One of the amazing things about Shimer is the people you meet through the years you're here. Not only are all of our facilitators brilliant (and mostly published), we also get to meet and talk to a lot of other fascinating people as well. One fantastic aspect of our school is the lecture series hosted here where people come to give a speech and then discuss their ideas with us, but we also have speakers join us in classes once in a while.
I've been taking "Four Yogas" this semester, a class facilitated by Ron Kidd (an excellent eastern scholar who offers classes on subjects such as the I-Ching, the epic of Genji and Confucian Studies). It's focused on Hindu thought, which we experienced through reading the Rig Vedas, the Upanisads, the Bhagavad gita and the Yoga Sutras (while mostly focusing on the texts in the Samkhya tradition). The course has proven to be excellent. Discussions are sometimes difficult due to the density of the text and the conflicting ideas in contrast to our ingrained Western ideals, but it's so rewarding when we finally reach an understanding of the tradition.
One of our best classes so far was the day Professor David Gitomer came to speak to our group about his translation of the Bhagavad Gita, which we had been using as our core gita text in our discussions. We got to hear his ideas about interpreting the text and his ideas about translating such an important epic. Just as importantly, he got to hear our undestandings of the Gita and get feedback on his translation from a learning audience.
It was remarkable to be able to speak with a translator of an original text and have him join our discussion as any student of the Hindu tradition might. I believe we were all quite grateful to David Gitomer for coming to our class and we learned a great deal from his visit.