Friday, August 30, 2013

stepping out of the comfort zone...

Verse 4.18: One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.

I remember exactly how I felt when I first read this verse - confused! It seemed so convoluted and complicated. What exactly is Krsna trying to say here? That being said, my confusion also lead to appreciation as it was only then that I realized how important it is to learn the teachings of the Gita from one who is trying to practice it.

Breaking it down, this verse is giving the secret to performing akarama, or performing actions that result in no karma. That's what "seeing inaction in action" means. Although one may be performing so much work, because their internal consciousness is one of detachment to the results and one of offering them in gratitude to the Divine, they don't incur any karma.

Conversely, one may mistakenly think that by sitting still and doing nothing that they will incur no karma. If only it were that easy! That's what the phrase "seeing action in inaction" means. Although it may seem that nothing is going on externally, we may forget that what goes on inside has a direct effect on what happens outside. Meaning, although we may be able to sit still for sometime, the mind which is so demanding will ultimately force us to act, even if it's against our will. At that time, if our attitude is self-centered, those actions will naturally result in good or bad karma.

Readers may be reflecting that these concepts of unattachment and attitude keep coming up over and over again. You're not alone! Although I've read the Gita before, I too am struck by how often these themes are highlighted.

But the time comes where the reading ends and the application begins. Be sure that if you are sincere at heart and are reading the Gita that you will be tested. I give fair warning! Since yoga is ultimately about connecting to the Divine, He takes special notice. Situations will arise and your mettle will be tested.

The good (bad?!) thing is that no matter how many times you fail, the opportunities will keep on coming.

In fact, if you think about it - the opportunities are coming right now.

That's the beauty of the Gita. It puts into perspective how we can positively transform the challenging situations that we face on a daily basis. Just these two things:

1. Detachment to the results of our activities and
3. Transforming our consciousness to offering everything we do with affection and gratitude to the Divine...

can work miracles in our lives.

Instead of seeing everything through the lens of "Why is this happening to me?" this shift promotes a sense of "Wow! I'm getting a chance to practically apply spiritual knowledge that I've gained." Granted, those feelings may not come soon...but it will! It may come sporadically at first - maybe once in a couple of years or every couple of months! LOL. That's ok. It will come though. It just takes practice.

Life is a series of lessons and bhakti is the path of self-empowerment. We can choose to learn from the lessons that surround us and benefit or continue to fight the lesson and drown in self pity. So join us as we step out of our comfort zones and into the stretch zone. You can change your consciousness today!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

appreciation circle

Today is a very special day for all the aspiring bhakti yogis out there. That's why instead of continuing with Chapter 4 today, we would like to take the time to celebrate the appearance day of the speaker of the Bhagavad Gita - Krsna!

Some may be wondering why we are using the word appearance day as opposed to "birthday". To clear up any confusion, we'll go straight to the Gita to hear from the Krsna Himself. Skipping ahead to Chapter 10 Verse 3, Krsna states "He who knows Me as the unborn..."

So what does that mean? It means that Krsna is not born, nor does He die (it's a perk of being THE Divine!). He is eternal, just like our souls are.

But I is not so much about discussing the fascinating aspects of Krsna (which we'll definitely delve into another time) but more about appreciating Him.

In my circle of friends, we have a very beautiful tradition. On someone's birthday (or appearance day!) we normally have an appreciation circle. It's an opportunity for those of us who have gathered together to express to our gratitude and appreciation to the special person/s we are celebrating that day and let them know of the impact they have in our lives.

So here goes! One of the things I love most about Krsna is the fact that I never feel judged by Him. I may make all kinds of mistakes and do silly things, but I always feel like I'll never run out of chances. I always know that I can redeem myself and that's such a comforting feeling. It's truly a symptom of unconditional love. I also know that when I truly and genuinely turn to Him and ask for help, He has never failed me. can take some time until I feel that reciprocation (and I'm definitely not a patient person!), but it always comes.

Finally, the quality I appreciate most about Krsna is the fact that He appreciates intention and devotion over expertise and results. It levels out the playing field so to speak. It breaks down the barriers as to who can and cannot approach Him. It doesn't matter what religion, culture, gender or -ism you associate yourself with - He's there for all of us if we simply want to connect.

So on this day celebrating his appearance, I request all of you, my dear readers, to also offer a few words of appreciation and gratitude to Krsna or even the practice of yoga which originates from Him. Please feel free to leave those appreciations in the comments, but most of all please do take the time to express them in your heart. Wishing everyone a wonderful and blessed day!

Monday, August 26, 2013

a life of learning

Verse 4.17: The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.

In Chapter 2 we discussed at length what karma (action), vikarama (forbidden action) and akarma (inaction) are. For anyone who would like a refresher, you can check it out here. Today, however, I'd like to talk about the real life application of these concepts.

Before getting to that, I'd like to share a beautiful quote from one of my favorite bhakti yoga mentors since it relates perfectly to this topic of application.

"It's very important to practice spirituality for practical application of spiritual knowledge."

Let's meditate on that for a moment, shall we? What does it actually mean? It means that we may hear lots of beautiful concepts and ideas but unless we actually try to implement that knowledge in our daily lives, it won't actually translate to wisdom. That's because wisdom is "the art of converting an experience into learning."

If we don't strive to apply what we've heard, then chances are we'll never really learn.

That's what our lives can become if we choose to live a life of learning. Since we are constantly performing actions, whether consciously or unconsciously, we get the perfect opportunity at every moment to tune into our motivations. Why are we doing something? Is it for our own satisfaction? Is it to make ourselves feel better? Is it really helping others? By posing such questions, we are forced to evaluate what is driving our actions. And trust me, if we actually attempt to do this even a little bit, it's amazing how introspective we'll become of our own thoughts and motivations.

Of course, we'll find that many times we'll skip out on checking into our motivations and you know what? It's ok. After all, for some of us this may be a slightly foreign concept to first reflect and then act. And like any habit, it takes practice and time. Even if we are starting to reflect after the fact, that's a step in the positive direction.

If and when we do reflect afterwards, it won't be uncommon to look back and perhaps cringe. Yes...that too is part of the process. It's may be uncomfortable to recognize what motivates our behaviour and distorts our consciousness. But that too is part of the learning process.

If we are unable to see the obstacles that prevent us from acting in positive and selfless ways, then we won't learn how to overcome them.

Life is all about the journey and in it there is the potential to learn so many lessons. Karma is one of the ways these lessons are dolled out. The Gita gives us practical knowledge as to why we face our current situations (i.e. results of our past actions). Equally important, the Gita teaches us how our reactions to these circumstances will impact our future. So...are you ready to live a life of learning?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

a shift in consciousness

Verse 4.16: Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what is action and what is inaction. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from all misfortune.

The complexity and depth that surrounds karma (action and reaction) are once again highlighted today. As a follow up to the previous verse where we learned the importance of associating and learning from successful bhakti yogis, today's verse carries along in a similar vein. Specifically, it highlights exactly what we can learn from such personalities:

The art of performing actions.

That may sound a bit simplistic. After all, we could after all just observe and imitate the great souls, could we not? No! That's why Krsna states "Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what is action and what is inaction." That's because some of us may forget that:

The outward action is a manifestation of the internal consciousness.

This is probably one of the most challenging paradigm shifts an aspiring yogi has to make - recognizing that externals alone mean little in the eyes of the Divine. It's the emotion and attitude which colour those actions that have true value.

This type of attitude shift is difficult to make on our own since many of us may not even know where to begin! After all, it can be hard to feel anything if we're just beginning. Such emotion and consciousness is something that can only be imbibed from those who truly feel gratitude and love for the Divine.

By being in their presence and hearing from them, our hearts start to open up. Like a lotus flower whose petals slowly unfurl in the moonlight, our hearts start to slowly soak in the consciousness of gratitude.

The value of such company can never be overstated and that's why the great Vedic text called the Srimad Bhagavatam states:

"The value of a moment's association with a lover of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity..." SB 1.18.13

The performance of action is not about the results; it's about what the heart feels when performing those actions.

