Finding Wisdom Beyond the Words of the Gita
In a village nestled between green hills and crystal streams, there lived a wise old monk known for his serene and thoughtful nature. One day, a young man from a distant town visited the monk, seeking enlightenment. He had with him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, its pages worn from frequent reading and the margins filled with meticulous notes.
"Master," the young man began, "I have studied the Gita diligently, seeking the wisdom it holds. I have analyzed each verse, cross-referenced commentaries, and debated its meanings with scholars. Yet, I feel as distant from enlightenment as the day I started. What am I missing?"
The monk invited the young man to walk with him through the village. As they walked, they passed a small boy, Zachary, playing by the stream, stacking pebbles one on top of the other with no purpose other than the joy of the moment.
Observing this, the monk turned to the young man and said, "See how Zaccy plays with the pebbles, fully immersed in the moment, not seeking anything beyond the joy of playing? He does not ask the pebbles to reveal their secrets, nor does he demand wisdom from them. Yet, in his innocence and simplicity, he is in harmony with the world."
The monk paused, allowing the scene to sink into the young man's consciousness. Then, he continued, "You approach the Gita as one would climb a mountain, determined to conquer its peak and claim the wisdom you believe rests at the summit. But the Gita, like any spiritual text, is not a mountain to be conquered. It is a stream to be experienced, its waters flowing freely, touching the soul, not to be grasped or contained."
"The Gita speaks of equanimity, of finding balance and not being swayed by the dualities of success and failure. It is in this equanimity, this approach of reading not to acquire but to simply be with the text, that its true essence unfolds. Like Zaccy, if you engage with the Gita not with the intent to extract wisdom but to experience its flow, you may find that the wisdom you seek has been within you all along, waiting for the silence of your expectations to reveal itself."
The Zen story crafted above draws inspiration from my conversations with our advanced TT students regarding the Bhagavad Gita and the paradox of seeking wisdom in its verses. I emphasized that embarking on a journey through the Gita with the intention of extracting wisdom is ironically the first step towards ignorance. Wisdom, I believe, blossoms internally and cannot be forcibly extracted from any text. This leads me to pose a question that may seem unusual at first glance: What do you truly seek when you delve into the Gita?
One cannot read the Gita in search of wisdom. Wisdom is acquired from within. Consider the example of a man who spent six months in silence reading the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. What is the end game? When someone says 'knowledge,' I personally think they are lost. The goal of acquiring something is the undoing.
When people ask me what I wish from reading the Gita, I say nothing. I just read it "because".
It’s funny, Zac, who is 4, often responds to my questions with 'because.' There is much wisdom in that simplicity. If we are looking for wisdom, we bend our bias, our views, and our opinions with the Gita, and we make the Gita fit us. This is why there are so many different interpretations. We want the text to fit our innate nature. We should read for love.
A profound quote from the Bhagavad Gita that resonates with this idea is, 'The wise are not deluded by these changes.' (Chapter 2, Verse 15). This line reminds us that true wisdom lies in understanding the impermanence of external conditions and not being swayed by them.
Perform your duty equipoise, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga." (Chapter 2, Verse 48)
In conclusion, approaching the Gita, or any spiritual text, should be an act of love, not a quest for something to gain. Like the innocence and simplicity in Zac's approach to life, engaging with the Gita without the clutter of expectations or objectives allows for a more authentic and personal understanding of its teachings.
Zahir Akram - eternal seeker
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