Yoga as Meditation: The Power Of Sitting Now.

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Like so many other spiritual seekers, I love the legendary little book by the German-Canadian spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now.

But I love my daily meditation practice even more than the beautiful and wise words in Tolle’s book.

What’s missing in Tolle’s book, for me, is a personal technique, a personal method as simple and transformative as those meditation techniques invented in India thousands of years ago, and which each day enables so many of us to feel the Power of Now, from our rear ends all the way up our spiritually inclined, kundalini climbing spines.

What Eckhart Tolle has given us are wise words on pages of bestselling paper, and, for me, these words are wise reminders for living life between the meditation sittings.  But they do not take me to that deep space of Now in the same way my meditation practice does.

My sitting practice gives me each day a direct pathway into my own heart and mind. Into that space where heart and mind may act in one harmonious flow. Like a silent symphony. And I would not exchange that experience, that practice, for any book, not even Eckhart Tolle’s.

The Power of Now we achieve while sitting in meditation is often incredibly blissful. But not always.

Because spiritual work—such as sitting and repeating a mantra tied to the sonic tune of our silent breath and concentrating on a chakra tied to the sonic tune of our even more transcendent soul—is not always spiritually uplifting, nor even spiritually insightful.

As an angry and very articulate Zen monk perceptively wrote in an article in Buddhadharma magazine: Spiritual practice is “transformative, and this kind of transformation can get messy. The Sanskrit term for this is clusterf*ck.”

What this wiseass Zen monk means is that meditation—not the listening-to-relaxing-music-kind, but the kind that’s designed for spiritual transformation—stir things up. It often creates the perfect little teacup of a shitstorm in our head and heart, where all the stuff we’ve been repressing our whole life (and perhaps from many other lives) may suddenly come floating up to the surface of our dark, introverted soul.

Transformative meditation is therefore not for psychological sissies. It takes courage to face and contemplate all the creepy demons suddenly let loose from the inside out. All those three- and ten-headed devils the Buddha faced under the Bodhi tree before his final enlightenment; we must face the same ones as well.

In modern lingo those devils are simply all the bad news we see on our ego-screen while meditating. Bad news about our self-esteem, our diet, our marriage, our relationship, our job, our family, our life in general. All those contemporary devils we all know too well.

And that’s one important reason why I think so many people find it hard to sit in meditation, day in and day out. And why so many leave the practice, a few months or years, before it really gets to be transformative and truly and totally fulfilling.

We have certainly heard stories about how meditation makes you calmer, more centered. But when did anybody tell us this peaceful experience sometimes is just the calm before the perfect psychological shitstorm?

And when the shit suddenly hits the fan, we may not be prepared to face it. And, since spiritual meditation practice comes without a psychology degree, or a therapist, we may decide to discontinue the practice, finally seek a therapist, pick up yet another copy of a self-help book, or simply continue our less psychologically confrontational hatha yoga practice with renewed inspiration and vigor. Then say to ourself “This is really all the yoga I need.”

But if we want more? Then we must face our lousy karma, or more philosophically correct, our lousy samskaras, head on. These physical and psychological imprints are stored in our pain body, the armor we, according to Eckhart Tolle, surrounds ourselves with, the armor of the body, the armor of the ego, the armor of the false me.

In yogic and Sanskrit terminology, the messy psychological stuff our armor is built of is our samskaras, psychological imprints from past actions and experiences. Unresolved and unfinished psychological business. Our hush-hush family traumas, repressed angers, untold fears, and secret desires.

In other words, all the repressed, unconscious material Freud said we invented religion in order to escape.

According to yoga, Freud had it almost right. Meditation practice was, in part, invented, not to escape something but to transform something, to transform the sludge of our repressed samskaras, and through sitting practice to dissolve this syrupy mess from our emotionally stuck hearts and soul.

Hence, I think of meditation mantras as microbe eating organisms that dissolve the oily sludge from the inner, watery ocean of our being.

