Wednesday, September 21, 2011

V: 2

Chapter 5, Verse

Krishna says,

"Action rightly renounced
Brings freedom.
Action rightly performed
Likewise brings freedom.
Of the two,
Karma Yoga is better."

[I don't resonate very well with the idea of one path being pronounced "better" than another, because it's a set-up for the competing schools to miss the forest for the trees. In light of this feeling, I originally chose Prabhavananda & Isherwood's translation of Krishna's words here: "Both are better than the mere shunning of action." However, most of the translations are more in keeping with the spirit of the one chosen. In a general sense, Karma Yoga may be said to be better, but when we consider a person's own, particular Karmic package, generalities are helpful only up to a point. This reminds me of one of Krishna's earlier statements (III: 35) that it is better to do one's own Dharma poorly than to do the Dharma of another impeccably. For some, "action rightly renounced" is "better," simply because it is the most harmonious way for them to deal with their particular constellation of Samskaras (Karmic prints or impressions in the mind). For the large majority of us, however, Karma Yoga is "better" for the same reason.]

Sri Eknath Easwaran:

"The world has become so difficult and so violent that no one today can afford to drop out. We all need to make a contribution. Each one of us can change the world by changing himself or herself a little. When I can express to others love instead of criticism, I not only change myself, but also those who come into contact with me. I have changed my environment. In everything I do everyday, I am affecting my environment for good or for ill.

It is difficult for us to understand those rare beings who help people around them simply by their very presence. Ramana Maharshi was one of these. Many would come to see him who were sore in spirit, insecure, and/or resentful, having knocked on many other doors without getting relief. Some approached Maharshi as a last resort, sat and looked at him, and came out with their burdens lifted, with their hearts strengthened, and their spirits soaring.

A distinguished philosopher [Paul Brunton] once went to Maharshi with his pocket bulging with a series of questions. With utter simplicity, he relates how he looked at Maharshi, kept looking at him, and found that none of his questions mattered."

Paul Brunton:

"Pin-drop silence prevails throughout the hall. The sage remains perfectly still, motionless, quite undisturbed by my arrival. Not once does he catch my gaze, for his eyes seem to look into infinitely remote space. The minutes creep by with unutterable slowness. First they mount up to a half-hour by the hermitage clock which hangs on a wall; this too passes by and becomes a whole hour. I reach of point of visual concentration where I have forgotten the existence of all save this silent figure on the couch. My offering of fruits remains unregarded on the small table which stands next to him.

There is something in this man which holds my attention as steel filings are held by a magnet. It is not till the second hour that I become aware of a silent, resistless change which is taking place within my mind. One by one, the questions which I have prepared with such meticulous precision drop away. It does not now seem to matter whether they are asked or not, and it does not seem to matter whether I solve the problems which have hitherto troubled me. I know only that a steady river of quietness is flowing near me, that a great peace is penetrating the inner reaches of my being, and that my thought-tortured brain is beginning to arrive at some rest. I perceive with sudden clarity that the intellect creates its own problems and then makes itself miserable trying to solve them. This is indeed a novel concept to enter the mind of one who has hitherto placed such a high value upon the intellect. I surrender myself to the steadily deepening sense of restfulness until two hours have passed. The passage of time provokes no irritation, because I feel that the chains of man-made problems are being broken and thrown away."

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