Thursday, May 9, 2013

putting the pieces together

Verse 3.5: Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.

Even though my background is biochemistry and I spent many years studying things on a molecular level, I've always been a big picture kind of gal. I appreciate the importance of understanding things and subjects individually, but let's face it: life's not like that. Life is a combination of so many different events, emotions, people and ideas. Understanding how different variables affect one another is integral to being able to handle whatever comes our way.

It's like a puzzle. A little child may, in the beginning, only focus on each individual piece of the puzzle, not realizing that there is a larger end goal. When gently guiding them and showing them how different pieces connect together, the child is given the precious gift of vision, of seeking out the bigger picture. This is exactly what the Gita does. Although many of us may have an idea of the different topics and subjects that the Gita presents such as karma, reincarnation, the soul, the importance of compassion etc., sometimes we struggle as to how to put it all together. What to speak of struggle, sometimes we have no clue that they can even be put together! Like the guide, parent or teacher who is helping the little child with the puzzle, the Gita not only teaches us the basics and fundamentals but gives the process by which we can understand how to put it all together to live a holistic life.

In Chapter 2, we were introduced to many different subjects. With the key basics having been explained, Chapter 3 will establish connections between the various processes and factors that we may have never realized affected one another. We'll hear of how certain seemingly disparate truths, actions and practices may result in positive synergy or antagonism in the practice of yoga.

Today's verse kicks off the journey into understanding how the pieces of the bhakti yoga puzzle fit together as it re-introduces the three modes of nature and how they force one to act. In yesterday's verse, we learned that merely abstaining from work or renouncing work is not the way to go. Another level of understanding is now being presented. Not only is that not recommended, it's impossible to do. Everyone is forced to work according to the modes of material nature.

Ok, I have to stop here and interject. This is what I ADORE about Krsna and the Gita! Krsna is the perfect teacher. We are first introduced to the ideas of abstaining from work and renouncing work as possibilities an aspiring yogi might present to not incur karma. They are not recommended. Then, the positive substitute is given to us which is to perform work (using our intelligence) in a spirit of gratitude without being attached to the results. Now, we get to understand exactly why renouncing and abstaining from work is not recommended - because it's not possible!

Isn't that incredible. The flow is just beautiful. Still a bit confused? It's like this. The Gita is saying that just "choosing" not to do something which is a part of our nature will not stop it from re-surfacing. For example, if our nature is to lead others and we are in charge of a project and just give it up for whatever reason (i.e. too stressful, time consuming, etc.,) that doesn't mean our inclination to lead others will disappear. In fact, if one's true nature is to be a leader,what often happens is that such persons end up finding another group or team to lead in a different area. It's just not possible to "kill" the qualities and propensities that we have. Instead, we transform those propensities them by shifting our consciousness and attitude.

As someone who tends to ask the question "Why?" a lot, these explanations and connections soothe my inquisitive heart and mind. As we continue our exploration into the Gita, we'll do our best to point out the deeper explanation as to why certain things are recommended and others are not.

Hoping this helped you in putting together a few more pieces of your personal bhakti puzzle together! If so, please feel free to share how in the comments!

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