03.21: The Gita lives through those who live the Gita
Many people hesitate to apply the Bhagavad-gita in their lives because they doubt whether its guidelines given thousands of years ago are practical today. Their doubt originates in a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of the Gita wisdom-tradition.
A living scriptural tradition can never exist as an airtight-sealed vacuum of scriptural guidelines; if a tradition tries to do so, it will soon find itself in the trashcan of history. What keeps a tradition living is its model practitioners, those seasoned spiritualists who have deeply internalized the scriptural guidelines and have gained an innate sense of the essence and purpose of those guidelines. Being constantly oriented by this sense, they demonstrate through their words and actions how those guidelines are applicable and beneficial in present-day scenarios.
The Bhagavad-gita demonstrates a keen awareness of the critical, even indispensable, role played by model practitioners when it states (3.21) that a society’s values and purposes are determined by its role models. The Gita wisdom-tradition lives through those who live according to its values and goals
When we have the opportunity to associate with such practitioners, rich spiritual dividends await us if we grab that opportunity wholeheartedly. Grabbing that opportunity means that we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to memorizing the words that they speak – these are important, no doubt, but they may not apply verbatim when circumstances change in our lives, as they inevitably will – but essentially observing, contemplating and assimilating the principles that they demonstrate and seeking inspiration therein. When our spiritual practices are animated by such inspiration, then we will never be hamstrung by the misgiving that the Gita’s guidelines are impractical. Rather, our spiritual sense will show us how they are practical in all situations and our life-experiences will bear out for us their practicality – and their potency.