Pitfalls Part One

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that the sheer volume of practitioners these days would be having more of an impact on the social dialogue. You’d think with all of these OMs that the larger fabric of politics, legislation and commerce would be more explicitly conscious of history and future aims. This series of posts is my observation of where our golden hearts and brilliant ideas go to stagnate and eventually die. There are a couple of notes on what I perceive to be the “poison pills” of spiritual rhetoric.

Also note that for some reason comments, while I can see them from within WP, are not posting publicly. You aren’t being censored, at least not on purpose, winky face.

Beware of falling standards

Beware of falling standards

“The Burning Man Paradox”

[N.B. I’m picking on Burning Man even though I like it and believe in it, and love so many people that love it. Bear with me, here]

Most visionaries have a utopia in mind, either in the past or in their visions, or as in the Burning Man festival, a specific temporary time period. If only things were that way, the argument goes, our grief would be less and our consciousness more elevated.

I’ve never had the pleasure of attending the festival, primarily due to a creeping horror of dry skin. But I’ve watched many friends come and go over the years. Usually there is a community frisson immediately after their return, especially in the case of my yoga teaching colleagues. It’s very much like when people return from retreat or from study. You can feel the magical charge coming off of them. Sometimes the ideas are more compelling, better articulated; it’s a groovy transmission of feeling, and it’s always temporary.

While I know that fits and starts of charitable projects, microloans, creative collaboration have indeed been born out of crucibles like BM, the primary yearning in the participants appears to be to get back to Burning Man the following year. It’s not as explicit as the individuated journey undertaken by the meditator or yogi [cf Remski, “the internalizing arts”] but it’s still so segregated and rarefied [and literally privileged] that IME it disconnects more than it connects. Any concepts of any worth are so hothoused by utopian thinking that implementing them almost always requires some sort of fantastic or violent shift: destroying current government, forced liquid acid consumption u.s.w. [they get weirder, but you get the idea]. I can totally get why you’d feel like those measures are what would be required given the intensity of preparation and experience required to undertake these deep “retreat” or “festival” experiences. I’ve been the person coming back from Maui all high on lilikoi and Ram Dass and thinking that I was making sense and just headed further down the rabbit hole.

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Government as practice

How to leap into the thorny nest of brain static I’ve been accreting through the blog posting drought?  Why, go stomping right into the heart of darkness, of course.  The heart of darkness being the recent ad for the BC Jobs Plan, an expensive and instantaneously self-refuting piece of nonsense that makes all the hair on my arms stand up every time its stupid iphone dominoes come rolling into the living room.

Premise: that you, Joe or Josephine Labourer, should check out this program regarding your future employment

there’s my guy!

Corollary:  that this is a government program

How the program is marketed:  that British Columbia, through the miracle of Low Taxes and Reduced Government Spending, is so wicked awesome that our white iphone domino will stop all of these threateningly dusky black iphone dominos spilling over from the wretched East

My take away:  So I, Josephine Labourer, should check out this program that you’ve created that BY YOUR OWN PROMOTIONAL ADMISSION you have underfunded and likely understaffed and have no intention of generating revenue for?  And that you spent millions of dollars to promote?  It doesn’t seem like you can organize a ham sandwich, much less a jobs program.

My second take away:  But of course that’s what they WANT me to think because as long as I don’t think the government can do anything right, the more my voting apathy will increase and the more I will turn to the even less effective and even more corrupt corporate system [or libertarianism which is just corporatism in fancy clothes] as my only alternative.   Fie, I say.

It’s really, really hard for me to live in this province and still continue to advocate paying taxes and supporting structural change through government, because there is an extremely high douchebag content as one winds through the warrens of power; they’re hidden in there, entrenched, and the paranoia and resentment is not entirely unfounded.  Trouble is, right now our alternative is the even less accountable and even more morbidly corrupt corporations.  It’s annoying to have to compromise shiny romantic virtues for the grubby, repeated whittling away at the status quo that constitutes politics.  I can definitely see why people don’t bother, especially young people, especially hippies.

