Your mind feels alone and empty, a bit lost, as if you’re different than most. It knows at a deeper level that there is more to life than being a leaf in a stream, merely drifting along, becoming worn, wan and water-soaked until you wash down a drain. So you reach out, your soul seeking that which can’t quite be seen, stretching to know that which feels a little beyond knowing—your mind is oddly certain that something quieter, more peaceful awaits, near but just beyond reach. Mind yearns for that “something.”
The Bhagavad Gita, on which I lovingly based this this Roadmaps book, is thousands, maybe tens of thousands of years old. It was given to mankind to serve the deep human yearning for enlightenment. The Gita is an unusual text in that it relays just one powerful story. Krishna, the God-figure in the story, explains to His best friend, Arjuna, (a famous warrior) how to attain human happiness and spiritual enlightenment. But they aren’t meeting in a classroom (or chatroom). Krishna is delivering His secrets of life while on a battlefield, sitting in a war chariot with His pal who is miserably struggling with existential questions. (Feeling a bit lost yourself? There’s a secret gift in that feeling and there’s a self-inquiry exercise in this book that will help you reflect and ponder this gift in your own life. Hint, it’s Worksheet #1, “The Spiritual Gift in Sheer Anguish.”)
Spoiler alert: The warrior gradually comes to see the light (well, mostly), and at the end of the story, due to his new-found spiritual tools, wins the battle.
How might we make a similar great turn away from sorrow toward high Spirituality in our lives? We wring our hands. We struggle. We seek. (Hint, there’s a deep remedy for such struggling in this book – it’s at Worksheet #2, “Knowing Atma—The True Self Within.” Note: You’re not alone. Mahatma Gandhi, when trying to lead 400 million people to freedom against powerful odds often found himself hopeless and depressed. At those times he, (the epitome of nonviolence), turned to this same teaching of the Gita.)
How commonplace is this high level of spiritual seeking? Not very. Queries about life are widespread, but actively seeking real answers is
not common. (Hint: There’s a light-shedding exercise about this topic in this book – it’s Worksheet 21 “Only One in Many Thousands.” You will find it personally interesting. The point is that relative to the massiveness of the population, only a holy few chance to turn from dark to see light. Apparently you have been blessed to be one of them.)
And yet even the blessed ask ordinary questions: “How do you even identify the enlightened person? How would he or she speak, sit, or move about? (Hint: The Gita’s wonderfully detailed answer to this great question shows up in this book at Worksheet 5 “Being an Illumined One.” Doing only this one sheet could be one's lifelong assignment.)
I suspect you’re beginning to get the idea of this book. The answers to our spiritual queries—based on the wondrous Bhagavad Gita—are right here in these "roadmaps", only a click away. But be forewarned: this book’s heart is not about teaching you about sacred things, it’s interested in your actual spiritual involvement and evolvement. Its job is to help you take a good look at where you are on the spiritual path and guide your participation toward important life changes. Done right, this book will help you navigate into the very heart of sacredness.
“To acquire spiritual wisdom
takes searching inquiries Into the Self.”
- The Bhagavad Gita Walkthrough (paraphrase), Ch. 4:38
“The Truth has to be both known and experienced.
- Sathya Sai Baba
“At least 70% of your sadhana (spiritual practice)
should be Self-inquiry.”
- Sathya Sai Baba
1) Participative-Reading: Each of the 65 main teachings from the Bhagavad Gita has its own worksheet. Each sheet asks a few questions of you as you read, “Ponder this,” “Rate yourself on that,” “Mark the two most important,” and so forth. As you answer the questions you get more into the teachings. Personal involvement means deeper understanding and higher commitment.
2) The Law of Involvement. The ancients called this tried and tested method “self-inquiry.” They would engage in a deep conversation with their own Mind—often beginning with, “Oh Mind…” The self-assessment questions in Roadmaps assist today’s reader-participant to take the plunge. It’s the Law of Involvement in action. The research is clear. People retain less than ten percent of what they hear (or read), not quite thirty percent of what they hear and see, but over seventy percent of what they become personally involved in. Comprehension and commitment to the material studied explodes as you become involved.
3) Be Fully Receptive: Put yourself into an attitude of acceptance. Embrace this.
4) Friendly Worksheets: Some people take one look and it registers instinctively as a schoolish test. (Hello again, Natural Resistance.) And yet, there’s no such thing here as a wrong answer.
“Spiritual work is never wasted. One who does this good work will not come to a bad end in this world or any world beyond. Know this profound truth: The one who strives for Realization never comes to grief.”
– Krishna, in the Gita, Chapter 6:40
5) Trust the Process: It’s utterly respectful: the reader-participant is in charge; the flawless Bhagavad Gita grounds it; and the Roadmaps help you apply it right now in real life.
6) Trust the Sequence: But allow for inner wisdom. Sometimes (infrequently) worksheets build on one another, and you may need to understand an idea on an earlier sheet. Don’t bog down just carry on, escorted by your intuitive knowing.
7) Proceed in Page-Sized Bites: whole worksheet by whole worksheet. Opening to a random page and beginning at a middle paragraph makes it seem like gibberish. Suggestion: first do the Table of Contents to survey your personal interests, then proceed with the worksheets. (By the way, an insider’s hint) doing sheets 1, 2, and 40 forms a sound footing from which you can step where your inner wisdom (or curiosity) leads.
8) Once Into Them, People Love These Worksheets: They feel tangibly, palpably aided. The ancients understood that it takes courage to dig honestly into one’s own behavior. The road of life is roundabout, rough and rutted. Finding clear charts for navigating every step is not merely helpful, it’s inspiring and enticing.
9) Elevate the Bar: Make your spiritual expectations soar. Be absolutely certain that you can, through constant practice (and divine grace) achieve Self-Realization, even in this lifetime. Indeed, your spiritual journey is the central expedition of your life, and this book may be your most important reading ever. Take the trip happily and seriously (but not grimly). Step lightly. Do the book lovingly.
“A person with a goal is 100 times more powerful than the one without.”
- Unknown, (probably a management professor)
In the final analysis, there’s an enchanting paradox here: It’s not really about this book, or about worksheets, or spiritual principles, or even about the Bhagavad Gita itself. It’s about you. It’s about you learning to rid yourself of worldly suffering to find inner peace and unceasing happiness. It’s about you learning through your direct experience to slip into your own true self within. The only real destination in life is your inner Divinity. In the end it’s all you have.
You're standing at the entrance
to the much sought inner room,
the place where it's more likely that you
will become one of the rare,
proceeding up the only road that counts.
Again, welcome to Roadmaps to Self-Realization.
- Jack Hawley,
Prasanthi Nilayam, India
& Palm Springs, California
Author's Note: Of the four Bhagavad Gita books I wrote during my thirty years sitting at Divinity’s door in India, this one is my favorite. It’s not just for learning about spirituality, it’s actually doing it. -JAH