Practice & Truth in Yoga III

“But the fact of the matter is the horse is out the barn. Call it junk, industrial or corporate yoga—these Tupperware parades of cultural coercion have been clawing at the landscape since the early 1980s like unrelenting sets of gargantuan tsunamis. But I think the worst is over now. The tide is receding. I am confident a pristine beach will appear as we comb the debris of these devastated shores…”
Conversation continues on May 24, 2015:

Vik Zutshi Dear respected John Weddepohl Maharaj, and Baba Rampuri Ji many pranaams. It is delightful to converse with you on this strange medium:) Here’s something I wrote on another page which applies equally to this discussion – ‘psychological healing may not qualify as ‘liberation’ in the ultimate sense of Moksha or Kaivalya, but it is a necessary stage for most humans to pass through before they are even remotely prepared for the subtler aspects. How many of us discussing the finer points of exalted concepts like Turiya, Jnana, Nirvana and Samadhi have even dealt with our own basic Samskaras and Vasanas? The indic system is very, very clear about an incremental, graduated, personalized approach to spiritual growth and recognizes that humans are at different stages in their evolution, to be addressed according to their specific temperament and needs. We are, and the world is, a work in progress which all of us must pass through ie SAMSARA. – Hatha yoga, kriyas, pranayama, dhyana, are very potent techniques to burn through surface imprints and work with the Panchakoshas (though not necessary for all). There are roles each of us must play in the cosmic Leela. The Pandavas and the Kauravas, the Devas and the Asuras symbolize this Leela – each one has a Dharma, and needs to exist so that its opposite can manifest. Pain, pleasure, joy, sadness need the ‘other’ to exist. It is the central message of the Bhagwad Gita. The path of action is as valid and necessary as the path of renunciation. the householder and the sannyasin, the Vedika and the Shiava each have their place in the world. Indic system is comprehensive and all-encompassing. this is where the four Purushartahs come in – Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha. The sum is greater than the parts. As a left wing activist, one may feel ones dharma is to oppose corporate tyranny. Conversely, the capitalist has his Dharma too. If there was no tyranny, if we lived in a perfect, utopian age ie Sat Yuga, the ‘struggle’ would be redundant. I personally do not believe capitalism is evil per se, only the culture surrounding it ie cronyism, the miltary-industrial complex, and winner takes all mentality. The free-market is a hugely liberating force for those who have traditionally been at the bottom of the pyramid, including in India (because of market reforms, India now has Dalit billionaires). There are many enlightened businessmen the world over who give back to society. The Marxist prescription is almost as monolithic, one-dimensional and prescriptive as the Islamist model IMO. Nobody can stop the human impulse to better itself materially, rise up the ladder and to seek reward for it’s effort and ingenuity. This all ties up with Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs and its precursor, the Varnashram. Some things are simply embedded in nature, like the stages of evolution – material, emotional and spiritual. Things evolve and unfold at their own pace and in their own time. It is better to accept it rather than impose an unnatural marxist homogeneity on all that exists.

John Weddepohl Beautifully put Vik – to further this point, as I said somewhere in our general conversation here, as a teacher one is not permitted to disturb another’ perception – the quest for answers is the most sacred point in any persons life. symbolised beautifully in KASHI – Benares – Varanasi – where the seeker traditionally gives up that which they love the most. (another discussion). like a drowning man wants air the student seeking the truth, so conflicted having tried all avenues, at wits end desperate for answers they stumble across a teacher and upon the knowledge. this is called MUMUKSHUTWAM – when the person is ADHIKARI ready for the truth. however in light of your post and the general conversation in some yoga, spiritual and philosophical circles the frustration of students is obvious. it then becomes perplexing to watch sincere seekers being put in new orbits around the obvious. OM

Troy Harris My thanks to John, and Baba Rampuri for alerting me to this already week-long conversation spinning off of Vikram Zutshi’s “On the Bastardization of Yoga” (2014).

There are quite a few things to reflection on here. A sustained critique could be vital and revealing. But the fact of the matter is the horse is out the barn. Call it junk, industrial or corporate yoga—these Tupperware parades of cultural coercion have been clawing at the landscape since the early 1980s like unrelenting sets of gargantuan tsunamis. But I think the worst is over now. The tide is receding. I am confident a pristine beach will appear as we comb the debris of these devastated shores…

Todd Daniels…/arti…/47122861.cms

Yoga now linked with medicine and fitness, not spirituality – The Economic Times

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik The commercial marketplace contributes to this phenomenon. In the case of my own book- while admittedly light-weight, it is about Yoga. Yet no bookstore is going to shelve it in that section. “Yoga” is now “Fitness” or maybe “Health” in most bookstores. Period. My publisher suggests it be shelved in the “self-help” section. Oh, the irony. Point being, that no one looking for literature on Yoga as anything more than therapeutic exercise or partner gymnastics is going to find it if they go to the “Yoga” section.

