Gita Talk #4: Why Is the Gita So Upsetting At First?

Via Bob Weisenberg
on May 9, 2010
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In this blog we are discussing Chapters 1-2, thru p. 60.
(Reading for next week is Chapters 3-4, thru p. 80.)

Many people who love the Bhagavad Gita were frustrated or turned off when they first tried to read it. 

One reason is often the translation. There are many versions that are very hard to read—stilted, unnatural English, and lots of Sanskrit terms that have you jumping down to the footnotes every other word.  Another problem is the commentary, which is sometimes harder to understand than the text itself and can get very technical.

The Mitchell version, thankfully, doesn’t have either of these problems.  It reads easily and naturally, with no footnotes at all.  And the commentary is thoroughly enlightening. 

But it still has a third common problem which comes from the content itself.  Within a few pages of starting the Gita, the reader is told: 

–Women who are allowed to marry outside their caste are “corrupt”. (D)
–If the caste system is violated, society will collapse and those responsible will suffer in hell. (D)
–Men who refuse to fight will be disgraced forever as unmanly cowards. (D)
–Reincarnation will be our reward or punishment for our actions. (M)
–God thinks it’s a great idea to cajole the hero into fighting a bloody war against his relatives. (M)
–We should be indifferent when someone dies. (E)
–There is no real distinction between good and evil. (E)
–We should cut ourselves off from all sensual desires and pleasures. (E)

Is it any wonder that many readers stop right there and say, “I don’t need this.  I’m going to find something more uplifting to read”?  It certainly doesn’t live up to the promise of  “Falling Head-Over-Heels-In-Love With The Universe”.

It takes a little effort and insight to be able to handle these and other jarring issues that come up in the text.  Eventually, for each unacceptable or repugnant idea, you have three choices:

1) Decide to simply ignore it.  (Mitchell is right up front about this in a way few other translations are.  On page 209 he writes, “the Gita contains passages that are culture-bound and should be disregarded by readers who are serious about its deeper teachings”, and he goes on to list the specific stanzas this applies to.)

2) Turn it into a metaphor.  For example, war can be seen as a metaphor for whatever big challenges we face in life.

3) Further explain the troublesome idea in a way that it eventually turns out to make sense.

Each of you will have a different way to work this out.  There is no correct way.  For example, some people believe in literal reincarnation and some do not.   The Gita hits us hard with a lot of these problem passages right up front.  The effort to overcome them will be richly rewarded.   (I’ve coded my own personal decisions on the issues above with “D” for “Disregard”, “M” for “turn into a Metaphor”, and “E” for “makes sense when Explained”.  But that’s just me.) 

You’ll be encouraged to know that Arjuna, at the beginning of chapter 3, pretty much says to Krishna, “Are you crazy or something”.  He has some of the the same problems we do!

Now, before this turns into a lecture instead of a discussion, tell us what you think about the first two chapters.  What did you love?  What did you hate?  Does this relate to your life yet?  If so, how?  What questions would you like to ask?  What insights can you bring us from other versions you might have read? 

We would like to hear from all of you, even if it’s just to let us know you’re out there!

Please see
Welcome to Gita Talk  
for all Gita Talk blogs and general information. 
Jump in anytime and go at your own pace.

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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.

Comments

165 Responses to “Gita Talk #4: Why Is the Gita So Upsetting At First?”

  1. Kath says:

    I almost always fall into the metaphor club. Women marrying outside their caste? Perhaps a metaphor for the search for the masculine archetype within. I have few problems with the text, but I do remember my first reading. It was alarming. I agreed with Arjuna's concerns and arguments.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Kath. Which version did you read the first time?

    Did what I wrote about how to deal with that initial alarm make sense?

  3. Meaghan says:

    Bob – Thanks for sharing your D M E system! Love it! One of the things I've discovered along my yoga path is that even at first if you disregard some teaching, eventually you may come to realize that with more explanation you can accept it. For example, on my first reading of the Gita I took the stance that cutting myself off from all desires and pleasures just didn't make sense in my life. So I disregarded it. But later, as I learned more about the Gita and Yoga in general I was able to see how, with more explanation, this could be useful! It's a process of taking in what you're ready to accept and learn at any given moment – the rest will seep in when you're ready to receive it.

    One question I have about the first two chapters is the use of the word "heaven". In some cases I can see that heaven is being used to refer to the state of Samadhi or enlightenment. But at other times it seems to be used as an arbitrary "place you go" when you die (sort of like the common use of the word in Christian teachings). For example:

    "If you are killed, you gain heaven; triumph, and you gain the earth."

    vs.

