July 27, 2010

Has Yoga Driven Bob Bonkers?

Do you think Yoga is driving me crazy? 

Brooks Hall, who has become one of our most popular Elephant bloggers, writes a beautiful, thoughtful, sensible comment on the latest Gita Talk, and I respond with a semi-delirious Yoga rant about the infinite wonder of a bank account! 

In response to my usual Gita stuff about the “infinitely wondrous universe”, Brooks wrote:

We are such a materialist culture that I think that words like ‘infinite wonder of the universe’ might definitely keep some people on the outside. Where is the ‘infinite wonder’ in my bank account? (for example) Where is the ‘infinite wonder’ in my bill payment options? And so on…

The way of yoga for me includes exploring limitations. I am a hatha yogi so I suppose this makes sense. Even though philosophically we might think we understand the concept of limitlessness, in our bodies there are limits, and as we explore this there is potential to understand beyond our limitations. Somehow I do believe that studying the limitedness of the way our bodies and minds work is a way to move deeper with yoga.

It’s definitely more grounded to consider one’s self (including limitations) in the grand scheme of yoga, otherwise these expansive words like ‘infinitely wonderous’ can have a really out-of-body (or fantasy) sensibity. I want to participate, and bring my full self to this process: body and mind. And it might be too big of a leap to the land of ‘infinite wonder’ when I have to do my laundry.

For where I am in life, I resonate with the Gita’s thoughts on work, right action, and choosing the right path. I prefer an emphasis on the present moment rather than ecstatic states.

This poem by Korean poet Ko Un (found in the book, Yoga for a World out of Balance, by Michael Stone) says it for me right now:

Some say they can recall a thousand years

Some say they have already visited the next thousand years

On a windy day

I am waiting for a bus

A beautiful comment, right? 

I responded:

Hi, Brooks. 

Ah, but that’s the beauty of the Gita isn’t it! It understands that people are different, and embraces everyone from the wild-eyed ecstasist (I love making up words) to people who prefer a more practical mentality, and doesn’t see any contradiction between the two at all, just a difference in focus. 

In my own life I actually do what the Gita recommends–I think about both of these aspects of life simultaneously all the time, the practical “LIVE YOUR LIFE WITH LOVE AND PURPOSE” part and the starry-eyed “EXPERIENCE THE INFINITE WONDER OF THE UNIVERSE” part, and I see them as two sides of the same coin, not contradictory in the least. Yoga and the Gita, in particular, has helped me learn to do this. 

Ok, now I’m going to get way too sappy for some, but as long as we’re baring our inner souls (we’re baring our inner souls, right?) I personally do see infinite wonder in a bank account. I see infinite wonder in the very fact that my brain cells can even perceive the concept of a “bank account”. I see infinite wonder in both the elegant simplicity and mind-boggling complexity of money and economics. I see infinite wonder in each atom that makes up the paper on one of my checks. I see infinite wonder in the paper clip on my bank statement (see http://bit.ly/984B8c in which I explain the startling similarities between a galaxy and a paper clip). 

See what I mean? See what Yoga has done to me? Do you think I need help? An intervention, perhaps? Do you think there’s any hope?

(Truth in advertising–You probably thought that’s me
in the picture, but it’s not.  Here’s the original: 
More (really) Extreme Yoga.)

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