Boston — and the Ashtanga Yoga “Police”

by Apr 25, 2013

I normally make a point of not being “political” in my blog posts. The recent bombing at the Boston Marathon has filled my mind so much that I do want to publish what I think about it. My overriding feelings, beyond my sorrow and sympathy for those affected, is that I cannot imagine a God who would welcome to paradise someone who has perpetrated this kind of atrocity. I cannot imagine a belief system that can condone these acts particularly against children. This sort of thing simply cannot be justified.

I would also note that just because all the media we get is about this and that we never get to hear about the similar atrocities that are perpetrated by the US military and their allies, that we should only hold one party up as being guilty. Somehow, this cycle of retribution has to stop and I would suggest that the party that holds by far the strongest hand needs to show the courage to say, “this ends now”. I do understand that people have long memories and history shows that we are good at holding a grudge. It may take more than one generation of showing love and compassion for the scars to fade, but all the more reason to start now. Unfortunately, given that those in power in the US lack the courage to pass legislation to make it more difficult for their own citizens to have access to weapons that do a vast amount of damage in a very small time, I doubt they will have to courage to stop bombing the citizens of other states.

This all got me thinking about the nature of fundamentalist thinking and it reminded me of a blog that a friend of mine sent me this link to; http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/01/how-i-dismissed-the-ashtanga-police-jean-marie-hackett/. I think we all are subject to the lure of dogma. To an extent, we all look for certainty in our lives. I remember on my first visit to Mysore in 1994 that there were students there analyzing everything Guruji did, looking for the system. “Oh yes,” they would say,”when you can do this, he will start you on that”. The amazing thing was to see the looks on their faces when Guruji did something that was totally outside of the “system” they had devised for him. Guruji would often give specific advise or instructions to certain individuals for certain situations, and it amazes me how some of these things have somehow become “rules” of Ashtanga Yoga.

I think that above all else, Guruji was a pragmatist. He saw what each of us needed whether we thought we needed it or not. I myself saw him give a good friend of mine, on his second 6 month stint in Mysore, Navasana before he even attempted Marichasana D. Everyone seemed to think that you had to be able to take your ankles in Urdva Dhanurasana before you could start Intermediate Series. I saw Guruji break this “rule” on more than one occasion. The fact is that the Ashtanga Vinyasa method provides a framework that is then applied to each individual, as befits that individual. To achieve this successfully with respect for the lineage, requires a great deal of humility and years of experience on the part of the teacher. To insist that there is one set of “Rules” that applies to everyone, and that if you don’t adhere to those rules that you are wrong and that no benefit can accrue is to show the ignorance and the arrogance that ultimately leads to fundamentalist thinking.

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3 Comments

  1. eileen

    Well thought out. I see these things as an issue created when following an ideal becomes more important than common sense, than seeing the effect of your own actions on a personal level, than not listening to your God.

  2. Mike

    Thank you Eileen. That is exactly it. A little common sense goes a long way.

    Mike

  3. 25Th Anniversary

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Regardless, just wanted to say great blog!