Hello and welcome to Chapter 5 of the Bhagavad Gita. This is a story of a battle in the 3D matrix of the mind. It is an ancient foundation of Hindu philosophy, describing the Laws of Nature and a clear path to ascension. With each chapter the Gita lessons are becoming more and more refined, inviting us to reexamine our modern concepts to better understand the path to ascension. Just enjoy and listen with an open mind, as you would hear a story. Enjoy!
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, Gods ruled the Earth, and all learning took place in the form of stories and sacred verses, that people memorized and passed down with each generation.
The warrior prince Arjuna and his chariot driver the God Krishna, gaze over a vast battlefield. Arjuna and his virtuous Pandava brothers are about to fight to vanquish their evil Kaurava cousins. Thousands of warriors from both sides are assembled, to fight to the death. Arjuna is horrified and refuses to fight. Krishna encourages him to do his duty telling him the secrets of higher knowledge, how to carry out actions in a higher frame of mind in which he will not incur sin. Ultimately after 18 chapters, Arjuna accepts his destiny to fight. He and his brothers win, and they ascend to the heavenly realms.
The Laws of Nature described in the Gita have always been and always will be. They are none other than the unified Laws of Life and Death, Good vs. Evil, Science, and Religion. These Laws are One and can never be divided. The original is in Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Gods. We adapt it into English as best we can.
All humans desire greater levels of happiness and satisfaction. Hindu mythology assumes 14 realms or levels of being. I find these detailed definitions of Heaven and Hell especially relevant as we see positive and negative qualities rise and fall in ourselves, and in people around us. The 7 Heavenly realms start with the earthly realm, moving up to lighter realms of air, thought, and spirit, and finally up to purest Godly realms of infinite Joy, Love, and Wonder. The 7 Hellish realms descend starting with desire for sensory pleasure and avoiding pain, emotions like anger. They continue down into much deeper levels of fear, vast wealth, evil, domination, utter illusion like a fictitious nightmare in which you are trapped forever. That’s why it is important to find the higher path. During your life on earth, you must try to move upward, not fall downward, to balance your worldly duties with your ultimate goal of Moksha or ascension to spiritual freedom. Moksha means your lessons here are finished, and you finally merge in union with God, ending the cycle of death and rebirth.
Each chapter of the Gita examines a skill needed on the path to enlightenment. We see a clear progression to more refined concepts. Many of these are refreshing, some are challenging, and some we will need to hear many times. Yoga, meaning a discipline of study, comes from a sophisticated system passed down for thousands of years in Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Gods. Now as we see our world cracking apart rather chaotically, it’s a perfect time to examine the ancient Hindu concept of Selfless action. Fasten your seat belts. It turns out ascension to higher wisdom requires greater and greater mental clarity.
Chapter 5 starts by comparing two paths to freedom that are outwardly different. The path of Renunciation of Action sometimes called Sanyas, which is like renouncing the world. And the path of Action with Devotion called Karma Yoga, or offering all actions to God. While the mental focus is different, Krishna says both these paths lead you to the same goal.
Both disciplines cultivate ascension while living in a body, using self-control and emotional detachment. To do Action with Devotion called Karma Yoga, we carry out actions without considering ourselves the doers. Instead, we offer our actions to the higher creator. Yes, a neat trick that disconnects the ego. Krishna says we should not think toward a reward or goal for our actions. And the reality of cause and effect is a more complex expression of energy in time-space. These events are flows, in ever changing wavesrather than fixed things.
This idea is challenging for some of us used to thinking of linear tasks and goals. How can I act utterly selflessly? What about “looking out for “Number 1?” What about achievement? What about the rewards I expect to enjoy? The recognition, the money. What about getting ahead, enjoying the comforts, nice clothes? If I don’t work for these things as goals, what will I look forward to? If I do everything as an offering to God, trust my life to that? Live in love? My world would probably collapse. Be realistic. You want me to surrender my life to the will of god? That’s like dissolving into nothing? Almost as scary as dying. Yet it is exactly why this story of a terrible war is designed to wake us up. We can put ourselves in Arjuna’s shoes just for a moment. He is terrified, standing at the brink, as destiny asks him to kill his teacher, his cousins and utterly destroy his family. Yet, since we now see our world completely falling apart under the most bizarre affronts to life and goodness I am willing to examine all other approaches with an open mind.
Krishna says relax. Everything is in God’s hand anyway. Quantum physics comes from the interaction of the three modes of physical nature: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. When we live and do actions with the intellect immersed in God, we are wholly absorbed in God, as the supreme goal of our offering, we quickly reach the state of permanent happiness from which there is no going backwards. Our sins and Karma are dissolved, and we live in peace. This is called living in God awareness. We are not pulled down by confusion. We are less fixated on physical sensations, so we have more equanimity, not easily excited, not easily upset. We see all beings with equal eyes as creatures of God. We experience better health not conditioned by emotional reactions. We live harmoniously in our body, which is called the “City of Nine Gates” representing the human body with nine openings.
We can hold in check the forces of desire and anger, and therefore be happy. We learn to quiet the mind, concentrate better, focus on the third eye and cultivate the breath. By practicing over time, this expanded way of being takes over. We get rid of negativity and doubts.
We find freedom – but freedom is NOT doing whatever we want for our own selfish ends. Freedom is doing actions according to the Laws of Nature. Freedom is when we work for the benefit of everyone without selfishness, and offer our actions to God. Well, THAT’s is a new concept of freedom.
As you hear the verses I invite you to ponder these questions.
- What are the seven Heavenly realms and 7 Hellish realms described in Hindu mythology?
- How do you see the Heavenly realms infuse your reality?
- How are the 7 Hellish realms reflected in anyone you know?
- What is the practice of Action with Devotion (Karma Yoga)? How does one carry it out?
- What are your favorite quotes from Chapter 3 to remember for life lessons?
- What parallel events in the modern world illustrate these concepts?