    "Driven by desire for pleasure and power, caught up in ritual, they strive to gain heaven; but rebirth is the only result of their striving"

    In the first quote, heaven seems to be a place you go when you die. But in the second quote heaven is something you must work for, using the path of yoga.

    Maybe others are confused here too? Or have some insight into the usage of "heaven"?

  4. Tali says:

    Meaghan, I am also struggling over the interpretation of "heaven". Thank you for bringing this up. I am very curious to hear what other's see "heaven" as according to the Gita.

  5. John Morrison says:

    I think the first time I read this I did have issues with some of the content that you mentioned above. In some of the Buddhist sutras you will run into some of these things, particularly the way women are referred to. It is true that the Buddha did eventually ordain nuns – which was quite revolutionary for the time – but it was done grudgingly. In a talk I went to last year, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche raised this issue and basically said, we can disregard the cultural trappings of the time period. The Buddha had to speak in a way that his audience would be receptive to. This is why he taught in many different ways and with different methods – to match the capabilities and traditions of his audience in order to be of the greatest benefit.

    So I would think that we could do the same thing with the Gita. One needs to keep in mind that this work is something like 1,500 years old. In regards to violence, I don't think we need to take warfare literally. After all, Gandhi kept this text with him and read it constantly and of course, he was a tireless proponent of non-violence.

    If we strip it to its essence, the message of selfless service to others is what underpins the narrative itself in my opinion – it would be a tragedy to lose this message due to cultural trappings….like not noticing the beautiful view through the window because you dislike the color of the draperies….

  6. michele says:

    Oh my gosh, Jenny, I so resonate with what you are saying. I'm exhausted with all the ideas of "fighting my demons." Isn't there another way of transformation through love? I've just come from a "power vinyasa" background and at one point I felt like wow, if I just do one more chatauranga will I reach enlightenment….ugh! Richard Miller teaches that we need to sit and embrace our demons that they are here to teach us something. Personally, it seems like I am either in a state of striving or like Arjuna, giving up…

    What I love about this first section is all the discussion about "…you have the right to your actions, but never to your actions fruits.."

    What I don't like is, as Bob points out, is the no real distinction between good and evil and "..you have no cause to grieve for any being…"

    By the way, I watched The Legend of Bagger Vance last night and loved it—It is helping me think about concepts battling and letting go..

  7. Hi, Meaghan. Thanks for your question and thanks for including the quotes so we can see exactly what you mean.

    As usual, I have some thoughts about this, but I'd like to give others a chance to respond before I do.

    Others? Please help us with this question about heaven in the Gita.

  8. Hi, Andres. Yes, that idea of detaching my ego from the results, as opposed to not striving for anything, is one of the greatest lessons I've ever learned. The Gita tells us to go all out at whatever we think we're meant to do, just don't let your sense of self worth be affected in any way by the results. Here's how I applied it to my tennis game, but this is analogous to everything else in my life: "Yoga Tennis".

  9. Beautifully said, John. Thanks for bringing us the Buddhist perspective. I hope you will continue to do that for us.

    The Gita is actually thought be 2000 to 2500 years old, and maybe older as an oral tradition. We'll be getting into the pro-war vs. anti-war issue. I've see the Gita used to justify both. You may be aware that Mitchell thought so much of Ghandi's take on the Gita, that he included a Ghandi essay as the last word in this version of the Gita, p. 211-220.

    Thanks for being here. Please write again often.

  10. Thanks for your very interesting comments, Jenny. Ultimately, for me, the Gita is about boundless inexhaustible inner peace that depends on nothing except realizing it's there. My personal take on the war setting is that this is just a metaphor for whatever challenge we face in life. Back then, being a warrior was an ordinary everyday challenge (and still is for many people–remember the comment on Gita Talk #3 from the mother of the soldier in Iraq?)

  11. Hi, michele. Thanks for your interesting comment. I have some thoughts on this, but let's see what others have to say first.

  12. Hi, michele. Thanks for your interesting comment. I have some thoughts on this, but let's see what others have to say first.

    Would you be willing to spend a little more time telling us about the Legend of Bagger Vance?

  13. Thanks for the reply Bob. Will have to jump to the end and look at Gandhi's essay on the topic. Thanks for the info on the time period as well – I had it mentally located around 400 CE, but I find it interesting to date it further back. At 2500 years it would be roughly contemporaneous to the Buddha's time period. This is interesting…really quite illuminating. I have experience with yoga of the exercise variety, but really very little grounding in the philosophy.

