When is inaction is not an option? Sometimes we are faced with situations or people that/who have violated our rights or other people’s rights and we are aware of it. It may feel it is easier to let nature take its course or allow Brahman to take care of it for us. Also, we contemplate that ‘action’ may require getting out of our comfort zone, commitment, perseverance, and sometimes a great deal of time and money too. We may also talk ourselves into justifying the inaction as that keeps us in the comfort zone. Listening to my intuition has worked for me. When I know that inaction may cause harm to others as well – time to act. Sometimes inaction may encourage the perpetrator to take us as weak and encourage them to continue this encroachment or injustice. If rules are broken, and we have the ability and option to take some action – we must follow through. It is easier let the fear of failure or rejection stop us from action. It is important to understand that regardless of the outcome action must be taken if it pertains to dharma and/or principles. I do my best to seek counsel and support from all I need and follow through with the necessary action. In one case, our neighbor sued us for $1000 for trimming a tree that he claimed was in his property and ruined his privacy. However, the tree was at the fence line. He also claimed that he had done a survey and that the fence was in his yard but declined from sharing the survey. My guts said otherwise. The PGE folks have been asking for our permission when they needed to trim trees that looked like they were in their yard. Getting a survey done would cost us almost $4000. He expected that he would flex his muscles and yell at us and we will bow down. I insisted we do the survey and not just pay him $1000. Guess what, after we did the survey we found out that not only was his second fence and dog-run was in our yard, five feet beyond his 2nd fence was within our property. The fight we had to put up was rather grueling and tense as police had to called and stay on stand by while we took down the fence and built a fence on the property line. He pushed the construction workers and my husband and flinging many racial slurs at us. He also came very close to pushing me but I stood my ground and warned this 6 foot 7inches, ex -football-linebacker to not come any closer and also called the sheriff. What he did not know was that we had video camera documenting the incidents. Although we ended up spending a bunch on the lawsuit and building our own fence, it was worth it. Needless to say, he knows he cannot extort from us or harass us and would have to think twice before he did any such tactic on others. When I created an awareness in the neighborhood of what we had to deal with, it was interesting to find out that he has been doing similar tactics on others and many had given in to him in exchange for temporary peace.
KARMA YOGA FOR A MORE PEACEFUL AND CONSCIOUS LIFE Dear Self ( Atma Chandra), The Gita says: You have the right to action ( work) only, but never to its fruits ( results). Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction. - Bhagadvad Gita Ch. 2;47 I am writing you this letter to help you connect to your birth right. Your radiance. Your souls power ( Atma Shakti & Iccha Shakti ). To tell you, you are enough. With a deeper understanding of Karma Yoga, I hope you will know this power and live and bask in this radiance on a more consistent basis and it will become your norm. The circuit breaks, backsliding,harming others and suffering will lessen and the attached, ego self will loosen it crips on you. Sattva will grow. Karma Yoga, the yoga of detached actions, gives us a whole system to help us live a more dharmic life fueled by Sattva. It is road map to help us understand the importance of cultivating Sattva, to live in Sattva mode ( unattached, as opposed to the attached Rajas, Tamas or Sattva), serving others and ultimately freeing us from, as the Gita teaches in the form of our Guru Acharya Shunyaji, the “ Disease of sorrow from attachment.” In the Gita we see the rapid escalation of Arjuna’s sorrow moving from attachment Raga , to Shoka, Grief, and then to Moha , full blown delusion . This is familiar to most, the human condition. Karma yoga describes this attached mind in detail (Gunas), the remedies to an attached mind; adopting and introducing the Science of the Five Detached Actions, (Bhuta Yajna-Give back to Mother Earth, Pitra Yajna- Give back to parents and ancestors,Manushya Yajna- Give back to humanity, Deva Yajna- Give back to God and divine forces,Brahma Yajna- Give back to Guru and spiritual tradition)and cultivating an attitude of Sattva while engaged in those actions. One of my biggest take aways as I deepen my understanding of Karma Yoga is the importance of Sattva and serving others