Thursday, March 13, 2014

custom made

Verse 4.32: All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and all of them are born of different types of work. Knowing them as such, you will become liberated.

Over the past several verses, the Gita has outlined the various ways in which an individual can perform sacrifice. Whether it be by selectively exposing oneself to certain sound vibrations, not giving into every whim and fancy of the mind's demands, or practicing breath control, these are just some of the ways one can practice sacrifice.

What is amazing about the different options presented is that fact that:

Different types of sacrifice, as discussed above, are mentioned in the Vedas to suit the different types of worker...these sacrifices are so arranged that one can work either with the body, with the mind or with the intelligence. (Bg. 4.32 purport)

I love this primarily because it means there's something for everyone. This aspect of personalizing and custom-tailoring any practice is so attractive because it takes into account the fact that every living entity, what to speak of every person, is unique and special.

That's what bhakti is all about - addressing the fundamentals that unite all of us in a very personal way. In this case, the various options outlined for performing sacrifice speaks to the fundamental truth that we are all individuals. What works for someone else may not necessarily work for us. This is something we've all had first hand experience of!

I first discovered this when I was going to school. The way in which the majority of school systems are set up are targeted to a certain type of individual - one that can copy down endless notes and excel when placed in exam environments. But what about those who learn visually? Or those who learn tactically? Or those who cannot handle exam situations? The list can go on and on. Thankfully educators are understanding this more and more and the hope is that in the future there will be programs to address this need.

Bhakti yoga has addressed and continues to address this need to craft a personalized program according to the nature and inclination of a person. It does so not only in the arena of sacrifice but in all the various components that serve to comprise the practice of being able to serve with love and gratitude.

It reminds me of a quote which I'll end with today. Something that captures this essence and always fills me with a sense of hope and inspiration:

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 the key to happiness?

Verse 4.31: O best of the Kuru dynasty, without sacrifice one can never live happily on this planet or in this life: what then of the next?

It's been awhile since I've written my last post and I'd like to extend my apologies to everydaygita's regular readers. Although it wasn't intentional, this break from writing has filled with me more experiences of seeing the Gita in action. That said, you would think that I would be bubbling over with words and that the greatest challenge I would be facing right now is to stop myself from writing a 10 page essay!

Instead, I'm finding it hard to shake off the cobwebs that form whenever I stop writing and quite confronting to stare at the blinking courser which seems to be taunting me to come up with the right words.

At this moment, I can totally relate with the subject of sacrifice!

Writing on the Gita always brings me a deep sense of satisfaction and happiness. As opposed to just reading some words, appreciating them for a few minutes and then forgetting about them, writing compels me to personalize and internalize the Gita's teachings. In short, it forces me to use my intelligence!

All of us discover new connections and experience new realizations frequently. But if you're anything like me, it's easy to forget them if they are not written down immediately. The process of capturing those feelings and emotions in an articulate manner leaves a lasting effect.

But to get there requires sacrifice. For me, it's the sacrifice of reading the Gita, introspecting on the meaning, praying for realizations, and setting aside time to journal them here.

It's a pretty simple yet apt analogy for illustrating how sacrifice is required to achieve happiness. For those who long for eternal happiness, the same formula holds true - it too requires sacrifice, and as the bhakti yoga texts explain, requires that we understand a couple of things:

1. The happiness that we experience when we are live in the mind-set of "I am this body" is temporary. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just not ever-lasting.

2. To experience ever-lasting happiness, we have to realize that we are the soul and not this body. That comes by associating with those persons who have already realized this (i.e. advanced bhakti yogis) and engaging in the practice of mantra meditation which helps us to re-connect with our souls.

3. Eternal happiness requires that we sacrifice temporary happiness. But just like writing, the process is not painful. It may a bit uncomfortable when we begin, but as it becomes more consistent, the process itself is blissful.

So whether you are looking for happiness in certain aspects of your life or are looking for the ultimate, everlasting kind, just remember one thing. The process of sacrificing may seem uncomfortable or even painful at first, but give it some time. You may be surprised to realize that sacrifice itself can be blissful.