Sample from the Spring 2007 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine
By Rev. Stephanie Rutt
For the past nine years, Stephanie Rutt has been facilitating study groups on the Bhagavad Gita with participants from all religions and walks of life. She has utilized Sri Gurudev’s book, The Living Gita for many years and she notes, “I feel a special connection with him and his legacy. Rev. Rutt was inspired to write a book, An Ordinary Life Transformed: Lessons for Everyone from the Bhagavad Gita, by the everyday examples of how she saw the Gita showing up in her and others’ lives. In this article based on her new book, she distills the essence of each chapter of the Gita in a unique and psychospiritual approach to realizing the goal of the Gita: the end of sorrow.
Chapter One: The Face of Sorrow
What we must do to realize we are Atman? We must defend righteousness or truth.
We need to be able to stand in our own truth and confront the difficult parts of ourselves. To fight for truth is not a sentimental act based on emotion, but an act of courage based on clarity. We all have a deep knowing—an impulse toward wholeness. It will tap us on the shoulder and it won’t let us go until we look at it.
Chapter Two: Realizing Who We Are
In an overview of the entire Gita, Krishna explains the nature of the true Self and gives practical suggestions for realizing that Self. Krishna tells Arjuna that he can’t lose the war with his inner demons. This is because the “war” is not about a particular outcome but rather about overcoming the illusionary fear of the ego so that we may become instruments for a greater purpose.
Chapter Three: Actions of Sacrifice
Offer every action in service to the greater good. Sacrifice is a loaded word for many. Actions of sacrifice are the opposite of the actions of a martyr. Actions of sacrifice feel good; they fill you up and put a bounce in your step. With true insight, we can joyously release the fruits of our actions and just watch in childlike wonder at how the Divine may use the offering of our actions. It’s so freeing to remember it’s not about us at all.
Chapter Four: Seeing with New Eyes
In order to realize the Self, we must identify with the Observer within. Every day we think we are bad because of things that have happened. It’s true that we may think so and feel bad, but it’s not true at all. This chapter is about seeing ourselves with new eyes. With new eyes, the devotional heart of the Observer receives the storms of the human journey with compassionate equanimity. In this way, we learn to love our self and become our Self.
Chapter Five: Renounce and Be Free
Renounce all that is fleeting to realize the eternal. Renunciation has been interpreted to mean to give everything away, to leave society and begin a solitary journey. I believe it’s a much greater challenge to stay here and serve others and live in community. If I can’t walk with my God in the supermarket, I’ve missed the point! It is by wrapping our arms around the full range of emotion—from sorrow to joy—we finally come to rest in equanimity. By seeking to include all, we create conditions to find ourselves empty.
Chapter Six: The Inner Sanctuary
What we meditate upon, we become. Through steady practice and non-attachment, we make our way toward victory. By sitting and watching all the thoughts and feelings arise, at some point we ask ourselves, “Who’s watching?” The answer to this question begins to open us to the experience of Atman, our still point and the one who watches. Then, we see our Self in all beings and all beings in our Self.
Read the rest of this article in the Spring 2007 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine.