Posts Tagged With: Yoga

The Devaluation of Truth

“Cosmic Intelligence has given us a will, so that we can make it the instrument of our higher nature by placing it at the service of a high ideal. The first step is to understand and apply some essential truths. Once you have understood an essential truth, use your will to put it into practice, in the knowledge that this is the only way to understand it fully. It is easy to state truths; anybody can go and find them in the works of a few sages and then repeat them parrot-fashion. By doing, so they may gain the respect of a few people blind enough not to see how ignorant and weak they really are. But deceiving the blind is not a very great achievement! In any case, there are others, who see things clearly and are not so easily fooled: the beings of light in the invisible world. In fact, it is these entities whose respect we must earn, and we will earn it by applying the truths the initiates and sages reveal to us. These truths are true weapons, and we will never find better ones for winning life’s battles. But we need an arm to be able to use them – that is, the will to put them into practice.”

Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

Chomsky and David Barsamian

Years ago, I remember watching an interview with Professor Noam Chomsky with journalist David Barsamian. I can’t find the clip in question but the gist of it was that Chomsky was saying that most people in academia and research these days, professors, researchers, scientists, are in fact professional liars, they’re actually trained to be as such. At the time, I didn’t and couldn’t understand what he was saying given that the way academia works is that research papers are submitted for publication for respected journals and usually have to go through a rigorous process of peer-review and questioning, which is usually meant to flush out any inconsistencies prior to publication.

It is only recently I’ve come to understand  that truth has a relatively insignificant value in public intellectual life, in academic life, in literary life. Ideology matters much more. Personal comfort matters more. Careerism matters more.  As long as you can prove things in theory and on paper, you’re golden but never mind how those theories may play out in the real world or who it may hurt or what kind of havoc it can create it its wake once they are put into practice. Economists in particular  use a word, “externalities” in their models to account and justify some of these unforeseen damages but yet they do fuck-all about it just as long as they can get those additional letters behind their name, get a cushy job in academia or consulting and watch the numbers increase in their bank account and train other students to think and act like them, preferably using their own research and ideas to buffer up their own legacy.

This is really encapsulated in Julien Benda’s book, “The Treason of the Intellectuals”, which is based in this binary notion that there are two competing sets of values in the world: fame and fortune on the one side, truth and justice on the other side. The gist of Benda’s book is, the more committed you are to truth and justice, the less you’re going to see of fame and fortune and the more committed you are to fame and fortune, the less you will see of truth and justice.
Sometimes you will see those with fame and fortune try to pursue truth and justice to devastating effect and they end up being blacklisted like babe-alicious actor and activist Viggo Mortensen.
King Aragorn has become a silver fox. Mortensen went on the Charlie Rose Show once with a T-shirt emblazoned with "No Blood for Oil" - afterwards, his Hollywood career stalled with the exception of working with visionary director David Cronenberg.

King Aragorn has become a silver fox. All this and a conscience too (Le sigh). Mortensen went on the Charlie Rose Show once with a T-shirt emblazoned with “No Blood for Oil” – afterwards, his mainstream Hollywood career stalled with the exception of working with visionary director David Cronenberg.

Other times, it just comes off as disingenuous, fake and trite like Princess Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent effort to feed her family on $29 a week on a food stamp challenge… and threw in the towel after 4 days. It would seem to me you’re better off pursuing truth and justice and in the course of doing so, you may end up with the fame and fortune later on…but there is no guarantee of that either.
Gwynnie-poo's $29 haul which was supposed to feed her family for a week. Do you really need 7 limes?

Gwynnie-poo’s $29 haul which was supposed to feed her family for a week. Do you really need 7 limes?

I remember in the early 1990s, you could only get Chomsky books via special order from his publisher Black Rose Books at anarchist bookshops. Nowadays, there are whole shelves devoted to his titles in mainstream bookshops and people like Radiohead have his books on their tour buses. It’s been interesting to watch the pendulum shift.
Yeah, I get that "orange is the new black" but seriously, you should be wearing orange in a prison Hillary, not as a pantsuit.

Yeah, I get that “orange is the new black” but seriously, you should be wearing orange in a prison Hillary, not as a pantsuit.

I see this dichotomy now over, and over and over again in practically every sphere of modern-day life. Whether it is politicians with checkered pasts making bids for leadership like Hillary Clinton, shady but highly influential academics (and their lesser-known lackeys) with very specific agendas like White Anglo-Saxon financial and militaristic supremacy at all costs or yoga celebrities who are suddenly doing a 180 degree turn to be more “diversity-sensitive” when they themselves first perpetuated those very unattainable models of beauty and fitness and body image acceptance in the first place which now need to be dismantled completely in certain cases.
Not a lot of women will ever have a body and ability like this, with yoga or not.

Not a lot of women will ever have a body and ability like this, with yoga or not.

(I’m talking to you Kathryn Budig – you don’t go from modeling toeSox butt-naked as a white, thin, super-bendy blonde California woman to suddenly being the champion of  “loving your body” and “diversity” for people who are anything but white, thin, super-bendy blonde and from California. That’s almost as bad as when Christopher Hitchens went from Noam Chomsky to George W. Bush  in the course of one day during 9-11. You only jump ship like that if you’re already looking for an “out” or if you’re an ideological opportunist to begin with and wanting to join a certain bandwagon because it is popular or lucrative.)
The astrological climate suggests that this is going to be a relatively calm, drama-free spring and summer. Usually when things are calm and easy, people usually get a bit lax and put their guards down. With all these upcoming elections in the US, Canada and the UK, in fact I would argue it might even be advisable to strengthen them up a bit. I think most politicians are full of rot anyway but I can’t shake this feeling that many of us are going to be asked in one form or another, in our own lives, what we personally stand for and value. Is it truth and justice (which will be the hard road) or the easier route of fame and fortune?
Your call, folks.
Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

No Sleep till Brooklyn…sorta

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge

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.
The old learning models are going.

The old learning models are going.

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.
Learning different things from different teachers in a network.

Learning different things from different teachers in a network.

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.
A pug dressed up as Scarlett O'Hara, at  the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

A pug dressed up as Scarlett O’Hara, at the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

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.
New Yorkers during their annual No Pants Subway ride

New Yorkers during their annual No Pants Subway ride

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.
Crowded-Subway-Station
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.
The Roman Cistern in Istanbul

The underground Roman Cistern in Istanbul

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.
The Cloisters, part of the Met Museum.

The Cloisters, part of the Met Museum

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.

“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.”

– Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov
Categories: Ascension, New Energy Centers, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Travels, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Yoga Awesomeness going down this week in NYC!

shift

To those of you who follow this blog because of the issues of yoga, accessibility and BS gurus – Listen Up!

Roseanne Harvey who runs the renowned blog, “It’s All Yoga, Baby!” and noted yoga writer  Carol Horton Ph.D are hosting two (2) discussion sessions on yoga. According to the Abhyasa Yoga Center event page,

“Yoga today is changing – and fast. Once-powerful gurus are falling. New alternatives are snowballing. Why are these changes happening? What do they matter?

Join Carol Horton and Roseanne Harvey, co-editors of 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice, for a provocative discussion of the current paradigm shift in yoga culture. Key topics include 1) representing the “yoga body,”  2) re-envisioning the “guru,” and 3) revitalizing Karma yoga. Come add your voice to what promises to be an important conversation on the cutting edge of thoughtful yoga practice today.

This event will follow a participatory lecture/discussion format and includes no asana. No preregistration required.

Cost: $20 or pay-what-you-can (nobody turned away for lack of funds)”

Monday, May 19th
7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Abhyasa Yoga Center
628 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Tuesday, May 20th
7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
tascbar
309 East 108th St #1A
New York, NY 10029

Same topics will be under discussion each evening but it will be happening at two different locations.  The awesome Yogadork is hosting Monday night’s session in Brooklyn and prominent yoga blogger J. Brown is hosting the East Harlem session on Tuesday night.

If you are in the NYC/Brooklyn area and if these issues mean something to you, I suggest moseying on down to add your voice to the discussion. It would seem both anonymous and non-anonymous bloggers are venturing out  to take part in the action. I’m gonna be at the Brooklyn jam if anyone wants to say “Hello” or as Charlie over at Emergency Awesome would say “High Fives”!

Categories: Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Something’s Afoot….

foreboding

The past few days, I have not been able to shake off the feeling that *something* is about to blow.  Don’t ask me what, why or how, I just do and if Carl Boudreau’s February astrological forecast is correct, something is about to be outed. I hope I’m wrong.

 SochiTransformer
Maybe it’s the impending Sochi Olympics, the fact that there have been terrorist bombings in Russia leading up to the games and this has heightened security concerns for Olympics in the region as well as the rest of Russia. Truth be told, I will not be surprised in the least is something does end up happening during the Games, despite air-tight Russian security. In fact, I do think if anything does happen, it’s going to be a false-flag inside-job orchestrated by Western-Saudi interests in order to punish Russia and Putin for their noncompliance on invading Syria. I just wouldn’t put it past them to do something of that sort.
These guys don't dig each other. I wonder why...

These guys don’t dig each other. I wonder why…

The People’s Voice, the internet channel run by David Icke and his crew, has been suffering some setbacks in recent weeks. First there was the debacle with Sonia Poulton, the host of their flagship show leaving. Then TPV and their YouTube channel got hacked and all content was deleted. In fact TPV has been under constant attack from Day 1 practically and one can’t help but feel someone (or some group) is definitely feeling threatened these days or else why bothering putting in so much effort to attack?  To their credit, despite the small scale of the operation, being run by mostly volunteers and being entirely funded by crowd-sourcing and they have already had some amazing interviews. From what I understand, TPV is against the ropes financially and are calling for more donations. It would be a real shame if it doesn’t work out. I just don’t understand why some of these big-name celebrities (including most Hollywood writers) who follow Icke’s work aren’t stepping up to the plate at all.
David-Icke_ThePeoplesVoice_studio_large_500
Today I also found out noted Astro-Theologist Santos Bonacci was arrested and is in custody in Melbourne. Bonacci is quite a gifted lecturer and is a specialist on Syncretism. His talks are very insightful and even if lengthy, there’s good stuff in there if you’re patient. I know he’s consistently spoken disparagingly of the global banking cartel, the Vatican and just about any group that looks to enslaving other people. He’s also been involved in the Freeman and freedom movements for quite a while now so I find it strange that he’s suddenly been picked up by the cops. This is still a developing story.
Santos Bonnaci

Santos Bonacci

The Babarazzi were all about taking the piss out of the commercial yoga “scene”.  Aghori Babarazzi and his motley crew of anarchist writers did the much-needed task of deconstructing and deflating egos of yoga celebutards, all with satire, snark, fun and loads of sassiness. The blogosphere just won’t be the same without them. (Aghori, should you ever decide to trade in your anonymity for friendship, you’re always welcome at my place for tea, sympathy and maybe a swim in the river.)
Catch up on your reading folks, because after next week, it's gone.

Catch up on your reading folks, because after next week, it’s gone.

Last week, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which looks out over Rio de Janeiro was struck by lightning. It hit the hand and there has been damage to the statue. Repairs have started.
brazil-weather-rain
While I’m normally not superstitious (or religious or Christian for that matter), there’s a creepy-vibe about the whole thing.
Soren Dreier wrote a great article over the holidays saying that he feels 2014-2017 is going to be a period when things are going to get very dark and 2017-2021 is when he sees real light showing up and I have to agree. Things usually have a tendency to get a lot worse first before they get a lot better.
The darkness before dawn

The darkness before dawn

Most of it falls on us, of course,  and the choices we individually make, to either stay in our little shells or decide to get out of ourselves regularly. It’s the old fear vs. love argument.
To that I’ll only say one thing;  love is a natural, effortless state of being,  fear is an unnatural,  induced one.
bertrand-russell
Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Conspirio, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, Think like the Illuminati, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Extinction of the Unique

An army of demonstrators facing off riot police in Istanbul.

An army of demonstrators facing off riot police in Istanbul.

I’ve been steadily watching the ongoing riots and demonstration happening in Turkey the last week, it hits a bit close to home since I spent several years living and working there and consider it in some ways my second home. The names of the squares, the neighborhoods the news reports mention are all dearly familiar to me.

Kizilay, the center of Ankara.

Kizilay, the center of Ankara.

I left Turkey in 2002, just before Ergodan got in. In fact I actually had a run-in with him while he was on his election campaign. It was in the ancient city of Amasya. Me and a group of friends were there spending the weekend and staying at one of the old Ottoman houses which have since been converted into boutique pensions and hotels.

Amasya, sits along the banks of the river-valley of the Yeşilırmak River. Full of old, preserved Ottoman homes and tombs of ancient kings carved into the mountainside, it's a wonderful place to spend time. The region is also famous for it's apples.

Amasya, sits along the banks of the river-valley of the Yeşilırmak River. Full of old, preserved Ottoman homes and tombs of ancient kings carved into the mountainside, it’s a wonderful place to spend time. The region is also famous for it’s apples.

We were there to do some serious hiking and investigate the ruins and tombs of Pontic kings which have essentially been carved into the mountainside. We saw Erdogan give a speech in the town center and an American in my group yelled out “Hey Eddy” while frantically waving. Erdogan waved back but then when he realized we were a bunch of foreigners, looked confused and then stopped waving.

The Migros mall in Ankara.

The Migros mall in Ankara.

Anyway, I’ve returned to Turkey several times since then and the country becomes more unrecognizable each time I go. It saddens me immensely that the small things which made Turkey unique, like the Pasaji malls, the small old-fashioned cinemas and neighborhood weekly food bazaars (farmer’s markets) are disappearing quickly.

Weekly neighborhood farmer's markets or "pazaars" usually rotate around the city so everyone has a chance to buy from local farmers.

Weekly neighborhood farmer’s markets or “pazaars” usually rotate around the city so everyone has a chance to buy from local farmers.

Historical places which were off-the-beaten path like Olympos have been overtaken by mass-tourism, losing it’s charm and soul along the way. American-style subdivisions have swallowed up Ankara. You can easily mistake some of them for a suburb in New Jersey or California now. Mega-malls and multiplex cinemas are everywhere, and foreign franchises like Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Body Shop sit at every new corner.

Karum, is a super-posh mall at the base of the Sheraton hotel in Ankara.

Karum, is a super-posh mall at the base of the Sheraton hotel in Ankara.

I have many friends there who are involved in leftist politics and the litany of complaints just goes on and on. Turkey is awash with NATO money, condos, malls, resorts are going up everywhere. It’s the usual arguments for globalization, the classes and sectors most closely entrenched with the bureaucracy and with technocrats, profit the most while everyone else seems to experience nothing but diminishing returns. There are now restrictions to access to things like abortions, birth control, the Morning After pill and alcoholic beverages. There are even some shades of lipstick which are now deemed “inappropriate”!

Most of the Turks I know are very progressive politically and can’t stand what their governments are doing in their name. They don’t like the fact that Erdogan has gotten involved in the mess in Syria. They don’t like the fact that Turkey has such cozy military arrangements with the US and Israel. They don’t like the fact that journalists and activists who call for social reform and more freedom of the press are regularly jailed and imprisoned.

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Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows how much of a leftist, anarchist anti-globalization sympathizer I am. I hate the way the world is becoming more generic everywhere with each passing day. The blandness, the uniformity and in the name of “progress”. In that regard, I can understand why someone would become a Luddite. If I go to Japan, I don’t want to get off the plane to see another GAP, identical to the one at home. I want to see all the unique things, the foods, the buildings, the temples, the plants, animals, the geography, the farmer’s markets, the legendary fish markets which make Japan unique in the first place.

This could be, literally anywhere.

This could be, literally anywhere.

It’s not just countries transforming themselves to all look a certain way. I see it in the way people dress too. Everyone pretty much wears the same uniforms now. T-shirt, jeans, sandals/sneakers whether it’s Montreal or Mozambique. Everyone is eating the same food, burgers, sushi, soda pop. Everyone reads the same books, the same best-sellers whether it’s Dan Brown or Stephen King. People are even starting to think the same way and I’m noticing that it’s starting to take even greater reserves of psychic energy to maintain your uniqueness, to stay different and to stay outside the box.

be_unique_blue_poster-rfc8bad2715e646a3b9c095b078bfee7c_w2u_8byvr_512
Talk to any scientist with even half a functioning brain and they will be the first ones to tell you that diversity, heterogeneity is a good thing. That having genetic diversity gives organisms genetic strength. That being in a state of homogeneity is dangerous for extended periods of time and leaves the species vulnerable.

This kind of homogeneity is not a good thing.

This kind of homogeneity is not a good thing.

That if you were to wipe out all varieties of say, rice, but just keep one or two strains for mass agriculture and plant all the fields with these two strains. In case a parasite or fungus is introduced and wipes out these two strains or rice, because you didn’t keep the other varieties which might have been immune to the fungus, you’ve now lost all your rice. That example can easily be extrapolated to humans, our minds, our opinions, our way of life.

Stay unique Folks, these are very homogeneous times.

stock-photo-be-unique-standout-have-your-own-thoughts-be-the-yellow-tulip-in-a-red-tulip-field-347453

Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Travels, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Spiritual trendiness

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell

“When you find an author who really grabs you, read everything he has done. Don’t say, ‘Oh, I want to know what So-and-so did’ — and don’t bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give you. And then you can go read what he had read. And the world opens up in a way that is consistent with a certain point of view. But when you go from one author to another, you may be able to tell us the date when each wrote such and such a poem — but he hasn’t said anything to you.”
– Joseph Campbell

Shrine of Rumi, Konya, Turkey

Shrine of Rumi, Konya, Turkey. The turquoise-tiled minaret shows where Rumi is buried.

Rumi's grave (May eternal peace be upon him)

Rumi’s grave (May eternal peace be upon him)

I remember while in Turkey, taking a long weekend off of work to journey to Konya to watch the Whirling Dervishes, the mystical Islamic Sufi order established by Jalaluddin Rumi (or Mevlana as he is known by in Turkey), dance the Sema dance and to visit Rumi’s grave. I’m sure you’ve seen in either in ads or commercials or documentaries.

To outsiders who don’t know any better, it just looks like a group of men in long flowing white skirts and jackets, wearing fez hats, twirling around in circles. The Sema, in fact has a deeper symbolism. The circles they dance in represents the Circle of Life. Birth, death and rebirth. Fall, winter, spring and summer. The blood in our bodies being pumped out by the heart to only return back to the heart. The examples are infinite. It induces a trance-like state for the dancer which is supposed to help them meet with That, like ayahuasca might for some or peyote for others.

Mevlana was actually born in present-day Afghanistan, wrote all his poetry in the Persian language and is buries in present-day Turkey.

Mevlana was actually born in present-day Afghanistan, wrote all his poetry in the Persian language and is buried in present-day Turkey.

Back then, Rumi was not the spiritual superstar that New Agers and certain yoga instructors these days love to quote. In fact even 10 years ago, I’m sure if you even mentioned Rumi to those who were knee-deep in Deepak Chopra-speak or Wayne Dyer-speak, they wouldn’t even know who or what you were talking about. It’s interesting to watch because since the Rumi train seems to be slowing down now, I’ve noticed that the Deepak/Dyer crowd have now jumped on another mystical Islamic, Persian poet, namely Hafiz. (I’m betting after they get sick of or run out of the Persian poets, they’ll return to the Russians like Alexander Blok, and Pushkin and then heaven forbid, the old Europeans mystics like William Blake, W.B Yeats, Goethe, Meister Eckhart and Emanuel Swedenborg. It’s always about finding a “new” bottle for old wine.)

When western yoga instructors "discover" Emanuel Swedenborg, will that lead to a revival of interest in Christian mysticism? Your guess is as good as mine...

When western yoga instructors “discover” Emanuel Swedenborg, will that lead to a revival of interest in Christian mysticism? Your guess is as good as mine…

Truth be told, I find the sudden interest in Islamic mysticism by some Westerners and bubble-headed yoga instructors who are normally Conservative, Republican, right-wing and very anti-Arab or anti-Muslim, strange to put it mildly. True, the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz have inspired wonderment across centuries. If you have even the smallest spiritual inclination in you, you can’t help but be touched by their words. But before Rumi, it was the Khalil Gibran train. Before Gibran, it was Marianne Williamson and Neale Donald Walsch. It’s this constant hopping around because it’s a trend, without any real study or serious reflection on the works of these past masters and then passing it off as “This makes me look serious” which I take issue with.

if you want to be trendy with what you wear and what you eat, fine. But don't expect anyone to take you seriously if you do it with your spirituality.

if you want to be trendy with what you wear and what you eat, fine. But don’t expect anyone to take you seriously if you do it with your spirituality.

And this brings me back to Campbell’s quote above. I have to agree with Campbell 150% on this one. It is best to find someone whose words ring so deeply and so true for you that you will need to read up on all their works to process and internalize their ideas and sentiments properly. That’s when you start to “get” them properly. One spiritual master whose words have consistently resonated deeply with me, as I have posted many times here is Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov.

It was Neem Karoli Baba who gave him the name "Omraam" and it was Swami Nityananda who explained that Aivanhov was an incarnation of Vedic sage from the Solar Age and in fact had come back to bring back the Solar teachings.

It was Neem Karoli Baba who gave him the name “Omraam” and it was Nityananda who explained that Aivanhov was an incarnation of Vedic sage from the Solar Age and in fact had come back to bring back the Solar teachings. Apparently he also met the legendary Babaji in the Himalayas as well but he refused to talk about it.

Like all seekers at the beginning of their road, I did my fair share of hopping as well. Not because a certain writer was the flavour of the month but because I was searching. I read George Gurdjieff, Rudolph Steiner, tried Jiddu Krishnamurti and Theosophy in earnest but none of it seemed to “stick” for lack of a better word. But with Aivanhov, it was like remembering a deeply treasured memory which had been forgotten and a flood of light breaking through a door. I’ve been reading Aivanhov since at least 1996 and have never looked back.
In fact here’s a photo of my Aivanhov bookshelf;

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Like I posted recently, these days it’s also Alan Watts which is speaking to me (thank God for YouTube!). While I don’t see myself going to Japan to study Zen in all seriousness with a proper Zen master ( and I’m not even sure if the monasteries there even accept women!), Watts, like Aivanhov, was/is able to synthesize the Perennial teachings along with recent scientific findings and present it with their own flair and in such a way the modern reader/listener can connect instantly.

galvanoplasty-definition.jpgSpiritualGalvanoplasty

That is a rare talent and not one which New Age hucksters can ever master convincingly.

Portland_Japanese_gardens_zen_garden

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, Travels, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Power of Touch and the Touch of Power

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The recent news about hot yoga shyster Bikram Choudhury being accused of rape has been generating a lot of discussion online and off about the whole nature of power within the context of guru/student dynamics as well as male/female dynamics.

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It got me thinking about the most primary of relationships which we all experience, that we have with the opposite sex (I don’t mean to exclude transgendered persons from this discussion, I’m just writing out of my own experience so apologies in advance if anyone may take offence). In my case, it’s not really about Dad, or brother or uncle or Grandpa. It’s mostly the kind when sexual dynamics and chemistry come into play.
George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones definitely had serious chemistry going on in "Intolerable Cruelty"

George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones definitely had serious chemistry going on in “Intolerable Cruelty”

 I’m writing this from the perspective of a heterosexual female, so bear with me a second for anyone who does not belong to that same group. Call me sensitive but there is a major difference in the way a man touches you which, if you’re alert can tell you almost everything you need to know about him and what he wants out of you, what he really feels about you, what he really thinks about you. It’s hard to describe but a whole host of elements come into play when a man touches you, how quickly he tries to touch you and where, how much pressure he exerts when he does touch you, how lightly, how fervently, how calmly, how warmly, how suddenly, how hard or how soft. Maybe I’m some kind of freak but I’ve been able to read exactly what was going on just by the way a guy touched me. It doesn’t even have to be in a romantic context like in a kiss or embrace. It could be even in a handshake or the way he hands me half his sandwich.
Sometimes less is a lot more...

