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Gita Talk #7: What’s Your Favorite Passage?

What a great discussion in Gita Talk #6!  Let’s stick with Chapter 6 for another week. 

This time you pick the stanza you want to talk about.   It can be your favorite passage.  Or it can be a stanza you find troubling or difficult.  You choose. 

I’ll start.  This my favorite passage in chapter 6:

Mature in yoga, impartial
everywhere that he looks,
he sees himself in all beings
and all beings in himself.

The man who sees me in everything
and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor
will I ever be lost to him.

He who is rooted in oneness
realizes that I am
in every being; wherever
he goes, he remains with me.

When he sees all beings as equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga.

(BG 6.29-32)

Here’s what Eknath Easwaran writes about Chapter 6 in his translation of the Gita:

This is surely one of the most intriguing chapters of the Gita, for here we are given a detailed explanation of meditation addressed to the layperson.  The same meditation techniques are given in more esoteric writings, such as the “Yoga Sutra” of Patanjali, but the Gita does it more simply, without any unnecessary mystery or complexity.

When was the last time you heard the Gita referred to as less mysterious or complex than the Yoga Sutra?  This turns the conventional viewpoint on its head–that the Gita is less read because it’s more mysterious and complex than the Sutra.

My own experience is that the Gita and the Upanishads are just as accessible as the Yoga Sutra, if not more so, once one gets used to their rich metaphorical language. Of course, all three are indispensable.

Now, please tell your favorite passage, or one you’d like to ask questions about.  Or just tell us anything else that’s on your mind about the Gita.  We welcome all your comments, long or short.

 For next week please read Chapter 7, p. 99-105.

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45 replies on “Gita Talk #7: What’s Your Favorite Passage?”

I also love the passage:
When a man has mastered himself
he is perfectly at ease in cold,
in heat, in pleasure of pain,
in honor or disgrace.

Feeling at ease when in disgrace seems almost impossible…but this chapter gives a path to that end. Who hasn't said something foolish and regretted it for ages, or maybe worse…made a major mistake that caused serious pain to others. Many years ago I read of a woman who backed her car out of the garage, and ran over (and killed) her two grandchildren. So many times I have asked myself what I would have done in that circumstance…and could only come up with the idea of suicide. Although terribly hard, the Gita does give an alternative.

Margann, your example, is the extreme tragedy and I honestly don't think I could ever in this lifetime get past something like. A moment's inattention and unbelievable harm done to loved ones!!

I think though for most situations this is something that we almost have to do in life to keep our hearts open and keep joy in our lives. Once again for me, yoga and the Gita just making life better!!

Krishna says in the final verse Chapter 6 (v.47):

“Practice yoga sincerely,
with singleminded devotion;
love me with perfect faith;
bring your whole self to me.”

S. Radhakrishnan’s commentary of this Verse states: “After giving a long account of the yoga discipline, the obstacles to be overcome, the teacher concludes that the great yogin is the great devotee. (bhakta).”

One thing I love about the Gita, is that Krishna never says that there is only one way to know God; instead He continually gives different methodologies so that any sincere practitioner may gain enlightenment.

After presenting a number of practices in Chap. 6, Krishna gives yet a final teaching in Verse 47. It brings me a tremendous amount of hope. To me personally, it says, “ Do the very best you honestly can and simply love me with all your might. You’ll be fine.” In the end, I feel that the power of devotion is enough to allow the practitioner the means to transcend personal shortcomings and obstacles along the Path. It opens one’s entire being to the reality of Divine Love.

Meaghan and Bob – those are beautiful gems, thank you.

A section that stood out for me is on p 92 of Mitchell (6.19-23):

"A lamp sheltered from the wind
which does not flicker" — to this
is compared the true man of yoga
whose mind has vanished in the Self.

When his mind has become serene
by the practice of meditation,
he sees the Self through the self
and rests in the Self, rejoicing.

He knows the infinite joy
that is reached by the understanding
beyond the senses: steadfast,
he does not fall back from the truth.

Attaining this state, he knows
that there is no higher attainment;
he is rooted there, unshaken
even by the deepest sorrow.

This is true yoga: the unbinding
of the bonds of sorrow. Practice
this yoga with determination
and with a courageous heart.

It's the line about unbinding the bonds of sorrow that strikes me most deeply. It echoes the promise of the Buddha and Patanjali that there can be an end to suffering. Could there be any greater gift?

On a very small level, I have experienced some reduction in my own suffering as a result of practice and the grace of my teachers. I no longer loathe myself — which is like a miracle that has completely transformed my experience of my life.

While I have hardly "vanished into the Self" or come anywhere close to the wisdom the Gita describes, I have glimpsed a small truth that I cannot fall back from — and for that, I am extremely grateful.

That's powerful stuff, svan. Thanks for sharing it with us.

I personally believe that not even the greatest of gurus permanently "vanishes into the Self" (and the gurus who portray themselves that way are just putting on a show.)

On the other hand, I believe that even the most seemingly non-spiritual person tends to "vanish into the Self" when looking out over the Grand Canyon, for example.

Bob Weisenberg

BG.6.20 (when his mind becomes serene..)
is the passage that resonates with me the most I think, because I'm greatful of having experienced it.
I'm not agreeing with the part saying its necessary to get rid of all desires, fully detach youself. I think desires make us more alive, and if one has a healthy attitude no harm is done.

paramsangat, Yes, when I read the Gita and encounter passages talking about ridding oneself of all desires and being totally detached, I have to remind myself it's just talking about the Self, not the self.

