IF the Bhagavad Geeta is a guide to daily living how do we apply its lessons in our everyday life? And what prevents us from applying these lessons? It is not just sufficient to have the knowledge. It is important for us to let the knowledge be absorbed into us so that our actions are automatically guided by this knowledge. This Adult Retreat under the guidance of our beloved Swami Shrikarananda was yet another opportunity to gain knowledge and absorb it for practical application into our daily life.
From the start Swamiji had us examining what we thought we knew. His first question for us to discuss, firstly in groups and then together was: What is Spirituality? Why should I become spiritual? What are the benefits of being spiritual? Is it 24/7?
Although we used different words to describe it, the essence was that Spirituality was a path towards a greater purpose, a way to uncover our true nature. It is a practical framework for us to master our senses. Without Spirituality, you will not uncover your true nature nor exhaust your vasanas in this life. It is often spoken of as something different to Religion, but Swamiji explained how Religion was important in developing Spirituality and that all religions teach the same basic truth. There are different paths to the same end. And of course, it would make little sense to be Spiritual on a part time basis. However, it does not mean that you cannot live a life within the world of objects or experiences. It means that our responses to these objects and experiences are guided by understanding, balance and equanimity. In the words of Gurudev, “Spirituality does not lie in doing something different but in doing everything in a special way. It is more of a vision than an action”.
Swamiji then asked us ‘What are habits?’. Of course, it is hard not to think of habits in the negative – bad habits. But habits can also be good and good habits are a useful aid for replacing bad habits. Habits were described as repetitive, regular, and hard to give up. To overcome habits, you need to know why you are doing what you are doing. Sometimes we are not even aware of our habits. Introspection is important in identifying and understanding our habits. In overcoming habits, it is necessary to substitute them with something higher. You cannot replace it with something equal to or lower. Again, Spirituality helps us to develop enquiry which helps us to identify and overcome habits that distract us from our path. All habits though are an attachment and in the end even good habits need to be given up.
Our attention was then drawn to the question of Duty. What is Duty? Chapter 2 Verse 31 in the Geeta helps us to understand duty. It is action in accordance with our true inner constitution. Arjuna not only belongs to the group of Kshatriyas because of birth but also by his nature. We all have different natures, some contemplative, some energetic, some caring, and therefore different duties. It is important for us to approach our duties with gratitude, we have been chosen to do this action. To quote Rabindranath Tagore:
“I slept and dreamed that life was joy,
I awoke and saw that life was duty,
I acted, and behold: Duty was joy.”
In discussing duty, we also questioned what is work?. Intelligent action is work. Love made visible is work. Whatever work we do can be a yajna sacrifice, a sacrifice of the ego. In all actions, you give to your capacity, the best that you can do at that time. And work should be done in a cooperative spirit. We must look at how we can develop ourselves to contribute positively to the world. Transform ourselves to transform the world.
We were given an opportunity to explore this in a practical sense through teamwork. In carrying out the tasks it became evident how important habit, knowledge, listening, reflection, and cooperation were in producing an outcome.
Lastly, Swamiji asked what is Sin? Chapter 2, Verse 33 explains that Sin is to act against your own true nature. If Arjuna did not fight he would not only renounce his own swadharma but incur positive sin by not fulfilling his noble duty. We are born into this life so that we can exhaust our vasanas. We cannot exhaust these vasanas by acting against our nature. Therefore, it is our duty to use this life to remove the obstacles that prevent us from knowing our true nature. To waste this God-given opportunity is a sin.
Spirituality + Good Habits + Duty helps one to uncover their true nature and therefore negate Sin.
Please visit http://www.chinmaya.com.au/brisbane/ for the details of our classes and Sunday Family Program.
Upcoming event: Annual Family Weekend Retreat 15th to 17th September 2017. Contact: Sangeetha 0401 074 738