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Living the Bagavad Gita

1. context and Conflict

2. Karma and Reincarnation

3. Karma Yoga

4. Janana Yoga

5. Brahman

6. Sacrifice and Mantra

7. Renunciation and Purification

8. Devotion and the Guru

9. Social Aspects of Sadhana

10. Dying

CF - the Upanishads ideas -

Brahman, the Godhead;

Atman, the divine core of personality;

dharma, the law that expresses the unity of creation;

karma, the web of cause and effect;

samara, the cycle of birth and death;

moksha, the spiritual liberation that is life's supreme goal

CF - According to Sankhya -

everything in the world of mind and matter is an expression of all three gunas, with one guna always predominant. This becomes particularly interesting in describing personality as a field of forces. The rajasic person is full of energy; the tamasic person is sluggish, indifferent, insensitive; the sattvic person, calm, resourceful, compassionate, and selfless. Yet all three are always present at some level of awareness, and their proportions change: their interplay is the dynamics of personality. But Self is not involved in the guna's interaction; it is witness rather than participant.

Chapter 3. Karma Yoga

Krishna lays our for Arjuna these various alternative justifications for why he should enter into the battle of Kurukshetra, which is the struggle of dharma versus adharma, of the spirit versus the worldly. His first argument is one you would offer to somebody who is very worldly: Just do your dharma and don't worry about it. The karma is merely acting itself out through you. If you don't kill them, something else will. Arjuna still isn't convinced. Krishna introduces a second argument. He says, Look, you're going to have to do something. You simply can't not act. In saying that Krishna was directly contering an idea that was popular in spiritual circles at the time, one which had emerged from the Sankya philosophy. The Sankhya philosophy centered around a polarity, a polarity, a pair of opposites called purusha and prakriti --- prusha being the inactive principle and prakriti the active one. The game, according to Sankhya philosophy, was to escape from the active into the inactive state, and so the highest goal was to do nothing. Krishna contradicts that philosophy. He who withdraws himself from actions but ponders on their pleasures in his heart, he is under a delusion. So Krishna is saying to Arjuna, You can't avoid acting, and trying to not act when your desires are still stron gjust puts you under a delusion. It makes you phoney holy.

Krishna is raising the concept of dharma here, how you do your dharma snd what happens if you don't. "Dharma" is a very complex word; it has many different meanings. But for now let's stick to its most traditional use in Hinduism, as meaning your duty to the higher law. Fighting this war is your dharma, Krishna says. There are subtle relationships at play between social duty and dharma, and the way they interact. If you're trying to act dharmically, your don't determine your actions out of social duty --- and yet you do use the social forms in which you find yourself as your way of expressing your dharmic path. Your karma will situate you in a particular place at a particular time so you can play out a particular role. Then there were the ashramas, or stages of life. there are four of those. There is the period from birth to twenty, when you're learning. Then there's the time from 20 to 40, when you're householder; you make the money that supports the whole system. Then there's the stage from 40 to 60 when you do your religious study. And then from 60 on, you become a renunciate, a sunnyas --- you let go of everything worldly, an turn your attention completely toward God.

For a long time, I kept trying to make it work the way I thought a "real" spiritual trip ought to work. Like I'd say to Maharajji, "how I do raise my kundalini, my spiritual energy?" He said, "Feed everybody. The kundalini can be raised by the touch of a guru. The guru can just think about it and your kundalini will rise Don't worry about that --- just feed people and serve people." He was saying to me, " Do your dharma." Once you're acting purely out of dharma, you're beyond the law of action. When you've totally surrendered yourself to your dharma, you're no longer acting out of striving, but out of spirit. Once we've renounced the fruits of the action, we're finally free to act in whatever way we're drawn by our dharma to act. The actdion is happening through you. You have stepped out of the way.

Krishna tell Arjuna, "All actions take place in time, by the interweaving of the forces of nature [the gunas]" What's happening is just the sum total of millions of laws playing themselves out through you. Once you really see that, your sense of an "I" acting in the world is stripped away. So the karma yogi is the person who uses his life to come to God by listening for the dharmic act, acting without attachment.


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