Sri Krishna said:
As the senses contact the objects of the senses, feelings of heat and cold, pain and pleasure arise, Arjuna.
These sensations come and go; they’re impermanent.
Patiently endure them, strong soul.
Through our senses-our eyes, ears, nose, and skin-we come in contact with the world around us. The sensations are carried by the nerves to the brain. Some mechanism in our brain decides whether a sensation is pleasurable or painful. If we mistakenly feel that this mechanism in the brain is “me”(what is known as egoism), we experience ourselves as being either happy or miserable-but never at peace.
When we think of ourselves as the body and mind, we are naturally driven to seek to maximize pleasure and minimize or completely avoid pain. Though this is natural for all living organisms, Sri Krishna says here that this is not a smart strategy for those seeking to find a deeper meaning in life. This running after things we want and away from things we don’t want is in itself stressful and agitating for the mind.
If we are really interested in enjoying our lives and finding a deeper peace, rather than running after some things and away from others, Krishna suggests that we stand our ground and train the mind to remain steady and balanced whatever comes our way. Everyone’s life will have success and failure, praise and blame, profit and loss, pleasure and pain. These fluctuating pairs of opposites, called the “dwandwas,” will always be there. Krishna asks us to “patiently endure them”- the Sanskrit word he uses is “titiksha,” meaning endurance or a mental evenness that arises from the understanding that everything will pass. Titiksha means that we still feel the pleasant or painful sensation, and our identity is still entwined in the sensation, but we begin to develop the capacity to not react no matter what the situation. Thus our minds will become stronger and healthier, and the external environments will have less and less power over us. When we are less disturbed over the events of our lives, we become more useful to those around us and a source of strength for those in need. Without this balance and mental steadiness, our minds are continually shaken by our experiences, becoming weak, oversensitive, and prone to constant irritation.
The most powerful way to become the “strong soul” that Krishna refers to is to see that all the circumstances and events of our lives-big and small, pleasant and painful, physical and emotional-can be utilized to help us to become stronger, clearer, and more directed toward our spiritual essence. With such an unwavering mind, we will become fit for the veil that covers our eternal, blissful nature to be lifted.
The Bhagavad Gita is a 2,500 year old Sanskrit text that offers profound insight into the deeper practices of yoga. As the seeker in the Gita metaphorically prepares for the battle of spiritual transformation, he asks his teacher a series of questions. In his answers the teacher explains the many challenges and stages of the yogic spiritual path.
IYTA members receive a 45% discount on the Bhagavad Gita at Integral Yoga Distribution.
Upcoming Related Programs in 2015:
- “Advanced Hatha Yoga Teacher Training” from August 9-30, 2015 with Swami Asokananda
- “Understanding the Bhagavad Gita” from August 21-23, 2015 with Yoganand Michael Carroll
- “Intermediate Hatha Yoga Teacher Training” from June 21-23, 2015 with Satya Greenstone
The ITT course includes the study of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the world’s great scriptures. Many may not realize that the Bhagavad Gita is a manual of Yoga par excellence. The treasure revealed within the Gita expounds the philosophy and practices of the Four Main Paths of Yoga, introduced to Integral Yoga students in the Basic teacher training course. In ITT we will expand our understanding of the comprehensiveness of yoga which comprises Integral Yoga.