Bhagavad Gita, A New Translation, Stephen Mitchell

I’ve been a spiritual seeker my whole life and have enjoyed reading the perspectives of the various organized religions to better understand the differences, or more importantly the similarities. The more I read, the more I agree with Eckhart Tolle when he says that “There is an always has been only one spiritual teaching.” I consider myself to be deeply spiritual yet non-religious. The Google and Oxford Languages definition of the word maverick, as in the title of this blog, is an unorthodox or independent minded person. As a spiritual seeker, I would consider myself to be a spiritual maverick.

I decided to read this book after reading Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, the text behind Taoism (Daoism). The simplicity of Tao Te Ching was incredibly inspiring to me. Yet, for my analytical mind there was something elusive about it. As I read Tao Te Ching, I think I may have tried too hard to understand the “deeper meaning” of each stanza. But I think its the simplicity of it that makes it so powerful. Probably better to NOT try and analyze it.

I was expecting the Bhagavad Gita to be even more elusive and hard to understand. It was originally written thousands of years ago in the ancient language of Sanskrit, so of course it its going to be hard to understand. I was so wrong. I was amazed at how practical, straightforward and easy this book was to understand. And it still perfectly relevant today which is amazing considering how advanced our society has become.

Perhaps it was just Stephen Mitchell’s masterful translation, but I found myself not having to analyze it much if at all. I just read it and it made sense. It’s short too. I read the whole thing in a week or so. Its short enough that someone could easily read the whole thing in a few hours, but I wanted to let each verse sink in.

The Bhagavad Gita is a story of Arjuna, a warrior, who is about to participate in a great battle. Armies are gathered on both sides. Arjuna finds himself in the middle of the two armies before the battle begins along with his charioteer, Krishna. Time appears to freeze as Arjuna begins to question the whole purpose for the fight. Krishna, then speaks to Arjuna with great spiritual wisdom and explains the way, revealing himself as a God in the process.

Krishna’s teachings align with everything I’ve ever learned about spirituality from Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and other religions. But the Bhagavad Gita is so simple and easy to understand that it brought more clarity to me than other teachings. I can see how some of the things that “The Gita” teaches could be taken out of context to rationalize things such as war and violence. But if read in its entirety, it is so obvious how out of context those things have become.

If you are a spiritual seeker in any sense and have an open mind, I highly recommend this book. It does not require much in the way of investment of time, but I can see how the lessons it teaches could inspire and guide a lifetime.

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