Monday, September 28, 2009

Violence and Disappointment

It's actually very scientific, if you want to go there: the world is bigger than the one I want. To live in truth rather than the deluded one that is orchestrated by what I desire, it is necessary to see the larger world. The world orchestrated by my desires is a pretty biased place. Another woman I know who is able to do more advanced yoga poses would just disappear in the world of my desires because I want to be the best, and when I see someone showing me that I am not the center of attention, and the most loved woman in the room I feel my attention narrowing and my eyes hardening because I don't want to see that someone else is the most appreciated person in the room. The larger truth is that we are all in this life together, and I judge my reaction as violent. My inner executioner is there saying, "no" to what I am seeing, and on the sidelines is my inner teacher who is telling me that I should celebrate the accomplishments of this other woman. But, sometimes it seems that I am not capable of aligning with the "good girl" side. I want success.

When I want to be a better person it is a violent relationship with myself--and I really do want to be better so I am in conflict with myself as I am now. I am also disappointed when I'm not the best. When I want to be better my wanting also makes me competitive with others because they give me a way to measure myself. I can fight them. It's more tangible than fighting myself. But, it's really a problem I have with myself that becomes externalized when someone seems to embody something I want. So the problem is me.

Can't I be more than the sum of my desires and ambitions? Isn't it possible for people to come together and share a sense of awe about how amazing this experience of living is? Can't we come together in appreciation of one another and see the gifts everybody has as individuals and that we share together as a group?

The world, when I look at it through the filter of what I want, is constant disappointment--not because I don't get what I want; I often do. But the world is a big place with big problems. It's not what I want. I want a world where people care about each other across family lines, and across peoples of different races, genders, ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, and religious beliefs. I want a world where nature is honored, rather than destroyed. So I'm disappointed. And I'm violent because I'm not at peace with myself.

So in going forward when I notice my eyes narrowing and my body hardening in resistance because I see someone who embodies what I want, I plan to acknowledge that I see something I want. I have a desire, and it's okay to have a desire--totally natural. I can work towards what I want, and be okay with myself. This is the experience: moving through time, and things are changing.


Nancy said...

Excellent post Brooks! Let's face it there are few Bodhisattvas among us, mostly we are human. I challenge you to find another yogi/yogini who isn't disappointed they can't successfully land in a pose that their neighbor can. It happens to me and to everyone I know who comes to a mat. Some days I'm mad, and other days I'm happy for that person.

It is important to remember that ahimsa is non-violence to ourselves as well. One must learn to accept our failings/ego as a step towards whatever goal we have to reach whether it be samadhi or something else.

I suggest you read Elena Brower's beautiful column on the art of apology

be kind to yourself, apologize for expecting perfection and return tomorrow with ahimsa in mind.

Love your blog and think this was a terrific entry!

Namaste, Nancy

Bob Weisenberg said...

Yes, yes, yes. You've captured the essence of Yoga philosophy. Many people mistake "non-attachment" for non-striving or non-involvement. But it's only about non-attachment to results, not avoiding striving! In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna doesn't tell Arjuna to escape from life's challenges and go meditate in the forest. He tells him to squarely face life's challenges, just detach himself from the results.

Yoga philosophy is sublimely simple and profound.

It can all be expressed in three phrases.

At first I thought Yoga was complicated.

Then I wrote about about it

And it began to seem simple.

I started reading the ancient texts

And Yoga again seemed complicated.

But the better I knew

The Yoga Sutra, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads

The more I realized

Yoga philosophy is sublimely simple and profound.

It can all be expressed in three phrases:




As they say about the Golden Rule

All the rest is commentary.

Bob Weisenberg

Unknown said...

This post is a beautiful look at the realities that occur in yoga classes and many other "life" settings -- even walking down the street.

It's fascinating that it comes from you, Brooks, however, because in your class I have experienced the opposite and credit your openness in teaching your students with this experience:

Going into side angle pose, I glance around the studio of 14 people and see all of us in harmony, breathing, stretching, bending, being -- but all in different ways. Beauty in our difference, our individuality, in our sameness that comes from that difference.

Thanks, Brooks for the thoughtful posts and your classes full of light!

Anonymous said...

Brooks! As always, I read your posts with interest and self-awareness. This comment is not so much in the same vein but as so often we do connect...same endpoint, different path. I have been struggling with a certain unnamed, indeterminate frustration and unease that I've been wanting to resolve. Today I thought, I don't need to go into the world fighting and pushing against anything in the world, I am pushing against my own boundaries, my own limitations. The way to be creative is to push up against the things that are limiting my own excellence.

YogaforCynics said...

Amazing post, and so in line with a lot of what I've been thinking lately...the way I find myself reliving countless conflict with others in the past when, ultimately, it's all inside me...if that makes any sense...

Bob Weisenberg said...


That makes perfect sense.

Bob W.

Brooks Hall said...

Yes: that makes sense to me, Dr. YogaforCynics.

Thanks everybody for your thoughts! It takes courage to look at this stuff, and I am so fortunate that I don't do it alone.