A Ritual for Jane & “Gita Guy” Bob Weisenberg.

Via Brooks Hall
on Jul 17, 2010
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You know Bob, “the Gita Guy,” right? He’s the one brewing up lots of interesting conversation in the living room for his current series of posts here at Elephant: Gita Talk.

Well, when he emailed me to let me know that he and his cherished wife, Jane, were taking a road trip to Chicago and were planning to take my class at Yogaview in celebration of Jane’s birthday (at her request), I was thrilled! You see, I had had the honor of meeting them at Linda-Sama‘s recent workshop, where I took the opportunity to invite them to come to my class, too.

And I’m so glad I did!

Right away I started to think about how I might make the class special to celebrate ourselves, yogically, in honor of Jane’s birthday.

I found a reading that I thought might resonate with Bob in his love affair with the Gita.

For example, in the Bhagavad Gita (as translated by Eknath Easwaran) it says:

Those who possess this wisdom have equal regard for all. They see the same Self in a spiritual aspirant and an outcast, in an elephant, a cow and a dog. Such people have mastered life.

Here is an excerpt from Walt Whitman (part of what I read in class, and it can be found in the book: Laws for Creations, selected and introduced by Michael Cunningham):

This is the meal pleasantly set….this is the meat and drink for natural hunger,
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous….I make appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
The keptwoman and sponger and thief are hereby invited….the heavy-lipped slave is invited….the veneralee is invited,
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

The added ritual came at the end of class. While everybody was resting in savasana (a relaxing pose in yoga), I placed a flower at the feet of every person, and I put the leftover blooms at the foot of the Buddha sculpture. I also burned a little incense.

I rang a chime and waited for the sound to become subtle, and I began to read. Here is another excerpt by Walt Whitman:

I play not a march for victors only….I play great marches for conquered and slain persons.

Have you heard that it is good to gain the day?
I also say it is good to fall…battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.

I sound triumphal drums for the dead….I fling through my embouchures the loudest and gayest music for them,
Vivas to those who have failed, and to those whose war-vessles sank in the sea, and those themselves who sank in the sea,
And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes, and the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known.

When I was finished reading (there was more beyond what I’ve shared in the excerpts) people slowly came out of the resting pose to discover a flower where their feet were. And I said something about the beauty of the flower symbolizing the beauty of the totality of experience, including both failures and successes, ups and downs as they are all a part of the wonder of our experience, and I wished to honor that about everybody. (at least that’s what I hope I said—it was along those lines)

In honor of a birthday—Jane’s—I did a special honoring of the whole class. It was interesting because I had a really mixed group of students that day: there were some who regularly attend, there were a handful of people whom I hadn’t seen in ages, and there were people who were totally new to my class. I enjoyed honoring these people.

After class I went to a leisurely dinner at Mana with Jane and Bob.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering anything like, “Who the heck are these people writing on the Internet?” I encourage you to take any opportunities to find out. And if they are anything like Bob, you are in for a treat! It was such a delight to talk and dine with he and Jane after class.

Not only did Bob and Jane seem to respect, enjoy and appreciate one another, they also each left space for the other to talk. And the relationship seems vibrant (read into that).

On the subject of yoga, Bob’s sensibilities are as subtle, complex and personal as anyone who is authentically dedicated to the subject. I respect that.

I also appreciate Bob’s effort toward including newer readers of the Gita in Gita Talk, and from hearing him talk I got the impression that he would take much pleasure in reading the thoughts of more people in his Gita Talk. New readers are welcome to jump in anywhere, and to start commenting. He isn’t just interested in what experts or scholars have to say, he’d like to hear your thoughts, too.

…And I almost want to say: especially if you are new to this text or new to trying to talk about such things, join in and write a comment!

So, talk to Bob at the “Gita Talk” posts here on Elephant: he is a neat guy!


About Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall is a Yogic Muse from Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity she teaches Yoga, writes about Yoga, and generally enjoys it. You can find her at: brookshall.blogspot.com.


19 Responses to “A Ritual for Jane & “Gita Guy” Bob Weisenberg.”

  1. Brooks, I *love* that second passage from Whitman! Whitman is one of my favorites–I sometimes think he's always resonating there, in the back of my mind somewhere, when I am writing. ("A mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels"!)
    The first passage reminds me of Jesus' parable of the rich man who gave a feast, and when none of the invited guests came, he had his steward go out into the street and bring in the blind, the lame and the destitute. And I especially love the way you used these in your class; what a wonderful birthday present!

  2. julialeeyoga says:

    Brooks this sounds so lovely. I wish I could come take a class with you! 🙂

  3. Thanks, Brooks. Jane and I thoroughly enjoyed your masterful class, with all the special touches, and the engaging conversation afterwards at Mana.

    If anyone ever in the Chicago area, don't miss the opportunity to go to one of Brook's classes. She teaches a variety of classes in several locations. A very special teacher indeed.


  4. Not only did you have Bob and his wife in your class, but you read my man Walt…now you're seriously making' me jealous, Brooks…

  5. I think it's fair to say that Whitman in Brooks' class was inspired directly by you. We talked about it over dinner, and tried to dream up ways to get together with you.

    Bob W.

  6. Brooks Hall says:

    Thanks, Bob. *directly* is a stronger word than I would have used, but I was aware that Mr. YogaforCynics might enjoy such a reading… And we did discuss wanting to meet you, Jay! We practically set a place at the table for you!

  7. Brooks Hall says:

    YogaforCynics: What would it take to assuage your jealousy?

  8. Brooks Hall says:

    Thanks, Scott! I appreciate your comment, and like the quote about the mouse miracle. And I think it's true as long as the "sextillions of infidels" have the presence of mind to open their eyes (and hearts)!

  9. Brooks Hall says:

    Thanks julialeeyoga! I would like that, too.

  10. Brooks Hall says:

    You are so kind! I enjoyed having you and Jane in class so much. It felt totally natural and normal to have you both there: it just felt right.

  11. Maybe we should all meet up at Kripalu sometime this Fall…

  12. Brooks Hall says:

    That is a great idea, YogaforCynics-Jay! Bob and Jane were saying that they'd like to go. And I love Kripalu!

  13. Nathan Smith says:

    The window from the virtual to the real opens right here.

    Thanks, Brooks.

  14. Brooks Hall says:

    Yeah, Nathan! I love that!

  15. integralhack says:

    Wow. Bob and Brooks need to design birthdays! Love the article and the photos of the class and the handsome birthday couple.


  16. Brooks Hall says:

    Thanks, Matt! I’m glad you like the article and pictures. It was fun to do! And such a fun visit.

  17. Charlotte says:

    Again a lovely post, Brooks. It is true that the essence of who we are is infinitely love and compassion. Our titles are tools for living in the world, but they are not who we are. Thank you for sharing this, and for creating such a fitting tribute to the beauty of all beings in your class.

  18. Brooks Hall says:

    Thanks Charlotte! I value your reading and comment. It’s affirming to know that you resonate with my writing.

  19. Mahita Devi says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It is wonderful to hear these sorts of stories-meeting and connecting-sharing. I would love to meet at kripalu at some point-my old stomping grounds.