Hey, things being grubby and repeated reminds me:  The twins are twenty months.  Today I wanted to spot clean the poor blue Ikea cloth sofa that has been saturated with juice and various other more compromising fluids, also vacuum the cat’s room.  Robert refers to all vacuum- or extraction-type devices as Robots and demands to be involved in their processes, up to and including turning them on and off and unplugging them from the wall.  I have an involved wall socket strategy but today’s needs were very specific and over the course of the cleaning R unplugged the vacuum four [4] times, necessitating much baby-gate vaulting, and then between the two of them they turned the upholstery cleaner off seven [7] times.  After the third or fourth turn-off turn-on episode a deep weariness set in on my part [I can’t speak for any weariness on their part although they are now napping so maybe they got it too] and I was all like, I can’t believe how boring and tedious this is, why can’t they just leave it alone for two seconds and let me finish cleaning this poor couch?

Hey, things being boring and tedious reminds me:  During one of my recent classes, in Savasana, the neighbouring room’s students were preparing to go in for their practice.  In full voice in the hallway I can hear two students discussing their recent experiences, and one asked the other if they had ever taken my class.  Student 1 said something about really liking what I had to say, etc., quite complimentary in a neutral sort of way.  Student 2 said, “Yeah, I took her class once.  It was so boring”.

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L.O.S. Weeks 36 through 44

“Ramakrishna said that our attempts to go to Brahman and report back what it’s like are like sending a salt doll – a doll made out of salt – to the bottom of the ocean to determine its depth.  On the way, the doll will totally dissolve, and there will be nobody left to report back.”

    – Ram Dass, from Paths to God, recalling Ramakrishna’s endeavour to describe samadhi to his students

stay under as long as you can

In plain talk, we’re pretty far down the rabbit hole at this point, people.  I haven’t been able to transcribe all of the asanas for each section, nor have I been entirely clear on what specifically is transpiring in my own experience as the weeks progress, and now that I’m approaching the year anniversary of Project LOS, if I were to try to describe the full transition I wouldn’t even know where to start.  I figure having the asanas written is not so important cause if you’re reading this you probably have the book and you can look it up yourself, plus while the project remains firmly anchored in the physical body the effects are becoming less tangible, less anatomical, less intellectual even:  the shifts seem to be manifesting as dreams [which are often nightmares at this point, womp womp, requiring a steady meditative hand during the days] and flashes of people or situations in one day that manifest or show themselves in the next 48 or 72 hours.  The structural changes in the Week 36-40 series hinge around Vatyanasana and Akarna Dhanurasana, addressing iliopsoas and quadratus lumborum among others, and then BKS has been good enough to bestow Urdhva Dhanurasana on us as the final pose before rest, plus some Uddhiyana Bandha practice which will get your motor running.  It’s good spinal therapy.  Then in weeks 40 through 44 he says just “consolidate” the poses up to this point, which I’m not sure what that means in this context but I just kept doing the previous weeks’ sequence…

…and then yesterday I completed the first time all the way through the Week 45-50 sequence with all the trimmings and had my little blown yet again by the sophistication and cumulative construction of the program.  The sequences are lasting for longer chunks of time and building physical stamina in Urdhva by way of 6 repetitions; pranayam is increasing in length and volatility.  Note to any of you practicing this along with me, or who want to start it:  do not skip Nadi Shodana.

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Meet the new boss

Oh yogis, seekers, miscellaneous hippies, readers and internet dilettantes:  please please please don’t let Them convince you that your only active role in this society is as consumer.

Kind of Matrixey

 A dollar is not a vote, nor should it be.  Yes, your purchasing power sends a message and can generate a sort of low-grade change like greenwashing where various focus groups and boardroom tables learn to pay lip service to your meagre dollars.  Yes, your decisions matter and should not be overwhelmed in feeling like you can’t make a difference, because you can and you will.  But the fallout from this kind of rhetoric gives us mayhem like Citizens United, it makes people feel profoundly cheated by Silk and Kashi [who after all are just companies like every other company, and I really shouldn’t have to say this but *companies are not bad*, they just are what they are], and most importantly takes energy that we really should be using to influence the political process and gives it to STUFF.  I love stuff, btw.   I love buying stuff.  I know first hand the pitfalls of trying to create an Edenic purity of purchasing in a household while the needed compromises of existing in society are forsaken.   You are more than a dollar.  You’re more than a vote, too, but don’t get it twisted:   if a company grew fat off of your money they’d just be the new boss, and all you’ve done is make them feel like they have a financial mandate to make ethically and environmentally questionable decisions.  Regulate and tax the big ‘uns; shift the burden of responsibility to those who have the power to make broad change:  the companies themselves.  That is all.