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The Arjuna Factor

THE ARJUNA FACTOR

Focus and Perspective-October 2002

Arjuna, a noble prince of India, is the hero of many legends, not least of which is his role in the Bhagavad Gita, the pithy collection of verses that teaches us the essence of life on earth.
Two stories from Arjuna’s life exemplify our two ideas: focus and perspective.

What situations call for a clear focus? When do we need a wider perspective?

Prince Arjuna had four brothers. Yudhisthira and Bhima were older than him and Nakul and Sahadeva were younger. Collectively they were called the Paanch Pandavas : the five Pandavas. They lived with their cousins, the Kauravas. One day, their teacher, Acharya
Dronacharaya, showed the value of having the correct focus.

He showed the boys a bird on a tree and told them that they each had to try to hit the eye of the bird. When Yudhisthira came up with his bow and arrow, the teacher asked him,”What do you see?”
“Why, O Gurudev, I see you, the tree, my brothers, and the bird!”
“Please step aside, Yudhishthira, you are not ready to shoot your arrow.”

When the perplexed Yudhishthira stepped aside, Duryodhana came up. On being asked the question, he gave an even more detailed description of the scene. What a shock to be told by the Acharya that he was not ready yet, to shoot his arrow! Bhima,Nakul and Sahdev had the same experience.

It was then Arjuna’s turn.
“What do you see, Arjuna?”
“Guruji, I see the eye of the bird.”
“Don’t you see the tree, the sky, your brothers or me?”
“No, Guruji,” said Arjuna with his eye on his target, “I see only
the eye of the bird.”
“Well done, Arjuna! You are indeed ready to shoot at your
target.”

Duryodhan’s jealousy grew, when, as expected, that skilled archer got his mark. Dronacharaya was able to give his students a lesson on the value of a single-minded focus on a target, concentrating only on the task at hand, to the exclusion of all else.

What a wonder then, that at the field of battle many years later, when Arjuna had grown to a fine young warrior, it was his very focus that was questioned!

Through the exigencies of fate, Arjuna had to fight his cousins and relatives for his rightful place on the throne. Seeing his relatives arrayed in war opposite his army, Arjuna was beset by doubt. In his wisdom, he shared his doubts with his celestial charioteer, Lord Krishna. For it is wise to know when we need advice.

This gave rise to those remarkable verses known as the Bhagavad Gita. They described a perspective that Arjuna realized he had failed to take into account, and which had led to this war: the continued unrighteous behavior of those relatives that had caused disharmony and lawlessness in the land. Rather than focusing on his relationship to those in the opposing army, Lord Krishna gently and firmly helped Arjuna to enlarge his perspective in order to see the issued involved in the war. The result of Arjuna’s clarified perspective is well known- the war was fought, and the right way was established once again.

As we know from commentaries on the Gita, the stories are not mere historical or mythological chronicles, but expositions on our own lives, on the wars we fight in our day to day lives, on the goals we seek to accomplish.

So let’s re-state our original question: What do we accomplish with a clear-cut focus? What are the benefits of stepping back from a situation, and getting a wider perspective?

The answer seems obvious: get a wide perspective first, and then zero in on a target. When you know why you are fighting a war, you can decide which target to shoot at. When you know what you need to accomplish, you can decide what decision to take in a particular situation. But how do we know when we need a wider perspective?

The lesson to learn here is that we need to do this in a conscious, on-going way. When faced with a situation that disturbs us, confuses, or causes strong emotion, take it as a signal that it is time to first take a step back- a large step back. Get more information on the situation by talking to people, reading up, getting in touch with your own inner voice, and then the focus will become clear.

Our own awareness of our reactions is the key. Know thyself, as all ancient texts exhort us to do!

TECHNIQUE: CLEAR YOUR MIND TO GAIN PERSPECTIVE:

Take a deep breath in, and then a long breath out. Breathe out for as long as you can. This is a clearing breath. Take three clearing breaths in all.

Shut your eyes, and visualize a luminous star very far away. Light comes from the star towards you and enters through the top of your head [ the crown chakra]. As it gently flows in and through the center of your body, it clears out all thought, fear, negativity, doubt, pain, anger. It continues to flow as you experience calm and peace, and flows out through your feet, to the center of the earth, to be recycled.

Be clear and be calm.

