Monday, May 13, 2013

effective public speaking

Verse 3.7: On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active senses by the mind and begins karma-yoga [in Kṛṣṇa consciousness] without attachment, he is by far superior.

This weekend, I had an opportunity to share my love for the Gita to a group of bhakti yogis. The audience consisted of several advanced practitioners and as I was contemplating what to speak on, the essence of the previous verse (3.6) kept running through my head: be true to yourself. Or in other words, speak from your realization.

That's what I try to do in sharing these small reflections everyday. My motto is: keep it simple and keep it practical.

For some (not all, as I'm sure there are may people who love public speaking!), the tendency when speaking or presenting any topic in front of those who are advanced may be either: 1) fear and/or 2) to show off that "I too" know lots. Having heard many advanced bhakti yogis speak, I realize that what really touches my heart, as a listener, is the consciousness of the speaker. If the speaker is sincerely trying to share what they know in a mood of care and affection, it's amazing how powerful even a simple class can be.

That's why I decided to speak on a subject that has fascinated me for weeks now. The fact that the first two topics that Krsna talks about in the Gita are the soul followed by the necessity of working according to one's nature. It was a simple class and I probably did go all over the place, but speaking on those two topics which meant so much to me resulted in a couple of things.

1) I felt no fear in speaking
2) It allowed me to go deeper into the subject matter and find connections which I had never thought of before.
3) It allowed me to interact and engage my audience and learn new things from them!

Similarly, just as in public speaking, if we just try to live our life by the principle of sincerity, it's amazing how quickly one can progress in yoga. When we are able to take stock of our challenges, acknowledge them, and instead of hiding them, try to actively work on them, that actually INSPIRES others! It's the consciousness that matters which affects ourselves and others. Amazing, isn't it?

Bhakti yoga is not about how much philosophy you can spout off or how many verses you can quote. Although that knowledge is important and can help one tremendously, it's not enough. Bhakti yoga is about how we actually apply the process in our life. The great bhakti master, Srila Prabhupada, put it best: "Bhakti is not for arm-chair philosophers." It's about action and application.

Just like it's so easy to give tips and tricks on becoming an effective public speaker, it's all theoretical if one doesn't speak in front of an audience. There's no replacement for real life experience. Similarly, it can be easy to learn a lot about bhakti, but if one doesn't actually put it to the test, then what's the point? All the amazing realizations and experiences one might hear about are just second hand.

All we need to do is practice sincerity. Reading the Gita, becoming friends with other aspiring bhakti yogis and engaging in mantra meditation are all practical and easy things we can incorporate in our daily lives and yoga practice. If you haven't received one before, please consider this your personal invitation to experience bhakti!


  1. Thank you for the posts. Vidya Surya gave me a link to your site after I left a comment on her comment about the Bhagavad Gita. I look forward to reading your blog each day. I addded it to my blogs to follow on my bookmarks. I am very interested in reading the Bhagavad Gita and I think that having someone go through verse by verse and give their perceptions of it will be a great thing for me. Thanks.

    1. Hi Sebastian! Vidya is a fantastic lady. She's so thoughtful and I'm so happy that she thought of directing you to this site. Please feel free to comment anytime! I hope your journey through the Gita is full of adventure, inspiration and lots of realizations!