April 20 – 23, 2017 · Yoga CARE: Contemplation, Action, Restoration, Equanimity
This year’s Conference Theme: The Bhagavad Gita as Social Justice Inspiration
The Bhagavad Gita is an epic teaching in the tradition of yoga. When understood through the lens of Yoga and Social Justice, we have multiple considerations for our deep dive into personal and collective transformation.
Our dear friend, and the main character, Arjuna, must cross through the thresholds of Despondency, Resistance, Revelation, Fear, and Willingness to undertake his dharma as the warrior he was born to be. How do we traverse these developmental stages in our own lives as yogis/yoginis AND as agents of social change? If you’re a non-profit director, a visionary, a service delivery provider, how have you and how might you explore these stages of growth toward integration and awakening, your own and that of your culture and community?
Arjuna and his brothers lost their kingdom (the dharmic kingdom, the field, the body-mind-psyche-soul) in a gambling match, and had to endure the pain of living in exile from their home. While in exile, what did they do? Pout, complain, gossip, indulge, or daydream? Or practice, deepen their skills, and wizen their understandings?
Four paths of awakening are offered to Arjuna, by his teacher, Krishna. How will we, as contemporary yogis, integrate the teachings from these path of yoga into our lives as urban yogis and social justice advocates?
Service – the yoga of action, selfless service, action without attachment to the outcome, action without identification with the “do-er”
Devotion – dedication, love, offerings, awakening the heart
Meditation – internal practices, honing attention, developing clarity and presence
Contemplation – inquiry, active process of inquiry into the nature of life and consciousness
Arjuna is called to do battle, with his 100 cousins across the battlefield. What do these cousins represent? How would social justice have us investigate our shadow selves? What do we have to learn from these shadows? How do they develop? As we address shadow aspects of ourselves, we must also ask, through the lens of yoga, rather than the Western lenses of compartmentalization and hierarchy, what is discernment in action? How might we value and learn from our shadow selves? What are the risks? The rewards. A model of Restorative Justice exists today. Where would the Gita and Restorative Justice intersect?
What role does the blind seer play in this narrative? What roles do the five Pandu brothers represent in our lives as students of yoga? As a result of the actors in this yogic narrative, what relationships, internal and external, are we encouraged to develop? How is yogic relationship both necessary for social justice and made vulnerable in our quest for social justice?
The Gita presents a conversation between a teacher and a student. What are yoga teachers, leaders and change agents to learn from this conversation, about embodying the role of teacher, remembering our role as student, and making wise use of the teacher-student relationship? What issues of hierarchy, humility, and power exist?