and their connection. In our kula we talk about being Sattva Farmers but it wasn't until this assignment that I really saw how important Sattva is to our “mental hygiene.” Now I truly understand what it means to become a“Sattva farmer.” We want to pull Sattva from wherever we can, through mediating, walking in nature,daily ritual, chanting etc… and plant as many seeds of Sattva as we can. I love the imagery of planting seeds of Sattva and the blossoming and harvesting of Sattva. It’s a revolving door of Sattva. With deeper contemplation you realize that through serving others, even in your attached states as you turn your pursuits toward Dharma ( inner growth, adoption of values) and Moksha ( true self and God), and move away from the pursuit of Artha ( wealth, relationships etc…) and Kama ( pleasure), and your life becomes one of services while adopting the 5 Detached Actions, Sattva grows, heals, shines light and reminds. Below are the specific teachings in more detail; Karma Yoga describes 2 categories of actions: attached and unattached. The attached actions ( also know as the three qualities of the mind) include Rajas, Tamas and Saatva ( attached kind) in which you are only concerned with “myself’ and “mine”,only. The non- attached person remains in Sattva Mode Only and serves others primarily. I feel it is important to add in the Shunyajis teaching on the 4 types of thoughts taught in Satsangha. 4 TYPES OF THOUGHTS Rajas- a rajasic mind projects blame, is angry, impatient, stressed, sped up, greed, lust, aggression, unfulfilled desires,over indulgence, excessive cravings ( vasanas)etc.. “a wind swept pond.” Tamas- a tamasic mind is full of shaming thoughts. Muddy and stagnate. Tamas means darkness or concealed and a Tamas mind is dull, lazy, uninspired, dishonest, deceit, quarrelsome, and un able to discern. Reality Checking Thoughts- One begins to ask themselves, Really? Am I so pathetic? Am I so unlovable? Is my life so horrible? Question the self made reality. Sattvic- a sattvic mind is the master of ones mind and is able to discriminate Nitya ( eternal) thought and Anitya ( not eternal). Able to discern between what is real and what is not. Asks its self, “ Do you have a ticket? Did you pay for it?” A sattvic mind reveals Grace from within. Sattva, because of its stainless ( purity), is luminous and non-obstructive; it binds the mind by creating attachment to happiness and knowledge. Bhadvad Gita 14:6 Shunyaji says, “By making Saatva your deliberate mode of action you can live the life Ishwara intends for you. “Thought hygiene is in place, so mind becomes a wish fulfilling place.” By focusing more on Dharma and Moksha will keep our mind in a a healthier attached state as we move to an unattached state. Below are the four legitimate desires, Purushartas, that unchecked can lead to the attached states Rajas, and Tamas, esepcially when focusing on the first two Artha and Kama.” 4 Legitimate human desires, Purushartas Artha- Pursuit of material and emotional security, job, house, clothing, relationships, etc…( wealth and relationships) Kama- Pursuit of pleasures, comforts, sex, recreation, art, music, dance, aesthetics, beauty, fashion, etc.. Dharma- Pursuit of inner growth, adoption of value, ethics, social consciousness, maturity in interpersonal behavior, etc… Moksha- Pursuit of knowledge of true self and God Shunayaji says, “Then comes the Science of the Five Detached Action (nisha-kama karm) for Spiritual Growth. These are non-attached actions that must be learned. “Karma yoga asks us to take up sets of obligatory duties toward five agents of the cosmos.These are done simply because they are right and not for personal benefit. If we gain any benefits, they are incidental).” “ What we think, and ( because of our thoughts), how we act, influences and shape shifts the entire universe. To think wisely, is a very big responsibility. Vedas point to the sense of giving, and not just taking, that is inherent in nature. For example, the peach tree grows not for itself, but for others. The rivers carry water, not for itself, but for everyone else’s thirst. The flowers bloom not for themselves, but for others. What did you come here to blossom into , and how can you become a gift to the universe?How can you be that, which existence celebrates and supports, since you have become of incredible value to the divine allies through your sharing, interconnected and compassionate heart.’ To become a contributor, a giver, a helper, and a sharer, not only with fellow humans but with all God’s creatures is dharma. When dharma emerges in the mind, we become a self-appointed custodian of our planet, other earth, and the mountains, rivers, rocks, pebbles, and very grain of sand becomes beloved to us in our mind. We feel an undeniable connection with all.” We do this by fulfilling our Karmic Debt to the Five Universal Agents, the dharmic code of conduct.” Bhuta Yajna-Give back to Mother Earth Pitra Yajna- Give back to parents and ancestors Manushya Yajna- Give back to humanity Deva Yajna- Give back to God and divine forces Brahma Yajna- Give back to Guru and spiritual tradition I find it relevant to mention that as I am writing this final draft of this homework assignment under the stars on the back porch of my in laws country home. The creek is flowing and the sounds of the night is alive and crisp. While nature was pouring its sattvic, healing cosmos energy down upon me as I sat at the table outside, I heard a rapid hum of wings zoom around me. I wasn't scared, ( being completely in my power protected by shasta and true knowledge, but curious about what this creature could be. Then I heard it fly into the wall lit by the outdoor porch light and hit the ground. It lay on the hits back struggling to return to its fit, successfully returned to his feet a few times, attempted to fly only to his the wall and glass door repeatedly. It was a beautiful June bug, golden brown, with white and bright green stripes. I wanted to help it and flip it over, but as Vedantic student I instead decided to turn off the all the lights that was drawing this poor creature in and finish my assignment inside. Electricity has given so much, but it has also taken the night away from the night crawlers, nocturnal animals, and us humans who stay up much later than nature intended as a result. That was a small contribution to Bhuta Yajna. May you integrate this knowledge rapidly Chandra and it become your default. Now go do your Manushya Yajna and go tend to crying Nina. Many Blessings, Your True Self, Chandra
“You have a choice over action alone”: These lines refers to our free will as humans. I reflect on that fact that I am 100% responsible for my own actions and thoughts at any given moment. I believe it also implies that I get to choose the attitude that I bring to any action (dharmic or adharmic, with the resulting consequences). This places a tremendous responsibility on us to choose each of our actions thoughtfully and wisely, whether it be small acts throughout our daily life or bigger choices life choices. It asks us to stop and think before we respond to a difficult person or situation. Ultimately, I believe this part of the verse indicates that in each action we can be grounded in God and act from a place of dharma. In my own life, I can see that sometimes in the past I was apt to blame others when I found myself in a difficult situation. By not taking full responsibility for my actions, I helped to escalate an already bad situation. I became part of the problem. Now, when I do take full responsibility and make a conscious choice to act from dharma, I am able to choose a win-win response. If the other party(ies) in the situation are not acting from dharma, then it’s even more important that I do so, as I might be the only one who can approach the problem from an enlightened point of view. I’ve seen it happen several times that I can diffuse a potentially negative circumstance by choosing to act from dharma. “Never over results”: This line teaches us that we cannot control the outcome of any action, even if we want to. I think it is difficult for many people, especially Westerners, to accept this basic truth. I include myself in this. Many of us have been taught that we have full control over the outcome of anything, as long as we take all the “right” actions, work extremely hard, make the right personal connections, think positive thoughts, etc. If things don’t work out our way, then we can tend to blame ourselves, blame others and/or become very disappointed, upset, angry, etc. This false belief that we can control the outcome causes us emotional distress and creates drama in relationships. It seems to me that this false belief is the root of much of the suffering that we inflict on ourselves and others. Ultimately, this line means to me that I must trust Ishwara. When I look back on my life, I can see that I have never really trusted God. Instead, I have always tried to control the outcome of situations. I mistakenly thought it was all up to me, which is a huge burden that created an unhealthy amount of internal stress. I’ve always asked myself, Did I do enough? Can I do more? How can I work more hours? How can I do a better job? Why did I make that (stupid) decision? This led to a kind of perfectionism that continually disturbed my inner peace. I’m so grateful that I’m learning to let go all of that self-defeating thinking. It’s a relief that I can simply do my best, without overworking or over-thinking, and know that whatever happens is for the highest good. This requires TRUST. I am working on trusting in God every day, in every circumstance. I