But not so fast. Before the sludge particles are dissolved for good, the meditation practice stirs it all up and makes it all visible to ourselves, our friends, our spouses, our co-workers. More visible than ever before. This unconscious sludge is now expressed with renewed energy in the form of anger, irritability, impatience, lust, jealousy, greed. Or whatever other dysfunctional malady we suffer from.

Hence, the apt term “the enlightened neurotic.”

Spiritual practice and spiritual growth does not always equal psychological growth. Therefore it’s a good idea to combine cushion practice with mat practice. It’s also a good idea to combine meditation with psychological work, with ethical work (yama and niyama), with service and activism, with devotional practice (kirtan). Simply sitting on our ass is not enough. Our whole being must be engaged and transformed.

To paraphrase the famous sage and muckracker Charles Dickens: meditation can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times, it can be the moment of wisdom, and it can be the moment of madness. But one thing is for certain, if practiced properly and diligently, it can be one of the most honest, truthful, important, longest (and blissful) Now Moments of our life. Again and again.

As yoga teacher and psychotherapist Michael Stone says: “This takes us to one of the simplest aspects of practice; being honest. Once we train the mind to see the body as the body, to be with the breath without distraction, and to stay present even during difficult mental and physical states, a natural outcome is being honest about what we see.”

Often we don’t see who we really are because we are so wrapped up in the image of ourselves colored by our mental imprints, our samskaras.

Meditation helps us to gradually gain the insight that being in the Now is a condition of freedom beyond contradictions and limitations, beyond our samskaras.

This state of inner union or wholeness that comes with prolonged meditation practice, what many also call bliss, is a state where there is no need to resolve the contradictions of our life, because all opposites have already been solved.

We are then in that state where everything begins and everything ends, in wholeness, in union, in bliss, in love. We are truly in the Power of Now.

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Yasica Jan 22, 2012 5:18pm

Posted on EJ Health & Wellness Facebook

Jessica Stone Baker
Co-Editor, Elephant Health & Wellness
The Mindful Body

anonymous Dec 26, 2011 8:26am

it largely depends if you practice meditation for transformation or for relaxation. All transformational and spiritual type of meditations will 'stir things up" that is part of the transformative path, no matter what type of spiritual practice it is. In that sense, transformation is tantric, and tantra is by its very universal nature sometimes a bumpy ride. That is life. But it is also, for me, at this stage, a mostly pleasant and blissful practice. So, yes, I agree with you, it very much depends on what you are looking for in your practice, to calm down or to truly transform? And if the practice is truly authentic and transformative, which is one definition of tantrs, then the practice will both soothe nerves and transform and liberate the soul.

anonymous Dec 24, 2011 1:13am

There is no one type of meditation. Each person finds their own level depending on what they are looking for. Each individual sits, closes their eyes and takes that deep breath. Reading Tolle (I never got that he wanted to give direct instruction for meditation) and Lama Yeshe (a particular favorite of mine), even Patanjali, offers different perspectives. Some people like Tantric meditation and stirring up the soup, others favor the Tibetan Buddhists adn Dalai Lama, others Deepak Chopra and his style of bringing in what you dream, even the Lutherans have contemplative practices. There are meditations for children, for soothing anger, for vigils as a body begins to pass, and one for women in childbirth. Many do meditation for health and to calm a storm in the body during illness. Tantric meditation is NOT for soothing intense illness.

Isnt it said that your spiritual path is determined karmically, before you are born based on past lives? So each must follow their intuition and learn what the word soul means in their own time, with their own understanding. Every time I hear a person say this is the one meditation process or this is better than others, I know it is a young soul speaking.

