Culture and Yoga XI

“I had to understand, when engaging the “Other” (whether culture, religion, gender, species) what assumptions and presumptions I bring into the engagement which ultimately prevents assimilation into (or connection with) the “Other.”
Curiously I discovered that this instinct actually mirrored a grand narrative I had come to accept relating to the world or the “Other” being inseparable from our perception and cognition of it. In my case Indian culture provided the inspiration and intellectual crisis required for me to take the leap of taking responsibility for my cultural baggage, which, in turn, I believe, gave me greater access to the treasure of Indian culture.
But, I don’t believe this is necessary for others.
If you cannot obtain clarity about yourself and the world, within your own culture, you won’t find it elsewhere.”

Conversation continues on May 29, 2015:

Jason Schwartz Baba Rampuri- have you seen this- Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski- it has many useful things to say about the what and the who of neo-liberalism, but I think you would be most interested in his section on what neo-liberalism does to the self-and what it does to human beings when they are encouraged to turn their subjectivity into a marketing strategy that is subject to periodic “creative destruction”-whatever precisely it is that is going on in the world, the dynamic is rapidly accelerating and powerful people are moving quickly to turn our remaining artisanal institutions into factories for a mono-culture. Oxford, for instance, just got taken over by a theorist of “terrorism” linked with the Kennedy School of government who is an obvious spook with a contempt for scholarship.

Baba Rampuri Jason Schwartz I could only read the short piece on Amazon, but yes, thank you, this is certainly one of the elephants on our sofa! Wall Street has long had an interest in education, of course, as noted by Chris Hedges:

“The assault on education began more than a century ago by industrialists and capitalists such as Andrew Carnegie. In 1891, Carnegie congratulated the graduates of the Pierce College of Business for being “fully occupied in obtaining a knowledge of shorthand and typewriting” rather than wasting time “upon dead languages.” The industrialist Richard Teller Crane was even more pointed in his 1911 dismissal of what humanists call the “life of the mind.” No one who has “a taste for literature has a right to be happy” because “the only men entitled to happiness… is those who are useful.” The arrival of industrialists on university boards of trustees began as early as the 1870s and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business offered the first academic credential in business administration in 1881. The capitalists, from the start, complained that universities were unprofitable. These early twentieth century capitalists, like heads of investment houses and hedge-fund managers, were, as Donoghue writes “motivated by an ethically based anti-intellectualism that transcended interest in the financial bottom line. Their distrust of the ideal of intellectual inquiry for its own sake, led them to insist that if universities were to be preserved at all, they must operate on a different set of principles from those governing the liberal arts.” ― Chris Hedges, “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Jason Schwartz I’m about to travel -first to the east coast and then to India for the summer-but when I return home in the fall, if you would like a copy I would gladly scan it for you-it interfaces with very same issues that come up in the context of sadhana in very disconcerting ways…

Baba Rampuri Love it, thanks.

Eric Seaton Man of Tai Chi really reflects these times. Tiger Chen the sole successor of the Ki Long Lineage of Tai Chi , finds himself in strange times. What Baba and other thinkers point to in Speech, like using a certain paradigm, analogy from the machine based world , this is deeply a part of the movie. Because his Master points out, using a punch when you could have dodged , is a small move , but if it’s there as a habit , it will haunt you when you go further into the cosmic world. So assumptions we assume are okay with speech , directly affect our deep quest for knowledge. Watch the movie , you won’t be disappointed ! Plus it’s about Tiger Chens real life, a man in an old lineage ..

Man of Tai Chi – Official Trailer (2013) Keanu…


Jan Baggerud Larsen The universe as a hologram?

Todd Daniels Vic…nice one.

Todd Daniels Is this like form is emptiness and emptiness is form or am I way off?

Todd Daniels Heart sutra stuff

Stephanie Gayatri Ford “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

― Eric Hoffer, The Temper of Our Time

Kind of the yoga “scene” of the day

Jan Baggerud Larsen I am reading every post in this thread but it is getting hard to stay on track and see which sub-thread has been updated. On my phone every post is just displayed chronologically without sub-threading and then I don’t miss any posts but I lose the context and connection to the the sub-threads. In my browser I can keep track by expanding every subthread but it seems that the browser is slowing down and can hardly handle it. But I will endure because it is worth it smile emoticon

Vik Zutshi Another brilliant article by Jim Mallinson –

Haṭhayoga’s Philosophy: A Fortuitous Union of Non-Dualities In its classical formulation as found in Svātmārāma’s…


