Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita: On Faith

Brahmacharini Vishakaji simplified the teachings from two related verses from Karma-yoga this week.  Both the verses urged us to reflect on how our faith and belief affect our behaviors and actions. When you believe something to be true, without needing proof, then you begin to understand the teachings from the Bhagawad Gita, said Brahmacharini Vishakaji.

My key learning from this week:

ye me matam idam nityam ,anutisthanti manavah
sraddhavanto ‘nasuyanto , mucyante te ‘pi karmabhih

1) When I believe that something is true, it becomes my faith. I don’t have to question the truths in the scriptures just because I am educated, or possess a scientific bent of mind. I have to remember that a mere understanding of the text is not enough to experience the truth.  I have to live by the teachings, walk the talk, to really gain from the lessons in the Gita.

2) Spiritual truth is like a fine cut diamond. Just like how a diamond has many facets and therefore looks different when looked at from different angles, religious faith reveals only one part of the whole truth when looked at from one facet alone. Followers of a religion invest their faith in one facet of the truth alone. This is the reason why we are not able to appreciate the truth from the perspective of another religion.

3) We evaluate and judge everything around us using cognitive reasoning. We always look for evidence and proof, use our gross intellect (Theekshana buddhi) and that is why faith eludes us.  Faith is a virtue of the subtle intellect ( Sookshma buddhi) .  l have to learn to tame and temper my intellect to allow the subtle intellect  grasp the essence of the teachings, without critical evaluation of the texts.

ye tv etad abhyasuyanto, nanutisthanti me matam
sarva-jnana-vimudhams tan, viddhi nastan acetasah

4) Unlike mathematical reasoning, where you have to have a hypothesis, arguments and conclusions, faith is a form of truth that does not need any evidence,  proof or argument. Brahmacharini Vishakaji could draw an analogy from one of William Wordsworth’s poems who said – ‘Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; our meddling intellect misshapes the beauteous forms of things:–   We murder to dissect.’

5) Swami Chinmayananda observed that only poetry can capture the truth , not science. He meant Tagore’s description of faith as a “bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark”.  The fact that birds sing at day break just before dawn is proof that they have the faith that the Sun will soon be out. They don’t use intellect or cognition like we humans do to judge if it is soon going to be day.

6) I understand the essence of Avidhya-Kama-Karma . When I am spiritually ignorant, my desires lead me to perform thoughtless actions. When I am spiritually awakened, it is possible to be free of desires and be at meditative peace.

7) I must be willing to do things for the others (Lokasangraha) and not merely for myself. When I work to make others happy or their lives easier, then I live by the teachings of the Gita.  Despite my intellectual understanding of the teachings of the Gita, if I cannot help but find faults in the teachings, it is impossible to live by the principles that the Gita extols.

Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita

Brahmacharini Vishakaji, of the Chinmaya Seva Centre, Singapore,  said that this may very well be the backbone of the Karmayoga chapter of the Gita. The verse is not an advice; it is a promise of an experience for the ignorant. This is also the first verse of my initiation into the study and  understanding of the lessons from the Bhagawad Gita.

My key take away from today’s lesson:

Mayi sarvaani karmaani sannyasyaadhyaatma chetasaa;
Niraasheer nirmamo bhootwaa yudhyaswa vigatajwarah.

1) I have to stop worrying about how I am being perceived by others, what other people think of my life, my contribution at work and home.

2) I have to teach myself to be centered on the Self (the supreme being) and not self centered.

3) I must never shy away and be afraid of the concept of Sanyas. Sanyas is not about renouncing alone. Sanyas is two fold- renouncing something lower to attain a higher state of being. It is about giving up old attitudes and embracing new ones, it is about being altruistic and giving up being selfish, it is about renouncing the old clutter of emotions, giving up the petty “I , Me, Myself” spirit.

4) I must let neither ego nor hope cloud my vision of the present. For, ego arises from the successes of the past and hope thrives on the expectations from the future.

5) I will not ask for validation of my self worth from my family, friends and the society. I will not hand over that responsibility to the others to tell me what I am worth. I will investigate the motive behind every action I take. Am I constantly begging for validation of my sense of worth?

Like Lord Krishna says in this verse, I, the ignorant, have to learn to dedicate the laurels I have achieved, the appreciation that I have won, the work I have completed to the Supreme being, by being constantly aware that I am capable of doing all this and more only because He is with me, watching over me and guiding me in my actions. I have to remember not to let the actions of my past or my expectations from the future, distract me from living in the present.

I have to live my life without anxiety, fear of failure , judgement or validation of my sense of self worth.