Wednesday, July 21, 2010

III: 27

Chapter 3, Verse 27

"Actions are universally performed
By the three modes [Gunas] of primordial nature;
But those deluded by ego-consciousness
Imagine, 'I am the doer.' "

Ram Dass:

"Krishna is saying in so many words, 'Look, you're not doing anything. It's a delusion to imagine that you are. You're not the actor. What's happening is just a sum total of millions of laws playing themselves out through you.'

Once we see this, really see it, we're home free, because our sense of 'I' acting in the world has been stripped away.

We can turn whatever we do every day into a path to God. Krishna has given Arjuna and us two instructions so far for how to go about doing this. First, we listen to hear what our Dharma is, and we try to become harmonious with that through our actions. Next, we perform each act as purely as we can, without thinking of reward. But there is one more key instruction in this practice of Karma Yoga, and it's the one that transforms everything to another level. Not only do we do our Dharma and act without regard to its fruits; in addition to that, we act with the frame of mind that we ourselves are not the actors. The actions are happening through us, but we aren't doing them. We have stepped out of the way.

So the Karma Yogi is the person who uses the situations in life to come to God by listening for the Dharmic act, acting without attachment to the outcome, all the while understanding that doership is an illusion. This, in a nutshell, is the formula for turning our lives around and making them our practice."


Jessica Noggle said...

Krishna, can the other two aspects still be engaged if it's not one's own Dharma being acted out? (I hope so!) Distinguishing one's own Dharma from others can be tricky.

That being said, I know the Gita emphasizes it's better to act out one's own Dharma imperfectly than act out another's Dharma perfectly. This kinda freaks me out.

Krishna Jaya said...

Arjuna's initial crisis is about his Dharma: to fight or to renounce the battle and join the begging profession. He's a practical man of action and wants a specific answer. He wants a rule, a Dharma.

Sri Aurobindo:

"Arjuna does not ask for the secret of life, the meaning and purpose of it all, but for a Dharma. Yet it is precisely this secret for which he does not ask to which Krishna intends to lead his student; for he will teach him to give up all rules except the one broad and vast Dharma of living consciously in the divine and acting from that consciousness."

Krishna closes chapter six with this advice for Arjuna:

"Be a Yogi, Arjuna, greater than the one who mortifies the body,
greater than the learned, and greater than the doer of good works. And the greatest Yogi gives me all his heart. He worships me in faith and love. That Yogi, above every other, I call my very own."

It's tricky because "Dharma" has more than one level of meaning. Fulfilling one's individual Dharma, one's specific, optimal road to God can be difficult to discern because of the pressures from outside: parental, peer, societal, etc. But if we recognize that our number one priority is to love God in the world, in our neighbors, and in ourselves, outside pressures and norms ("be attractive, be an achiever, be affluent!" etc.) will lose their power to distract and we will naturally fall into sync with that specific, optimal path, and though we will stumble, we will know we're on the right track.

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