The Bhagavad Gita Part 3: The Art of Action

The last post ended with the mental image of the “battlefield of life”. On one side the strong army of negativity, on the other the fighters for positivity. We in the middle, afraid that we might loose the battle, that things could turn out even worse than they feel at the moment.

The drawing above represents the moment the battle starts. A moment on the journey of life, hesitating to take the next step. Looking back, remembering past experiences, constructing possible scenarios about the future, desperately trying to find an answer which feels right. Our ego telling us in which direction to walk: “Go for the career, MONEY! Step on this stone, the one which FEELS nice, makes you look good in front of others!” One day we arrive at a point, where our ego seems like a bad guide. We would like to start something new, do something which makes us happy. At the same time we don’t want to give up everything we built up over the years. The situation seems so complicated. We hesitate. Can’t decide on our next step.

How shall we act if no action feels right? What if it seems that we can’t win the battle?

Let’s consider the following situation: You sit on the train to work, lost in thoughts. All of a sudden someone steps on your foot. Ouch! You turn around, furious. Start shouting: “You idi..!!”, when you realize you are facing a blind person. In a split second your attitude changes. You apologize, guide the stranger to a free seat and start chatting. Deeply immersed in a wonderful conversation you almost miss your stop. You say goodbye. Full of positive energy you start your day at work.

This short story contains all the wisdom how to act on the battlefield of life. It’s an excellent example to analyze how our body, our mind and our true self are connected. How we act on different levels of consciousness.

The first level is the material world, our body. Me, sitting on the train. On this level, things change constantly. With every second we grow older. No cream or pill can change that. Our power over the material world, everything which surrounds us, is very limited. Our ego tells us that we are acting on the world. But in fact the world is acting on us. Mostly, we are just re-acting to events. Like someone stepping on your toe.

The second level is our mind. Someone steps on our foot, this immediately triggers an emotion. We go on autopilot, react according to our personality, our conditioning, our social upbringing. Our survival instincts kick in, re-action follows action. Neuroscience suggests, that most of our decision making happens in the frontal lobe of our brain, which only makes up around 1/3 of the brain. This might explain, why it is so easy to react impulsively. Who knows.

On the third level something amazing happens. All of a sudden we stop for a moment. Something touches our heart. We realize that there are more important things in life, then someone stepping on our toe. We open up, breath, smile and forget time. All of a sudden we are in control. Are able to look at our emotions and say: “How stupid of me to react that way!”

If you reach a point in life where you hesitate, are afraid to act, try to get in contact with the “third level”. Your true self. Learn to be compassionate to yourself and the people around you. Your true self is a place full of wisdom. If you manage to contact it, actions feel effortless. Even if the action itself might not be pleasant at all. You become detached from the outcome of the action, and can fully concentrate on the moment. The whirling thoughts calm down, at least for a moment, giving you the necessary peace of mind to take the next step.

The Gita calls the ability to act and re-act in this compassionate way the “Yoga of Action”. There’s no easy way to learn how to reach the third level. Be patient. You are already practicing in the best Yoga studio this world has to offer.

Your life.

Namaste

3 comments

  1. Hi Philipp!!
    Sehr interessanter Artikel und Gedanken.
    Wir sollten versuchen viel oefter innezuhalten, den Moment zu geniessen und einfach zu “sein”.
    Ich selbst bin sehr sehr dankbar, dass mein intensives Reisen mir geholfen hat, meinen Horizont zu erweitern, meinen Blick zu oeffnen und meine Seele nicht nur zu beruehren, sondern sogar zu emotionalisieren. Weiss nicht, ob dieses Wort existiert, aber ich finde es schoen.
    Besonders meine letzte Reise nach Nepal und die Begegnung mit wundervollen Menschen hat mein Herz sehr beruehrt und mich “weicher” gemacht.
    Reisen als eine Art “Therapie”??? Fuer mich JA!!!
    Ganz herzliche Gruesse an Dich und Daniela:))

    Cheers Claudia

    • Hallo Claudia,
      Freut mich, dass dir der Artikel gefällt. Dein Gedanke “Reisen als Therapie” stimmt 100%, genau so denke ich auch. Was mich an Indien immer wieder fasziniert sind all diese lachenden Gesichter, die freundlichen, interessierten Menschen. Obwohl das Umfeld total chaotisch, oft erschreckend arm, eng und laut ist.
      Wenn ich morgens in den Zug steige und mich über die “vielen” Leute nerve muss ich nur an den Ausflug in den “Chowdy Chowk” in Delhi denken. Und schon merke ich wie überflüssig es ist, sich über so eine banale Situation aufzuregen.
      Cheers,
      Philipp

  2. Pingback: Dear Robots: It’s time to take your helmets off « Balanced Action

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