Back in the day, people were engaged in sadhana which involved fire and had a system which involved arani. Arani has a top cup, a bottom cup and a rod. The rod is rubbed until a spark occurs and helps the lint catch fire. This is from the perspective of karma kanda. The symbolism of it from jnana kanda is the top cup is the Guru. The bottom cup is the shishya. The rod is the Upadesa/teachings. The spark that is created from the Guru who offers the teaching, and the student who is reflecting on it, is the insight. The lint is ignorance. This is from Katha Upanishad when Rishi Devayama tells Nachiketa that this has to be done everyday. One has to be vigilant in reflecting on what the Guru offers, so that we feel the spark inside of us which lights up all the confusion and sadness around us. Our engagement in mananam is unique as we are approaching it from the perspective of Prince Arjuna’s questions.
Chapter 1 – Theme of Chapter 1 is Fear
Question 1: What is Peace? Practical answer is quietude. When the mind is quiet, we feel that we have everything that we want and need.
Question 2: What is Sin? Practical answer is agitation. There is first a mental hell and if we don’t check it, there is a physical hell. The context needs to change for us to change.
Question 3: What is righteousness? Practical answer is responsibility. Doing that which is right is righteousness. The responsibilities in our life whether we like it or not is our dharma
Question 4: What is prioritization? Practical answer is clarity. There is so much wastage in our inner world because we lack clarity. Prioritize what is important ie self-development which will lead us to clarity, conviction, and confidence.
Question 5: What is grief? Practical answer is confusion. When we are confused about the nature of articles, beings and circumstances, and believe that they will last forever to bring us happiness, all that happens is grief.
Chapter 2 – Theme of Chapter 2 is Fearlessness
Question 6: What is efficiency? Practical answer is simplicity. Simple living, high thinking. High thinking is efficiency. The more simple our socialization, the more efficient we will be.
Question 7: What is sacrifice? Practical answer is dedication. What precedes sacrifice is dedication. Only if we are dedicated, will we sacrifice.
Question 8: What is independence? Practical answer is understanding. When we understand that the sense organs engage in sense objects that are changing and finite, we do not depend on them and we will have freedom from confusion and grief.
Question 9: What is silence? Practical answer is evolving. When we INjoy our own company, we do not need to act or speak as much. That is a sign of our evolution.
Question 10: What is focus? Practical answer is efficiency. If we want to do more in our life, we need to focus. Whatever we focus on, we will be better in it.
Question 11: What is discipline? Practical answer is purpose. Purpose pulls performance. Whatever we think is our purpose, the best in us comes out toward that purpose..
Chapter 3 – Theme of Chapter 3 is Dedication
Question 12: What is responsibility? Practical answer is living. Train that our whole life is responsibility and then it does not matter what responsibility it is.
Question 13: What is attachment? Practical answer is dependency. What we are attached to is what we depend on for our stability and mood . Addiction is synonymous to attachment.
Question 14: What is desire? Practical answer is extroversion. Our typical desire is for articles, being and circumstances and not for self-development.
Chapter 4 – Theme of Chapter 4 is Deservershiplessness
Question 15: What is reincarnation? Practical answer is opportunity. When one dies, the next body is an opportunity to keep on learning. For a sincere seeker, there is no fear in reincarnation.
Chapter 5 – Theme of Chapter 5 is Doershiplessness
Question 16: What is doership? Practical answer is forgetting. When we forget our original parent, we start to feel we are the doer. For one who remembers, we feel we are the instrument.
Chapter 6 – Theme of Chapter 6 is Delight
Question 17: What is failure? Practical answer is irrelevant. There is no failure for a seeker. Every experience is an opportunity to evolve.
Question 18: What is opportunity? Practical answer is all. All that happens to us is an opportunity. Whatever is hard trains us more.
Chapter 7 – Theme of Chapter 7 is Internalizing
Chapter 8 – Theme of Chapter 8 is Concentration
Question 19: What is Infinity? Practical answer is life. Living is that which keeps on changing. Life is that which never changes. That is Infinity.
