RYS 200, 300, 500 in Rishikesh
Being a pilgrim on the path of yog is different for every devotee. There is no right or wrong path to enlightenment and divinity as long as the path you’re on does it for you. But the path of yog is not free from ego, as it is walked by humans.
Here, in the capital of yoga, people from all over the world come to practise asanas and meditation, but equally many seem to come to show to themselves or others that they’re in the path of yog. Going to Mecca, the Vatican, Rishikesh, Bethlehem, Santiago de Compostela or God knows where won’t bring enlightenment in itself. Sometimes I experience a lot of ego among devoted people and that makes me wonder what they are actually devoted to, apart from themselves? ”How often do you meditate? How long can you sit for? Can you do Scorpion? Have you been to Varanasi? How many times have you been here? How long have you been doing yoga?”, trying to figure out where to place you on the spiritual-ladder. Those are the kind of questions that makes me wanna give a provocative answer. It also amazes me how the people preaching ”all is one” can suddenly engage in the most childish of rivalry, as if yog was some cockfight rather than a path of love and light. The yogis and yoginis may want to consider some attitudinal generosity…
And what about the people dressing up like Christmas trees, decorated beyond recognition with religious symbols? Doing it for God? I doubt it… we’re born naked, remember? If you need all that stuff, all the accessories to flaunt your devotion, then how real are you? Why don’t you get a ”Enlightened”-tattoo on your forehead instead and save yourself some dressing up time in the morning?
A few people here have told me that I should wear a sari, that it would be good for my image (what image is being referred to is unclear!) and hence good for business. Saris are beautiful indeed, but wait a minute… so, you who preach that all is one would now have me dress differently? Right… so my opinions would weigh heavier if I looked differently? If I were a man and could grow a beard and wrap myself in orange, would you hear me? My asanas… would they improve if I wore different clothes? Or is it perhaps your mind which is a slave to prejudices? Interesting, because that smells like superficiality to my sensitive yogini-nose!
One day I may want to wear a sari; the day that such a desire springs from my core. The day when I can speak hindi, cook Indian food and have a genuine understanding of this beautiful country’s complex cultural rules… Wearing a sari then would be a symbol for my union with this society, a tribal act of belonging. But wearing a sari now so that ”people would take me more seriously”… get out of here and do something useful instead! The ones who can’t see beyond outer appearance, regardless of spiritual belonging are not interesting enough for me to interact with anyway and I claim the right to question whether they’ve understood anything about yoga at all.
My lovely grandfather used to tell a true story which I would love to share with you: A member of one of the richest families in Sweden went into a crystal lamp shop. He was dressed modestly, almost like a poor man and he was limping on a walking stick. The shop assistant briefly looked up as he came into the shop and then returned to his papers behind the desk. After a while, the man pointed to one of the large lamps, hanging from the ceiling, reflecting the glimmering light of a hundred polished crystals and asked: ”Excuse me, sir. Could you tell me how much this lamp costs?” The shop keeper skeptically looked at him and said dismissively: ”Oh, you couldn’t afford it anyway.” The old man gave him a long, hard look and then raised his stick and pulled down the lamp, having it crashing down on the stone floor. ”Now, if you don’t mind… how much does it cost?”
Certified Yoga Teacher & Nutritional Therapist