Have you ever heard of The Bhagavad Gita? A poem within the Mahabharata a great epic story of a war so tremendous that it brings kinsmen, cousins, brothers and childhood friends to fight one another. Arjuna, the leader of his great house, The Pandavan's, the paragon of virtue leading the battle against the evil band of Kauravas, led by the blind King Dhritarashtra. The blindness of the king has filmed over his eyes to his clan's evil ways. Arjuna poised to take on this great battle comes face to face with the atrocity of having to fight his family and once childhood friends. He questions what is right and wrong. He throws down his sword in the midst of this great war and refuses to fight. At this moment Krishna, his chariot driver reveals himself to be Divinity incarnate brought down to an earthly form to council Arjuna through this seemingly unfair choice. What is truly paramount in this epic is that what Arjuna faces is not actually a question of good or bad, right or wrong, as both sides can be justified. Perhaps the more poignant question is how should he choose to live. Krishna does not delude Arjuna with an offer of a clear cut answer to this open-ended question of what is "just". Certainly, much of the advice that Krishna does offer Arjuna appears to be contradictory.
There are many different translations of the Bhagavad Gita, and throughout my search for spiritual understanding I have found Stephen Mitchell's interpretation most accessible to our modern day consciousness. His preface to the Gita is most illuminating to the unexperienced eye who wants a simple yes or no:
"No fixed statement of the truth can apply to all circumstances, and honorable men, during every war within memory, have come to opposite conclusions about what their duty is." The Bhagavad Gita, is truly a metaphor for life and if you have the courage to embark on its pages, it could serve as a means to transform your life.
What I have found most calming and poignant within these pages is the reminder that the yoga journey is a non-linear path. But rather circular in its calling to come back again and again to the Self within for the true answers to this salient question; How do I live? The Bhagavad Gita is steeped with many metaphors to continually remind us that all we need to do is very simple, just "let go". Our oversaturated brains go... Er? Let go of what? How do I let go? If I let go, does that mean I become apathetic?
The Bhagavad Gita recognizes that this is not a one-size fits all path, but that every individual may need a different metaphor, and in the same vain there are many different paths to Yoga (Union). In the West we celebrate the Asana practice above all. But we must not forget that Yoga exists as a many fold path, all ways lead straight back to the source, the divine Self. To practice Yoga you do not need a mat, you do not need a fancy pair of stretchy-pants, you do not need to be flexible, you do not need to make the mind stop thinking. Our practice begins when we wake again, each day, we begin anew, we wake up and lookout, we make a choice to journey outward and that experience always leads us back to our inner selves, no matter how long and windy the path may seem. We learn over and over again to let go of our expectations, to listen to our breath, to listen to the body, to let the inner voice be louder than the outside world. We are teaching our true Self to let go. Let go of the ego. It's not about being right. It's not about who's wrong. It's not about difference, judgement, blame. This is about union, with the self, with the other, the yoke with the divine. This is yoga.