by Angela Grace
She restores my soul. She restores my soul (reference to Psalm 23:3). This refrain resounds through my being as I walk through the forest these days, and I luxuriate in the vibration. This is the face of the teacher I love. Nuturing. Healing. Consoling. Beckoning. Inspiring.
There is another face of the teacher. Challenging. Harsh. Confrontational. Calling us out on our stuff. This is the face of Krishna presented in the Bhagavad Gita as he enjoins Arjuna to get up off the floor of his chariot and fight the battle that is before him.
On the eve of the defining battle of his lifetime, Arjuna lies despondent; his bow and arrows cast aside. He has surveyed the battlefield and found not nameless strangers, but rather his family members, his teachers, and people he has known his whole life ready for combat against him. They have chosen to fight for a ruler representing injustice, oppression, prejudice, and greed. Arjuna is overwhelmed with grief and tries to rationalize his way out of the fight. Krishna will have none of it for the opposing forces must not be allowed sway, and inaction is an illusion.
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most relevant texts for us to read and understand in the West right now.
Standing Rock. Political divide. Black Lives Matter. Racism. Implicit bias. Misogyny. Prejudice. Fear. I admit to spending time recently, as Arjuna did, on the floor, unable to speak, unable to move for the despair I felt. Yet just like many of you, I feel Krishna surge in my belly, exhorting me to action. It is well past time to stand. It is well past time to shout. The defining battle is at hand. What action will you take? I repeat; inaction is illusion.
The gift of this time of unrest is an opportunity to address elements of our culture, elements of our own psychology, which we would rather press into shadow. It is an uncomfortable opportunity, but an opportunity nonetheless. How do we act wisely?
The Bhagavad Gita still offers her insight.
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