the story of yoga
Once upon a time there was a mystical movement that took flight and moved from east to west. The gurus of this movement dreamed it would take root, grow and change people in the new land. A bold vision drove their mission, they were certain and sure, but a parable subverts.
The gurus taught their students but were confused by them. They were tall, they were loud, and they were rich. The students listened to their gurus, absorbing sacred wisdom and ancient discipline – with no intention of giving it up. The Westerners were opportunists,’ and they slowly transformed the practice.
The gurus, overwhelmed by bright neon lights and an infant culture, misplaced their prayer beads and lost their way; the movement began to dance and shake on its own. It shape shifted into a tale of the immigrants doing it their own way. What happened was nothing that gurus expected but better than they could have hoped for. In a short time, the practice prospered. Many in the new land feared it, but someone discovered that this new practice was good for prisoners, alcoholics, the sick, those suffering pain and even angry youth.
The Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses, Dukes, Duchesses’ and even landowners started to think that perhaps the Easterners brought good medicine. The Western teachers, overlooking spiritual mysticism, taught the practice, and it grew. Enter money and the illusion of freedom, insert diversity and its creative gifts, inject entrepreneurial spirit, energy drinks and ambition. In no time, the practice at the movement’s heart made its way across the land. This was good, for it was, after all, the original vision.The Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses, Dukes, Duchesses’ and even landowners started to think that perhaps the Easterners brought good medicine. The Western teachers, overlooking spiritual mysticism, taught the practice, and it grew.
It became a symbol of youth, of change and the culturally hip. Athletes and celebrities endorsed the practice and photographs of yogis posed in ;dandayamana-dhanurasana, adorned glossy magazines and billboards of Los Angeles. Someone from the Western Kingdom remembered an old saying that ‘health is wealth.’ They dared to say it aloud, and told others that the practice helped people get healthy. Many started to believe it. But some of the Easterners felt lost.
The mystical remnant was a vanishing dream, a memory from a place and time long past. They didn’t understand people of the West, and they didn’t like what the Interstate highways delivered, so they chose to return to the source. Other gurus chose to stay, and lived through the movements’ second metamorphosis: they didn’t appreciate how their sacred gift had been co-opted, or what had happened to the core tenant of union with Brahman but they had students (devotees to them), jobs and food.
Their movement had landed on fertile soil and took root. It was growing, growing, growing out of control and their vision grew faint. Someone at the ashram read a passage from Shelly, and a guru wept. Life, like a dome of many-colored glass. Stains the white radiance of eternity. The movement grew, its imperfect medicine calming the waters of Babylon.