Jan Baggerud Larsen Why an Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga teacher doesn’t do the opening and the closing chant in his classes:…/

Why I don’t Chant, Part 2: Tradition and Self Authority A follow up to my last article about chanting: Tradition,…


Philip Stuart Gatt I do

Pankaj Seth A classic reference work available online and for free download… A History of Indian Philosophy by Surendranath Dasgupta [All 5 Volumes Combined, 2517 Pages] Really worth sharing. Look up whatever you want via the table of contents… and read!!! —…/AHistoryOfIndianPhilosophyBySuren…

A History of Indian Philosophy by Surendranath Dasgupta [All 5 Volumes Combined, 2517 Pages,…


Pankaj Seth One inanity emerging from branded Yoga is the question I loathe to encounter, ‘What style of Yoga do you do/teach?”

Pankaj Seth Worth reading… thank you Daniel Simpson……/why-practise-yoga-asana

Why Practise Postures?

Modern yoga is synonymous with postures. Hardly any of these are described in ancient texts. They get…


Todd Daniels thats a pretty good article

Kali Roopa Even though there is commercialised yoga – the good thing to come out of it is that people become aware of yoga, which they may not have before – this could lead them to their real path eventually – I take the tantric view

Pankaj Seth I think so too… this article gives me hope towards that… “More than 60 percent of the study’s participants reported that their primary motivation for practicing yoga had changed over time, and a change was more likely to have taken place for people who had been practicing longer. While most people reported starting yoga for purely physical reasons, the primary motivations for long-term practitioners were not just about the body. Participants listed stress relief, a sense of community, and self-discovery among the reasons they kept coming to yoga, with “spirituality” as the most common answer.”—…/from-resolution-to-ritual-why…/

From Resolution to Ritual: Why People Start and Stick With Yoga A new study notes that while many begin yoga…


Ekabhumi Charles Ellik Well, I do believe out of the millions of people doing MPY, statistically a significant percentage will want to go further in the practice beyond physical achievement. Even if that is only 1%, that is still hundreds of thousands of people!!!

Kali Roopa I practise Satyananda Yoga

Todd Daniels I will not touch anything with that guys name attached to it

Gideon Enz Todd, be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If we start avoiding entire lineages because of one person, then very quickly we are left with nothing to work with at all. At the moment I can’t think of a single major guru who does not have a scandal attached to them. And the great likelihood is that most of those scandals did actually take place.

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik The “Major” part of Major Guru is the odd bit. I really think the rock star types are both rare and prone to hubris …and therefore scandals. Did this phenomenon of hundreds of thousands of ‘disciples’ or mass initiation exist in the pre-modern era?

Gideon Enz I don’t think so. How could it have? At least not on this scale. This new scale is, in itself, part of this new challenge to the old guru model.

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik Well, we have the Christs and the Buddhas…

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik But really, Christ had 12 Disciples. It’s a classic number for a guru…

Gideon Enz But during their lifetime did they ever really have hundreds of thousands of followers. Sure the Buddha had thousands, but never in one place. I think there is an exponential difference in the modern context.

Gideon Enz 12 disciples, 12 months/signs, hmmm. We create patterns and are created by them. Hard to tell which came first in some cases.

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik Exactly. Beginners on the path need personal direction. All the tantric traditions that I know of strongly urge direct initiation/study under a living guru. Or even say the practice is useless without one. Yet I don’t think one human being can do that job for thousands of people at the same time. I think even amazing souls can get seriously messed up by attempting to digest the karma of too many students. I believe this is a contributing factor to the phenomenon of scandals and a major flaw in many of the schools that ‘exported’ yogic techniques. Tried to apply the same model, which depends on direct supervision, to a different size problem. It not a ‘scalable’ model IMHO.

Todd Daniels Then I work alone. Is it really a lineage anyway? Satyananda’s “system” was not the same as sivananda. He used Sivanandas name for legitimacy purposes. Satyananda was child abuser of the worst kind.. You are right however, almost every “Guru” has a stain. Satyananda just made up whatever he wanted and knew people were so gullible and that would do anything he said. I have been to the ashram 3 times and its a cult,no more no less…

Todd Daniels I am going to write that story soon.

Gideon Enz I think this is one of the great challenges of our age: Traditions, with their culturally and geographically specific histories, can no longer guide us in the same way as they could 500 years ago. But we can’t move forward without deeply honoring and digesting the vastness of human experience up until now. Now there’s a Gordian knot!

