Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita : Brahmarpanam

Krisnabrahmarpanam brahma havir, brahmagnau brahmana hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyam, brahma-karma-samadhina

1) Every time I am tempted to indulge in mindless activity, this verse will help me stem my indulgence. The verse will remind me that brahman is the be all and the end all of all actions.

2) I have learnt that being spiritually awakened is not about paying a once a week visit to the temple, listening to or chanting shlokas mindlessly or waiting for occasions to pray. It is about being aware of brahman at every step of the day, before, during and after every action.

3) I realize that my attitude is driven by the philosophy I believe in. If I want to live the rest of my life in the spirit of yajna or being conscious of  brahman, then I cannot continue the way I have been operating so far, accumulating karmaphal and living in the glory of doer-ship. I have to hook on to a higher ideal which will drive all my actions going forward.

4) I have to look beyond my perspective as a single entity in the world. I must remember that I am only a minuscule part of a larger truth, a wave in the ocean, to use an analogy. To be part of the larger truth, I must learn to look beyond my  personal ‘wave world’, where I am the hero achieving all that I have achieved without acknowledging brahman.

5) When I live as though I am an independent entity capable of acting without the grace of brahman and do not acknowledge that a power beyond me exists, then I find it difficult to accept that I am a part of a larger truth. I am encapsulated in a bloated sense of self worth, in my egocentric world.

6) I realize that  my perspectives are limited to a narrow, restricted world that I have created for myself.  I have lived in the ‘take everything and give back nothing’ mode. I take credit (the karmaphal) for all the actions and this makes my sense of self worth grow and prevents me from acknowledging the brahman. I am deluded that I am the doer, I enjoy the karmaphal and continue to live in delusion.

7) My goal in life is to break free from this encapsulated cocoon that I have built around me and be a part of the bigger truth. It is possible to be engaged in actions driven by the spirit of yajna. I know that when I cease to be a wave, I become a part of the ocean. When I am the most mindless may I remember that the truth is out there.

 

Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita : Exhausting Vasanas

Gita04

nirashir yata-cittatma, tyakta-sarva-parigrahah
shariram kevalam karma,kurvan napnoti kilbisham

 

  1. Only when I don’t possess about emotions, thoughts and objects, I can exhaust my vasanas or the karmic imprints of previous actions and not add on more.
  2. I have to train my mind my mind and intellect to be fixed on a higher goal and not be busy with ideas and schemes to manipulate the world around me. That is when I do not accumulate new vasanas. When my mind is not fixed on a higher goal, it is operating from the vasanas.
  3. “Not possessing” is possible when I keep the intellect free of ideas, the mind free of expectations and the body free of any sensual demands. When I allow these to possess me, consume me, there is no respite from vasanas
  4. It is possible to renunciate without having to give up pleasures of the body, mind and intellect by disallowing my possessiveness.
  5. By exhausting my existing vasanas and not allowing the accumulation of new vasanas, my mind will then be able to focus on a higher goal.

Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita : Fruits of Action

Gita01

tyaktva karma-phalasangam, nitya-trpto nirasrayah
karmany abhipravrtto ‘pi, naiva kincit karoti sah

If I am able to work without expectations or the need to fulfill my desires, then the actions I am involved in do not create more vasanas and therefore become selfless actions or ‘unactions’.

  1. When I am preoccupied with the end result or the product of my actions, then I often make compromises in the action or process itself.
  2. Today, I am influenced by how my actions affect me and the people who live with me. I am peripheral in my outlook of life. I always seek to make the people around me happy with the choices I make.  I am possessed about I, Me and Mine.
  3. Today, I am bothered by the perceptions others in the society have about me instead of being concerned of the perception that I have of myself.
  4. To walk the path of a seeker, I have to stop being influenced by people and situations in my life. To be spiritual, I have to learn to ‘negligibilize’ (tuchCham) the effect others have on me.
  5. To be a true seeker, I have to change the way I have been performing actions and re-calibrate the reasons why I perform actions.
  6. I will consider myself to be truly spiritually evolved only when my vasanas have stopped influencing my actions. I know that finally what matters is not how much or what I did but how I did it.

Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita : Desireless Actions

Gita03

yasya sarve samarambhah, kama-sankalpa-varjitah
jnanagni-dagdha-karmanam, tam ahuh panditam budhah

1.  If  I perform an action with the aim to fulfill a personal purpose, then I am adding vasanas. But if the purpose is for the larger good, without expectation or desire for a specific result, then I am exhausting my vasanas.

2. When I micromanage realities, control and manipulate results that is favourable to me, then I am helping create more vasanas.  When I am mindful and sincere in every action and not worried about how the results will affect me, then I am exhausting my vasanas.

4. If I want to walk the path of a seeker, I am only allowed to plan how the action can be done and not plan how the results of the action will help or affect me.

5. In the event I fall back to the old ways of planning, plotting or scheming my actions to benefit me, I have the option of doing something about it. Instead of wallowing in self loathe or pity, I have the choice to pick myself up and begin using the higher realm of the mind and live my life responsibly.

Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita : Mindful Action

Gita02karmany akarma yah pasyed, akarmani ca karma yah
sa buddhiman manusyesu,sa yuktah krtsna-karma-krt

  1. I accept that even when I am not actively doing something, I have hordes of thoughts in my mind that keep me busy. I understand that it is possible for someone to be busy even when at rest and at ‘rest’ (in one’s mind) even when one is physically active. That is action in inaction.
  2. I have experienced being calm (at rest) when I am involved in actions that I love and enjoy. Cooking, walking my dog, writing blogs are a few activities like that. I understand that when I am involved in an action that I feel devoted to, it is possible to work in a meditative state of mind.
  3. As a seeker, I have to learn to be aware and mindful in every action I am involved in. How do I operate? What is my modus operandi? Do I work on my everyday routines mindlessly?
  4. Is it possible to be busy and involved in any kind of activity yet train the mind to be calm (detached from the action)? Can I be an observer of the action I am doing?
  5. I am aware that my body, mind and intellect (BMI) are the ones that perceive, feel and think (PFT) about the objects, emotions and thoughts (OET) that surround me.

The challenge is to transcend to a higher state of mind.

Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita : Avidya- Kama- Karma – Desires Drive Actions

srimad_bhagavad_gitakarmano hyapi boddhavyam, boddhavyam ca vikarmanah

karmanas ca boddhavyam, gahana karmano gatih

My desires arise from the karmic imprints of my past life (vasanas). It is these desires that drive my actions. I have the ability to choose either to indulge in the desires or refrain from indulgence. My intellect can help me make these choices and create better vasanas.

1) I am defined by the actions I indulge in. My actions are outer manifestations of my vasanas. If I indulge in a morally weak action, a vice, ill treat someone, deal with a situation without thought, speak rudely, it is essentially thoughtless actions as decided by my vasanas.

2) Unless I involve my intellect, I give my vasanas free will to decide how I behave, act, speak or exist. If I use my intellect to think through an action (behavior or speech) before I indulge in it, then my vasanas lose  the power to overwhelm me.  Only my intellect has the power to direct me, to act or speak in a way that won’t hurt people involved.

3) When my desires alone drive all my actions, without the help of my intellect, then the actions (the way I speak or behave) that result from such desires don’t qualify as karma.  Such actions often turn out to be of malicious intent (vikarma) that create even stronger desire to indulge in amoral actions. It is a vicious cycle that I cannot get out of. Without involving the higher realm of my mind (the intellect), I have no hope for respite from the cycle.

4) My first lesson is to gracefully accept that desires stem from vasanas or the karmic imprintof past actions. Such actions usually tend to be vikarmic or undesirable actions;  How can I hope to understand the subtle differences between action and unaction before that?

5) All desirable actions  that contribute to my self development and growth, qualify as good karma. When I use my life force (atman) for opportunities that keep me busy, productive, constructive, vibrant and happy, then I am involved in good Karma. So it becomes incredibly important to ponder over every action before I  indulge in it.

karmanya karma yah pasyed, akarmani ca karma yah
sa buddhiman manusyesu, sa yuktah krtsna-karma-krt

1) When I have perfected all my actions to be karma and not vikarma (forbidden actions), will it mean that I have become perfect?  It’s not what I do that makes me what I want to be (perfect). I don’t have to be engaged in spiritual activity to be called spiritual. If the underlying intention of all my actions is spiritual – focused on the atman – then I am spiritual.

