Yoga is by now well-known in the West, especially the popular physical exercises and short meditations that promote health and well-being. These aspects of yoga directly address some of the biggest personal challenges of our times such as chronic stress, low energy, an overly busy mind, depression, and spiritual loneliness. If you want to feel better in life and have more energy, creativity, and psychological balance, a moderate yoga practice under experienced guidance will almost certainly provide that for you. Along the way yoga will bring you inner healing, a coming home to your body, and levels of subtle ecstasy pleasing to your heart and soul.
Yoga meditation, when taken up intensively, is also a way to cultivate levels of consciousness and liberation far beyond the ordinary. The deepest yoga teachings come from those who took a renunciate path and inquired by their own direct experiences into the nature of reality.
Yoga has its source in what might be called Truth itself, or God, or Divine Love. In a very real sense, yoga is not something from India. It is from the core of reality. The many lineages and traditions of yoga that exist today were formed by those who entered into that core and left us teachings and practices to show the way. Their different styles and practices reflect the individuality of each teacher and to some extent the cultural context in which he or she lived.
To enter into the core of reality by one’s own direct experience is challenging but also fully possible. Although willful practices such as postures and breathing are important to begin with it is only through increasing degrees of surrender that progress continues past a certain point. All willful practices have an inherent limit. The willfulness itself always imposes, however subtly, one’s own hand in the matter. In the beginning this is necessary but eventually progress is only made through abandoning the willful approach and taking refuge in surrender to the Divine.
This process calls for a gradual letting go of external concerns and an absorption into God or Truth. Although many teachings about this Way have been left to us it is for each seeker to discover what this means for him or herself.
Yoga at the deepest levels is known by many names: Surrender Meditation, Kundalini Yoga, Sahaja Yoga, Spontaneous Yoga, Natural Yoga, Royal Yoga, and many other names. The name is not that important. The essence of the practice is surrender to the ultimate Higher Power.
“This meditation revealed and still reveals more to me about myself and the nature of reality than any other method I have used. I teach Surrender Meditation to those students who have taken Enlightenment Intensives, studied yoga with me and who are inclined to meditate. In a moderate form of practice, Surrender Meditation is useful for healing, insight, creativity and balanced living. In a more committed form of practice the heart of yoga opens up, calling for increasing degrees of commitment and detachment from other concerns. On any spiritual retreat that I give, yoga practice is always a part of it, according to what is appropriate for the group.”
Surrender Meditation begins with a prayer to God or whatever is Divine to you. There can be many styles of this prayer but the essence is that you pray that your meditation be blessed. Pray to give over your body, mind, emotions and life to God. It is not necessary that you have a clear notion of God in order to do this. Often we do not have that. Simply intend with purity as you pray. This can include actions such as bowing down, lighting a candle or other actions that you know from experience tend to move you into divine contact.
Let your breath flow smoothly and deeply until there awakens an inner urge to surrender and move. Then, as Swami Kripalu put it, ‘Lift the dominion of the mind from the body.’ That is, let whatever wants to happen, happen. Go with it. Actions, movements, thoughts, sounds and feelings will all occur of their own accord. These are spontaneous yogic rites. Let these occur.
End with a prayer of thanks, gratefully accepting whatever experiences occurred.
“Yoga is sometimes thought of in the West as a system of exercises but that is missing the real point. Yoga is a love affair. You are alone in a room but it is a love affair with the Divine. If you understand this, if you open your heart as you do whatever yoga practice you are doing, you will make real progress and learn about the true nature of yoga.”
Experimenting to Discover Your Surrender Meditation
You can experiment with this any time your energy builds up through some willful or creative activity. If you have a good session of yoga breathing and postures, for example, you can spend some time at the end moving spontaneously, opening more deeply to the breathing and postures that want to occur naturally.
By lifting your will and allowing these to occur, you begin a form of surrender meditation. In these periods you will begin to experience some inner energy that has a direction, an agenda, to move you, purify you, have its way with you. By giving yourself over to this energy you will gradually discover a deeper form of fulfillment occurring.
