I get down finally to reading the introduction of my W.W. Norton's edition of The Bhagavad Gita, sitting under the light of the Starbuck's patio after it is closed. It's a bit lonely. Holding the book in the streetlamp gets a little tiresome, a man and a woman--she is Russian, he talks with self-absorption--smoke a cigarette and chat loudly directly behind me, I decide to pack up stakes and head to a bar where the lighting is okay, one that serves Guinness and hamburgers, little bar tables off to the side where a reader can read in the corner. But I run into my buddies from Glen's. I get past them, but I hear my name called, busted. "Let's go grab a beer at Board Room." Sure.
One enters at around eleven PM, and leaves after last call, having paid the bill and tipped excessively. And the next day I do not read much of The Bhagavad Gita, to be honest. "How appropriate."
In a few short hours I'll go and face the egos, the talkers, and fall into it all over again. "Man about town," my mom says.
But how can I not feel the sense of disgrace. There is Arjuna cowering on the battlefield, shy, too much in his own head, thinking too much (or not enough), yes, being a coward, about to bring shame to himself for denying his own warrior status. "Then Krishna, the Unshaken One, addressed dejected Arjuna as they stood between the armies, while laughing at him, as it were:" (2:10) Yes, laughing at him, or at least, a good belly chuckle in this tale of sometimes ornate description.
And Krishna, god in disguise of mortal form, charioteer, lays down some advice. "Your concern should be with action, never with an action's fruits: these should never motivate you, nor attachment to inaction. Establish in this practice, act without attachment, Arjuna, unmoved by failure or success! Equanimity is yoga." Yes, good to know, there is an element of yoga, which will allow you to tell the difference between what is real, what matters, and what is not.
As I prepare to go face the egos and the talkers and the discussion of social lives, there is the coward, who'll listen to all the chat within minds and without. There is the disgraced warrior of the educating class. There is the coward who hides in barroom's giddy talk and in the drink itself. There is the coward who did not stand up for himself many years ago over a matter important to his heart, finding discouragement more real than it was. Taking from one apparent discouragement, a wide river, in his own mind, of other ones.
I must go and acknowledge my terrible mistake. I must shrug at this effort of the writer falling into obscurity, a person who should have stood up, been a man, and taken up some form of actual teaching. Was the book he wrote in such a cowardly state a spark of fighting back? It does not seem to stand now as a very effective effort, given, perhaps, the state of literary matters today. There was too much idiotic behavior that ran along constantly beside it, in that realm of actual life. Whereas the ideal departs further and further away.
And what is there, there is yoga.