mitchell version, he decided to put it in the header, as in "[9.23-27]", so they get stripped out along with the page numbers in the footer.

          Yes, I think you should complain to Kindle. There system doesn't work for this book.

          Bob Weisenberg
          YogaDemystified.com

          • lorraineya says:

            This is the first time I've had a problem with a Kindle edition. Not having page numbers has never been an issue for me but for something like this, a book club, it's a real problem. I emailed Amazon as well as the publisher.

          • Yeah, losing the verse numbers would never happen with most books.

            By the way. I wouldn't take long to just go through each chapter before you read it on Kindle and count out the stanza and make a note about their numbers. It's quite regular 1-2-3 for each chapter.

            Bob Weisenberg

    • Greg says:

      The caste system as presented is merely a statement that beings should be grouped according to the karmic lesson that they must address in order to achieve greater enlightenment.

      We think nothing of grouping eight-year-old kids in the third grade and giving them materials appropriate to their learning level. If we took eight-year-old kids and scattered them among all the grades including the high school levels, many of them would fail. At some point they would have to come back to learn what they missed.

      This is the same concept as it applies to beings suffering through particular karmic lessons.

      Of course, in the West we prefer a more freelance approach. And we choose to disregard karma as though it does not exist.

  17. nichinindy says:

    I am joining the discussion a bit late, I apologize for that. But I want to thank all of you for your insightful comments. It was these that made me decide to just buy the book and jump in to the discussion. Better late than never I guess!

    So…the Yoga of action really speaks to me right now. I am struggling through a very difficult situation in my work place. I find myself in a position where I am not confident that it is even possible for me to succeed. And I have the option looming in the background to go back to a situation where I was very successful and highly regarded. I recently explained the situation to a friend in this way:

    I am standing in the middle of a bridge. On one side of the bridge is a burning building. On the other is my father with his arms open, calling to me to come to him.

    Seems like a no-brainer. The problem for me is that when I take my brain out of the equation, my heart tells me to go stand in the fire. I have no rational explanation for this. But it occurred to me while reading Chapter 3 that maybe I am drawn to the fire because there is probably a lot more to be learned there than in the safety of my father's arms. According to Krishna it is of no importance whether or not I personally succeed? That brings me some comfort and a sense of freedom to choose.

    I have to act and act soon. This chapter confirms for me that staying in the middle of the bridge is not an option. Which way will I go? Can I detach myself enough from the intense heat and the fear of being burned to just act without concern for the result? Time will tell…

    • Hi, nichinindy. Welcome to Gita Talk. I'm so glad the atmosphere was warm enough here that you felt comfortable to jump right in. I hope everyone will feel that way.

      Now, I really love your comment, because I love stories about the ancient Yoga texts being applied to real life situations. And what better example than yours. I can almost see Krishna pulling up in his car on the bridge, rolling down the window, and saying to you, "Let's talk about this dilemma you have, nichinindy."

      You've got it right, I think. You make a choice and go with it. You should make the best choice you can, but then just go with it, knowing that whatever happens, you are infinitely wondrous anyway, and when you're already infinitely wondrous in the same way as the universe is infinitely wondrous, how much farther up can you really go in any case? Your decision still matters, because you are still your "self". But it doesn't matter in the least to your infinitely wondrous "Self". You and the universe will still be infinitely wondrous together regardless.

      Gee, that was quite a paragraph! I hope it makes sense. If not, let me know. I enjoy the dialog.

      Bob Weisenberg
      ElephantJournal.com

      • Rhonnielive says:

        Nichinindy I like your application of the Gita. Applying the reading helps to remove from "the story" of what you are experiencing and possibly help support whatever your decision. Thank you for posting this.

        Bob~ Your response does make sense. Thank you.

      • nichinindy says:

        Thanks Bob. Your comment makes perfect sense, and in fact, made me a little weepy this morning. The situation at work took an interesting twist that upped the stress for my "self." Your comment reminded me that none of this makes a d**n bit of difference in the bigger picture.

