My brother, Matt, asked for some discussion help on his history homework so, because I love him, I painfully slogged through chapter 2 of the Gita. Apparently this is a collection of thoughts, insights and “scripture” from Lord (and I use that term loosely) Krishna…
Here are the discussion questions and my perspective on them. It was an interesting thought process, but seriously, anyone who says “Christians check their brain at the door” but pursues this stuff? All I can say is this: Delusion is a powerful thing…
1. According to the GITA, what are the characteristics of “Atman”?
Consciousness, Spirit, soul, self, source of life, cosmic power behind the source of the body-mind complex. Cannot be perceived by the senses because senses abide in Atman… (which is kind of like saying I can’t tell there’s a car around me because I’m in the car. Or if I’m wearing clothes I can’t tell I am. DOH!)
2. According to the GITA, what is the cause and/or source of human suffering?
A lack of self-control, selfish motivation, personal desires and attachment to “sense-objects” (which appears to be anything I can sense. Therefore I should only be concerned with the things I can’t “sense” and therefore spend my time, quite literally, pursuing the understanding and objectification of NOTHING! *end sarcasm*)
3. How can suffering be alleviated or even eliminated?
Indifference, self-control, self-perception and self-knowledge. In essence? Gnostic: the denial of physical “sensation” and a rejection of personal needs and desires. (Not until I am completely self-absorbed will I be enlightened enough to alleviate someones suffering… OW, brain cramp!)
4. Finally, what do YOU think about the GITA’s solution to the problem of pain and suffering? (This is where I really had fun)
I don’t believe that the problem of suffering will be alleviated or eliminated by an absence of caring, feeling or empathizing with the plight of others. I don’t believe internalizing pain or denying it’s existence brings a light of hope and blessing into the lives of others.
The GITA, in this text, shows a blatant disregard for the value of each human life. It solely places value on those who are the “most favored” of the invoked deity, ergo cosmic favoritism isn’t extremely enlightened. It’s like Jr. High for grown ups who want to feel special.
I do agree with the premise that large degree of suffering and pain is caused by the selfish desires and motivations of the individual. I don’t agree that closer examination of self will bring any more peace than it has already. Check out Pakistan and India today. Thousands of years of fighting among people who hold dearly to these very concepts doesn’t show a great deal of success after adhering to these concepts. Apparently peace isn’t something one finds easily, eh?
Self-absorption is not a challenge to most people as we already spend a great deal of time focusing on the pursuit of meeting our own needs. Whether menial or spiritual we are, unless mentally ill, driven to provide for the base and not so base elements of our existence. Becoming even more engrossed in the pit of my own psyche does NOT enable me to become more aware of the lives of the people around me and most definitely doesn’t open my eyes to their struggles, pain and suffering.
Only by recognizing our common need for hep and hope beyond the isolated capability of the individual can we find some type of solution to our shared struggle.
In 2.71 the GITA declares that “one who abandons all desires and becomes free from longing and the feeling of ‘I’ and ‘my’ attains peace”
Interestingly, that completely contradicts the previous statements wherein Krishna commands “self-seeking” and “self-discovery”.
How, exactly, does one lose personality, autonomy and identity by pursuing and devoting themselves to a study OF themselves? Can I lose a rock I hold clenched in my fist by simply refusing to acknowledge it’s presence or it’s weight?
We are ALIVE! Filled with a certain strength and purpose which, if spent solely on the improvement, enhancement and betterment of ourselves is the equivalent of a single candle in an empty and sunlit room. Wasted light. No one benefits. No one sees and we live and die in obscurity. Only when we take the light and strength we’ve been given and share it with others to the point of offering our lives for them will our lives have purpose and meaning. Sometimes? Even joy. And joy often alleviates and sometimes even eliminates suffering.
How to love? A famous philosopher once said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friend.”
That’s a far more costly route to peace and wisdom, but one which has the potential to revolutionize the world. Not a belief system which demands obeisance to self but looks outward and recognizes the inherent value of others as we all share in a breath of life. One moment at a time.