♦My review and insights on the introduction by Eknath Easwaren ♦
I’m presently in the amazing city of Jaipur and decided to read the Bhagavad Gita. Once again, I’m thoroughly enjoying Eknath Easwaran’s introduction which beautifully places this ancient piece of Indian spirituality not only in context but in a way which allows one to see it in a fuller context (especially for a western mind like mine). If I had to read the Bhagavad Gita without his introduction I know I would get very lost as it’s simply not a language or subject I’m familiar with.
From discussing the ins and outs of the human mind, conditioning and ways in which we can find ways of understanding ourselves, this ancient piece of philosophy offers many wise insights to the modern western mind.
One thing I’ve enjoyed learning about in the last couple of years is how we filter our perceptions and reactions to life. Once again in the introduction Eknath explains how life is experienced through the 5 senses “The objects of this world are in the mind, not the outside.” Through these filters our minds become conditioned. I noticed just how much I react through my visual cortex as after my Vipassana experience, I became very aware of how I reacted. I saw that everything I looked at was followed by a thought. When I say everything I mean EVERYTHING from a tree reminding me of a childhood walk to a guy who sparked off an inner little girl who thinks she’ll never be loved. It’s that constant and I suggest you also observe what thoughts pop into your head when you look, hear, touch, taste, or simply experience anything – there is a thought.
“Addressed to everyone, of whatever background or status, the Gita distills the loftiest truths of India’s ancient wisdom into simple, memorable poetry that haunts the mind and informs the affairs of everyday life.”
(p14 of the introduction by Eknath Easwaran).
This quote from the introduction beautifully illustrates the Gita’s powerfumindl impact and importance to whomever has the pleasure of reading it’s context. Today I went to the local bookstore to discover many interpretations, introductions and readers on the Gita which hugely intrigued me to read further. It’s a beautiful concept on training the mind, becoming aware of how one perceives the world, banishing all selfish desires and becoming one with the Self.
One could easily read the Gita and believe it’s asking us to give up ‘life’ and become servants but as the introduction explains, this is not what it speaks of – it speaks of the brilliance of becoming detached from the misery of life and waking up the beauty of our true spirit. To follow the wise words of the Gita is to find liberation within oneself.
One of my favorite subjects from the introduction is under ‘Faith and Spiritual Evolution’ where the subject of shraddha and it’s meaning is discussed. Easwaran has translated it as faith but goes on to say how it means so much more; “that which is placed in the heart” (p63). He speaks of shraddha being that which lies beneath all our human actions, conditioned behavior plus how its what drives us to interpret the world around us. I feel like mine might be along the lines of – there is more to life and I’m going to find out what that means! Fundamentally it’s been driving me for years and years and in a positive way has helped me discover myself but perhaps in a more negative way it’s slightly isolated me from normality. It’s our underlying beliefs that inherently sit in our hearts and being. Discovering them and how they impact our way of living is absolutely fascinating and for me it’s been to the extent of opening up the world of past lives and entities to see even how these negative attached ways of thinking influence Natalie today.
“What we stirve for shows what we value; we back our shraddha with our time, our energy, our very lives…As we think, so we become.”
(p64, Eknath Easwaran)
If you’re anything like me and you’ve reached a stage were grasping a deeper understanding of yourself and life then I believe just reading the introduction is extremely empowering and exciting. Perhaps I’m at this stage because I’ve now experienced the change, the insights and wisdom it speaks of…Not completely but even a slight glimmer of what these ancient philosophies speak of, makes the process of facing ones fear worth every painful step.
Everything changes so even when you encounter deep seeded beliefs that dictate misery in your life or aspects of yourself which are frightening, keep discovering ways of healing them, accepting them and unlocking what drives them to life. I did this and now I’m very aware of how I function – what drives me whilst beginning to live life very differently thanks to these insights.
As I just read the ending of the introduction I’m left feeling tingly all over. Easwaran writes that the Gita is about choices, about being human and our natural nature to be living with the battle that consistently takes place within.
Nature, whether we know it or not, pushes each human to look within, to acknowledge the battle and to hopefully open their eyes to the hidden magical natural state of being which is possible in each of us. We are, I am, you are the source of your life and the life itself. We are not alone, and the more you can connect with life, with yourself, with the meaning of life, the more peaceful existence you can experience.
Further Links & Reading
www.easwaran.org – Eknath Easwaran’s website with further reading, details on courses at the Blue Mountain Centre of Meditation (California), a Blog filled with inspirations thoughts, talks and practices, video archives of Eknath Easwaran before he died plus endless inspiring quotes and readings.
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