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Should We Worship the Sun, or Should the Sun Worship Us?

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Imagine you are the Sun.

But, unlike the real Sun,
you are conscious and all-knowing.

Would you take infinite joy
in being the Sun?

Or would you envy human beings
down on earth
because they can walk around
and play music
And give birth
and laugh and love
and do yoga?

Should we worship the Sun,
or should the Sun worship us?

Neither.

Because we and the Sun
are one and the same.
the same universal cosmic intelligence.
the same overwhelming wondrousness,
unfathomableness.
the same quantum physics roots,
the same cosmic dna.

Not to worship
but to mutually rejoice
in the kinship of our molecules
and the ineffable wonder
of the universe.

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elephant: you & facebook are the keys.

Dear elephants,

You—and our mission to be of benefit—are our first, our last, our everything. We want you to love—and even be involved in—elephant journal so much that you can’t wait to share articles to your FB wall, tweet your fave articles and thoughts, leave respectfully critical or happy comments, write articles, volunteer to help edit a section (contact me), or whatever else you’d like to do.

Right now, Facebook accounts for a remarkable 60% of our readership (900,000 “unique” readers a month and climbing). Now, we’re refining our use of Facebook to make elephant work better for you.

Instead of just having our main FB page, which offers one article an hour, we’re offering many smaller community pages focused on “relationships,” “family,” “green,” “yoga,” “adventure,” “culture,” “enlightened society,” “funny,” “sexy,” etc. That way, you can, if you so choose, just follow the subjects you’re involved in, and hide our main page, and receive far fewer offerings.

The “Main Community Pages” will all be developed into their own strong “sub-magazines” on elephantjournal.com, with their own homepages and weekly Top 10 lists, just like elephant Yoga.  All of them already have their own volunteer editors:

Yoga / Green / Wellness  / Spirituality / Society
Food
/ Culture / Love / Family / Work

You will see that some pages are well-established, and others are just getting started. Thanks to our so-far-volunteer web designer Colin (who needs help), we just added homepages for elephant Spirituality and elephant Health & Wellness.  See all elephant Facebook pages below.

Behind the scenes we’re also using Facebook to organize all our writing and inspiring, inspired volunteer teams to serve our mission better.

Please share any ideas about what you’d like to see.

Thanks for your support—without which independent media couldn’t survive, let alone thrive.


elephant journal on Facebook

“It’s about the mindful life—anything that helps us to live a good, fun life that also happens to be good for others, and the planet.”

An online magazine & community
devoted to mindful living.

“Bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society—since 2002.”

elephant Front Page

Main Community Pages

Yoga / Green / Wellness  / Spirituality / Society

Food / Culture / Love / Family / Work

~

Special Interest

Best of elephant journal (Three articles per day)

Meditation / Gita Talk / Events & Causes  / Animal Rights / Walk the Talk Show

Ganesh / Sexy / Dining / Ecofashion / Bicycle / Young Elephants

Wow of the day / Funny / Adventure / I’m not “Spiritual.” I just practice being a good person.

Books, Videos, Music & Websites Reviews / StumbleUpon / Ashtanga Yoga / Bhakti Yoga

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Geographic

EuropeIndia / AustraliaAfrica / Latin America

Spain / Southeast Asia

Los Angeles / Boulder / Milwaukee

Europe (Discussion Group) / Caribbean / China / Japan /

~

Other Languages

elephant en Español /elephant en Français


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Do You Feel Miraculous & Awe-inspiring? (Gita Talk Conclusion)

For Stephen Mitchell and other interpreters, Chapter 12 is effectively the end of the Bhagavad Gita.

They consider the final third of the Gita, Chapters 13-18, to be a poorly fitted appendage—inferior poetically and spiritually, contradictory in content, probably by a different writer or writers and added at a later time. (You can read this point view in the Notes to the Introduction, p. 200-202.)