Todd Daniels True. I have to say if “yoga” works so well then why are all these yoga masters complete scumbags? Does yoga turn you into a scumbag? From personal experience I have seen some crazy narcissistic tendencies from these dudes and and a lot of people who have been involved in the “scene” for a long time.

Pankaj Seth Todd, in the epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata) we are told that there is such a thing as adepts but who are unethical and thus one should be careful in choosing a guru, which is not to say that it is the fault of the seeker to have chosen a sociopath as…See More

Todd Daniels true.

Todd Daniels people are people.

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik Todd, you know I agree that the the frauds are not nearly as problematic as the predators. Yet I’m inclined to believe that the folks we hear about in the news and in gossip are the exception, not the rule. Because of the business I do with teachers co…See More

Gideon Enz The ascetic based yoga practices don’t necessarily prepare one for adoration and social power. Thus a rise from renunciation to stardom necessitates a load of work that most renunciates don’t want and aren’t ready for. Then you have all of the gurus wh…See More

Jason Schwartz confluence of a couple of things -1) lineages that practice kuṇḍaliṇī yoga (including ones that present themselves as following a right-hand smārta oriented path) inherit a genealogy of practice that connects the power to do certain types of praxis wit…See More

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik Okay, someone’s got to say it: There’s an old saying: ‘there are no bad teachers, only bad students.’ First time I heard this I was offended. But as a reminder of being responsible for one’s condition and of getting the lesson from any experience, it’s kind of cool. Woke me up by pissing me off.

Todd Daniels life is a lesson.. good or bad

Baba Rampuri Jason Schwartz – Spot on! This even goes back to the Rites of Dionysus.

Baba Rampuri However, in the name of sadhana, or yoga, or religion, there are those who use their power and charm to dominate others, often sexually, and very unfortunately, this includes children. These are some of the demons that exist even in our modern societies, often lurking under the cloak of sanctity. And Ekabhumi Charles Ellik, I agree with your saying, especially in our Consumer Age: Let the buyer beware.

Rico Soma Fascinating discussion that’s been very entertaining. What has crossed my mind more than once over the course of the last week or so reading your learned commentary is, what’s the point or perhaps more precisely how does all this impact the the problem outlined in the original premise? I hear a lot of valid criticism but precious few solutions. Perhaps there is no solution to the predominance of mass marketed MPY. I suspect very few of the consumers of MPY have any interest in self inquiry. The product makes them feel a little better and for almost all that’s enough.

But perhaps the deeper question is, what about the few who are interested in self knowledge? Not everyone has the ability to journey to India and spend adequate time with an adept teacher from an authentic lineage. Baba Ji has suggested that a large part of that authenticity lies in the cultural experience. So how does that knowledge translate to another culture, one with such a foreign paradigm?

Baba Rampuri Rico, that is really the question we should be asking. Bravo. “… journey to India and spend adequate with an adept teacher from an authentic lineage …” is pure, unadulterated fantasy, built on our cultural imagination. If what Rico is quoting me as saying, “authenticity lies in the cultural experience” has any semblance of truth, then it lies within our own cultures. And that is precisely what happened in my own journey. Having lived in an ancient, oral, “authentic” tradition of Naga Sannyasis, in India, for about 5 years (by the mid 70’s), even learning Sanskrit and Hindi, I reached a point of frustration. The novelty had worn off, and many of my questions were not being answered. But, “WHO is asking the questions?” I asked myself, and found that it just wasn’t nearly enough to explain it away with words like atma and jnana, sansar and sadhana, as it wasn’t nearly enough to even explore the meanings of those words. I had to take the responsibility to find out why and how I thought about things in a way that was different from my Indian gurus and Indian fellow disciples, why I framed the world, and my questions about it, the way I did. That’s when I began in earnest my study of the culture and language which conditioned me, my own, with at least equal zest to that I had applied to a tradition lying within another culture. I had to understand, when engaging the “Other” (whether culture, religion, gender, species) what assumptions and presumptions I bring into the engagement which ultimately prevents assimilation into (or connection with) the “Other.” Curiously I discovered that this instinct actually mirrored a grand narrative I had come to accept relating to the world or the “Other” being inseparable from our perception and cognition of it. In my case Indian culture provided the inspiration and intellectual crisis required for me to take the leap of taking responsibility for my cultural baggage, which, in turn, I believe, gave me greater access to the treasure of Indian culture. But, I don’t believe this is necessary for others. If you cannot obtain clarity about yourself and the world, within your own culture, you won’t find it elsewhere.

