Bhagavad Gita Reading Group: The Way of Love

Chapter 12
Monday 26 August
6312 W. Park Avenue
6:30-8:00 p.m.

Meditation
20 m.

Recitation
Chapter 12
5 m.

Reflections
Eknath Easwaran’s commentary on chapter 12: “Every time we withdraw our desires from some self-centered activity, a little more of us has defected from the side of darkness to join the side of light.”  [347]

“We come to our full stature as human beings only when the mind becomes still. The reason is simple: the only source of mental agitation is the ego. A still mind means a still ego—and when the ego is still we can see clearly, we are free from compulsions, and there are no barriers to interfere with our personal relationships.” [351]

“You must do your best constantly, yet never allow yourself to become involved in whether things work out the way you want.” [371]

“Most of identify ourselves with our opinions. Then, when we are contradicted, we take it personally and get upset. If we could look at ourselves with some detachment, we would see how absurd this is.” [380]

Mohandas Gandhi’s commentary on the Gita: “If we aspire to be good, we must ceaselessly work to serve others, serve them in a perfectly disinterested spirit. We should not serve anyone with the hope that he, too, will serve us one day, but we may serve him because the Lord dwells in him and we serve that Lord. If we hear anyone crying in distress for help, we should immediately run to him and help him. We should help the Lord crying in distress. After doing what was needed, we should feel that it was all a dream. [102]

Father Zosima in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov:  “Brothers, do not be afraid of men’s sin, love man also in his sin, for this likeness of God’s love is the height of love on earth.  Love all of God’s creation, both the whole of it and every grain of sand.  Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light.  Love animals, love plants, love each thing.  If you love each thing, you will perceive the mystery of God in things.  Once you have perceived it, you will begin tirelessly to perceive more and more of it every day.  And you will come at last to love the whole world with an entire, universal love.  Love the animals: God gave them the rudiments of thought and an untroubled joy.  Do not trouble it, do not torment them, do not take their joy from them, do not go against God’s purpose.  Man, do not exalt yourself above the animals: they are sinless, and you, you with your grandeur, fester the earth by your appearance on it, and leave your festering trace behind you–alas, almost every one of us does!  Love children especially, for they, too, are sinless, like angels, and live to bring us to tenderness and the purification of our hearts and as a sort of example for us. Woe to him who offends a child. I was taught to love little children by Father Anfim: during our wanderings, this dear and silent man used to spend the little half-kopecks given us as alms on gingerbreads and candies, and hand them out to them. He could not pass by children without his soul being shaken: such is the man.”  [Part Two, Book Six, Chapter 3]

Katie Consamus’ Testimony: Why I Am Reading the Bhagavad Gita
Handout
10 m.

Sanskrit Glossary
Abhyasa = regular practice; discipline

From Diana Morrison, A Glossary of Sanskrit: From the Spiritual Tradition of India

Discussion
With a partner, please share your reflections on tonight’s chapter.

30 m.

Announcements
Next Meeting: August 26, chapter 13, The Field and the Knower

Chapter 12

The Way of Love

Arjuna:

Of those who love you as the Lord of Love,
Ever present in all, and those who seek you
As the nameless, formless Reality,
Which way is sure and swift, love or knowledge?

Sri Krishna:

For those who set their hearts on me
And worship me with unfailing devotion and faith,
The way of love leads sure and swift to me.

Those who seek the transcendental Reality,
Unmanifested, without name or form,
Beyond the reach of feeling and of thought,
With their senses subdued and mind serene
And striving for the good of all beings,
They too will verily come unto me.

Yet hazardous
And slow is the path to the Unrevealed,
Difficult for physical man to tread.
But they for whom I am the goal supreme,
Who do all work renouncing self for me
And meditate on me with single-hearted devotion,
These will I swiftly rescue
From the fragment’s cycle of birth and death
To fullness of eternal life in me.

Still your mind in me, still yourself in me,
And without doubt you shall be united with me,
Lord of Love, dwelling in your heart.
But if you cannot still your mind in me,
Learn to do so through the practice of meditation.
If you lack the will for such self-discipline,
Engage yourself in selfless service of all around you,
For selfless service can lead you at last to me.
If you are unable to do even this,
Surrender yourself to me in love,
Receiving success and failure with equal calmness
As granted by me.

Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice.
Better than knowledge is meditation.
But better still is surrender in love,
Because there follows immediate peace.

That one I love who is incapable of ill will,
And returns love for hatred.
Living beyond the reach of I and mine
And of pleasure and pain, full of mercy,
Contented, self-controlled, firm in faith,
With all their heart and all their mind given to me –
With such people I am in love.

Not agitating the world or by it agitated,
They stand above the sway of elation,
Competition, and fear, accepting life
Good and bad as it comes. They are pure,
Efficient, detached, ready to meet every demand
I make on them as a humble instrument of my work.

They are dear to me who run not after the pleasant
Or away from the painful, grieve not
Over the past, lust not today,
But let things come and go as they happen.

Who serve both friend and foe with equal love,
Not buoyed up by praise or cast down by blame,
Alike in heat and cold, pleasure and pain,
Free from selfish attachments and self-will,
Ever full, in harmony everywhere,
Firm in faith – such as these are dear to me.

But dearest to me are those who seek me
In faith and love as life’s eternal goal.
They go beyond death to immortality.

Chapter 12 of the Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran. The Bhagavad Gita (“Song of the Lord”), is India’s best-known scripture, a masterpiece of world poetry on which countless mystics have drawn for daily practical guidance. The Gita is a dialogue between Sri Krishna, an incarnation of the Lord, and his friend and disciple Arjuna, a warrior prince who represents anyone trying to live a spiritual life in the midst of worldly activity and conflict.

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