Tag Archive: Willow Street Yoga book club


“We all know that distance gives perspective. Archimedes said that if he had a lever long enough and a place to stand, he could move the world.” Anodea Judith, Waking the Global Heart.” (Willow Street Yoga book club reading for March–meets the third Sunday of each month; I will let you know what is the reading for April).

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


What Does It Mean to Study War?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said:   “A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just. …A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Still, the Pentagon suggests that Martin Luther King “might” have supported the war in Afghanistan.  Not sure on what basis.

Last night at the Willow Street Book Club, where we were reading Ram Dass’s Paths to God–Living the Bhagavad Gita, one of my fellows raised the question of how we could read as a spiritual guide a book whose context is war.  Another asked a similar question from the perspective of a feminist.  It was a fabulous, engaged, lively discussion, and I hope to see more next month.

It would be an injustice to the text and the historical context to read entirely out of the Bhagavad Gita the duty of a warrior to kill, a wife to practice suttee, and persons born into each caste to accept their lot in life in a society structured on the caste system.   There is much richness in the text, though, that can provide guidance for a feminist, pacifist, who believes that “all men are created equal.”

We have reread “men” in the Declaration of Independence to include women and those of all races (though we cannot manage to rewrite the Constitution to explicitly state that women are equal, but that’s a thought for another day).  Similarly, without doing injustice to the text, we can see that the ultimate teachings about living in accordance with duty (svadharma), love, devotion, and sacrifice in the Gita, like the concepts of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” provide guidance and force for social action and spiritual devotion beyond a historical context that oppressed and bound on the worldly plane the very persons who are now seeking the deeper meanings in the text.  In fact, I believe that we can use the essential intent of the text to teach and transform the oppressors, to use the very text to show why the violence and oppression of the historical context is injust and needs to be changed so that the spiritual intent can be expanded and spread beyond the privileged.


A Happy Coincidence (and the new Willow Street Yoga book club)

As regular readers may have noticed, last Sunday I was inspired to blog about Arjuna’s dilemma on the battlefield in connection with local events.  Later that day, I was reminded that this coming Sunday, January 16th, will be the first meeting of the new book club at Willow Street Yoga Center (Takoma Park studio).  The book for the first meeting is Ram Dass’s Paths to God, Living the Bhagavad Gita.  Perhaps I was thinking about the Gita because in the back of my mind, I knew that the reading was on my to do list.  Perhaps, the book club reading was just energetically connected to where my thoughts were already going.  Perhaps it was just a coincidence (though I do not much believe in coincidence).

Although the date had crept up on me unawares, I did already have Paths to God on my shelf and began reading it upon getting the reminder about the book club.  The book, which is taken from a series of lectures at the then newly opened Naropa University, is rich with stories about Ram Dass’s own spiritual journey, recommendations for a wide range of practices for discovery of our own spirit, and has lots of juicy thought about taking the study of the Bhagavad Gita and other spiritual texts out of our heads and into how we live our lives and embrace the world.

I hope to see many of my local yogi friends at the book club meeting, not just to expand ourselves by reading and discussing this beautiful text, but to deepen our yoga community and practice by being together.  I am sure you are welcome, too, to bring your needlework.  If you cannot join us this time, do think about adding the book to your list of yoga books to read.  Ram Dass is always thought-provoking, inspiring, and delightful to read.

There is a google group for the book club if you want to get updates.  I trust that you will be added to the group if you email:  willowstreetbookclub@googlegroups.com