Other scholars do not agree.  Our special guest from the original Gita Talk #8, Graham Schweig, for example, has told me he has a very different point of view.  But in his own extensive commentary on the Gita (wonderful, by the way), Schweig almost completely ignores the last third of the text, except for the very end of Chapter 18.  He quotes 34 passages from Chapters 1-12 in his commentary, but none at all from Chapters 13-18, except for the closing stanzas of Chapter 18.

The great Georg Feurstein gives full textual and historical analysis of Chapters 13-18 in his new commentary, but only after declaring them to be “supplemental”.

Personally I felt the same as Mitchell does even before I had read Mitchell’s book.  So I don’t intend to hold Gita Talks on Chapters 13-18.  But you should read them yourself and make up your own mind.

I hope some of you who have a different point of view will tell us about it in your comments here. Perhaps someone would even like to do a guest Gita Talk in rebuttal, which I would welcome.

So this is the final Gita Talk for this round.  Let’s reflect back on the main themes of  the Gita.

As I hope you already know, these themes and others are all covered, with corresponding direct quotations, in Gita in a Nutshell, which I urge you to study and enjoy, if you haven’t already.

LIVE YOUR LIFE WITH LOVE AND PURPOSE,
DETACHING EGO FROM RESULTS

FOCUS THE MIND

EXPERIENCE INFINITE WONDER IN ALL THINGS

As they say about the Golden Rule, all the rest is commentary.

Here are the three cosmic truths underlying the Gita’s message:

Each of us is already infinitely wondrous—
miraculous, awe-inspiring, unfathomable
(divine if you prefer)

Our wondrous nature is the same as
the infinite wonder of the universe

We experience this infinite wonder
by waking up to reality

***

How has reading the Gita affected your life?

I have loved doing this second round of Gita Talk.  (Actually it’s the third round if you include the sixteen session Gita in a Nutshell.)

I hope it’s been good for you, too.  Thank you for being here.

All Blogs in the Series:

Welcome to Gita Talk:
Online Discussion of the Bhagavad Gita. (Round 2)

Ongoing Resources:

Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations

Yoga Demystified

The Original Sixteen Session Gita Talk

Join Gita Talk Facebook Group for weekly notices
and to meet fellow participants.

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This is the Supreme Wisdom, Experienced Directly, In a Flash. (Gita Talk 13)

(There is no additional reading assignment for the next week.  We are discussing some of the major themes of Chapters 1-12.)

The Bhagavad Gita calls for direct experience & straight-forward wisdom (over scripture, dogma, and ritual). In this sense, it is the most modern of spiritual systems, completely at home with today’s emphasis on the individual experience of spirituality, as opposed to the spirituality of rules, regulations, and required procedures.

This is, no doubt, one of the reasons for the Gita’s endless popularity. It places the direct experience of the individual, in all its varieties, at the core of its philosophy.

As usual, let’s let the Gita speak for itself. These words really don’t need any explanation from me.

Please give us your thoughts.  How do you personally relate to the Bhagavad Gita?

On this path no effort is wasted,
no gain is ever reversed;
even a little of this practice
will shelter you from great sorrow.
(BG 2.40)

~

The scriptures dwell in duality.
Be beyond all opposites, Arjuna:
anchored in the real, and free
from all thoughts of wealth and comfort.

As unnecessary as a well is
to a village on the banks of a river,
so unnecessary are all scriptures
for someone who has seen the truth. (BG 2.44-46)

~

When your understanding has passed
beyond the thicket of delusions,
there is nothing you need to learn
from even the most sacred scripture.

