Well, I am checking in from Denver, Colorado after an amazing weekend in Buena Vista, Colorado. We had a fantastic workshop with almost 40 folks in each section, which is wonderful in any city but particularly noteworthy in a town of 2,000 people and only one stoplight!
So many things are noteworthy from the weekend but one thing that was truly meaningful to me was how many of my long-time friends and colleagues were in attendance. We had currently and formerly certified Anusara yoga teachers in the room all together working on all kinds of poses in what was a very mixed-level group spanning many decades in age. Really great company.
As time passes on the other side of what I sometimes refer to as the "Anusara debacle" (for lack of a better term) one thing that brings me great joy and hope is that many of the threads of friendship, community, love and respect still remain. And while certainly other ties have been loosened and even severed in some cases, one thing that is apparent to me is that much can be and has been salvaged and/or reborn from the ashes of that time of dissolution.
And in this rebirth phase I personally think we are being called to a new order or a new paradigm of studentship, leadership and community organization. I do not have some clear picture of it in my mind but given that the last few years have been pretty tough for gurus everywhere, I can't help but think there is something bigger going on than scandals only. I am thinking that the scandals are simply symptoms of what is or has become a somewhat sick and outdates system. (And before we get lost on the topic of all the different scandals in all the different communities over the last few years please know that I am not excusing, apologizing for or even negating the very real ways these powerful people have behaved inappropriately, unethically and so on I am simply saying- with my tongue a bit in my cheek at times since I like to make jokes about serious things as way to cope-- that we are witnessing a break down in that particular model. And while a lot could be said (and has been said and will continue to be said) about the flaws of the guru system and the ways it sets its own self up for these kinds of inevitable crashes, devastating disappointments, and painful developments I am looking at these situations more with a sweeping scope, rather with the analytical fine-tooth comb. )
I am considering that these breakdowns occurred precisely because they had to in order to call us to a higher level of functioning as students, teachers and community members. And yes, analysis on the why and the how of cult mentality, group mind, charismatic manipulations and the like must be examined both personally and collectively, with unrelenting scrutiny and with rigorous honesty so as to see clearly where to place responsibility and so that we can claim accountability when and where it is appropriate and then hopefully we can avoid similar outcomes in the future. I just can't shake the feeling that all that has happened over the last few years in so many spiritual communities from asana studies to Buddhism and other various religious centers, etc. has been right on time to help us birth a new way of working together.
And all that being said, I love being a student of a good teacher and of great teachings and I am creature of community. I believe that stepping into hierarchical relationships can be very useful at times and that outer structures and boundaries yield great inner growth and corresponding psychic freedoms. So I am not one of those people who are shouting "down with the guru" from the rooftops (or mountaintops, since I am writing from the mountains this morning) but I am pretty sure these days that something new is attempting to come through all of us. And I am pretty sure it has to do with discernment, clarity, honesty, scrutiny, maturity and shared teaching functions within collaborative learning communities.
And like any birth process, there is a lot of messy, painful, and scary moments. Birth and death are very similar doorways and there are times in the process of birth where both mother and child are at risk. And every death opens a door or births the being into a new realm of consciousness. At any rate, I have a feeling in my bones these days that I am in, and as a community that many of us are in, a process of birthing a new paradigm which means that 1) we don't exactly know what we are doing, 2) we will fix mistakes that came before, 3) we will make great new mistakes, despite our best efforts and loftiest intentions that someone else will need to fix in the future, 4) we will surf the waters between birth and death and 5) chances are we, like most people in labor, just are not going to look really good while we are doing it.
So I got onto this topic on Sunday morning when I was talking about something I heard that Bikram said about a posture, which then opened a door to the "rough year all charismatic leaders have been having" and after I said I wasn't going to go down that road, well, guess what? I went right down the road about this death/birth process. And looking at the big picture doesn't, in my view, discount negate, gloss over or otherwise excuse the nitty-gritty 3rd dimensional realities where people have been hurt, abused, neglected and/or devastated. Not one bit. The big picture context sits right alongside the personal story giving a meaning beyond betrayal, disappointment, anger, revenge and even euphoric recall of past golden ages. I believe it is our personal work to navigate those different domains intelligently, maturely and with clarity and to recognize that when we can't do it all ourselves, we can call in a good counselor to help us sort through what our spiritual heart wants and needs, what our emotional heart wants and needs and to bring understanding intellectually to the process of growth and change in which we find ourselves in our sadhana.
All right, here is a sweet little video from the weekend that Kelly made. Enjoy.
More on all this later- after all, it is a work of a lifetime.
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"There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heaven, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart."