"Sometimes I sit and think. Sometimes, I deserve a thunk." (M.E.)
One of the assignments in our yoga teacher training is to write about the Bhagavad Gita, discussing whether its message applies to our lives in terms of jnana, bhakti and karma yoga. This poses a problem, because I don't feel drawn to the Gita; in fact, I find its "do your duty" message and constant call to war repellent. I would no more refer to the Gita than I would turn to the Christian Bible or the works of William Shakespeare as a guide for living. For me, all are great, interesting works of literature, nothing more.
This leaves me with the question of how to write an honest, thoughtful response on the Gita. I can choose to make the text relevant, as I used to do when assigned similar questions at school. My response would be what Colin calls "arts student bullshit," but those days are long past. If I can't write sincerely, I'd rather not write at all.
Long ago, someone mentioned a comment which the current Dalai Lama supposedly made about the Western fascination for Eastern religions and philosophies. He wondered why we were so drawn to these things, when we had so many great texts of our own to follow. I've often pondered this comment (whether Tenzin Gyatso actually said it or not is debatable, but it suits me to think he did). It came to mind again when I was at a loss on how to approach my yoga assignment and it sparked the question: If I don't believe the Gita is relevant to my life, are there other texts which can and do apply and can those texts be examined in terms of the three types of yoga we've been asked to study?
Well, yes there are--a number of them, actually. So far, I've come up with an eclectic list which includes the poetry of John Donne, William Blake, Herman Hesse's Siddhartha (which has improved much since I last read it in university, for some odd reason) and a helpful little book on training bull terriers, When Pigs Fly! by Jane Killion. The most important, relevant and useful work in my life?-Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
It's a curious thing when a literary work written by a shy, Victorian bachelor can be a guide for an older woman in the 21st century, but Charles Dodgson's short novel still speaks to me in ways no other piece of literature has. A half-century after my first reading, Alice's adventures in a bizarre world, where nothing is as it seems, and her approach to solving strange, often frightening experiences remain a sensible guide to living my life.
There I go-the theme for my paper and a plan of action for writing it. Perhaps the Gita has influenced me, after all. Drat.