Monday, August 19, 2013

good judgement comes from experience...

Verse 4.15: All the liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding of My transcendental nature. Therefore you should perform your duty, following in their footsteps.

"Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."

When I initially heard this quote from one of my bhakti mentors a few years back, it left a deep impression in me. How true those words ring!

It is also reminds me of a time when I asked another of my favorite bhakti practitioners a question. Younger and full of enthusiasm, I asked how I could become a better practitioner of bhakti yoga. With great compassion and a lot of love, he replied, "It will take patience and time. You are still young. With age comes many experiences which will help solidify your knowledge and deepen it into realization."

I remember meditating on that answer for quite some time. However, it is only years later that I gained the realization that those experiences don't necessarily have to be my own. By following in the footsteps of my teachers, inspirations and role models, I could also learn from their own experiences - whether they be positive or challenging.

The Gita is reminding us that first class intelligence is highlighted by learning from the experiences of others. Just like an aspiring entrepreneur will read and try to absorb the knowledge that was gained from the experiences of expert businesspersons, similarly the aspiring yogi observes and adopts the methods practiced by those successfully and steadily practicing the path of bhakti.

One of the traits of such advanced practitioners of bhakti yoga is humility. Such inspiring role models seek no recognition for themselves. Therefore, the price to get their company and hear from them is not money but a deep desire. Simply by desiring and making the effort to seek out such personalities, it's astounding how opportunities unfold to learn from them.

So go ahead and seek out the company of such wonderful personalities. After all:

"One's desires and ambitions develop according to the company one keeps."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

i'll have no karma with that, thanks

Verse 4.14: There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me also does not become entangled in the fruitive reactions of work.

The laws of karma have been discussed extensively in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the Gita. There, it was highlighted that both good and bad karma are unwanted. We also learned that all actions result in karma.

It was at this point that the Gita introduced the concept of akarma, or performing actions that do not incur any karma. The secret to performing akarmic work was given. Anyone remember? If you said a transformation of're right!

Any action that is performed with the attitude of offering it in gratitude to the Divine results in no karma.

If you've ever wondered why that's the case, today's verse gives the answer. The Divine Himself is not subject to the laws of karma, nor is He responsible for the karma that all of us incur. Although the King or President of a country is responsible for their citizens, there may be laws that do not apply to them due to their position. Furthermore, if their citizens break those laws, the King or President is not responsible for their actions. Those citizens have free will and have chosen to exercise it.

Since the Divine is not subject to the laws of karma, when our consciousness transfers from being self-centred to offering our best to the Divine, our actions are also not subject to karma.

The Gita is prompting us to imbibe a culture of gratitude and reciprocation.

Instead of succumbing to the overwhelming ethos of "mine, mine, mine!" which is pervading our society, we can instead be instruments to help elevate it. By recognizing the gifts we have been given as those coming from the Divine, the greatest happiness can be experienced when we act as instruments of grace and offer our actions, and whatever results that come from it, on the altar of love for the Divine.

Friday, August 16, 2013

no caste system here!

Verse 4.13: According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable.

Have you heard about the caste system? Most likely you have and like the majority of persons out there, the concept just doesn't sit right with you. Guess what? The Gita agrees!

This is what happens when things are taken out of context and unscrupulous persons give their own interpretation to fit their own needs and desires. It might surprise some, but the original divisions of society actually stem from the Gita itself.

The Gita outlines that persons have a specific nature and with that come certain proclivities and inclinations. Broadly, these natures fit those of the:

1. teachers/academics/philosophers
2. administrators/leaders/protectors
3. trade persons/business persons/agriculturalists
4. workers/artists

Of course, it is very possible for persons to be a mix of these natures and that is something we often see today. When the Gita outlines these four natural divisions of society, it also stresses that each one is important and serves a particular purpose. If everyone was just a worker, we wouldn't have a proper functioning society. The same goes if everyone was just a teacher or philosopher.

One can think of them as the four seasons. Each one is important and offers a special contribution in terms of weather and facilities.

