March 22, 2010

Probably Not the Best Example of Loving Kindness

I called somebody a stupid fucking asshole on the way to yoga class…there in the middle of the street, him in his car that had careened in front of me, yelling, shaking with indignation, motioning with his steering wheel and revving his engine as if about to run me over on purpose, though I’d had the right of way…men, women and children standing passively at the bus stop on the corner as I unleashed my foul invective, yoga mat slung over one shoulder.

Probably not the best example of loving kindness. Then, that well of rage, so easily tapped, might have something do with why I go to yoga class in the first place.

Joe Strummer sang:

Let fury have the hour
Anger can be power
Know that you can use it…

And that’s true, up to a point, even if the number of oppressive regimes overthrown by punk rock seems to be locked securely at zero. I’ve been known to rage against people with positive attitudes, though it’s generally only those who desperately want to have positive attitudes that are the problem; y’know, people who say keep your bullshit negative attitudes away from me without the least hint of irony. Smiling organic types who’ll blithely dismiss other people’s unhappiness as their own bad karma, all their own fault for putting out negative energy…as if anything could be more negative than substituting rejection and judgement for kindness and empathy. Then, who knows, maybe all those people in Darfur really just need  a copy of  The Secret.

An American Tibetan Buddhist nun named Pema Chodron (yeah, I’m dubious as anybody about Westerners who become Buddhist nuns and change their names, though, as far as I know, she didn’t drop nearly as much acid as Richard Alpert did before he became Ram Dass) (not that there’d be anything wrong with it if she had) wrote this about a Zen teacher named Bernard Glassman who works with the homeless: he feels that moving into the areas of society that he had rejected is the same as working with the parts of himself that he had rejected. Could it be that all self-righteousness, all outwardly-directed disdain, is, in essence, a refusal to accept what we see in the mirror?


*as this is my first piece for Elephant Journal, thought I’d introduce myself…as well as display my green cred…by recycling something that appeared previously, in somewhat different form, as one of my first Yoga for Cynics posts…though it may say something about my past two years of steady yoga practice that I’m not sure how well I relate, at this point, to its rather pissy tone…*

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