Diving into the Bhagavad Gita: Knowledge of the Absolute (Chapter 7)
by Peter Roussel
The practitioner in yoga strives to understand the right action, this is the theme in Hatha Yoga and Bakhti Yoga as it is in the epic story of Arjuna, the Bhagavad Gita.
Bhagavad Gita is compiled from stories dating from before Christ and up to about 600 years after His death. Many edits by those in power have incorporated developing ideas of society and of how to understand life. One of the things it covers is Knowledge of the Absolute and tries to provide values for how to live; right attitude for spiritual practice, for worldly duty and for war. Many alternative practices are given in Bhagavad-Gita as “…the best way” to live. Chapter 7 focuses on ‘Knowledge of the Absolute’, or Yoga of Self Knowledge. The practice of recognizing self-experience, the sense of “I” as the Witness or Krishna Consciousness. It is reminding us to remain impartial to the content of this moment, to the likes and dislikes of our personal makeup and conditioning. It’s calling us to see a bigger picture. With clear seeing we can act from a deeper place, creating beauty and goodness.
Acknowledgement of the Absolute helps us to know our Dharma, to know our personal truth, to face the battles we must fight. So yogic practice is helping us to be sensitive within our sensory experience, within our mental experience and to discriminate between the two and what is neither. This is helping us to be orientated in life. When we rely on the mental and sensory faculties as our sole guide in life we are at risks of overlooking some of the most precious aspects of our own being and the beings we find living with us. For me, contemplation of the Eternal, the Impersonal; the things that transcend my lifetime, my story, brings a sense of awe and wonder. Recognition of the Timeless gives a context and perspective on the fleeting moments of our life, highlighting the beauty of each moment as it passes, for better or worse.
Even with the best texts, we can end up with mind wrapped up concepts. A busy mind can be exhausting as we try to contemplate the Absolute. Sensing the existence of something unmanifest is effortless but to try and make sense of the significance of it in our choices is a real challenge and moral obligation. One favourite practice to bring this integration is watching the breath. Watching the breath (So Hum) is an amazing tool. I find it fascinating that doing something so timid, easy and personal can be a bridge to recognizing the Absolute! Great technology!
When we watch the breath, the mind (the place where our individual identity is created and maintained) is placed in direct connection with the life force. This is profoundly settling. Profoundly gratifying. And brings simplicity and a sense of connection at this moment to a larger picture.
A new level of self enquiry started with spontaneous insights in hot spring in the Himalaya 1998. On returning to UK at the age of 23, Peter was gifted yoga classes that sparked fervent practice of Astanga until he completed Yoga Arts TT under Louisa Sear in 2001. Three more teacher trainings and many workshops since, Peter learned the structure and knowledge of Iyengar Yoga with Glenn Ceresoli.