I confess it has been a difficult couple of weeks – to the point where I found it necessary to take five days off work, retreat from the world – and regain balance. Even my Yoga has suffered – too tired, too much on my plate, can’t focus… The day to day hustle, the mental and emotional stress of the work environment, bills, personality conflicts, and sometimes just plain old nasty people; they all contribute to this ‘yoke’ that modern culture has become.
When we are not engaged in our daily affairs, we stereotypically turn to TV or the Internet for what most call “down time.” Little time is reserved for actively strengthening our commitments to higher ideals, spending time in nature (a healing place), or communing with ourselves…and our Higher Self. Why does our own ‘inner voice’ seem so subdued, if audible at all, in today’s world? Where is the Divine Nature of our existence in our day to day activities and especially, our thoughts?
The Bhagavad Gita
Yes, I have spoken of this tome before…although this incarnation is by far the most readable, understandable, and valuable of any read to date. I have read this book over and over again in the last few weeks, and draw strength and faith from its pages. The Bhagavad Gita is a love song sung by God to His friend man. The Gita is a statement of the core truths which many of us already believe in our deepest hearts – making these truths clearer, and offering practical application in our daily lives. More than just a book, the Bhagavad Gita has an ‘accumulated potency’ – full of the ancient but ever current breath of spiritual energy and strength.
Dr. Jack Hawley
In the course of writing The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners, Jack Hawley consulted over thirty different texts, and in doing so has synthesized the original languages into English in such a way that has preserved in ancient within the new. The recently of late Sathya Sai Baba and many other contributors served as sounding boards and advisors during the creation of this English translation – rigorously testing the translations and their meanings to insure the heart of the Gita remained intact. Jack Hawley is a student, teacher, consultant, and lecturer who works to instill new energy, heart, and spirit into large organizations and groups. Over the last fourteen years, Hawley has spent half of each year in India learning, teaching, and living by the principles in the Gita.
What I needed
As I had said, it has been a rough while as of late. There is a real downside to losing balance in life – once you start down the dark side… (Sorry, watched Star Wars on the weekend!) It’s true, though. Once my Yoga fell to the wayside, I of course began to beat myself up about it. This eventually turned to becoming angry with myself, and then angry at others. When my anger at myself spread outward, my meditations started to falter, and then I noticed my appetite changing, sleep changing…STOP THE BUS! I’ve learned the hard way that there is a point we all reach at some time or another affectionately known as “The breaking point.” Going past the breaking point is a one way ticket to the dark side, and I was teetering on the edge. (I know, enough with the Star Wars references…)
I took Jack Hawley’s advice and buried myself in the Bhagavad Gita…too unfocused to meditate or contemplate on it for any length of time; I read it. I read it slowly, against my ingrained ‘research skim’ I treat most books with; stopping to go back and re-read when the end of a stanza forgot the beginning. Over and over – no TV (well, except for Star Wars – again, sorry), no music, just the Bhagavad Gita and an intense hope that the accumulated energy of this work would somehow just seep into me.
Where I Got It…
Miserable use of language, I know…but it fit the time. Chapter Eighteen of Jack Hawley’s the Bhagavad Gita is entitled: “Liberation Through Knowing, Acting, and Loving (Moksha Sanyasa Yoga), with a simple yet profound subtitle – “Give Me your whole heart.” I think I reread the subtitle four or five times, as if stuck on it the first time I read the book. A subtle little bell was beginning to chime softly in the distance of my soul…no nearer or farther than I imagined it, I suppose.
Years of searching, years of education in religious studies and ancient philosophies, thousands of books, and tens of versions of the Gita – none spoke to me as this did. My heart has belonged to the Creator always. Meditations and my day begin with prayer to be an instrument of The Divine, see that Divinity in all things, and act accordingly. What part of my whole heart was I failing to give? I realized that once I had been liberated from narrow-minded “it’s our way to heaven or you will go to hell” philosophies (no offence to anyone), I have been lacking something: A practice I was totally comfortable with and could follow.
How one becomes Perfect
Stanza fifty as The Divine speaks yet again to Arjuna:
50 So learn from Me now, friend, as I briefly profile the qualities that make the loving Yogi one with Me.1 There is no higher achievement.
51 Cultivate a pure intellect. Free your mind and heart from delusion. Be self-restrained. Give up the ego. Subdue your senses through steady will. Abandon the sight, tastes, and noises of the world. Put aside with no regret the likes and dislikes so burdensome in life.
52 Seek solitude; eat but little, lead a simple, self-reliant life, curbing your thoughts, speech, and actions. Be detached, impersonal. Engage your mind always in concentration, contemplation, and meditation on the Godhead.
The instructions go on, but at stanza fifty-five The Divine ‘stops’ to drive a point home. In the midst of profiling the qualities one should develop, Krishna (The Divine) gives a ‘sacred shortcut’ to Arjuna:
55 Be very clear about the crucial importance of love. To love is to know Me. The act of loving itself is indeed the experience of really knowing Me, for I am Love, Arjuna! To love is to know My innermost nature, the Truth that I am. It is through this sacred and deep knowing that you gain access to Me and become one with My own Self. Loving is knowing God! As a deep knower of the Godhead, you actually become the Godhead.
Give Me your whole heart
I have always loved God – in all the variations I have considered. I understand that all our views on the subject are going to differ, and they will probably all turn out to be incorrect and inconsequential in the presence of The Divine once we have shuffled off this mortal coil. My love for Allah is not whole, however. I find it easy to see Brahman in the flowers and trees, and all of nature’s creatures and sublime beauty. I confess that I have a lot of difficulty with seeing Krishna in others still. Thanks to Jack Hawley’s the Bhagavad Gita, I have a practice to follow as Krishna drives home again and again: The Divine is inside you and all around you. Nothing exists outside The Divine, and all that exists within God has at its core Divine Consciousness.
To give God your whole heart is to realize that God is in everyone and everything. You cannot give your whole heart if you are not willing to love all of Divine Creation as you love God. That means the person stealing your purse, the beggar asking for money or food…even those who would do you harm, as Krishna speaks of in the Gita. The only practice we need to follow is Love.
Before I leave you with something to ponder for a few minutes when you have nothing pressing, I wish to extol the love and power inherent within Hawley’s the Bhagavad Gita one last time. Buy it from Amazon, loan it from the library…heck – go to Chapters with a Starbuck’s and plant yourself in an armchair if you have to. Read the Gita over and over again, slowly, reverently; the spiritual power in the Truths contained in the Gita will seep into you and begin to resonate. All Truth has this capacity, and you will quickly notice it working in your own life.
Finally! For those of you who have remained conscious through this entire article, I salute you! Back to my ‘problem’ with seeing The Divine in others – here is a thought for both of us to consider: Imagine that just one person you will run into today is someone God sent your way out of love and curiosity to see how you are progressing in your journey…and God decided he was going to go along for the ride to be there personally. It could be a beggar, a thief, a close friend, a co-worker, an angry customer – anybody. Now imagine God is doing that already, in everyone you meet every day…
Dr. Jack Hawley
In the course of writing The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners, Jack Hawley consulted over thirty different texts, and in doing so has synthesized the original languages into English in such a way that has preserved in ancient within the new. The recently of late Sathya Sai Baba and many other contributors served as sounding boards and advisors during the creation of this English translation – rigorously testing the translations and their meanings to ensure the heart of the Gita remained intact. Jack Hawley is a student, teacher, consultant, and lecturer who works to instill new energy, heart, and spirit into large organizations and groups. Over the last fourteen years, Hawley has spent half of each year in India learning, teaching, and living by the principles in the Gita.