Mavis Gewant yes Baba Rampuri smile emoticon

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik Excellent point, Rico. I don’t believe there is a “solution.” Perhaps in a few hundred or thousand years, MPY will be a legitimate enlightenment path and there will be a functional and distinct self-realization tradition thriving in North America. Which may or may not incorporate aspects the Native American traditions that have also been assaulted by colonialism and consumerism. I am committed to play a part in that development. My resolve is to serve all beings. Self-inquiry and spiritual practice helps me to fulfill my dharma in a more auspicious manner, but the actual practices or where they originate is totally besides the point. I am personally not invested in being “Hindu” or a “Yogi”, nor am I infatuated with Indic culture.

So my agenda in encouraging people to dig deeper into their ‘Yogic’ practice and learn from original sources is not simply out of reverence or gratitude or a provincial desire to be validated by some authority from an exotic land. It’s because MPY is incomplete. I believe it needs more than a few new techniques, it needs a compatible world-view and a healthy cultural crucible in which to function properly. American consumer culture is deranged, and as a result the yogic techniques that are being practiced here are also deranging people -we’re producing armies of people with Titan-realm and God-realm fixations instead of self-possessed human beings. This powerful asana practice is being used to aggrandize the personal ego rather than dismantle it. Just take a look at the instagram page for #yoga and all the “selfies” scantily-clad young people showing off their postures, for example. And if you look at the FB hashtag page #simplyyoga , you’ll see some sincere teachers are currently engaged in their own corrective response by posting selfies of less-strenuous postures.

What to do? We each need to ascertain our dharma in relation to our birth karma in this lifetime. Then play it out impeccably and dharmically for the benefit of all beings. Jyotish was instrumental to clarifying this for me. The combinations in my chart CLEARLY pointed toward making dharmic art. Besides making art, writing a book, teaching and speaking, I am also teaming up with other like-minded sadhakas. I am on staff with the Mattamayūra Institute, and part of a project called Living Sanskrit To me, it’s about putting one foot in front of another. Engaging in dialogues like this one. Encouraging, rather than shaming or denouncing or excluding. As my grandfather (a classic entrepreneur) quipped, “How do you sell a million cars? One at a time.”

Living Sanskrit

Sacred language, ritual, wisdom, practice, & art


John Weddepohl Lovely point you have made Rico – Self Knowledge ATMA GNANAM or ATMA VIDYA has always been taught using a particular methodology. Of course the person using the methodology must first know themselves in order to be able to teach the subject. The method of teaching is part of the means of knowledge called प्रमाण pramana and has been used in the Upanishadic tradition for generations. Mostly this is only open to indian males. Not available to woman or those who are divorced. As a student or seeker its a difficult one. Sanskrit is the language used not english. Very few teachers are available who use english.

John Weddepohl Another point here is – Self is already being experienced by us all – 24/7 365 – experiencing nothing but SELF why do we not know ourselves? No matter how much yoga you practice or self enquiry – our experience does not inform us or teach us anything. Experiencing the whole creation 24/7 – enjoying nothing but creation – still nothing in our experience tells us anything about the nature of the creation we are experiencing, nor does it tell us anything about the nature of ourselves the ones experiencing the creation. Our experience cant ever tell us anything. So ones experience is dumb. No practice no matter how hard and intense can teach you the nature and truth of SELF. And this is the irony. Experiencing nothing but self and nothing but the truth in every moment yet we don’t know it. Baba Rico Vik Pankaj Ekabhumi Todd etc.

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik And yet experience can tell our BRAIN something…

John Weddepohl experience informs us but our experience does not and cannot reveal the truth of what we are experiencing.

John Weddepohl only knowledge does that.

Michelle Synnestvedt Rico Soma, I was wondering when you would show up! What most don’t know about you is that you also are hiding in plain sight. John Weddepohl and Baba Rampuri, for the most part I have enjoyed the thread and there has been some nice respectful exchanges and disagreements. That is what is the most encouraging….can we even have an open conversation on Social Media with many differing backgrounds and still stay anchored in compassion and respect, even if we don’t necessarily “agree” with what others share. If nothing else it shows a tiny slice of perspective. I remember Alan Watts being one who was invited to a huge international peace “think tank “ of all the spiritual leaders in the late 60’s early 70’s and he was pretty much saying what is being said here…and that was 50 years ago. At least we k ow we are not alone..those of us who have a broader perspective thanks to great teaches including the likes of yourselves.

Continue to the next page: Subject & Object & Yoga XII