Selfless Action

The Bagavad Gita is set during a time of great social change in India. The protagonist Arjuna wrestles with a moral dilemma. Before him on the Kuru plain stands the families of the Pandavas and Kauravas ready to fight for the throne.  Arjuna  sees the violence, death and destruction as a waste of life with out meaning… he can’t see the value of this senslessness fight. He is troubled and decides to quit and with draw from the battle.  He turns to his charioteer Krishna for council on this moral dilemma.

Krishna guides Arjuna in the karmic duty to uphold the Dharma through selfless action. The self is eternal and unchanging. It is fixed like the sun and stars. Like the thermodynamic process that says everything is neither created nor destroyed it moves through states of mass/matter and energy .. work and entropy… order and chaos. The soul or “atma” in Sanskrit is eternal and returns again age after age and will until the universe ends. This is the awakening.

To see everything as part of the cosmic turn of the wheel.

Today this story has relevance. We all are now seeking what to do or what is needed to bring the world back into balance. We are sorting out how to fight the evils of suffering, war, indifference and put compassion, peace, and love back in it’s place. Humanity is struggling with the moral dilemma of how to proceed to in the complex entanglement of humanity, resources and the planet.

Dharma as the infinite cosmic law that binds all and prevents the universe from shattering.

One of my favorite operas by the composer Phil Glass is Satyagraha. It is the story of Ghandi and his birthing of the concept of Satyagraha as a way of resistance and change during his time as a lawyer in South Africa. Gandhi based he’s teaching on the Gita and read it more than any other text. Using it as the inspiration for his life and work.

“Satyagraha, or holding onto truth, or truth force, is a particular form of nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. It is not the same as passive resistance, and advocates resisting non-violently over using violence. Resisting non-violently is considered the summit of bravery.”


From the first time I heard this back in the 80s and even now it still moves me. I feel the tensions of the opening scene as this battle is set and the struggle to question the situation and explore what is right action.

To listen press the link below:

Act1 Scene 1: The Kuru field of justice

This story and it themes of good and evil. Right and wrong. Self vs selfless. Moral duty and right action. Reminds me of the state of the world right now. We are in a circling turmoil. In the awkward pause before a great battle. To be fought for the next millennium.

The social media echo chamber, the climate, humanitarian crisis, wars, and the overwhelming sense that this is a fight to set things back into balance. To bring about a new age not of some abstract  bliss but of a renewed connection to the earth and all its beings.

It starts with the resistance to injustice and the persistence to be  non-compliant, non-violent. These are the tools for weakening the systems that have fed us an over saturation of polarizing views, unchecked consumerism, fear, othering, doctrines that have served to blind and overwhelm us to the true nature of who we are. Engaged actions on a mass scale are how we are to build a sustainable society and future.

We are all capable of being the Satyagraha.

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