Gita in a Nutshell #1: Live & Act with Love & Purpose.

Via Bob Weisenberg
on Nov 10, 2010
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(Complete contents at
Gita in a NutshellBig Ideas and Best Quotations.
For notice of each weekly blog,
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It’s a great revelation to read the Gita by major theme instead of in the order it’s written.  Today let’s talk about the first major theme:

LIVE AND ACT WITH LOVE AND PURPOSE,
DETACHING EGO FROM RESULTS

The Gita contains many powerful passages on this theme, but they are scattered throughout the text.  When you read them all together, as below, the main ideas jump off the page with crystalline clarity.

Read though these stanzas slowly and thoughtfully, jotting down your reactions as you go.  Share your comments and questions, and we’ll get some conversation going:

Self-possessed, resolute, act
without any thought of results,
open to success or failure.
This is equanimity is yoga.  (BG 2.48)

The wise man lets go of all
results, whether good or bad,
and is focused on the action alone.
Yoga is skill in actions.  (BG 2.50)

The superior man is he
whose mind can control his senses;
with no attachment to results,
he engages in the yoga of action.  (BG 3.7)

Without concern for results,
perform the necessary action;
surrendering all attachments,
accomplish life’s highest good.  (BG 3.19)

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.
(BG 3.25)

Performing all actions for my sake,
desireless, absorbed in the Self,
indifferent to “I” and “mine”,
let go of your grief, and fight!  (BG 3.30)

~

He who can see inaction
in the midst of action, and action
in the midst of inaction, is wise
and can act in the spirit of yoga.

With no desire for success,
no anxiety about failure,
indifferent to results, he burns up
his actions in the fire of wisdom.

Surrendering all thoughts of outcome,
unperturbed, self-reliant,
he does nothing at all, even
when fully engaged in actions.

There is nothing he expects,
nothing that he fears. Serene,
free from possessions, untainted,
acting with the body alone.

content with whatever happens,
unattached to pleasure or pain,
success or failure, he acts
and is never bound by his action.

When a man has let go of attachments,
when his mind is rooted in wisdom,
everything he does is worship
and his actions all melt away.

God is the offering, God
is the offered, poured out by God;
God is attained by all those
who see God in every action.
(BG 4.18-24)

~

The man of yoga who is able
to overcome, here on earth,
the turmoil of desire and anger—
that man is truly happy.

He who finds peace and joy
and radiance within himself,
that man becomes one with God
and vanishes into God’s bliss.
(BG 5.23-25)

~

He who performs his duty
with no concern for results
is the true man of yoga—not
he who refrains from action.

Know that right action itself
is renunciation, Arjuna;
in the yoga of action, you first
renounce your own selfish will.

For the man who wishes to mature,
the yoga of action is the path;
for the man already mature,
serenity is the path.

When a man has become unattached
to sense-objects or to actions,
renouncing his own selfish will,
then he is mature in yoga.  (BG  6.1-4)

~

…when a man is released
from dualities, he can act
purely, without attachment,
and can serve me with all his heart.  (BG 7.28)

He who acts for my sake,
loving me, free of attachment,
with benevolence toward all beings,
will come to me in the end.
(BG 11.55)

~

He who has let go of hatred,
who treats all beings with kindness
and compassion, who is always serene,
unmoved by pain and pleasure,

free of the “I” and “mine,”
self-controlled, firm and patient,
his whole mind focused on me—
that man is the one I love the best.  (BG 12.13-14)

~

Free of the “I” and “mine,”
from aggression, arrogance, greed,
desire, and anger, he is fit
for the state of absolute freedom.
(BG 18.53)

Next:
#2: Experience Infinite Wonder in All Things

(Complete contents at
Gita in a NutshellBig Ideas and Best Quotations.
For notice of each weekly blog,
please join our Facebook group.)

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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

80 Responses to “Gita in a Nutshell #1: Live & Act with Love & Purpose.”

  1. […] Previously: #2: Experience Infinite Wonder in All Things #1: Live and Act with Love and Purpose […]

  2. […] Bhagavad Gita is a sacred Hindu scripture and an important historical text. Part of the larger Mahabarata, it is […]

  3. Sue Murphy says:

    Hi Bob,
    Nice to talk with you on another website!
    I find I struggle with some of the stanzas. "with no desire for success, no anxiety about failure, indifferent to results, he burns up his actions in the fire of wisdom." In today's society, it's hard to act without thought of success. We strive to add to our 402k's and have enough to keep up with all the new things coming out. I don't know, maybe it's the "Christmas craze" of getting what's in Santa's list for the 3 little one or the fact that we are about to gut our kitchen and dining room, but I can't help being concerned about the all might dollar. But all of that is surface stuff…
    The stanza hat I love is "He who finds peace and joy and and radiance within himself, that man becomes one with God and vanishes into God's bliss." I truly love that. I'm working thru some old issues and the presence of God in my life has been tremendously healing. Thank you for including that one.
    Sue (suedon0527)

  4. s_t_r_e_t_c_h says:

    Sue I like your response. It can feel at times that the Gita is asking too much of us. No desires, no anxiety, no plans for the future. At times, sure, this can be extremely discouraging.

    Thich Nhat Hanh once asked a simple question, "Why do we do the dishes?"
    We don't do the dishes so that they become clean, he said, "We do the dishes to do the dishes." In other words, we do the dishes to be present in what we are doing.

    With this, try shopping this holiday season purely to shop. Do it with purpose, awareness, and genuine encounter. This may help some of that surface stuff matter less and less.

  5. Hi, Sue. Sorry I didn't respond to this earlier. I must have misplaced the e-mail notice. It's great to have you here.