Blessings for the new year.

anonymous Dec 9, 2011 7:44am

Thank you Ramesh. I have been sitting. My stuff is coming up in a new way for sure. Thank you for this post.

    anonymous Dec 9, 2011 3:08pm

    Hi Caroline, you are most welcome Caroline…. great to know you are reading and, more importantly, sitting….

anonymous Dec 6, 2011 6:48am

[…] is it?” is the Zen instruction for when things get this out of control in our heads. My teacher puts it another way: Watch the […]

anonymous Dec 2, 2011 7:53pm

Matt, thanks so much for your eloquence and broadmindedness. The essence of spirituality is very simple and philosophical doctrines can often make us loose touch with that inner essence. The Dali Lama and Thich Nath Hanh are great examples of that simplicity; yet they are very sophisticated philosophically. But when it comes to being Buddhists they embody the path's essence in their hearts of hearts.
As you said: Buddhist Tantra and Hindu Tantra is essentially the same. Christian Tantra also, even though there is no such term/path historically. Spirituality is in essence the same in all religion, and that is what Tantra is, the path of liberation, of transformation, no matter your religion..
I wholeheartedly agree.

anonymous Dec 1, 2011 8:23pm

And thank you, Matt, for a succinct and poignant "summary" trying to bridge our viewpoints. Lama Yeshe is perhaps my most favorite Buddhist tantric teacher, so that quote was a winner!
I think there has been too little emphasis on the integration of Bodhicitta or more accurately in yogic parlance: that the Self Is Brahma is the World. Too much of the yogic enterprize has been and still is about personal transformation and less about transforming the self and the world. While many yogis say the world is an illusion, so why bother, some Buddhists would of course say that one cannot transform the world before one is enlightened and with this I disagree. In Tantra, serving the world, seeing the world as sacred and divine no matter where one is on the enlightenment totem pole, is part of the practice, is part of the knowing the world is an imperfect and dualistic manifestation and will always be so while still being divine at its ground of being, and Lama Yeshe has beautifully emphasized that in his work, that all is Divinely Empty.
Finally. yes these are all words, Matt, it is practice that counts, it is walking the talk that counts–how much we have actualized and realized.

    anonymous Dec 2, 2011 9:57am

    I know no Tibetan Lama who would agree with your statement "some Buddhists would of course say that one cannot transform the world before one is enlightened and with this I disagree." This is a relative view and of course when one progresses on the path one is transforming samsara…So I strongly disagree with your point.

      anonymous Dec 2, 2011 4:35pm


      I think Ramesh qualified that with *some* Buddhists. I know some Buddhists that have some wacky and primitive ideas. Now, you might say that these aren't truly Buddhists, but then we are getting hung up on terminology again. I've met Zen Buddhists who claim that you are better off just sitting rather than performing an act of charity. Buddhists, or people claiming to be, can be just as confused as anyone else.

      Ramesh is a tantrika but not a Buddhist tantrika (not to say he doesn't possess knowledge or lacks appreciation for the Buddhist Vajrayana or Tantrayana traditions). Part of the reason you are so involved in this thread may be because you probably share a great deal of commonality with Ramesh.

      That said, I appreciate your pointing out the differences in the traditions, but I think you might be preaching to the choir more than you might realize.

      Thank you for being here, Padma. You make the discussion stimulating.

    anonymous Dec 2, 2011 4:54pm

    What a wonderful response, Ramesh! I think Sakyamuni was himself responding to difficulties that he saw in the "yogic enterprise" of his time. The via negativa concepts of not-self (anatman) and emptiness probably have a lot to do with trying to pop the bubble of an earlier ego-based "Atman Project." Unfortunately, some Buddhists became very doctrinaire about this: method begat yet another canon.

    The "real" Buddhists, from the Dalai Lama to Thich Nhat Hanh, would agree with you. In fact, both have made the points that helping others and the environment are ways of cultivating bodhicitta even if you really don't possess it. The Dalai Lama, who can be a clever ironist, calls this "wise selfishness."

    I'm glad you're writing, because I think that Tantra is the essential dharma–even if there are different techniques or methods in its practice.

anonymous Dec 1, 2011 7:17pm

Padma, Ramesh,

I would say you are both right. The Buddhist tantric master Lama Yeshe wrote:

"Although it is true that bodhichitta is the most important prerequisite for tantric practice, in fact, it is more accurate to say that the opposite is true: that the purpose of practicing tantra is to enhance the scope of one's bodhichitta."