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik Ah, the article sums up Hatha Yoga, the practice of Sun and Mood, only as “physical yoga”. Reductivism beautifully illustrated.

Ekabhumi Charles Ellik Devi Bhakta, you might enjoy this dialogue.

Devi Bhakta Thanks, Ekabhumi … i did indeed

Eric Seaton Man it’s so true. The assumption of searching, is the style. That paradigm baba mentions, spilling into biology economics and yoga, almost seems like were always looking for the dessert but not the meal. We’re looking for the truth, but our looking is one direction and misses the scene , the signs right outside of the looking glass our culture gave to us.

Eric Seaton Like we look straight ahead, looking and studying what lies before us. We push out, rather than allow the jungle to push into us. I guess I unfortunately is how baba says, we need so much time, to really re tune.

John Weddepohl Eric – Know who is looking. Then the search stops. Answering the question of the questioner has always been the teaching. Knowing the knower. OM

Eric Seaton Haha but is the style of your reply a bit synthesizing ?

Eric Seaton I just mean the way you framed it, although on Facebook, makes it seem like this is an easy process. But I was going with Babas proclamation that it’s a cosmic deconstruction of deconstructing century old assumptions

John Weddepohl Eric – yes I prefer the word depersonalize. Having personalized our experience knowledge removes our ignorance and depersonalizes our experience by revealing the truth the Knower – the experiencer. Its no good taking away our ideas or deconstructing without having the absolute alternative available. Because our ignorance is responsible only knowledge removes and destroys our ignorance nothing else. The beauty of knowledge is that its instantaneous. So if I made it sound so simple. It is. Its only our acceptance of this that takes time. OM

Yar Pal if these notions were part of the common day understanding of yoga, that it is for decoloring our perceptions (or any other thousands of ways this has been phrased), the distortions would not be around as they are.. ignorance and the rest are pains, making space for healing and awareness to shine forth is what yoga is for, be it regarding a body dysmorphia or ignorance; set aside what yoga “is” and talk instead of this “is for” and it becomes obviously unnatural to not rewire what it “is” and better, you invite perspectives to participate and share (like women for instance!).

John Weddepohl Yar Pal Yoga ABHYASA exercise is the best – but this works best accompanied by knowledge. GNAN

Yar Pal abhyāsa is for establishing peacefulness, vairāgya is for removing bigotry, and they both are for creating conditions so reality can be experienced. this is all for peace; “for” not “is”. and submission isn’t absorption; dogmas are an excuse, and to violence when we all gallop or slither the path given our apparent reality.

John Weddepohl Yar – easiest is to know who is galloping or slithering. Then bigotry is removed – reality is being experienced constantly. We just are too pre-occupied to know it.

Yar Pal maybe for you it is easy, for most the many ways we walk the world is a mystery, and that we have pain is too often not even recognized. if yoga was considered for what it is for, namely to de-preoccupy, then all the various redefining would have to address this, and whatever redefinition would be regarding approach, not the purpose.. yoga is much more a “for” than an “is”.

John Weddepohl Yar Pal – No practice ever reveals the truth. A practice cant do that- only knowledge does that. All we are suffering is our ignorance. Ignorant of the nature of what we are experiencing as creation and what we experience as ourselves. As long as there is this ignorance we all suffer for it. Remove the darkness and suffering disappears. We feel this in minute glimpses in meditation and yoga.

Yar Pal if practice doesn’t reveal truth, why do you practice? and how does practice allow what is felt, minutely or otherwise?

John Weddepohl Yar Pal Practices prepare us for the understanding of what is. And then once we have assimilated our understanding the practices if needed simply remind us of what is. OM

John Weddepohl The thing to understand there is never a time nor has there ever been a time when truth did not exist. So truth exists whether we like it, acknowledge truth or not. Our ignorance of the truth is the problem. Truth is not according to popular demand. That the truth exists is not obvious – it is subtle, the subtlest of the subtlest. To understand that which is the subtlest of the subtle one has always had to go to a teacher.

Yar Pal if the sophist would repeat himself, he would consider himself wise.. semantics games, not a small part of the distorting.


Ekabhumi Charles Ellik In Vasistha’s Yoga, the point is made that Grace cannot be forced by action or practice. It appears to all of us, worthy and unworthy. What is recommended is to “grit your teeth and practice” so that we may recognize Grace when it inevitably appears. If I am understanding correctly, practice does not reveal the truth, as the truth cannot be revealed – it is already and always there. Nor can it be said to force us to see it. Rather that Truth reveals itself regularly and practice ‘wakes us up’ enough to recognize it when grace/luck/Shiva inevitably breaks through the fog of ignorance.