This experiment can be conducted in many forms: in a good dance session you may find yourself at some point responding to an inner spontaneity that seems to have a life of its own, a creativity and ecstasy beyond what you are capable of achieving on your own.
For this doorway to open, the energy must be built up to some degree or a mood created that, you might say, interests the divine energy. For example, reading a scripture that touches you in a meaningful way can open your heart and mind to the point where a flow begins of energy that wants to move you. Doing willful breathing exercises can build up energy that then wants to release in a spontaneous expression of movement or flow within you.
It helps to have an understanding of what is occurring because sometimes what is occurring is not socially acceptable. It may not be socially acceptable for you to be in a yoga class and suddenly start going into postures of your own and making loud, spontaneous grunting sounds or expressing some long-hidden outrage that has been released into your memory. A lot of times what wants to come out in this process isn’t pretty by normal social standards. It can be brutal or intense. It can also be subtle, still, and quiet. It can be anything that might occur in any intense relationship if one were to let go completely.
But it is worth it to experiment with surrender in a mild form in these social settings to satisfy yourself of what I am talking about. For the real journey you need a place to meditate alone, behind a locked door, where sounds can occur and you have freedom of movement and expression on a mat.
I cannot even begin to express to you the power of this practice when it is sustained for an hour or more a day. But to begin with, it can become clear by your own experimenting that you have latent within you your own personal yoga, your own personal journey of the divine. It doesn’t cost any money. It knows exactly what to do with you, what needs to express, to release, what needs to be done, whenever you open to it and let it do its work.
Why doesn’t everyone do this practice? If it’s so simple, so freely available, so fulfilling, why hasn’t it been embraced completely by all cultures?
To open this door takes a certain amount of awakening and interest, and a certain amount of letting go of worldly struggles. Generally, we are addicted to our senses, our desires, to the struggles of life, to our neurotic agendas and to our ignorance of who and what we are. Each day we can successfully miss this doorway to the divine because of these absorptions and compulsions.
Getting a Response
I can also say there is an art to develop in this practice. Just as it must appeal to an artist to take up a brush or an instrument, it must appeal to you to take up this practice. And not everyone is drawn. Long ago I used to think everyone should do this practice but I no longer think that. I think people should do what they need to do in life, whatever that is. For some, in this life, deeper meditation will call them and they will respond to that call. I am here making a call, as it was once made to me. The knowledge of this Way has been passed down for thousands of years. It is an eternal doorway that holds many answers for those who seek them, answers that are not just mental ideas but responses from the universe.
In general, we seek answers only when we don’t get a response. What we want is an interaction that is real and capable of reaching to our depths. This is what is lacking in normal life.
Surrender meditation is a practice completely natural to your inner aching for a response from the universe personal to you, that knows what you need and can deliver it. That’s what it’s about. And it does deliver, if you practice it.
You Don’t Have to Call It ‘Meditation.’
For many, the thought of ‘meditation’ conjures images of people sitting up straight, willfully, probably in discomfort. It conjures images of some kind of heartless mental practice.
Surrender meditation is nothing like this. I have often thought to drop the name ‘meditation’ out of this completely, to call it something else instead, like ‘Surrender Ecstasy’ or something of this nature. However, a profoundly deep meditation eventually does begin to occur in this practice. But it is spontaneous, not willful, occurring in many different positions according to what the energy happens to want to do and what position you need to be in naturally. So the name ‘meditation’ is appropriate, it just doesn’t mean exactly what people tend to think of it as meaning in the West. It also turns out that the spontaneous meditation occurring in surrender is far deeper than can be achieved through willful efforts.
Back to the Present
Part of our great difficulty in this is finding our way back to the present moment. Surrender cannot take place when the present moment is denied and willfully held away, out of suppression, ignorance, or from the roar of normal life and mental activity drowning everything out. In many ways this meditation is a search for the present moment, in which the divine energies can release and do their work. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, a 17th century Christian mystic, once put it this way:
The divine will is a deep abyss of which the present moment
is the entrance. If you plunge into the abyss you will find it
infinitely more vast than your desires.