To me it seems obvious that Ramesh is in agreement with bodhichitta as a beginning and an end. The overcoming of personal–maybe even public–samskaras and the blissful union are very yogic, Buddhist and tantric in the recognition/overcoming of the egoic self and its pathologies and the goal of (compassionate) union with the divine Self. Okay, doctrinaire Buddhists may have issues with the latter, but depending on what school you're from, you can replace divine Self, Brahman or what have you with "Emptiness," "Luminous Mind" or "Dharmadhatu," to name a few.

It's really all just terminology until you get on your butt and practice which is what I think Ramesh might be saying.

Thanks again, Ramesh, for an inspirational post and thank you Padma, for reminding of us all of the compassionate goal as well as the Archimedean point of bodhichitta.


    anonymous Dec 2, 2011 9:53am

    Matt…thank you for the thoughtful response. I do not see where Ramesh is relying on an altruistic bodhicitta. Because one knows Ultimate Bodhicitta infused terminology of Vajrayana or Dzogchen, and think that they are qualified to write about it, we are to assume that they are truly understanding Dzogchen and its ultimate Bodhicitta because they know some terminology to which we are all to assume they "get it"?. No..I think not. I know Ramesh is not writing about Dzogchen but I thought that maybe you would understand my anology…Not that I understand Dzogchen because I don't. The most learned Tibetan Lamas, Khenpos, Ngakpas, Yogis, when teaching stress bodhicitta from their own lips and in their writings at the begining, middle, and end so that it is understood that all of the teachings arise from Bodhicitta.

      anonymous Dec 2, 2011 5:24pm


      I don't think bodhicitta is part of Ramesh's typical tantric vocabulary because he doesn't come from the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. But I do think compassion–relative or ultimate–is part and parcel of his tantric view.

      Sometimes to say something is to miss it entirely. I don't believe anyone needs to be explicit about Bodhicitta for it to be there; it can be *shown* rather than said. In fact, that "walking the talk" is generally more convincing than speech.

      Bodhicitta itself is a multifarious term in the Buddhist lexicon. While I think the early Buddhist teachings of the Pali Canon point to it pretty clearly, I would argue, it really only became a major part of the lexicon in the Mahayana. The earlier "luminous mind" seems to have a different emphasis than Santideva's usage of the term, for example.

      But I think that is one aspect of what is beautiful about Buddhism: it has a development of terminology and emphasis, probably in response to the historical and cultural needs of the times. We might argue about the origin of bodhicitta. One Buddhist might think Sakaymuni taught it explicitly and revealed it later through hidden teachings for those that were prepared, whereas others might look at it as more of a historical development. To me it doesn't really matter since the teachings all hold commonality through dependent origination which is implicit in Dzogchen and bodhicitta. If the plant wasn't already there, the seed certainly was.

anonymous Dec 1, 2011 4:44am

Padma, you wrote: "All this talk of breath, posture, bliss, grace, and etc, etc, will get us nothing without the altruism of Bodhicitta…and yet…rarely if ever is it mentioned. That is all I am saying."
It will not get us simply nothing…there are many many benefits to yoga and meditation on a personal level…spirituality is not all or nothing, it is all and every stage in between. BUT I do agree with you in the importance of Bodhicitta and the importance of balancing personal liberation with service to all sentient beings, the balancing of spiritual practice with activism and selfless service to the world. I also do agree that we could use many more articles about this topic here on EJ. If that is all you meant, then just say so! 🙂

    anonymous Dec 1, 2011 9:19am

    Ramesh…now, we are getting into the meat. I disagree about the benefits of yoga and Tantra without the foundation of Bodhicitta. Yes, people meditate and do yoga because it feels good and relaxes them…if this is your definition of spirituality then so be it. My perspective is completely based on generating Bodhicitta. As I said, the Buddha would not have exisited without it. Native American tribes thrived on it.Christ lived it. Yet the so called "shamans", trans personal psychologists, tantrikas, goddesses, "yogis", and "buddhists" who are also psychologists, all either know nothing about Bodhicitta or ignore it because it does not sell. I say this because it is rarely if ever mentioned in their articles of spiritual proclamation. In regard to "Service"…what is service to a Tantric Yogi or a Buddhist Yogi or Lama?