    Usually, when there are talks regarding meditation at the yoga center, they are conducted by one of the local Theravada Buddhist monk. Thanks for putting this online book discussion together and facilitating it. I'm quite interested in the comments of others as well – I like to see what perspectives others are seeing from outside a Buddhist frame of reference…

    Would love to drag some other Buddhists into the comments as well and see what their thoughts are too. Paging Waylon….

  14. Yes, it was one of my hopes that we could get a lot of Buddhist perspective on the Gita. It might have been you to whom I wrote in another comment that when I have asked Buddhists if the Bhagavad Gita is considered part of Buddhist sacred literature, I've gotten responses ranging from "Absolutely" to "No, Absolutely Not".

    May be it depends on the tradition, although the person who said "Absolutely" was my local Zen priest, which is the opposite of what I would have expected, as Zen is the most geographically removed from the extensive cross-fertilization that occurred between Yoga and Buddhism, India and Tibet, down through the ages.

    Bob Weisenberg

  15. I might also mention that one of the most recent translators of the "Yoga Sutra", Buddhist/Yogaist Chip Hartranft, felt that a fresh and rigorous translation of the "Yoga Sutra" reveals it to be more of a Buddhist tract than a Yoga one. He feels most translations prior to his were slanted to match the views of their Gita oriented Yoga guru translators. Some Yoga scholars have been critical of this, and others have said, "So what. Yoga is close to Buddhism. Duh!".

    See . (Note the publisher.)

    Bob Weisenberg

  16. freesoul says:

    I so can relate w/Michele, when you say "you have no cause to grieve for any being…" that just got to me, I had to read chapter two a few times and then I was ready to bag the whole book. I kept thinking how can I turn off my emotions so easily. And especially if I had to put myself in Arjuna's place and go fight against family. And of course, the whole war thing got to me. For some reason, when I read the Gita, I keep reading it literary. But its not like any other ancient poem, the Odyssey for example or an Ibsen play, if you take them too literary, you are lost in meaning, context, and period.

    Another line that rang true to me, in Chapter one, "What good is kingship, or happiness, or life itself, when those for whose sake we desire them….stand here in battle ranks, ready to give up their fortunes and their lives." So many times I watch as egos get in the way for cause and in the end what spoils does the victor come home with? Or the fruits of one's actions!

    I never realized that a book would bring up so much discomfort for me.

  17. Have to add that to my reading list – sounds like very interesting. You did ask me about it and no Lama has ever pointed me in the direction of the Gita as a text to read. But there is a really vast canon of Tibetan Buddhist literature to read, so there is no dearth of relevant material for a Vajrayana practitioner to study.

    That said, Vajrayana was transmitted to Tibet from India, so one would assume there is an exchange of ideas at work between the traditions (something I will watch for in the book).

    It strikes me that karma yoga and bodhicitta are very similar processes albeit with slightly different motivations perhaps. We ought to rope in Mr. Schwartz or Shunyata Kharg into this discussion for more Buddhist perspective…

  18. Dear freesoul. I'm so glad you hit us squarely with this issue: "Is the Gita telling us to turn off all our emotions, to live without passion?", because I'm sure this is on the minds of many readers. It certainly was on mine the first time I read it.

    I believe I can give you an answer that is crystal clear, profound, and readily usable in everyday life. But you be the judge.

    The Gita does not, as whole, endorse emotional repression, even though it seems to be doing exactly that here. 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.

    Even though the text right here seems to say otherwise, the situation itself supports this idea. Think about it. Krishna is urging Arjuna to fight a battle to the best of his abilities. Does Krishna think Arjuna can can fight his battle (just make that a metaphor for whatever challenges we face in life) without emotion and passion?

    No, of course not. Even though the text isn't clear on this, the situation is. Krishna is telling Arjuna to fight his battle with all this usual passion, but to be able, at the same time, to rise above it and objectively see that he is also a part of the infinite, unfathomable, wondrous universe, where these emotions hold no sway.

    Tell me if this makes sense. And I hope other people will jump into this vital discussion as well. Your question really does go to the heart of the Gita.

