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255 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - Ode to the Unbroken. ~... · 2 replies · +3 points

Excellent post! It's something I've been sharing with my students for years; this idea -- fed by what 12-step programs call 'terminal uniqueness,' that we are uniquely messed-up, lacking, broken, deficient etc. So we hold this 'wound' secret (or as you point out, so we think!) and this secreting away of our brokenness only serves to isolate us! But of course, if others knew how messed up we are they'd reject us so we reject those parts of ourselves and cause even greater fracturing!

Yet, when given the chance in an open, healing, safe, sharing environment to actually open up about these deep feelings of 'lack,' what we find is everyone is intimate with it! We have been isolating ourselves from others by thinking we are unique in these feelings and find they are just what we universally share as human animals! It'd be funny if it weren't so tragic!

In the yoga community, we also have to acknowledge the devious influence of certain 'new-age' thought that shames so many into feeling that they suffer because they've 'brought it upon themselves.' I've known so many yogis who suffer more from thinking their practice must not have been 'good enough' or they wouldn't be having these human feelings/experiences etc.!

So, thanks for bringing this out in such a visible forum!

257 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - Radically Human. ~ Mic... · 1 reply · +1 points

It is in such courageous sharing that we offer such a gift to others. I only just shared with 41 amazing yogis in retreat how the idea that so many of us hold; that we are "not enough," or that we are "too much," that we must hide and protect that which we think is shameful -- that we are less than, lacking something that we aren't even clear about, that we are defective in some way, and that if others knew they would withdraw any love is EXACTLY what keeps us alienated, alone, isolated.

This is what the 12-step programs call "terminal uniqueness," and the tragic reality is that what we think most personal and unique -- that we are somehow lacking or defective -- when once we finally share this feeling/mental formation we find we hold in common with most if not all others! The particulars may be different, but deep down we harbor this fear and it is only in exposing it that we move beyond it; what we think uniquely ours we find is exactly where we meet our commonality. We are human... and we are in good company!

I love you, dear sister. Let's get together real soon for that cup 'o joe and conversation, dear beauty!

349 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - Before Buddha became a... · 0 replies · +1 points

Padma, I must respectfully remind you that not at all do ALL Buddhists believe this idea that the Buddha's enlightenment was simply "wisdom display." You tend to speak as if you speak for all Buddhism, and this is both inaccurate and a bit arrogant.

frank jude

358 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - The Goddess in Your Va... · 0 replies · +4 points

Wonderful article. And oh, so timely given the crap Planned Parenthood has been receiving lately from the right-wing of this country.

My wife and I, when we decided to have a child, held a little ritual, in which we removed her IUD together. Now, with our daughter seven months old, my wife has received another IUD. The old one, is now a treasured little 'icon' on our altar of goddesses.

Again, thanks for this lovely essay.


358 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - The Eight Limbs of yog... · 1 reply · +1 points


Mountaineering? Have fun and stay safe....

The YS cannot at all be claimed to be 'logical.' In fact, I would have used the definition of purusha and ishvara as evidence of internal logical inconsistency...

However, 2:22 is generally taken as a refutation of radical idealism because Patanjali seems to accept the ontological basis of both purusha and prakriti. It is also most likely a critical swipe at the radical idealism of Yogacara Buddhism which was (is?) generally taken to posit that ALL forms are 'mind-only.'

More to the point, 2.22 is about the state of kaivalya and 3.3 is about samadhi. Despite many yogis taking samadhi as the be-all and end-all of yoga practice, it is explicitly said in the YS that samadhi is still external to liberation. Thus, my initial point that your use of these two sutras as evidence of either bad philosophy (there are many better examples in the YS!) or different authors is weak....


368 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - Rock & Roll Yoga · 0 replies · +1 points


I think I commented on this post previously, but I really, really love it!

I was 14 when I saw The Velvet Underground in some dive on Long Island called The Barn and Beanery. Sitting there at a front table, the first song then did was "Sister Ray!" Sometime later in the set they did "Heroin," a some girl yelled out: "Jesus!" Lou joked, "You are some sick girl! "Heroin" and "Jesus" in the same set?" Interestingly, I too had some difficulty integrating my love of rock -- and later especially punk -- with my interest in zen, yoga and more 'spiritual' music. And then, ironically, I saw Lou Reed (circa "The Bells") at the Bottom Line and was surprised to see Don Cherry in his band! All the pieces clicked into one organic whole -- like the resolution of a koan!

As Brad Warner has said, punk and zen/yoga have the questioning of everything in common. What punk (like all rock, ultimately) failed to do, however, was question itself!

