Gaurav Rastogi is blogging his thoughts as he reads the Bhagvad Gita for the first time. He is 35, lives in the Bay Area, curiously religious but not a Sanskrit scholar. His blogs on the first few chapters of the Gita can be found in our archives under the category "Blogging the Gita".
As I read and blog the Gita, I notice that my approach to life is improving! As you will notice I haven't become a complete Karma Yogi or an Ascetic yet. Like all year-end reviews, let me rate my favorite verses/advice in ascending order of ease of use.
#5 Seeing clearly through the cloud of the senses
Please refer to the last chapter's note around "math addicts" that talks about the veils that cloud the mind. The prodigious input from the senses blocks one's ability to observe the world as it is. While I agree with the principle, I find this the most difficult to follow in real life – perhaps because it takes practice and meditation to calm the senses and get real wisdom.
The closest I have got to this feeling is when I took Sudafed for my sinus headache. My sinus is usually accompanied by blurred vision and fogged thinking. With Sudafed, calmness immediately engulfed my being, my breathing cleared, and my thoughts began to focus again. That has got to be the same feeling that ancient seers talk about.
#4 Knowing and doing my dharma
If you go back and read the comments and debate around BG 3:35, it seemed obvious that every man should know his duties, and should only live his dharma. I put this advice in the easier-said-than-done department. The advice would be easier to follow if there was a written list of things to do for every occasion, customized for me. Maybe in the form of a fortune cookie – "#245: You will make a big decision at work today. Choose the one your superior likes".
Unfortunately, I don't get fortune cookies, SMS texts or Outlook Tasks from the powers that be telling me what to do. As a result, I am usually confused about what it is exactly that is my dharma, and I'm left thinking "what would Krishna do", with little luck.
#3 Waiting for a Messiah
whenever there is a decline of dharma, bhaarata,
an ascendency of adharma, then myself I manifest
for the deliverance of the good and for the destruction of the sinners
in order to establish dharma, I come from age to age
Sometimes I really wish there was a messiah, a genie, or at least an email system crash to bring back balance into my life. Right now, all my unanswered emails gnaw away at my soul, waiting for a response. While we're wishing how about a freak storm that would magically manicure my lawn, and prune my trees. Imagine what would happen if you could re-start your life afresh, anew, clean slate, no emails, no strings attached? You need a Messiah every once in a while to set things right. A divine Ctrl+Alt+Del.
The Didn't-I-say-so prophecy of the month: Did you notice how the fed Chairman did his bit as the "redeemer" of the market with another rate cut last week. Another prophecy made by the ancient Indian seers!
#2 Always be working
Not for me, Partha, are there any duties in the three worlds,
Nor anything to attain that is unattained; and I am always at work
This verse remains my favorite in the Gita so far. Krishna's example of always being at work is also quite easy to follow, thanks to the benefits of flexi-time and personal "productivity" tools – such as blackberry, cellphone, Outlook email, conference calls, global teams, video conferences, and working from home. Now, one can truly afford to be always at work, and never on a break. I spent 40% of last quarter traveling on work. During the remainder 60% period I frequently found myself, unshaven and unbathed, falling out of bed and into conference calls at 6am (pacific), and being at work till I'm ready to fall right back into the bed at 11pm (pacific). Just replace "three worlds" with "three time-zones", and you have a one verse summary of my exciting lifestyle. Perhaps yours too?!
#1 Renouncing the fruits of one's labor
Working in the corporate sector makes this the easiest one to follow. Large companies work in mysterious way and one should never hope to be directly rewarded for one's actions. Instead, a dilbert-ian performance management logic links actions with rewards.Like a true karma yogi, I can only take satisfaction in my own actions, knowing fully well that the fruits of my labor are not mine to reap. Instant karma, no karmic stains. Brilliant! All in all, I have found the teachings of the Gita surprisingly contemporary and applicable. They have certainly changed my attitude and given me peace of mind and a better perspective. Quite character building, actually.