Sometimes less is a lot more…

 I remember meeting with someone, we had not seen each other in a few years and we went out for dinner a few times to catch up, the chemistry was still there but long story short, nothing would ever come of it. I remember saying goodbye to him and he suddenly grabbed my shoulder. It was too abrupt, too sudden and he was digging into my skin too hard. I did not detect any softness, any patience in that touch. I wiggled myself out of his grip but then I realized all too clearly that I was nothing but a diversion for him. I also picked up almost instantaneously that if we were to become lovers, he would be a very selfish one. That’s when I lost all interest and realized it was a dead-end. I have since heard that he cheats on his wife regularly now. It doesn’t surprise me in the least.
Man-touching-womans-shoul-001
I remember another time when someone else lightly kissed my forehead. In that second, I could have been knocked over by a feather. It wasn’t just chemistry but there was a gentle sincerity and respect there which in itself is insanely attractive. Things didn’t work out, we were and are too different and have different dreams but I have nothing but good things to say about him, he’s a really good guy and I’m sure he’ll make the right girl very, very happy one day.
Now in the context of yoga, some of the yoga asanas can be sexual.
You’re spread out wide open, legs open, legs in the air
Happy Baby Pose
You’re open.
Wide legged forward bend

Wide legged forward bend

You’re vulnerable.
Yoganidrasna pose

Yoganidrasna pose

A good instructor’s touch is hardly felt, they’ll usually always ask for permission to adjust you properly, they respect your boundaries and in this case your boundaries involve your own body. A bad instructor will not respect your boundaries and in the case of the more lecherous instructors I’ve observed, will be all over girls while “adjusting”. All it takes is a few classes and you’ll pick up what’s going on if you’re alert.
Yoga instructor in film "Couple's retreat" - a bad example of adjusting.

Yoga instructor in film “Couple’s retreat” – a bad example of adjusting.

 Now, I don’t want to make the victims of shady gurus and shady yoga instructors out to be in the wrong, and say that they should have known better and walked away earlier and bypassed the abuse. That’s like saying that women who are victims of domestic violence should have known better before getting involved with such-and-such jerk. But the promises of romantic love and fulfillment can often be as alluring as the promises of spiritual gifts and abilities and in that respect, they may not be all that different from each other.
choices2-300x280
Some gurus promise initiation or revelations of spiritual secrets and abilities if “you just listen to everything I say and do as I say.” For someone who doesn’t know any better, the glamour of spiritual specialness or of attaining what Alan Watts called “psychic technologies” (i.e bilocation, telekinesis, Enlightenment, levitation, mind-reading etc.) is too irresistable an offer to pass up.
Real spiritual initiation usually involves handing down teachings after years of study or being a student. It should NOT make you feel uncomfortable, or cornered.

Real spiritual initiation usually involves handing down teachings after years of study or being a student. It should NOT make you feel uncomfortable, or cornered.

Likewise some potential romantic partners may allure you with dreams of butterflies in your stomach, a  few sessions of hot, sweaty, toe-curling sex, maybe even happily ever after just as long as you follow what I call “The Script”. The Script can change from year to year, maybe it might mean sex on the first date but no later than the third. It might mean observing the highly changeable rites of courtship and following the ground rules which society at large has decided on. It might mean following the advice as featured in this month’s issue of Cosmopolitan or Details magazine.
I hate this magazine.

I hate this magazine.

Both prey on the fears and on what’s lacking in one’s life and that if this one thing is not lacking anymore, we will be happy. I personally think it’s even more basic than that, it’s really about Power. That by attaining these things, we become more powerful and in control and here I have to agree with Watts completely, that power in that sense is really not something you want, especially the kind of power which involves controlling other people. When we can control other people, we basically want them to be like wooden dolls in a scenario or dream of our choosing. What makes life interesting is that wildcard factor, when we let go of that control and let things happen as they may. When people talk back to us, when last-minute changes happen.
Being in power over ourselves is OK.
Being in power over others is not.
Categories: Ascension, False prophits, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, This is why the planet is screwed up, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oh, how the mighty fall…

No, Bikram, you're NOT sexy.

No, Bikram, you’re NOT sexy.

Breaking news, but it looks like Bikram Choudhury, the founder and “creator” of the hot yoga craze has now been accused of rape from two different Jane Does. You can read all the ugly details over at YogaDork or at the source itself at Courthouse News Service. I warn you, it’s an uncomfortable read because if what is claimed is true, then it really shows up what a real misogynist Bikram really is.

Some choice quotes from the testimony:

Doe No. 2 claims the grueling schedule was designed to “break down her body, will and spirit,” and brainwash her with Choudhury’s “vision and teachings.” She describes Choudhury as a combustible tyrant who orders students during classes to remain mute, and treat him “with unquestioning obedience.”
“Students are also often required to attend evening lectures, where defendant Choudhury rants on subjects including his negative views on certain races; negative views on homosexuality; the moral lassitude of Americans; his guru; his views on sex, marriage, and relationships; and whatever else he should care to talk about,” the complaint states.
Some students are pushed so hard they faint, vomit, urinate on themselves, or suffer heat strokes and seizures, Doe says in the complaint.

It gets worse…a lot worse…

“Defendant Bikram Choudhury pulled her pants down and forced her onto the bed. Plaintiff Jane Doe No.2 could not stop crying and kept begging him over and over to stop. He forced his unprotected penis in her vagina. Within moments it was over. The only thing defendant Bikram Choudhury said was, ‘How many times did you come?’ Plaintiff Jane Doe No.2 was in pain, in shock and could not speak. Defendant Bikram Choudhury then ordered plaintiff to watch him until he fell asleep,” according to the complaint.
Doe adds: “The next day during lecture, defendant Bikram Choudhury made offensive sexual comments to the whole class. It was demoralizing and humiliating. He told the plaintiff and rest of the class that when he first moved to the U.S. women raped him all the time and taught him how to have sex. Defendant Bikram Choudhury said he would have sex marathons. Then he started talking about women’s bodies and how he liked ‘pussy’ without hair on it. Defendant Bikram Choudhury said, ‘I can’t stand fat unattractive women.’ As he spoke, his voice was becoming more and more intense and his language more vulgar.'”

I feel terrible for what those two women must have have gone through in order to summon up the courage to come forward and go ahead and make this public. Having worked with victims of violent crime as a former spiritual care-giver, this is something not to take lightly particularly from the victims’ point of view. Most cases of rape go unreported because the victims (usually women) are often terrified of reprisals or of having to face the perpetrator in court and relive the painful experience. This is often compounded by the fact that the police and the judicial system are often very clinical in their approach. They’re not exactly known for their warm, fuzzy feelings, caring and nurturing when people have gone through hell.

From Rainn.org

From Rainn.org

This culture of abuse between student and “guru” in the yoga world keeps happening over and over again. My own personal take is that a big part of the problem lies within the yoga community itself. If people just withheld their dollars, many of these outfits would go under overnight. I mean when YogaDork posted the news earlier today on their FaceBook page, some of the comments underneath included the likes of:

“Two sides to every story..”
“There are 3 sides to every story…yours, theirs, and the whole damn truth. Don’t judge.”
” It’s really too bad that people are willing to destroy the man before they know the whole picture. I say he’s innocent until proven guilty.”

And to that I say:

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Don’t judge?
Especially when 2 different women and a third back in March have all come forward on Bikram’s sexual harassment/abuse?

Sarah Baughn accused Bikram of sexual assault this past March.

Sarah Baughn accused Bikram of sexual assault this past March.

This is what drives me nuts about the yoga community at times, it would seem in the drive to be “spiritual” or “enlightened” some people’s brains have been reduced to mush since they live in fear or being labelled “judgemental” like that’s tantamount to being labelled a child abuser. The problem is due to this fear of being labelled judgemental, they often allow some of their own moral compasses to slide and not necessarily in the correct direction.

judgemental

Take this comment for instance from the same aforementioned FaceBook thread:

“I don’t even care. I will continue to go to my Bikram studio and do the yoga that works for me and that has changed my entire life for the better. I don’t need to agree with the supposed “founder” to get the benefits from my yoga studio. I love my teachers and do not feel any of the corruption that I read about Bikram. I feel love, compassion, and true caring. Bikram is not the one who has changed my life…my studio and instructors are. I take solace in the fact that I don’t actually give any money to him but instead get paid to do laundry AND free yoga.” (it got 28″Likes”)

What this poster fails to see, no doubt, in her blind drive for “love, compassion and true caring” and “free yoga” is that she’s certainly not showing any love, compassion and true caring whatsoever to the victims here of what is essentially a criminal and violent act and instead by continuing to frequent Bikram studios, has sided with the guilty party and is helping to augment the name, the brand and the organization.

Bikram logo.

Bikram logo.

I understand that there is something called moral relativism. What may be right for one person can be completely wrong for someone else given the context, life circumstance etc. However, I do think at some point a line has to be drawn in the sand particularly when abuse and violence come into play. And rape is violence, no matter how you cut it.
That’s just, plain unacceptable.

line-in-the-sand-at-gower-s-langland-bay-for-wales-will-you-be-voting-no-in-thursday-s-referendum-3438881

Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Yoga with Alan Watts

Apologies Shifters for not posting very much these last few weeks.

3 weeks ago we had a surprise snowstorm of 10cm and now we’re having +27 °C  (81 degrees for the Americans), weather and constant sunshine comparable to July’s weather. Montrealers are outside everyday in force, myself included. It was a long, hard, cold winter and this balmy spring leaves little inclination to stay indoors and write very much.

The riverfront bikepath a stone's throw away from my neighborhood.

The riverfront bikepath a stone’s throw away from my neighborhood.

I’m very lucky in that I live in an amazing neighborhood of Montreal which is literally steps away from the riverside. This affords me to see ducks, Canada geese, beavers, foxes, muskrats, turtles and snakes while I either walk or jog along the river banks among the weeping willows and tall grasses.

Path along the riverside

Because of the insane weather we’ve been having, I’ve started to do my yoga practice outside in the morning as the sun rises.

No, that's not me, but you get the idea.

No, that’s not me, and that’s not my park but you get the idea.

...but more like here. (photo from Walking Turcot Yards)

…but more like here. (photo from Walking Turcot Yards)

Normally I do my practice in silence. I’m not one for flashy props and special effects which is why I don’t get the whole acro-yoga, trance-dance yoga and aerial yoga craze which I see everywhere these days. I’m sure they have their benefits… but it seems more like gymnastics and acrobatics than yoga per se.

Is this really yoga? I dunno...

Is this really yoga? I dunno…

Anyway, I’ve started doing my practice outdoors and have started to do them while listening to the talks of the late, great Zen master and teacher Alan Watts and the combination of the two just seems to click for me. It may not for others, but I just found my equivalent of wild strawberries and fresh cream.

wildstrawberries and cream

Watts, for those of you who have never heard of him or know very little about him, was a weird and wonderful spiritual teacher who made Zen Buddhism accessible to all.

Alan Watts

Alan Watts

Friends with the likes of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, Watts did much of his teaching in the San Francisco area back in the 1950’s,60’s and early 70’s and spent much time with alternative thinkers especially at his Sausalito houseboat and cabin home in the delightfully named Druid Heights near Mount Tamalpais, over on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.

Give a listen to any of Watts talks on YouTube (they number in the hundreds now) and you’ll quickly realize that Zen wasn’t the only thing which Watts tackled. His talks weave religious history, concepts from Hinduism and Taoism, philosophy, the nature of consciousness and humor effortlessly. Watts died quite young in middle age, unfortunately his womanizing and hard-drinking finally caught up to him.

What I think stands out about Watts, like Joseph Campbell, is that he’s a real teacher. They’ll never tell you what to do in your life. In fact, they’re against that sort of thing on principle, unlike way too many “gurus” and “spiritual seers” I’ve either met or read about in the whole New Age/spirituality racket who are only too eager to exert control or show off their influence. Rather, they’ll help you remember what you’re really all about and leave the trail of cosmic breadcrumbs so that you can guide yourself out of the woods on your own. That’s the way it should be.

Here’s a fun piece of Watts work, interpreted by the creators of “South Park”.
You don’t need to do yoga to get Watts either.
Enjoy.

Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, Raise your EQ, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

9 reasons why the current yoga scene can be likened to Gwyneth Paltrow (Take a freakin’ chill-pill, this is a Rant)

You know how there are some celebrities we just love to hate?

Not because we’re all envious or anything, we hate them because it’s fun! They’re either so obnoxious, self-involved or nonsensical that they invite disdain and derision because of the things they say and do.

Case in point: Gwyneth Paltrow.

Gwynnie-poo (from people.com)

Gwynnie-poo (from people.com). Horse-y faced WASP-y Hollywood blonde.

I don’t know what it is about her that brings out the inner bitch of just about every gal I know. I don’t think it’s because she’s thin, rich, white and blonde and married to a rock star. I could describe Charlize Theron (or Kate Hudson) in the same way, but Charlize has a bit of an edge to her which I think makes her cool.

Another classic Hollywood blonde: Charlize Theron

Delicate-featured , classic Hollywood blonde: Charlize Theron

Charlize also comes from a bit of a dodgy family background which makes her a badass for having survived it and coming out ahead.

