Crossing the Bridge
I sometimes experience a great divide between the reading of our sacred books and the bedrock of our daily lives. The bhakti theology teaches, mainly through story, how to live well in the world and seek out the great underlying purpose behind everything. We read and we are inspired, and then we walk out the door and we forget. A rivers flows between what we should do and what we actually do. How do we cross that river? How do we bring the teachings to life and into our life where there, and only there, they can do their work on changing us for the better?
The bridge I have found most helpful recently has six components, and each overlap and support the other. Each morning I recite the Gita Values to build that bridge and remind me to use them as I respond to the day ahead of me. The six Gita Values are: equal vision (sama darshana), choice (iccha), humility (amanitva), affection (priti), living by example (acarya), and without cruelty (ahimsa). They help me walk back and forth between the roots of my spiritual practice and my particular life circumstance at any given time. They help my consciousness be in the right place so I can move more deeply towards an experience of my true and eternal spirit self, while living in my body and in the world.
As we let the Gita values percolate through our life, they begin to show up in fun and interesting ways. They bring consciousness and awareness to situations where before we might ignore or happily stay in our conditioned way of responding. This morning I came down to the breakfast lounge of a small Inn. Styrofoam cups and plates! Seriously, people? My ranting mind began it’s usual rant! Mother earth and endless plastic and on and righteously on...
Then ‘equal vision’ popped into my head - good cups or not, don’t judge the people as worse or better than myself. Maybe they just don’t know the impact of styrofoam or maybe they are in the process of getting rid of them. Who knows? I can say something to the managers with ‘affection’. I can ‘live by example’ and skip breakfast. I can stay ‘humble’ and remember that change happens slowly. I can also ‘choose’ not to stay in this hotel again (or bring my own plates!) and thus live with integrity. And any one of these responses is helping me live my life with ‘without cruelty’ - to mother earth, to others and to myself.
It might be a small thing, breakfast plates, but isn’t where we live right with the small things? How else do we connect with and make our efforts to please Krishna? Waiting for a grand and visible display of our devotion? I don’t think so. No, it’s those small private moments, in honoring the teachings by living them, that insights into to mindfulness, presence, and Krishna consciousness flow. Otherwise, Bhagavad-gita remains ‘as it is’ on the shelf, and we remain ‘as we are’ in the world, sometimes here, sometimes there, but going nowhere.