Reflections on Bhagwad Gita Talk at Lick Wilmerding High School

Last month I was invited to give a talk on Bhagwat (also Bhagwad) Gita at Lick Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, California.  Bhagwat Gita, also called the Gita, roughly translated as the “Song of the Lord” is often mistakenly portrayed as the Hindu bible.  The Gita does not talk about Hinduism at all.  In reality, it is an instruction manual for Yoga.  What is YogaYoga is the discipline and practice that will help our soul (self or inner divinity) achieve union with perfection, the divine, or the union of our self (soul or inner divinity) with the object of attention.  This object of attention could be the work we are doing, music we are composing, workout session in the gymnasium, study of chemistry or social work at the local food kitchen.  In short, the practice of Yoga will allow us to achieve the state of Flow that is crucial to successfully completing our many tasks including sports and work, effortlessly and with complete enjoyment in the process.  To draw another parallel, the Gita is your Google for practical answers to all life matters, helping you realize your fullest personal potential.

At the high school, the class of seniors was studying a course on world religions and Hinduism is one of the religions they had studied.  So my expectation was that the students would have a modest understanding of the Gita.  I will admit that I was very surprised and impressed with the depth of understanding and curiosity that the students displayed.  My approach was from a facilitator’s perspective, a coach’s perspective, and my job was to provoke thinking and shine the spotlight on the path that will help the students answer their own questions.  The questions were very direct and thought-provoking.

“Do I have to convert to Hinduism to attain self-realization or liberation?”

“What is self-realization?”

“Gita talks about doing your duty without attachment or aversion. But I have no interest in Chemistry.  How can I reconcile this with the message of Gita?”

“Lord Krishna advises warrior Arjuna to fight the battle because it his duty to do so as a warrior.  But I am opposed to violence and war of any kind.  Can you help shed light on this contradiction?”

We started by discussing the core message of Gita followed by the meaning of some of the important passages in the book.  The appeal of the Gita to the students was that the Gita does not speak about Hinduism at all, instead provides guidance on how to live life in its various aspects in a productive, fulfilling, and practical manner.  The questions asked by the students were very thoughtful.  They deepened my own understanding by providing new perspectives on the wider applicability of Gita towards helping students build their self-esteem, while learning how to cope with some of the harsh realities of the world they would be soon be handed. Gita would make for an interesting course, not only for high school students, but also for teachers and the administration to help the next generation in interpreting and addressing problems commonly faced by the youth.

About Kammitment:  Led by scientist and life-coach Kamalesh (Kam) Rao, Kammitment helps you realize and make a commitment towards self-actualization, through tailored leadership coaching, workshops and programs for students and professionals in all stages of their lives, by drawing upon the time-tested principles of Yoga and Mindfulness.  Kam has spent 20 years as a scientist and a manufacturing professional in the pharmaceuticals industry, and continues to consult with the industry.  In his free time he leads executive coaching programs for Fortune 100 clients.  A certified Yoga instructor, Kam lives in Oakland, CA and is an Improv actor who also enjoys Salsa dancing when he is not practicing Yoga or hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  For further information, please email [email protected]

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