Welcome to this week’s edition of The Source!
The phrase yogastha kuru karmani is from the ancient text, the Bhagavad Gita, in which Lord Krishna counsels the great warrior Arjuna on the purpose of life. Arjuna is deep in the midst of a profound spiritual dilemma, as he knows his purpose in life is to be a fierce warrior, but he is agonized by fear, grief, uncertainty, sadness, and regret as he readies his troops for a calamitous battle in a huge family feud, pitting friend against friend, cousin against cousin, teacher against student, and patriarch against son.
As he stands with Krishna as his charioteer in the middle of the vast plains of Kurukshetra in northern India, Arjuna gazes intently at the two opposing armies of his relatives that now face each other poised for battle. He is paralyzed by the gravity of the task before him—leading the charge of one army against the other and, in the process, causing the death of hundreds of his friends, esteemed teachers, and relatives. He asks his divine guide how he can possibly live with his decision, and Krishna replies with a spiritual dialogue spanning 18 chapters on yoga, self-realization, dharma (or purpose), devotion to God, the meaning of life, and ultimately, the nature of reality. When Arjuna asks his higher power, “Oh dear Lord, how shall I move forward in life?” Krishna replies in Chapter 2, Verse 48, “Yogastha kuru karmani—establish yourself in the present moment, and then perform action.”
To meditate on the teachings, select a phrase, such as yogastha kuru karmani (pronounced yoga-stah koo-roo kar-mani), close your eyes, and silently repeat the phrase over and over as the object of your attention. When you notice that you’ve drifted away to thoughts, sounds, or physical sensations, gently drift back to yogastha kuru karmani.
Let’s try it right now for a few minutes. Start by saying it out loud three times: yogastha kuru karmani, yogastha kuru karmani, yogastha kuru karmani. Then whisper it three times. Now repeat it silently to yourself three times. Then take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. Now take a few minutes . . . and when it feels comfortable, close your eyes and continue silently repeating the mantra. I’ll wait right here.
Did you notice that your attention flowed to and from the mantra, disconnecting for a moment here and there from your awareness of thoughts, sounds, and physical sensations. Did you notice yourself drift back and forth? What did you feel? How did it feel?
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about your experience. In the meantime, I’ll see you in the gap. Peace. -davidji