Tuesday, January 15, 2013

VII: 1



Verse 1

Krishna says,

"Devote your whole heart to me,
And practice Yoga.
Take me for your refuge.
By doing these things,
You shall have the full vision of me.
There is no doubt about it.

Swami Shivananda:

Those who practice Yoga steadfastly, taking refuge in the Lord alone, with their minds wholly fixed on him and his lofty attributes, such as infinite love and patience, beauty, grace, omnipresence, mercy, strength, inexhaustible abundance, ineffable splendor, glory and purity cannot bear separation from him for even a moment.

The ordinary servant of an ordinary king, though constantly engaged in service, does not have his mind fixed on the king.  His mind is fixed, rather, on his wife, his children and their dramas.  Unlike him, fix your mind on the Supreme Lord.  Take refuge in him alone.  Then you will know him and his infinite attributes.  Sing the glory and attributes of the Lord, develop deep love for him, and then your mind will be ever fixed on him.

Paramahansa Yogananda:

I knew a Yoga practitioner in India who for years so enjoyed the practice of Yoga techniques that he forgot to love God.  He was a spiritual robot, accomplished in the mechanics of Yoga, but lacking its heart and spirit, which is God-communion.

Freedom is a sum total of the Yogi's wholehearted effort and the grace of God.  The Lord is the maker of the laws of salvation.  It is necessary to practice Yoga techniques with faith and devotion in order to reach the all-knowing Lord.  Divine grace will follow.  Yoga should therefore be practiced with the deepest love and spiritual thirst for the Lord of all.

Sri Eknath Easwaran:

Arjuna is every man and every woman.  In The Bhagavad Gita we have slipped into his heart to listen in on a dialogue between levels of our own consciousness.  The voice we recognize belongs to the surface level of awareness, intelligent and well-intentioned, but full of doubts about the meaning of life and how we ought to live.  The other voice, so full of wisdom, is the voice of our real Self, whether we call him/her Krishna, Christ, Allah, Buddha, Divine Mother, or something else.

As long as we live for ourselves, dwelling on our own separate needs and problems to the exclusion of larger wholes, we cannot help but to identify with our apparent selves.  It is very much like wearing a mask too long, so long that we think we are the mask and forget our supreme identity.  However, through the practice of meditation and its allied disciplines, all of us can learn to take off these masks and discover beneath them our real Self, the Atman, Source of all love, security, wisdom and joy.

Ram Dass:

The ego is an actor by trade.  As children learning to define this amorphous thing that we call our "selves," and to locate our place in the world, we are taught to draw boundaries across reality, gradually narrowing what we call "me" to the narrow confines of the ego.  Once "separated" from the world "out there," and all of the other people in it, we proceed to construct an identity based on our likes and dislikes, the lessons we're taught, the requirements of environment, our physical attributes, inherited traits and experiences, as well as the myriad other conditions that determine our material and mental/emotional existence.

In this process of formation, the ego can be compared to an actor preparing for the stage.  It selects costumes, learns its lines, its timing, its gestures, its way of movement, even the choices of roles it may play when it leaves the dressing room and stands before an audience of other egos across the footlights.  Unlike an actor, however, who realizes that he or she is onstage playing a role, we tend to forget who we really are once we've taken the stage, like one whose mask becomes stuck to his face, hiding the true face underneath.

[I watched The Twilight Zone as a kid when it first came out.  I only remember two episodes from that time.  Those memories are available only because of the angst I experienced while watching them.  One was about a gremlin on the wing of a plane seen by William Shatner in a window seat.  The other was about a group of actors who put on a play about monsters.  Each wore an elaborate monster mask over the face.  After the show, they were in the dressing room, taking off their costumes and getting ready to call it a day.  The make-up was very creative; each face had been done up to portray frightening, Halloween-like spooks.  The final scene  packed such a wallop that I remember it to this day, some fifty years later.  They couldn't get the monster masks to come off.  They were stuck fast.

Krishna assures us that no matter how deeply we become mired in the quicksand of illusion (exclusive identification with the mind/body complex), the immortal spark remains ever alive in our heart of hearts.  When we eventually "hit bottom," we will be ready to embark upon the long road to the mountain peak of Self-realization.  This should not make us complacent, though, for the deeper we sink, the more work will there be to  pry off the masks of Maya.]

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