February 22, 2012

Burning Man & Anusara tribes in Parallel Conflict: No Coincidence. ~ Carly Mentlik

Within one week, thousands of Burners found out they didn’t win tickets in the main lottery, and thousands of Anusara yogis found out some information about their teacher that left them questioning.

Some long-time Burners, who helped establish the roots of the culture, are considering not attending, and many of Anusara’s senior teachers have chosen to resign. Others are feeling disillusioned, disappointed and confused.

Is it coincidence that these tribes are being threatened at the same time? Not at all. I don’t think it’s random chance, but poignantly highlights how our world is evolving. All structures will be tested. Either they’ll dissolve and the energy will be dispersed to create new forms, or they’ll need to be rebuilt from the ground up. Those without a strong foundation will crumble.

There’s so much access to knowledge, it’s becoming harder to hide things. Transparency won’t only be a value, but inevitable. If there are base values in contradiction with each other, they will come to light and won’t be able to thrive. If individuals aren’t allowed voice and freedom within their communities, the communities will crack from the inside.

These tests will come in many forms. With Burning Man, the culture struck people at an exponential rate. People are waking up –– realizing there is the chance to live in full expression and be celebrated for it.

They want to be a part of it, even if they don’t quite know what it is. This unpredicted, overwhelming interest led to the development a ticketing system that couldn’t handle the new demand. With Anusara, the complexities of teaching an Eastern philosophy to Westerners and merging business with the purity of yoga grew too great and now needs to be re-evaluated.

Whether a structure remains or dissolves and is reborn, growth will happen by embracing the truth that we’re all connected, not by maintaining dualism. The popularity of the two cultures themselves shows how dualism is no longer satisfying or productive and are only a couple of current examples of this shift.

Jetter Green

–  Prana Flow Yoga, like Anusara, has roots in the non-dualistic Tantra philosophy. Shakti, the creative manifestation of consciousness is seen as the mirror that reflects and allows us to experience Shiva, pure consciousness. Put simply, there can be no light without darkness.

–  Kundalini Yoga teaches that we’re moving into the Age of Aquarius. Duality won’t work anymore. Feminine energy is moving in to balance out the patriarchal energy that has been driving our society. The first sutra for the Aquarian age offered by Yogi Bhajan: Recognize the other person is you.

– The concept is reaching mainstream culture by films like “I AM”, where Tom Shadyac shares compelling scientific evidence that we’re all more connected than separate.

So, why is this truth so difficult to embrace?  Why do so many people feel personally betrayed and disconnected from their tribes?

Even though the universe keeps showing us that separation won’t work, and both Anusara and Burning Man essentially espouse the value of non-dualism, we all still have the conditioning of Westerners. We have the pressure to keep what Rumi calls the ‘open secret’.

On the surface we are to appear flawless, always happy. No one is supposed to share their fears or sorrows. It follows then, if I’m to appear good, I can’t possess any bad and therefore must disassociate from anything bad or the cover will be blown.

And then there’s the whole guru debate. Whether the guru tradition is imposed by yoga teachers or not, we practice yoga in a country that’s conditioned by schooling, by Hollywood. We’re directly and indirectly taught from a very young age to worship those who embody something we wish to have. We’re taught that teachers have some greater knowledge and once we obtain it, we’ll succeed. We learn that we don’t have all the answers inside and we must search outside for them.

Now what? Now it’s the responsibility of the individuals within the communities to rise up. Each individual chose to participate in those tribes because of a deeper connection to truth, beyond all else. And now, each person must decide how to maintain those values, either by staying within or choosing a new path.

Whether one chooses to stay or move on, new roots won’t be built through separation. It won’t be built through elevating oneself above something that had maybe been put on a pedestal, whether that’s a person or Burning Man as an entity.  Otherwise, a similar crime will be perpetrated against the values one feels have been threatened.

Eckhart Tolle’s writings have helped me understand this clearly. He explains that the moment you get angry that others aren’t conscious, you’re identifying with the ego. It’s the ego that says it can’t be at peace because of someone else’s actions. To create an identity for itself the ego likes to separate itself, to achieve victory by elevating itself, by comparing, judging, blaming. This doesn’t mean not to acknowledge dysfunction or stay within it. “It means being the knowing rather than the reaction.”

Burning man is intended to be a year-round culture, with the festival as a celebration of the way the community aims to live and share with the world throughout the year.

No ticket debacle or as devastating as it may be, not attending, should threaten the devotion to bring the values into everyday life. Anusara is bigger than John Friend, and yoga is bigger than Anusara. To those who practice, they know the path of yoga is true and undying.

Michael Holden


At Burning Man, the man and temple are built with unwavering devotion and love, by a community of people working together all year long. Then, they are burned to ashes only to begin all over again –– a symbol of the endless cycle of creation, connection and dissolution. This is yoga. This is our practice. 

 Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.

~ Rumi

 Edited by Lindsay Friedman


 Carly Mentlik can’t get on board with referring to herself in the third person. I’m passionate about unrestricted learning in all forms and I have a lot to say about it. I lost my Burning Man virginity last year and am madly in love with all that it stands for. I’m a student and teacher of Prana Flow, devoted to practicing the principles of yoga in every aspect of my life and helping others to do the same. If you’d like to learn more about me, my philosophy & current projects, please visit my website: mandalalearning.com


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