Our desires normally drive us out of the present moment. Whether it is for material things, contact, love, to be understood, or something else, our yearning after these desires, seeking them, or grieving their frustration, remove us from the present moment and the entrance to the divine. These desires must be suspended or abandoned to allow the depth of the moment to be entered. For this to happen, they have to first flower in their full form. All this occurs in surrender meditation. The unraveling of desires is one of the miraculous keys of this natural process.
”Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
It is true that people are generally happiest in life when they have clear, realistic goals toward which they can progress. But for many this is not enough. They also need a surrender practice, a place to let go and come into the moment, to be an instrument flowing at the hand of the divine inner Way. Our souls grow unpeaceful and discontent when they cannot drink fully of this divine energy each day.
It is as if our souls really come from another world and are visitors here in this life. It is not really that way but it is as if it is that way. In this framework, life can be a great place but we also grow homesick for the world of union, the world of our true self, the world of divine fulfillment beyond what the senses offer us in this world. Surrender meditation is your doorway to cure the homesickness of your soul so that this life becomes a place exquisitely beautiful to be in.
So I invite you to experiment. Lay down alone on a mat or a rug where you can be warm. Speak your inner heart to whatever is divine or perfect to you. State your intention to open to the divine flow and sincerely ask for a response. Then withdraw your will over your body and mind and go with what happens.
Summary of Guidelines for Practice
By Lawrence Noyes, March 2002
Surrender Meditation awakens a deep, natural process that seeks to take you into your true nature and the nature of all reality. It is a journey to union through the ecstatic unfoldment of divine love. It begins to occur naturally in a seeker when the energies of truth awaken and begin to move within. Surrender Meditation is a way of cultivating this natural process and allowing it to continue. This practice is for dedicated truth-seekers and lovers of the divine.
In Surrender Meditation you don’t use your will to guide your attention, control the body, or manage the energy. Instead you give over the entire process to the divine energies and let them do their work.
Who should try this? If you like opening to truth and divine love and you have a connection with a teacher of this work, it is worth exploring Surrender Meditation for your use now or later on in your life. Surrender Meditation is an advanced practice for the awakened, adult seeker interested in personal transformation beyond what willful methods and weekend seminars can offer.
Place and preparation: perfect conditions for meditating are often not available. I will describe ideal conditions but it will be normal that you’ll have to adapt as necessary and make the best of the conditions you have.
Meditate on a level surface, firm and soft so postures can be supported should they occur. It should be wide enough to permit your body to lie down and move around freely. A twin or queen-size mat 2-3 inches thick is very good; a blanket covered by a sheet on a thick rug is good; any surface like this will work.
Remove your jewelry, watch, etc. Leave your wedding ring on if you prefer.
The room should be warm, not hot or cool. Wear nothing or dress as lightly as possible so that movement is free. You should be warm enough so that if you fall into yogic sleep no part of you will grow cold. Have a blanket to cover you if necessary.
Have a locked door. Cover the windows and create privacy. Be isolated enough or in a social setting such that you can make any kind of sound without being disturbed. It is best to meditate in a room other than your bedroom. If possible have no electric devices in the room whether on or off.
Sanctify your meditation room in ways meaningful to you. Have:
- an altar to the divine, simple or elaborate, consisting of objects or photos meaningful to you that remind you of divine perfection. These can be from any tradition or none. If you are traveling a single object will do, or none if necessary.
- sacred texts that inspire you
- pen and paper or journal
- anything else that supports this process.
- if necessary to your lifestyle, have a clock or alarm device.
Again, great conditions such as these are often not available, do the best you can according to your circumstance.
The practice: decide on a length of the meditation, 30-40 minutes to experiment with and longer as you prefer. Meditate on an empty or near-empty stomach. Sit before your altar and clarify your intention through an action meaningful to you: hands together, bowing, lighting a candle, reading some lines of scripture, gazing at an image, or any other practice that attunes you to the divine.
The essential practice here is to open to divine otherness, just as you open to yourself, life, or another in an Enlightenment Intensive. This choice on your part is your essential prayer and practice. Your openness to otherness ignites the energies of this process.
