Performing work in this world
"Sri Krishna defines yoga in a single word, samatvan: 'to be equal', to be completely serene. This is yoga. The man established in yoga, the illuminated man, is equally loving to those who support him and to those who attack him, equally concerned about the welfare of all around him, regardless of their attitude and actions. The one person I have seen in life who never allowed himself to be shaken by the attacks of unfavorable circumstances was Mahatma Gandhi, who is a source of inspiration to how you and I can free ourselves from dependence upon public applause and appreciation. Following Gandhi's example we can develop such calmness and such confidence in the Atman that during reversals of fortune, which will inevitably come to all of us, we can maintain our equanimity and tranquility. We need not be downcast when people withdraw their support, or even attack us, because we can draw upon the Lord within to face any challenge.
Sri Krishna tells Arjuna, yogasthah kuru karmani: "First become established within yourself, be united with Me; then begin a career of selfless service." Do not be intimidated by heavy odds, by changing winds o fortune, or by the vacillations of people. Sangam tyaktva: do not worry about the results, thinking, will this come about? How long will it take? Will the results be delayed? D not be anxious abut all this because you have nothing to do with results. This is the secret of Gandhi, who embodies the ideal of karma yoga for the twentieth century. From the Gita he leaned to throw himself into an undertaking for a selfless goal, to use right means, and never to be anxious about the results.
Sri Krishna says siddhyasiddhyoh: be alike in victory and defeat. What does it matter if you have won temporarily, or have been defeated temporarily? when victory comes, do not get elated; do not let the ego get inflates; do not go about saying, "I have won; I have defeated my opposition." Instead remain calm, remain considerate, and remember that the Lord has given you victory. When defeat comes, do not moan, but grit your teeth and increase your effort, using right means to attain a selfless goal. This is yoga; this is the spiritual life: being alike in pain and please, victory ad deafest, praise and censure.
The Gita is a call for enthusiastic, selfless action, Sri Krishna impresses upon us that by practicing mediation daily, by repeating the mantram daily, we too can learn to establish ourselves within Him and then throw ourselves into tireless service for our family, community, country and world.
This is detachment: throwing oneself completely into selfless work and yet knowing the results are in the hands of God."
****This is an excerpt from Eknath Easwaran's book 'The End of Sorrow' ****
I love this book and I love how he describes Krishna's words to the public. As yogis we engage in Karma Yoga or action. The Bhagavad Gita is the life guide of the yogi, and Easwaran's approach to reading into it is so supporting of the yogi's lifestyle. I suggest you look beyond the word Lord and God if you feel it is too much for you, and replace it for Universal Love, Universal Law, or whatever fits your belief system. I believe we live in a world that is coordinated by something grater then ourselves, and therefore have over the years made a commitment to try to lead a life that is lead by love, faith and discipline. This has helped me greatly through all sorts of hard times at different stages of my life. It's helped me to feel like there is something outside of me that is supporting all, and therefore we are never alone in the struggle to freedom. That each stage no matter how hard or easy, pleasant or unpleasant is meant to be, and that there is no way around it, just through it. Believing this helps me to see the broader picture and understand that ultimately all will pass and all will be ok.
I share this with you this week because I myself have been going through some rough financial times, and do to the lack of time to feed my spiritual self through reading, meditating and deep devotional practice, lost trust and direction in believing I can exist and be supported in the material world through what I do. Being a self employed yoga teacher, with my own studio and my own retreat business, all is always dependent on how present I am in teaching, advertising, writing, networking, trusting, showing up...there is a lot of energy going out in order for what I do to sustain itself. Some of you may feel the same about your work. I write this in the hope that you too can find your way again. Picking up the this book helped me to recenter myself.
At the opening Pooja of AYNBNY, my home shala in Newburgh, NY, Priest Prakash reminded us that we must do what we are doing 100% percent, not 90%, not 70%, not 50%, only 100%. It is sometimes hard to do this, when you have a lot on your plate. This year I am choosing to devote my 100% attention to growing this world wide online community in the hopes that what I share helps you on your path, and that you choose to study with me on retreat or by visiting upstate.
What will you be putting 100% of your attention in this year?
Join me in Costa Rica this winter, where I will be co-leading a retreat with my dear friend Taylor Hunt. Here is a conversation we recently had on his podcast 'Heartbreak Kids'. Please join us!