Indifferent to scriptures, your mind
stands by itself, unmoving,
absorbed in deep meditation.
This is the essence of yoga.
(BG 2.52-53)

~

Better than any ritual
is the worship achieved through wisdom;
wisdom is the final goal
of every action, Arjuna. (BG 4.33)

Nothing in the world can purify
as powerfully as wisdom;
practiced in yoga, you will find
this wisdom within yourself. (BG 4.38)

The man of yoga is greater
than ascetics, or the learned, or those
who perform the rituals; therefore
be a man of yoga, my son. (BG 6.46)

I will teach you the essence of this wisdom
and its realization; when you come
to master this, there is nothing
further that needs to be known. (BG 7.2)

For men whose minds are forever
focused on me, whose love
has grown deep through meditation,
I am easy to reach, Arjuna. (BG 8.14)

This is the supreme wisdom,
the knowing beyond all knowing,
experienced directly, in a flash,
eternal, and a joy to practice.
(BG 9.2)

Not by study or rites
or alms or ascetic practice
can I be seen in this cosmic
form, as you have just seen me. (BG 11.53)

By devotion he comes to realize
the meaning of my infinite vastness;
when he knows who I truly am,
he instantly enters my being.
(BG 18.55)

~

How do you feel when you read these words?

All Blogs in the Series:

Welcome to Gita Talk:
Online Discussion of the Bhagavad Gita. (Round 2)

Ongoing Resources:

Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations

Yoga Demystified

The Original Sixteen Session Gita Talk

Join Gita Talk Facebook Group for weekly notices
and to meet fellow participants.

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Is Love Itself the Overriding Theme of the Bhagavad Gita? (Gita Talk 12)

(There is no additional reading assignment for the next two weeks.
We are discussing some of the major themes of Chapters 1-12.)

To some prominent Gita scholars, like Graham Schweig, love itself is the overriding theme of the Gita—two way love, we love the world and the world loves us back.

Catherine Ghosh has devoted one of her wonderful videos to this idea :

(See also Gita Talk #8: Very Special Guest Graham Schweig and
The Dance of Divine Love: An Interview with Catherine Ghosh
)

My own feelings are well expressed in my original review of Mitchell:

Falling Head-Over-Heals In Love with the Universe

For those of you who have always wanted to absorb the spectacular wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita, but have found it difficult, I highly recommend Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell…

The Bhagavad Gita is quite literally about falling in love with the indescribable wonder of the universe, that is to say, God. These two are synonymous in the Gita. (Believe it or not, the text itself says that you can approach God as either an unfathomable cosmic life-force or as an intimate personal diety. Either leads you to the same boundless love and joy.)

The Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutra are two of the most important ancient texts of Yoga. They could not be more different. The Yoga Sutra is mostly secular in nature, and mentions God only briefly and perfunctorily. The Bhagavad Gita, in contrast, is literally “The Song of the Beloved Lord”, and most of the text is the voice of the awesome life-force of the universe itself.

The Yoga Sutra is a cookbook for achieving inner peace. The Bhagavad Gita, in contrast, won’t settle for anything less than ecstatic union with the divine. Put them together and you have the astounding whole of Yoga philosophy in two relatively short texts.

Try Mitchell’s version of the Bhagavad Gita. You’ll be glad you did.

Last but not least, here are the most relevant passages from the Gita itself (although, keep in mind that Schweig and Ghosh would say the entire text is about infinite love):

(For those new to Gita in a Nutshell, the voice speaking here is the infinitely wondrous universe itself, what some refer to as the “Unfathomable Life Force of the Universe” and others choose to call “God”. In the Gita these are one and the same. See GN #2.)

However men try to reach me.
I return their love with my love;
whatever path they may travel,
it leads to me in the end.
(BG 4.11)

For men whose minds are forever
focused on me, whose love
has grown deep through meditation,
I am easy to reach, Arjuna. (BG 8.14)

~

But the truly wise , Arjuna,
who dive deep into themselves,
fearless, one-pointed, know me
as the inexhaustible source.

