Monday, October 25, 2010

The Field of Kurukshetra

One need not be immersed in the deep waters of The Mahabharata to glean wisdom from The Bhagavad Gita, from Krishna’s counsel to Arjuna in a time of war. Nor does one need to be Hindu; for the battle against one’s own lower nature is preached in every major religion. The Islamic concepts of Greater and Lesser Jihad are particularly relevant. The notion of Jihad is much abused and maligned today. The Lesser Jihad is the one with which most are familiar; it is holy war against the enemies of religion; it is the outer form of war. The Bhagavad Gita is a book about the war between the Pandava and the Kuru, the war of Arjuna and his brothers against impious kinsmen. But The Bhagavad Gita is a metaphor for what Muslims call the Greater Jihad, the war against one’s own evil inclinations. Set in the backdrop of an ancient war 3000 years ago, the message of the Gita remains meaningful and is properly considered both a revealed religious text and a classic work of philosophy. The allegory of the Gita still resonates.

Like Arjuna, we stand on the field of Kurukshetra facing the armies of passion, of greed, and of pride. These we have too long considered our friends, our companions, as dear to us as family. Krishna urges us to fight, to see them as enemies, to vanquish them. Yet we hesitate, uncertain, fearful that destroying them destroys some part of ourselves. Krishna counsels us; this war is not spiritual suicide, but whether we win or lose we must fight for this war is the path to our liberation from the snares and springes of an inconstant world. This is what Krishna taught three thousand years ago.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where Night Never Falls

Arjuna said:

Who is the One transcendent? Who is the One immanent? What is His action? What is the sacrifice, and who makes it? O Krishna, how are you found in the final moment, in the last exhalation?

Krishna said: 

The One transcendent is the Most High. The One immanent is His nature within you. His action is creation, through which the universe is sustained. The universe is perishable, but the One is everlasting, within you and beyond you. The perishable body is the sacrifice, though which I receive sacrifice.

In his final moment, in his last exhalation, the man who thinks of Me, comes to Me. I am his shelter.

In his final moment, in his last exhalation, wherever his mind strays, there he remains. Whatever he captures, it captures him.

Therefore, be mindful of Me, detached from all things, and fight. Mindful of Me, you will come to Me.

If a man’s mind does not stray, but is yoked to the Most High, in the practice of detachment and selfless action, he goes to the Most High.

That man goes to Him, the Ancient of Days, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Destroyer of worlds, smaller than an atom, upholding the heavens, blazing like the sun where night never falls.

He goes to Him. In his final moment, if that man restrains his mind, is armed with love and with the strength of My practice, his eyes turned within, he finds shelter in Me.

This is My path, embodied in scripture, which the wise and devoted, purged of all passion, call eternal. Let me reveal it.