© AUG 2002 Meenakshi Suri

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
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Readers Respond to The Arjuna Factor [FOCUS AND PERSPECTIVE] [The Arjuna Factor] [Window into Ourselves] [HOLISTIC LIVING HOME]

I am reminded of the famous lines: Between stimulus and response there is a gap. In that gap lies your happiness.
If we are able to be aware when every kind of stimulus attacks us, we should then be able to create that gap, then take a wider perspective as you say, and then revert with focus.
Sometimes with all the above we still may come up with an outcome different from our expectation. That is when acceptance and faith in HIS plans becomes a useful tool.
Mohan
I read the Arjuna factor email recently. Thought I would inflict my views again!
I agree on the FOCUS part. By being focussed you are totally in the present. When you respond to a situation by being totally in the present then that is the best response. This happens for example when you are faced with a dangerous situation which might endanger your life. You are totally in the present and respond intutively.
If Arjuna was totally in the present he would have just accepetd the situation and responded. He was worrying about the future. This is when Krishna’s famous verse” Karmanye vadhikarasthe…..” helps Arjuna. That is another way of saying” Be in the present”.
So do we need a wider perspective if we are totally in the present? Wishing you all ..presence……….
Mohan

This is so true and sounds so simple. It is also true of a lot of other principles in life.
What I find is that a lot of times it isn’t that I don’t know that I am not doing the correct thing but I do it anyway. This is mostly when my emotions are involved. It is so much easier to take decisions and get the balance between perspective and focus when you are dispassionate about the issue. I find that when it comes to work related issues I can be dispassionate most of the time. It then becomes easy to get the right perspective and then take a focused decision.
In personal life, because you are really close to the people involved the emotions get engaged. Then it is far more difficult to not jump in without thinking and take quick actions.
The solution of clearing your mind is so simple and elegant. I must try and practice it.
Nira

Any tips on the solution? ‘The solution of clearing your mind is so simple and elegant’ – but how do you do that when your emotions are actively engaged? And no obvious answers pls – thanks
Amrita

The solution sounds simple but is not east to implement. There are no quick fixes. It would come with years of practice. We’ll fail lots of times in the process. But at least if we are conscious of it it’s a major first step. Trying to practice it is the next. We may never succeed all the time but if we are better a year from now than we are today, no matter how small the improvement, we’re on the right track.
Nira

Amrita,
When you are feeling an emotion- go ahead and just FEEL it. We are in a human life, partly to learn to use the energy provided by our emotions [Latin root ’emovere’: to move] in ways that we want. As you imply, it is difficult – if not impossible- to clear the mind while experiencing an emotion.
The short answer to that is- don’t try the technique during an emotional experience. Use it as a part of your routine. FIRST: SET A TIME. Let’s see now: what suits you- to clear every hour on the hour? Every two hours? Thrice a day? When you’re waiting- for a download, a green light, to get to sleep, for a friend to answer the phone?
That’s all the time you’ll need to clear. Shorter than the time it took to type out the technique or to read it! So each of us decides what works for us, and makes a mental note to clear whenever we can. As they say- clear the garbage from the mind.
SECOND: WATCH THE PROCESS. At first, we may find the lightness that comes immediately after a clearing. Like a ripple, the lightness spreads to other times during the day; times when we would otherwise be impatient or bored. Time seems to slow down, we may find that we are able to internalize the theories that we have read, we feel more connected to events and people, more intuitive, clearer. All go against the emotions we’d like to avoid- despair, anger, annoyance, impatience, depression.
THIRD: THE PAY-OFF. As we continue the clearing and assimilating, there are times when we find the gap between the feeling of an emotion and our expression of it. If we can clear at that moment, we may wonder: whatever happened to the emotion? The clearing can work in wonderful ways. It’s reproduced below so we can clear as we re-read it. The technique takes longer to read and write than practice. These are ancient techniques- not for the learning but for the experiencing.
Thanks for stirring the pot. A wonderful question.
And group- let’s share our experiences with it! I have a wonderful story which I’ll relate only if I get some others first. Thanks for being here.
Meenakshi

Dear friends,
I can only tell you how Meenakshi’s clearing helped me when I was going though a difficult time this May.
My daughter developed pneumonia and my husband was away and at the same time my 4 year old came down with high fever as well.I felt the world would fall apart!It was Meenakshi who came to me as an angel and helped me through troubled times and her “Clearing technique ” would really help me calm down!I can tell you it really works and helps!
I know it sounds difficult but it really heals!
Simi

The Arjuna Factor
[FOCUS AND PERSPECTIVE] [The Arjuna Factor] [Window into Ourselves] [HOLISTIC LIVING HOME]

© Meenakshi Suri 2002

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