Always chanting my praise,
steadfast in their devotion,
they make their lives an unending
hymn to my endless love. (BG 9.13-14)

~

I am the beginning and the end,
origin and dissolution,
refuge, home, true lover,
womb and imperishable seed. (BG 9.18)

He who can understand
the glory of my manifestations
is forever united with me
by his unwavering love.
(BG 10.7)

He who acts for my sake,
loving me, free of attachment,
with benevolence toward all beings,
will come to me in the end. (BG 11.55)

Those who love and revere me
with unwavering faith, always
centering their minds on me-
they are the most perfect in yoga. (BG 12.2)

~

He who, devoted to me,
is beyond joy and hatred, grief
and desire, good and bad fortune-
that man is the one I love best.

The same to both friend and foe,
the same in disgrace or honor,
suffering or joy, untroubled,
indifferent to praise and blame,

quiet, filled with devotion,
content with whatever happens,
at home wherever he is-
that man is the the one I love best.

Those who realize the essence
of duty, who trust me completely
and surrender their lives to me –
I love them with very great love. (BG 12.17-20)

~

If you focus your mind on me
and revere me with all your heart,
you will surely come to me; this
I promise, because I love you.
(BG 18.65)

~

Please give us your thoughts.

All Blogs in the Series:

Welcome to Gita Talk:
Online Discussion of the Bhagavad Gita. (Round 2)

Ongoing Resources:

Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations

Yoga Demystified

The Original Sixteen Session Gita Talk

Join Gita Talk Facebook Group for weekly notices
and to meet fellow participants.

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Yoga Embraces All Gods & All Paths. (Gita Talk 11)

The Bhagavad Gita is full of startling ideas, especially for a 2500 year old text.  For our last three sessions, let’s discuss three of these big themes of Chapters 1-12.  (There is no additional reading assignment for the next three weeks.)

For this week let’s look at this one:  Yoga is universal truth. The Gita embraces all Gods, and even all non-Gods, and all paths. The Gita is the voice of the unfathomable reality that precedes all other spiritual seeking, and is the source of it all.

The Gita is so crystal clear about this that we need to just let it speak for itself.

(As we have seen throughout the Gita, the voice speaking here is the infinitely wondrous universe itself, what some refer to as the “Unfathomable Life Force of the Universe” and others choose to call “God”. In the Gita these are one and the same. See GN #2.)

Read these passages slowly and thoughtfully as though they were one single cohesive poem, and then write your thoughts in a comment.

However men try to reach me,
I return their love with my love;
whatever path they may travel,
it leads to me in the end.
(BG 4.11)

Thus, many forms of worship
may lead to freedom Arjuna.
All these are born of action.
When you know this, you will be free. (BG 4.32)

But whatever form of reverence,
whatever god a sincere
devotee chooses to worship,
I grant him unswerving faith. (BG 7.21)

Others on the path of knowledge,
know me as the many, the One;
behind the faces of a million
gods, they can see my face. (BG 9.15)

Arjuna, all those who worship
other gods, with deep faith,
are really worshiping me,
even if they don’t know it.
(BG 9.23)

~

I am the same to all beings;
I favor none and reject none.
But those who worship me live
with me and I live in them.

Even the heartless criminal,
if he loves me with all his heart,
will certainly grow into sainthood
as he moves toward me on this path.

Quickly that man become pure,
his heart finds eternal peace.
Arjuna, no one who truly
loves me will ever be lost.

All those who love and trust me,
even the lowest of the low-
prostitutes, beggars, slaves-
will attain the ultimate goal. (BG 9.29-32)

~

Neither the myriad gods
nor any of the sages know
my origin; I am the source
from which gods and sages emerge
. (BG 10.2)

 Please give us your thoughts.

All Blogs in the Series:

Welcome to Gita Talk:
Online Discussion of the Bhagavad Gita. (Round 2)

Ongoing Resources:

Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations

Yoga Demystified

The Original Sixteen Session Gita Talk

Join Gita Talk Facebook Group for weekly notices
and to meet fellow participants.