Yar Pal grace, as you’ve described it, is unearned privilege, and should be appreciated as such, not taken as a given, not taken as a medal to exclude those not chosen. you can’t force a plant to grow, only provide the conditions for it, to make it more likely. that is, you nurture and remove impediments for a reason. whatever mechanism (or however you describe it) by which reality is revealed, or recognized, or shines forth, yoga is for cultivating the best conditions for this, eliminating bias and other pains, nurturing states of attention (or however you phrase this), not by saying what real is. absorption is a very different conceptual approach than submission; does the clay submit to water or fire, or is it absorbed with these? if yoga was understood for what it was for, that it is designed because we don’t see reality so much as imagine we do, rather than what yoga is, stretching or coralling the modes of awareness etc., the popular understanding is corrected and the distortions are lessened significantly, and the diversity and inclusion remains.

Todd Daniels wow, academics and smart people. This may be above my pay grade smile emoticon

John Weddepohl Todd – If consciousness is in abundance everywhere and ever available and truth is too how difficult is it to know the truth? If truth is never absent and ever present and you are ever present, what stops us knowing the truth? Only ignorance stops us. And knowledge destroys ignorance. So whats the problem?

Jeannine Plaiche Is ignorance separate from consciousness?

John Weddepohl Hi Jeannine – both ignorance as well as knowledge take place in the presence of consciousness. We know that we know and know that we don’t know.

Jeannine Plaiche Thanks! ‘Just making sure I read your comment from the right perspective smile emoticon

Todd Daniels No problem, only humour. I am enjoying the learning process very much, its very humbling

John Weddepohl Yes – i was going to add a hahahahahahahaha.

Todd Daniels its all funny in a weird kind of way

John Weddepohl Its like getting a joke. Until you get the joke you feel like an absolute asshole. Everyones laughing except you. Once you get the joke you double over and cant stop laughing!!

Todd Daniels that’s exactly what I meant…exactly

John Weddepohl Its like the story of the two fish swimming in the ocean. You must have heard it. One fish says ‘Hey have you heard theres supposed to be a thing called ocean around here somewhere?’ Like them we’re swimming in an ocean of truth, ocean of consciousness, nothing but and we’re trying to raise our consciousness. The only thing stopping us from being conscious is our pre occupation with our thoughts and ideas. then we go meditate and like for a split second the cloud lifts and we suddenly feel aware, conscious – alive. wow. genius.

Todd Daniels no more seeking.

English Language

Eric Seaton i feel like I was responding to Baba’s comment on assumptions, but I feel I’m not sure what the abstraction of assumptions is pointing to. I think most of us are familiar with the fish in the ocean , but I appreciate Baba’s articulation because it gives an actual handle on how to grasp that Extraordinary World. I never really ever see him write about it’s all truth all one if you can just see it. John what do you mean by having to have an absolute alternative or knowledge will be useless

Eric Seaton “. Its no good taking away our ideas or deconstructing without having the absolute alternative available” Like a shaman / lineage / order ??

John Weddepohl Eric – nice question. When we inquire into the truth, because the question is absolute there needs to be an absolute answer. it cant be a ‘maybe. . ‘ or ‘could be . . . .’. Every question deserves an answer.

Eric Seaton I see what your saying. It’s like baba saying it took 26 years to get his credentials, there’s really no way around that real path to knowledge

Eric Seaton What’s ironic I think, if we’re questioning deep assumptions of speech, using English, a real answer may not lie in English.

Baba Rampuri Your language is English. Use it well.

Kaushiki Ma It’s getting to the point where we can or even want to meditate that takes the time. We want to be busy, busy, busy with our thoughts. That’s why there is chanting and japa and ritual worship. It gives the mind and body something to chew on, so they will accept meditation. These practices should always end in meditation. That is the genius of the sages. They categorized and exhaustively described infinity until the mind gives up. I have these moments of pure meditation all the time, but they are fleeting. I think everybody has a touch of samadhi at least once or twice. It is not something unknown that comes in a great vision with flashing light. Then I am back in the usual world. The point is to stretch them out as much as we can until they become a constant backdrop and we can dive back into it when we can.

Eric Seaton Haha the deep rooted assumption may be assuming use English to examine your assumptions.

John Weddepohl Eric – English is difficult because the concepts sometimes do not exist in the english language. Then we have to use sanskrit. But fortunately – our own existence is obvious. Because we cannot deny our own existence, when that existence is being questioned the answer is also there. Because the question arises in the questioner means the answer too lies there.

Eric Seaton Maybe without getting too abstract, the worst assumption of all, is the mechanism of assumption itself. That by assuming something, your energy is not in the present because assuming takes your attention to the past/present, taking you out of the cosmic zone. Baba Rampuri, am I going too fluffy philosophical?