Gwynnie-poo on the other hand has had a silver spoon firmly ensconced between the cheeks of her “butt of a 22 year old stripper” (her words not mine) and everything given to her on a silver platter from Day 1.
I also think Charlize is much prettier that Gwynnie-poo.  In fact, I think there are many other high-profile acting sisters in the same age group who are prettier, full of more substance AND smarter than Gwynnie-poo and deserve more screen time than her.

(Gents: this is the one and only time I’m going to post girly photos here for your viewing pleasure. Ladies: My point is that beauty can show up in equal amounts of brains AND comes in all colors )

Like Monica Bellucci,

Italian beauty Monica bellucci, with classical features and a body of a Roman goddess, Monica is not only beautiful but smart as well. Did you know she studied law at the University of Perugia before going into modelling?

Italian beauty Monica Bellucci, with classical features and the figure of a Roman statue, Monica is not only beautiful but smart as well. Did you know she studied law at the University of Perugia before going into modelling?

Salma Hayek,

Salma Hayek is  of Spanish and Lebanese descent, and fluent in Arabic, Spanish, Portugese and English

Salma Hayek is of Spanish and Lebanese descent, and fluent in Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and English

Thandie Newton,

Biracial beauty Thandie Newton is half English and half Zimbabwean. She read Anthropology at Cambridge

Thandie Newton read Anthropology at Cambridge

Rosamund Pike,

Statuesque blonde bombshell with the complexion of an English Rose, Rosamund Pike studied English lit at Oxford and speaks French and German fluently.

Statuesque blonde bombshell with the complexion of an English Rose, Rosamund Pike studied English lit at Oxford.

Lisa Ray,

Half Bengali-half Polish Canadian actress Lisa Ray academically excelled in high school and finished 5 years of high school in 4.

Half Bengali-half Polish Canadian actress Lisa Ray excelled in high school and finished 5 years of high school in 4.

Sophie Marceau,

11051-24593

Classic French beauty, former Bond girl Sophie Marceau is not only an actress, but she produces, directs and also is an author.

Ludivine Sagnier,

French actress Ludivine Sagnier, usually plays sexpots, but she had enough brains to stay away from Hollywood.

French actress Ludivine Sagnier, usually plays sexpots, but she had enough brains to stay away from the Hollywood machine.

Eva Green,

French actress and Bond Girl Eva Green has features which belong on an ancient roman coin or Greek statue.

Another French actress and Bond Girl Eva Green has features which belong on an ancient Roman coin or Greek statue. She hates shopping and has also nixed Hollywood.

Mylène Jampanoï,

Another biracial beauty, half French, half Chinese actress Mylène Jampanoï

Another bi-racial beauty, half French, half Chinese actress Mylène Jampanoï

And as for figures, while I agree clothes do hang very well on Gwynnie, she’s really nothing more than a clothes hanger…

Gwynnie wearing a Tom Ford creation at the Oscars in 2012 and trying to channel Grace Kelly.

Gwynnie wearing a Tom Ford creation at the Oscars in 2012 and trying to channel Grace Kelly.

…I still don’t think that kind of slenderness defined by the fashion world is very attractive.

Rather,  IMHO, women should strive to *BE*, first and foremost, HEALTHY and STRONG, say like the Brazilian National Women’s Olympic beach volleyball team for instance..

That's the way to do it Ladies! Maria Antonelli and Talita Rocha looking strong, healthy and feminine, curves, muscles and all.

That’s the way to do it Ladies! Maria Antonelli and Talita Rocha looking strong, healthy and feminine, curves, muscles and all.

…but I’m getting off-track here so on with the list….

1) The yoga scene is usually all about being thin, white and privileged.
Yoga: While things are slowly changing and awareness is definitely increasing, classes like queer yoga or curvy yoga are now popping up in many cities and there are now amazing Facebook groups as well as many great yoga blogs which are discussing these issues head-on, all of which are about making yoga more accessible to all, there is still unfortunately a long way to go. Average mean income of most yoga practitioners is around $75 000/year, far above the national average income level with many practitioners who are college educated with post-graduate degrees. Many of the younger girls I’ve come across could give a rat’s ass about the spiritual aspects or deeper health benefits of yoga but instead just want to get really lean and thin, mostly to get a boyfriend or a husband. Many instructors and studios are still failing to make visible, sexual and economic minorities and women with larger body-types welcome in the studio.

Gwynnie-poo: Gwyneth Paltrow is the walking definition of thin, white and privileged. Born into Hollywood royalty, her father was a TV producer of shows like “St. Elsewhere”, her mother is of Philadelphia Main Line stock and a thespian in her own right.  Gwynnie’s bi-coastal upbringing included Thanksgivings which were usually spent with the likes of Steven Spielberg in the Hamptons, going to the elitist Spence School of NYC and spending summers in Spain. She spends 14 hours a week working out with sketchy celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson and unabashedly boasts about using nothing less that $60 olive oil. There is nothing normal, accessible or grounded about her at all which normal, working women can ever relate to.

Gwyneth Paltrow's at-home private studio. She had a separate building built just to work out.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s at-home private studio. She had a separate building built just to work out.

2) The yoga scene is full of instructors who sprout one thing on the mat yet live a totally different reality off the mat and somehow make the whole thing OK.
Yoga: Ubiquitous yogilebrity Elena Brower, a well-known instructor from the Anusara “tradition” admits that she smokes. This is after her going on ad nauseum about the beauty of yoga, about the beauty of a breath, about the beauty of health, blah, blah, blah.

Gwynnie-poo: Gwynnie waxes lyrical constantly about the importance of her workout, her instructor, her diet  and buying the most expensive food possible. In fact her latest cookbook, ” It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes that Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great” is all about eating a vegan, low-carb, gluten-free lactose-intolerant diet. No coffee, dairy, alcohol, sugar, shellfish, potatoes, tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, corn, wheat, meat, soy or anything processed.  And how French Fries nearly killed her. Then she dropped a bomb last week when she admitted that she looks forward to her weekly Saturday night cigarette. Um…Gwynnie, do you understand why that would make some people upset?

You're a real role model, Gwynnie!

You’re a real role model, Gwynnie!

3) The yoga scene and living the “yoga lifestyle” can be expensive
Yoga: Like I mentioned earlier, yoga caters to mostly those people who are affluent. Yoga studio unlimited memberships are about $1200 per year in my city. Lululemon pants run at about $90 each. Designer mats can be as high as $100. And then you have to factor in the seasonal cleanses, the retreats to exotic locations like Bali or Tulum ($4000), the Vitamix blender for your juices and smoothies ($750), the regular colonics ($80 a poop), the membership in CSA farms ($250 /12 weeks) and the time itself to daily practice. It adds up quickly. It’s cheaper to become a Jain monk and get the same results.

Gwynnie-poo: One only has to visit Gwyneth’s “lifestyle” blog and online magazine “Goop” and read a couple of articles particularly about what to buy, what to eat and where to visit to realize that this is a magazine which should only be in private circulation among other Hollywood actresses, billionaire heiresses and vulgar wives of Russian oligarchs since they are the only ones who will EVER be able to afford this “lifestyle”.

Gwynnie's gourmet kitchen at her new $10 million dollar digs in L.A

Gwynnie’s gourmet kitchen at her new $10 million dollar digs in L.A

4) The yoga scene can be out of touch from reality (borderline delusional actually)
Yoga: No, I can’t eat kale everyday and I don’t want to. I especially can’t afford to shell out 5 times the going rate of “normal” kale for kale that’s been grown biodynamically on fertile volcanic soil in Hawaii which has then been blessed by a shaman under a full moon which is then supposed to give me more ‘healing” nutrients. I can’t and I won’t so kindly fuck off.

Gwynnie-poo: The latest edition of Goop! included Spring 2013 fashion “essentials” which comes out to a whopping $450 000. Almost half a mill, folks. That’s just clothes. For one person. For one season. Seriously. With that kind of cash, you can dress practically everyone in Mozambique and Bangladesh. Combined. For life. For real.

Gwynnie's everyday punk look (from goop.com)

Gwynnie’s everyday punk look (from goop.com)

5) The yoga scene can sometimes espouse a strange diet.
Yoga: A quote from Chris Rock,

“We got so much food in America we’re allergic to food. Allergic to food! Hungry people ain’t allergic to shit. You think anyone in Rwanda’s got a fucking lactose intolerance?!”

Let me expand this to ask why is it that EVERYONE in the yoga scene nowadays seems to be lactose-intolerant, gluten intolerant, with allergies to wheat, rice, sugar, honey, coffee, dairy, alcohol, shellfish, potatoes, tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, corn, meat, soy, nuts, grass, trees, air and sunshine?  While I agree having serious allergies is no laughing matter and following a vegetarian diet because of  strict ethical, moral and religious reasons because it’s a part of your being is admirable, I wonder how many people are making up their allergies or becoming vegans because it’s the cool thing to do? What you decide to put into your stomach is your own business and responsibility but personally,  I have to side with global bad-assed foodie Anthony Bourdain , that it is a construct coming out of too much affluence and predicated largely by rich, white kids who want to come across as doing something fashionable because being vegan is now fashionable “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans … are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit. They make for bad travelers and bad guests. The notion that before you even set out to go to Thailand, you say, ‘I’m not interested,’ or you’re unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don’t understand that, and I think it’s rude. You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you. I don’t have any understanding of it. Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent.”

Gwynnie-poo: Tinseltown blogger Perez Hilton summed it up best:

While we’re all for healthy children, we’re not so sure if leaving them hungry is the best thing! What kind of childhood is that?? Gwyneth Paltrow’s diet is SO STRICT that she admits sometimes her family is left hungry by her restrictions! BOOO! In her new cookbook called It’s All Good, all is most definitely not good, and she details the food she doesn’t let her kids have, like grains:

“Every single nutritionist, doctor and health-conscious person I have ever come across . . . seems to concur that [gluten] is tough on the system and many of us are at best intolerant of it and at worst allergic to it.”

We’re not so sure about that. We’ve written countless times on how a gluten-free diet is only really good for those who have celiac’s disease, otherwise you could be doing more harm than good! Then, she admits, the diet is not satisfying to her family:

“Sometimes when my family is not eating pasta, bread or processed grains like white rice, we’re left with that specific hunger that comes with avoiding carbs.”

That’s such a bummer. We have to be honest here. We’ve always been under the impression that moderation is key, so we’re okay with limiting the amount of processed and carb intake, but we also realize that kids need to be kids — which most definitely includes the happiness of treats from time to time, and to not have to go through childhood hungry! Being extreme with your kids is not how you get well-rounded and happy children!

 Gwynnie's new book. (Photo: Raphael Brion/Eater)

Gwynnie’s new book.
(Photo: Raphael Brion/Eater)

6) The yoga scene can be pretentious
Yoga: Chanting for 45 minutes then pranayama work for another 30 minutes then 1 hour yoga practice and then posting all about it as your Facebook status. Sure. Whatever. Knock yourself out, Buddy.

Gwynnie-poo: Just go check out Goop!. No. Like seriously. Better yet, read the post when Gwyneth talks about meditation and though she doesn’t know how to do it, but because it’s “brilliant”, so it’s time she took it up.

You can do it Gwynnie! Just make sure you don't get your Jimmy Choo's wet while you get into the water.

You can do it Gwynnie! Just make sure you don’t get your Jimmy Choo’s wet while you get into the water.

7) The yoga scene is full of instructors dispensing medical diagnoses, half of whom have never even taken an anatomy course
Yoga: “Can’t do balancing handstands because of tight shoulders or triangle pose because of a slipped disk? Do more yoga! It solves everything “—> something I once heard a yoga instructor who shall remain nameless say after class one day.

Gwynnie-poo: In the intro. of her new book, Gwyneth describes an incident where she self-diagnosed herself as having a stroke in 2011, after having lunch in her London home’s garden. As it turns out, she was having a migraine headache and a panic attack AT THE SAME TIME. Here’s what she said about it:
“One sunny afternoon in London, in the spring of 2011, I thought — without sounding overly dramatic — that I was going to die. I had just served lunch in the garden at home . . . I had a vague feeling that I was going to faint, and I wasn’t forming thoughts correctly. I got a searing pain in my head, I couldn’t speak, and I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a stroke.”