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Is the Gita Asking Us to Repress Our Emotions? (Gita Talk 10)

(No new reading assignment for next week.
We will be discussing some overall themes of the Gita.
Take the time to catch up or review.
)

At times the Gita seems to be telling us to repress all our ordinary human emotions.  Is this what the Gita is asking us to do?  Here is a wonderful conversation from the original Gita Talk that deals directly with this question:

freesoul:
I so can relate w/Michele, when you say “you have no cause to grieve for any being…” that just got to me, I had to read chapter two a few times and then I was ready to bag the whole book. I kept thinking how can I turn off my emotions so easily.

Bob:
Dear freesoul. I’m so glad you hit us squarely with this issue: “Is the Gita telling us to turn off all our emotions, to live without passion?”, because I’m sure this is on the minds of many readers. It certainly was on mine the first time I read it.

I believe I can give you an answer that is crystal clear, profound, and readily usable in everyday life. But you be the judge.

The Gita does not, as whole, endorse emotional repression, even though it seems to be doing exactly that here. What the Gita asks us to do is be our human selves completely, feel deeply all our human emotions, but develop the ability to step outside ourselves and calmly witness those emotions in a completely non-judgmental way.

Even though the text right here seems to say otherwise, the situation itself supports this idea. Think about it. Krishna is urging Arjuna to fight a battle to the best of his abilities. Does Krishna think Arjuna can can fight his battle (just make that a metaphor for whatever challenges we face in life) without emotion and passion?

No, of course not. Even though the text isn’t clear on this, the situation is. Krishna is telling Arjuna to fight his battle with all this usual passion, but to be able, at the same time, to rise above it and objectively see that he is also a part of the infinite, unfathomable, wondrous universe, where these emotions hold no sway.

Tell me if this makes sense. And I hope other people will jump into this vital discussion as well. Your question really does go to the heart of the Gita.

Vanita:
Thanks for the great discussion, everyone. I always reject 2.57 and sentiments like it. “who neither grieves or rejoices if good or bad things happen’. It conjures up images of Stepford wives, mothers, friends….. fill in the blank. For me, I prefer – grieve for a moment, rejoice for a moment, then accept it and move on.

Lucky for me “on this path no effort is wasted.. ” (2.40). There is hope, yet.

Bob:
Agree, Vanita. In the next chapter you’ll read the seemingly contradictory line:

All beings follow their nature.
What good can repression do? (3.33)

2.57 is actually part of a larger idea in Yoga philosophy called “Witness” Consciousness (what I describe above), which means simply the ability to step outside ourselves and watch our emotions non-judgmentally.

But that’s not described fully in 2.57. Obviously the whole idea of being a witness assumes there is something to witness, i.e. that we are still feeling all our human emotions. In 2.57 we have only the witness with no mention of the witnessed! That’s why I put an “E” for “Explain” next to this item in my list.

Does this make sense? Please ask follow-up questions.

Sevapuri:
i understand your feelings that this can be read as “just feel nothing” but i think Krishna is telling us to not let grief or joy overwhelm us to the point where we forget who we really are. Krishna’s dialogue is continually reminding Arjuna who he is, that he is not only Arjuna but part of the whole universe, this it what i think we can forget so easily when we get caught up in joy grief, pain pleasure etc.

John Morrison:
Yes, when one watches their emotions without judging – this is freedom. We can have emotions but engage them with equanimity. We are no longer swept along like a stick in a raging torrent, completely at the mercy of our own discursive thoughts and emotions. Instead we are a boulder within the river, watching the emotions pass around us. The boulder is not emotionless – it is effected by emotions – but it is not at their mercy….

This pivotal Yoga idea of “Witness Consciousness” is fully developed in Chapter 13 of the Gita. Here are some highlights:

This Body is called the field,
Arjuna; the one who watches
whatever happens within it—
wise men call him the Knower.