      anonymous Dec 1, 2011 9:20am

      The greatest service one can do as a Vajrayana Buddhist for all sentient beings is to attain realization which benefits all beings. It is the vow you take. Now armed with a teacher and diligence one can attain realization which is beyond the reach of any charity or "engaged service". Having said that…doing charity or "service" does not need to be abandoned either. Calling one's self a Buddhist and doing charity work is not the intent of the Buddhist teachings and dare I say Tantra.

      anonymous Dec 1, 2011 11:54am

      Lets clarify one point…Whatever reason individuals practice yoga or meditation and regard those reasons as being spiritual..that is their right and their spirituality. From all that i have been taught and what little i have experienced shows me that the greater the genuine nature of altruism and the aspiration to completely bring all beings and the universe to peace and happiness… the greater the realization. Without lip service but from the bottom of our hearts. This is the foundation and the reason for all of the great Buddhist Saints, Native Medicine People, and so on. Though postures and breath may change your perspective…without a foundation of Bodhicitta there will never be complete deep understanding beyond all concepts.

anonymous Nov 30, 2011 2:37pm

Padma, what does the Buddha have to say about obliviously hypocritical self-righteousness and holier-than-thou spiritual one-upmanship?

    anonymous Nov 30, 2011 5:24pm

    Well my Dear Goddess…pray tell!

anonymous Nov 30, 2011 11:21am

I am far from on expert on this topic, but perhaps those Buddhist scholars write in other websites?

anonymous Nov 30, 2011 9:25am

It is funny how we rate responses here…you appear to give yourself a +1 with every one of your comments…this speaks volumes. If we do not aspire alleviate the suffering of all beings…whether buddhist or not..then how can we consider ourselves spiritual? This was the focus of the Northern California natives and without it the Buddha would have not existed. Maybe Siddartha would have been a progressive psychologist entrenching himself in more ego and selfishness

anonymous Nov 30, 2011 6:50am

[…] Yoga as Meditation: The Power Of Sitting Now.. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted in Uncategorized […]

anonymous Nov 30, 2011 5:20am

The Buddhists can speak for themselves, but from my yogic/tantric point of view, there are all kinds of Buddhists–just as there are all kinds of yogi/tantrics. Nobody has a monopoly on either of the terms or paths. There are also Buddhist Yogis, hatha yogis practicing Buddhist meditation, Buddhists practicing hatha yoga. So to me, Micheal Stone's writing is often meaningful, insightful.

    anonymous Nov 30, 2011 9:17am

    Ramesh…I do not consider myself as the official spokesperson for Buddha. I do know that without Bodhicitta, the aspiration to attain enlightenment for all beings before one's self, the Buddha would not have appeared in the human realm or any other realm. Absolutely would not have appeared without Bodhicitta. only point is though we like to think that meditation will lessen our reliance on ego..i disagree..if it is not imbued with further entrenches it.
    Even the Native Americans knew this. I merely point out that with all that is written about Tantra and Buddhism, and you yourself continue to use Buddhism in your examples and all of the "buddhist" writers her on EJ, rarely if ever mention the source of all Buddhist teaching…Bodhicitta..selfless Love and Compassion for all mother sentient beings. Bodhicitta is the Mother of teachings yet none of you who so proudly write about your insight mave no mention of it and if so it appears to be lip service

      anonymous Nov 30, 2011 1:05pm

      Padma, selfless love and compassion are central to all spiritual paths worthy of its sandals and salt…. you seem to be picking a fight about something there is no need to fight about.