To begin, make a prayer in your own words to this effect: ‘I give over this time to the divine hand. I surrender my body, my mind, my emotions to all that is perfect.’ You can vary this any way you want to be more devotional, more spontaneous, more heartful, more an expression of your mood. It doesn’t have to be somber, it can be joyful, tearful, a shout, a quiet prayer, any style you prefer that has the same intention.
Then begin breathing more deeply, stretching and moving how you want to, opening to otherness, letting the energies begin to move in you of their own accord. Then let go of your will and allow the energies to have their way.
There is a River . . .
Let anything happen or not happen at this point. The basic practice is to not resist anything nor try to make anything happen.
Let the eyes be open or closed. Let your mind think this or that, no matter how silly or mundane. Let your heart express. Let the attention go where it wants to. Let the body move this way or that or just sit or lie down. If sleep comes, let it. It just means you need it. Permit complete freedom and the divine energies will do their work.
Anytime you notice yourself resisting a movement, thought, or emotion, let go a little more and let it happen. Anytime you notice yourself forcing something, like holding a position, let go. Anytime you notice yourself assuming something, like ‘I have to be spiritual,’ let go of it.
Let passion be there when it is there, whether anger, joy, attraction, hate, love, whatever. Let passion not be there when it is not there.
Don’t make anything happen. Don’t resist anything from happening. Don’t try to be in the moment, observe the moment, or watch anything in particular. Let all these things occur naturally, or not. Don’t try to get somewhere, or be somewhere. In this process, sometimes you’ll naturally drop out of the present moment in order to revisit an earlier, incomplete moment in your history in which some part of your energy is still hung up. Once that is processed through you will naturally return to the present moment with more energy than before.
When you end, give a prayer of thanks using your own ritual. Take some time to bring your attention back to worldly affairs.
If you need to go to the toilet, get up and go to the toilet, then return and resume your practice.
Pain occurring in the body is a sign that you are forcing something. Let go more and allow yourself to move and express so the pain subsides.
As on the Enlightenment Intensive, transformation crises occur in this practice. You may come to experience a conflict between how your life is and what your life would look like were you to become more authentic, more open-hearted, more as you actually are. These crises take discernment to navigate wisely. The counsel of a teacher is often vital.
Austerities will tend to intensify your meditation, such as eating less, talking less, staying regular with the practice. It’s important to fulfill your responsibilities outside of meditation. When you do this you’ll have to spend less time processing current life issues when your meditation begins. As you get to know this meditation you can settle on the amount you would like to practice, that forwards your current life goals.
In a moderate, occasional practice this meditation can bring healing, clearing, insight, creativity, and a sipping of the divine waters. In more regular practice of an hour or more a day it begins to demand more of your life as the deeper transformation process unleashes. The potential benefits of practice at this level are union, divine love, liberation, and true wisdom.
My suggestions are to review this paper until the approach is integrated into your practice. From time to time visit www.Lawrencenoyes.com and review updates on the page called ‘Surrender Meditation.’ When you approach this meditation with sincerity it will guide you. Nevertheless, transformation crises will occur and questions will arise as to how to go forward. Consult your meditation teacher at these times.
Early Stages of Surrender Meditation
The Perfect Therapist
When you let go and allow the energies to move of their own accord a spontaneous, natural process begins that seeks to evolve the body/mind associated with you as an individual. It is not actually you that is evolving. The true self is not an evolving thing. What evolves is the state of one's relationship with reality. This process, this evolution, is stimulated by opening to all otherness. It appears to be guided by a perfect intelligence. Once free to move about it immediately begins the inner work that needs to happen in your particular body or mind to purify it into more perfect alignment with reality. This spontaneous process knows what its doing through some source beyond what any single human being can bring to the table no matter how wise, experienced, or skilled that person might be. When you allow this process to happen, you are in the hands of the only perfect therapist there is.
Spontaneous Release of Energy
Your meditation might begin with not much apparently happening. You might sway from side to side and have thoughts about anything, including the mundane or ridiculous. Some people start laughing. You might fall over and go to sleep. You might simply witness what's going on, waiting for something to happen. All of this is normal.
Many people quit this process after some sessions of this because it appears that not much is happening. Spontaneity may be meager or missing. Nothing that might fit any description of growth may appear to be taking place. But if you allow the process to continue you will eventually notice something happening.