I am the Knower of the field
in every body, Arjuna;
genuine knowledge means knowing
both the field and its Knower. (BG 13.0-2)

~

It is called the witness, the consenter,
the sustainer, the enjoyer, the great Lord,
and also the highest Self,
the supreme Person in this body. (BG 13.22)

~

By meditation, some men
can see the Self in the self;
others, by the yoga of knowledge;
others, by selfless action.

Still others, not seeing, only
hear about it and worship;
they too cross beyond death,
trusting in what they have heard.   (BG 13.24-25)

~

Just as the sun by itself
illumines the entire world,
so the field owner illumines
everything in the field.   (BG 13.33)

All Blogs in the Series:

Welcome to Gita Talk:
Online Discussion of the Bhagavad Gita. (Round 2)

Ongoing Resources:

Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations

Yoga Demystified

The Original Sixteen Session Gita Talk

Join Gita Talk Facebook Group for weekly notices
and to meet fellow participants.

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How Yoga Has Transformed American Spirituality: An Interview with Phil Goldberg, “American Veda”.

I am pleased to welcome special guest Philip Goldberg to Elephant Journal. Phil is the author of the startling new book American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West.

Phil Goldberg is the author or coauthor of nineteen books, including “Roadsigns: On the Spiritual Path” and “The Intuitive Edge.” Based in Los Angeles, he is an ordained interfaith minister, a public speaker and seminar leader, and the founder of Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates. He is director of outreach for SpiritualCitizens.net and blogs regularly on religion for the Huffington Post. Visit philipgoldberg.com or americanveda.com for more information.

(See also my review of American Veda: True or False?: Physical Yoga Has Had a Far Bigger Impact on America than Yoga Spirituality.)

Bob: Why did you decide to write American Veda?

Phil: Because I think it chronicles one of the most important trends in American history—certainly in American spiritual history. In a sense I started researching the book over forty years ago, when my own life was transformed by Vedantic ideas [Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads] and yogic practices. I was not the only one at that time, of course, but I gradually came to see that it was more than a counterculture phenomenon.

Over time, as the teachings seeped into the fabric of American society, not only through the Indian gurus but also through Western transmitters—artists, scholars, psychotherapists, doctors, etc.—I saw that the assimilation was more subtle and more pervasive than most of us realize. As both a writer and a proponent, I wanted to tell the story.

So I proposed a book in the mid-80s. I couldn’t interest a publisher. Twenty years later, the phenomenon had become so much more visible that an editor at Doubleday had the same idea, and our paths crossed at the right time.

Bob: What are the most important things you’d like the Yoga world to learn from American Veda they don’t know already?

Phil: It’s been very satisfying to hear from both new practitioners and long-time teachers that they learned something new from the book. It gives them a full picture of what brought us to this moment of time and how the current Yoga scene fits in the social and historical context of America. It goes back further and penetrates more deeply than most people realize.

I hope that teachers and practitioners, especially the young ones, also come away with greater reverence for the full scope of the tradition and resolve to protect and preserve its integrity, so it does not get reduced to a form of physical fitness or a therapeutic modality. Those are wonderful in and of themselves, but the body of spiritual teachings that underlay the physical practices are not only precious but vital for the ongoing evolution of our troubled species. India has given us a great gift, and we should make sure we don’t squander it.

Bob: What are the biggest difficulties you had in writing the book, and how did you overcome them?

Phil: In a nutshell, time and space. The book took almost two years longer to complete than I anticipated, and it could easily have been a thousand pages in length. There were difficult choices along the way, since a lot of juicy details had to be left out and worthy teachers and lineages could not be given the space they deserve.

As with most books, organizational structure presented challenges along the way too. In the end, it worked best to keep it somewhat chronological, but not rigidly so, in order to keep it flowing and be able to show all the streams and tributaries through which the teachings filtered into the culture.

Bob: What is most surprising experience you had in writing American Veda?

Phil: I thought I knew a lot going in, but it was amazing how much I discovered on a regular basis—and how much I still learn. I have a file of information to post on americanveda.com, and I seem to add to it every day.

