In the fall of 2012 I had the great pleasure of being able to present a talk called “Yoga on the Threshold of Social Activism” as part of the Octopus Garden “Garden Talks” Series. The feedback and discussion was so inspiring that I went on to facilitate 5 more meetings on the subject, and gave 50% of the proceeds to buy food for the Occupy Toronto movement.
The presentation looked at the following issues:
how our first experience of yoga puts us in contact with the livingworld
how this experience is personal, intimate, embodied
however, it is also internalized, and can be difficult to integrate and share
sharing is made difficult by the echo of yoga’s anti-social roots that can actually feed modern consumerist alienation
the perennial challenge: integrating inward epiphanies with outward actions
what can yoga practitioners and studios do to become more politically engaged?
how might we support the various Occupy activities? who heals the healers?
As the discussion turned, an article emerged, which is to be published in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice, a collection edited by Carol Horton and Roseanne Harvey (due out in the fall of 2012). The title of my piece is “Modern Yoga Will Not Form a Real Culture Until Every Studio Can Also Double as a Soup Kitchen and other observations from the threshold between yoga and activism“.
In the winter of 2011/12, I published three commentaries on the Anusara scandal, arguing for a more grounded approach to spiritual community and aspiration. The articles are on this blog, but the full comment threads under their posting at Elephant Journal are a good read.
In the spring of 2012, I published three reports/analytical articles on the circumstances surrounding the death of Ian Thorson a devotee of “Geshe” Michael Roach. I was a student of Roach from 1998 to 2000, and I wrote from my memory of his charisma and the effects of his strange take on Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. I also happened to break the story internationally: HuffPo, the NYT, Newsweek, and People followed me in print. My articles were critical of the dynamics of social control within new religious movements, and opened up a vast discussion of Roach, and the transcultural migration of Tibetan religions. The three pieces generated close to 4K comments.
To read all six of these articles, along with their fascinating comment threads, visit Elephant Journal.