July 20, 2017: Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump, Part I

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JUNE 19, 2017: BHAGAVAD GITA TALK #16
CHAPTER SIX: THE YOGA OF MEDITATION
“ADMIRING IS EASY, BUT AFFINITY, THAT DOES TAKE SOME TIME.”

When he sees all beings are equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga. [6.32]

I was out walking the other day when I encountered a snake and a stick. Lying just so on the ground. They reminded me of the old Vedanta teaching story about the snake and the rope. This was a snake and a stick but you get the point.  A snake is a snake. A rope is a rope. A stick is a stick. We need to see life as it is.

Monday Night Class broke for the summer at the end of June. I’ll post June 19 here. June 26 will follow. And with these two posts, we close out this blog season I’ve titled, “Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump…”

Ironically, today is the six-month mark of the Trump presidency. Where ropes are snakes and snakes are sticks. Dizzying, devastating, dangerous, and exhausting. And what can we do but keep standing up for the truth.

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, I’m sure you exulted in Sunday night’s new season premiere when Arya Stark turned to the young woman whose life she spared and said, “When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers.” Yes. The North remembers. It’s a fitting metaphor for our time.

Here’s my dharma talk from June 19:

Here are the readings:

From the Gita:

Sitting down, having chosen
a spot that is neither too high
nor too low, that is clean and covered
with a grass mat, a deerskin, and a cloth,

he should concentrate, with his whole
mind, on a single object:
if he practices in this way,
his mind will soon become pure.

With torso and head held straight,
with posture steady and unmoving,
gazing at the tip of his nose,
not letting his eyes look elsewhere,

he should sit there calm, fearless,
firm in his vow to be chaste,
his whole mind controlled, directed,
focused, absorbed in me.   [6. 11-14]

Mature in yoga, impartial
everywhere that he looks,
he sees himself in all beings
and all beings in himself. 

The man who sees me in everything
and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor
will I ever be lost to him.

He who is rooted in oneness
realizes that I am
in every being: wherever
he goes, he remains in me.

When he sees all beings are equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga.  [6.29-32]

From Mary Oliver’s Blue Horses:

ON MEDITATION, SORT OF

Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place—half asleep—where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter—
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints—
all that glorious, temporary stuff.

THE MANGROVES

As I said before, I am living now
in a warm place, surrounded by
mangroves. Mostly I walk beside
them, they discourage entrance.
The black oaks and the pines
of my northern home are in my heart,
even as I hear them whisper, “Listen,
we are trees too.” Okay, I’m trying. They
certainly put on an endless performance
of leaves. Admiring is easy, but affinity,
that does take some time. So many
and so leggy and all of them rising as if
attempting to escape this world which, don’t
they know it, can’t be done. “Are you
trying to fly or what?” I ask, and they
answer back, “We are what we are, you
are what you are, love us if you can.”

Here’s audio of class chanting. Daniel Johnson joined us for these last two classes so you will hear his tabla in the music.

Om Tara Tuttare Ture Swaha

 

Om Namah Shivaya

 

Shivaya Namah Om Fast Chant

 

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