Question 20: What is Self? Practical answer is Spirit. The absolute Self never needs care. We are not the mind or the ego. Our Self is the Atman.
Question 21: What is work? Practical answer is means. Work is the means of whatever we want in life – position or peace.
Question 22: What is creation? Practical answer is change. Every aspect of creation is changing at different rates.
Question 23: What is perception? Practical answer is expression. Our nature is shining and everything that we are perceiving is an expression of that nature. The effect is the expression of the cause. Without our nature being Awareness, we cannot know anything.
Question 24: What is interaction? Practical answer is Oneness. The cause pervades the effect which means there is no effect or cause. There is Oneness.
Question 25: What is remembrance? Practical answer is direction. Whatever we remember today will become our direction tomorrow. This will decide our next lifetime.
Chapter 9 – Theme of Chapter 9 is Offering. First internalize, concentrate then offer aspects of ourselves to Bhagavan Krishna
Chapter 10 – Theme of Chapter 10 is Pervading
Question 26: What is God? Practical answer is support. Everything that is happening to us and everything that we are is supported by God. This is Existence.
Question 27: What is virtue? Practical answer is humility. In all interactions with our master, we need to relish being number 2.
Chapter 11 – Theme of Chapter 11 is Presence. All is the presence of Bhagavan
Question 28: What is vision? Practical answer is surrender.
Question 29: What is time? Practical answer is a teacher.
Chapter 12 – Theme of Chapter 12 is Practice (if-then model)
Question 30: What is devotion? Practical answer is invocation. It is coming from within us. Focus is to feel Bhagavan Krishna within ourselves.
Chapter 13 – Theme of Chapter 13 is Differentiation
1. In question 2, instead of agitation, could we say negativity is a sin?
The answers are Vivekji’s answers. We can change them. Negativity may not agitate us. All of us know when we are agitated.
2. What is the connection between confusion (moha) and grief (shoka)? Why is grief confusion?
We begin with confusion (moha) which triggers fear (bhaya) which triggers grief (shoka). If we can check confusion, we will not allow ourselves to devolve to fear and grief.
3. Is focus and simplicity synonymous with each other?
In a lighter sense, yes. We can have a simple lifestyle and still be distracted. The implication is to start with simplifying our outer world and then simplify our inner world where focus comes in.
4. Does it mean that when we are enlightened, we do not reincarnate?
With enlightenment, there is no internal relationship to a body. Any relationship with the body is external. We occasionally feel we have a body but we typically feel we are the body.
5. If our nature is happiness, how come we do not feel it especially in times of adversity?
Because we do not know who we are. In adversity, we feel a sense of loss. For someone who is happy, there is nothing to gain, nothing to lose. Adversity affects those who are expecting the context to fill them.
6. Please elaborate on responsibility.
Practical answer is living. From the time we are conscious we have responsibility. This will continue until we die. Everything that happens to us is our dharma and this is living. Anyone not following dharma is dead in terms of evolution.
7. Please explain the difference between humility and surrender.
There is no difference. Humility is almost the beginning point and surrender is almost the endpoint. We become more humble because we understand the presence of a master in our life. The clearer we are about that, we surrender our free will to them.
8. Why does Bhagavan Krishna say he is ‘The best of the best’? Why doesn’t he say he is the worst of the worst?
We focus on what is best. Keep looking at it and know the essence of the best is Bhagavan Krishna. In terms of the worst, there is no message in Bhagavad Gita that Bhagavan shares that he is exclusive of the worst. He says of all the ways to trick people, he is gambling. There is Oneness. Every asura got enlightened also.
9. Productivity in secular work indirectly gives us satisfaction. This counteracts with the remembrance that we are complete. How do we unlearn that?
Many of us are workaholics and feel we are not complete until we have succeeded in a task. Treat our work as seva. Closure and reward does not belong to us. Having a seva bhava helps us unlearn the need for success and closure. As we go about work, do it for learning.