        I think that the mystics in all religious traditions pretty much agree on one point; that all is well. Everything is as it should be and all is well. Sometimes I forget.

        Besides that the image of Krishna driving up in his car made me LOL. I am Arjuna in this scenario, aren't I?

  18. Rhonnielive says:

    As I have stayed with chapter three more intently before moving on, I have made brief notes as I read. Simply to note what came to my mind without in depth thinking to "try and "understand" intellectually. Realizing the notations that I made along the way were revealed as the reading went along. I have shared my notations. I am following "the story" and remaining open to what I am receiving beyond "the story".

    "He who controls his actions
    but lets his mind dwell on sense-objects
    is deluding himself and spoiling
    his search for the deepest truth."
    note: seat of the "doer", living in (what I call) the spin zone

    "The superior man is he
    whose mind can control his senses;
    with no attachment to results
    he engages in the yoga of action."
    note: being present

    "The whole world becomes a slave
    to its own activity, Arjuna;
    if you want to be truly free
    perform all actions as worship."
    note: worship? to me means do all w/ awareness and presence, slave to own activity= fear rooted resistance

    "Nourished by your worship, the gods
    will grant whatever you desire;
    but he who accepts their gifts
    and gives nothing back, is a thief."
    note: speaks to intention vs ego & entitlement

    "But the man who delights in the Self,
    who feels pure contentment and finds
    perfect peace in the Self—
    for him, there is not need to act."
    note: action IS. There is no "need", "need"= to act to gain a desired result this removes the "worship" speaks to ego & entitlement

    "He has nothing to achieve by action,
    nothing to gain by inaction,
    nor does he depend on any
    person outside himself.
    note: this frees others to find their way/process, the achieving, gaining and dependence steals from the moment, being present

    "Without concern for results,
    perform the necessary action;
    surrendering all attachments,
    accomplish life's highest good."
    note: when we act/choose w/ consciousness

    "Though the unwise cling to their actions,
    watching for results, the wise
    are free of attachments, and act
    for the well-being of the whole world."
    note: cling to their actions= suffering, free from attachment= peace

    All things Gita. There are many instances that I am seeing things, situations, people, simply the world around me differently or rather more deeply. I saw The Gita today when I caught a portion of the movie The Last Samurai. I watched the part leading up to the final battle. I loved this movie when I saw it years ago, however I did not follow "the story" the same today. I will definitely be writing more about my thoughts on this and another loved movie where this same experience spoke to me.
    As of now, what I am discovering beyond wanting to read the Gita, reading weekly, sharing my thoughts, and reading others comments, there is a very organic experience happening with perception and perspective in daily life. Perception and perspective are important to me and I have used these as tools to see beyond immediate details and circumstances. This has often applied to challenges and required a lot of work on my part. While at the infancy of this journey of the Gita through this discussion, it feels very nice to experience this naturally with daily events.
    ~One Love

  19. DurgaDas says:

    Can I suggest something, Bob? Being a new reader and commenter here, I cannot help being struck by your use of the word "but" in your simple summary of the Gita:

    BUT DETACH EGO FROM RESULTS

    I would suggest that 'AND' would be more appropriate here, as you wouldn't want to indicate that you are dismissing the previous statement:
    LIVE YOUR LIFE WITH LOVE AND PURPOSE,
    is being negated. This would make the reader understand that a positive statement is being made here, which is, I believe, your intent.

    • Great suggestion! I never realized it could be misinterpreted that way. But now that you have pointed it out to me, I need to change it. I'm sure that if it came across that way to you it will to others as well.

      I can't thank you enough for taking the time to help me out with this. All other suggestions welcome.

      Bob Weisenberg
      YogaDemystified.com

  20. harley dc says:

    I love my DX. One of my friends got a PRS-900, but personally the Kindle is a better machine.

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