        anonymous Nov 30, 2011 5:33pm

        No fight intended…but certainly I will express my opinions in regard to your use of Buddhism when it suits you and your retreat behind your version of Tantra when confronted on your take on Buddhism. "selfless love and compassion are central to all spiritual paths worthy of its sandals and salt"…then say so!!! You and others who have enough pride in yourr own realizations, Buddhists included who write here, leave out the heart of the spiritual path….Bodhicitta. All this talk of breath, posture, bliss, grace, and etc, etc, will get us nothing without the altruism of Bodhicitta…and yet…rarely if ever is it mentioned. That is all I am saying.

          anonymous Nov 30, 2011 6:21pm

          My previous article was all about that, in my own words, about selr-realization and service and change in the world…that both is important, which is bodhicitta…on yogic terms..enlightenment and bringing happiness to all sentient beings…and each person do that by waling the talk, not by just talking the talk…

anonymous Nov 29, 2011 10:04pm

I know what he is saying and i still stand by my comment. Says nothing. Where all of the Buddhists?

anonymous Nov 29, 2011 8:17pm

What MS describes is a form of Mindfullness which is an important element in meditation: observing the world as it is without attachment.

anonymous Nov 29, 2011 5:28pm

BTW…your quote from Michael Stone…"“This takes us to one of the simplest aspects of practice; being honest. Once we train the mind to see the body as the body, to be with the breath without distraction, and to stay present even during difficult mental and physical states, a natural outcome is being honest about what we see.” …This says nothing. Read it carefully or uncarefully it still says nothing.

anonymous Nov 29, 2011 5:16pm

alas…to sit for spiritual gain..insight truth. If we sit for ourselves alone…what do we gain? Many many "buddhists" writing and preaching…Buddha this, Buddha that..attain bliss.. anger release, etc etc…Yet what moved the Buddha to renunciation was the fear of death …then the suffering which is never without end…The buddha brought all sentient beings beyond suffering…not to leave one mother sentient being behind…Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta so rarely spoken by these "buddhists" who write about this and that…What use is a spiritual practice without aleviating the suffering of others? Yet…the Buddha was able to do just that..with or without serving food at a soup kitchen…Where are all of the Buddhists?

anonymous Nov 29, 2011 4:57pm

Thanks for your research! Here's some more……
Alternative forms

* cluster fuck

[edit] Etymology

Reportedly coined by the hippie poet Ed Sanders in the 1960s, in the form Mongolian clusterfuck; it is frequently used in the military.
[edit] Pronunciation

* (UK) IPA: /ˈklʌst.ə(ɹ)ˌfʌk/, SAMPA: /[email protected](r)%fVk/

[edit] Noun

clusterfuck (plural clusterfucks)

1. (vulgar) A chaotic mess that might be compared to group sex, in which participants are so intertwined and intermingled that they might penetrate each other rather than their intended target. Its more precise usage describes a particular kind of Catch-22, in which multiple complicated problems mutually interfere with each other's solution. The looser usage, referring to any chaotic situation, probably prevails.

anonymous Nov 29, 2011 1:20pm

Fivefotttwo, as a non-native to the US and not one to hang out at bars, I encountered that term only a few years ago myself at a business meeting and ended up laughing out load with that group of raunchy guys. When I encountered the term in the Zen monk's article, I thought it so aptly misplaced that I laughed even harder….
It's a crude term not commonly used in spiritual literature, of curse, but I think also an apt one, even if it only brings us out of the head and the intellect into the emotional realm for a while. But I also do understand that some people may not like the analogy at all!

    anonymous Nov 29, 2011 4:06pm

    It's a military term! I have to say that it very successfully conveys the idea of things gone awry..

anonymous Nov 29, 2011 12:41pm

very instructive as usual. I am particularly shocked about the fact that I have never really bothered to find out what custerf*#k really means. It must be that scary. Off to do some research..

anonymous Nov 29, 2011 1:05am


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anonymous Dec 1, 2011 3:53pm

Beautifully said, OhDearGoddess. I wholeheartedly agree and am pleased to know that my articles have been of some help!

