Yoga Community is No Better
than Your Community.
In Buddhism, it’s called the “Three Jewels.”
They’re pretty much the three most important things on the path to enlightenment, or “waking up” (Buddha means, simply, “awakened one.”). The three jewels are “Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.” It’s said that everyone has an easy time relating to the first two jewels—the wonderfulness of Buddha—the principle of teacher, someone who gets it. Everyone has an easy time relating to the holiness of Dharma—the teachings of wisdom. But “Sangha”? It’s like the odd cousin you don’t want to hang with at the family barbeque.
Well, you’re an a*****le. Hang out with the weird cousin.
In Affair to Remember, one of my favorite movies, Cary Grant’s lady asks, shaking her head, “why is life so hard?” Cary’s one word answer?
Recently, I had the honor and, ahem, pleasure of attending several yoga conferences. I’ve been at dozens, now, over the years.
As a lifelong Buddhist, I have little illusion that Buddhists are any better than any other community. They’re effed up, nuts, wonderful, kind, mixed up, speedy…you know, just human. I’ve also been in and around the climbing community. The climbing community is tight, they travel, they’re beautiful…and they’re clique-y, competitive, aggro, whatever. They’re just human. I’ve been around the running community, I’ve been active in the local political culture, I’ve been around cyclists and do-gooding social entrepreneurs. There is no one sane, kind, enlightened community. We’re all effed up.
But on the outside, the yoga community seems kinda special. Despite knowing better, I’ve held out high hopes for them. They’re fit, they’re happy, they’re spiritualish. But there’s more. They’re genuinely caring and involved in the world. For years, I’ve really appreciated this community. It brings together internal and external in a way few communities do.
But the last few conferences have reminded me: Yoga people might smile and wear flouncy scarves and TOMS shoes and little fedoras, but their smile is often a bit too tight. They don’t know how to work with their confusion or desires or anger any better than anyone else. Yoga teaches us to breathe through stress, to open up, to relax. But it doesn’t particularly teach us how to work, directly, with our minds. Buddhism does that, but as we’ve already discussed Buddhists are still a bunch of backbiting ambitious horny bastards.
But all of this isn’t bad news. It’s good news. It’s, finally, my realization of non-theism. There is no external community that is wonderful. Stop looking. Stop shopping. It’s all a work in progress. So jump back in to your messed up local community. Community is the third jewel. If we can’t work with our fellow brothers and sisters on a path of goodness, we can’t begin to change the world, let alone our spouses or ourselves, for the better.
And that, the Buddha says more simply and eloquently, is the goal of all those who would be genuinely happy in this life.
Yours in working (and playing) to create enlightened society,
elephantjournal.com, Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis
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