If We Erase “I am not my body”, What is Left of Yoga Philosophy?



The problem

Cameron Shayne’s usage of the “I am not my body” meme to rationalize his anti-social ethics was far less interesting – to me at least – than what happened when I attacked the meme itself. My basic position is that the metaphysical claim “I am not my body” is not only unsupported by the phenomenological sciences by which we actually live our lives, it can provide delusional cover for our vestigial asceticism, blind us to the privileges accrued by living bodies based upon appearance, origin, class, or gender, and promote the very dissociation from materiality that leads directly to our environmental crises.

Merely presenting this argument opened me to charges, from writer and teacher Chris Courtney among others, that I didn’t understand the fundamentals of yoga, that I was rejecting yoga in general, that I have no right to facilitate discussion in yoga philosophy, that I was being “overly-intellectual”, and that my lack of lineage disqualifies me from staking out a position. The message of my detractors is clear: let’s assess Shayne’s inner life and attack his behaviors, but not look closely at the metaphysical claims that support him: because, well, we rely on those claims ourselves, and anyone who doesn’t is off the yoga island.

Continue reading “If We Erase “I am not my body”, What is Left of Yoga Philosophy?”