Oh, and for something a bit more extreme, check this out!

frank jude

369 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - Yoga Will Never Make Y... · 3 replies · +1 points

Dear Padma,

I found myself in deep resonance with the spirit of what I take your point to be. However, when you say that what contemporary Buddhist teachers who integrate western psychological insight "is not Buddhism," I must respectfully offer the following perspective:

1. For many years the argument was made -- and I believe is still made by some Therevadin monks, for instance -- that Tibetan Vajrayana is not Buddhism. In fact, it is so far from what the Buddha is reported to have taught in the Pali Sutras that some criticize Tibetan Buddhism as completely debased!

2. In every culture that Buddhism has entered, it has absorbed the indigenous culture. In China, it took on elements from both Confucianism and Taoism; in Japan it took on Shinto elements. AND in Tibet, it took on many "Shaministic" and Bon elements. For instance, many early sutras report the Buddha condemning monks who practice "prophecy" and yet the Dalai Lama relies on an Oracle!

Another example: if I were to treat my Korean Zen Master as a 'guru,' he'd kick me in the ass! The whole "guru" model is one that permeates Tibetan Buddhism because of the deep influence of Hindu-Yoga!

SO, as Buddhism is integrated into Western culture, it makes sense -- and I would argue it is a very good thing -- that it absorb from Western commonly understood culture: psychology; a more historical consciousness than often found in the East; the Western rational tradition; feminism; scientific inquiry.

in metta...

371 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - Gita in a Nutshell #7:... · 1 reply · +1 points

Ha! Now THAT's funny! The post from last night is there now! Playing tricks, eh?

It's a busy week here in Tucson, but I most certainly WILL get in touch with you when the more urgent aspect of our tragedy fall-out has passed.


371 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - Gita in a Nutshell #7:... · 1 reply · +2 points

Regarding the question of ‘feeling’ or experiencing (strong) emotions, the ‘notion’ of equanimity and ‘non-attachment’ (I do not like nor use the term ‘detachment’) I have found is often misunderstood by yogis of all stripes. I’ve had students ask me, when they hear the Buddha’s teachings on non-attachment, or read passages such as this from the Gita, “Why would anyone not want to feel?” Yet, from my readings of the sutras, it is clear that the Buddha was a man of deep feeling; he expressed deep appreciation of sunsets, he’d look back with fondness on a village he knew he’d never visit again, he expressed sadness when his senior disciples died. But what is also clear is that he never got caught up in his emotions. They neither drowned him nor swept him away. He didn’t ‘suffer’ his emotions because he understood their true (empty/conditioned) nature.

In fact, I’d say that unless we are mindful of our feelings and emotions, we do not actually fully experience them! Typically, when faced by strong feelings (especially unpleasant ones) we think that there are only two strategies to deal with them: either we can suppress them, or we can express them. Yet, we know that repression is unhealthy, and we now know that expressing them in an attempt to avoid or annihilate them is also unhealthy! The third option offered by all Yoga traditions is to simply know them! We show our warrior-yogi spirit by feeling fully without suppressing nor venting!

And by fully knowing the feelings, feeling them fully, free from any conditioned reactivity of aversion or grasping, we free ourselves from the feeling’s determining how we act in the world. It’s not the feelings that we become free from; it’s the conditioning they create that we free ourselves from!

However, and here’s where and why I chose Buddhist Yoga as my path, to reify ‘witnessing’ as “The Witness” or even “Witness Consciousness” is a conceptual error – one that separates Patanjali from the Buddha, though so much of their teachings otherwise are very similar. And of course, the Gita also posits a Self that is the Witness! But here’s how the Buddha put it while a student of his Yoga teachers:

“Even when one has reached the level of neither perception nor nonperception, although there is then liberation from form and formlessness, there is still something left over – the thing that has been liberated from them, a watcher of ‘neither perception nor nonperception.’ As long as such a watcher, which some call a soul, remains, though one may momentarily be secluded from the cycle of suffering, the watcher remains as a seed of rebirth. As soon as the situation changes, rebirth easily takes place again. This is just what happens now when I get up from meditating. No matter how profound my absorption, after a short time I get caught up again in the world of the senses. The basic causes and conditions for rebirth have not been extinguished! Complete liberation has not been achieved.”

The rebirth spoken of here by the Buddha is not necessarily some literal, metaphysical rebirth. He’s talking about self/ego consciousness. I saw this truth for myself and in my students: Samadhi is great and all for as long as it lasts, but it ends, and if a sense of Self persists, no full freedom is available. That sense of The Witness becomes the seed for another cycle of ‘selfing.’

393 weeks ago @ elephant journal: Yoga... - The Nude Debate. A res... · 0 replies · +5 points

THANK YOU, Linda! Now, THAT would be a really interesting ad campaign: a different model each month including round folk, older folk, people with amputations, obviously ill folk all beautifully, inspiringly practicing yoga-asana! I wouldn't be likely to buy socks for yoga in any case, but the ad campaign would move me! AND, if it's true and not the bullshit I think it is, it would prove that "the selling of ToeSox is actually secondary."