Thursday, April 25, 2013

anchoring our consciousness

Verse 2.67: As a strong wind sweeps away a boat on the water, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man's intelligence.

Here, the Gita is so beautifully illustrating the characteristics of the senses. Like the wind, they can be strong, forceful and unexpected. Previously compared to a snake, the senses can charm us, deceive us and strike us when we are at our weakest.

This is the Gita at it's best- practical and relatable. It puts concepts and ideas that we may have trouble grasping, into perspectives we can relate to. Since many of us identify ourselves with our senses, it can be hard for some of us to realize that the senses often control us, as opposed to the other way around. In this case, when the senses are compared to things we have personally observed or heard about, it encourages us to look at them from a different perspective. Instead of forcing us "to accept the truth", the Gita instead guides us to discover it for ourselves.

So what is it that can prevent us from being carried away by our wind-like senses? An anchor. Something heavy and solid that will ground us. Sometimes, yogis mistakenly think that the only way to anchor the senses is to stop them from functioning altogether. For most of us, this is next to impossible and highly impractical when thinking long term cessation. The Gita presents a more practical approach which doesn't prevent the boat of our body from moving or functioning normally. Instead of stopping everything in order to control the senses, the Gita teaches us to anchor our consciousness. Instead of letting our consciousness run wild with the "what's in it for me" attitude infusing all our actions and behaviour, instead we anchor our consciousness to the Divine. Just like the wind can be harnessed for electricity and power, similarly our senses can be harnessed to engage in activities that further us in our path of self-realization.

Instead of just giving in to the random demands of the body, we can act with the understanding that true happiness lies in satisfying the needs of the soul, not just the body. This brings about balance in one's life. One cannot artificially ignore the demands of the body, but one should also not neglect the soul which is screaming for nourishment and attention. By harnessing the senses, one can live a life of balance where both body and soul are looked after properly.

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