As well, unlike the perverted caste system which states that if one is born in a family of teachers or priests that they too are of that nature - the Gita says otherwise. These qualities and natures are not necessarily inherited by birth. Instead it is important to observe the individual and determine what nature that person has and help them understand it. No fitting any square pegs in round holes here!

Every single person and every nature is valued. The aspiring yogi strives to understand the nature they have been given and acknowledges it as a gift they can cultivate and use positively.

So take the opportunity to determine what your nature is and offer it not only to to the world, but to the Divine in gratitude!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

what do you really want?

Verse 4.12: Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods. Quickly, of course, men get results from fruitive work in this world.

One of the good (bad?!) things about bhakti yoga is that it forces you to really face your intentions and desires. Not just the superficial ones, but the deep one's that we try to hide and forget about.

It's open, non-sectarian and there's something in it for everyone. It's an ideal process because it teaches us how to be successful as persons living in this material world, and for those who are interested, the process by which we can successfully reconnect with our true selves and find eternal happiness.

But...for those who are interested in the latter, bhakti yoga is about work. The best analogy that comes to mind is that of cleaning a really messy room. At the outset there needs to be some faith that cleaning the room will actually help you. Mustering up some enthusiasm (and determination!), you get started and in the beginning may start to experience a sense of accomplishment. But as time progresses (and if you're anything like me), you realize that you had no clue what you were getting yourself into!

That's because as you stand surrounded by clothes and other objects lay strewn about you, shaking your head in disbelief at the amount of things you've accumulated, it becomes clear. There's a lot of junk that just needs to be thrown out.

That's exactly what the practice of bhakti yoga reveals: we have a lot of junk that surrounds our heart and prevents us from experiencing true happiness.

Because we invest our time and energy in that junk, we get side-tracked and forget that happiness actually lies within.

Distilling this verse down, it's stating that if we really want to accumulate more junk, then there's a certain place to go to ask for such blessings. Again, the Gita is not stating that it is bad, per say, but is giving the process (Remember! It's a handbook for both material and spiritual success) to achieve material success.

However, staying true to it's purpose, the Gita does not recommend this path. For the sake of completeness, it is presented and for those who choose that path it gives the formula.

But, if we are truly interested in cleaning our room, it will remain in our consciousness that going out and buying more things will be counter-productive. Similarly, for those who are genuinely interested in attaining permanent happiness and peace, this path isn't the one for them.

The only question you have to ask is - what do you want? Do you really want to clean the room of your heart or are you interested in just accumulating more?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

it's all about reciprocation

Verse 4.11: As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pṛthā.

This verse can be summed up in one word: reciprocation.

If you boil down the word reciprocate, it means to return or requite. That's why I love this verse because there really isn't a topic that's more important to all of us than this one. Reciprocation is what we are searching for in our interactions with one another.

That's because living beings long to love and be loved.

It's not just about loving. It's also not just about being loved. It's both. That give and take is what makes a relationship sweet and interesting. Conversely, one of the greatest causes of anxiety, frustration and hurt results when relationships are not reciprocal. One person gives more emotionally or does more to show their care and when that is not acknowledged and returned, pain can arise in the heart.

Sometimes when persons start to practice yoga or other spiritual paths, they bring along with them the memories of those disappointing experiences. This is often why conceptions of the Divine may be a little but fuzzy because we view everything through the lens of our own experiences. Here, however, the Gita unequivocally states that the Divine also has feelings and reciprocates according to the desires and attitudes of those who not only reach out to Him, but also those who choose to ignore Him. Personally, I've always found that to be so fascinating. In observing others, often if someone is ignored by another, the person who has been ignored will reciprocate the sentiment. The Divine, however, doesn't do that.

That's where the subtlety of yoga really shines through.

In a world where everything is judged by actions, it is a paradigm shift to realize that attitude is actually more important. That's because attitude drives our actions.

The Divine reciprocates not necessarily with what we say or do but what we feel inside. That's why yoga requires introspection and deep thought. It may be easy to fool ourselves, but it's impossible to fool the Divine who is sitting in our hearts observing everything.