Gwynnie after she fainted lounging on the divan...(Photo: Vanity Fair)

Gwynnie after she fainted, lounging on the divan…(Photo: Vanity Fair)

8) The yoga scene wants to come across as “hardcore” or “badassed”…but isn’t.
Yoga: Sadie Nardini. Nuff said.
Gwynnie-poo: A nine-course tasting menu is NOT “punk rock”.

Both of you seriously need to get a clue.

Both of you seriously need to get a clue.

9) The yoga scene can get “old” very quickly.
Yoga: How much Krisha Das do I need to listen to, bushels of kale I have to eat, and conversations I need to have with people who do nothing but navel-gaze before I become a “yogi”? Is there a support group for recovering vegans? Recovering Yogi’s website shows that I’m far from the only one harboring these thoughts.

Gwynnie-poo: Gwyneth, do you realize that you’re one of the most disliked Hollywood stars in the world? Do you realize that being everywhere, doing everything and bragging about it all to the entire world endears you to no one? Stop being so obnoxious and start being a little more humble, take it down a notch and take a back-seat sometime. It’ll do wonders for your image. And your “heart condition” too…

gwyneth-paltrow-pic-peopl-c1-thumb-450x303-21227

Categories: Pop culture, Raise your EQ, This is why the planet is screwed up, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

The Rainbow Tribe

"Controversial" ad by Benetton

“Controversial” ad by Benetton

“The Rainbow Tribe consists of everyone, of native and non-native blood, that believe that in our coming together as a tribe of people, of all colors ,that we will make the one true tribe of two-legged ones that we are.  The Rainbow Tribe is actually many small groups that are coming together in understanding and celebration of the diversity of people and who understand their importance and their obligation of love to the Mother Earth and all that is here.”

The Spiritual Network

I have steadily been watching various discussions online about the lack of inclusion in the yoga world this past year. Anarchist yogis “The Babarazzi” does a fantastic job of periodically putting out wonderful, thought-provoking posts on this issue. What comes to mind was a post they did back in October called “Is De-Culturing Yoga an Act of Good Faith or a Promotion of Xenophobic Ideology? /// A Light and Easy Subject”.

Taking the "Indian-ness" out of yoga to make it more palatable to the Venice Beach crowd is not cool.

Taking the “Indian-ness” out of yoga to make it more palatable to the Venice Beach crowd is not cool. This is a form of cultural appropriation

Moonlit Moth, by blogger Andrea MacDonald based out of Vancouver is also taking an anti-imperialistic stance in taking on the issues of accessibility and anti-oppression in yoga.
Andrea writes:
“I strive to make my classes anti-oppressive. By anti-oppressive I mean anti-racist, queer, trans and LGBTQ friendly, patriarchy resistant, anti-colonial, body and ability positive as well as affordable for my students and sustainable for me as the teacher. In order to create a safe space for all my students I will do my best to address oppressive language and behaviour in the studio. Usually I find open, honest discussion can help make the classes safer for everyone involved.”
Kula Yoga Toronto is also offering “Brown Girl Yoga” and “Queer Yoga”  in an attempt to reach out to those communities and create a space where others can feel comfortable.
From "Essence" magazine

From “Essence” magazine

I applaud all these initiatives and discussions and while I think these issues of inclusion, diversity and accessibility are now being talked about more than ever online and off and are a far cry from that fall evening back in 2002 when I first stepped into a Bikram yoga studio and found myself as the only person of color in a roomful of pony-tailed golden boys with wash-board abs and a host of tall, lithe Caucasian trophy wives  discussing their Filipino nannies in the change room, I still think there is a long way to go.  I did not even have to look further than to scroll down  to the comments section of my article on EJ to see how far the so-called “enlightened” yoga crowd have to go.
Rabbit Pose - Do you honestly think anyone can do this pose on their first time ever doing yoga?

Rabbit Pose – Do you honestly think anyone can do this pose on their first time ever doing yoga?

White entitlement and white privilege are in essence, almost taken for granted. They have been institutionally sanctioned for a couple of hundred years now, mostly in advent of  European imperialism and colonialism. It’s only maybe in the last 50 years serious questioning and scholarship has started to take place, mostly in academia and it has slowly started to filter down into mainstream culture.
W.E.B DuBois - serious academic and activist on racial issues.

W.E.B DuBois – serious academic and activist on racial issues.

That’s beyond the scope of this blog post but any discussion of race is going to cause fireworks to go off no matter what. Someone always ends up getting pissed off. People don’t like to think of themselves as racist or bigoted and they certainly don’t like it being pointed out to them even if it is done unconsciously.  And it would seem yogis, for all their talk of oneness and spiritualism, they positively hate to have it pointed out to them and have their artificial balloons of security and illusion popped especially by someone who is not white.
racist-eggs
One of the things I had to undergo when I did my stint as a spiritual caregiver at a hospital trauma unit as well as when I studied cross-cultural management for my undergraduate degree was something called diversity training. In essence, it’s about learning how to deal with people who are different from you in ethnicity, color, socio-economic background and culture without disrespecting them, their heritage, background etc, being mindful of the differences in order to bring out everyone’s best for the sake of improving overall teamwork and outcomes. In all honesty, I think more studios, more instructors, more training centers need to start including this as well, if all this talk of inclusion and plurality is to amount to anything.
diversitySymbol
I had to watch this film in the course of my studies. “The Color of Fear” is now considered a classic in diversity training and cross-cultural management seminars around the world and I think it merits several viewings. There are some comments alone which will force you to stop it and look at yourself and your own reactions. I think Victor Lewis probably has the most powerful voice here in expressing why some people are more equal than others. I warn you, it can be an uncomfortable watch but I think if we want that dream of a Rainbow Tribe to ever materialize, some hard questions and soul-searching needs to take place. This is as good as a beginning as anything else out there.
Categories: Ascension, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Towards a New Economics …in Yoga?

This is something which has been brewing in my mind for quite a while now. I frequent quite a number of yoga-related sites and blogs and over and over again, I regularly read blog posts about yoga instructors, aspiring yoga instructors and the like bemoan the fact that as much as they adore the work that they do and the kinds of positive changes they witness in people’s lives due to the yoga, there just simply isn’t much money in it (unless you decide to go the route of a yoga celebutard) and keeping body, mind and soul intact is quite often a struggle.

Many aspiring yoga instuctors dream of a lifestyle which looks like this....

Many aspiring yoga instructors dream of a lifestyle which looks like this….

...but often have to pay their dues in settings like this.

…but often have to pay their dues in settings like this.

The options are usually limited and not very encouraging. Either become an aforementioned rock-star yoga asshole and climb that corporate-based model, or join the thousands of yoga instructors who have flooded the market in recent years and barely get by as a freelance worker, operating out of a variety of studios along with hitting the pavement to look for private clients or volunteer at community centers.

Corporate yoga!

Corporate yoga!

Either way, the fluctuations of your income will largely be dictated by the demands of the market place. If for instance yoga’s popularity declines because something else takes over, we can expect to see many unemployed yoga instructors hitting the internet to look around for something else, en masse.

I work in the managerial and financial side of health services. It is “health” on the curative side of things, unlike yoga which would (normally) fall under the preventative side of the definition of “health”. Increasingly, health services of BOTH varieties has become privatized and is largely following the private model of administration, financial compensation and management.

Like ABBA once sang, Money, Money ,Money"

Like ABBA once sang, Money, Money ,Money”

Of course within yoga, just because of how wide and diverse the community itself is, there are many co-op, pay-as-you-go, sliding scale and other initiatives following alternative economic models. None of it is very wide-scale unfortunately, a shame in my opinion, given the brain-power, creativity and general forwardness of the of the people normally involved in the community.

Setting aside exceptions to the rule and speaking in generalities, my biggest economic critique of most yoga studios, instructors, schools and the industry as a whole is that they just simply follow the business-as-usual model—-> i.e capitalism which usually works along the lines of “You control the economic resources, but I have the man power, so I work for you, you pay me, I go home”. It’s a reactive stance, not a pro-active one.  My own anarchist and leftist bias and sympathies should be pretty clear to anyone who reads my blog regularly so it should come as no surprise when I say, I think that model sucks royally.

Keep on droning, you evil workers you!

Keep on droning, you evil workers you!

I will not go into the evils and ills of capitalism. Any simple Google search can yield you numerous articles on that point. Instead I’d like to focus on a little-known economic model which I think the yoga industry, as a whole, is strategically placed to benefit from. It’s called Participatory Economics or Parecon for short. Before I go into Parecon, let me explain why I think the yoga industry is in a unique place at this time.

Progressive family doing yga together.

Progressive family doing yoga together.

Yoga is booming and is part of an annual $7 billion+ plus global wellness industry. Aside from it’s health and relaxation benefits, its therapeutic qualities are also becoming clearer over time. Demand for yoga is skyrocketing the world over. Setting aside any spiritual argument for the moment, as any basic micro economic class might have taught you back in college, economics is all about demand and supply. Where those two lines intersect on the graph is usually where price per quantity will be determined. If something is in short-supply but demand is high, then chances are prices will be very high. If supply has flooded the market and demand is low, no one wants it, then prices will be very low. The demand for yoga is there and growing. Progressive yoga schools, instructors and studios are therefore in a unique and powerful position to determine supply. Furthermore yoga is diverse enough to experiment with Parecon. The community is still large enough for experiments to go ahead and yet still small and alternative enough vis a vis the general population that it can do so and not ruffle the feathers of the  corporate-state system which, alternative economics if practiced widely and globally, ultimately would undermine (I can dream, can’t I?).

If the Demand curve shifts to the right or left and Supply stays the same, the (P)rice  at that (Q)uantity will change. Same thing happens if the Supply  curve shifts and Demand stays the same. If both Demand and Supply , change, new prices and quantities are determined.

If the Demand curve shifts to the right or left and Supply stays the same, the (P)rice at that (Q)uantity will change. Same thing happens if the Supply curve shifts
and Demand stays the same. If both Demand and Supply , change, new prices and quantities are determined.

Developed by M.I.T alumni Michael Albert, Parecon is an alternative economic system which ideally should be used in conjunction with parallel systems in politics, culture and kinship. “It is marked by equity, solidarity, diversity, workers’ self-management and efficiency. (Efficiency here means accomplishing goals without wasting valued assets.)”

Michael Albert  at right with Professor Noam Chomsky to his left

Michael Albert at right with Professor Noam Chomsky to his left

According to Wiki:
It proposes to attain these ends mainly through the following principles and institutions:
1) Workers’ and consumers’ councils utilizing self-managerial methods for making decisions
2) Balanced job complexes
3) Remuneration according to effort and sacrifice
4) Participatory planning

If you mosey on over to Micheal’s Parecon page over at Znet, there are many examples and discussions of HOW this is done. (If you are more theoretically or academically inclined, there are criticisms posted there as well.)
===========================================================
Let’s illustrate Parecon in action in a yoga-based context with a practical example. I’m going to use Micheal Albert’s own summary of Parecon but slightly modify it by overlaying it with yoga-based examples. (I apologize in advance, but the following language isn’t particularly sexy or exciting and you’re going to be asked to think through things just a little since it is a long read. No worries in skipping this article)

30 different yoga instructors, all all ages, ethnicities, orientations, styles and backgrounds have decide to get together and form a yoga co-op collective studio and have agreed to use a Parecon model to organize themselves. They have found an old firehouse and pooled their resources and have worked together to renovate it and create it into a space for sharing, instructing and learning.They vote together when someone would like to join the collective and individual members are free to leave at anytime.

The Yoga Collective's logo, from Stratford, Ontario

The Yoga Collective’s logo, from Stratford, Ontario

Like Michael Albert, all 30 instructors believe that “parecon, describes core institutions for an economy to generate solidarity, equity, self management, and an ecologically sound and classless economy. It recognizes that what seek needs to be worthy and viable.”

1) The group have decision making influence in proportion as they are affected by the decision in question. It’s not just one person one vote, majority rules, three quarters rule, consensus, or one person dictates. Each of these approaches makes sense in some situations, but not in others. Self management by each individual instructor is the ultimate aim, including having different approaches for different situations. There is no one-size-fits-all-model to decision-making processes.

fitall1

A self-managing council makes decisions and rules for tallying preferences that reflect with some accuracy their wishes. Issues affecting only one instructor, that instructor decides, albeit in context of broader guidelines, things like the length of their workday, how many classes they will offer, vacation time or definition of job responsibilities (will they only work with kids, paraplegics or seniors?) are decided more widely. Issues affecting overwhelmingly the whole team, the team decides, again, typically following broader guidelines, for example, opening hours of the studio, prices to charge, maintenance, cleaning and upkeep duties, which styles to offer, maximum number of students during peak hours, covering each other’s classes during time off etc.

