On May 21st, 2015, six women in California had our very first Gita class via Zoom, an online meeting space that allows us to be together once a week, signing in from various parts of California on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. Six weeks later, we have finally found our rhythm. Our class is now at 6:15 p.m. to accommodate those of us who have to rush home from work on packed freeways, though sometimes we are caught at work and have to sit in the parking lot, in the car and sign in with our cell phones, to make it in time. There are six steady members, each with a unique perspective on what we read. Those who were shy at first, hesitant to participate and content to just listen, are now emerging with strong opinions and each has something valuable to add to the discussion. Some of us are homemakers, others are engineers, software developers or professors, all of us are mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters.
We have all been raised as Hindus. As such, we accept that life is a journey toward Moksha or liberation. We accept that we achieve that liberation through reincarnating over and over in this world, so that we can learn our lessons, rid ourselves of our flaws, and escape the cycle at last when we have exhausted all our karma and achieved the purity of mind to realize that we are one with God. We accept these things because we believe that faith plays a crucial part in beginning a spiritual journey. Not everything can be proven, some things have to be taken on faith, based on what makes sense to us and what our foundation is. Faith can be challenged, and outlooks may grow or transform, in fact, the Gita says we need to be open to learning. So we begin with this faith and remain open to what we will learn in the days ahead.
Some of us want to be done with the endless cycle of birth and death in this very life, and want to go straight to liberation. Others want merely to live a more happy and peaceful life. Some of us are empty nesters, while others are still raising young children. But while our life stages may be different and our immediate goals may be different, what the six of us have in common is the steady desire to figure out how to make our journey easier, less stressful, and more peaceful on a day to day basis.
We are pragmatic Hindus, who understand that life is complicated, that the Gita was written in a distant place and time, and that as women living in the United States in the 21st century we have to understand and apply its teachings to our specific context. While this is a challenging task, it is made easier by the fact that the principles and values laid out in this text are universally applicable, making a guidebook to life written over 5,000 years ago still a valid and powerful roadmap for us in 2015.
I invite you to join us by reading the posts (click the Gita Blog tab at the top of this page), as we study, struggle, stumble and come to our own understanding of how the Bhagavad Gita can help us move forward. I hope that you will contribute to the discussion with your comments on this weekly blog documenting our journey, and that perhaps you will find some of it useful in informing your own. Please click on the follow button and subscribe via email so that you will receive the latest blog entries as they are posted.
Image courtesy Ramnath Bhat (Flickr: Diya necklace) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons