Nationally renowned teacher of the Vedanta philosophy of life and living, Gautam Jain, will lecture at the Yoga Shelters in Grosse Pointe and West Bloomfield with a focus on living a life of purpose.
Jain is a disciple of Swami Parthasarathy, the founder of the Vedanta Cultural Foundation and the Vedanta Academy in Malavali, India. Popularly known as Swamiji, Swami Parthasarathy is an exponent of Vedanta, an ancient Hindu philosophy, and has been called one of the preeminent philosophers of our time by the Dalai Lama. Swamiji’s speaking engagement at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial in October drew an audience of more than 300.
His June lectures were originally scheduled for January but heavy snowfall prevented him from getting to Detroit.
Jain presents seminars on self management to a variety of audiences, including students, corporate employees and others. He teaches his audiences how to obtain the clarity of thinking needed to reduce stress in everyday living, increase productivity at work, maintain harmony in relationships, and master the technique of living.
Jain’s June 9 lecture in West Bloomfield will start at 7:30 p.m. “The Essence of Living: Action, Devotion and Knowledge,” he will look at using the body, mind and intellect to grow spiritually as well as ways to “transform action from a monotonous, tiring routine to inspiration, enthusiasm and purposefulness.”
His June 10 lecture in Grosse Pointe begins at 7:30 p.m. "Success Without Stress: the three gunas (mental temperaments)." The suggested donation amounts for the first two lectures is $20 or more.
His last lecture is at 3 p.m. June 11 in Grosse Pointe. “The Qualities of a Gnani: (A Person of True Knowledge).” According to the Vedanta, information from teachers and textbooks, lectures and oratory is considered “knowledge” but is not connected to real spiritual knowledge. The suggested donation for this lecture is $30 or more.
Proceeds from the lectures by Jain will help fund living expenses for students of the Vedanta Academy in the Detroit area. Attendees are reminded to bring a cushion to sit on as well as pen and paper for note taking.
According to Donna Orbovich, owner of Yoga Shelter Grosse Pointe, lectures such as those offered by Jain are essential to fully realizing the benefits of “time-tested” yoga.
“When we talk about yoga we think of the physical practice, but really yoga is the philosophical practice,” she said. Jain “presents ancient teachings in such a way that they become strong and valuable tools for modern day living. He focuses on the ideas of becoming less stressed, releasing anxiety, and becoming a more powerful presence in our own lives.”
Orbovich, who opened the Yoga Shelter in the Village three years ago, believes Jain is the ideal teacher and role model because, as a resident of New Jersey, he applies his philosophy every day in a modern, urban setting. “He’s a guy living in our world, practicing it,” she pointed out. “He’s not at the ashram, where it’s impossible to get mad at anyone.”
Jain makes several trips a year to Southeast Michigan because of Eric Paskel, who founded the Yoga Shelter franchise with his wife, Lisa. A native of West Bloomfield who currently resides in Los Angeles, Paskel said he began studying with Swamiji six years ago and is the only yoga instructor in the United States blessed by him to carry out his teachings. There is one Yoga Shelter in L.A. and four in Michigan, Grosse Pointe, West Bloomfield, Royal Oak and Birmingham.
Paskel refers to Yoga Shelter students and instructors as “yoga rebels,” noting they “integrate classes and break the imaginary wall that most other studios make a living off of.”
“We have no hierarchy, no classes that are advanced or intermediate or beginner,” he explained. “Wherever you’re at, throw your mat down and begin. We don’t use Sanskrit terms — we’re all American, and speaking in a funny language while you’re doing poses makes things even more strange — and we turn on music and ask people to scream and swear at times. We make our environment exciting, which is not a word used in the yoga world.”
Paskel agrees that Jain’s lectures are a perfect accompaniment to the physical practice of yoga. “The most important thing Gautam talks about,” he said, “is the ability to think, to be objective, to be somebody who is evolved and not involved in the world.”