One surprising thing was discovering gurus and yoga masters who spent time in the U.S. whom I somehow never heard of. They had small followings, and in some cases ashrams and centers, in places I would never have suspected, and some of their followers went on to have a significant impact in the transmission of Vedantic ideas and yogic practices.

Bob: How did you come to choose the title, and what were some of the other possibilities you considered?

Phil: I’d like to take credit for the title, but it was my editor’s idea from the start. I tried to think of alternatives, just in case there was a better choice, but everything I came up with was either too boring or too cute. One candidate was “The Full Lotus.”

Bob: Why did you choose to use the word “Veda” in the title, whereas you avoid that term in the text itself in favor of “Vedanta” or “Vedanta Yoga”? Wasn’t Vedanta Yoga in fact somewhat of a rebellion against the elaborate, ritualistic, priest-driven, superstitious organized religion of the Vedas?

Phil: You’re right of course, but we weren’t thinking of it in a literal or historical way, but rather “Veda” as “knowledge” and as a pithy way of evoking an ancient, complex tradition that was the fountainhead of all the wisdom that flowed out of India. In short, like many titles it’s meant to evoke, or suggest, or get attention.

Bob: What’s the most interesting question I should be asking that I haven’t thought of yet?

Phil: In my first few public appearances for the book, I was asked to summarize the influence of the Vedic tradition on America. So I now build it into my presentations. Here’s my list:

India gave people who are indifferent to, uncomfortable with, or hostile to conventional Western religion a way to be authentically spiritual. “Spiritual but not religious” would be an empty phrase without the framework and methodologies we imported from the East.

It changed the way we understand consciousness, the mind, the mind-body relationship and the connection between individual awareness and the larger whole.

It added higher levels of development to our understanding of human potential.

It changed the way we see ourselves and human nature. As one scholar put it, from original sin to original bliss.

It placed direct experience of the divine in the forefront of spirituality, as opposed to belief.

It stimulated a revival of Western mystical practices.

It gave us a vision of Oneness and a framework for a healthy, unity-in-diversity pluralism, with “Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.”

Bob: Phil, thanks for joining us here. Your book is amazing, and I again urge everyone to read it.

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True or False? Physical Yoga Has Influenced America More than Spiritual Yoga.

True or False? Physical Yoga Has Influenced America More than Spiritual Yoga.

Answer: False! The reverse is true. Spiritual Yoga has had a far bigger impact on America than the physical poses most people think of as Yoga.

You’ll almost certainly agree after reading the startling new book American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West by Philip Goldberg

(See accompanying interview with Phil Goldberg.)

The spirituality of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, the original texts of Yoga, has found its way into the very core of spiritual life in America, according to Goldberg, even though this is often masked by the form it has taken, and sometimes through outright repression of historical facts.

American Veda is an absolute must-read for anyone serious about Yoga. It is one of the most important books I’ve personally ever read about Yoga, or anything else, for that matter. It is surprising, entertaining, and highly readable throughout, and it will cause you to forever think differently about the impact of Yoga in America.

This book is so momentous, that at first I had trouble imagining how I could adequately describe it’s message and scope in a “review”. Then I suddenly realized that this would be the easiest review I’ve ever written. Here it is:

The following is just a partial list, just to give you an idea, of the famous people who, as documented in American Veda, have been profoundly influenced, not just a little bit influenced, but profoundly and pivotally influenced, by the Yoga of the original ancient Yoga texts, the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, often referred to as “Vedanta Yoga” (Most are Americans, but I also included others who heavily influenced Americans.):

Authors

Ralph Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau Walt Whitman Aldous Huxley

