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How “Wisdom” Can Get It Wrong

Arjuna looked out at the battlefield, and seeing those he loved and even revered was overwhelmed with the enormity of killing them, and expressed his feelings to Krishna. Krishna’s reaction to this impassioned speech was to smile and say: “Your words are wise, Arjuna, but you are wrong.”

How to Deal With the Illusions of Life

Simply saying: “It is all an illusion,” really does very little. Consider how we attend a play or a motion picture and become completely engrossed in the spectacle, responding with various emotions. All the time we know it is just pretend, but that does not keep us from responding as though it were real. How is this? It is the nature–yes, the purpose–of the mind!

There Are No Dead

“Lead me from death to immortality” is not a petition to gain a state where we will nevermore experience bodily death, but a plea to be led from the outward-turned consciousness that produces death to the in-turned consciousness that produces life. It is spirit itself that is immortality–nothing else. “Change and decay all around I see. O Thou Who changest not: abide with me.” What we are praying for is consciousness itself.

7 Steps to Misuse Your Power of Thought

Misused power of thought

“Thinking about sense-objects will attach you to sense-objects; grow attached, and you become addicted; thwart your addiction, it turns to anger; be angry, and you confuse your mind; confuse your mind, you forget the lesson of experience; forget experience, you lose discrimination; lose discrimination, and you miss life’s only purpose.”
–Bhagavad Gita 2:62, 63

It is true that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. In these two verses Krishna has described the entire journey, beginning with thought and ending in total loss. Each step should be considered well.


Thought is power–magnetic power, particularly. That is, thought can draw or repel whatever is thought about, depending upon the polarity of the individual mind. Many times we see that people bring to themselves the things they continually think about, but we also see that thinking about something can repel it from the person.

For example, the Franciscan Order is almost obsessed with the idea of poverty, yet it is one of the wealthiest institutions in the world. Thinking about poverty brought them wealth! This is not said in jest. I have seen people draw to themselves the things they detested, and seen others drive out of their lives the things they yearned for. As already pointed out, it is a matter of the polarity of the thought force, of magnetic energy.

As a rule, though, thought brings to us what we think about. Even if we begin by disliking or opposing the object of thought, in time we become attached to it, either by coming to like it (whether or not we admit the liking) or becoming unable to dispel it from our minds. We see this in the lives of many crusaders. They become what they oppose. In fact, they often oppose something to cover up their secret attraction to it.

It has long been known that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Krishna is aware of this, and is counseling Arjuna to simply ignore that which he does not wish to become involved with. That is why in meditation we ignore any distractions and just keep relaxed in the awareness of the process of meditation–and nothing else. If we do this, in time the distractions will dissolve, and in the meantime, being ignored, they will not be distractions, practically speaking.

So if we will not obsess on a subject, it will not touch or capture us. This is a major point of spiritual life.


  • “Thinking about sense-objects will attach you to sense-objects.”

The word translated “attach” is sangas, which means attachment. However, sangas has both an internal and an external meaning–both of which apply in this instance.

Attachment means having an affinity for something, or having some feeling of desire to be aware of it or have it present. It has a definite emotional connotation. It also means to feel some kind of kinship with an object, or to feel a need for it–even a dependency.

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Tapasya: How You Can Burn Your Karmic Seeds

Tapasya: how to burn your karmic seeds

A selection from the book The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening,
available for reading online, as a free PDF download, or as a paperback or ebook.

Tapasya is practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline. Literally it means the generation of heat or energy, referring to spiritual practice and its effect, especially the “roasting” of karmic seeds, the “burning up” of karma. It also refers to the heat necessary for the hatching of an egg. Without tapasya there is no significant spiritual progress. So Krishna tells us of three levels of tapasya as well as its characterization according to the dominant guna of the persons engaging in tapasya..

Tapasya of the body

“Reverence for the devas, the seers, the teachers and the sages; straightforwardness, harmlessness, physical cleanliness and sexual purity; these are the virtues whose practice is called austerity of the body.” (Bhagavad Gita 17:14)

Reverence (pujanam) is internal, so why does it come first in the list of physical austerity? Because Krishna is not thinking of mere philosophizing or abstraction–in other words, empty words. He is thinking of action, of kriya, which creates positive karma in the form of purification and enlightenment. Puja is the word usually translated “worship,” and some translators use it rather than reverence. Worship in Krishna’s view is not mere verbal praise or glorification, but a living out of the interior attitude of reverence.

As Jesus once asked: “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) So to reverence a spiritual authority is not to flatter, grovel, and promote them or shower them with money and gifts. Rather, it is faithfully and seriously applying their teachings. Krishna speaks of four kinds who deserve our reverence: devas, seers, teachers, and sages.

Devas are gods–not the Supreme God, but highly evolved beings who can affect our life. We might think of them as angels or saints, bodiless beings that interact with humans and help them in many ways. All viable religions have some form of devas.

The dwijas (seers) are the “twice-born.” Often this term applies to those who have undergone the upanayanam ritual and received instruction in the Gayatri mantra, but here a wider sense is meant.

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5 Reasons for the Smile of Krishna

The Smile of Krishna
As the fighting is about to commence on the battlefield of Kurukshetra in the tale of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna begins to advise Arjuna. (This article is taken from The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening.)

