Bhagavad Gita Illuminated: Understanding Yogic Theory
I recently looked over some homework assignments from a class. The work that came in was lovely.
In nearly all of the homework submissions, students talked about how they worked with the Luminous Soul Daily Statement and in what ways they found it comforting, which I describe as ‘relief points’. In the assignment, I also encouraged them to discover the ways they felt resistance to the Statement. In doing the Luminous Soul exercise, the students noted the ways in which they felt resistance to the teaching. In your yogic practice, it is so important to cultivate the ability to delineate, where you are connecting with a teaching, and where you feel resistance or confusion with it.
Gaining Clarity With the Bhagavad Gita
In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verses 1 & 2, Arjuna, the archer and Shri Krsna, the illumined Lord, stand in the middle of the battlefield. The moment Arjuna is supposed to take up his weapon and kick off the battle, he suddenly feels profound fear, becomes confused, is weak and can’t see clearly. He shares this with Shri Krsna, his guide, guru and charioteer. Shri Krsna, as Arjuna’s guide, gives him strength when he tells him that now is Arjuna’s moment to fight, to be free of his confusion and to overcome this difficulty.
When you read the Bhagavad Gita, you, like Arjuna, may find yourself feeling confused and questioning: “A yogic story about a war… How can this be so? Yoga is a path to peace and a path to greater connectivity. I like the sound of the Sanskrit chants and I like the idea of a loving god, known as Krsna, but how can I reconcile these good feelings with the fact that it’s a text with war embedded into it?” These or similar thoughts may surface for you. In effect, you are being placed in the experience of Arjuna. And rather than brushing your resistances aside become aware of them and start to work with them in a conscious way.
Working with Yogic Confusion
How does Yogic confusion present? It shows itself as a kind of fogginess around a teaching. It’s the place where the teaching isn’t yet clear. The thing is you can have both relief and resistance points when you work with a yogic teaching. The way to work with yogic confusion is to identify and jot down what confusion or resistances you are experiencing, and then to begin to work with them in a conscious way. Much like the asana practitioner will practice handstand and will not only reap the health benefits from the pose, but will also be afforded a new perspective. In the same way, when you work to become conscious around your resistances you will relax around a teaching and will start to gain a new more comprehensive perspective.
The Guru Speaks
My teacher, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati used to say, “Life is a battle.” He’d say, “You don’t have a choice to fight or not, fighting is sure. The only thing you can decide is whether to fight the inner battle or the outer battle, but fighting is certain. Even waking up in the morning is a battle between you and the snooze.”
What he meant was that the Bhagavad Gita is a yogic text that reflects the soul’s journey. It is a story about the inner battle, which is the individual’s deep desire to elevate him or her self into greater awareness. This process of moving from inner confusion to inner clarity is the battle of the Bhagavad Gita.
As you work with the verses and the layered teachings in the Bhagavad Gita you are taught how to overcome this inner battle.