Friday, July 11, 2008

YOGA | Buddhists Not Buddhas

First: a thank you note to all who commented on the earlier post on S. I messaged her earlier and she wrote back to say she's fine, and not to worry. The surgery was successful. She's been discharged. Now I just hope she heals well.

And thank you to the friend who read my earlier post and messaged to reassure me that S. is okay. You know who you are. :)

So, onto one of my favourite topic: yoga and the dharma, because I am suddenly feeling a little self-conscious about that earlier post.

I received an email from a friend earlier, directing me to a blog post by a fellow yogini who practices at our yoga studio. The post had a link to this David Swenson message:

Just because we practice yoga does not mean that we are yogis. I think that a mistake we all make is to think that the world of yoga will be any different than the rest of the world. In fact, in some ways I believe that yoga tends to amplify who we are. The practice of yoga, or any discipline of self-exploration, is something like tilling the soil to prepare a garden. The practice brings fertility into our being, but our maturity as a practitioner is determined by what we plant in our garden. If we choose to plant an ego, we can grow an even bigger one than the average person.

Just because some of us call ourselves Buddhists, it doesn't mean we are enlightened or even particularly wise. Some of us in fact, continue to gossip, to backstab our co-workers, to envy, to hate - we continue to behave badly, like normal human beings. Practicing yoga doesn't make you a better person - but if that's where you want to be - yoga can point the way. You have to walk there yourself though.

Buddha said his teachings is like the finger pointing to the moon - but you shouldn't mistake the finger for the moon. Maybe Buddha never actually said this - maybe somebody else said it, and they just attributed it to Buddha to make it sound better. My point is: Nothing should be taken for granted in our spiritual practice.

Some of us think once we are "signed on" - we are guaranteed for spiritual attainment. Not true. Like Swenson said: we reap what we bring to the practice, and I believe some of us have met some major assholes who claim to be yogis. They brag about which famous yoga teachers they have studied with, and how their chosen style of yoga is better than others. I once met a guy who bragged to me about a meditation retreat he's been to. Duh. Who brags about a meditation retreat?

The ego has is a tricky bugger, and it always manages to creep up when I least expects it. I set out with the best of intentions, and only on hindsight - and sometimes, with a nugget of self-awareness - I realise I am really just serving my own interest.

2 comments:

gautama said...

never knew yoga was part of buddhism too!!

Dark Orpheus said...

Gautama There might be people who disagree with me, but I see yoga and Buddhism as coming from similar cultural traditions. So they share the same focus and teachings in many areas. The practice, the way I see it - are complimentary.