Sooner or later a deeper energy releases in the body, moving you this way or that. In the beginning you may sense the spontaneity of this energy and allow it to happen. Later, the power of this spontaneity will convince you of the depth of this practice beyond all doubt. But in the beginning it may not be so strong. If you are stressed in life you might find yourself simply sleeping. But it is not ordinary sleep, it is a sleep that is trying to de-stress you, to give you what you need in order to go to the next stage of this practice. It is also common that you have a period in the meditation in which something happens, some movement, singing, sounds, strange postures, and then a swoon to a slumber or a sleep. This pattern may repeat itself in many variations.
With your prayer, you have given over the entire process to the divine hand and tried not to interfere in it or add your expectations. As you keep to this approach you will find an amazing array of happenings and non-happenings taking place in your meditation. For the interested seeker, these validate the process and inspire a deeper questioning of what is really happening.
The Journey to Union
A common theme in all that occurs mentally, emotionally, and physically is an impetus towards union. But in the beginning it is not in any cosmic sense, it is very mundane.
An upset with a neighbor, for example, might occupy your attention spontaneously for a time, with thoughts and feelings of what happened, pondering over the problem, wrestling between the opposites of justice and injustice, him or me, right and wrong, victim or victimizer, until the parts of the problem release and crash together into a union of resolution. Sometimes this process produces a key discharge, insight, or creative solution that annihilates the problem in your mind as a problem. Sometimes no insight occurs at all, the problem simply dissolves as a problem and goes to a condition of peaceful is-ness. And your attention moves to something else.
One of the drives to union often trying to take place is between nothing happening and something happening. From our point of view we generally regard something happening as more interesting, more exciting, more a sign of progress. But it is not true. Periods of something happening in meditation – obvious movement, energy flowing, strong emotions, for example – all seem like obvious progress. But in this meditation, progress is also occurring when nothing seems to be happening. The inability to allow not much to be happening is actually one of the things that stops people from continuing with this meditation. It can become boring or invalidating when nothing seems to be happening. But periods of 'nothing' happening are necessary to this process. They mask deeper work taking place and they drive to the surface misguided, hidden desires for things to be a certain way.
A common union impetus is romance and sexual attraction. You may start to spontaneously recall past relationships, or relationships where there was attraction but nothing happened; or it didn't unfold as you desired. Something was left unfulfilled. The imagination can become activated and seek in great detail to fulfill these unfulfilled desires for union still hung up in the mind and in the heart. The divine hand in this meditation eventually resolves all these unfulfilled desires into union.
The union impetus takes as many forms as there are desires and passions in you. I had an old friend who spent a lot of time in meditation in his early days having elaborately detailed fantasies of playing basketball. He had been an athlete and loved basketball with a passion. In most other willful meditations he would be instructed to bring his attention back to his breath or his mantra, for example. In this meditation he was instructed to just let it happen, don't try to stop it, don't try to make it happen either. Some deep urge for union was being enacted here. In fact, one of the definitions of yoga is, 'Skill in action.' This is part of the subtle reason people watch sports, to see or experience that thrill of perfection in action, a player in the zone of no mind, mastering the elements and rising above their limits.
Eventually for my friend, the basketball fantasies fulfilled themselves in the subtle realm and this man's meditation unleashed to a deeper level. I will speak more about these deeper levels as we go.
Another common union impetus that plays out is one's relationship with one's past. Growing up, the traumas of childhood, the failed aspects of love with parents, problems at school, all the incomplete aspects surface spontaneously to be purified out, healed you might say, gleaned for insight, and let go of. They drift back into the past where they belong; but this time there is no charge left pulling on one's ability to be present. It's like you get missing pieces of your life energy back from this process.
Something in our core psyche seeks union. This urge unfolds in a countless varieties of union stories in this meditation. The meditation doesn't create them, it just allows them to be and get played out internally. This includes in the body. The body will naturally seek a place of union between the energies of the right side of the body and the left, a place of harmony and stillness. But it has to purify out the stiffness, the toxins, the fast food molecules, whatever is there, in order to find the position of union or the position that will support union. You'll notice your body sometimes in a search that way, moving this way and that, sometimes making micro-movements, sometimes holding still, searching for an exact position in which it seems to have some business to attend to. Spontaneous breathing patterns may occur in these times as the energy channels of the body are purified through this natural yoga process.
