“He who cannot be ruffled by these (contacts of the senses with their objects), who is calm and even minded during pain and pleasure, he alone is fit to attain everlastingness!”
–Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 2 Verse 15. Translation by Paramanhasa Yogananda.
This week I thought I would switch source material and move to the Bhagavad-Gita. If you’re not familiar with the Gita it is one of the most important books in Hinduism. It is the story of a man named Arjuna despondent over having to fight a war and the response by the god Krishna in encouraging him to go out and fight. If that sounds like an overly simplistic plot, especially for a supposedly spiritual book, it is. The Gita is one of the most finely crafted allegorical texts in the world with each of its 700 verses having many deeper levels—primarily being that this is really the story of having the courage to fight our own lower natures and achieve enlightenment. Next to A Course in Miracles, I would say the Bhagavad-Gita is the most advanced spiritual text out there.
And while you can write whole essays on just about every verse (I would recommend Paramahansa Yogananda’s commentaries on the Gita if you’re interested) I have chosen the above verse for this week’s meditation. This quote at the beginning of Krishna’s teachings is about the rather low importance of the outside world to our inner growth. (This quote also stood out because it is just goddamn cold out there this week, and I too needed reminding that it was a transitory sense perception).
In many ways this is but an extension of the thought from last week. Our internal happiness is something that isn’t to be dictated by outside forces and stimuli. The trick is to be happy at all times and realize it is because you choose to be happy. Both when things are not going well—like having to walk outside in this ungodly cold—and this alone requires force of will. But also implied in this is that when things are pleasant and outside circumstances are good, we need to remember that we are not happy because of the outside world, but because we choose to be happy. It is this pleasant moments that are actually harder to maintain the realization that happiness is a choice, we need in those good moments that we are happy as a result of choice and not because the weather is nice or our most annoying coworker has left.
Try to keep this in mind when you’re both happy and unhappy this week and see if it isn’t easier to stay in a positive mood.