Parabola remembers B.K.S. Iyengar, the legendary yoga master, who passed away today at the the age of 95. Born in India in 1918, B.K.S. Iyengar taught yoga since the age of seventeen. An innovative and exacting teacher for more than sixty years, he has guided the establishment of many centers of Iyengar Yoga worldwide. His message was “Yoga is for everyone.”
In an interview with Annie Schliffer from our Fall 2009 issue “The Path,” B.K.S. Iyengar spoke candidly of his personal practice:
"I am a person who does what he says, even at my age. And I continue to practice because Yoga has helped me. Explicitly I teach the entire philosophy, but in the presentation of each asana and breath I do not speak publicly of what spiritual life is. Spiritual life begins only when you attempt to internalize completely. I am not an idol, but I practice what I speak. My life is open to each and every one to see. I am pure inside and pure outside. Whether I am nine or ninety does not matter to me. Life has a flow from birth to death. And that flow should not be interrupted. And that’s why I practice."
Later in the interview, he explains the importance of the Yoga that he practices:
"Another image I can give you is knitting a sweater. This body is “knitted” with fibers, sinews, ligaments, and so forth. It is said, “The camel can’t pass through the eye of a needle.” The needle is the consciousness, the eye of the needle is the intelligence, and the thread that you pass through the eye of the needle is the mind. If the mind, the thread, is rough can you push it through the needle? What do you do? You sharpen it. So you have to sharpen the mind, for the thread to pass through the eye of the needle. And the moment the tip of the thread passes through, do you think of the thread? You only knit with the needle because the thread is moving through the needle. So therefore I say, when the asanas are done, each and every fiber of the body is knitted through the asana.
The mind, the thread, has passed through the intelligence, the eye of the needle, for the needle to move in the body. So the needle and the fibers become one. And that is also another meaning of Oneness: “The dualities disappear,” which means “Oneness between the Body and the Soul comes.”
Ryan Block called Comcast, his internet provider, to cancel his account, but the ‘retention specialist’ on the other end of the line really didn’t want him to do that. The resulting conversation was painful to say the least.
Now Comcast has contacted Block directly to issue a cringe-inducing apology: “We are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.”
Francis Bacon had a fascinating section in his Novum Organum on “Idols of the Mind.” The section was his attempt to diagnose four ways human thought goes astray.
The first type of idol was called “idols if the tribe.” They are the ideas we choose not because they are true but because they make us feel safe, confident or superior. They are the ideas that appeal to our human instincts instead of facts. Bacon said beautifully that human thought is “no dry light” but rather a “false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it.”
The second kind of distorted thought was labelled “Idols of the cave.” These are the ideas we choose because the confirm the personal experiences we’ve already had. They are the comfortable prejudices we confirm within in the echo chamber of our own experience, but never expose to the wider light of our common experience with the rest of humankind.
The third idol was called “idols of the market place.” This is when we choose ideas not because they are true, but because they conform to the definitions and abstractions of our language. Before the scientific method, people would often test their ideas only by whether they were internally consistent. To have a modern mind means to know the real universe doesn’t divide into nouns and verbs and is often quite unlike human language.
The final kind of idol was called “idols of the theater” which refers to ideas we choose not because they are true, but because they fit within some system of philosophy, theology or system of thought. This mistake also occurs when a scientific person takes some limited fact or theory and makes a system out of it. Idols of the theater included both superstition and scientism. A book is not necessarily scientific just because it has charts and uses the word “quantum” in the title.
The people who most support the Republicans and the Tea Party carry a secret burden. Many know that they are one medical emergency or broken down car away from ruin, and they blame the government. They vote against their own interests, often hurting themselves in concrete ways, in a vain attempt to deal with their own, misguided shame about being poor. They believe “freedom” is the answer, even though they live a form of wage indenture in a rigged system.
I enjoy controlled loneliness. I like wandering around the city alone. I’m not afraid of coming back to an empty flat and lying down in an empty bed. I’m afraid of having no one to miss, of having no one to love.
Kuba Wojewodzki, Polish journalist and comedian. (via coyotegold)