anonymous Dec 1, 2011 5:25pm

OhDearGoddess…I like your feistiness, as you can see by my comments I am easily feistified. I understand your reasons for finding meaning in what Ramesh writes. He is very sincere about his practice. To me, that in itself is refreshing. My comments in regard to this article are honestly not just targeting Ramesh's comments but really every yoga and particularly Buddhist article here on EJ. Where is Bodhicitta? Where psychologist buddhists intellectualizing buddhist method and result with no mention of Motivation. An altruistic motivation as only can be Buddhist if we truly consider ourselves Buddhist. Yes you are right…compassion expands gradually with practice. But my point is there is rarely any talk about Bodhicitta by the likes of Michael Stone and Ben Riggs for that matter. This is EJ's Buddhist faculty. As I said before Bodhicitta and it's contemplations come first!! Without it there is no Buddha…recognition of the three kayas will not arise without bodhicitta. For that matter, any tribe in North America danced or sweated and prayed for the benefit of the entire world…it was never left out.

anonymous Dec 1, 2011 5:31pm

Ramesh…go back and read my comments…they are simply saying that with all of this talk about Buddhism and Tantra on this blog never or rarely is there any mention of altruism towards all beings or any being for that matter. How can one be on a path of divine liberation knowing we are leaving behind suffering souls , if you will.

anonymous Dec 1, 2011 5:37pm

Bodhicitta is and should be the very first words from a legitimate Buddhist teacher. With every written article it should be the reason for writing. It is always the motivation of every legitimate Buddhist teacher when teaching and doing practice. It is and should always be mentioned. Every Saint begins by setting their motivation altruistically when writing or teaching…I do not ever see this from EJ's "Buddhist Faculty". Something tells me that this is the basis for your beloved Tantra and Yoga and yet rarely if ever is it mentioned here on EJ

anonymous Dec 2, 2011 5:52am

Environmentalism, which is covered on EJ is altruism toward other beings. Vegetarianism and veganism, which is covered on EJ quite a lot, is altruism toward other beings. But you are right, and i have said so above and in a recent article as well, there is a tendency in the yoga community to focus on the self, on simply looking and feeling good. I agree. BUT it is better for people to feel good about themselves than not, and many yoga-for-fitness types discover the deeper, spiritual aspects of yoga gradually. And this topic was one of my main ones when I started writing here. It's been debated over and over. Again, this is not an either/or issue, which you seem to imply.
Divine liberation is a BIG topic, and for some it never begins, for others it starts gradually, incrementally, for others it is a central issue from the beginning of the quest. And it comes in many forms: is the cave Buddhist meditating in solitude more divinely liberated than the yogi who serves the poor in the streets of Calcutta, or brings water to the poor in Africa, which a yogi monk and friend of mine does? No black and white answers here.

anonymous Dec 1, 2011 5:41pm

My point being that Bodhicitta awareness should be at the beginning the middle and the end. Beginner or not. If your teacher is Buddhist and Bodhicitta is not mentioned at the beginning of every teaching then maybe consider a new teacher.

anonymous Dec 2, 2011 9:43am

Ramesh…I don't know the minds of others …other than what I see by their actions and that is not knowing their minds. I stated that there is no need to abandon charity very clearly while making the statement that the MOST one can do for all sentient beings..the highest form of altruism..the highest form of "Service"…the greatest form of "engagement", the highest Yoga, is to attain enlightenment or realization, which in the Buddhist sense is nurtured by Bodhicitta. One can serve food in a soup kitchen and still be enlightened…but we must not confuse charity in a gross sense or ordinariness which does not liberate with attaining realization for the benefit of all beings.

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Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh Bjonnes has traveled the world as a meditation teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner, author, and is currently the Director of the Prama Wellness Center, a retreat center teaching yoga, meditation, and juice rejuvenation. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurvedic Medicine at California College of Ayurveda, and naturopathic detox therapy at the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He is the author of four books, and he lives with his wife Radhika and Juno, a sweet, gentle Great Pyrenees, in the mountains near Asheville, North Carlina. Connect with him via his website: and