As I read Kathryn Budig’s newsletter and admired her gentle and warm Christmas presentation, I noticed Elephant Journal’s logo on her page (she’s written for Elephant Journal, her work can be found here). My memory went to the past year: interviews with Sharon Gannon, John Friend, Sean Corn and Brenda Feuerstein (thanks Brenda for the interesting Classical Yoga Studies Course) all of them on Elephant Journal.
Recently, one of my teachers shared with me her indignation about Elephant Journal being “asmita (ego, individuality, I-am-ness) heaven” and that there is “not one person who writes for Elephant Journal is part of a respected magazine or blog.” I’m not sure if this is the reality, because I am not doing the deep analysis of Who is Who and Who writes Where. What I do know is that all the names above are the respected teachers, and if Elephant Journal is meaningful to them, is definitely meaningful for me too.
But I also see on Elephant Journal many others, maybe not so famous, but definitely great teachers and yogis sharing their experiences, their doubts, injuries, emotions or observations with others.
Now I have to be clear, this article is not in judgement of others. I’m raising questions (to myself and others) about what it means to be a writer and yogi at the same time.
While we are writing and sharing our experiences and perspectives, are we in our “I- ness”? Are we nourishing our ego? Are we searching for celebrity and fame? Are we fishing for appreciation and attention? Are we sure that we are living our Asteya (non-stealing) and we are not stealing the time from our readers?
But, if yes, what about B.K.S. Iyengar sharing many personal stories and observations in his books, or Swami Rama in his book Living with Himalayan Masters where every story is just about his own experience?
I believe what counts is the INTENTION of the writer. If s/he is writing with the true intention to share and benefit others from his experience or wisdom,with detachment from the outcome there is not “asmita heaven”, there is yoga’s clear message of non- separateness from others.
If the writer is writing to promote himself, his life, his achievements or just to promote his school, why not? It is his choice and his responsibility, why should we judge? Our responsibility is as ourselves and choose to give into the promotion or not. Our responsibility is not to what others are doing. Yoga has taught me that what makes me react during interaction with others is usually some impression I have myself or quality I’m afraid to manifest. Or, as my teacher in India teaches us, while pointing one finger on others, there are three fingers pointing on myself.
If I decide to see in Elephant Journal only ego and non-respected teachers, then I will find them. If I decide to see there the people who want to share and participate in the transformation, I will. There is nothing wrong with both choices, if we are able to see from where they are coming and we are able to take it as lesson for ourselves. If my trigger is ego and fame, then maybe I can ask myself what is my fear that I’m living right now? What is missing in my life that is coloring my perception in a negative way? Or am I seeing with the right discrimination but I’m giving in to the judgmental behavior?
With clarity, choice and responsibility for our choices comes Freedom. If you have real clarity for your next step, you make your choice and you accept the consequences: your walk is light and your talk is short. This is Freedom.
This is what we are teaching our students of yoga. We also have the Freedom to make mistakes, and enjoy the space that the mistakes create for learning.
Here I go, in asmita heaven, with my own clarity, and respecting myself for my choice and my responsibility for my choice. Feeling the Freedom from being true to myself and not being determined by the judgement of others. But I respect also the different choice, and those who are not here, because they have their own clarity and they own responsibility.
It is time for Peace, Love and Sharing. Let’s give up our judgments and feel Compassion instead. Even for those who judge us, as our Love can be the Light on their path.