In the Bhagavad Gita (see my favorite translation here )–an epic tale that comprises one of the main teachings of yoga–we watch Arjuna face his demons on the battlefield. His demons also happen to be his relatives, and he is faced with the task of killing them or shirking his filial duties. It’s a troubled moment, one that comes about when circumstances challenge our ability to maintain pure view.
When politics demand our attention, we may be tempted to resort to drastic or aggressive measures, or we may fall into the other extreme of checking out into ignorance or denial. Both of these responses are inadequate.
What is called for in these times is for us all to take our seat as divine incarnations in human form, and let our wisdom guide us to appropriate action. That action will be different for each one of us, depending on our skills, talents and connections.
Whether you are thrilled at the prospect of changes to come in the next political era or dismayed at the president nearly half of Americans chose, we all have a responsibility in the upcoming arena. We all need to remember that this whole show is a divine play – a lila-– performed by the gods for their entertainment–which, as any cinematographer knows, includes the good, the bad and the ugly. The only way to do this is to maintain pure view.
Arjuna faces this dilemma in the Gita: how are we supposed to act when the choices are all equally disturbing? Life’s choices are sometimes overwhelming.
Arjuna asks the deity Krishna for advice.
Krishna responds by opening his mouth to show him the full spectrum of human existence, including all the horrors of the world.
Arjuna, see all the universe, animate and inanimate, and whatever else you wish to see; all stands here as one in my body.
Bhagavad Gita 11:7
Arjuna was completely unprepared for this.
It freaked him out, and humbled him.
Arjuna saw all the universe in its many ways, standing as one in the body of the god of gods.
Then filled with amazement, his hair bristling on his flesh, Arjuna bowed his head to the god, joined his hands in homage, and spoke.
Bhagavad Gita 11:13-14
Krishna consoled him.
And this is where our teaching is.
Do not tremble or suffer confusion from seeing my horrific form; your fear dispelled, your mind full of love, see my form again as it was.
Bhagavad Gita 11: 49 (emphasis mine)
The moral of the story is that the the events in the universe are not good or bad, but our profane perception of reality causes us to believe otherwise. It is our view that determines how we see things. With a “mind full of love,” we can find it in our hearts to work with any situation, no matter how difficult. We are all children of illusion, groping our way forward in the dark.
The only way out of the dark is to shine a light.
We might see the end of an era as a bad thing, but in order for rebirth and growth to occur, death is also necessary. My sense is that the best preparation we can have for what will soon become –in America, if not for much of the world–a major shift in our daily reality, is to learn to view the divine play of the gods from their vantage point, or more precisely, OUR vantage point as their earthly representatives.
Let’s see what we can learn as we shine our light.
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