"Houston, We Have a Problem"

(thanks to the genius of Diane Arbus)

Why doesn’t awakening happen just like that? [visualize a finger snap.]

Because then you would never know the pain and the joy of it.


“Houston, we have a problem. What’s that? you say. I listen to these advaita newbies who have suddenly awakened and think, “What part am I missing here?” I know my teacher would fall down laughing if it weren’t so serious. Just because these people are personable doesn’t mean jack. Just because they are telegenic and well-spoken, we fall right into the trap of duality. “They say they woke up, who am I to doubt them. I don’t even know them. And I seem to still suffer the slings and arrows of my errant karma.”

You’re not alone. Awakening cannot be judged that easily. As Vernon Howard said, “Only an enlightened being recognizes another enlightened being.” He would have put the blame squarely on us for believing that awakening happens that often or that easily.

Good teachers make people squirm. They do not sit with a mic in someone’s living room decanting statements from their mouth into your consciousness. Satsang is a silly excuse to get out of doing your laundry if you ask me.

A lifetime commitment to truth is required and you will be broken before you awaken. Sleep tight if you don’t want to know the truth. Pull a Rip Van Winkle and put up a Do Not Disturb sign. The Work requires one to remember the Self that you are while witnessing the self that you are not. It isn’t easy nor is it without arduous engagement of body, mind and spirit.

Do yourself a favor and sit alone. You don’t have to fly around attending satsang with the best and the brightest, the ones with the most YouTube videos and the most influential friends. Get some books and dig in. Pray, purify yourself. Wait and wait and wait. Watch yourself become hysterical and useless. See the demons marching around your mind and try to stop them.

It may all be a play but it’s an hypnotic one. We were never promised a rose garden. Don’t believe it when you see it. Only believe what your inner guide tells you. And if you don’t know who your inner guide is, wait until that is revealed. It’s about revelation, repentance and all of the old biblical truths. We must approach them psychologically instead of literally.

Nothing is what it appears to be, including the truth of who you are. Lotsa luck in those satsangs.”

Vicki Woodyard, Author, LIFE WITH A HOLE IN IT

buying your way toward enlightenment

Isn’t this great? I can’t wait to get my new VISA card that has an AUM or Buddha’s face on it!

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I saw an ad for this I let out a groan. Using Buddha or the AUM symbol to market something that is the epitome of a capitalist society just rubs me the wrong way. Sort of like when I see the images of Hindu gods and goddesses on underwear or see a cocktail called the “Buddha Bomb” on a menu — a tad distasteful to me, but maybe I’m just overly sensitive to things like that.

While I commend VISA for the concept of the card holders’ points going toward socially conscious projects such as Youth Aids or Rainforest Action Netork, there is also something about using these images to promote accumulating more unnecessary junk in our lives that is disingenuous to me.

To me, yoga and the spiritual path are about downsizing. Ridding our lives of clutter, both physical and emotional, in order to strip us down to our bare essence, to our True Nature. I know for myself that the longer I walk along the yoga path, the less I “need”. I may want things — who wouldn’t want a pair of $90 yoga pants with handpainted chakra symbols flowing down the legs? — but more times than not I ask myself, yeah, but do I really need them?

I could charge my next yoga retreat with this credit card, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t need a credit card with an AUM symbol on it to remind me to think globally and act locally.

A few weeks ago I taught a yoga class as a benefit for a local domestic violence shelter. I had a donation box set out in the yoga studio where I teach for about two weeks before the fundraiser. I raised a lot money, but I found it amusing when a student wrote a check for $120 for a class pass, and then could not even put $1 into the donation box. That’s OK — maybe she was still paying off her credit card bill that included those chakra pants, with the matching $150 Swarovski crystal sacred energy Shakti necklace, and the $80 eco-yoga mat that she carried in the $200 real leather yoga mat bag. Later I saw the same student buying a $4 cup of coffee at the Starbucks down the street.

Hmmmm…I wonder if she used that AUM card to charge that latte?