Sometimes the best way to get self-management for all involved is to seek consensus. Other times one instructor-one vote majority rule is best, and still other times, other methods make sense. For real self-management, those involved must not only have easy input but also fostering a culture and atmosphere which allows engaging in relevant discussions, and setting agendas. If participation is formally inclusive, but people lack means to do what formal rules permit – that is not self management.

The second feature Parecon offers is the idea that financial compensation should not be for power, that you get what you can take. Nor should remuneration be for property, that you get in proportion to what the property that you are welcomed to own adds to output. Nor should it be for your personal output, that you get in proportion to what you yourself produce, with various tools, by your own labors.

Instead, Parecon urges that your share of financial compensation should in part reflect your special needs so that those who cannot work get average income, by right and all who have medical needs have those addressed, again by right. And beyond that, remuneration should reflect how long you work, how hard you work, and the onerousness of the conditions under which you work, at socially useful labor.

Pareconish equity therefore means you get more income, entitling you to a larger share of social product, for working harder, longer, or under worse conditions, as long as you are producing socially valued output.

If we look at any economic actor, the benefits and costs they face should be like those that others face, because we are all people and all entitled to comparable conditions of life. This doesn’t mean, we should all get the same income even if we do different work. Rather, think of the implications of our labor and of our share of social product for our “conditions of life” and seek that the sum of benefits minus associated debits equalize from person to person. That is pareconish equity.

Imagine two instructors, Sabrina and Joey, who both teach Ashtanga classes, for 30 hours a week, at advanced levels, under the same conditions, and so have the same income. Now, suppose Sabrina wants more income to go on a retreat in Nicaragua. Parecon says, that shouldn’t be forbidden. It is perfectly predictable and reasonable that people should have differences in their tastes for consumption goods and services. But, says Parecon, it wouldn’t be fair if it was done by fiat. What would make it fair is if Sabrina wanting more compensation to afford the trip arranges to work longer (maybe 40 hours a week), or harder (with under-aged behaviorally-challenged criminal offenders), or happens to work under worse conditions (not at the comfortable studio but at a local detention center with limited facilities).

Sabrina wants to go here!

Sabrina wants to go here!

Vice versa, suppose, instead, Joey doesn’t care too much about consumption goods and services, but wants more free time to meditate on his chakras. Parecon says, again, that that shouldn’t be forbidden, but neither is it fair if it is done by fiat. What would make it fair is if Joey can arrange to work less hours (maybe 25 hours a week) or easier (with 5 year old kids) or happens to work in easier conditions (at a 5-star local spa-like daycare with trophy wives), and then, in accord, takes a smaller share.

Joey wants to teach here.

Joey wants to teach here.

In each case, the overall impact of work and consumption taken together on “conditions of life” for Sabrina and Joey remains equal. This is Pareconish ethics. One may or may not like it. Similarly, one may or may not like Parecon erasing the idea of people getting income for property, for power, for having better tools, for happening to produce something of higher value, for having been lucky enough to be genetically endowed with particularly productive attributes like their flexibility or strength.

2) The second underpinning of Pareconish equitable remuneration has to do with the idea that a vision has to be able to work with real people in real settings. Most people think the issue now at stake will be incentives, but Parecon’s view of incentives is nearly upside down from most people’s intuitions. And there is another issue, having to do with information and people’s judgments.

The usual carrot and stick model doesn't work in Parecon.

The usual carrot and stick model doesn’t work in Parecon, even if it is vegan.

Regarding incentives, the usual formulation goes something like this: Consider the physiotherapist who has to go to college, medical school, become a resident, and only then be a practicing physiotherapist earning full therapist pay. The pay needs to be very high or he or she won’t follow the path. Take away high incentives for being a therapist, people won’t do it. And now you can fill in for therapist: doctor, lawyer, accountant, professor, high level designer, scientist, and so on. Thus, lacking high incentives for these jobs, we will die for want of essential social services.

Of course, presented that way, this is not true. To test the claim, think of telling a student leaving high school and hoping to be a therapist that a big change in society has made it the case that therapists’ salaries, instead of being, $150,000 a year, are now going to be $70,000 a year. Will the student then forget the idea of going to college, medical school, being a resident, and then being a physiotherapist – because she would rather go directly into waitressing at a diner tomorrow, for the next forty five years, even if we suppose waitressing pays $90,000 a year? Try asking some students. Not one will switch. Incentives are needed when one is being asked to do something more onerous, or time consuming, or intense – but you don’t need more incentives to get less duration, less intensity and less onerousness.

People do many things, very often for the sense of accomplishment it gives them or for the help it provides other people, including volunteering, playing, studying things of personal interest, helping folks, etc. These activities compete for people’s personal time, and also do not exhaust all the things that need doing. Some time, even in a worthy economy, has to go to work that isn’t as intrinsically rewarding as playing, or studying, or just resting, or being with family, and that is time that is unavailable for more pleasant and fulfilling pursuits. Some time also has to go to onerous work that is unpleasant and unfulfilled (like housework and cleaning), itself, even when we understand and are motivated by the benefits it bestows (keeping germs and illnesses like bubonic plague away). So, in the choice we make between how to spend our time, incentives make a difference.

From uglyhousephotos.com Seriously keep your kitchen clean. Rot attracts roaches, vermin and other unpleasantries.

From uglyhousephotos.com
Seriously, housework has it’s benefits. Rot attracts roaches, vermin and other unpleasantries.

Someone might reply to the above, “no, we don’t need to correlate income and work. We just need people to understand the importance of each and what is the responsible and moral choice to make, and they will act on that understanding.” Suppose, the same person says, “Parecon has great incentives which will yield a great allotment of people’s energies and of the social output that is just, fair, and rewarding for all. Even if that’s true, I believe we can get that same allotment without bribing folks with payment for labor. So why shouldn’t we?”

A first answer is that thinking of income rights as bribery for our time and effort is a bit odd – unless we are talking about income as it is in capitalist economies – but set that aside. In fact, if we break the link between work and income and have people work as they choose, however much, and at whatever they want – and have people consume as they choose – however much and whatever they want – and we don’t require a connection between the two decisions, we won’t get as good an allotment as with Parecon’s approach. People will typically choose to work too little for the social good to be optimally met, and people will choose to take too much for the system to even work because the available output will fall well short of available demands for income.

This first answer is accurate, not because people are either greedy, lazy, or irresponsible, but because people have no way to know what is responsible and moral and should not and will not ignorantly police themselves into working too much or having too little income.

Good people in a good economy should in fact prefer to work less hours, less intensely, and less onerously for a given income. And the same people should want to receive more income, for a given number of work hours, intensity, and onerousness. And indicating that they want less work and more income is critically important, actually, to the economy innovating to make it happen, to the extent it is possible and desirable taking into account social and ecological implications.

Pugs certainly understand the use of their time.

Pugs certainly understand the use of their time.

No one can know, abstractly, what is a “fair” amount to offer to work, or what is a “fair” amount to ask to consume. What is “fair” depends hugely on available tools, resources, knowledge, needs, desires, and so on. It is not an automatic, but has to become clear from a discussion, of what people, as consumers, want as income, and what the same people, as workers, want as their work conditions and duration. By disconnecting these two aspects of economy, we lose the means to know what is responsible and people are then left to curb their own appetites and desires, rather than express them. It probably shouldn’t need saying, but for completeness, people being able to work at anything they want is also hugely problematic. I would like to play professional hockey – but it has no social value – it should not be compensated.

The flip side of the above “incentive issue,” that has already largely changed into an information issue, the second answer to the concern raised earlier that we can get results without connecting work and income, is that without indications not just of people wanting yoga – where yoga is some product, or some leisure, or some types of work, or clean air, and so on – but of how much they want yoga relative to their other preferences, there is no way for producers to know how much yoga is appropriate to produce, or where to invest.

Self managing councils and equitable remuneration are very often pretty closely adopted in real circumstances by at least some real workplaces. Instructors co-ops that have no owner, don’t reward property, power, or output, and do have a council for decisions, are an obvious and frequent example. So are Occupied factories say like in Venezuela. In such examples, the owner either leaves or is ejected or didn’t exist from the get-go. Salaries are equalized but then typically vary for duration. Councils function democratically and often, even with teams deciding their own circumstances and using different tallying methods for different situations.

A problem often arises, however, when workplaces adopt these two Pareconish structures. In co-ops and occupied workplaces, often, over time, initial enthusiasm starts to fade. Most instructors s find themselves eventually skipping council meetings. Few people end up being the decision makers. Income differences widen. Alienation follows. And finally, instructorss often blame themselves. “This is who we are,” or “they think “or “It must be in our genes to have growing disparities of income, power, and circumstance” or “There really is no alternative.”

3) In such depressing situation, the third feature Parecon offers is called balanced job complexes, wherein all jobs are “balanced” so they each have roughly the same overall empowerment effect.

All jobs include various tasks. In corporate divisions of labor, about 80% of the workforce does jobs whose component tasks are usually disempowering. These jobs tend to fragment workers from one another, separate workers from decisions and from information about decisions, involve workers in rote and repetitive activity, and cause workers skills, confidence, knowledge of workplace relations, and familiarity with making choices, to steadily decline. In contrast, about 20% of the workforce does jobs whose tasks typically enhance ties to others, increase social skills, acclimate decision contexts, enlarge confidence and knowledge of workplace relations, and, in general, better empower people to participate in and impact decisions.

Parecon’s claim is that the corporate division of labor creates a class division between those who monopolize empowering work and those who are left with overwhelmingly disempowering work. Their position in the economy conveys advantages, up to and including even ruling class status, to what I like to call the coordinator class, in coordinatorism.

When adopted in occupied factories like those in Venezuela now, or in co-ops all over the world, the corporate division of labor leads to 20% of the workplace not only setting agendas and choosing actions, but eventually reimposing inequitable incomes, finally leading to ruling class status for themselves.

This means that in addition to self-managing councils and equitable remuneration, one needs a new division of labor if one is to have real self-management and real classlessness. This is why Parecon advocates balanced job complexes to be sure all are equipped to participate effectively, making self-management real.

4) The fourth feature Parecon offers has to do with the mechanisms which arrive at workplace and consumer inputs and outputs and their rates of exchange throughout the economy. History offers three main choices for allocation:
a) markets
b) central planning
c) voluntary self-regulation.

Markets impose anti-social motivations and unequal compensation norms as well as huge power differences and ecological irresponsibility. They violate self-management, and even create a “coordinator class” above workers.

Central planning (i.e communism) creates that same class division, and even more obviously violates self-management. It also tends to violate ecological responsibility and accumulates excess wealth for the planners (and whole coordinator class) while forcing obedience and domination, characteristics which often have an insidious way of spreading to other sides of life.

We are NOT talking about communism here...

We are NOT talking about communism here…

Voluntary self-regulation is a great idea – but in most formulations avoids important underlying issues. To have instructors self-regulate in accord with worthy values and real possibilities you need a way for people to determine what is responsible regarding both work and consumption, and a context which allows people’s well-being depend on and enhance the well-being of others, as well as a process that allows and self-managing input to each. Parecon’s allocation system is built on the idea of viable, collective self-regulation.

Good allocation should permit and facilitate wise and informed collective self-regulation to arrive at economic inputs and outputs that meet needs and develop potentials while also fostering solidarity, enhancing equity, and enacting self-management, all this in light of accurate awareness of the true social and ecological costs and benefits of all choices we address.

This is a big list of virtues, but it is what Parecon claims to achieve. The fourth defining feature of Parecon is called participatory planning. Instructors councils present proposals and by continually refining them interactively cooperatively negotiate, self-regulate inputs and outputs which are consistent with the decided upon methods remuneration and balanced job complexes, and in ways implementing collective self management. There is no top and bottom. There is no center. It is not a competitive rat race. There is no yogilebrity culture. Solidarity is literally produced, not anti-socialness which is the worst expression of hyper-individuality. But it doesn’t assume a population of omniscient and morally saintly people. Instead, simple structures enable, facilitate, and make such results serve the aim of everyone.

There are many things to address about Parecon’s institutions, even without mistakenly trying to turn them into an unknowable, impossible, and inappropriate blueprint. Arguably the most important matter is why would an anti-capitalist project, movement, or organization be better off if its members were Pareconist, regarding goals, then if they were simply anti-capitalist but didn’t have any shared conception of defining institutions to replace capitalism?