Furthermore, when we start expressing our gratitude to the Divine and try to cultivate the sincerity to live a life of compassion and love, we immediately start to experience reciprocation. That reciprocation may come in many different forms such as seemingly serendipitous opportunities, bringing role models into our lives and increased determination and perseverance. For those who are not interested in pursuing such a yogic lifestyle and would prefer to taste the numerous offerings the world has to offer, even then the Divine reciprocates by giving them facility. For those who would negate the existence of a Supreme Person, the Divine allows such souls to exercise their free will to pursue what they choose.

But, for those who genuinely seek to become instruments of compassion and grace, the Divine goes above and beyond by reciprocating in ways we can't even imagine. Facility, intelligence, courage, support and determination are given by the truckloads. So much so that the bhakti yogi becomes even more grateful and genuinely feels that they can never reciprocate adequately.

This is when the possibility of truly becoming selfless can actually become a reality. Such persons have the capacity to be truly selfless and expect nothing in return because they are already in a relationship with someone who is not only reciprocating with them but going above and beyond - the Divine. In this way, such a bhakti yogi just "pays it forward" and helps others.

Such is the power of the reciprocation loop. By offering our heart and attitude to the Divine we can become strong and empowered individuals who are empowered to help others. All we have to do, is try...

Friday, August 9, 2013

the mighty trio

Verse 4.10: Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me — and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.

Attachment, fear and anger - or as I call them - the mighty trio. These three emotions and characteristics have the capacity to steal away all reason and intelligence. In fact, as readers might remember, two of these three characteristics (attachment and anger) are also members of "the attachment trap".

It's not so much that these qualities or emotions are good or bad in and of themselves. It's the fact that one emotion leads to another which can ultimately lead to stress and complete frustration.

The cycle tends to go as such:

As was previous explained, attachment arises due to the contemplation of objects which we believe will satisfy and make us happy. Once attachment takes root, that's when the chaos can start to manifest. Take for example a small child. They might be perfectly happy playing in their corner when they see a ball across the room. Looking at the ball, they start to make their way towards it when another child picks it up. At this point in time, some children, may start to cry and get upset.

This is actually very illustrative of what we all go through if we just seek to look a little deeper and analyze what is motivating the child's behaviour. Many might think the child is crying because they didn't get to play with the ball, but one could suggest that it's even more than that. It's the fact that the other child got to play with it.

That's where fear and anger step in because...

Attachment often instills a sense of possessiveness in an individual.

In other words, it's the mentality of "I've contemplated the object and therefore it is mine." What the bhakti texts teach us is that the moment we identify ourselves with something then fear is often a side dish that comes along, even though we haven't asked for it. We fear losing whatever we've become attached to and if anything appears to impede our enjoyment of that object then anger rears its ugly head.

The path of bhakti yoga reminds us that nothing in this world is ours to keep. This body and the world we live in is all on loan. Trying to exert ownership and control doesn't really help us.

For those who truly want to practice yoga, this is such an integral point. Yoga is about connection but almost more important than understanding that fundamental truth is understanding what it is that we should be trying to connect to.

Attachment is just one facet of connection but it's not the whole thing.

An attachment can be broken, but a connection, as per the definition of yoga, is rooted in permanency. That permanent connection that all souls are longing for is eternal love and the only person who can give it to us is the Divine. All of these other objects that we form attachments to can get in the way of our search for that love if we aren't careful.

So the next time you catch yourself falling into this trap of this mighty trio, take a step back and observe. Is this attachment helping you to become a selfless, compassionate and positive individual or is it serving to bring out the opposite in you?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

path to freedom

Verse 4.9: One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.

"Stop the world, I want to get off!" It's a thought that crosses my mind often. Normally this occurs when I'm experiencing a sense of frustration and disappointment with living life in this material world. To all those who are trying to practice the path of bhakti yoga, a word to the wise. Don't despair when encountering this since it can actually help you!

Although bhakti is about experiencing the positive, in order to do so, we must leave those things that hinder us behind.

