I woke up contentedly this morning to glorious sunshine. Almost immediately thereafter, I reacted dramatically when a breakfast date was broken at the last minute. I knew feeling upset or let down was not productive so I happily set a lunch date with that person instead.
Finally, I sat down with some dear pages from the Bhagavad Gita, whose profound wisdom managed to pinpoint the process I had just lost myself in (in this case, it was S.Radhakrishnan’s translation – the excerpt below – that appeased me).
Bhagavad Gita – Chap 1(47) Having spoken thus on the field of battle, Arjuna sank down on the seat of his chariot, casting away his bow and arrow, his spirit overwhelmed by sorrow.
The distress of Arjuna is a dramatization of a perpetually recurring predicament. Man, on the threshold of higher life, feels disappointed with the glamour of the world and yet illusions cling to him and he cherishes them. He forgets his divine ancestry and becomes attached to his personality and is agitated by the conflicting forces of the world. Before he wakes up to the world of spirit and accepts the obligations imposed by it, he has to fight the enemies of selfishness and stupidity, and overcome the dark ignorance of his self-centered ego. Man cut off from spiritual nature has to be restored to it. It is the evolution of the human soul that is portrayed here. There are no limits of time and space to it. The fight takes place every moment in the soul of man.
This morning, the pertinent discussion for this post literally smacked me in the face. Specifically, I fight to pretend that sadness, low self-esteem, stress, irritation, desire for material goods don’t exist in my little bubble or that they are acceptable behaviours. I then become discouraged when I take the time to contemplate my comfortable patterns: attachment to glamorous things, believing the world revolves around my desires, wavering appreciation of yoga, boredom in meditation. It’s exhausting to find those demons still poking at me.
Not by divine coincidence do I sympathize with Arjuna’s state of depression , caught somewhere before a big battle. Life is the rhythm of ideas, events, seasons. There are days where we identify with one idea and fight like hell for it. Sometimes I feel aligned to the bright ecstasy of teaching yet often disconnected from the light all at the same time. It’s a juggling act to continually quiet my own monkey mind while holding space for students in yoga class. Arjuna is attached to the life that he knows and yet is starting to consider its emptiness. It’s no coincidence that I am connected to Arjuna’s struggle to reconnect to Self. Most likely you are too.
Iyengar tells us to identify all of the negative aspects of our personality in order to access the intelligent mind. And the Buddhists remind us that you cannot deny your heartaches and sorrows when meditating-these qualities too, form your divinity. In the excerpt above, Arjuna is in a dramatic state of despondency on the battle field confused about what the next step is..if he is even willing to let go of his old life. I can relate entirely. I am afraid to admit to the patterns, the voices, the looks, the riches, judgements, the attachments that have shaped me. Will I actually uncover my spiritual nature and even any particles of wisdom? How many years of silence will it take?
Will my dramatic questions ever come to an end?
I don’t think I want them to. Because what will remain? What will I teach about?
I will just continue to offer the persistent inkling I feel – that the nature of being human is to continuously quell the dramas, quiet the mind, calm the inner storms. The spiritual nature is deep within, no doubt. These questions wouldn’t arise otherwise. I wouldn’t spend such time sharing insecurities. I wouldn’t keep showing up if I didn’t trust something unspeakable and sacred truly exists out there, in all of us. Even though in many moments, there exists no wisdom, purity or light.
I turn to Arjuna, a man from a different world, yet facing the same uncertainties and resistance to this fight. I cannot see the difference between he and I. Patiently, we must march through battlefields in order to get home – to connectivity, to love, to one spirit.