Capitalism in action.Bikram Chowdhury driving his Cadillac. (This is yoga?)

Capitalism in action.
Bikram Choudhury driving his Cadillac. (This is yoga?)

Categories: Politico, This is why the planet is screwed up, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

When The Dark Night of the Soul becomes a week, month, year or decade

I just finished reading Roseanne Harvey’s very honest blog post over at “It’s all Yoga Baby” on her experiences with depression lately and yoga, working or not working as the case may be.

I can relate completely.
I too have suffered from depression, mostly the situational variety (when enough bad things happen to you, that it puts you into a funk). I tried counselling, yoga, acupuncture and fish oils (I’m against meds) which were all short-term fixes but the underlying sense of ennui remains.

We've all had that feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, at some point or other.

We’ve all had that feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, at some point or other.

I do think there is something inherently evil and dehumanizing about capitalistic societies. Chris Hedges, Derrick Jensen and before them, Karl Marx, said it right, that capitalism is a radical philosophy in that it is nothing more than the eventual commodification of all human life and all aspects of the natural world. In order to live in that market economy system, you have to join it and become a part of that machine. That machine has specific rules and even has it’s own language and philosophy.

From Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

From Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”

Like Roseanne, I too am in the midst of over-hauling my CV and the kinds of verbs and adjectives you can use are quite specific. It’s the language of the technocrat, it’s the language of “The Big Sell” and you’re the item up for sale. Only now, they couch it terms, of “marketability” or “adding value”.

A pretty apt description, methinks...

A pretty apt description, methinks…

As bad as job-hunting can be, whether you are currently employed, unemployed or under-employed, as bad as depression can be, whether that it is situational, clinical or chronic, I do think there is another factor at work here underneath the “itchiness” of late which seems to be affecting quite a number of people.

In my posting about the age of gurus being over, I had included this article from Wayne H. Purdin.

From page 32-33 of that article:
Thus, while the planetary energy spike may cause cataclysm, it will also transform our consciousness. The reason why was discovered by Dr. Valerie Hunt, Professor Emeritus of Physiological Sciences at UCLA. Hunt established the relation between electromagnetic field strength and consciousness and behavior in experiments using a shielded room, called the MU Room, in which the levels of electromagnetic energy, magnetism, and particle charges were manipulated. Dr. Hunt placed subjects in the MU Room and removed virtually every trace of electromagnetism. Hunt observed that the interaction between subjects increased. Subjects complained of tiredness, confused thinking, and they began to cry. Their nervous and endocrine systems reacted as though they were in peril. They lost their sense of boundaries, and their sense of body image disappeared. When the electromagnetic field was restored, all returned to normal. When it was increased beyond normal levels, the subjects’ thinking became clear and they reported an expansion in consciousness. (Hunt, 1996)

Get ready folks, because I do think that electromagnetism levels are going to skyrocket sooner than we think.This is just the darkest part of the night before dawn.

Sky9.17.04

No, it’s not the Mayan calendar ending and asteroids hitting us, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and the Planet Niburu making a surprise appearance. It’s not the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations. It’s not Pee-Wee Herman going back on TV to host a new “Gong Show”.

Heaven forbid...

Heaven forbid…

We’re about to leave the Kali Yuga and I mean that literally. I’m going to leave it to wiser minds than my own to explain this particularly Hermetic astrologer Santos Bonacci. This is probably the best video I’ve seen on the shift of the ages and what 2012 is really about. It’s a long watch, but I promise, it’s worth it.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, Those unseen things, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Why New Agers/Spiritualists are probably among the most useless people in the world

From “As the World Burns: 50 things You Can Do to Stay in Denial” By Stephanie McMillan and Derrick Jensen, page 6, Seven Stories Press

What this cartoon depicts is something which has bothered me for ages now. It’s a certain passivity and lackadaisical worldview among the New Age/Spiritual and even at times, the yoga set.

Most of them employ a type of thinking which is called “magical thinking”. That somehow by meditating on a certain idea, or by “dedicating your yoga practice” and doing 108 Sun Salutations, that some magical aura of positivity will emanate from you, like a fuzzy gas cloud your dog just farted out and then goes around to transform the world into your version of the Garden of Eden.

Doing 108 of these in a row, will give you killer arms and abs, but it will not stop Japan from reactivating their nuclear power plants.

It’s nothing new. A few weeks ago I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s most excellent book,“Bright-sided: How The Relentless Promotion Of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America”.

Eye-opening read.

In the book, she outlined the historical basis of how all this magical thinking has seeped into the general culture, from corporate seminars with the likes of Landmark Education, to runaway trash best-sellers like “The Secret” or movies based on pseudo-science like “What the Bleep do we know?!”.

Fit for the bin.

It goes back to the end of the 19th century, oddly enough when industrialization and mass production also started. At that time it was called “New Thought” and it set up the base for the New Age movement decades later.

I’ve also seen it at the yoga studio. Where every autumn and spring equinox, there’s usually a Yoga Mala being held somewhere. Donate your $20 for a local charity, do 108 Sun Salutations and achieve World Peace! Sounds groovy, right?

I don’t think so.

If anything, it is a form of the corporate state to control the masses and it is a form of extremely deceptive thinking and it goes something like this. “If we can deceive you to just sit at home and meditate on world peace or meditate on abundance or Ganesha’s third eye, and take no other real-world action, we can still go ahead and send in drones to bomb Pakistan or instigate Israel to start a war with Iran (so screw your peace). If we can deceive you to read books like “The Secret” or “The Power of Positive Thinking” and fall for them, you’ll be too distracted to see what we are really doing behind your back. Plus you’ll be too afraid, too distracted and in too much debt to ever take real, meaningful action, like fight us in the streets and expose us to the world and what we really do.You feel bad about all this bombing and world hunger? Well, just give your money to some charity to ease your guilty conscience, we’ll be able to buy them out anyway and make sure the status quo is continued. Guaranteed.”

While I agree keeping a positive frame of mind is important for day-to-day life, it cuts down on the irritation and your blood pressure  when a rude driver cuts in or when someone with 15 items is in front of you in the 10 items or less line at the supermarket, it’s just not everything.

Road rage isn’t good for you either.

Achieving things like world peace, equal rights and abundance FOR ALL takes work. Serious grunt-work. It means getting involved in grass-roots movements, going to demonstrations, boycotting companies or entities which are hurting people and the land. It means being an active citizen of the world. It means doing research, reading up on the issue of your choice and then really doing something about it. Just hiding out at your yoga studio, temple, church, mosque etc. does not achieve anything. If you’re really serious about changing the world for the better, your ideals have to be coupled with action. This video below shows how slavery had a lot to do with the sugar trade and and what people had to do to stop it. It’s an example worth thinking about and analyzing seriously.

I’ve also noticed something else in recent years. That radical activism has a sheen of coolness to it which these corporate types and enablers have tried to siphon back on themselves, to make themselves look cool (and somehow that translates into more followers and more money).

I thought it was extremely disingenuous when the likes of Russell Simmons, Deepak Chopra, Sean Corne, and Elena Brower showed their faces at Occupy Wall Street in NYC last fall.

Every last one of them personally benefit from the capitalist system and have yearly annual incomes well over the 6-digit range. That they can somehow show up in Zucotti Park with people who have lost their homes in foreclosures, students with PhD’s and MA’s who can’t find work, people who normally would never be able to afford in 5 back-to-back lifetimes to go on an overseas yoga retreats with someone like Brower, in my mind, stinks of opportunism and phoniness.

If these New Agers and Yoga “Teachers” are serious about alleviating the suffering that many are going through, they also have to help in dismantling that very system which created it in the first place, instead of trying to work around it or within it. Nothing less will do. But as it is, they benefit too much from it, so why ever say or do anything which will have real impact?

So chant all you want, pray all you want, meditate all you want, wait all you want while the world burns. Nothing is going to change out there unless it’s coupled with informed action.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, This is why the planet is screwed up, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 50 Comments

Why I left yoga (and why I think a helluva lot of people are being duped)

Like millions of Westerners out there, I too joined the yoga bandwagon about eight years ago after trying out my first Bikram class, moving on to Moksha and then settled at a hot yoga studio which practices all types of yoga in a hot space.

I too fell in love with how yoga made my body feel after a particularly tough workout.

I too fell into the pseudo-spiritual aspects of the practice.

And, finally I too got burned out by the practice, disillusioned and at times, even disgusted at the people who I thought should be setting an example to the rest of us but turns out that they are even more messed up than you realize and the yoga was just an effective cloak to hide their true nature and personalities.

For me, it was and always will be the health benefits of yoga which attracted me and still keeps me around but I also, perhaps in my naïveté, thought the people who were a part of the scene would be as sincere as they appeared to be. I had read every book out there, was thoroughly sick of the new age charlatans claiming to have psychic abilities all in the name of Mr. Dollar and selling their wares, whether it was books, weekend retreats or $1000 seminars and very disenchanted with what the so-called “good life” of a westernized professional was offering (it’s a formula, no more) . With yoga, I finally felt that I found something authentic, based on authentic teachings, plus I was feeling great afterwards. The people seemed nice; they had read and kept quoting all the great seers and sages of the centuries. Aurobindo, Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Rumi, Hafiz and more recently, writers like Eckhart Tolle. They were into the green movement, recycling and genuinely concerned about Mother Earth. They wear Toms and donated to legitimate foundations like Unicef, Right to Play etc.

But a few nagging observations wouldn’t leave me.

1) First of all, I’m of Indian heritage. I’m brown. You look at me and you know I’m ethnic. I speak the language and still have many extended family members there and have gone back often. By and large, and I’m generalizing since it’s not always the case, but yoga in the West is increasingly becoming a trendy diversion for the affluent and bored or those who are obsessed with the body beautiful and the cult of hedonism which follows that.  Now I see yoga branching out in such things like “Chocolate Yoga” or “Trance Dance Yoga”, where in short, the culture of the nightclub or rave is being super-imposed on yoga. India is still deeply conservative socially. Arranged marriages are still the norm in the villages and were also the norm in the big cities until maybe 20 years ago. Binge drinking, sexual promiscuity and drug taking, which are elements of the club culture are strongly frowned upon and considered socially unacceptable in many social circles in India but yet it is being passed off as something that is a part of yoga by North American suburban kids and marketers looking for the next big trend, when that is just not true.

yoga-rave-atlanta

2) It is extremely classist. It lacks plurality and inclusiveness. I do not see many people of blue-collar backgrounds who can afford these classes on a regular basis and many of them are precisely the ones who could probably benefit the most from yoga. Most of the studios in my city charge around $1200 for an unlimited yearly membership.  That’s serious coin. I can hardly  envision a stressed, single mother trying to raise her kids on social assistance being able to afford that when she probably needs the benefits of yoga more than the pampered trophy wife who just returned form her 5-star shamanistic initiation retreat in Bolivia. I walk into most of my yoga classes and I see nothing but a sea of white faces, maybe the token black and Asian. Some people may read that as a racist statement but I’m not trying to be racist and this isn’t a reverse racism argument either, it is just my observation. Yoga in North America caters to the affluent and is falling in line with the capitalist system of profit. It is increasingly distancing itself from the roots of yoga.

I can barely make out one non-Caucasian at this Bikram yoga training session.

If anyone can find a non-Caucasian here, let me know.

3) It is really annoying watching some white people try to act ethnically brown when they are not and they never will be. Intention is everything here. I can understand there is a difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, but when the Pussy Cat Dolls show up in saris at some premier, you have to ask yourself, what the intention here is.

Pussy Cat Dolls at the 2008 Fashion week Fashion Rocks concert

Pale women with Shiva tramp-stamps do not look good in saris doing Bollywood dance moves or wearing bhindis especially if they have freckles (Like, really).  For Indian women, this is part of their cultural heritage and identity, not some gimmicky hip trend to try out and pose around in until the next trend shows up.

Happy woman dancing in sari

5) Sanskrit, like Latin, is a dead language. Let it go already. The Catholic Church let go of the Latin Mass after Vatican II back in the early 1960s. Chanting in Sanskrit does not make you look cool nor does it make you an automatic Hindu. Or an authority on yoga, Vedic studies or Indology (Yes, that is a real academic subject). Nor does having a made up Sanskit-derived moniker name make you any more real either with names like Blissananda, Ganeshananda, Serenityananda etc.

