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God, War and Warrior II

  In his opening lecture on the Yoga Sutras, Edwin Bryant PhD, Professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University, discredited the idea of a devotional aspect to the text postulated by an attending teacher. He declared that the totality of the Sutras is a call to meditation and an invitation to renunciation rather than advice to dedicate oneself to anything outside oneself. He had begun by stating that one cannot study yoga philosophy too often as the significance of the content changes with perceptions based in life experience. This teacher took comfort she said, in the idea of channeling disturbances of the mind into devotion or bhakti. Bryant shut the notion down going so far as to say that the text including the eight limbs was simply dedicated to eliminating distraction from self involvement which seems an erudite view.   When the teacher cited a verse of the Bhagavad Gita to press her point Bryant made it clear that the Gita was not to be confused with the message of the Sutras. The Gita advocates duty and devotion to something outside oneself which is a direct departure from the attitude of isolation described in the Sutras.   Gita’s shadow danced when I set the class for Warrior II the next day.   God and War is a curious pairing without context. In the framework of modern and not so modern conflicts it’s business as usual and the business places God in awkward positions depending on whose God it is or on which side God stands. God and war in the Gita? I leave it to others to interpret as they...

Tradition Grows From Fallen Seeds

We Are Our Stories   “Oh the hands of my mother watch and keep over me And the hands of my grandmother are the hands you see on me From the house of great grandfather rivers run down to the sea And my sister’s mother’s husband’s father’s grandchild is me Don’t you see?” Sung by Mark Bailey to my children long ago in California   It’s snowing. It hardly ever snows here. And I’m sick. I’m rarely sick. I’m peaceful in that snowing and not feeling well kind of way and staring out the kitchen window. Leaning on the sill I stare into the frozen garden. Twin two foot tall bare twiggy trees are nestled between shrubs. I’m harvesting seedlings from the front yard of my husband’s next door neighbor from his childhood home.   We had gone back to hold a memorial service for my mother-in-law in the place she and my husband, Rob ,had lived most of her life. Tom’s house and Kitty’s house sat closely together on a dead end street in a seaside village of Long Island. Tom was as close in age to Rob as he was to Kitty and was as close as family got. That’s why I took the seedlings from Tom’s tree that he offered me as I marveled over it’s unusual beauty. Here take some, he said as he plucked handfuls from the ground. He filled a small plastic sandwich bag with seedlings and dirt and I hopefully carried them back to Nashville in my suitcase.   Three years later Tom is dead. And Rob tells me that not a...