Good Life

Clergy Column

Recently I gave my car for repair to an auto shop a friend recommended. This shop is possibly not advertised, has no computers, no receptionist to route calls to service and, most importantly, difficult to find. After a few days, I went to pick up the car. I made my entry into the shop after a careful trek through the frozen parking lot.

The all-in-one owner, mechanic and the receptionist greeted me. What do you think? Doesn’t it look beautiful? I was impressed beyond belief. He showed me all that he did on the car, and I was speechless as it was clean inside out. He suddenly saw some buffing paste on the door, did not like its presence and meticulously rubbed it off.

This simple act made me to think that the mechanic I am dealing with is no ordinary soul. As Gita would state, he is a Karma yogi.

Yoga can be interpreted as the union of the divinity in ourselves with our body; yogi is one who practices yoga.

The Bhagavad Gita, or simply Gita, the sacred Hindu text, deals with three paths to realize the divine in ourselves: Karma yoga, the yoga of right action; Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion; and Jnana yoga, the yoga of knowledge.

Gita is a part of the epic Mahabharata, which deals with the Pandavas and their cousins, the Kauravas. The cousins enter into war as the Kauravas usurp the throne and deny the Pandavas their rightful share of the kingdom. Before the commencement of the war, Arjuna, the general of the Pandava army, asks his charioteer Krishna to drive the chariot and stop in between the two armies standing ready to fight.

Seeing his cousins, teachers and relatives on both sides, Arjuna is overcome with grief and does not want to fight. He fears the destruction that will follow is not worth the fight. Seeing his dilemma, Krishna enters into a dialogue with Arjuna. Gita captures their dialogue — Krishna, the divine, instructing Arjuna, the human.

Gita is an allegory, representing the battle between the good and bad in each of us and the battlefield as our own bodies — Pandavas, the good forces, and Kauravas the evil ones. The fight is between the forces that take us forward toward realizing the divinity in us and the ones which take us downward toward more and more attachment to the world. How do we make the good forces win and go forward?

Gita does not prescribe a single path to realize the union between ourselves and the divinity in us. It also does not prescribe where to start and when to start this journey. This very moment is the best one.

Devotion to everything we do; doing the right action without just focusing on the results; meditating on the divine inner self and consistently and continuously being aware of the presence of the divine in all living and nonliving objects are some simple practices that will move us forward in our life.

The auto mechanic showed me that he is devoted to his work. He has already moved many steps forward in the journey toward realizing his divinity — through his devoted action. He is a real Karma yogi, one who is thorough in what he does and sees the divine in his work. He projects a feeling of immense joy in what he does and through his joy makes all those he comes into contact happy.