Gita in a Nutshell #16
The Bhagavad Gita calls for direct experience & straight-forward wisdom (over scripture, dogma, and ritual). In this sense, it is the most modern of spiritual systems, completely at home with today’s emphasis on the individual experience of spirituality, as opposed to the spirituality of rules, regulations, and required procedures.
This is, no doubt, one of the reasons for the Gita’s endless popularity. It places the direct experience of the individual, in all its varieties, at the core of its philosophy.
This is going to sound funny, but I’m a little misty-eyed about this last Gita in a Nutshell. It was such a pipe dream last year when it first occurred to me. This is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done in my life, especially since it is the culmination of my first two pipe dreams, Yoga Demystified and Gita Talk: Self-Paced Online Seminar. These are all satisfying just for the doing of them, but even more so because I hope they will be useful to others.
As usual, let’s let the Gita speak for itself. These words really don’t need any explanation from me.
On this path no effort is wasted,
no gain is ever reversed;
even a little of this practice
will shelter you from great sorrow. (BG 2.40)
The scriptures dwell in duality.
Be beyond all opposites, Arjuna:
anchored in the real, and free
from all thoughts of wealth and comfort.
As unnecessary as a well is
to a village on the banks of a river,
so unnecessary are all scriptures
for someone who has seen the truth. (BG 2.44-46)
When your understanding has passed
beyond the thicket of delusions,
there is nothing you need to learn
from even the most sacred scripture.
Indifferent to scriptures, your mind
stands by itself, unmoving,
absorbed in deep meditation.
This is the essence of yoga. (BG 2.52-53)
Better than any ritual
is the worship achieved through wisdom;
wisdom is the final goal
of every action, Arjuna. (BG 4.33)
Nothing in the world can purify
as powerfully as wisdom;
practiced in yoga, you will find
this wisdom within yourself. (BG 4.38)
The man of yoga is greater
than ascetics, or the learned, or those
who perform the rituals; therefore
be a man of yoga, my son. (BG 6.46)
I will teach you the essence of this wisdom
and its realization; when you come
to master this, there is nothing
further that needs to be known. (BG 7.2)
For men whose minds are forever
focused on me, whose love
has grown deep through meditation,
I am easy to reach, Arjuna. (BG 8.14)
This is the supreme wisdom,
the knowing beyond all knowing,
experienced directly, in a flash,
eternal, and a joy to practice. (BG 9.2)
Not by study or rites
or alms or ascetic practice
can I be seen in this cosmic
form, as you have just seen me. (BG 11.53)
By devotion he comes to realize
the meaning of my infinite vastness;
when he knows who I truly am,
he instantly enters my being. (BG 18.55)
(Thanks to Jennifer Cusano for transcribing the stanzas from the Gita and moderating the discussion.)