I received more than a few messages of support and appreciation for my writing about the Kausthub mess. People know that I have a bit different perspective about it considering how long I’ve studied at KYM. Thanks for your support!
But I received one message that interested me very much and that I thought was important enough to share. The person I received this from used to write a blog on spirituality, one I thought was a cut above the usual, one that was much deeper than the new agey blah blah that’s out there. He is someone I know who has “done the work.” He said that he did not want to comment publicly but thought I would find some value in his thoughts. I did, so I asked his permission (which he gave me) to publish his words. He said he followed (but not closely) the Anusara story and did not know much about Desikachar, either the person or the tradition.
Any serious practitioner knows that yoga is about energy. Prana is of course one of the first words we learn about in yoga. Shiva/Shakti energy is discussed in some yoga circles. And yet, what does all that really mean? Do we really understand the implications of that concept coming out of a 200 hour teacher training?
Some people are fascinated by Tantra. They think it’s all sexy and mysterious and the secrecy about it draws them in. Hell, even Oprah talked about it or at least one aspect of it — sex. Who doesn’t want in on some sexy, mysterious yoga voo-doo that may confer power over mere yoga mortals? I recall that John Friend was all up into it, to his own demise. One becomes fascinated with something that is called the Left Handed Path and they think they can become a yoga sorcerer.
What this reader refers to in his comment below is rarely talked about in modern yoga training, at least in the West. We’re all into the asana, perfecting that handstand or chilling at the yoga fests. But there is a whole other deeper aspect of yoga that is often not even mentioned, merely hinted at.
To put it bluntly, without mature guidance, yoga can fuck with your head. As Paul Grilley said in a training I did with him, yoga is slow medicine but even good medicine can kill you if taken injudiciously. That’s why it is so important to have the guidance of a seasoned, competent teacher who has done the work and can honestly answer your questions. However, ultimately, the path is walked alone.
Yoga can work some heavy changes, both positive and negative. Real yoga is about dealing with that Shadow Self. Yoga is not all about love and lite manifesting 108 sun salutations that might save the world from itself. That’s why I believe and have always said that “yoga cooks us” especially if you’re doing the important work. Kausthub certainly knows how transformative yoga is as evidenced by his lecture to us this year.
As the reader told me about his comments, you can take them or leave them.
It’s all food for thought, not just about the latest scandal, but for all of us.
My comments are more general in nature and may not apply to these specific situations, but in all likelihood, they have some merit. They are based on some observations I have made along my own journey regarding the way energy tends to flow in the realm of human interaction. They are also based at least in part on my observations of my own responses to various situations as a proxy for all human (especially male) energy.
These yoga practices can very often and easily drive up combinations of energetic imbalance that predictably result in such situations. I used to wonder why so many of these yoga gurus would end up in scandals, if they are supposed to be models of “enlightenment”, but now I can see that it is not at all surprising.
Because yoga is primarily a “fire path” (with practices designed to move shakti upward through the spinal and central channels and out the crown), males in particular are susceptible to these problems. Most men are already somewhat imbalanced toward this “fire” direction, as opposed to most females, whose “water” (cool) energy tends to flow downward more easily and are thus more naturally grounded when practicing yoga.
It’s easy to spot when this happens – the result is usually short temper, arrogance, magnetic power, etc. This imbalance tends to seek out its opposite polarity to create harmony. Thus, in the case of men, they seek out female energy. It often results in sexual activity because of the unconscious nature of its manifestation. When you’re not grounded at all and you’ve bypassed your lower chakras to shoot out the crown, those lower centers tend to act on their own. And it can also result in various forms of male/female domination, abuse, and control. The women in these situations are in many cases imbalanced as well (in the opposite direction, which tends toward sadness, depression, etc.), and when they meet this charismatic male energy there can be an explosive response. Needless to say, typically none of the parties involved are well equipped to deal with the consequences of their engagement.
Let’s face it – we’re all playing with fire here when it comes to spiritual cultivation, no matter what the path. It’s a challenging situation, and (temporary) imbalance is inevitable. It helps a lot if you can anticipate it and understand what some of the antidotes are (or if you have good teachers you can trust to watch over you). Unfortunately, as I’ve witnessed many times and am now coming to understand more clearly, virtually all “systems” of cultivation are pretty much only half-baked and often tend to ignore these imbalances when they occur. Many of these systems actually predictably create imbalances, or at least ignore large parts of what it means to be a “complete” human. I don’t want to comment specifically regarding any particular tradition, but I will say that even when they do have balanced practices available, many practitioners (especially the ones that tend toward imbalance) will ignore them and do too much pranayama, etc., in order to develop more power.
Personally, I’ve found that it’s possible to combine the best of multiple approaches, although this is also a perilous path and requires much wisdom, diligence and vigilance. Even then, you can never really know how it’s going to turn out, as everyone is different and what works for one, may not turn out so well for another. When it comes to organizations, I’ve mostly tried to avoid them, as they come with a lot of baggage and tend to crystallize their belief systems. However, I’ve also found that they can be very useful if one doesn’t get too caught up in their dogma or feel too desperate to belong to something. …
Evolution is a painful and difficult process, and anyone who thinks it isn’t or shouldn’t be that way is simply naive. The Earth itself is currently undergoing some radical shifts in its own energy/consciousness, and it’s inevitable that in the process there is going to be much resistance and upheaval. It really explains the polarization of American society as embodied in politics and the “liberal/conservative” axis. There is no difference between the micro- and the macro-, they dance with each other in unison.
These “scandals”, both the individual parties who sparked the controversies, as well as the reactions of the populace, are all evidence of this evolutionary process. We cannot separate our individual selves from them, nor should we. Rather, we can embrace the whole of who we are at both the micro- and macro- scale, and continue to work on ourselves to find the balance and harmony that we so naturally seek.