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When I was 3-4 years into my Tai chi journey, my first teacher's recommendation of "letting go" became very real for me. I realized that I had to "let go", in order to become empty (which is a big deal for tai chi/dao people) The baffling thing for me was, "How do I let go?" I'd ask my teacher and he would say "just let go", but I didn't understand what he meant exactly then. My present teacher too says, "letting go is easy, but is also kind of hard at the same time". I think the following section does a good job of explaining to me how to let go. The Sage Ashtāvakra, whose compendium (samhita), also known as Ashtāvakra Gita, is known for his simple and direct teachings of Nonduality. Now, Ashtāvakra is considered to be for those who have already spent significant time following the tripartite course of listening (to advaita teachings), contemplating (upon those teachings and understanding them intellectually) and meditation (making the teachings a living reality). The great Swami Chinmayānanda (founder of the Chinmāya Mission), wrote a beautiful commentary on the Ashtāvakra Gita, which is the reference material for this post. Ashtāvakra outlines 5 principles or guidelines by which one can let go of all phenomenal attachments. Ashtāvakra says, if your senses and mind are attached to any object, those objects are essentially poison (they bind you). So, they have to be let go. Here are his five principles (my own understanding of them) -- kshamā or forgiveness -- when something wrong happens through you, and you are aware of it, it is the hardest thing to forgive yourself for it. Forgive yourself. Not being able to forgive yourself, you bind yourself to the past. Arjava or sincerity -- Perform every action with full awareness. That itself is sincerity. Since you already know your true nature as being the ever-free awareness, when you operate from that point of presence, all action becomes totally sincere and pure (and nothing bad will come from it). Dayā or Compassion -- Don't be hard on yourself or others. Be compassionate towards all, including yourself. This rises from the understanding that there IS no one or nothing apart from you. So how can we be anything but compassionate? Thosha or Contentment -- Maintain the sense of fulfillment and contentment in your life, whatever the circumstances. If life's ups and downs frustrate you, then how can you remain compassionate? The example given is, consider that you are going to die in 10 days. What would your priorities be? Would you worry about property and money or what you eat etc? Be happy and live each day as it is, with full acceptance and joy. Truth -- What is truth? Whatever is, right now, in the present moment. Everything else is ephemeral. Change is inevitable. Death is inevitable. The body changes? The people change. Everything changes. Only what is now is real. Hold on to that.
Gita 2nd chapter talks about "stitha prajna" in length -- beautiful words on being steadfast, unshakeable. Not letting external factors (example: as simple as weather -- seedoshna ) affecting the inner core, resulting in suka and dukha. Letting them happen at surface level, sounds easier said than done. I had a transitory experience for few days last month, it felt like nothing can touch the inside or core it was separate & unshakeable, things were happening around it. The state reminded me of "stitha prajna" from Gita. Can such steadfastness come and go? It was like I was given me free sample packet, that lasted only few days --perhaps to show me what I need to work for! Now, I want that back (lasting) and willing to pay the price. This brought up another question. When I want 'something' (anything), what is standing in between me and the attainment of that 'something', assuming I am willing to put in the effort or pay the price. The obstacles, are these karma? lack of will power? if anyone would to share, how or what it takes to attain this state. Is it tapas (austerities) that makes one get to that state? I am looking for an answer that is more than "just do the karma yoga...". Perhaps an illustration or example, how to get to that point B (stitha prajna), from point A, how some one got there.
s1va posted a topic in Hindu DiscussionI know that there are many gitas in the puranas. Evern Krishna has given at least one more gita. The uttara gita, I think it was given to Uddhava. I have even a book on the Bhikshu Gita. That's right, a Gita given by a beggar or a mendicant, that imparts knowledge. Doesn't matter who imparts knowledge essentially, that removes ignorance. The word or even the dictionary definition for Gita, has become synonymous with the Bhagavad Gita, the one that was imparted to Arjuna during the war. Definitely, there is charm in this Srimad Bhagavad Gita that shines among others. When I first attempted to interpret on my own, just with english translated words, that did not go really well. The bhashya or commentary by teacher's certainly help. There are numerous bhashyas, commentaries, interpretations and translations of gita or talks given on gita. Sri Adi Sankara's commentary was later used by many to elaborate. From Sri Vaishnava tradition, there is the Taathparya Chandrikai by Vedanta Desikan (something I have heard only very little on talks). I believe all of these commentaries have their own merits. Each one serves us in different way at different times. I wanted to share some of the one's that I turn to when I want to read or refer on gita. The following 3 are some. 1) Talks given by Swami Chinmayananda on Gita, later compiled as books. 2) Commentaries by Swami Dayananda Saraswati later compiled as book 3) English translation (from Marati) of Jnaneshwar Maharaj's gita Assuming you have Bhagavad Gita, in any format, in any language, I am just curious to know which one's you have? Which one's touched your heart or made a transformation, that you would you like to share with others? It can even be one or few verses from a certain book.
