Bhagavad Gita, ch. 6

Krsangi Dasi - August 2, 2004 7:22 pm

Dear devotees


We had our sixth Bhagavad Gita last week with Bhrigu, Guru-Nistha, Eija, Jani, Kamalaksa and I. We had a lively discussion about yoga, mediation and charity. Her are some of our thoughts.


Bhagavad Gita, chapter six: Yoga of meditation


Like some other devotees I used to think that the first few chapters in Gita dealing with jnana, karma and dhyana yoga don't concern us as we concentrate our efforts on bhakti yoga. But by reading Guru Maharaja's commentary I've understood that there's much to be learned from all the different paths. Trying to move from mechanical chanting to deep meditation requires that we take the advice given in chapter six seriously.


There seem to be a lot of rules for mediation, but we all felt that their essence is the regulation of our lives: not sleeping or eating too much or too little and so on. Different people have different standards of regulation and austerity is easier for some of us than the others. Jani mentioned that it's become easier for him to control his mind and body through his astanga yoga practise, and it's clearly important to find out if there's some excersice that can help us inout spiritual pursuits.


In verse 19 it is said that a yogi who has control over his mind is like an unflickering lamp in a windless place. We liked the thought of a lamp burning solidly and energetically, not flickering but not getting put out either, representing the active jiva whose fully concentrated on Krishna. The windless place can be a place well suited for meditation, a quiet, holy place, or a state of mind that the yogi creates with his power of concentration.


We talked about different ways to control the senses when meditating to stop the mind from drifting. I've read a bit about NLP, a method of visualizing things to enhance learning, it was recommended for me by a hospital psychologist when I was learning to walk again after being amputated. She said it might be easier for me to learn to walk properly if I went through it over and over again in my mind to train more effectively. I mentioned this to the others and wondered if this method could be used to be able to concentrate better on chanting: visualizing myself in Goloka or Navadvip. Bhrigu felt that this might be something useful but we both thought that I should picture myself as an outsider watching Krishna or Lord Caitanya from a distance, not taking part in the lilas.


Some of us prefer chanting in the morning and some in the evening. Many people feel that it's good to get up early before everyone else wakes up and to direct the mind to Krishna first thing in the morning. I personally usually am too preoccupied with work and other practical things in the morning and feel best chanting in the evening when all the things that need to be done have been done and thoughts of work aren't pushing themselves to the surface.


Sometimes we find ourselves doubting the method of chanting in relation to all the suffering in the world. It can even feel a bit selfish to turn inwards and concentrate on our own mind and soul when there are so many hungry people to be fed in Africa. We discussed this at some length and remembered Guru Maharaja also mentioning this at our island retreat. I've thought about this after our meeting, and come to the conclusion that these doubts show that we don't have enough faith in the Holy Name, that we don't fully trust Krishna. If we want to help people we should tell them about Krishna, that knowledge can change their lives in a way that giving them money or food never will.


We went on to talk about sankirtana, and whether one can give love of Krishna to others if he doesn't have it himself. The sankirtana devotees don't always feel fully inspired to go out and sell books, and they might not be pure devotees, so will they be able to spread Krishna consciousness, to give something they don't necessarily have themselves? It's difficult to convince someone of that they should chant if you don't enjoy it yourself. But on the other hand we can't just sit down and wait for pure devotion to appear out of nowhere, we have to try to serve Krishna with our limited capability.


Kamalaksa said that he feels that he's reached a point where he needs to sit down and think about this whole philosophy instead of just running around trying to preach to others. We talked about how chanting should be the most important part of our lives, the thing that everything else circles around.


At the end of this chapter Krishna assures Arjuna that no effort is lost on the path of bhakti. Sometimes we tend to look down on people who have left Krishna consciousness and are even badmouthing the movement in public, but actually they deserve our respect for their honest attempt to attain Krishna. Krishna is merciful and we are in no position to decide who should be given his mercy or not.

Jananivasdas - August 4, 2004 8:17 am

ps. i was there too... ;)