Or in other words, the loss and emptiness that we may experience actually serves to help us if we look deeper than what meets the eye or emotion. It signifies that we deserve more than what this material world promises us and that we are the proverbial fish out of water.

We are eternal beings who are sojourning through this world. The soul is seeking permanency and shelter - a true home. Encased in this material body, we try to do our best to make our bodies our home to no avail. After all, ever body undergoes birth, death, disease and old age. So how does one get out and find their true home?

This verse gives the yoga seeker the "path to freedom". The Gita is teaching that by understanding the world of transcendence and the soul's connection with the Divine, just by remembering that at the time of death, one escapes the cycle of birth and death. It's a simple as that.

Although it sounds simple, it takes practice. After all, thinking of the Divine isn't as easy as turning a light switch off and on. Our minds are constantly filled with numerous thoughts and often they are the same ones running through over and over and over again. That is why the key practice in bhakti yoga is that of mantra meditation.

Sound has such a powerful effect and by repeating the maha mantra daily, it starts to remove the layers of dust off of our soul. That dust which has accumulated from numerous births is what prevents us from realizing that we are the soul and not this body.

In tandem with practicing mantra meditation, hearing and reading about the Divine fills one's thought with remembrance. By nature we are curious about others and so we can engage that natural propensity to learn more about the one who we've forgotten.

That's why the practice of bhakti yoga is so simple and joyful. It's about engaging our normal tendencies of hearing, talking and remembering and centering it around a focus point: the Divine. Just by doing that, we can leave this world of temporality behind and experience true eternality, knowledge and bliss.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Verse 4.8: To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.

Krsna is saying here, that He comes to deliver the pious and annihilate the miscreants. Those are some strong words and their meaning could very easily be misinterpreted to mean that the Divine which the bhakti texts speak of is not very compassionate. Nothing could actually be further from the truth.

This verse demonstrates exactly how loving and protective the Divine actually is.

To really understand what this verse means, it's important to understand what the words "pious" and "miscreants" mean as per the Gita. The pious, are those that are trying to live by the principles of humility, compassion, cleanliness, and truthfulness. They see everyone as spiritual sparks, worthy of their respect and try to live their lives as spiritual warriors who are empowered by grace. The miscreants, simply put, are those who try to destroy and hurt those who are trying to be pious.

I'd like to share a beautiful story that illustrates this point. In the great bhakti text known as the Srimad Bhagavatam, the life of a young bhakti yogi is described. At the tender age of five, a prince known as Prahalad became a great lover of the Divine. Despite his young age, he was greatly learned and shared his knowledge of bhakti yoga with his friends. However, Prahalad's father was, quite simply put, a terror. Thinking himself to be God, Prahalad's father (who was the king) would torture anyone who would say otherwise.

In fact, his father was so power mad and deluded that he actually started despising his own son since Prahalad accepted him to be his father, not God. Prahalad was continuously tortured in different ways such as being thrown off a cliff, into a pit of poisonous snakes, and was even fed poison. Every time though, by the grace of the actual Supreme, he was saved. This infuriated his father to no end.

Throughout all these trying times, Prahalad kept his calm and his faith never wavered. Can you imagine? Despite being exposed to such horrendous treatment, from his father no less, Prahalad never wished him any ill will. After so many failed attempts at killing his own son, his father demanded from him "Where is this Supreme you speak of? Is he in this pillar?" To this, his sweet son Prahalad replied, "Of course, the Divine is in everything." When his father rushed at the pillar with a weapon to break it, the Divine appeared and saved Prahalad once again.

I love this story since it illustrates just how personal and loving the Divine actually is. It also explains why He appears millennium after millennium. The Divine doesn't have to come personally to take care of trouble-makers, but he actually does so just to interact with those who are trying to love him. In fact, that's why the words "to deliver the pious" come first in this verse since it highlights what's dear to the heart of the Supreme.

That's how protective, loving and personal the Supreme actually is. So the next time you feel lonely or stressed, just remember: protection and care are just a mantra away.