Samuel Taylor Coleridge William Wordsworth William Blake Emily Dickinson

Robert Frost Jack Kerouac Allen Ginsberg Alan Watts Gotham Chopra

Tim Gallwey (Inner Game of Tennis) Herman Hesse Oliver Wendell Holmes

Somerset Maugham J. D. Salinger Christopher Isherwood Timothy Leary

Huston Smith T.S. Eliot William Butler Yeats

Psychologists

William James Carl Jung Abraham Maslow Stanislav Grof Daniel Goleman

New Spirituality/Self-help

Eckhart Tolle Deepak Chopra Michael Beckwith (Agape) Ken Wilber

Joseph Cambell Madame Blavatsky (Theosophical Society) Wayne Dyer

Marianne Williamson Norman Vincent Peale Tony Robbins

John Gray Joan Borysenko Andrew Harvey

Musicians & Entertainers

The Beatles (especially George Harrison) Philip Glass Judy Collins

Russell Simmons Elvis Presley John Coltrane Alice Coltrane Donovan

Mick Jagger Marianne Faithful Mia Farrow Mike Love

Paul Horn Madonna John McGlaughlin

Yehudi Menuhin Van Morrison David Lynch Shirley McClaine

Jerry Seinfeld And many others

Religious Figures

Mary Baker Eddy (founder Christian Science) Ernest Holmes (Religious Science)

Thomas Keating Thomas Merton Father Bede Griffiths Rabbi David Gelberman

The “New Thought” Movement (source of many modern congregations)

Politicians/Activists

John Adams Martin Luther King (through Mahatma Gandhi) Booker T. Washington

Philosophers

Arthur Schoepenhauer Friedrich Hegel Alfred North Whitehead

Scientists

David Bohm (quantum physicist) Rupert Sheldrake (biologist) Fritjof Capra (The Tao of Physics)

J. Robert Oppenheimer Erwin Shroedinger (physicist, close friend of Einstein)

Nikola Tesla (legendary inventor) John Hagelin Amrit Goswami

Health and Wellness

Andrew Weil Dean Ornish Mehmet “Dr.” Oz. Herbert Benson (The Relaxation Response)

See also: How Yoga Has Transformed American Spirtuality: An Interview with Phil Goldberg, Author of “American Veda”, and then read the book!

Phil Goldberg is the author or coauthor of nineteen books, including “Roadsigns: On the Spiritual Path” and “The Intuitive Edge.” Based in Los Angeles, he is an ordained interfaith minister, a public speaker and seminar leader, and the founder of Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates. He is director of outreach for SpiritualCitizens.net and blogs regularly on religion for the Huffington Post. Visit philipgoldberg.com or americanveda.com for more information.

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Bhagavad Gita for a Fish.


Gita for a Fish

Let’s say you are a fish
Swimming in the sea.

Only you’re a very very smart fish,
Smart enough to realize
That being a fish swimming in the sea
Isn’t all there is.

You can see that you’re part of
A vast unknown ocean.

You can see there are many other creatures
And countless wondrous things
To learn about and enjoy
In this vast unknown ocean.

You can even imagine
That there may be a vast unknown world
Beyond even the vast unknown ocean.

You can also see
How wondrous and amazing it is
To be a fish,
To revel in all the unfathomable workings
Of your amazing fish body
And your amazing fish mind.
And how amazing it is
To simply be able to swim around
In this vast unfathomable ocean.

You can’t ever fully figure out
The vast reality
Beyond your little fish world,
The vast unknown ocean
And the vast unknown world
Beyond the vast unknown ocean.

You can’t ever really figure out
The incredible workings
Of your little fish body
And your billions of little fish cells
And your amazing fish mind.

But you can swim
In continual awe and wonder
At the vast unknown ocean
And the vast unknown world
Beyond the vast unknown ocean

And you can be in continual amazement
At the incredible workings
Of your little fish body
And your billions of little fish cells
And the wonders
Of all the other creatures and things
You see all around you as you swim.

You can think about it.
You can meditate on it.
You can love and celebrate it.

And meanwhile you can settle in
To simply being the best fish you can be.