There are many versions of the Bagavad Gita circulating, influencing the spiritual paths that millions choose to walk. A timeless text full of allegory and metaphors, it can speak to us at every level of our journey. Each time I read it I peel back another layer of the onion that is my spiritual casing.
I have digested a few copies in my lifetime, each taking me on a deeper journey down the rabbit hole. The version by Easwaren sits by my bedside, a simple read and translation, easily digestible in the moments before I retire for the night.
These last few weeks I have been ravenously digesting "God Talks With Arjuna: The Bagavad Gita" by Paramhansa Yogananda, in tandem with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I smile as the words wind their way through my consciousness as a much deeper understanding of each of the verses of this text is broken down in to the most minute of details. Suddenly simple phrases that I glossed over have taken on a whole new meaning.
I had been aware of some of the symbology of the great battle, one that represents the battle that happens within each and every one of us who are attempting to connect with our higher power in every day living. Yogananda takes it much deeper, dedicating time and intuitive insights to the symbology of each of the prominent characters within the text. You will relate to each and every one of them, the good and the evil, because they exist within us all.
This is not an intellectual thesis; this is based upon Yogananda's own deep intuitional dialogue with the truth at the heart of the matter. Listen deeply as you read and I trust you will feel the words yourself, in a space just behind the intellectual meaning of them.
"Material desire is the supreme ruler in the person who does not meditate."
Over the years I have meditated daily, and in the few years that I have been following the guidance of Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath the experience has become that much more blissful. But the path has not been devoid of challenges, and at times it has felt like there was nobody to turn to who could share their authentic experience of the path. At times it has been difficult to remind myself that I have been making progress when the din of life's responsibilities drown out the bliss on the dark days. Yogananda provides that voice of encouragement for me on many occasions and this book hits the mark beautifully for me. I seem to pick it up to read it and catch the exact words I need to hear that day.
"He feels distressed and bewildered realising he has neither passing pleasures, nor inner joys. Since he has neither, he pacifies his discouragement by proclaiming he wants neither. If he doesn't pull himself out of this indifference, he becomes a slothful devotee whose spiritual life will stagnate and die. But if he continues to persevere, he finds that this state is only a momentary vacuum in his sahdana ( spiritual practice )."
A few months ago I could not see the point of all this meditating as I was not experiencing the joys inwardly and it seemed like nothing but setback was happening in the world of earthly pleasures. I was doubting the point of even seeking this idea of God, one I was seeking based only upon the proclaimed experience of another who had been there first. But intuitively I trust the wisdom of Yogiraj Gurunath and from somewhere inside I am grateful that I found the strength to persevere because the faith in my chosen path is greater than it has been for a long time.
"The beginner devotee, nevertheless, may be so attached to immediate material passions that he passes through these periods of irrational doubt in which he does not crave the bliss and security of the cosmic consciousness, with its mastery over the three worlds."
If I did not have some material desires I would probably be enjoying a life in some other realm altogether. Through the practice of my meditation and what I term the grace of God, I am blessed with the material desires that want to be experienced. At the same time I am released of the attachment to them. There have been many material desires in my past, some fulfilled, some still waiting for their moment in the sun. There are many that I am enjoying in my life at the moment and this text reminds me of the source of all of them. And if ever the fear of losing them rears its head I have the wisdom from the great sages and the practice of Kriya Yoga, my Excalibur (the sword of truth), to keep me on track.
This path has required dedication and concentration and relinquishing the doubts of not knowing anything about the happiness existing beyond this physical realm. It has required me trusting myself in the face of the doubts of others, knowing intuitively that this is my path, even if it is not theirs. After the end of the meditation I carry a new sense of inner peace with me throughout the day, one that was not there in times gone by. Our material successes can be measured due their tangible nature, our spiritual successes can only be known inwardly by the level of peace we experience.
This book comes (in two volumes) with a hearty recommendation from me. The volumes themselves are beautiful but they serve no purpose if they only decorate your walls. This is one to sit and read, write your own notes beside, and meditate upon deeply. Maybe you will agree with him, maybe it will make you mad, but I believe that you will find some purpose in taking the time to digest the words of this great yogic master.
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