“Having a taste for things is so much more important than owning them – This is why, for those who lack nothing, it is better if money remains of secondary concern. You can see what life is like for so many business people – all that time they spend in the office and at meetings. When they leave, it is so they can race around from one end of the globe to the other without seeing anything of the regions they pass through or of the people who live there. And that is how their sensitivity to what is beautiful and poetic in life eventually becomes dulled. So, what was the point of amassing a fortune? They cannot even enjoy the advantages it gives them, as they have destroyed that something in them that gives the most exquisite flavour to things, events and people. And that is what is sad: to have the possibility of acquiring anything you want but to feel no joy from it, except the vanity of owning it. So if you have to choose between these two situations – owning a lot but no longer being able to appreciate it, or owning very little and keeping your taste for it – choose the latter, and the smallest thing will give you joy.”
No Sleep till Brooklyn…sorta
Like I had posted last weekend, I attended the Brooklyn talk “New Directions in North American Yoga” which Carol Horton and Roseanne Harvey gave.
The talk was quite insightful and I pretty much agree with everything that Ivan Nahem wrote of the discussion over at Yoga Teacher Magazine. One point which was touched on in passing and I think would have been nice to discuss was the issue of the cultural appropriation of yoga but unfortunately time did not permit it. I also think it would have been interesting to see a wider discussion of yoga outside of North America but like the title indicated, it was a discussion of yoga within the North American context only. With global power and economic dynamics changing, this century will easily belong to Asia. New, emerging and insanely monied financial power centers are flexing their muscles and popping up like Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai and Mumbai and the other BRIC economies which leads me to believe that the days of North America setting the global “beat” on cultural issues are not indefinite…and that goes for yoga as well.
Towards the end of the talk Carol talked about the breakdown of the guru/disciple model of learning citing scandals like Osho, Bikram Choudhury and John Friend and instead suggested that maybe the next model will be one of networking, like a web, where disciples/students learn from various teachers depending on their specialty or focus. I would just add that the web of learning is now global as are the options and any discussion of a network of learning or idea-sharing needs to include that as well.
As for New York City itself, I have this strange relationship with that city.
On one hand NYC is everything you ever heard about and more. It really is senses working overtime to paraphrase that old XTC song. Bigger, faster, richer and just more (add adjective here)er than you can imagine.
I love to visit, my usual stomping grounds are the West Village, East Village especially around St. Mark’s/Tompkins Square Park and Morningside Heights. NYC along with San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, is probably the best place on Earth for serious people-watching. It’s practically a microcosm of Planet Earth, people from all corners of the globe concentrated in this one city, all shapes, sizes, colors, political affiliations, spiritual affiliations, etc. Just think of the most obscure category you can come up with like “Nestorian Christians” or “Yazidis” and I’ll bet money that they probably have their own neighborhood somewhere in the greater NYC area.
As much as I love the excitement, the vibrancy and the mind-boggling amount of things to take in, it’s not a place I don’t think I can ever live in. The stress of living there is just unbelievable and you see it quite clearly etched into the faces of the people there. Just because of the cost of living, you must have your game face on all the time, you have to be “ON” all the time and depending in what industry you work in, you have to be either assertive or flat-out aggressive, you have no choice or else you’re going to be flattened out.
I’m a real stickler for vibes and energetic interference and just because of the densely populated nature of NYC, you constantly have someone in your face all the time. It’s really not surprising why yoga studios and day spas offering massage therapy sit practically on every corner. You need them just to offset the insane amounts of stress which living in NYC generates.
I mean there are a few other equally frantic cities like London, Paris, Delhi and Istanbul but these are also very old, ancient cities. They have spots, usually of spiritual significance, which are linked to the far, distant past which you can easily escape to and it is very easy to slip into a deeper meditation or lose your sense of time and experience a deeper reality in those places.
New York, like Toronto or Sydney is a New World city. They are very young, they don’t have that link to our far past and quite often those spiritual spaces they create, in my experience, somehow feel synthetic and not nearly as grounded or organic as more ancient, older places do.
I’m going to close off with a quote from Aivanhov and perfectly captures the conundrum of anyone who is faced with the choice of having a lot of money and accumulating things while losing their sense of joy or having little but remaining at peace despite it all. I’m sure everyone as well as New Yorkers deal with this all the time.
– Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov