Verse 4.33: O chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice performed in knowledge is better than the mere sacrifice of material possessions. After all, O son of Pṛthā, all sacrifices of work culminate in transcendental knowledge.
I read a beautiful blog post by a teacher today. He was speaking about how important school is, but not for the reasons a student might think. He spoke of how every mundane activity such as going to class, studying for an exam or listening to a teacher's advice actually has a much deeper meaning. In particular, when it came to discussing the need to study, he emphasized how it isn't the mark you get that's the "win". It's about taking advantage of of an opportunity to practice a life skill - that of sacrificing time and effort to master something that may seem impossible without succumbing to distractions, or worse yet the feeling of "I can't do it".
How fitting that it ties in so well with today's subject where Krsna is telling Arjuna that sacrifice performed in knowledge is a much better way to act! Or in other words:
Doing something with understanding is much better than just doing it
This may seem ridiculously intuitive to some, but I'll be the first to admit, I struggle with this for a couple of reasons. For one thing, society doesn't really encourage us to question and look deeper than what meets the eye. Secondly, if one does attempt to look deeper, in some cases that understanding may not come right away and could require an investment of time and effort and who wants to do that! In a world where we want things immediately, it doesn't satisfy persons such as myself.
That said, in those instances where I've sought to understand why I'm doing something before doing it, I've noticed that I get a much more holistic picture of life. No longer does that simple action stand separated from everything else, but instead I gain insight into how my actions in one area of my life can be reflective of those in another.
When I started writing, I didn't just start writing. I sat down and clearly figured out what I wanted to accomplish which was pretty simple - I wanted to share my own love and appreciation for the Gita in a way that made it practical and relevant to everyday life. Now, whatever I write, I filter through that lens and if it doesn't meet that intention, I don't publish it. This theme of practical and relevant has now seeped into all other spheres of my life. Whoever I speak to, whether it's giving a workshop or offering advice to a friend, practical and relevant has become my motto.
All of us do things on a regular, if not daily basis. But have you ever really asked yourself why you do it? If you haven't, I extend the invitation to you to ask. You might be surprised by what you find if you understand first and then act with that understanding.
(If you'd like to read the article I alluded to in the beginning, please find it here: http://affectiveliving.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/what-students-really-need-to-hear/)