Freedom from the Fruit

When I was about thirteen-years-old I started reading The Last Vampire book series by Christopher Pike.  It’s basically a rite of passage for adolescent teen girls to read books about vampires. This series preceded Twilight and is nothing like it.  The protagonist of the series is actually a female vampire. She’s 5000 years old and kicks ass.  One of the themes of the series deals a lot with karma, rebirth, love, and other aspects usually found within Hinduism. Even at thirteen, I was not religious. I already identified as agnostic. However, I found the teachings of Hinduism to be fascinating. The Bhagavad Gita is mentioned in the series, and I have wanted to read it for many years. Twenty-six years later, I am finally getting around to it.

I’m one-third of the way through the Gita.  I have found that The Last Vampire series pulled more inspiration from its teachings than I had originally noticed.  I remember reading about the discussions Krishna had with Arjuna on the battlefield in the series.

While reading the Gita the lessons that have stood out to me the most are the teachings pertaining to attachment to sense objects and selfish desire.  In Chapter 2 Verse 47 Krishna says to Arjuna, “You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction.” This statement reminds me of the saying. “If you do a favor for someone expecting something in return, you are not doing kindness, you’re doing business.”  This is why I don’t loan money to people. I am not doing them a favor; I expect my money to be repaid. This would be business, and I don’t do business with family or friends.  However, I have in the past given money to friends, or helped them when they needed it, without any expectation of something in return.  To me service is help. Help doesn’t require repayment.

Another verse I relate to is in Chapter 2, as well. Verse 49 states, “Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do.”  I have anxiety and often times I either do something and constantly worry about the outcome because I want to do a good job and worry about failure. Or, I don’t do anything because I worry I will fail. I don’t even try.

The book hosts a lengthy introduction to The Bhagavad Gita. There is a quote in the introduction from Mahatma Ghandi, “By detachment I mean that you must not worry whether the desired result follows from your action or not, so long as your motive is pure, your means correct.” He goes on to say that he doesn’t mean you are to be indifferent to the result, but you shouldn’t be bogged down in the desire for the result. I take this to mean, if your motives are pure, do the damn thing. Again, I am only a third of the way through the Gita, but these are some of the lessons that speak to me.  I am in no way ready to convert to Hinduism, or any religion for that matter, but I do feel that a lot of religious texts can teach a person to look within themselves, without having to follow them down to the letter.  Introspection is a good thing.

I read somewhere (aka the internet) that Emerson would take bits of different philosophies and other works he read to make his own “bible” of sorts. I am assuming metaphorically, not literally, but I haven’t researched this thoroughly. Anyway, I feel like this is what I am doing. I am taking bits of what I am reading and recording what speaks to me, including Emerson’s essays. I am not looking for religion or salvation. I am looking for inner peace.  Depression and Anxiety have ruled much of my life, and I no longer want to live like that.  I am tired of the turbulence constantly residing within me.

I suppose a part of my life is coming full circle. It was during my early teen years, first anxiety, then depression, began to rule my life. Now that I am fast-approaching forty, I think it’s time to slay the beasts of depression and anxiety, or at the very least beat them into submission.  It’s been several years since I have read the entire Last Vampire series (now called Thirst for some reason – rebranding, I suppose), I may just give them another read. After I finish The Bhagavad Gita, of course.

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