    Bob Weisenberg

  19. callah says:

    I actually quite liked the first 2 chapters. As a newcomer, my only knowledge on what the Gita would be about was gleaned through the intro, which as I previously commented jumped around a bit too much for my taste.
    However, I found the reading to flow very easily, and keep me interested through the pages of prose. I liked on p. 58 how the cycle of desire, anger and confusion perpetuates itself and continues until you are "self-controlled" with neither craving nor aversion.
    I can see how these texts can be off-putting to some, with the constant references to the Lord and God since Krishna is a main "character", if you will, in the book. I myself am slightly uncomfortable with this. I was raised Catholic, and currently my beliefs are in limbo as I decide where I really stand. Because of my own uncertainty, I have quite strong reactions to the constant references and I'm not quite sure if I'm going to get more accustomed to that. How do other people feel about this?

  20. Karen M. says:

    Thanks Bob. That makes alot of sense. That is one of the problems I have when first approaching the Gita. I really like your explanation. I also get frustrated sometimes and even discouraged. The Path that Krishna describes in Chapter 2 sometimes seems unattainable in this goal-driven society where the senses are constantly being bombarded. Then in Verse 40, I take heart:" On this path no effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed; even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow."

  21. callah says:

    Love the metaphor. I'll have to keep that in mind and I work my way through the Gita!!

  22. Yes, I love that line, too. One thing I forgot to mention above is that many translators use Self with a capital "S" to denote the transcendent one-with-universe Self, and self with a small "s" to denote our ordinary human self. The very fact that the Gita makes this distinction supports my point above.

  23. Jenny:

    Really interesting thought about the nature of the conflict. Hadn't thought about this in terms of chod practice.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%B6d#Western_re

  24. freesoul says:

    I kind of get what you are saying, although I have my own connection to God or that which I believe (which by no means is in the religious contexts), but it is a strong relationship. But it does remind me when I was in college I had to read the book of Job, and well I had a hard time w/the whole lets play with Job between God and Satan which I of course being Jewish don't get the whole Satan thing in the Catholic sense but the whole lets see what we can do to make this guy break, I was like what the hell, you got nothing better to do…

    So in some ways the fact that Krishna is the guiding to Arjuna in this whole battle, and maybe pulls the strings a little comes to mind. On the other hand I'm trying to get out of reading it so literally and trying to take what I can into my own practice, but I do find that I will read and reread a chapter and find that when I go back to reread it again, how much I've missed from the first read.

  25. A short answer, to leave plenty of room for other responders. I was raised ultra-traditional Catholic and then married into a Jewish family. So I've had lots of experience with various definitions of "God". Rather than write a lot here, let me just refer you to this page in my eBook: “God” or “Reason” — Is There Really Any Difference?. And you'll get a little bit of Yoga history along the way.

  26. This is a great point to bring up freesoul and Bob. A lot of Eastern religion can seem nihilistic from one point of view. This notion of purging emotions, killing the ego and so on – which is a common thread with Buddhist thought. But really we aren't trying to lose our passion and our emotion, but rather to master it and no longer be controlled by their fickle whims.

    I'm not all the way through with the reading – but this might even be one way of reading the combat aspect of the Gita. The conflict is within, and against, oneself – on one level, as well as the struggle that is life….

  27. callah says:

    Thanks for that link, Bob. It actually does help me digest the term a bit better, knowing that no matter "who's God" they could be referring to, they are all "driving us to love and goodness".
    Freesoul, I definitely agree I ill need to re-read it at a later point with fresh eyes, and not so literally!

  28. […] Gita Talk #4: Why Is the Gita So Upsetting At First? […]

  29. Mary says:

    I have also had quite a strong reaction to all the "Lord God" references. As a yoga teaching student I wonder if I really need to embrace this fundementalist religiosity…or can I be true to my own sense of spirituality that is not concerned with God!

  30. Hi, Mary. I'm like you. I wrote my entire eBook, Yoga Demystified, which covers the same ground as the Gita, with almost no use of the word "God".

    If you feel comfortable with the term God to mean "The Infinite, Unfathomable, Wondrous Life-Force of the Universe, i.e. the universe itself", then you will feel completely comfortable with Yoga Philosophy. Whenever you a term for God in the Gita, just convert it instantly into definition above, and you'll feel quite comfortable with it, I think.

    And read that link I gave Callah above, if you haven't already. I think it will be very helpful, too. Please tell me what you think.

  31. Greg says:

    Absolutely brilliant chapters. Lays it right on the line. Truth writ large. Golden words. The "as it is" story.

