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"Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live." 
- Henry Van Dyke
 
The Bhagavad Gita - Part 24 PDF Print E-mail
The Bhagavad Gita
Part 24


A compilation of Bhagavad Gita verses, comments from the masters (sometimes paraphrased), and personal introspections presented for your pondering and enjoyment.


by Krishna Jaya


Chapter Two,
Verse Forty-Seven

“Do the work that comes your way, Arjuna,
But don’t pay attention to results.
Don’t be motivated by the fruits of your actions,
And never give way to laziness.”


Swami Satchidananda (The Living Gita):
Your duty is to perform action for its own sake,  not for its fruit.  Claiming the fruit of your action is the forbidden fruit spoken of in the Bible.  Not to claim the fruit of action was the first commandment given by God to Adam.  That commandment applies to Atman (the soul) also.  Adam (before the “Fall”), Atman, and atom, too, all have a lot in common.  Adam, Atman, and atoms merely function.  Ask an atom, “Why are you constantly moving so fast?”  If it were able, it would answer, “I couldn’t care less.  I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”  It just moves; it never worries about results.  That’s what Krishna is saying here: do your actions for action’s sake.           
            .        
Krishna Jaya:
The Sanskrit word for the infinite reality is Brahm.  Because Brahm is infinite, it transcends conceptual description which is limited to the finite realm.  Therefore, strictly speaking, it is only possible to describe Brahm negatively as timeless, space-less, formless, unlimited, infinite, seamless, non-dual (advaita), and so on.  When we speak of Brahm, or God, as having qualities like goodness, for example, we are speaking analogically.  Religious language is analogical.  

It is helpful to get a feeling for the Hindu religion as it relates to a person’s place in the cosmos by considering the universe to be a cosmic drama.  In this analogy, each person is likened to an actor in a play with a particular role to fulfill, but there is essentially only one actor playing all the different roles. Carrying the analogy further, the thread of connection between the human being and the infinite reality is the Atman, the central self, a node of Brahm’s omnipresent consciousness that is the fundamental awareness in a person, the background of pure consciousness out of which all conscious activity springs forth via the Atman’s energetic power and impetus.  The Atman is impersonal; it is the same in me as it is in you, as it is in everybody; and though two different words are used for Atman and Brahm, they are ultimately one boundless consciousness.

Before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they were unconsciously identified with the Atman and therefore lived unselfconsciously, in spontaneous harmony with their environment. “Spontaneous harmony” is not meant to imply the absence of pain, struggle, and strife.  The natural world consists of continuous bloodbaths up and down the food chain, but the point is that they all happen just so, in a blend of give-and-take involving all of the parts that make up Nature’s orderly whole in the unfolding moment-to-moment, flowing web of life.  The story about what happened in the Garden of Eden has been told in different times under different cultural guises around the world.  The common theme is the shift from unselfconsciousness to self-awareness and the birth of the human ego.  

In the mid-1960s, when Uranus and Pluto were in alignment, film-maker Stanley Kubrick wrote a letter to writer Arthur C. Clarke and told him that he wanted to make the proverbial “really good” science fiction movie.  Stanley asked Arthur C. for input, and in response the latter dusted off one of his short stories, The Sentinel of Eternity, from which emerged 2001: A Space Odyssey.  While the two of them were completing the screenplay, Arthur C. worked on the book independently and Stanley, as director, began shooting the movie.    In the final version of the film, the first series of scenes, called “The Dawn of Man”, depicts the shift from unselfconscious ape to self-aware ape-human.  

In the book, there’s a scene in which several ape-men return home, grumpy because they hunted all day without success.  At the base of a cliff where their cave was lay an antelope with a broken leg.  It still had a lot of fight left, and those antlers made things complicated. But the hunters moved in with their crude clubs and stones and finally the deed was accomplished.  However, dusk was coming on, and there wasn’t time to harvest the meat before dark, the time when hunters always retreat to the safety of their cave.  Then the leader made an imaginative leap.  He visualized the dead antelope within the confines of the cave.  This ability to stand outside the stream of events and anticipate the future marked a human departure from primitive unselfconsciousness.  Implicit in this human departure was the evolutionary promise of eventual mastery over the natural world with its discordant cravings for control, ego gratification, and psychic inflation.  

A growing mastery of the environment granted the ape-people survival, but now all we have to do is look around us to see how survival led to the domination of Nature in so skewed a fashion that the whole, teetering human experiment hangs in the balance.  The balance may be restored if we people with different skin colors and cultural backgrounds can feel in our hearts that we all share the same, non-dual essence.  With mutual respect for our superficial differences and by focusing on the simple joys of life without undue anxiety for tomorrow, we will be well on our way toward self-conscious delight in the Atman in the eternity of the present moment.  

There is a story about Krishna walking through a forest and encountering a Yogi deep in meditation.  The Yogi’s attendant was nearby. Krishna waited patiently for the Yogi to finish his meditation. When he did so, Krishna asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?”  “Yes, Lord,” said the Yogi.  “Please tell me when I will attain Self-realization.”  Krishna replied, “In three more lifetimes.”  “What?” cried the usually sedate Yogi.  “Three more lifetimes?   With all the time I meditate, still three more lifetimes?  You’ve got to be kidding me!”  During this exchange, the attendant had respectfully retreated into the shade of a nearby tree.  Krishna turned his gaze on the attendant and asked, “And is there anything I can do for you?”  “Lord,” asked the attendant, “may I too someday become conscious of the Atman always working in my heart?”  Krishna pointed to the hundreds of leaves on the tree and said, “In as many lifetimes as there are leaves on that tree.”  The attendant proclaimed, “I knew I had it in me!”  He began to dance in ecstasy as tears of joy streamed down his face.  A big wind came up and blew all the leaves off the tree.         .            .            .           
 

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