3) So long as I am able to detach myself from my body, mind and intellect and identify with the underlying spirit of truth (atman), so long as ‘ the awareness principle’  (tat-tvam-asi) is at work and I train my mind to introspect and observe, not just when I am busy speaking or doing something but even when I am inactive, then I can hope to reach a divine state of mind or state of perfection. When my mind is chaotic and agitated how can I expect to succeed?

4) As long as I am not involved in actions purely driven by desire (to please others or myself), as long as my actions are a discharge of duty without expecting it to pay back in some form, as long as I am not affected by what others think of me or my actions, I may still hope to reach the state of a karmayogi.

Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita : Atman vs. Jiva; Karma vs Akarma

 

atman-JivaThere are two parts to my identity. My body, mind and intellect (Jiva) is one, my spirit (atman) is another. Which identity I see as myself  decides how I deal with what happens in my life. I can identify myself as the Jiva and be affected by the experiences of the body, mind and intellect or identify myself as the atman and remain unaffected, feel liberated.

na mam karmani limpanti, na me karma-phale sprha
iti mam yo ‘bhijanati, karmabhir na sa badhyate

1) I realize that who I identify as ‘ me’ is not my spirit but my body, mind and intellect. I am affected by the trials and experiences perceived by my body, mind and intellect. When I face challenges in life, I feel low energy and tired because I imagine that it is the ‘real me’ that is going through that experience. With my limited capacity to understand, I ignore the all pervading, underlying truth that my atman is a real entity that remains unaffected by what is happening to my Jiva.

2) I am capable of riding over the challenges and emerge victorious. If I stop identifying the body as “me”, then the trials and tribulations of my body, mind and intellect will not bother me. When I begin identifying with the spirit (atman) as “me” that is when I can feel liberated. That is the way to live enthusiastically.

3)  It is my Jiva that experiences imperfection of the body, mind and intellect and not my atman. It is my Jiva that feels incomplete, looks for validation, aches to fill a void, gets entangled in the laws of karma, identifies itself as the doer (karta) and yearns for the fruits of action (karmaphal).

4) I know now that I live in the borrowed glory of the spirit, the underlying truth, that what I call ‘myself’ is only an object in the given time and space, that the real me is not my body, mind and intellect but the atman.

5) When I begin to identify myself as the atman, it will become possible not to get overwhelmed and depressed and feel more insulated and grounded, when things don’t go well, when I experience setbacks, when I face disappointments, pain, separation and ill health.

evam jnatva krtam karma, purvair api mumuksubhih
kuru karmaiva tasmat tvam, purvaih purvataram krtam

1) All these findings about spirituality is new only to me. There have been people before my lifetime (my forefathers and elders) who have understood the lessons and have aligned themselves to live by the teachings of the Gita.

2) Being spiritual is not easy. But it is possible to learn how to live spiritually by observing our ancestors. Mirroring is a psychological phenomenon of miming the attitude and life of people that you want to emulate. Instead of questioning or challenging the knowledge, it is easily laid out for me to mirror and copy how my ancestors and the great sages lived their lives.

3) My actions should aim to liberate instead of entangle me. I have to learn to move away from working to fulfill my desires (selfish), to fulfilling other people’s desires because I can ( Unselfish), to realizing that no one really needs my help to fulfill their desires, yet I will continue to work since it is an opportunity I revel in. (selfless). My actions should not taint me and have to be with the aim to liberate myself and benefit people around me. Neither should  I let other peoples actions affect me.

kim karma kim akarmeti, kavayo ‘py atra mohitah
tat te karma pravaksyami, yaj jnatva moksyase ‘subhat

1) The Gita tells me that I have to question all my actions. Why did I do what I did? What is my motive behind every action?  Oftentimes, my actions are mere habits that I mindlessly indulge in, without questioning, without regulation.

2) The idea of spirituality is to be self introspective, question all my actions and refrain from questioning another’s action. Who am I to judge another human’s action, when I have undiscovered layers in my own mind?

3) Even If I mean well, and I am spiritually motivated, my actions are often desire ridden (karma). It is through such karma that I will finally understand what selfless action (akarma) is.