In this article I will include quotes from the Bhagavad Gita which sum up this ancient scripture and its teachings. Although I strongly suggest reading the entire Gita, since every sentence has incredible knowledge and meaning; the purpose of this article will be to summarize its most important teachings.
As one abandons worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within. The Self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change. Knowing this, you should not grieve. (2:23)
Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will. Aspirants abstain from pleasures, but they still crave for them. These cravings all dissapear when they see the highest goal. Even of those who tread the path, the stormy senses can sweep off the mind. They live in wisdom who subdue their senses and keep their minds ever absorbed in me. (2:58) When you keep thinking about sense objects, attachment comes. Attachment breeds desire, the lust of possession that burns to anger. Anger clouds the judgement; you can no longer learn from your past mistakes. Lost is the power to choose between what is wise and what is unwise, and your life is utter waste. But when you move amidst the world of sense, free from attachment and aversion alike, there comes the peace in which all sorrows end, and you live in the wisdom of the Self. (2:62)
They are forever free who renounce all selfish desires and break away from the ego-cage of “I,” “me,” and “mine” to be united with the Lord. This is the supreme state. Attain to this, and pass from death to immortality. (2:71)
Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind. (3:19)
What the outstanding person does, others will try to do. The standards such people create will be followed by the whole world. (3:21)
The ignorant work for their own profit, the wise work for the welfare of the world, without thought for themselves. By abstaining from work you will confuse the ignorant, who are engrossed in their actions. Preform all work carefully, guided by compassion. (3:25)
Closing their eyes, steadying their breathing, and focusing their attention on the centre of spiritual consciousness, the wise master their senses, mind, and intellect through meditation. Self realization is their only goal. Freed from selfish desire, fear, and anger, they live in freedom always. Knowing me as the friend of all creatures, the Lord of the universe, the end of all offerings and all spiritual disciplines, they attain eternal peace. (5:27)
Reshape yourself through the power of your free will; never let yourself be degraded by self will. The will is the only friend of the Self, and the will is the only enemy of the Self. (6:5) Those who have conquered themselves, the will is a friend. But it is the enemy of those who have not found the Self within them. (6:6)
Select a clean spot, neither too high nor too low, and seat yourself firmly on a loth, a deerskin, and kusha grass. Then once seated, strive to still your thoughts. Make your mind one-pointed in meditation, and your heart will be purified. Hold your body, head, and neck firmly in a straight line, and keep your eyes from wondering. With all fears dissolved in the peace of the Self and all actions dedicated to Brahman, controlling the mind and fixing it on me, sit in meditation with me as your only goal. With senses and mind constantly controlled through meditation, united with the Self within, and aspirant attains nirvana, the state of abiding joy and peace in me. (6:11)
Those who worship me and meditate on me constantly, without any other thought – I will provide for all their needs. (9:22)
Those who worship other gods with faith and devotion also worship me, even if they do not observe the usual forms. I am the object of all worship, its enjoyer and Lord. But those who fail to realize my true nature must be reborn. Those who worship the devas will go to the realm of the devas; those who worship their ancestors will be united with them after death. Those who worship phantoms will become phantoms; but my devotees will come to me. (9:23)
Whatever you do, make it an offering to me – the food you eat, the sacrifices you make, the help you give, even your suffering. In this way you will be freed from the bondage of karma, and from its results both pleasant and painful. Then, firm in renunciation and yoga, with your heart free, you will come to me. (9:28)
I look upon all creatures equally; none are less dear to me and none are more dear. But those who worship me with love live in me, and I come to life in them. Even sinners become holy when they take refuge in me alone. (9:30)
Fill your mind with me, focus every thought on me, think of me always; then you will be united with me. (9:34)
Remembering me, you shall overcome all difficulties through my grace. But if you will not heed me in your self-will, nothing will avail you. If you egotistically say, ” I will not fight this battle,” your resolve will be useless; your own nature will drive you into it. Therefore, remember me at all times and fight on. With your heart and mind intent on me, you will surely come to me.” (8:7)
That one I love who is incapable of ill will, who is friendly and compassionate. Living beyond the reach of I and mine and of pleasure and pain, patient, contented, self-controlled, firm in faith, with all their heart and all their mind given to me - with such as these I am in love.
Not agitating the world or by it agitated, they stand above the sway of elation, competition and fear: that one is my beloved. They are detached, pure, efficient, impartial,never anxious, selfless in all their undertakings; they are my devotees, very dear to me.
That one is dear to me who runs not after the pleasant or away from the painful, grieves not, lusts not, but lets things come and go as they happen. That devotee who looks upon friend and foe with equal regard, who is not buoyed up by praise not cast down by blame, alike in heat and cold, pleasure and paid, free from selfish attachments, the same in honour and dishonour, quiet, ever full, in harmony everywhere, firm in faith - such a one is dear to me.
Those who meditate upon this immortal dharma as I have declared it, full of faith and seeking me as life’s supreme goal, are truly my devotees, and my love for them is very great.
I am the father and mother of this universe, and its grandfather too; I am its entire support. I am the sum of all knowledge, the purifier, the syllable Om, I am the sacred scriptures… (9:17) I am the goal of life, the Lord and support of all, the inner witness, the adobe of all. I am the only refuge, the only true friend; I am the beginning, the staying, and the end of creation; I am the womb and the eternal seed. (9:18)
To sum it all up: The purpose of life is to realize God, and until this is done, the soul cannot escape creating more karma which has to be worked out, however many lives it might take. The choice to turn toward Self-realization is always open.