Peter Bolland

Thoreau, Gandhi, and King: The Politics of Right Action

Workshop time: Wednesday, 2:00-3:15 pm
Room: 203
TOPICS: History and philosophy of civil disobedience and its spiritual roots. Human rights, economic, environmental, activism
Henry David Thoreau took one book with him to Walden Pond – the Bhagavad Gita, the Indian classic of Vedanta philosophy. When he composed his famous essay “Civil Disobedience” a few years later, he created the blueprint for non-violent political action. A young attorney named Gandhi read “Civil Disobedience” while in prison in South Africa. A 15 year old named Martin Luther King read it as a freshman at Morehouse College. Gandhi said it “galvanized” him, and King went on to craft the American Civil Rights movement around its principles. How did the non-dualistic philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita weave its way through the work of these three spiritual and political reformers? How do the philosophical principles of the Bhagavad Gita help us navigate the paradoxical goals of vigorous engagement in the field of action, while maintaining profound stillness within? With all the pressing social justice, humanitarian, environmental, and economic struggles before us, the Gita’s message remains a vibrant, relevant, and powerful guide to right action in an increasingly complex world.
Attendees will root deeper into the philosophical foundation of justice, right action, activism, non-violence, peace, and community.

Attendees will leave inspired and encouraged, returning to the real work of political, environmental, economic, and human rights activism emboldened and strong.


About the presenter

Peter Bolland is the humanities department chair and a professor of philosophy and humanities at Southwestern College where he teaches world religions, Asian philosophy, world mythology, and ethics. Bolland’s columns in the San Diego Troubadour and Unity Magazine cover a similar range of philosophical and spiritual terrain. An award winning poet and singer-songwriter, Bolland performs regularly offering lectures, meditation workshops, and musical performances. He is also a frequent Sunday morning guest speaker at New Thought churches in San Diego like The Unity Center, Unity of El Cajon, and Vision: A Center for Spiritual Living where he also leads a monthly Satsang.

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