Wisdom in the City

Yesterday evening I attended the ‘Gita Wisdom’ class at Jivamukti Yoga, near Union Square. It has been running for about five years now, and is taught by Joshua Greene (Yogesvara das), a seasoned bhakti yogi and dedicated student of the Bhagavad Gita.The class takes place in one of the large, bright studios and hosts a sincere group of spiritual seekers from different walks of life. Many are yoga teachers, eager to integrate these spiritual teachings into their physical asana practice and pass this on to their own students.

Last night was the final class for the chapter by chapter study that has run for the past few months. It started out with a few minutes of simple Hare Krishna kirtan that set a meditative mood. All of the thirty-odd students sat on the floor, unpacking notebooks and pens, and well-thumbed copies of the Gita. Joshua began the summary of the final eighteenth chapter by talking about the character of Vidura. I loved the way he brought the characters to life. I think one of the most important things about studying any scripture is to understand its reality – these characters are not mythological – they were real, living breathing, thinking, feeling, and their struggles, lessons and successes can be directly applied to our own lives if we perceive them in this way.

I’m always amazed at how lessons from the Gita that I’ve heard hundreds of times growing up can strike me with a shocking freshness, again and again. When Joshua explained that spiritual life is experienced in progressive stages, and that what Krishna tells Arjuna at the very end: ‘Fully surrender unto me’, couldn’t have been spoken at the beginning without being preceded by deep explanation, I thought deeply about my own spiritual progress. I often give myself a hard time for not doing better; not getting up early without fail every day; for not being more disciplined and regulated; for my moments of ‘weakness’ when I just long for home comforts, or turn a blind eye to my responsibilities.

The truth is, we are all struggling somehow on individual journeys. Just as Arjuna’s dilemma is not an allegory, but very real, our daily choices and activities present so many real, sometimes frightening challenges. It’s tempting to think that there must be a way of side stepping. Perhaps by choosing a ‘spiritual life’ we can just be peaceful and avoid the inner battle. But these things have to be faced as a part of our path to remembering who we really are, a blissful soul in an eternal, loving relationship with God. With challenges come realisation and increased opportunity to depend on God in humble, loving surrender.

Every morning I wake up here in New York and have a ‘What am I doing here?’ moment. It’s scary to not have the full picture. It’s humbling to realise how small I am in this sprawling, frantic city. But I am so thankful that I have the Gita to help me remember that this time is a gift from Krishna. These challenges are a vital part of the big picture.

Check out the Gita Wisdom facebook page, for photos, recipes and links to watch the class live each week.

5 Comments

Filed under Inspiration!, Krishna Consciousness, New York

5 responses to “Wisdom in the City

  1. Nrsingha Das

    Maybe u should join the Mayapuri’s instead because apparently Gauravani has been affected by deviation or something. At least that’s what I heard. Might be more beneficial to be with Mayapuri’s.

  2. Nrsingha Das

    Having a stage set up at NV 24 hour. Not the best idea IMHO. Birmingham natural set up,much better! More like a Nama-sankirtan yajna then a entertainment show or publicity vehicle. My impression. :o(

  3. Nrsingha Das

    The Faults of Others — By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur,

    translated from ‘Sri Gaudiya Patrika’, Year 7, Issue 10.

    The faults of others can be deliberated upon if one has a virtuous motive At this point, an opposing argument may arise: would it be appropriate to deliberate on a fault found in a Vaisnava that is not counted among the three types of faults just mentioned? The answer is that no fault other than these three types can exist in a Vaisnava. If someone has faults that do not fit into one of these three types, then, according to the revealed scriptures, they cannot be called Vaisnavas. We should consider that, without the right motive, it is inappropriate to reflect, even impartially, upon the faults of any living being, what to speak of Vaisnavas. To blaspheme Vaisnavas is an offence, but even blaspheming other jivas is a sin. Vaisnavas have no interest in performing such a sinful act. However, provided one has the right motive, the scriptures have not condemned a careful critique of someone’s faults. Proper motive is of three types: desiring the welfare of the person criticized, desiring the welfare of the world and desiring one’s own welfare There are three types of proper motive: (1) If the intention in analyzing someone’s sins is to ensure that he attains his ultimate welfare, then such reflection is auspicious. (2) If the motive behind reflecting on someone’s sins is to benefit the whole world, then this is to be counted as an auspicious act. (3) If such reflection is undertaken for one’s own spiritual welfare, then it too, is auspicious. There is no fault in such reflection. When one reflects upon the historical accounts of personalities like Valmiki or Jagai and Madhai in light of one or more of these three virtuous motives, then such reflection is never the cause of incurring sin. When a disciple humbly asks his spiritual master to instruct him on how to identify a Vaisnava, the spiritual master, desiring the welfare of his disciple and of the whole world, explains that those who exhibit unholy behaviour are non-Vaisnavas. He thus points out how to identify true Vaisnavas through antithesis. With the motive of encouraging one to accept the shelter of the lotus feet of a true Vaisnava by abandoning false, so-called preachers of religion, one neither risks committing blasphemy of saints (sadhu-ninda) nor vaisnava-aparadha (offence to Vaisnavas). In such cases, even criticism directed at a specific person is free from fault. These are all examples of criticizing with the proper motive.

  4. Bhakta Delroy

    you express yourself so eloquently Jahnavi mataji……. I empathise with most, if not all that you say.

  5. Hi

    I really appreciated your work by putting the Iskcon activities.I used to go to Iskcon temple in Bangalore.Am a FOLK student.Now I am not in India.
    Its a pleasure for me to see good things about Lord Krishna through out the world.Keep blogging.

    Thanks
    Sreedhar Ambati

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