Strong Release of Energy
As this spontaneous mind clearing process continues, more energy begins to be released internally. In sadhana terms, that's its purpose. It can happen in this process that a strong release of energy occurs. You might be swept away by heat in the body, postures, dancing, sounds, ecstacy, strong chanting or sounds, sexual movements. Swami Kripalu described this stage in Kripalupanishad. '. . . some have luminous visions, some have frightening visions, some see floods of light, some see colors, . . . some slip into slumber, some experience yogic sleep, some faint, some lose control of urination, some witness the discharge of semen. . . These are only ordinary incidents on the path of yoga.'
People often think this is the kundalini, the evolutionary energy, but it is not. It is intensified, purified life energy, the prana, released by a sudden lifting of the will and allowed to sweep through the body and mind of the practitioner. Kundalini comes later but this intensification and release of life energy needs to happen first.
Such strong releases of life energy may occur when the energy has been built up through willful practices or austerities. Sometimes you see them on Enlightenment Intensives or in other kinds of workshops. A participant seems to yield to some internal force and flops off the chair and shakes around on the floor for a while; or sits there making spontaneous sounds as if from another universe. Usually there is no understanding of what is happening and no guidance available. Problems can occur in coming back to earth from these experiences. In this meditation these phenomena are well known and a context is there to deal with them. If this kind of thing happens for you, go over what has been happening for you with your teacher and get guidance. If your teacher is not available consult scripture or other practitioners of depth meditation. Or talk to someone who simply understands this to be a spiritual awakening process, not something else. This alone often helps a great deal. If the process begins to seem too frightening for you then pull back on your meditation and do less of it until you have more understanding of what is happening and how to go forward. With more understanding and confidence you can allow these deeper transformation processes to occur.
Anyone doing this meditation regularly will eventually meet up with some form of crisis like this, exactly as occurs on the Enlightenment Intensive but in more sweeping form. Often the first signs will occur outside of your meditation: you may notice yourself getting unusually critical; sexual energy may become strong, threatening the stability of your life; you might find your job truly intolerable; other aspects of your life, which you knew were intolerable but you were enduring anyway, may rear to the fore as simply unacceptable. This might include socializing in normal ways or having your life dominated by obligations you never really agreed to. You may have physical phenomena like heat in the body or in a part of the body like the crown of the head. You may experience forms of ecstasy occurring spontaneously, distracting you from your normal life activities.
This is the transformation crisis. It is the divine seeking to enter and occupy you. This meditation seeks to transform your relationship to life by its nature and bring Truth into living form. Your form, to be specific. This energy of transformation is aloof to our petty attachments, agendas, desires, social habits, and so on. It is working a higher agenda. It is ready to subside into the background any time you want to pull back and there may well come times when you need to do that. But during the times you go forward, it will resume. And by its hand you will be challenged by your own dishonesties, lack of integrity, self-deceptions, denials, the compromises you've made in life. This motley flock will come home to roost and sit around your house raising a shrieking racket of chaos and drama, until you inspect and handle them one by one. Then the divine comes to peace within you and your life becomes more in service to it.
My experience is that to get through these crises, some change needs to be made, either in how you are doing your meditation or how you are living your life. Without the change, the process can't go forward. But we are caught in the middle. Something in us wants to grow, to change, and something in us doesn't, it resists change. This is another pair of opposites that rears up in this meditation from time to time: the urge for change and the resistance to change. As one surrenders usually something has to change, a relationship, a way of being in life, a bad habit, a way of thinking, a fear of the unknown, it could be just about anything along those lines.
You may have periods in your life when you are more ready to allow changes to take place and periods where you are less ready to, you are more inclined to fulfill something in life such as a career aim, family, a period of healing, etc. All of this is fine, often necessary.
