Published Apr 7 2017, by

#Crow31Days | Week One Reflections

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Bhagavad Gita, solidly one of India’s greatest gifts to the world. A tome of prose, moral lessons and journey written between the sixth and fifth centuries before the common era. This week the Dallas Opera presented Arjuna’s Dilemma: a capture of the struggle of conscience and consciousness between Arjuna and Krishna, beloved Hindu cowherd.

This 2017 production promised a synthesis of Indian narrative fused with classical, jazz, chamber and musical Indian traditions against a dramatic projection. Because that’s life, right? Not purely one sense or another–a melding of perspectives and experiences.

 
Arjuna’s Dilemma synthesized these art forms breathlessly: tabla met saxophone, chorister met chanter, and a new form of sound drifted with precedence across the Winspear Opera House. The choristers, as Krishna, held the story together in tandem with Arjuna: meditative video projections a canopy to our experience. It was arresting, calming, intoxicating all at once.

 

Bravo to the Dallas Opera for presenting this modern-day tableau of ancient wisdom: the perils of conflict, consciousness, the inner war to do the right thing. Messages of the Gita’s sensible wisdom were projected across clouds and graphic. slow images of water and rice falling, as if to mirror the simplicity of taking all the chaos away.

 

Prior to the performance at a reception honoring the collaboration between the opera and our museum I shared an excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran in one of my most cherished books: God Makes the Rivers to Flow.

 

 THE BHAGAVAD GITA

 

What Is Real Never Ceases

The Self dwells in the house of the body,
Which passes through childhood, youth, and old age.
So passes the Self at the time of death
Into another body. The wise know this truth
And are not deceived by it.

When the senses come in contact with sense-objects
They give rise to feelings of heat and cold,
Pleasure and pain, which come and go.
Accept them calmly, as do the wise.

The wise, who live free from pleasure and pain,
Are worthy of immortality.

What is real never ceases to be.
The unreal never is. The sages
Who realize the Self know the secret
Of what is and what is not.

Know that the Self, the ground of existence,
Can never be destroyed or diminished.
For the changeless cannot be changed.

Bodies die, not the Self that dwells therein.
Know the Self to be beyond change and death.
Therefore strive to realize this Self.

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And so the wisdom in this exploration of thirty-one days of Asia is to seek the wisdom: seek the things the sages saw and shared. Look into the opportunity to learn about a culture less familiar than our own. It is the looking that, as Krishna teaches, will reveal our better selves.

 

Amy Lewis Hofland
Executive Director

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