Tag Archives: Bhagavad-gita

Yogic Values, Diversity, and Inclusivity

LuluLogoDiversityI had the good fortune to score one of only a hundred seats for The Practice of Leadership, a panel discussion held at the Yoga Journal Conference in New York City this past weekend. The discussion grew out of Seane Corn’s decision to decline an invitation from Lululemon to participate in a leadership training program they were developing for the Yoga Journal Conferences. Ms. Corn explained the reason for her decision:

I told them that I couldn’t be a part of a training program they were hosting unless they themselves were willing to model true leadership, which includes ownership. Their lack of transparency and silence around the controversy in 2013 was irresponsible.”

The “controversy” was a perfect storm of long-standing questions regarding the compatibility of Lululemon’s philosophy and ethics with those of yoga combined with incendiary statements by Lululemon founder and majority shareholder Chip Wilson regarding, among other things, problems with Lululemon’s product line. It all resulted in a public relations disaster and an invitation from Alanna Kaivalya in a phenomenally viral Huffington Post article.

The Practice of Leadership panel discussion was described as follows:

“In this session, we will take on the delicate balance of spiritual values and corporate responsibility featuring community leaders, social change activists and Lululemon leadership. It will be an open and honest dialogue that gets at the heart of our practice, our role as conscious leaders and how to create community in conflict.”

Yogadork posted a nice summary of the proceedings and asked readers to stop and ponder a significant question: “Do you feel Lululemon (a corporation) should be held responsible for upholding yogic values, diversity and inclusivity?”

My answer is that Yogadork rolled two very different questions into one. A coherent response is not possible until the two questions are separated. Here’s why: Continue reading

Ten Years After

NYC-Ten-Years-After

Photos © James and Karla Murray

In a few weeks I’ll be visiting some of my old neighborhoods in New York City. It’s been a while since my last visit and I expect to feel discombobulated by its unfamiliarity. Like a time-displaced Captain America bounding into a future-ized Times Square, I’ll recognize all the old familiar places that this heart of mine embraces and reconcile myself to the fact that they look all wrong.

But it’s not just a case of sullen nostalgia because my old haunts don’t look they way they used to; it’s a case of disenchantment because now my old haunts look just like everyplace else. When I was born, no other city in America looked like New York City. Now, New York City looks a lot like everyplace else. People from Des Moines can have dinner in New York at the same restaurant they go to in… Des Moines! C’mon: really? You’re in the Big Apple and you want to eat at Applebee’s?

Every day everyplace looks a little more like everyplace else: the same corporate brands, the same architectural design, the same urban planning, the same kind of commoditized experience, sanitized and made safe for mass consumption. You used to be able to escape from the malaise of the suburbs by moving into The City. Now, the only real difference is that you won’t need a car (but you will need a trust fund). Continue reading

Wanting The Other To Be

CatAndDogI was particularly impressed by Jivamukti Yoga co-founder Sharon Gannon’s recent Focus of the Month essay, Bhakti Trumps All, in which she made a point of saying that animal rights activism, Jivamukti’s de-facto calling card, is subordinate to devotion to God. She unequivocally states that veganism, environmentalism, and other forms of social activism are not ends unto themselves but, from the standpoint of yoga, are meant to be an expression of something higher, namely, the desire to act in a way that’s pleasing to Krishna.

Continue reading

How to Give Advice to a Bobble Head

BGKrishnaBobbleheadHere’s an idea: find an object that has some personal significance for you, something that represents you or some aspect of yourself; something you can use as a proxy for ‘you’. Personally, I find that Bobble Head dolls work best. Put the object ‘you’ on a table or desk and sit with it. Then think of the biggest challenge you currently face in your life or a challenge that you know you will have to face soon. Now, imagine that you are the Supreme Being and you are looking at the proxy ‘you’ in full knowledge of the challenge ‘you’ face and the difficulty associated with facing it.

What would you, in your role as the Supreme Being, do? Continue reading

The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Krishna

As is so often the case, Carol Horton wrote a wonderfully thought-provoking article recently. You can find it on her blog, Think Body Electric. The post was an appreciation of ‘American Yoga’ and, as the long parade of comments that her post generated rolled on, the topic of the Bhagavad Gita’s relevance to contemporary yoga came up. Within the sub-discussion that nested inside the larger conversation, one participant suggested that a definition of “Krishna”, the speaker of the Gita, was required in order to ascertain how one should try to understand the Gita and apply its teachings.

I couldn’t agree more.

One edition of the Gita that was cited among examples of how different translators arrive at different philosophical conclusions was A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is. In his translation, Prabhupada coined a vivid descriptive for Krishna: The Supreme Personality of Godhead. Continue reading

In The Beginning

OmGong_Mantra_200As is sometimes the case for those of us who become yoga teachers, my first few classes were a little rough. Fortunately my classes were so small that my early missteps were endured only by an unfortunate few. And, since some of my fellow Teacher Training alumni as well as friends with years of teaching experience mercifully subjected themselves to my classes, I got valuable feedback to help me improve. On one such occasion it was brought to my attention that I was so anxious to get everyone moving on their mats that I had forgotten the first order of business: I had forgotten to chant “Om”.

Of course, not every yoga teacher chants “Om” to begin a class. And some yoga students are just as happy to get centered and focused by other means. But as a general rule, at least in most yoga studios, we begin and end a yoga class by chanting “Om”. Continue reading

Beyond Ethical Vegetarianism

RadhaGopinathPrasadam_USEAt a recent hearing about gun control legislation in Hartford, Connecticut, Mark Mattioli, whose 6-year-old son James was killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, urged lawmakers to address America’s culture of violence. “It’s a simple concept. We need civility across our nation,” he said. “What we’re seeing are symptoms of a bigger problem. This is a symptom. The problem is not gun laws. The problem is a lack of civility.”

Mr. Mattioli’s point may have been lost on the gun rights advocates who interrupted his testimony with shouts about their 2nd amendment rights. Be that as it may, it’s become clear that America has reached a tipping point on the issue of guns: a sufficient number of people are so dissatisfied with the results of the status quo that they feel motivated to change it. Continue reading

Gay Marriage in the Bhagavad Gita, Part 3

Some of my readers, including at least one confirmed scholar in the field of Vedic literature, have commented that when Krishna speaks of acting according to one’s own nature or ‘dharma’ in the Gita verse I referenced two posts back, he is specifically referring to Arjuna’s social duty as a warrior, which, in this case, is to uphold the cause of justice by fighting a defensive war. One may reasonably ask: ‘why is this duty specifically assigned to Arjuna?’ The answer is that Arjuna is distinctively qualified to be a member of the warrior class within the highly structured social system that Krishna advocates throughout the Gita.

What is Arjuna’s distinctive qualification to belong to the warrior class and not some other class? For one thing, Krishna consistently refers to Arjuna’s royal lineage that confers upon Arjuna a natural aptitude for martial arts, leadership and heroism. Krishna also encourages Arjuna by calling him ‘mighty-armed one’ and other names that indicate Arjuna’s inherent strength and soldierly skill. In other words, Arjuna’s social duty is not an arbitrary assignment; it’s a function of genetics and fate. Arjuna’s dharma is a function of his karma: he was born that way. Continue reading