The Problem of Desire
commentaries on Swami Dayananda’s summary of Chapter 3 of the Bhagavad Gita
The third chapter of Bhagavad Gita opens with the question of Arjuna, the inquirer, for Krishna, his teacher. "If, for liberation, self knowledge is superior to action, why do you encourage me to fight this war? The action I am asked to perform involves a great deal of destruction and suffering.”
There are reasons why such a question should arise in Arjuna’s mind. Krishna unfolded the nature of the Self in such verses as, "How can the one who knows the indestructible, changeless, birthless ever-free unmodified self kill or cause someone else to kill?" (B.G. II-21).
From Love, Self Esteem, Self Knowledge and Vedanta
an essay inspired by the teachings of Swami Dayananda
By James Swartz
Love is Awareness Directed to an Object
Everyone wants to be loved but an emotionally needy person does not know why. He or she accepts the commands of the longing and lonely self and sets out to seek the approval and appreciation of others. This is why we value other’s opinions, get upset when they criticize us, argue, ignore or gossip about us behind our backs.
We are emotionally needy because we are not valuable in our own eyes. We are not valuable because we do not know who we actually are. Emotions are part and parcel of the of the universal psychological order and are invariably the basic content of an individual’s life. Emotions motivate us to accomplish things. At the same time they may easily overwhelm us mind and subject us to a sense of confusion, failure and depression. When emotions rule, life is complicated and we are susceptible to feelings of unworthiness and despair.
From SYMBOLS OF THE SELF
By James Swartz
Rivers too have been converted to self symbols because they give life, nourishing everything with which they come in contact. In fact the elements (air, fire, water, earth and space) are not only the self in material form but, for the purposes of worship and contemplation, function as self symbols, the meditation on which may open the door to the shining world of self knowledge.
In South India five major temples are dedicated to the worship of the self in the form of the five ‘great’ elements. For example, there is a temple in Southern Andra Pradesh at a town named Kalahasthi that represents the air element. Air, like water, is an appropriate self symbol because we cannot live without it. It is our ‘life’s breath.’ Like the self, it is formless and unseen and ‘moves in mysterious ways.’
Animals, plants and minerals represent spiritual truths. The elephant, because of keen intelligence and long memory has come to represent Vedic wisdom. Gold, because of its great value and nontarnishing quality and silver for its reflective ability are well-known self symbols.