A Lesson from the Bhagavad Gita: Letting Go and Living Fully
The last chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is my favorite. Though the entire book is so full of wisdom that you could unpack it and contemplate it for lifetimes, I am drawn most to its last teachings.
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most cherished ancient writings. It is said that Gandhi read from it every single day.
What we have in the Gita is a collection of teachings that are given in conversation between the warrior Arjuna and his friend and charioteer, Krishna. They’re having this conversation in the middle of a war, in the calm before the storm of a battlefield.
Which makes me think that the modern equivalent would be the crazy-busy-fullness of life these days. When life feels chaotic, it’s so good to check in with the wisdom of the ages.
Dr. Douglas Brooks describes the Gita thus in his book Poised for Grace:
“The Bhagavadgita, the Song of the Blessed One, is a defining moment in the history of yoga. It is a response to moral chaos; a guide for the perplexed; and a prolonged meditation on the nature of God, the immortality of the Self, and the practical needs of everyday life. Its importance only continues to increase as centuries of interpreters try to wrest its meanings from its inspired poetic vision.”
At the end of the Gita, after we have learned about the true nature of things, that all is one, and many guiding wisdoms to navigate life, Krishna (the Divine, Universal Consciousness, God – whatever name you prefer) goes on to speak of the most essential teachings of all:
He says, “Let go. Don’t cling to the fruits of your actions. Live your life and be unattached to what happens. Do this and you find real freedom.”
This is the key to overcoming worry and anxiety.
Don’t cling. Show up, let go.
And be who you are. Live your personal path, for your unique self contributes to the whole of life.
These two particularly powerful verses (again, from Poised for Grace) speak on the importance of living your truth, no matter what:
“A person obtains a true perfection by committing to one’s authentic task.”
“Better one’s own Dharma imperfectly disposed than another’s Dharma well-performed.”
Here’s how I sum up Chapter 18 of the Gita in my book, Yoga for Dragon Riders:
“By honoring your own unique experience with Nature and answering your calling you glorify God. Living your truth you align with the Highest Truth. Here Krishna brings Arjuna back to honoring his darma (duty and path in life).
Krishna tells Arjuna, and thus the reader: do what must be done as it is your work–your dharma. Yet, as you walk your path in life, if you choose to give every thought, word and action to God, you will experience complete freedom, worry will vanish, and you will be carried by the wings of immersurable Love.”