"One last point brings the Bhagavad Gita directly into our times. The central message of the Gita is that life is an indivisible whole — a concept that contemporary civilization flouts at every turn. Until we learn the principles of unity and how to live in harmony with them, the Gita would say, we cannot have abiding peace or live in harmony with each other and the planet; we cannot even enjoy the real and lasting progress that is the hallmark of civilization.

"The Gita doesn't ask us to take this on faith. It simply offers a frame of reference through which we can look afresh at what we see around us, scrutinize the plans and promises offered by contemporary politics and economics, and judge for ourselves how useful any approach can be that does not begin with the essential unity of life."