How Yoga Can Improve Culture
We certainly are not an advanced culture, and any thought that we are will only hinder us from ever achieving it. Truth is, I’m not sure there is one. Most cultures are still dealing with Stone Age problems like hunger, racism, crime, disease, poverty, and war. There are still territorial issues, spies, and hit squads. We can add two more issues that previous fear-based cultures did not have to deal with, total annihilation and mass-scale pollution and its multitude of effects. An advanced culture should not be defined by technology, it should be defined by benevolence. Benevolent qualities. How can you consider yourself advanced, even with space travel and a colony living on another planet, if there’s so much suffering within our species and within ourselves? Our attention and energy are put on technology and accomplishing outer achievements because dealing with our inner weaknesses and our mental habits, which is the substance of all great beings’ messages and teachings, would be too confrontational. Yet the mecca of human achievement is not spreading our disease beyond our own planet, it’s curing our disease! Then we will not need to achieve anything, because we will have already achieved wellness in its equal parts of health, contentment, and freedom. Then technology can be an aid instead of a distraction, and it can be used to facilitate benevolent action! Curing our disease is putting our mind to it, as we have accomplished everything we humans collectively put our minds on. So put your mind in a benevolent place today! If us yogis don’t lead the way, who will? When you awake each morning read a passage from an uplifting book, which resides next to your bed. Then sit in gratitude for ten minutes. No, this isn’t all, but it’s a beginning. Remember, all real health comes from a benevolent mind state, which is the opposite of a stressful mind state.
So many of us complain about the rat race, about greed, racism, crime, war, pollution, etc. We need to see, all of that is a reflection of us. Look at the causes of our societal and cultural problems, and you will find fear, anger, and ignorance at their root. Which one of us does not have these qualities? When we watch the news, we are actually watching a projection of ourselves. This is Yoga 101. This is why Gandhi’s most famous quote was, “Be the change you want to see". (I bet you he wasn’t talking about your hamstrings). That’s why all great beings asked us to develop benevolent qualities, not tie our legs around our heads.
Don’t make your yoga practice about these stupid poses! Yes, all yoga poses are completely stupid! After all, stupid means unintelligent. These poses have no innate intelligence. They need to be infused with intelligence. You can hurt yourself in a pose or you can heal yourself, because it’s not the pose, it’s the mind performing the pose. It’s kind of like a knife. You can hurt someone with a knife, or you can help someone with a knife. A knife is just a tool. What truly matters is the mind that’s wielding the knife. These poses are like a knife, simply a tool. To do a pose intelligently, there needs to be awareness, as we need to be able to discern what is needed within the pose, by being fully aware of our experience. After all, it can’t be healing if we are not honoring what we are feeling, which is why we have feelings; they guide us. I see so much ego and vanity, attachment, competitiveness, reactiveness, judgment, criticism, forcefulness, distraction within these poses. It's like we have brought our shit into yoga and turned yoga into shit. Yoga is the awareness, it’s not the pose. When these poses are performed with awareness, they become yoga asana! We start to become aware of these sick, stress-inducing qualities, and we have a choice to stop feeding them mental energy and unconscious loyalty. As you know, whenever you stop feeding something, it starves and dies. It’s kind of like we are killing the enemy. Now you are bringing yoga into the pose instead of assuming the pose is yoga! As we get good at this (yoga practice), we notice we bring yoga into other activities. We start washing dishes with awareness: this is called dishwashingasana. We are making love with awareness: this is called fuckasana. After all, who wants to make love with someone who is not fully present with them? Now we are bringing yoga into everything! There is not more benevolent quality than awareness, it is the tool to steer us toward all else we desire.