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Common Ground discussion gives students a chance to speak openly

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Common Ground, a new interfaith discussion group at Ohio State, hosts therapeutic conversations on a weekly basis.

Jagannatha Dasa, the facilitator for the meetings and a monk in the Hare Krishna movement, leads these discussions every Friday from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Ohio Union throughout the Spring Semester as a part of the student organization, ISKCON Yoga Circle.

The meetings are based largely teachings from the Bhagavad Gita, translated as “the Song of God,” which is an ancient Sanskrit text from the Hindu religion.

The goal of these discussions is to remove fear of nonexistence, meaning students are trying to reduce fear of death and fear of loss of identity, he said.

“This fear of destruction brings in concepts of manipulation and ill motivation, which hinder the process of opening up,” Dasa said.

Even professional listeners, such as therapists, tend to have some motivation that hinders their patient’s ability to open up to them, he said. Students are encouraged to open up and share about their feelings in the meetings.

“It’s really important to me that people understand that their feelings, their needs, are shared, and I think that through conversation we can realize that more and more,” Dasa said.

This group benefits students in reducing their loneliness, sense of alienation and conflict, Dasa said. While he said he is happy with the feedback he has received and he hopes everyone feels welcome to participate, he said big turnouts are not his goal. The larger focus is on human connection.

“When the discussion is alive, we are as well,” Dasa said.

Ashanti Matloch, a graduate student studying biochemistry said the group discussion offers a place to speak without pressure. She said it puts everyone on a level playing field and is something she looks forward to each week.

Dasa has received positive feedback about the discussions, and said that when the meetings come to an end, the students often wish there was more time.

For more details, students can contact commonground@gmail.com

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