August 5, 2017: Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump, Part II

NicholasRoerich
JUNE 26, 2017: BHAGAVAD GITA TALK #17
CHAPTER SIX: THE YOGA OF MEDITATION

“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]

This will be the final post re Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump. The above-quoted verse truly encapsulates the wisdom of Chapter Six, the wisdom, in fact, of all the wisdom traditions. When we see all beings as equal in suffering or in joy because they are like ourselves, we have become fully human… 

It’s over a month since our last June class. And what a month in the Age of Trump. With each passing day our ill-equipped president becomes more like the Game of Thrones‘ Mad King. How this all plays out is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, good to do whatever we can to help our political leaders understand how important it is to make policy from the awareness that all beings are equal in suffering and in joy, because they are like ourselves…

And speaking of politics, a small aside:

I recently saw Michael Moore’s new Broadway show, The Terms of My Surrender.  It’s a wonderful piece of political theater that along with being tremendously entertaining, demolishes the notion that one person’s action can’t make a difference. We may not all have his courage and fortitude. On the other hand, the story he tells about a librarian from Englewood, NJ is an astonishing example of what one individual can do…

 

Here’s my dharma talk from June 26. Which will more than likely be my final talk on the Bhagavad Gita. Enjoy…

 

Here are the poems. The first is from Mary Oliver, Blue Horses
The second is from Robert Bly’s versions of Kabir.

1.
FORGIVE ME

Angels are wonderful but they are so, well, aloof.
It’s what I sense in the mud and the roots of the
trees, or the well, or the barn, or the rock with
its citron map of lichen that halts my feet and
makes my eyes flare, feeling the presence of some
spirit, some small god, who abides there. 

If I were a perfect person, I would be bowing
continuously.
I’m not, though I pause wherever I feel this
holiness, which is why I’m often so late coming
back from wherever I went.

Forgive me.

2.
Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!

Think…and think…while you are alive.

What you call “salvations” belongs to the time before
death.

If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after? 

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten—
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will end up with an apartment in the City
of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next life
you will have the face of satisfied desire. 

So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
believe in the Great Sound!

Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that
does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.

I also re-read some favorite lines from Stephen Mitchell’s Introduction to the Gita.

The Gita is usually thought of as a great philosophical poem. It is that, of course. It is also an instruction manual for spiritual practice and a guide to peace of heart. But essentially, it is, as the title implies, a love song to God. However powerful its thinking, its intention is not to be a treatise but a psalm. The Gita is a love song to reality, a hymn in praise of everything excellent and beautiful and brave. It is a love song to both the darkness and the light, to our own true Self in the depths of being, the core from which all the glories and horrors of the universe unfold…..

The healthiest way to begin reading and absorbing a text like the Bhagavad Gita is to understand that ultimately it has nothing to teach. Everything essential that it points to—what we call wisdom or radiance or peace—is already present inside us. Once we have practiced meditation sincerely and seen layer after layer of the inauthentic fall away, we come to a place where dualities such as sacred and profane, spiritual and unspiritual, fall away as well…

In that place, God is the ground we walk on, the food we eat, and the gratitude we express to no one in particular, as natural as breathing.

And here are audio clips of chanting. The first two clips each end with a dharana. The great Daniel Johnson was at this class so you’ll hear his superb tabla accompanying the chanting. A small caveat to new visitors to this blog. These are very basic low tech recordings. Please listen with gentle ears…

Opening Mantras and Closing Dharana

Om Namah Shivaya with a closing dharana

Sri Krsna Chaitana 

This quote from my May 22 dharma talk seems a perfect ending to this teaching cycle of Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump. 

Let all these teachings from the Gita keep entering into you and awaken what you already know. That’s all the Gita is doing. It’s telling us what we already know when we really stop to listen. Rest in your own experience. Rest in the experience of the Self, of your own presence, of that in you which sees, of that in you which knows, of that in you which has always been looking out through your eyes, listening through your ears. If the mind wanders, remind it to rest in the Self, which is the source of the mind. Allow your mind to dissolve into this infinite presence so very alive within us. This is all we need to do.

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