What’s the big idea? 12th Grade Literature, the Bhagavad-Gita, and the Quarter Life-Crisis

Arjuna and Krishna

Teaching literature is an inherently frustrating situation.  For the past 5 weeks I’ve been attempting to teach my 12th graders to identify the “big ideas” in the pieces we read for my literature class. 90% of the time I’m met with blank stares which will inevitably be interrupted with “Wait, what page are we on?” I don’t remember being particularly interesting in my English classes in high school either so maybe its just the nature of the beast (no way it has anything to do with my lack of teaching skills). Anyway, in case you were wondering what page we are on, we are on page 200 reading a selection from the Bhagavad-Gita, “The Yoga of Knowledge.”

In ‘The Yoga’ a warrior named Arjuna is preparing to go to battle. Unfortunately for him, he is having a panic attack because some cousins and uncles are fighting on the other side and he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he killed them. He then decides to ask his brother-in-law, the god Krishna, for some soul calming advice. I’ll summarize his main points:

1. It is your obligation to fulfill you duty to fight as a member of the warrior caste.

2. The body is temporary, the soul is forever. No need to worry about the “death” of your family members.

3. Be detached from your senses; the earthly world is ephemeral.

Now the other part of my blog post title mentions the quarter life crisis. The term describes the period of life that takes place in your 20s, usually some time after college. The typical 20-something probably has a job that he doesn’t like (if he has one at all), suffers from a lack of direction, and doesn’t really “feel like an adult.” It paints a pretty bleak picture of one’s youth.

What kind of advice would Krishna offer the 20-something suffering from a quarter life crisis? Here’s what I think he would say.

1. Accept that there is no “real world,” (no, I don’t mean the hit reality show).

2. You don’t need to be striving for anything.

3.  Be present.

In my next blog post I will be explaining what I mean by denying the real world, not striving, and being present. For now I am tired and have to grade some terrible essays but I would love to hear from you guys. I’ll leave you with these questions:

1.      What is the real world for you? Do you fit in it?

2.      What are you striving for? Have you attained it? Are you happier for it?

3.      What does it mean to “be present”

Five paragraph essays are always welcome.

Cheers,

Dale

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Diane on October 21, 2010 at 12:45 am

    just teach them how to repel women, ps. adrian crawls now

    Reply

  2. Posted by Diane on October 25, 2010 at 3:48 am

    and by the way the whole i’m ignoring you because you are still my annoying little sister thing is getting kinda old.. you made your point by moving to egypt

    Reply

  3. I look forward to your next post!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Grandma Davidson on October 29, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Grandpa & I got back from Boston last Wednesday, got to see Adrian go from 0 to 60 in our hotel room. He is just the best baby, Diane will have her hands full with him getting into things now. We had a great visit with your Mom & Diane, it was strange not having your Dad around. We were at the Banking Convention.

    We did something different in eating, we tried local food spots rather than doing all the famous restaurants. We really had some great eats and walked a lot around the area.

    Life will always be what you make of it, only you can make you happy so enjoy!

    Love ya!

    Reply

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