22 Aug Attraction & Aversion: The Root of Rebelliousness
Last week I brought up an idea I had seen online about yoga, and yogis, being seen as pretentious. At the root of this, I believe, is rebelliousness. That may sound strange at first, but if we come to understand the roots of suffering it begins to make sense.
Much of the suffering in life, and the conflict with others, is due to a rebellious streak that exists in all of us. I’ve seen this a lot lately in observing the work of some of the current popular yoga teachers. There is a celebration of rebellion for its own sake. Rebellion is good if we are being controlled or manipulated, but what I’ve noticed from these teachers is that they love the physical practice of yoga, not the disciplined actions suggested by yogis for thousands of years that are said to bring us to our highest state of being.
In yogic thought this rebellious nature stems from our attraction to things which boost our ego, and avoiding things which may burst our bubble. Most rebelliousness stems from that fear of reconsidering whether we’re correct in our beliefs or not. I see this with yogis celebrating how they like to drink alcohol or coffee, eat meat, or dislike Sanskrit names for the poses (just to name a few). They claim they feel judged by other yoga teachers for doing these things which they celebrate. I would guess there’s probably more ego involved than actual judgment being rained down upon these yoga practitioners.
Not a single teacher I know pushes vegetarianism, though they may suggest that eating less meat can be healthier. I’ve never met a teacher who demands that you are not doing yoga if you drink coffee or alcohol, though I have met many who point out the effects of coffee and alcohol on our nervous system, brain and awareness. I could go on, but the point is that it is more likely that these celebrating yogis don’t feel comfortable, not because they’re actually being judged harshly, but because inside of them there is a voice of shame when surrounded by people who are making decisions based on considering the effects of an action, rather than deciding to do things because of the momentary enjoyment attained from deciding to eat this, drink that, or do whatever.
I’ll give two personal examples to help illustrate my point.
I used to smoke cigarettes in my 20s. I knew it was not only a disgusting habit, but harmful to my health. Even with that I continued to smoke, and would even argue with non-smokers about how harmful second hand smoke actually was. Because of my attachment to smoking facts were secondary considerations, and rationalization was necessary. Either that, or I would have to not care that I was probably harming others with my actions.
Another personal example is that I have a sweet tooth and have never been a big fan of vegetables. I never met a vegetable that I liked before my mid 30s. I still have to put considerable effort into eating healthier. I know, based on scientific fact, that eating a certain amount of vegetables is good for my health and I know I feel better when I do eat them. But it’s still a battle. If there’s chocolate or cake to eat I will indulge in that before putting a vegetable in my mouth.
I used to argue about whether I needed to eat vegetables when anyone suggested I do so. I don’t do that anymore. When I eat sweets today it’s with a conscious knowledge that I should moderate and mix in some greens throughout my day. I don’t argue anymore.
Summing It Up
To sum up, rebelliousness is not necessarily freedom. Like in society at large, yoga has certain concepts that are urged to be followed in order to evolve our self to its highest potential. When we blatantly do the opposite of these suggestions we are not like oppressed citizens striking out against a repressive regime. We are like children doing the opposite of what a loving parent, who’s speaking from experience, suggests, or the stubborn man who denies the wisdom of experience shared by others because he personally hasn’t had that same experience. We are at that moment slaves to our ego, and that is where the real limitation lies.
When doing anything, it’s helpful to ask:
Will this enhance my life?
Am I aware of any negative effects this choice may have, and are they acceptable?
Are my thoughts on the matter grounded in fact, or am I reacting in anger and holding onto excuses?
May we all be open and receptive to our highest good,