Socialism in the Wake of the Anusara Shake-Up ?

The Beatles lyrics;

The sun is up, the sky is blue it’s beautiful and so are you

are running through my head and that tells me I’m done with matters outside my yoga domain for now. I have a waning interest.

But there is something worth noting I think, because the word socialism  went off in my own head as I read Elephant Journal’s interview with John Friend’s once mentor Dr. Douglas Brooks.

The interview with Dr. Brooks is underlined here. Read it before you go on as it’s not my intention to analyze this protracted monologue. I will admit that I read it quickly.

The greater Anusara community is not a bunch of Divinity School PhD’s. They are largely a youthful and active group of people who want to be happy, who want to feel good and want community. I suspect an intellectualizing of what Tantra (the underpinning of their practice) means beyond embrace life fully and gracefully probably isn’t any more paramount right now than a bunch of Rabbis arguing a Talmudic interpretation of how to wear a prayer shawl while the people of Israel try to discern the right policies for the nation.

As students find their community in disarray they want to feel comfortable in that community again. The students deserve a thorough education of the heritage they have chosen but I’m guessing that this is probably not a safety net at the moment.

Anusara the community is an interesting albeit tiny and simplistic template for society at large.  Are the Anusara problems a symptom of the disease of this country? What distracts people from digging deep into the communities they choose? It’s been revealed in national politics that much of the public finds intellectualism alienating and much of the public finds dogma alienating and the two appear disparate to me.

John Friend had a corrosive effect on his yoga community who by their simple desires, passivity, ignorance and insecurity, enabled him to follow a typically corporate model in which his private interests seemed to dictate behavior that didn’t serve the whole in the way they expected.

While I’m more concerned that members of our national electorate will consider appointing a President who does not believe in birth control than I am about the Anusara community and while I think the problems of a yoga community are diminutive, I am drawing parallels.

Many of us refuse to participate in daily politics and even elections. We don’t want to pay attention and dismiss this stuff as distraction. We have lives to lead and we are in the moment. We might feel like our leaders are lacking but we don’t think it has much bearing on our day to day. Anyway, they are big, we are small; what can we do? We just want to be happy. We find solace in faith, community in church; we educate ourselves to have jobs. We meet trouble at our doorstep. Who has time for more?

We inhabit a capitalistic democracy that is making its way toward ruination of the planet and its inhabitants despite the efforts of intelligent and earnest people.  A small group of people in power, allowed by many of us who are giving away our power in exchange for daily peace are taking us down.

The leaders of Anusara are taking down John Friend and it seems they are establishing another sort of government that sounds vaguely Socialist. That would be a radical shift.

It may be an interesting trial and material for discussion on who we are and what could be accomplished by a cooperative collective.  The Occupy Movement has initiated that but it is a fragmented and fairly powerless model so we don’t know how a country reinvented under an Occupy ideal would look.

Of course a yoga community is distinctive as a group that plays in the ether. Yogis train not to fear the vagueness of light, to trust that the expanse of physical parameters can fall into that light and not disappear. One must be careful what they are falling into. It’s easier to define shadow. Light has no form.

A shadow is beautiful too. There is learning in the looking. Notice the shadow, then you know how to proceed. Notice the shadow.



Filed under Uncategorized, yoga

3 responses to “Socialism in the Wake of the Anusara Shake-Up ?

  1. Reading your excellent (as always) post I was thinking as above, so below. The global-level big shots beget the local ones. Then I started thinking about fractals and whether anything within can really be very different from anything else within. Nevertheless, there is something truly radical about the yoga within us now when compared to our hyper-materialized consumer society. Yoga seeks to change the mind. It seeks to change the mind away from its deluded sense of a prideful, disconnected, survivalist, I-got-mine-screw-you existence.

    This yoga cannot be expressed in platitudes and so does not lend itself to commodification. Big Consumerism must co-opt, commodify and brand, before it becomes a threat. This yoga is hard and not for dilettantes. I think very few who can really do it become famous. Why would they?

    I read Brooks’ letter. I thought it was nicely propounded with a latent theme of distancing. We don’t like being seen with shadows. Bad for marketing. Real yogis don’t mind going there at all, of course. And given time, the masses could catch on, too.

    Will the future be different because of yoga? Or will yoga become more of the same? Infomercials? I do believe that yoga could pose a threat to the same-o, same-o. Not corporate yoga. But the yoga that passes mind to mind and aims to shift the consciousness away from gratification. See you on the charnel grounds.

    • David,

      I’m so glad to have this response to fill in the blanks that I consistently leave in my writing! I have so many different thoughts running through my head and rarely flush them out. I am no authority. Just a muckraker.

      I got the gist of something familiar reading Brook’s letter that I felt was a disconnect between the community and the leaders. What felt like a lengthy discussion of Tantra didn’t seem to make sense to me unless John had declared Tantra the philosophy of enlightened sex and that begot the problem. I doubt that was the case.

      Things do get complicated beyond the one; family, friends, community, bigger community. Relationship is subject to something intangible which is ego. It cannot be trusted if it hasn’t been explored and even then….. Its sneaky self -preservation doesn’t recognize rules. We the people have been at so many different therapies for centuries. It’s not that we’re not trying. Yoga is such a complete system since it adds in the body in an active way that it’s deserves the gold star but I saw a quote from Bryan Kest the other day that sums up the pitfalls there.

      “You bring your shit to yoga and you turn your yoga to shit.” I’ve probably heard that before but forgot it. Classic Bryan. He’s right. I know so many yoga students who take classes and integrate what they take away into old belief systems and habits. I’m sure I do it too.

      I read another quote so longs ago and I didn’t recognize the author’s name and so don’t remember it but it said, “God is not in me. I am in God.” That was an ah ha moment for me and I’ve used it silently many times since. It translates when I find myself practicing by rote: Yoga is not in me, I am in this yoga and it takes me out of my worn out pattern of the moment and into the practice instead of studying shifting.

      Manhy thanks again for adding depth to the discussion.

  2. When I read intellectual commentary on yoga I often feel like the big picture is being overlooked.

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