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.

 

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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: The power of the Trigunas

varnashrama-dharma

kanksantah karmanam siddhim, yajanta iha devatah

ksipram hi manuse loke, siddhir bhavati karma-ja

1) I know that when I invoke the Creator sincerely, I will experience divine interference. Yet, I am so caught up in pleasures that give me instant gratification. I am involved in actions that drive me away from divinity.

2) I give in to my sensual pleasures that satisfy my ego, I make no time for spiritual understanding. The eternal bliss through spiritual invocation seems so implausible, imagined and futuristic compared to the pleasure that material comforts give me today.

3) I am an evolved being, different from the rest of the animal kingdom. I am capable of thinking from a higher realm of my mind. I have to be more introspective and not look for opportunities and situations that enrich my senses and leave me impoverished spiritually.

 

catur-varnyam maya srstam, guna-karma-vibhagasah
tasya kartaram api mam, viddhy akartaram avyayam

1) My temperament and innate tendencies depend entirely on the texture of my thoughts (Gunas). The ratio of the trigunasSattva- Rajas- Tamas– is what drives the actions (karma) that I get involved in.

2) When I reflect on which of the trigunas have been the primary driving force of all my past actions, I realize that there has been a constant competition for superiority among the trigunas within me and Sattva has not always won. I aspire to be more satvic in my actions and way of life here on.

2) So far, most of my actions have been driven essentially by two of the lower gunas – Rajas and Tamas, Passion and indolence. I am at that stage in life where I am reflecting on deeds and past actions and understand that I have the power to change the default ratios of the trigunas that make me who I am.

As Brahmacharini Vishaka ji beautifully concluded with this shloka:

janmanaajayathay shoodraha, karmanaajaayathay dvijaha

I have the power to control my gunas and the freedom to choose my actions, even though the texture of my thoughts (varnas) that made me who I was at birth, was not entirely my choice.