    No need to ignore or metaphor. To do so would be to lose the truth in the thicket. If we choose to ignore or metaphor is it a demon that drives us into the thickets? How do we sit with the fear and not move but rather allow Krishna to pervade us?

    And to explain…oh, my. Does one dare try? As a result of practice the verses become crystal clear. Not sure there is any way to such clarity through discourse. (????)

    How would one explain when what has been explained by Krishna is rejected through ignore and metaphor? What more could one say? Very much puzzled. Which is excellent. Every day, literally, I face this question — how does one explain?

    Does anyone really want explanation, I wonder? Perhaps it is discovering "handles" one can offer that another can grab hold of and pull on…or pitons hammered into the rock so others can attach their ropes as they climb.

    Is it a matter of a positive explanation or, as the Buddha taught, a series of negative propositions that invite us to strip away that which is not true? Krishna takes this route as well. Arjuna points to that to which he clings and Krishna says, over and over, that is not Self. Release attachment. That is not Self.

    Hmmm.

  32. Janaki says:

    Wow! This post is very deep and you make some great points

    I will make a humble attempt to try and answer how I view why Arjuna must fight and kill his own family. This is one of the most powerful moments in the Gita. Arjunas reaction might be the first recorded panic attack! He also tries to become a contentious objector and refuses to fight. But what Krishna is really waiting to hear is for Arjuna to ask for help! Krishna cannot intervene with teachings until asked… Just as we can not grow and move forward spiritually unless we too come to the point of realizing that we don't know and seek help or deeper meaning.

    I see the family members representing our desires and our attachments to our own desires. To me this is how hard it is to cut our own ego and desires because we love them so much…. We really are completely unaware of how deep these attachments run and we refuse to let go of them. they cause us much suffering and pain.

    Om Peace!

  33. Janaki says:

    Beautiful! The more I let go the less there is to hold on to ;-D

  34. svan says:

    these verses at the end of chapter 2 sound a bit like "heaven" to me:

    "The man whom desires enter as rivers flow into the sea, filled yet always unmoving — that man finds perfect peace.
    Abandoning all desires, acting without craving, free from all thoughts of "I" and "mine," that man finds utter peace.
    This is the divine state, Arjuna. Absorbed in it, everywhere, always, even at the moment of death, he vanishes into God's bliss."

    samadhi can be a kind of death… or so I've heard.

  35. You're welcome, michele. Good to have you here. I'm enjoying it, too.

  36. Hi, svan. I know that's one common interpretation. I personally don't think of it that way. Rather to me it is ultra-awareness of the wonder of the universe and our oneness with it, not lack of awareness. God's bliss to me is ultra-awareness, not no awareness, because "God" is the unfathomable universe itself. And it's not some magical end-state, but something we can experience all the time in ordinary life just by paying attention. I personally feel advanced awareness is infinite everything-ness, not infinite no-thing-ness.

    Just another point of view. I appreciate yours, too, and know it is common. We will be coming back to this every chapter.

  37. Greg says:

    In Buddhism in what has been called the Tibetan Book of the Dead or The Great Liberation through Hearing we learn of the heaven realms.

    An excellent book with information on this is Luminous Emptiness by Fremantle (tutored by Trungpa).

  38. Sevapuri says:

    This is the first Gita and I have read and i have read a few that is in poem form without any commentaries. At first this was hard to wrap my head around as i was sort of exspecting an explanation to each verse as has been the method in other Gitas, but i am loving Mitchells style and its like I'm hearing the Gita for the first time.I can see how the Gitas statements about war and about women cause some consternation when reading it straight like it is and also i can see the value in the commentaries that can quickly give and explantion or viewpoint of the commentator about these issues.
    Mitchell's style lends itself to developing an independant understanding of the scripture and i was struck by the Gitas idea that "the scriptures dwell in duality" is this a hint on how to read the Gita or is the Gita beyond duality or beyond being a scripture?

  39. Sevapuri says:

    Callah raised a good point about using the word God and Lord and i had the same reaction when i first came to yoga, my teacher would talk about God this and God that and I remember one night thinking to myself if he mentions God again I'm walking out. This made me think about my view of God and i found it was a very one dimensional Catholic viewpoint, so i stared to explore this and my relationship to the God spoken about in Yoga and it did take some time before i felt that this seperation of Catholic God, Yoga God, whatever God you got is the thing that kept me stuck in my thinking about my own spirituality. Krishnas statements about no matter who you are, all come to me, and his explanation of who he is helped me understand that there is no differance in Gods all are one.

