Tuesday, October 15, 2013

we finished reading from the gita. what's on your mind? (to be reviewed this thursday in class)


Martin Gross said...

All these eastern philosophical disciplines look to create within an individual, a state equilibrium that is of the ego yet is egoless in application. This is in itself achieving a level of Zen like understanding of the ephemeral nature of self-satisfaction. The verses of the Gita that we read thus far, is a realization of duality within a person and to avoid the trappings of attempting to reach either extreme. Since the extremes of duality are never devoid of context, both have to be measured against the situation before mediating on the path to follow (find a way to the center).In essence to use surfing terminology, ride the wave, don’t fight it (flow with nature’s order).

Anonymous said...

I believe the gita tells the story of the universal spiritual war, which lives in everyone and is present in everything and everywhere. The essence of the gita, is the same spirit body that has travelled through time with all the teachings and masters who have dedicated their lives to the journey. Inside everyone of us, there is a duel between our dualistic nature. The ones who choose to be present to their internal state have an opportunity to create harmony within, which is then reflected on the outside. Its not about right or wrong, it's about harmony or disharmony.


Anonymous said...

I do not have many complex thoughts or answers about the Gita because I see it all very simply even if it is not. The closest thing to a complex thought that I have I guess would be whether or not I’m missing something by not overthinking, or whether I’m following Krishna in thought by not thinking too much or too little. So far, I do think that the Gita speaks plenty about balance and that balance and oneness are major parts of this philosophy. There was a part from chapter six that stood out to me…it reads…

“They are equally disposed to family, enemies, and friends, to those who support them and those who are hostile, to the good and the evil alike. Because they are impartial, they rise to great heights.”

Malala Yousafzai is a young activist from Pakistan that made headlines in the media for standing up about female educational rights in Pakistan and later, being targeted and shot in the face and neck by members of the Taliban for speaking out. A few nights ago, she appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where she was asked what she would do if attacked by a Taliban gunman. This was her reply:

"I would tell him how important education is and that I would even want education for your children as well. That's what I want to tell you, now do what you want."

"If you hit a Talib, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty. … You must fight others through peace and through dialogue and through education."

I do believe that this young lady’s words are a great way of highlighting the section from the text that I quoted. When I was her age, even younger, I had these same thoughts. I thought that things would just be better if we lived in accordance to honoring our beliefs. I wanted to be able to do that but then comes that attachment that Krishna always warns us about…it’s not really a material attachment but an emotional attachment that Krishna also mentions, only in a more positive manner.

“When a person responds to the joys and sorrows of others as if they were his own, he has attained the highest state of spiritual union.”

My personal struggles are that I relate to people so much so that I do not relate to them at all. It’s another contradiction much like many of the ones we oftentimes have heard in class. “If you are doing something, you are doing nothing”, or “if everything is always changing, then nothing changes.” It’s difficult to explain but it makes so much sense in my head. So many things are contradictions. Even the contradictions within ourselves-the angel is on one side telling us to do good while the devil is on the other telling us to do evil. Martin’s comment spoke of the duality within people, and that might be how these contradictions come to rise but something keeps me believing that they are essential. They allow us to find reason to mediate within our true selves.

The still mind is also an important concept in chapter six, but I find it important to note that Krishna does not claim such a feat to be easy. He goes on and on to say it takes plenty of practice. In section 37 of the chapter, Arjuna asks Krishna what happens to those who go on the journey but wander from the path and do not achieve success in yoga. To this, Krishna replies that “No one who does good work will ever come to a bad end, either here or in the world to come.”

…..I’m starting to write too much. I’m going to stop now and end this with another quote that I liked from the readings.

“The will is the only friend of the Self, and the will is the only enemy of the Self.”

….well…ain’t that the truth?

-Veronica Gomez Musa

atRifF said...

good point veronica. inspired!

Anonymous said...

I agree with both Martin and Laz regarding their previous comments.
In all honestly, whether I wasn't present mentally or didn't comprehend the material very well, only the last class we read the Gita in made sense to me. It just rung true, like what I have been thinking my entire life has existed in this scripture all along! Some days are spent as a body, and others I spend as a soul, relating to others on that level and really figuring out who I am and how to attain peace in my life. That last sentence was a little out there I hope someone can relate.

The internal dialogue between peace and serenity vs. chaos and depression have always been viewed as good vs. evil.
A quote just came to me that I've been seeing on the internet recently, "what is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly". Perception is where most of my problems stem from.

Humans are the only mammals that seen to have a problem with life. Everything else just... Is. To just exist isn't enough for me some days I require a higher calling because I believe I'm better than. Ugh I don't even want to joke about that because I think it stunts the spiritual growth of the world...
Anyways I sincerely enjoyed the reading and I hope we will continue in the future!