will give a current example of how I am allowing myself to let go and trust God (in other words, let go of the outcome). I have planned a women’s yoga & Ayurveda wellness retreat for the last weekend in October together with a colleague. Since we began marketing it, we have gotten very little response. This is so surprising because my last two retreats sold out very quickly. In spite of this, I have been totally calm about the lack of interest so far. I have decided three things, based on this verse: 1) I will do my best to continue to market the retreat and not give up, 2) I will not go overboard and spend excessive amounts of time and money (unhealthy perfectionism), and 3) I am totally fine with any outcome, knowing that Ishwara is teaching me something in any situation. If I keep my heart open to the lessons being given to me, I will learn what I need to learn for my own personal growth and perhaps even something about my worldly work. I have also had to convey my genuine peacefulness to my colleague, whom I observe is very upset by the lack of response and is creating drama for herself as she runs “what if…” scenarios in her mind. This probably would have been my reaction, too, if I had not committed myself to living out this beautiful verse in my own life. “May you not be motivated by the results of action”: I believe this line has enormous consequences for how we approach our work and our life in general, either from artha-kama or dharma-moksha. I have learned that the attitude that we bring to all our activities is critical; specifically, an attitude of service to Ishwara must be the basis of our actions. I believe that when we try to control the outcome of our actions, we often end up acting purely from artha-kama, without dharma-moksha, and this in turn leads to much adharmic behavior and emotional distress that can cause suffering for ourselves and others. It’s therefore important to stay focused in the here and now, on the task at hand, which ultimately must always be service to God. In my own life, I am trying to implement this attitude of service at all times. When I do so, the results are inconsequential because I already know that I’ve done my duty in the here and now. I am checking my own attitude when, for example, I do household chores for my family, work on a translation, take my dog to the park, plan a yoga event, etc. Am I doing this in service to God, with joy in my heart? Or am I experiencing any negative thoughts of irritation, judgment, self-pity, etc? If I find my own mind going to a negative place, I try to reflect on it and then consciously shift into dharmic thoughts of service. Then my mood almost instantly improves and people around me respond more positively as well. When I don’t have any expectations from my own service, then my work seems almost effortless. “May you not have an inclination/attachment towards non-action”: This line suggests that we must not fall into tamas when life experiences seem difficult, which is a common human tendency. We are always called to take dharmic action. The Lord requires us to be strong in the face of difficulties rather than retreat in defeat or apathy. I believe it all comes back to doing one’s duty with an attitude of service in the present moment. Even if we believe our actions won’t make any difference, that is actually beside the point. We must take dharmic action anyway as we recognize that we cannot know what Ishwara knows. This makes me think especially about our duty to vote in elections and to take non-violent action to address injustice in our society. Many people will say that voting does not matter, that our government is totally corrupt and that the wealthiest among us control everything anyway, so why bother. However, in the face of injustice and corruption, we must act for the common good. Not taking action is a choice too! When we don’t take action, whether it be as a citizen of the U.S. or in our own personal lives, we choose the status quo. For this reason, I have committed myself to working 5 hours a week to help get Progressive Democrats elected to the U.S. Senate and House. I honestly don’t know if my actions will have an impact, especially because I live in a very conservative, Republican district that generally supports our current president, but I feel I have a duty to help and, who knows, maybe my little effort will plant a seed in someone else that will grow even though I won’t ever know for sure. Again, it all comes back to trusting in God. I will end my reflections here, although I could continue for several more pages. I’m so very grateful for these teachings. This verse in particular, Chapter 2, Verse 47, has been changing my life for the better on a daily basis, and I hope that the peace I’m finding within is contributing to the greater good as well.