  40. lennonlover says:

    thanks. this is so interesting. i always heard people saying things like 'the gita will change your life!' and when I finally read it, I did not really like it…….or understand it… now I realize why.

  41. Greg says:

    Not sure I agree with your analysis… Perhaps a factor that adds confusion is the nature of a "personal" God.

    In the realm of appearances we have fabricated identities. A body would be one example. We consider a body to be a person. So when one transcends such fabricated identity, a body, it seems we move into the realm of the impersonal.

    But this would be an error of seeing "personal" only in terms of a physical identity — for example, only imagining a personal God as one that had a physical identity.

    However, a transcendent God who lacks physical attributes, a God of pure being without fabricated appearance can still be personal as "personal" does not have to do with a fabricated identity but rather with a point of view, with a consciousness. One can have an immaterial God that is personal but not phenomenal. That is the concept that is difficult to imagine.

    This is the primary lesson of the first two chapters of the GIta. I believe you will find the same thing in Patanjali and the Upanishads. They do not present an option that leads to an abstract materialistic version of God, they do not lead to a "life force" that is non-personal and materialistic. That would be a confusion born out of western materialism.

    Not sure how one explains pure consciousness, god consciousness, other than through the practice. It may not make sense without the experience of complete detachment from all fabricated phenomena.

  42. Greg says:

    That may just be an issue of confusion over the meaning of God.

  43. Hi, Seva. Now that the Australian contingent is up, I guess I'll have to stay up all night!

    Great to have you here. Thanks for your very interesting comment. My answer to your question about the duality of scriptures? The Gita is definitely a scripture, but one designed to take you beyond all scriptures.

    I think that one of the many startling aspect of the Gita–it sows the seeds for its own irrelevance! And it means it.

    Bob Weisenberg

  44. Greg says:

    The Gita is rooted in history that extends beyond what we know as history. It concerns views that stretch beyond this one planet. Likewise, Buddhism has its roots far beyond this planet's history. We find this in the Lotus Sutra.

    Thus, when one studies this material one is studying a deeper history, a history of spiritual being, and a history of fabricated existence. Buddhism, for example, takes one to the origins of all fabrication. This can be found in the teachings regarding dependent origination. In the Gita we find Krishna talking about all creation and our relationship to that creation.

    Thus, common roots.

  45. Greg says:

    Part of the confusion relates to different meanings for heavens. Many heavens are actual places, though in what we would call the "subtle realms." Nonetheless, in spite of being of subtle density, they are actually located in space and time.

    And then there is a "universe of light" that is the foundation of this universe. It is a state that is often referred to as heaven. It is a fabrication that seems to be all one. Often creating confusion regarding a life force or energy that is primary. In actuality, it could be referred to as the first or primary fabrication. It is created energy.

    Then there is the release from all fabrication. In Buddhism this is referenced in Dzogchen. It is release into clear light. Or one might consider it to be pure being absent all fabrication. Pure consciousness. This might be considered the original "heaven" though it is rarely what one means by heaven.

    There are some wonderful passages in the material on the Buddhist bardos — the between lives stages — that speak to different realms of fabrication.

  46. Kath says:

    My discomfort is always rooted in discomfort with me, myself, and I. Each character is a part of me. Their conflicts are the conflicts I feel or deny within. And each reading of the Gita shows me a glimpse of a different part of myself. It is never the same book twice because I am never the same person reading it.

  47. Meaghan says:

    Bob – I like this alternate definition of God. When I first read the Gita the teacher who was guiding me through was very careful to offer different alternatives to the word God. Really, that's one of the earliest experiences I remember of falling in love with yoga – the fact that I was given a choice in how or even if I wanted to relate to The Infinite, was pretty incredible. Most of the spiritual practices I had encountered up to that point really didn't provide those options.

  48. Good point, Kath. Isn't that the way with the greatest literature? It's different every time around, because we are different every time around.

  49. I'm with you all the way, Meaghan. And it all starts with the Gita. It is startlingly universal in it's outlook. And you can be universal without allowing for all concepts of God.

  50. freesoul says:

    While rereading chapters one and two this morning, I came across p.52 "but if you refuse the call to a a righteous war…" how do you know it's a righteous war? Same page "And your enemies will sneer and mock you: "The might Arjuna, that brave man he slunk from the field like a dog." What deeper shame could there be?" I have issue here, it seems Krishna is egging Arjuna on to fight for the pride of it. Praise, and ego, who cares what other's think about Arjuna fighting or not?