Anonymous said...

Boy. Reading the Gita one becomes all too aware of the concept of the augenblick of eternal moksha.

At first I sympathised greatly with Arjuna's hesitation. It is of course against all the principles of ahimsa to ask a god to drive your chariot into a body of men opposite your own with the intention of slaying them, is it not?

Krishna, didn't seem to think so. He argues that because men are condemned to relive their lives in different manifestations, the act of causing harm to the temporal corpse of one of these manifestations kills no one because the essence of the spirit that inhabited that corpse is gifted a new one.

This for me is slightly problematic. It opens up Hindu philosophy to one of the major problems that assaults the entirety of the discipline--moral relativism. If by doing harm one does no harm, then of what importance to moksha or to Brahman could my physical actions be?

I am sure that a Hindu priest would say that violence is violence and that's it. But if it means so little to the essence of our beings, and if we can do it under justified conditions, how can we ever know that the harm we cause does not reduce our dharma? Is not the intention that counts? If a little boy motions for a ball and I have thrown it at him but instead of landing in his hands hits him in the face, am I bad? No. In this way, the absolutism of moral consequences is dissolved in real life because one does harm most of the time with good intentions. If this is not so, explain to Brahman why war's require congressional approval (or at least did so when we had a normal congress).

I am confused. More than Arjuna.

Jose Giron

atRifF said...

jose, let me speak for myself: being confused is being less confused. and who in his/her right mind isn't?

Anonymous said...

There was one thing that I wanted to ask two classes ago, but I really didn't want to, was Arjuna exempt from Karma because his presence at the battle would actually save lives? I can't express how I'm amazed at the complexity of the B. Gita, it's the inter dialogue of perplexed man who arguing with himself on whether he should participate in a war, and the reasons he gives to go and fight somewhat seem utilitarian. But I can't get passed the fact that the B. Gita's about a man trying to justify war. But it's truly a beautiful piece of work, and a hell of a example of human duality, inter struggle, and psychology. Not to mention it's just a pleasure to read, kinda poetic and comforting. The edition Prof. Triff picked out's really great.
-Manny Alonso

Fabio. V said...

the gita is truly an amazing piece that deserves all sorts of gratification. It contains by far, the most conscientious intuitive notions ever transferred onto paper. (Here it comes!)However, the morality silently lurking within the gita remains questionable, for beyond what it is deemed simply innocuous and morally justified, the gita presents a set of extreme circumstances by explicitly reminding the reader, that the decisions taken, are taken for the sake of obliterating an enemy. How do we know that Krishna isn't the evil man whispering words of wisdom, embellished words to his Arjuna? Would you not agree with every command from one who claims that he is the almighty? Would not your soul be captivated by words of prepossessing qualities if they had the vigor, tenacity and truth-heaviness propounded by one cognizant of what you are ignorant of?

Anonymous said...

Having read passages from the Gita in previous classes, it was refreshing to open up this all so important reading and reflect on what it is actually trying to teach us. It is not very hard for me to wrap my mind around the concept of dharma as it applies to us fighting the battles which we face in our every day lives, whether internally or externally, and doing what must be done to the best of our ability,regardless of what fruits may or may not come of it.

"On action alone be thy interest, Never on its fruits;
Let not the fruits of action be thy motive,

I want to put emphasis on the last line of that verse because just like the fruits of our actions can be the motivator behind why we do certain things, it often times can cause us to do nothing instead and sit idly by simply because we fear what the outcome may be.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke

I have so much more going on in my mind when it comes to the significance of the Gita in my own personal journey of finding peace and I can't seem to find all the words to really express myself. so i'll leave it at this for now and i look forward to elaborating more and hearing all your feedbacks during our discussion in class!!!


Anonymous said...

Although I can't speak with the proper terminology, I have learned much from the Gita. The ideas almost seem too simple but when I go more in depth things get convoluted and lose their simplicity. I'm not sure if that's because they're supposed to be that clear or if I truly don't understand anything at all.

One thing that confused me when I was reading it was when Arjuna told Krishna he did not want to be a part of this war because he didn't want to fight against his own people, his own blood. To that Krishna responds that he has to do it because he was destine to and that which lies beyond the body is immortal. I didn't understand why such a violent act as war could be condoned even though I understand the body is mortal and temporary unlike what lies beneath. Then I started to think what really defines violence which is the intent. If fighting the war is something that Arjuna was born to do, something unavoidable, than does that really make it violent? If it doesn't, than what is it? Is he just acting upon his calling like a bee follows his calling to pollinate? Also, if he, for any reason, didn't go through with this fight, would he just be following someone else's dharma? Would that really be worse than undergoing this battle?

Anyways, I have more questions than answers but, hey, what else is new?

~Katherine Davila

Anonymous said...

