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By Kalakantha Das

Q & A From Each Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā

  1. How do you deal with an impossible situation?

Before just bailing out without thinking about our future or other’s needs, Krishna advises us to first consider the consequences of quitting and carefully look at all options.

  1. Do we live on after death?

Our bodies change all the time—baby to kid to teenager to adult to senior—yet we remain the same “I” inside. We remain the same person internally despite our bodies changing externally. Why should that experience, one we all share, suddenly end when the body dies? Still, most of the time we focus on the changing, external part of our lives. It’s like polishing the cage but not feeding the bird inside. According to the Gītā, when you understand and feed the unchanging part of yourself through bhakti yoga, death becomes less frightening and life is happier.

  1. How would being more detached improve life?

If we’re attached to externals, we often remain slaves to circumstances and people we can’t control. A detached person enjoys life more and suffers less frustration.

  1. If one is one’s own teacher, does he have a fool for a student?

Though we wouldn’t learn brain surgery that way, when it comes to spiritual life there are so many bogus teachers that it seems safer to just figure it out ourselves. However, just because some people circulate counterfeit money doesn’t mean there isn’t real money. There are genuine spiritual teachers and if we’re serious about spirituality, we need one. The Gītā aims to help us make a good choice by educating us in the qualifications of a genuine teacher.

  1. What good does it do to act selflessly?

Why do many rich people end up giving their money to charity? Because they find that just piling up money and stuff gets old. Deeper, lasting happiness only comes from pleasing others. People who never learn this seem sad and pathetic. For a sustainably happy life, the Gītā advises sacrifice for others at every stage of life, culminating in sacrifice for the Supreme.

  1. Yoga and meditation can be hard. What’s the point?

As yoga tightens up flabby muscles, meditation strengthens the muscle of the mind. The self- discipline required for yoga and meditation pays off big time, especially meditation. Why? The mind is a fantastic servant but a terrible master. If we, the unchanging inner self, capitulate to the mind, it’s like being tied up in a car driven by a four-year-old. Gaining control of the mind through meditation empowers us to overcome the mind’s tyranny. The Gītā acknowledges that controlling the mind is challenging though it insists it is possible through constant practice and detachment.

  1. How is knowledge connected to yoga?

Yoga is a science, and if done systematically, it always brings amazing results. If you’re going to

successfully pursue yoga and spiritual life, it’s important to know what you’re doing.

  1. What is this world for? Is there a cosmic energy beyond it? Why do some people suffer more than others?

Where can I find durable happiness? What happens at death?

    1. This world is a place of misery. The undeniable fact is that, if we avoid accidents and murder, long enough, we will get sick, get old and die. As soon as we truly understand this sad reality, we become a lot happier. The truth of this world helps us detach.

    2. There is a cosmic energy behind everything, and you can access it by chanting oṁ or trying other forms of meditation. However, the Gītā points out that such a pursuit

is difficult and ultimately just another selfish trip that brings us to a dead end.

    1. All around us are people enjoying or suffering based on past decisions they have made in this life. Why would our unchanging inner selves not be responsible for decisions from past lives? The Gītā defines reactions from past decisions as karma. Our joy or misery in this life is due to past choices. We’re responsible, not God or anyone else.

    2. Durable happiness comes from understanding karma and learning how to meet the needs of the durable part of ourselves.

    1. Our body is like an apartment we are renting. We don’t really own it. Death means the true owner is forcing us out. Then we rent another apartment, sometimes better, sometimes worse, depending on our budget (karma).

  1. Is God an old guy waiting to smash me with a thunderbolt?

No. He’s a really cool dude with a flute. He owns everything that exists except our love, which He can only get when we give it voluntarily. If we want someone to love us, is it a good idea to threaten them? In the Gītā, God, Krishna, offers only His unconditional love and lets us know how to show love in return by simply offering water, leaves, flowers or fruits which anyone can do any time, winter, spring, summer or fall.

  1. How do you meditate on the Supreme?

In preparation for knowing Him personally, the Gītā describes how to see God in nature, in good human qualities, and in the realities of life and death.

  1. If God is all-good, why does all this terrible stuff happen?

Though we belong with God, because we have become separated from Him we live in an uncongenial place where everyone identifies with their doomed material body. It is our choice, not God’s, to separate from Him. A finger separated from the body cannot enjoy anything, yet when connected it experiences the joy of the whole. God wants the best for us, but if we choose something inferior, He patiently waits for us to get over it.

  1. What does it mean to love God, and what happens if I don’t feel it?

Can we love someone we don’t know, someone about whom we have only a vague idea? Loving God begins when we understand Him as a person, Krishna—if not with conviction, at least theoretically. If we try to love Krishna and later change our minds, there’s no problem; we can resume our previous lives just as they were, for Krishna comes with a karma-back guarantee. On the other hand, if we pursue loving Krishna, all kinds of amazing, positive changes automatically appear in our lives.

  1. If the soul is not the body, how does it connect to the body?

The soul animates the body as a driver animates a car. Without the driver, the car has no life. The driver determines where the car goes. And when the car inevitably breaks down, the driver must find another or give up driving altogether. The soul connects to the body only because it still wants to drive around this world. When he’s seen enough, he’ll do something different.

  1. Am I being manipulated?

Yes. The Gītā explains that once we choose material life, we submit to the control of the three modes of nature. After that, we think we’re making choices that in fact are being imposed on our fickle minds by the ever-changing modes. Through bhakti-yoga one gains the knowledge and detachment needed to successfully and consistently counteract the powerful effects of the three modes.

  1. If life here sucks, is there another option?

Yes. The Gītā describes a world where the unchanging spirit no longer has to struggle with a demanding, troublesome body. It’s a place with an ideal climate and plenty of energy where no one ever gets sore or hungry, where no one needs or wants to sleep through any of the fun.

When we leave this body, we enter that world or stay in this one according to whatever we most desire.

  1. Does money make you happier?

The Gītā indicates that we are happier when we love people and use money than when we love money and use people. Either way, when our bodies die, we get the natural results of how we have chosen to live our lives. Those who are dead set on enjoying this world create havoc for everyone else in this world and a horrible situation for themselves in the future.

  1. What happens if I make up my own way to be spiritual?

This is like trying to be one’s own guru. There is a method to get from point A to point B. We can either use the GPS to find it or we can wing it. Winging it gets us somewhere but usually not where we originally wanted to go.

  1. Does serving the Supreme mean giving up my individuality?

On the contrary, serving the Supreme uncovers our deepest individuality. If we misidentify with our bodies we remain slaves to our minds and senses, easily manipulated by social pressure, advertising and people who want to use us. If we set all that aside and go deep within our- selves, we uncover our innermost desires and inclinations and finally give them full expression in relation to their Creator. That is bhakti-yoga, redirecting our deepest, unique love from loving this body and this world to loving Krishna.

Krishna ends His advice in the Gītā by emphasizing how we always have the free, individual choice to ignore or to love Him.


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