06 September 2010

What I Meant To Say Was...

Jump in and let go.  Not hang on.  Let go. So, I made a rather poor word choice for the title of my last entry, though I intended the "jump in and hang on" idiomatically, as in "Listen and follow what I'm saying here, boy. Take the plunge into another way of being."   What Krishna is actually telling Arjuna is that this warrior living in The World needs to LET GO of desire, of ambition, of attachment, not hang on at all.  For instance, have a look at the following passage from Stephen Mitchell's translation of the Bhagavad Gita.  Krishna says:

If a man keeps dwelling on sense-objects,
attachment to them arises;
from attachment, desire flares up;
from desire, anger is born;

from anger, confusion follows;
from confusion, weakness of memory;
weak memory -- weak understanding;
weak understanding--ruin.

But the man who is self-controlled,
who meets the objects of the senses
with neither craving nor aversion,
will attain serenity at last.  (2.62-64)

This detachment from the world of the senses, from desire and ambition, expressed here reminds me of a rather famous Wordsworth sonnet, "The World is Too Much With Us."  In it the poet mourns the dominance of materialism and ambition in the Christian west and expresses a Romantic notion of another world view, one in which Gods are manifest in Nature. Arjuna, meet William.  William, Arjuna.
The world is too much with us, late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
Are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything we are out of tune;
It moves us not.  Great God!  I'd rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So I might, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.