Chapters seven through twelve really show the personal emphasis of the practice of yoga and how individualistic the ultimate goal really is, rather than an individual’s relationship to others around him – and throughout the reading I found myself comparing the themes of the Gita to other religious values and practices, even those other than Christianity. There are a few points that really stood out to me as they related to other religions I have come across throughout my studies. Chapter eight describes the moment of death and Krishna warns that if one does not maintain his meditative state that he will experience total chaos at the moment of death. I think that draws an interesting connection with many contemporary reactions to threatening situations – many often look to a higher power when they are confronted with a dangerous situation. Krishna also describes the reasons that people worship him (or a higher power) – for example, people worship him if they are suffering. But Krishna says “unwavering in devotion the man or woman of wisdom surpasses all the others.” So through a deep understanding of oneself while searching with complete devotion to a higher power is the ultimate goal. I think this is really interesting because Christian Scripture often teaches the way by illustrating the way others interact within the community. Community is not an important means by which one can reach the ultimate goal.
Chapter eleven reminded me that the Gita is a conversational narrative and Arjuna is a crucial component to the effectiveness of the instruction. The other chapters are much more “religious” or “theological” in nature and the cosmic vision sort of illustrates what one can expect as a result of the consistent devotion to practice described. The cosmic vision reminded me of a book I read in an anthropology class called The Autobiography of a Winnebago. Much of the book talks about Winnebago religious practices, one of which is performed using peyote. Just as the cosmic vision described in chapter eleven shows what it is like when one sees the intense vision of God, peyote was (and perhaps still is) used to reach a euphoric state of mind where one supposedly sees the ultimate creator, or basically the cosmic vision. I am still curious to know, however, whether or not the cosmic vision described in chapter eleven is the same for everyone.