Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5 Verses 8-9
“The cognizer of truth, united to god, automatically perceives, ‘I myself do nothing’ – even though he sees, hears, touches, smells, eats, moves, sleeps, breathes, speaks, rejects, holds, opens or closes his eyes—realizing that it is the senses (activated by Nature) that work amid sense objects.”
When we realize that all of our abilities come from the Source, we know that we are not the “doer” in our lives. The prana, or energy, that we receive from the Universe is what powers our actions. When we realize this, then we can cultivate non-attachment from the fruits of our actions. We simply let ourselves be a vessel for god to carry out the cosmic plan. This sentiment is outlined in many cultures and religions, including the Prayer of St. Francis. I say this prayer every morning before meditation. In the prayer we ask god to work through us to bring more love, light, and peace into the world and it affirms that it is through forgiveness and generosity that these things come back to us. Just like the law of attraction, what we put out into the world is what we get back. A shorter version is recommended by Gabrielle Bernstein, based on her studies of the book A Course in Miracles. The prayer is: “Where would you have me go, what would you have me do, what would you have me say, and to whom?” By starting my day with the intention to be used for the greater good, I set the tone for a day of guided action. When good things happen to me, instead of gloating or boasting, I set the tone to give thanks that Spirit bestowed blessing upon me and pray that these blessings can be used to in turn bless others.
In a deeper sense, I can see this verse alluding to the fact that we are not our bodies, our senses, even our minds. There is a more powerful force at work in us, the spirit that breathes life into our body-containers. The “I” here can be thought of as the soul. The body acts as the vessel, the senses take in information, the mind sorts the information, the intellect makes decisions, but the soul is the watcher. Deepak Chopra says to witness the breath and that the soul is this observer, the witness to our actions. He explains the body as a verb, always doing something, but the soul is the silent overseer. In meditation we still the body and quiet the mind to get in touch with the soul.
This verse also frees us from feeling overly responsible for our achievements and by the same token, our failures. If we dedicate our actions to come from a place of love then we can trust that the Universe will guide us to do, or not do, what needs to be done, or not done. Often a “failure” in our perception is actually what needed to happen. We sometimes don’t see the big picture until much later, and I believe we may not ever see the whole thing, at least within our current lifetimes. Occasionally we get glimpses however, and these times reassure us during the times when we don’t see the resolution. As I tell the kids in my yoga classes, all you have to do is try. We do our best, we act from place of love and service, we trust and let Spirit guide us. I am not the doer, I am a tool of the Source to create in the world.