The Seven Point Wisdom of the Bhagavadgita

Krishna Arjuna

by Jayaram V

The scripture offers enough scope to accommodate different interpretations as we have discussed before. At the same time, it has consistency. Its main theme is liberation for which it provides different alternatives that are in many ways complimentary. For the spiritually inclined people, it offers the following seven fundamental perspectives or thinking points. They sum up the philosophy of the Bhagavadgita and its core teachings. The following account is written from a modern perspective, but it is based on the same teachings found in the scripture.

1. The world in which you live is impermanent. It is unreal. It is created and maintained by Nature to be the source of your bondage, ignorance, suffering and delusion. You should be careful when you deal with it because in many ways it is a prison house for the souls. It draws you in and binds you to things, keeping you engaged, distracted, and disturbed. Whatever escape it offers leads you in the end into a deeper hole and makes your life even more miserable. With each step forward into it, you distance yourself from yourself. With each thread of attachment you build with it, you increase your enmity with yourself. As you become attached to it deeply, you become your own enemy and delay your liberation. In the end, you are bound to suffer anyway because you cannot hold on to anything here for long and when you are separated from things, you will experience sorrow, fear and anxiety.

2. Your identity and individuality are temporary constructions built around your name and form. They hide you from yourself and keep you disengaged from your true nature. Your name and form are illusions. In their defense, you spend several lifetimes only to realize in the end that you have been chasing false dreams. You are neither of them. You are an eternal and indestructible Self that can be neither slain nor injured. You are an aspect (amsa) of God and you will always be so. The body is like a garment you wear and discard overtime.

When the body dies, you wear another one to continue your existence in another form. Therefore, you should not lose your peace over the impermanence and the modifications of life to which we are subject. Think of yourself as an infinite being, with no limits whatsoever and look at this world and yourself from that perspective. You are here, but you do not really belong to the world. Living here, you have lost your way. You have to find it again to rediscover your true nature and stabilize in it. By practicing the yoga of self-absorption (atma samyama yoga) stretch your mind far into infinity. Enter into that limitless awareness of Universal Self so that from that eternal perspective, your problems begin to fade away and you look at yourself and this world with wisdom, knowledge and discernment.

3. You are bound to the world. Your involvement with it arises from the activity of your senses. They draw you out and involve you with the world. As a result, you become attached to things and experience restlessness, anger, pride, fear, attachment and the like. Your involvement with the material world is the source of your suffering. It deludes you into accepting as true the duality and diversity of the world and believing that your happiness arises from having things rather than being yourself. This thirst for things and ownership is the cause of our suffering. What begins as a simple expedition into a magical world ends up as a servitude of many lifetimes. You become a prisoner inside your own body, while every action you perform prolongs your sentence and delays your release. If you want to be free from the world, you should restrain your senses and retrain your mind to look within yourself to know who you are and what happened to you over time.

4. The world is not what it appears to be. It is a trap. If you live here ignorantly and negligently, you will never be free from it. It binds you to things and deludes you into believing that you can be secure and happy by having them. The spiritually blind are led into darkness. Those who live here with their eyes half closed suffer enormously. You cannot sleepwalk through this world. You must live here with your eyes wide open, and you mind wide awake, watching your steps carefully, as if you are lost in a forest that is full of traps and unknown dangers. You must cultivate discriminating wisdom (buddhi) to know the truth from falsehood and avoid making mistakes. You must live here wisely, making your way safely out of death and impermanence, avoiding sin and binding actions. True wisdom comes from knowledge and true knowledge is the knowledge of the Self. It arises not from perceptual experience but from transcendental experience, which is possible only when one achieves perfection in yoga.

5. You are responsible for your life, your actions and inactions. You are not bound to this world by them, but by your desires and attachments. Whatever you do or avoid doing in your life out of desires shape your destiny. Both action and inaction arise from the gunas. They are equally harmful when you indulge in them with desires. You cannot avoid karma by avoiding actions or your duties. True renunciation is not giving up actions or the world but giving up desires with firm resolve. It may be painful in the beginning, but in the end, it leads to liberation and freedom from death. You must live, but not for yourself and perform actions as if you are not performing them. It is possible when you perform them selflessly, without desires, not for yourself but for God or some divine cause. You should live here as if you do not exist and do your duty as a sacrificial offering to God. Giving up your personal needs and comforts, you should live here for the sake of God and in His service, like a true a servant (bhagavata). Then you will be free from the consequences of your actions. Your living becomes an offering, a form of continuous worship. Instead of binding you, your actions will free you from their consequences. Therefore, perform your actions, without desires and expectations. Live as if you do not exist, you do not matter and you are no one.

6. The underlying causes of our bondage and ignorance are much deeper than we think. They are an integral aspect of our essential nature and so deeply hidden within our beingness that to know them we have to go all the way to the source of our creation. Our bodies are our prison houses. They are made up of Nature. We cannot escape from their influence easily because they are filled with gunas, the primary qualities that determine our thinking and actions and thereby our destinies. We are good or bad, wise or foolish, knowledgeable or ignorant according to the gunas present in us. We act, react, and seek things because of them. We must therefore know what the gunas are and how they bind us through desires and actions. Wise people know it and thereby remain untouched by their actions or the changes that happen within them. We should also do the same. Knowing that the gunas are responsible for our desires, like wise yogis who have stable wisdom (sthitaprajnas), we should remain equal to the dualities of life with unwavering mind and let events of our lives unfold on their own.

7. When you live here, you serve many gods in the hope of finding peace and happiness. Propelled by your gunas and desires, you serve your own ego, worship your own interests and surrender to your whims. The result of this self-love is bondage. When you worship false gods of your own creation, you delude yourself and fall into greater ignorance. Instead of worshipping material things and taking refuge in your shadow self, you should take refuge in your real Self and the Supreme Self, who is all pervading, eternal, indestructible and true liberator of all. He is the cause of everything and the real Doer of all actions. Those who are filled with rajas and tamas worship themselves or ignorance, but those who are filled with sattva worship the highest God. They offer themselves to God. They place themselves at His feet. Symbolically, they become His sacrificial food (bhatka) in the sacrifice of their lives. Therefore, cultivate purity (sattva) so that you can stabilize your mind in the contemplation of God, transcending your self-love, and experience oneness with Him. Restraining your mind and senses, focusing your mind upon Him, offer your thoughts and actions to Him. With surrender and gratitude, prostrate before Him and offer yourself to Him. If you persist in your practice, you will attain knowledge, wisdom and liberation quickly. When you seek refuge in Him, He assumes full responsibility for your life and guides you safely across the ocean of phenomenal life towards the world of light and delight.

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Source: From the Essays on the Bhagavadgita by Jayaram V. To buy this book please Click here.