I have a subscription to a magazine known as Yoga Journal. I’ve had a subscription since forever.
Used to, somwhere near the front they’d have an “Om” page on which they’d offer a mantra or prayer of one kind or another. This is one trait of the magazine that makes it rather Hindu, although the magazine isn’t technically such. Sadly, while there remains an “Om” page or two, mantras are no longer offered.
This month one of the Om pages holds a perspective article titled, “Living Blessing.” The author pretty much only talks about blessing his meals before he consumes thems. But he details every part of this process, and for no longer than the article is (it’s not long), he does well and going deep, but staying very easy to understand.
Near the end, he mentions that there are many ways to bless one’s food. He admits that the one he uses is a prayer from the Bhagavad Gita, known as the Brahmarpanam. I love it. See below for this prayer…
Brahmarpanam brahmahavir, Brahmagnau brahmanahutam,
Brahmaiva tena gantavyam, Brahmakarma samadhena.
(The act of offering is Brahman, The offering itself is Brahman, The one making the offering is Brahman- offering into the sacred fire which is Brahman. He alone attains Brahman. who, in all actions, is fully absorbed in Brahman.)
I mentioned that I love this shloka, and here’s why: It sums up the essence of my religion eloquently and simply.
Personally, I don’t subscribe to Dvaita philosophy/Dualism. I find truth to be more manifest in Advaita philosophy and I also find Advaita to make a stronger foundation for a more complete religious and spiritual expression, and to be more complimentary to the human experience.
Having said that, I’ve not yet reached an understanding of how any believer within any religion can believe (only) that G/god exists more in one locale than another. The awareness of that realization can be more evident in one person or thing than another, but that doesn’t in any way mean the Divine is more or less present there. So to believe that G/god is “somewhere out there” while downplaying or neglecting altogether the immanent presence of the Divine seems arrogant, ignorant, insulting and incomplete, nevermind illogical.
So, within the foundation of understanding the Highest One as simultaneously immanent and intimate, as well as impartial and impersonal, this prayer says it all.
Brahman, who is THE highest conception of the Divine ever, and the closest humanity is likely ever to come to describing The Incomparable All, is the only real Truth that exists and is the center of this prayer (as well as everything else, literally). Through this prayer we learn that The One is Who offers. The One is That which is being offered, AKA: the offering. The One is the actual action of making the offering. The One is the means through which the offering is offered. And The One is the recipient of that offering. There simply isn’t an aspect of existence or nonexistence which isn’t permeated by Brahman, The One.
Chapter 4 of the Gita is the chapter on the yoga of action and renunciation, and this chapter actually kicks ass. Allow me to detail why.
- Shlokas/Verses 5-9: Foundational to Hinduism, Krishna explains that humanity is never without The One. A promise that every age sees The One arrive and that those who recognize suchness are able to step off of the wheel of death and rebirth.
- Shloka/Verse: 11: Also foundational to Hinduism and a support for why Hinduism is so inherently tolerant and peace-loving. Here The One states, “My path is the path all follow, in different ways.” I don’t need to force or pressure you to convert to my religion becuase my religion already encompasses yours and finds inherent value in it.
- Shlokas/Verses 18-30: Pretty much a definition of Karma Yoga and Renunciation. For me this amazes, because of the emphasis on intimately knowing and, perhaps even more importantly controlling, one’s internal landscape. These verses explain the essence and outlook of the person succeeding in renunciation (vairagya) and also in controlling his karmas. Notice how many of these traits involve what would, by today’s standards, be called absolute controll over one’s emotions. These verse indicate that that person’s actions are purified through knowledge (a hint at Jnana Yoga), and in verses 22 & 23 we learn that in abstaining from emotional reactions one’s karma disappears. I suspect this is because far too often a lack of control over one’s emotions leads to a roller coaster of reactions, which perpetuates the cycles of samsara/samskara. Verse 25-30, of course following the Brahmarpanam, detail how fully The One pervades every aspect of life.
- Shloka/Verse 35: “Knowledge will remove your bewilderment.” Throughout the Gita Arjuna is a wreck and Krishna makes many attempts to console him. I interpret the knowledge mentioned here to be knowledge of the Truth, AKA Jnana Yoga. I love that He tells Arjuna that this knowledge will enable him to “…see all creation in yourself and in me.” Jnana leads one not only to mastery over his own karmas, but also to peace, and even further to Self-Realization. This is supported in the following verses. In verse 36 Krishna says that knowledge takes even the worst folks to safety. In verse 37, He states that “knowledge consumes karma” in the same way a log is charred to ashes by fire. Verse 38 has Krishna saying, “There is no purifier like knowledge in this world; time makes man see the truth of this,” and in 39 we’re advised that “the commander of his senses gains knowledge; and with this knowledge he finds final peace.”
I’m aware that there’s more to the Gita than Jnana, and entire sects have been founded on those bits and pieces. Still, in Chapter 4 I find a huge chunk of my religion -and this chunk pretty much applies across the board. The wisdom found in this chapter, like Brahman/The One, without a doubt pervades and permeates all that there is.