Ganeshananda – I’m wondering how many Indian followers does he have?

6) Just because it’s exotic does not mean it’s real or more authentic. Real Indians, in India make fun of many Westerners behind their  backs  and are making money off of their ignorance. Do you see real, native Indians in the fancy, expensive ashrams in India? No. Do you see many native Indians “following” your Guruji? Probably not.  Do you see many Indian women at these open air clothing-optional Tantric weekend couples workshops in Hawaii? Did you ever ask why not?

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Many, many of these so-called gurus and God-men (and women) of India are scam artists but because their ashrams and centres bring in so much, much-needed cash and tourist dollars, the Indian government looks the other way and in fact, are in on it too. There is nothing spiritual about it. It’s a cash cow and they are milking many Western followers of yoga for all they can get. Not always, I’m generalizing. There are some authentic teachers left in India but they’re usually just minding their own business and not interested in selling anything or proselytizing people. Unfortunately, the former is happening more frequently than the latter.

(I heartily recommend anyone who is interested in this topic to watch this BBC documentary on Sai Baba called “The Secret Swami”.)

Another yogi who pretty much indirectly admits Caucasians are inferior to Indians is Bikram Chowdhury. In his 60 minutes interview  he said that the intense physical aspects of Bikram yoga is more “suitable” to  North Americans because they need to discipline themselves physically before they can start  on the spiritual and psychic and that it’s not necessary for Indians.  That somehow the physical and mental make up of Caucasians is different from Indians and therefore they need to do an additional step of rigorous physical training before attempting anything spiritual. Does anyone  see the double-speak and double-standard here? ( at 1:15 and 10:10)

Bikram Chowdhury on 60 Minutes

They are promising you Enlightenment just as long as you pay up or keep giving enforced “donations”, but it does not work that way. Why do you think celibate Buddhist monks devote their entire lives living in monasteries under vows of poverty, living off of alms trying to achieve Enlightenment? Because it’s excruciatingly hard work and it takes a lot more than a weekend retreat or two plus reading a best-seller to get there.

Thai Forest Tradition Buddhist monk

7) Yoga can become cultic very quickly and the levels of self-absorption and narcissism can sky-rocket easily if you don’t watch it so keep your radar tuned in.  I have heard stories of certain Jivamukti yoga instructors threatening to cut off friendships with other yoga instructors from other traditions because they were not completely vegan.

Really folks? That’s all you can worry about and think about? There’s a nuclear reactor in Japan which is about to fail and spells disaster for the West coast of North America. Workers in Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal are on the frontlines fighting technocrats and bankers who are trying to rob them of their right to live in some semblance of dignity and respect. There’s a Maoist insurgency in central India and peasants are trying to keep their land from mining companies and THIS is what you have to bicker about?

A woman runs from anti riot police during a demonstration in central Athens, Greece

8) The level of cultural awareness among some of the yoga set is pitiful at times and yet this is the same crowd that tries to come off as cultural and spiritual mouthpieces for that sub-continent. It is truly a subcontinent, with vast differences in culture, religion, diet, language, customs, and history. The only commonality you will find among Punjabis, Gujaratis, Marathis, Rajasthanis, Bengalis, Tamils, Goan, Keralites, Nepalis, Uttar Pradeshi, Kashmiri, Assamese, Ladakhs, Orissians etc is possibly the brown skin, if that. Once upon a time, all these provinces and territories were their own kingdoms and countries and were amalgamated and consolidated into one state and created into “India” by the British. Think of them as entirely different countries with their own unique identities. You wouldn’t mix up a Pole with a Russian (and if you did, they’d probably punch you), so why should you mix up a Tamil with a Punjabi?

You have no idea how annoying it is to hear some girl at the yoga studio look at you and say “Oh, I have an Indian friend and her parents made her get married to some computer engineer in San Jose and she had to get this thing signed with witnesses, what’s that about?”

Me: “Was she Sikh?”

Girl: “No, I think she’s Muslim”.

Me: “Well, I’m Sikh so I’m not really sure”

Girl: “But she’s Indian, just like you.”

Me: “Yeah, but we have many different religions in India and practise things differently…”

And it just goes downhill from there….

In the end, I began to see how vacuous the scene was becoming and has become. I still love the feeling I get after doing a session but I just can’t stand to be around the high-school popularity contest atmosphere which has permeated many of the studios these days and some of the more vapid personalities who are claiming to be instructors and taking advantage of their privileges.

yogagroupstockphoto

I know they are not all like that, there are some genuine well-meaning people in that community and some of them are truly doing outstanding work like outreach into prisons and so forth. But for me personally, I’m questioning the profit-driven, hedonistic aspects which seems to have taken over the subculture.

Yogadork recently had an article asking if yoga needs to grow up.

In short, yes. Big time.

Addenda: I will no longer post any comments which quite obviously show that the poster has not taken the time out to either read or watch the links I provided below nor took the time out the read the comments already posted in their entirety but instead feel their drive-by analysis and knee-jerk reactions suffice as a form of discussion.

Other Links

Diversity Training: Do Yoga teachers and YTT programs need it?

Sacred Justice: Where Yoga, Solidarity & Activism Meet (Workshop review)

Let’s Try This Again…

To anyone who needs to understand the difference between anger and hate, sexism, racism, and white privilege.

Why cultural appropriation hurts

Yoga and the exclusion of people of color

Why I really want to give up on yoga

Why I will Never give up on yoga

For anyone who needs to understand WHY issues of cultural appropriation, inclusion and plurality is not about visible minorities “getting over the whole race thing” but rather understand that this is a “white problem”, please watch these videos of “The Color of Fear” (and if you can find a copy of the entire film it is well worth your while) as well as this documentary, “You are Here: Exploring Yoga and the Impacts of Cultural Appropriation”.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Categories: False prophits, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 390 Comments

Why the Age of Gurus is over and how the Truth Vibrations are exposing them

For years now, from as early as 1991, David Icke has been writing and discussing the Truth Vibrations, an energy frequency which uncovers and unmasks all things including this deceptive matrix, which we call and experience as “reality”.

      David Icke: Truth Vibrations (Awakening the Great Spirit) by Jay4Louise

For decades, prophets and seers have been discussing this mysterious cosmic cloud or part of the galaxy which Planet Earth is about to enter, filled with this Cosmic Truth Serum which will help many of us who are open to the Ascension process move out of the old programming and move into the new one and help all of us see who we really are, no more masks, no more bullshit, no more phonies. A particularly beautiful description of what we are experiencing and what is in store for us can be found in this article:

Zen Gardner‘s website has a series of particularly enlightening articles about this Cosmic Cloud:

Icke , was and is,  spot-on.

With happenings like the Occupy Movement, where masses of people are demanding more transparency and accountability from shady and sinister entities like Wall Street and Big Government…

With Wikileaks, where cyber-punk hottie Julian Assange basically exposes the nefarious dealings of governments, military and multinational corporations the world over.

With the talented motley crew of hackers over on the 4chan /b/ board a.k.a Anonymous, who have infiltrated, and in some case, brought down to their knees, impenetrable organizations like VISA, Mastercard, the CIA, the FBI and Bank of America….

So it is also no surprise that people who are operating on anything less than full integrity are somehow being outed for who they really are these days…

James Ray

This includes New Age hucksters like that asshole James Ray, who conducted a sweat-lodge retreat in Sedona, AZ for  $10,000 US/person for the five-day program intended to push participants to their physical and emotional limits.

  

More than 50 people participated in the two-hour sweat lodge, a sauna-like ceremony typically used by American Indians to rid the body of toxins. It was meant to be the highlight of Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” seminar near Sedona. Two people were pronounced dead at the scene; a third died after spending more than a week in a coma; 18 others were hospitalized. Witnesses described the scene after the ceremony as alarming and chaotic — like a “battlefield” — with people vomiting and shaking violently, while others dragged “lifeless” and “barely breathing” participants outside. 

This is the kind of thing that happens when someone decides to undertake something that he knows nothing about. I’ve done numerous sweat lodges over the years with Elders who had the proper training and proper teachings and not once did anything bad ever happen to me because I was in the hands of people who knew what they were doing and  were working with the lodge as a place of sanctity and healing.

Ray is a New Age fraud who, I’m willing to bet ,probably did a lodge or two, saw how simplistic the sweat lodge looks like and figured he could build one easily and make a killing off these people who don’t know any better.

It’s not as easy as it looks. There are Native teachings around the kinds of branches from what kind of specific trees you can use, the kinds of rocks which are heated, the kinds of coverings and blankets which can be used, the kinds of medicines you can use inside the lodge. In fact, there are teachings around just about every aspect of the lodge itself and if even one is done incorrectly, it can spell harm down the line.  This isn’t something you learn in a textbook or weekend seminar. It’s something which an Elder will transmit to someone who they think is spiritually mature enough and responsible enough to take the teachings of the lodge seriously and recognize that it’s for the people and the community, not for lining your pockets.

John Friend

Another huckster whose bowl of spiritual New Age pablum recently spilled over is John Friend of Anusara yoga fame.

Friend was well on his way to creating a new yoga empire with his brand of positive yoga, named Anusara, a school of thought which not only taught proper alignment but was also infused with a lot of New Age positive talk and phrases like “opening to grace” and”shining your truth”. (I’m not sure how you’re supposed to “shine truth” when  you’re limbs are twisted up in a pretzel, but whatever…)  He was also the brains behind “Wanderlust”, a kind of yoga version of the Burning Man festival.

Friend was a celebrity yoga teacher, in much the same way Baron Baptiste, Rodney Yee and Bikram Chowdhury have dominated the yoga market, a part of the $6 billion per year health and wellness industry. Jet-setting all over the world, teaching to scores of tight-bodied young women at exclusive retreats and seminars, Friend had it all and then blew it.

If you want all the gory details, then I suggest you pay a visit to Yogadork’s excellent site but in short, all hell broke loose when an irritated computer programmer working for Anusara posted up a site which was online for all but a day, but long enough to catch the attraction of yogadork.com  Intimate online chats of Friend and several members of his pagan sex coven, including married women, an employee pension fund freeze, illegal pot runs and allegations of lying and cheating all went online. It struck many as deeply hurtful and hypocritical when Friend himself had come up with a very stern code of ethics for Anusara teachers and instructors. It’s a typical Gurus-Gone-Wild story. Guy gets drunk on too much of his own power and sense of entitlement and starts abusing it and his followers and groupies are left in the lurch. The Anusara empire is now in the process of either dissolving or restructuring completely without Friend.  In the yoga world, Friend is hardly alone.(Check out my posting “Why I left yoga”  on why this is equally applicable to some of the Indian gurus)

All this to say that fakes are now being outed with increased rapidity and there’s no stopping it now.

Which is why I think the Age of Gurus is now over.

It’s true the people continue to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, on pricey weekend seminars with the likes of Deepak Chopra or Wayne Dyer, always in the hope that if they just go to this one seminar, or buy this one book, or take that one Mediterranean cruise with Tony Robbins, then that one big breakthrough which they’ve been looking for all their life will finally come true.

I’m sorry to say that most of these people are fooling themselves and losing a lot of money while they are at it.

We’re at the stage now, that you either get it or you don’t. Those folks who have been steadily working on themselves all these years will be sensitive enough to have picked up on these new energies which are surrounding us now. It will only get more intense and denser and stronger from now on, we’re not even in the thick of it yet, only at the periphery

Those who are still very much into seeking guidance outside of yourself, by following some of these New Age writers, channelers and speakers, who have refused to actually sit down seriously and work on themselves and face up to their own shortcomings and processed their fears and issues are in a for a rude awakening. Nothing external, no book, no seminar, no guru or teacher, no expensive cruise is going to help you when the real shift does hit the fan (and it’s coming fast). Only you can help yourself.

I’ll be the first one to admit it; it is very hard and painful work facing up to yourself. People don’t do it because it is so damn hard. It means revisiting those parts of you and your past you’d rather not look at too closely, revisiting old, hurtful feelings, sometimes opening up old, festering wounds and releasing those old feelings and the programs which go with them.  It requires courage and unflinching, brutal honesty with yourself.

But once you’ve done it, the sense of peace you find and the joy which comes upon you, will last. No one , no husband, wife, ex-lover, enemy, bad neighbor, NO ONE can ever take it away from you once you’ve found yourself. And that’s when real joy, real love, real everything comes into your life, because you found it inside of yourself.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Shift of the Ages effects, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 44 Comments

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