Tag Archives: Krishna

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.

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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

Tall Tales of the Lonely Void

Void

Let’s think about nothing. It’s a little different from not thinking about anything. If we don’t think about anything then we actually just give the mind free reign to wander without constraint. The mind is always active so not thinking about anything really means not directing thought to a particular object, not thinking about anything in particular.

On the other hand, thinking about nothing means making ‘nothing’ the object of one’s meditation. This carries an exceptionally high degree of difficulty precisely because a void offers nothing to direct one’s thoughts to. In one sense, it’s impossible to think about nothing because there’s nothing to think about: in a void, qualities are conspicuous by their absence. A void can’t feel anything because there is nothing in a void that can generate feelings or be affected by anything. And a void can’t do anything because it has neither the power to act nor any mechanism for action. A void is neither sentient nor is it an automaton.

Curiously, the absence of qualities, energies, and instruments in a void does not always stop people, even scholars of yoga philosophy, from assigning qualities to that which is, by definition, quality-less. 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

Gay Marriage in the Bhagavad Gita, Part 2

In my last post I began to make a case for the idea that the Bhavagad Gita supports gay marriage, a proposition that, not surprisingly, has been applauded by progressive yogis and challenged by orthodox yogis. Being pre-disposed towards personal civil liberties (no, I am not a Ron Paul supporter!), I wrote the first installment on this topic thinking primarily about the rights and obligations that marriage bestows on the parties involved. Early in the Gita, Krishna confirms our spiritual status as eternally unique individuals (chapter 2, verse 12) and, at the end of the Gita, Krishna encourages Arjuna to make up his own mind about what he should do (chapter 18, verse 63). Hence, an essential lesson from the Gita is that we are endowed with free will; the right and responsibility to decide for ourselves how we should each respond to our own destiny.

When a government, secular or theocratic, imposes unreasonable restrictions on how we may respond to our destiny – such as restricting our right to choose who can visit us in the hospital when we’re sick, who is permitted to make critical decisions on our behalf when we are unable to make them for ourselves, who is qualified to inherit our assets, dispose of our liabilities, or take over legal guardianship of our children when we die, etc. – then that constitutes an unreasonable imposition of state will on our spiritually inherent free will; an injustice. Arjuna’s dharma – his social obligation – is to fight in defense of justice. The Gita presents Arjuna as a role model for aspiring yogis. One can therefore reasonably argue that depriving gay couples of the rights enjoyed by straight couples is an injustice that ought to be opposed by anyone who aspires to follow in Arjuna’s footsteps. Continue reading

Gay Marriage in the Bhagavad Gita

I have a friend who’s a rabid Baltimore Ravens fan. She’s also one of the sweetest and most spiritual people I know – so imagining her maniacally cheering when Ray Lewis crushes a quarterback or going ballistic over a blown coverage actually kind of cracks me up. But, great minds think alike: my own yogic aspirations are mixed with a formidable compulsion to lose myself in the organized chaos of gridiron mayhem.

Living in Washington DC can be rough for a New York football fan like me, though. NFC division rivalry aside, I could never root for my adopted hometown’s team just on account of its name: Redskins? Really? That’s as embarrassing as it is insulting: may they go 0-16 every season (sorry, Ram). At least the Ravens derive their name from a great moment in Baltimore’s literary history. And, although the forces of my illusory geographical identity apply in the AFC as well, I might be inclined to root for the Ravens for another reason: the attention a Ravens player has brought to the issue of gay rights. Continue reading