s1va posted a topic in General DiscussionThe above verses from bhagavad gita, one from chapter 3 and the other from chapter 18, look the same to me. Anyway, the message conveyed it seems to be is to perform activities (all in the world in accordance with one's one inherent nature. It says, better die, than doing something that is not natural to you. This is interpreted in n number of ways. Some traditional religious say, we get the swadharma by birth. Other's say, it's not by ones birth, but based on one's gunas or vasanas (impressions) carried from the past (lives?). Swami Chinmayananda explains these verses beautifully in his Gita talks. I have also heard some analogies. The essential nature (swadharma) of poisonous snake is poison. The swadharma (essential nature) of bitter gourd is it's own unique flavor of bitterness. Similarly, everything and every one in the universe seems to have their own essential nature or swadharma. This is the way, I understand it. I read an interesting article about winners of huge lotteries. A study was conducted to see, how they were after a decade or two. The results were nothing but disturbing. While a minority seemed to have taken the sudden shift in life well, adjusted and carried on with their lifes, turning lottery winnings to their advantage. It was described that majority of these huge lottery winners were not living a happy life after a decade or more. That may be an understatement. Many expressed that they wish they never won the lottery. Some said, they were isolated from their family and friends. Some it seems got addicted to drugs or whatever and died within the decade. Money as a goal by itself does not seem to be the goal with just this lottery example. In the context of this, looking at the words from gita, the strong words does seem to make sense. It is better to die doing what is aligned with ones own nature; or the essence of one, rather doing something that is unnatural though it could be profitable. Here is the confusions that I have. Sometimes, it is not clear as to what one's swadharma or essential nature is. At least, I get confused. Some work that I do, feels like, it is not my swadharma at all. There is an expressing, working for the paycheck. People want early retirement. On the other hand, I see some working passionately in their late 70s or 80s. Even though their body is giving up, they don't want to stop their work. Many of these people have money to retire, and it doesn't seem that they are working for money. Sometimes we feel that we know what our swadharma is. Other times it is not clear. Not knowing what swadharma is, one engages in worldly activities including work. Working to make money, work that is not in alignment with the person's nature. There is suffering and misery. There is a longing for the weekend. Monday morning anxiety or anxiety or whatever. Some people watch the clock (nothing wrong in this). At 5 PM, they get up and leave. It seems that they were tied to that seat til 5 PM. At 5:01, it feels like release, freedom, get up and leave. Is this the right way to live the life. On the other side, a grihasta or house holder has duties to perform. Take care of one's family, provide for them the life style they are used to. Strive to provide at least. Therefore invariably, many end up doing what they do not enjoy to make the life style demanded by their circumstances. Many a times it does feel like the camel walking slow with heavy burden that he has described. He hits the nail (swadharma) with the words "his dharma-be". Clearly stating that when one performs against his "dharma-be" as he calls it, results in lethargy, despair, etc. Seems in-line with the words from gita. The solution presented on the book, is prayer. Yes, prayer does help. So does meditation, yoga, etc. But, even after performing these (may be more time and patience is needed), one is struggling to find what his swadharma is. Trying to get the balance of performaing according to one's nature (if it is known) and balancing the needs (duties) that one has to perform towards his family & society. What is the way to find one's swadharma? What is the right duty for each person? How does one conclude some work is his swadharma or not? How to balance it with the duties of a house holder? The answers to my questions may already be there on gita itself, may be I can't grasp it. Would love to hear the views (answers?), from others on this topic...