I woke up contentedly this morning to glorious sunshine. Almost immediately, I reacted dramatically when a breakfast date was broken at the last minute. Rather than feel upset or let down for long, I proactively rescheduled a lunch date with that person instead.
I then sat down with some dear pages from the Bhagavad Gita, whose profound wisdom managed to pinpoint the process I had just observed myself in.
The excerpt below from S.Radhakrishnan’s translation called out to 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.
My topic for discussion literally smacked me in the face. Specifically, I struggle to pretend that low self-esteem, stress, irritation, and desire for material goods are excusable behaviours, or that I have mastered their effects on me (until they rear their ugly heads!). I then become discouraged when I take the time to honestly contemplate my 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 in the midst of a big battle; between the almighty spiritual lifestyle and the old faithful behaviours. I must remember that life is an ongoing rhythm of ideas, events, and seasons. Some days I feel aligned to the bright ecstasy of teaching, yet often disconnected from any light at the same time. It’s a juggling act, to continually quiet my own monkey mind while supporting the others in my life, and our growth. I know that Arjuna is attached to his old life that he knows so well, and yet is starting to consider its emptiness. It’s no coincidence that I am connected to Arjuna’s struggle to find a constant state of happiness and a deeper understanding of 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. The Buddhists remind us that you cannot deny your heartaches and sorrows while cultivating awareness; for these qualities too, form your divinity. In the excerpt above, Arjuna is in a dramatic state of despondency on the battlefield, confused about what the next step is, and 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, judgments, the attachments, which have shaped me. Will I actually uncover my spiritual nature, or any particles of wisdom? How many years of silence will it take?
Will my dramatic questioning ever come to an end?
I don’t think I want it to. Because, what would remain? What would I teach about?
I will continue to offer the persistent inkling I feel – that the nature of being human, is to quell continuously the dramas, quiet the mind, calm the inner storms. The spiritual nature is deep within, no doubt. These questions wouldn’t arise otherwise, and I probably wouldn’t spend time honouring my insecurities. I wouldn’t keep showing up if I didn’t trust something unspeakable and sacred truly existed out there, in all of us. Even though in many moments, I see 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 both must march through battlefields in order to return home – to connectivity, to love, to one spirit.
Carolyn Anne Budgell (BA, ERYT 200) teaches vinyasa yoga and meditation in Vancouver, BC. Carolyn has assisted 200-hour trainings at the Semperviva Teacher Training College, mentored at a teen girl yoga camp to increase female empowerment (Girlvana) and created free online yoga classes as an Ambassador for lululemon. Come to Thailand in June 2013 with Carolyn and Clara Roberts-Oss for a 200 Hour Teacher Training- more info on her website.