    We'll be talking further about this whole question of emotion and the Gita in Gita in a Nutshell #7: Is the Gita Asking Us to Repress Our Emotions? “Witness” Consciousness.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  6. melissa says:

    The wise man lets go of all
    results, whether good or bad,
    and is focused on the action alone.
    Yoga is skill in actions. (BG 2.50)

    Yes but it's the positive results that keep us going… give us fuel to continue to keep going… and as seen in my own kids, without looking at where you've come from…. how do you know where to go from here? As an adult, I see how I need to work on this… but truly this is yoga off the mat… and it's damn hard sometimes.

  7. Hi, Melissa.

    In my interpretation the Gita doesn't ask us to not experience results, or even enjoy them, simply to not get too attached to them.

    The example I always like is how could Arjuna fight the battle without being passionate about winning and experiencing the results?

    Bob

  8. carrie says:

    My yoga practice cultivates and nurture my passion and purpose drawing love and strength from my heart and the universe to guide through my work as a yogini activist specializing in disability rights. I practice mindfulness daily to ensure that each word and action is motivated by love and is from the heart. As lI keep love in my heart I will always know and see the truth that is before me that unfolds my pathway.

  9. Beautiful words, Carrie. Thank you.

    Bob

  10. Becky says:

    With no desire for success,
    no anxiety about failure,
    indifferent to results, he burns up
    his actions in the fire of wisdom.

    I like being indifferent to results.

  11. Hi, Becky. I like the sports analogy.

    I love trying hard to win when I play tennis. But I enjoy it a lot more and even play better when my ego is not all wrapped up in whether I do.

    Interestingly enough. This is the basis of most sports psychology.

    It's not coincidental. The seminal book "The Inner Game of Tennis" was written by a Harvard varsity tennis player who also happened to be a Yoga philosophy enthusiast.

    Bob W. Editor
    Yoga Demystified
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  12. Interesting stream, Amy! Please keep writing as we go along.

    For me personally the most valuable thing is to simply observe my ego in operation, without judgment, rather than trying to suppress it. This makes it a relaxed process instead of an anxiety producing one.

    But everyone is different and there is no one right path.

    Bob

  13. Amy Whelan says:

    Interesting…I'll keep that in mind. My ego judges, but I need to recognize and it and let it go without judgement.

  14. Watch your ego make its judgments , as though you were watching the character in movie.

  15. Man, oh, man! I'd have the academy awards at my door. Ha! I will do just that. Thanks so much for the guidance!

  16. Amy Whelan says:

    It is so hard not to want the end result, but in the end, if we are enlightened the end result is already there. Non-attachment in itself is a goal…Here I am, showing up for another lesson, day after day…

  17. karlsaliter says:

    This is a beautiful compilation, Bob. Thank you. It is amazing how quickly I can forget the lessons of the Gita. This is assuming I ever "learned" them.

    Surrendering all thoughts of outcome,
    unperturbed, self-reliant,
    he does nothing at all, even
    when fully engaged in actions.

    I'm taking this one into the studio today, and will weld free of mental slag.

  18. karlsaliter says:

    Do you think the difference hinges on level of attachment?

  19. Thanks for your comment, Karl. It's great to have you here, and I'm so pleased that you have your own page on elephant now. We love your writing.

    Bob W.

  20. Profound distinctions, Braja. Thank you for commenting.

    For those of you who don't know it already, Braja has just become the editor of Elephant Spirituality, which now has its own homepage from the Spirituality tab on any elephant page: http://bit.ly/xrBKPx and, of course, its own facebook page as well: http://www.facebook.com/ElephantSpirituality, all run by Braja from her home in India. (She's always running off to Calcutta and such. I love it.)

    Bob W. Editor
    Yoga Demystified
    Facebook Twitter

  21. In a nutshell, yes: the difference hinges on levels of attachment—a "really wise person" (as I said above) is, in my understanding, one who knows the science of attachment/detachment.

  22. karlsaliter says:

    Many, many thnks to both of you on that score. I'm enjoying this neighborhood quite a lot.

  23. Hi, Karl.

    If I were a famous yoga guru, I would reply:

    "Karl, the answer is in your question itself–you cultivate it."

    I would suggest that's what all the yoga techniques in the Gita are for, mediation, study, witness-consciousness, selfless action, love, etc., but especially witness consciousness, which is my go-to technique for the most difficult situations.

    Don't even try to change or fight your anger. Just step outside yourself and watch it objectively. All the rest will take care of itself.

    If I were a famous yoga guru, that is…

    Bob

    Bob W.
    Yoga Demystified
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  24. karlsaliter says:

    AHA! You may have opened a door for me there, mister.
    It would seem I've been trying to change, diminish, or at least avoid my anger.
    I would describe my grasp of witness consciousness as embryonic.

    Time to grab a detachment plow and make like a farmer.

    And its all a matter of real estate, Bob. You are a famous yoga guru in my brainpan.

  25. These many precious verses from the Gita are amrit for me, Bob. Thank you, thank you for bringing them all together so I can feast on them — though, mixing metaphors if I may, it feels more like a bath. One of my favorites:

    He who finds peace and joy
    and radiance within himself,
    that man becomes one with God
    and vanishes into God’s bliss..

    Isn't this what we all want? Whether we know it or not.

  26. Hi, Suzanne. Not getting e-mail notifications on this anymore for some reason, so I just saw your comment here now.

    Yes! That is indeed what we all want. The genius of it all is that God can mean whatever you want it to, and it still makes sense, from a personal God you talk to, to the "atheist's" humanistic goodness & love (which they don't call God, but it seems the same to me.)

    The reason I'm looking at all these articles at the moment is that I'm going to be running a Gita workshop for a 500 hour Teacher Training Course. This and the original Gita Talk will be the syllabus.

    Bob