Baba Rampuri My criticism would be that you are assigning a moral quality to “assumption” – that it’s bad, and restricting. However, in speech and cognition, assumption is required as a backdrop for arriving at meaning. My exercise with “assumption” is merely to identify it, not to change or disturb it. I’m not an advocate of “mind control,” but allowing the mind to assume its true nature which is clarity.

Eric Seaton Chh Pow! That is pretty clear.

Eric Seaton Ah ha! I see it more, there’s no need to change a square assumption, when you can identify it and merely let it go. By saying your going to change it, your hanging on to it, whereas you could identify it, see its limitations and move into a more natural and free movement.

Eric Seaton I agree, English definitely works, it’s spoken so much these days. I see English almost like an open tuning on guitar. Very interesting and cool but not the cosmic standard tunings which have those timeless sounds of un replaceable aesthetic.

Baba Rampuri English must work for you. It’s your handle on speech, like all languages are for all people.

Eric Shaw I know this discussion has moved on, but to respond to Ekabhumi’s reference to my position about MPY and Dharma above, I’d say, you’re right, Ekabhumi, I, like Pankaj, see MPY as a trojan horse for the Dharma. And, in reference to group practices initiated by Krishnamacharya, we might guess he was launching an athleticized Hatha Yoga toward the Indian mainstream as a “Trojan horse,” too. To be sure, he wanted to accelerate the fitness level of Indians so their strength of body and mind would match that of the ruling Brits, and it seems that worldly aim was uppermost for him. Fundamentalist Christians tribalize Dharma (as many cultures do). They put Hindu dharma in the horizontal plane, opposed to the dharma shaped by Christ, so yoga’s “Hindu-ness” threatens. To be charitable, we might just say they are having an over-energetic response to the guru-disciple principle expressed by K. P. Jois, “one guru is life, two gurus is death,” and are trying to protect the whole world, rather than just themselves.

Todd Daniels I think it became a business…simple.

Pankaj Seth Baba Rampuri mentioned ‘Gymnosophists’ earlier and so I thought I would post a link to the accounts of the Greek historians of 2500 years ago and whose descriptions are illuminating. Its just a few pages long, and very interesting to read… link should open to page 120 —…

Ancient India as described by Megasthenês and Arrian; being a translation of the fragments of…

Todd Daniels interesting

Trojan Horse and Dharma?

Baba Rampuri Eric Shaw, this Trojan Horse thing sounds like typical monotheist aggression to me, convert the unfaithful/ignorant for their own good. Sort of like bombing people for their own good. Strategies to sneak subversion into the Other, whoever the Other may be. Those who would convert and subsume others always believe they possess the Truth, which privileges them to do what they will in the name of Truth. I guess I wasn’t at the meeting when they were chosen to spread Dharma to the West.

Pankaj Seth “Trojan Horse” is provocative language, so allow me to state the same dynamic differently. I agree with Schopenhauer when he said that attempts to convert India would be as effective as “firing a bullet at a cliff” and that instead Indian knowledge wou…See More

Eric Shaw Yeah, to clarify, Baba, I didn’t mean any malign or selfish intent was behind the teaching of an athleticized yoga, I only meant that unintended deep effects would be the result of that form. The energetics of yoga—even in a watered down form of practice—acclimate the practitioner to a more transcendent understanding—one that is Dharmic with a capital “D”—belonging to no cultural form.

Baba Rampuri Eric Shaw, thank you. As I am easily distracted by things that catch my eye, and my curiosity is aroused, you have used a quite fascinating phrase “energetics of yoga.” “Energetics” usually has quite technical and specific meanings and uses, what do you mean by that phrase?

Todd Daniels Yo are like cat at christmas knocking over the tree to play with the glitter..hehehe

Michelle Synnestvedt Baba Rampuri and John Weddepohl, Thank you for this fantastic conversation! Baba Rampuri, as you well know this conversation is very close to my heart. I am one of those people you referred to in your comment: Modern Consumer Yoga is the Weaponising of …

Baba Rampuri In fact, I always ask myself, why are you so damn optimistic? It’s just so unreasonable. I guess I have this unfounded faith in humanity, in people, that we will overcome all oppression. As you know, I’m in regular communication with people all over the world and many have really reached their limit. I feel part of them and all those who are needlessly suffering everywhere. We’re at a moment at which it would really be a great idea to have a mass awakening, or at least the raising of consciousness among the ones capable of it. Wishing you the best!

Todd Daniels I will take on your skepticism for you

Baba Rampuri I hope you’re a strong boy! It’s quite a load.

Todd Daniels i’ve been working out, you know p90x videos and protein shakes…

Continue to the next page: Fetishizing Yoga IV