Tag Archives: self-realization

Yogic Values, Diversity, and Inclusivity

LuluLogoDiversityI had the good fortune to score one of only a hundred seats for The Practice of Leadership, a panel discussion held at the Yoga Journal Conference in New York City this past weekend. The discussion grew out of Seane Corn’s decision to decline an invitation from Lululemon to participate in a leadership training program they were developing for the Yoga Journal Conferences. Ms. Corn explained the reason for her decision:

I told them that I couldn’t be a part of a training program they were hosting unless they themselves were willing to model true leadership, which includes ownership. Their lack of transparency and silence around the controversy in 2013 was irresponsible.”

The “controversy” was a perfect storm of long-standing questions regarding the compatibility of Lululemon’s philosophy and ethics with those of yoga combined with incendiary statements by Lululemon founder and majority shareholder Chip Wilson regarding, among other things, problems with Lululemon’s product line. It all resulted in a public relations disaster and an invitation from Alanna Kaivalya in a phenomenally viral Huffington Post article.

The Practice of Leadership panel discussion was described as follows:

“In this session, we will take on the delicate balance of spiritual values and corporate responsibility featuring community leaders, social change activists and Lululemon leadership. It will be an open and honest dialogue that gets at the heart of our practice, our role as conscious leaders and how to create community in conflict.”

Yogadork posted a nice summary of the proceedings and asked readers to stop and ponder a significant question: “Do you feel Lululemon (a corporation) should be held responsible for upholding yogic values, diversity and inclusivity?”

My answer is that Yogadork rolled two very different questions into one. A coherent response is not possible until the two questions are separated. Here’s why: Continue reading

Ten Years After

NYC-Ten-Years-After

Photos © James and Karla Murray

In a few weeks I’ll be visiting some of my old neighborhoods in New York City. It’s been a while since my last visit and I expect to feel discombobulated by its unfamiliarity. Like a time-displaced Captain America bounding into a future-ized Times Square, I’ll recognize all the old familiar places that this heart of mine embraces and reconcile myself to the fact that they look all wrong.

But it’s not just a case of sullen nostalgia because my old haunts don’t look they way they used to; it’s a case of disenchantment because now my old haunts look just like everyplace else. When I was born, no other city in America looked like New York City. Now, New York City looks a lot like everyplace else. People from Des Moines can have dinner in New York at the same restaurant they go to in… Des Moines! C’mon: really? You’re in the Big Apple and you want to eat at Applebee’s?

Every day everyplace looks a little more like everyplace else: the same corporate brands, the same architectural design, the same urban planning, the same kind of commoditized experience, sanitized and made safe for mass consumption. You used to be able to escape from the malaise of the suburbs by moving into The City. Now, the only real difference is that you won’t need a car (but you will need a trust fund). Continue reading

Time Stand Still

JagannathTemple_USEI suspect that, for most of you, the New Year is old news, that you have already ushered in the New Year with resolutions or, for those disinclined toward such declarations, a sense of making a fresh start, of putting the past behind in favor of future ambitions. This has not been the case for me: my sprint to the finish of last year won’t end until today. The last item on a long list of time-sensitive tasks will be completed in the course of composing this post.

I found myself playing ‘beat the clock’ with most, if not all of the assignments I’d acquired. And my anxiety about completing everything on time was exacerbated by uncooperative technology, the very devices upon which the completion of my tasks depended. Thanks to problems with my Internet connection it was taking 90 seconds to do things that should have taken 10 seconds. There were even times when my connection was so bollixed up that I had to close my browser and re-start my computer. As a result, it was taking 3 or 4 minutes to do things that just a few years ago I could not do at all; our contemporary expectations are such that we become frustrated when doing what was once impossible is not accomplished immediately. Continue reading

Svadhyaya

red-pill-blue-pill-matrixHere’s a fun thing to do on a slow afternoon: make a list of ‘me’s. I have plenty of them. And they’re predictable, arriving on cue like programmed robots. When I’m driving, the ‘impatient me’ arrives as soon as the car in front of me drives one mile per hour below the speed limit. When the sun deepens its arc into the western sky, ‘anxious me’ arrives to tell ‘complacent me’ that I’m running out of time for all the things I wanted to do today. ‘Complacent me’ couldn’t care less.

There’s ‘grateful me’, ‘grumpy me’, ‘garrulous me’, ‘guilty me’, ‘greedy’ me, ‘generous me’ – one way to create a list of ‘me’s is to just pick a letter of the alphabet and run with it. If you have enough time you can go the distance; I’ve got ‘me’s from ‘abiotic’ to ‘zippy’.

There’s one thing that all of these different ‘me’s have in common: they’re not me. Yes, they’re manifestations of various aspects of my personality but my personality isn’t ‘me’, either; it’s something I possess. That’s why I talk about it as a possession: I have a personality. Continue reading

Gay Marriage in the Bhagavad Gita

I have a friend who’s a rabid Baltimore Ravens fan. She’s also one of the sweetest and most spiritual people I know – so imagining her maniacally cheering when Ray Lewis crushes a quarterback or going ballistic over a blown coverage actually kind of cracks me up. But, great minds think alike: my own yogic aspirations are mixed with a formidable compulsion to lose myself in the organized chaos of gridiron mayhem.

Living in Washington DC can be rough for a New York football fan like me, though. NFC division rivalry aside, I could never root for my adopted hometown’s team just on account of its name: Redskins? Really? That’s as embarrassing as it is insulting: may they go 0-16 every season (sorry, Ram). At least the Ravens derive their name from a great moment in Baltimore’s literary history. And, although the forces of my illusory geographical identity apply in the AFC as well, I might be inclined to root for the Ravens for another reason: the attention a Ravens player has brought to the issue of gay rights. Continue reading

Understanding the Structure of Bhagavad-gita

Bhagavad-gita presents us with a hierarchical concept of reality. The coherence of the Gita’s message can more easily be experienced when we understand this hierarchical conception, which consists of two major levels of experience and an intermediate level that acts as a bridge leading from one to the other. Continue reading

How to be a Jivan-muktah

“The yogis, abandoning attachment, act with body, mind, intelligence and even with the senses, only for the purpose of purification.” Bhagavad-gita 5.11

During a class you’ll often hear me talk about yoga as a subtractive process; one of removing all the obstacles of the mind and impurities of the heart that prevent us from experiencing ourselves in our natural state of eternal, blissful consciousness; of being one who is liberated from illusion while still living in this world – a jivan-muktah.

Patanjali defines liberation (or samadhi) as the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind that results from the cessation of our identification with those fluctuations. So can we liberate our consciousness from the fluctuations of the mind and still be engaged with the world? As long as we have a body with which to act and a mind that’s generating thoughts that inspire those actions, we’d still have fluctuations of the mind and desires upon which we’re acting… so how can we say we’re liberated? Or, to put it another way, how is it possible to be a jivan-muktah if liberation is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind? Continue reading

Love or Confusion

Most people who’ve spent a significant amount of time hanging around the yoga-sphere have heard at least one yoga teacher put forward the proposition that, according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, when one attains stillness of the mind then not only is the true nature of the self revealed but one simultaneously merges into an Absolute Oneness of Being beyond all form, qualities, names, and relativity, constituting an ever-present reality of pure consciousness, exquisite peace, complete knowledge, immeasurable happiness, and unconditional love.

Wow, that sounds great, but… uh, love for who?

Continue reading