I like the fact that the Bhagavad Gita is considered India's "most important gift to the world." I've enjoyed it so far, it's quite lovely. What's on my mind, basically, is that i'm so grateful that I've had the chance to read the Gita. I used to practice, I guess I can say, some of what the Gita is all about, as in acting accordingly and being compassionate and it's whole concept of acceptance and seeing the Lord-as it says in the book- in every creature, but a series of events occurred in which I seemed to have lost some of my inner peace and understanding and it was becoming difficult to get back to those thoughts and ways of being. Reading the Gita was helpful and reminded me of several important things.

And with that being said, these scriptures are divine, but mad people end up dead! and Krishna's encouraging Arjuna (which is completely emotionally unstable for battle!) to fight in the battle like "There has never been a time when you and I and the kings gathered here have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist." and then says more stuff and says "The body is mortal, but that which dwells in the body is immortal and immeasurable. Therefore, Arjuna, fight in this battle." I don't know, but it was a bit forward for me, if I was Arjuna I would've had a fit or something!
But overall, it was great, it feeds the soul for real.

-Carolina Vera

Nini said...

Gita is complex and simple to me all at the same times, it hard for me to understand when I find myself contemplating way to deeply about it. I don't know if this is strange but reading Gita makes me think about my life and what I go through and my thoughts and how I go about them. It reminds me of the battles I go though with myself everyday which are too personal to post however Gita makes me search so far deeply wit in myself that it either makes me emotional or frustrated to where my head is going to explode. Anyway I understand he's trying to justify a war, but if I dig deep enough it all seems so real. I can understand it if I don't over think it and Krishna reminds me to no think to much ofmitmor too little this it remains simple...I hope some one understands.

Anonymous said...

During our reading of "The Gita", I've been trying to take notes on certain aspects that intrigue me. I don't really have much to say. I really enjoyed these excerpts I'm about to write down for you all to read back on. The reading has been interesting and it is not a boring read whatsoever. I find myself very attentive and engaged in the reading. The message being presented is one of the self. A great message in my opinion.

I'm going to write down a few quotes that stood out.
"Live in the full wisdom of the self."

"Knowledge is greater than action."

"Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind."

"Do not be ruled by them, they are obstacles on your own path."

"The will is the only friend of the Self, and the will is the only enemy of the Self."

~Manuel Valdes

atRifF said...

Good discussion guys! with comments past 12.

Lars' point sounds true (& also a nice quote).

Nina, I agree.

Fabio, I'd say that your point is legitimate, and contained in the trimurti. Krishna is coming from a position of destruction (not as) construction but as conservation of the status quo --as long as it is the universe as we know it. See, Arjuna is no docile sheep. He argues Krishna's points with compelling counters (which makes for a rich philosophical discussion). But then, Krishna not only argues, he/she has a good arsenal of tools for life. There is a bad life and a good life and (at every step of the way) a better life to be had.

Valerie, tx for the Burke quote.

Vini Giannattasio said...

I like the suggestion made in class that the conflict is internal. Taking from the idea of the “Evil Genius” and the devil inside, I argue that both are the speaker himself. The text strikes me as a farce similar to the Book of Job. The common argument is that Job is tested by God on the premise of his loyalty. Does he serve God for the blessings, or does he do this out of his own conviction?

I still see the text as an excuse for Utilitarianism. The concepts of truth and good are relative to higher levels of manifestation. So a choice between conflicting truths is in order. Is that not, in essence, Utilitarianism? If one's Dharma is to go to war, does one make a choice between the higher truth of fallowing Brahman's will over the lesser truth of not harming? How is that not Utilitarian? Kantianism is based, I believe, in the idea that there is only one truth pertaining any situation. Utilitarianism open the question to multiple truths. The Guida exposes a choice, implying in multiplicity; therefore advocating utilitarianism.

From my statement in class, God is an utilitarian. Job suffers as a trial of his character. Arjuna battles Krishna in an effort to cope with his decision, as Job battles his friends while coping with what happened. It is my interpretation that Job, as Arjuna battles himself. He battles the possible explanations for what happened to him. Job's friends and Krishna are metaphorical manifestations of internalized concepts. He tries to find sin, a malevolent God, a powerful devil etc. The quintessential truth is not interpreted in Job. But I believe I have the answer. Job did not sin, but fallowed the wrong truth. The beginning of the book states that he sacrificed animals in case his children sinned, not out of spontaneous worship. He fallowed the Left Hand of God before fallowing the Right Hand.

I think the same problem is exposed in the text. Krishna tests his disciple's heart to see if he fallows his Dharma out of self-righteousness, or if he sacrificially obeys the will of Brahman. Which truth does he choose? The battle is the inner struggle between will and Ego. Krishna is the transcendental will opposing the dark side of self-righteousness.