It's talking about the "witness consciousness", the ability to step outside oneself and look back objectively, as described in Highlights (Gita Talk #4): … “Dealing with Our Emotions”. (If I were into real repression of desire I could have stuck with the ultra-traditional Catholicism of my youth.)

Being able to step outside ourselves does have a strong impact on our desires. It might increase some and diminish others as we are able to objectively see how they're affecting us. But that's very different than repressing them.

Bob Weisenberg

Thanks Bob!

hahahaha (the Ultra-Catholic comment) 🙂

Yeah, I feel the G is alil unclear with that detatched/desires-part (I'm curious about reading it again with your comment in mind, good!) but the thing about stepping outside to witness is what I meant with the "Heathly attitude".. so cool. Thanks for clarifying, excellent. Now I have an even deeper understanding than before. Wow! the thing I thought was "missing" was there all along.. hahaha.. cool, now I can agree 🙂

The Gita is never going to win any awards for logical consistency. Some scholars think there were multiple authors with multiple agendas. And there are different types of Yoga portrayed, some of which are on the heavily ascetic denial side of the spectrum.

So in the end, you can only look at the Gita as a whole, as clarified by other texts like the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutra ( even by Hindu mythology, which is very highly sensual), and then decide on what makes sense for you.

Bob Weisenberg

I very glad it's helpful to you, paramsangat. Thanks for being here.

Remember too that for every thing we discuss together there are many other readers who are getting a lot out of it, too. I get a lot of message on Facebook saying, "I haven't had anything to comment on, but reading others' comments has been great."

Hi, lighthasmass. Thanks for leaving a comment that you were here. I like it when readers do that.

Please do me a favor and tell our other friends from the Yoga Journal Community to come over here and check out Gita Talk. (Of course, maybe lots of them are already coming here and I just have no way of knowing it. That's why I like even "Hi, I was here" type comments!) I will posting Gita Talk #7 over there tomorrow.

Bob Weisenberg

Hi! I'm really enjoying this discussion. I read the Gita for the first time a little over a month ago and have reread it once since. I don't have a favorite passage yet but find the whole book to be so powerful. Thank you.

When ever I am in thinking about the events of the day and ponder upon the way to deal then read some of the para of BG you get the solution to deal

We lost the thread on the nature of the transcendent we were beginning to develop… guess the program crashes when there are too many posts. So we can take it up later. Here's my favorite stanza in Chapter Six:

Striving, with constant effort,
cleansing himself of all sin,
through many lifetimes, at last
he attains the ultimate goal.

No, it was #6. Got to where it would not sort by latest activity and it would not accept a post. Happened after many posts, the error message said my browser was not reading Java or was loading comments too slowly. I figured it was the latter and was a function of too many comments to load. The program may have a top end limit due to speed.

Please do me a favor, Greg. Try to leave a comment on #6 again. I was told by Intense Debate they had fixed the problem, but it's unclear whether that was before or after you tried. If you still have difficulties, I'll tell them they need to keep working on the problem.

Thanks,

Bob

2.31-32

Know what your duty is
and do it without hesitation.
For a warrior, there is nothing better
than a battle that duty enjoins.

Blessed are the warriors who are given
the chance of a battle like this.
which calls them to do what is right
and open the gates of heaven.

I have been sitting with these versus for the last 5 months. 3 months in Costa RIca inspired me to create a six-week workshop around these words. "The Warrior Within – Awakening Intention Through Empowerment." When someone finds their duty – it becomes an honor to live, to breathe.

Hi, Jessica. What an interesting interpretation and workshop! A couple of blogs ago we had a big discussion about this word "duty", some pro and some con. It all seems to depend on how one defines it.

I personally like the word "purpose" better, because it's more positive and less likely to be misinterpreted as blind obedience the way some people read "duty".

Thanks for writing. Glad you're here. Please come again often.

Bob Weisenberg

Krishnas' reply to Arjunas' question about the restless mind 33-36. Krishna says
You are right Arjuna, the mind is restless and hard to master but by constant practice and detatchment it can be mastered in the end.
Firstly i love that little banter between Arjuna and Krishna, they love each other so much and it shows in that exchange, then Krishna agrees with Arjuna, yes it is hard,and thats something i dont hear a lot in yoga classes and in philosophy discourses, when someone says its hard or they are not getting it no one usually says hey you are right this is really hard stuff but here when Krishna acknowledges that fact the heart melts and then the heart opens to what Krishna says next, constant practice, and by now Krishna has given us lots to practice, but this chapter is about meditation and detatchment. They go hand in hand , the more meditation i do the more i start to understand the things that bind my thoughts and actions (cont.)

. (cont) There has already been some discussion about desires and attatchments but i think whatever desire or attatchment is holding me back, whatever feels hard to do , whenever my mind come up with a million excuses to justify some craving desire or attachment then i know there is work to be done- constant practice and meditation. As Ghandi said "renounce and enjoy.' ( wouldn't a spellcheck be great here)

Great thoughts, Sevapuri. "Renounce and enjoy"! How different this is than "Repress, don't bother trying, pretend it doesn't exist, and don't enjoy anything."

Simple example: How much more do I enjoy tennis when my ego is unattached to the results, even though I'm trying my best to win every point. I didn't enjoy tennis nearly as much before Yoga, when my sense of self-worth, believe it or not, was dependent on winning. But I've detached my ego from the results, I've renounced my ego, not renounced the activity or the enjoyment itself.

Bob Weisenberg
YogaDemystified.com

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