Arjuna, overcome with anguish at the prospect of killing in battle those he loved and was obligated to respect, presented to Krishna his reasons for refusing to fight. Hearing the “case” presented by Arjuna:

“To him, the dejected Arjuna, Krishna, smiling, O Dhritarashtra, in the middle between the two armies, spoke these words” (Bhagavad Gita 2:10).

Why a smile?

The smile of Krishna is extremely significant, and we must be grateful to the sage Vyasa for including this detail that carries a momentous message.

Why did Krishna smile, considering how grief-filled Arjuna was, and how impassioned he had been in his insistence that to fight would be the greatest of evils–in contradiction to the urging and advice of Krishna? Arjuna was both sad and rebellious. Yet Krishna smiled.

The word in the Gita is prahasann, which means to smile before laughing. (Sargeant renders it: “beginning to laugh.”) So it is not some weak smile, nor a condescending or sarcastic grimace, but a very positive sign of impending mirth. How is this? Krishna smiled for several reasons.

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“The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening” Is Now Available as Paperback and Ebook

Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

After years of writing and preparation, we are happy to announce the publication of Abbot George’s latest book, The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: A Practical Commentary for Leading a Successful Spiritual Life. Although it has been available for reading online at OCOY.org, it is now also available as a paperback and ebook at various online outlets (see below).

With penetrating insight, Abbot George Burke illumines the Bhagavad Gita’s practical value for spiritual seekers. With a unique perspective from a lifetime of study and practice of both Eastern and Western spirituality, Abbot George presents the treasures of the Gita in an easily intelligible fashion.

Here is what early reviewers say:

“I found reading Abbot George Burke’s The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening a genuine pleasure. While I was expecting another Gita commentary, I was delighted to discover so much more than just a commentary. Utilizing his wonderful gift of expression, and employing poetry, parable, personal experiences, and a generous dose of his own deep spiritual insight and wisdom, Abbot George has produced a work that is extremely readable and immensely practical.”
–Russ Thomas

“I’ve read many, many different translations and commentaries on the Gita; Abbot George’s is hands down one of the most approachable. It is clear, helpful, and has a vast depth that easily brings both the meaning and value of the Bhagavad Gita to life. I would highly recommend The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening to anyone that wants to bring it’s lessons into their daily life.”
–Michael Sabani

“I had read through the original text of the Gita a few years ago and as you could imagine, the majority of its lessons were lost on me. The version Abbot Burke has written opened up the lessons the Gita holds in a way that is relatable to a westerner, and far easier to grasp. Being raised in the Catholic faith, I see parallels to the teachings of the Christ and that message is enhanced greatly. I would recommend this version to anyone regardless of religious upbringing, as it’s lessons are relevant to everyone. I truly love reading this book.”
–Caraine Wells

“Be swept away by the ancient wisdom of the East in this timeless classic that offers practical solutions to the modern problems of today. Struggling with the constant tug-of-war between good and evil, our hearts and minds will relish the opportunity to reconnect with God’s eternal love for us so eloquently illuminated in this book. A must read for anyone on a spiritual quest for the truth!”
–Sailaja Kuruvadi

“The Bhagavad Gita is truly one of the world’s foremost scriptural gems, and this new translation and extensive commentary by Abbot George provides great insight into its richness. Abbot George’s ability to examine difficult and often confusing texts (particularly for those not immersed in Indian religious thought and symbolism) and explain them clearly and in a gentle tone is apparent throughout.”
–Br. Julian-Ozana Arconti, CG

The paperback is 533 pages of spiritual insights. The ebook is available at 75% OFF for only 99¢ for a limited time. You can get the ebook at these online sites: Amazon U.S.Amazon India, Barnes & Noble, Kobo.com, iBooks (Apple Books), 24 Symbols, and Playster, and the paperback at Amazon.com.

Get It Now!

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Krishna and Jesus: Are They God, or Teachers, or What?

Jesus and Krishna

Q: Is Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead or just a teacher like Jesus?

Krishna is not Parabrahman, the Absolute Being, and Jesus is not the Godhead, either. Nor are they “just teachers,” either.

Both Krishna and Jesus were perfect siddhas, thoroughly deified persons, truly god, having evolved through all the worlds of relative existence and transcended them in total union with the Absolute. Though finite, their consciousness and power is infinite. And this is true of all incarnations of God (avatars) such as Rama and Buddha. (See the book Robe of Light.)

A totally liberated being, a siddha, is far beyond the concept of God held by human beings, for being finite humans cannot at all even begin to correctly conceive of God. This is why the truly God-realized never attempt to describe or explain the nature of God.

Words from a Master

Sri Ramakrishna
Sri Ramakrishna

As Sri Ramakrishna said,

“What Brahman is cannot be described. All things in the world–the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, the six systems of philosophy–have been defiled, like food that has been touched by the tongue, for they have been read or uttered by the tongue. Only one thing has not been defiled in this way, and that is Brahman. No one has ever been able to say what Brahman is.

“A man had two sons. The father sent them to a preceptor to learn the Knowledge of Brahman. After a few years they returned from their preceptor’s house and bowed low before their father. Wanting to measure the depth of their knowledge of Brahman, he first questioned the older of the two boys. ‘My child,’ he said, ‘You have studied all the scriptures. Now tell me, what is the nature of Brahman?’ The boy began to explain Brahman by reciting various texts from the Vedas. The father did not say anything. Then he asked the younger son the same question. But the boy remained silent and stood with eyes cast down. No word escaped his lips. The father was pleased and said to him: ‘My child, you have understood a little of Brahman. What It is cannot be expressed in words.’

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