Surrender in Life
During these periods, a practice of surrender in life is appropriate. It is less intense than meditation and it enables one to fulfill one's life, an important preparation for deeper sadhana. For most people, actually, subtler practices
of surrender in life are more appropriate than deeper meditation. Long hours in the meditation are not for everyone and it shouldn't be forced, there's no use in it. For most students ready for Surrender Meditation, who have felt their energy awaken and who sense their connection with the divine, I suggest experimenting with the meditation so that you learn about it; and then let it find its natural place in your life, doing it more or less as it calls you and makes sense to you. It is your private dyad with the divine, and it is always there for you when you turn to it through prayer and surrender.
Key Symbolism in the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is a deeply rich resource for living and especially for your progress in Surrender Meditation. To unlock its meaning for you, here are the main symbols as I understand them:
1. The clan of the Pandavas, Arjuna’s clan, represents wisdom and righteousness. In the story, they are about to begin a war against the Kuravas, who represent desire, attachment, ignorance, and all ego-driven traits. This symbolizes the central battle of one’s sadhana at the point one begins to take it up seriously.
2. The blind king, Dhritarastra, to whom the story of the Bhagavad Gita is told, represents that part of our nature that wants things to work out the way we want. He is the father of the Kuravas. He represents attachment and spiritual blindness. He’s not bad guy, he is just stuck in his point of view. He therefore has no direct experience himself and can only get knowledge from others. Yet he is interested. So he asks Sanjaya to tell him what is happening. When we are interested but spiritually blind we can only hear about the spiritual realm from others.
3. Sanjaya, the teller of this story, has attained some spiritual wisdom through willful practices and the onset of powers. He has one foot in both worlds and can therefore see what is happening in the battle. He is not blind. He is somewhat awakened. Sanjaya is that part of us that has attained some real spiritual experiences through willful practices and some surrender.
4. Krishna represents pure Divine Love and Perfect Wisdom. Krishna has agreed to drive Arjuna’s chariot in the battle, symbolic of turning over one’s sadhana to the Divine hand. Krishna, or Perfect Divine Love, is the teacher of the wisdom in the Bhagavad Gita, as eventually it is in one’s sadhana. Krishna, or Divine, perfect love, resides within each of us. It is our ultimate sadhana teacher and guide if one follows it.
5. Arjuna, the hero, represents who you really are at your spiritually ablest, most sincere, and most blessed. When we enter the story, he is in the deepest spiritual crisis of his life. He can’t see how to go on. He doesn’t know what his spiritual duty is anymore. He won’t fight until he does. Krishna explains it to him. Arjuna gets it and he makes a choice. He decides to fight and let Krishna guide his chariot. Sadhana can only progress past a certain point through action combined with surrender to Divine Love.
6. Arjuna’s chariot is the body. The reins are the will. The horses are the five sense organs.
7. The war is symbolic of the battle to know complete fulfillment in the Divine.
8. The conversation between Arjuna and Krishna represents sincere seeking, asking and received wisdom at this crucial stage of sadhana, as opposed to the intellect trying to figure it out, which it cannot do. Sadhana is about relationship with the Divine. ‘Ask and you shall receive’ is a true spiritual principle.
9. The story of the Bhagavad Gita begins with Arjuna’s Depression. This is that phase of sadhana when you realize you must confront your own attachments and ignorance at their core. But you feel you either cannot win this battle or, if you do, the cost will be too high. Anticipation of losing our deepest attachments brings up immense grief and depression.
Krishna gets Arjuna through this crisis with love, contact and wisdom. Arjuna’s depression and his subsequent awakening represent the awakening of the kundalini and the choice to surrender to Divine love.
The process of sadhana is the process of allowing one’s soul to be occupied by the Divine through grace. The Bhagavad Gita is the great story of how this can take place for you.
I recommend you buy the following two versions:
1) The translation by Stephen Mitchell. Good for Western English speakers to begin with.
For book: click here
For Kindle: click here
2) The translation by Swami Chidbhavananda. This hefty volume has word-for-word translation, full commentary from Chidbhavananda and wonderful passages from Ramakrishna. click here
As you make friends with this amazing book and connect what it says to your life and sadhana, it will continually inspire, console and guide you.