winter solstice is past, and chilly winds blow. Now is traditionally
a time to tuck in and hibernate until spring's buds raise
our spirits once again, reminding us of life's renewing
cycles. And now is a time to focus on our New Year's surge
of resolve for personal change. Often our resolutions invite
new disciplines, greater compassion, or selfless action.
Sometimes resolutions are personal reflections on meaningful
work and life purpose. Certainly these are no small issues;
in fact, their ideals may stir up guilt or overwhelm, pressing
us to retreat to life's usual distractions.
some of our promises have slipped, yet no matter how far
into the New Year, daily we are given the chance to begin
again. The first challenge is to stop the internal battle
between lethargy and energy, inertia and passion. These
are natural polarities, usually the first confrontation
when our body, mind or spirit stretches toward growth. To
transcend such opposites, we need a clear vision both of
what we're reaching for and how to go forth.
epic Bhagavad-Gita offers an inspiring teaching on rising
above these inner rivals. Written in the first century this
Hindu sacred text recounts an ongoing dialogue between the
prince Arjuna and his charioteer, the Hindu god Krishna.
A mighty warrior, Arjuna is renowned for his physical prowess
as well as his spiritual zeal, marked by his friendship
with the mystical teacher Krishna. Their poetic exchange
takes place on the battlefield, where Arjuna's body trembles
and "hair bristles" as he imagines the chaos and horror
of killing. He faces a profound moral dilemma frozen by
conflicts of duty, passion, honor and pity.
the tale unfolds, it is clear that the real battle is within
his mind and Krishna's teachings open Arjuna to deeper understandings
by guiding him through the paradoxical maze of disciplined
action and freedom. Krishna weaves an awe-inspiring tapestry
with threads of duty (dharma), action (karma), discipline
(yoga), knowledge (jnana) and devotion (bhakti) to help
Arjuna realize a higher vision.
story, though set in Indian culture, is a masterpiece of
philosophical, spiritual and psychological wisdom. It takes
those familiar sticking points of inertia and passion and
links them to divine solutions. Specifically, when we're
dedicated to a loving vision and not attached to the fruits
of action, we build the inner freedom to act rightly.
like Arjuna, applying such inspired choices to my own life
certainly bristles my hair! How can I possibly survive a
competitive work world in a heart and spirit centered way?
Like many others, I am too easily caught between energy
and exhaustion when I believe I am engaged in a win-lose
battle. There must be a better way.
the centuries, wisdom passed down from mature, inspired
traditions and cultures show us there is. The first step
(versus the last resort) is surrender of the game of either/or,
win/lose. The second is retreat from the polarity battlefield
to look over the lay of the land. The third is determining
where the skirmish really is-"out there" or "in here"? And
then it is time to call on both the natural and divine capacity
for clear sight. As in the Bhagavad-Gita, Arjuna discovered
that more than force or weapons, clarity and vision were
the tools he needed to guide him to follow his highest warrior's
code is both a philosophy and a discipline for transcending
polarities. It is how heart and vision whet and polish our
tools for right living and inspired action. It is not an
easy code to translate; yet our body and spirit naturally
resonate with it when we surrender the mind's endless battles.
Here is one version gleaned from both spiritual and psychological
The warrior follows a path.
2. S/he continually hones her tools, attitude and abilities.
3. The Warrior strives for impeccability and integrity in
4. He/she is awake to each moment.
5. The warrior is accountable for his/her actions.
6. S/he stays centered even in the midst of chaos.
7. The warrior remains devoted to a spiritual cause.
code, translated into daily living, supports our longings
to realize our high reaching resolutions. When, like Arjuna,
we retreat from the mind's battlefield, and scan the ground
around us, we may well find that the warrior's code reveals
the path to follow. Happy treading toward the promise of