Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Realization of Life

"We can look upon a road from two different points of view. One regards it as dividing us from the object of our desire; in that case we count every step of our journey over it as something attained by force in the face of obstruction. The other sees it as the road which leads us to our destination; and as such it is part of our goal. It is already the beginning of our attainment, and by journeying over it we can only gain that which in itself it offers to us."

From, Sadhana: The Realisation of Life
Rabindranath Tagore

A beautiful description of the Henro trail. As you take those first steps through the niomon of Temple 1 and enter the compound, stop for a minute and examine your feelings. Not your thoughts, those are too easy to counterfeit, but the feelings laying deep in your heart.

As you begin the Henro, ask yourself what the object of your desire is. Ask yourself where your intended, hoped for, destination lays. Is it back here at Temple 1, where you are starting from? Or, is it nowhere, at a place that doesn't exist, where the henro trail doesn't exist, where you'll cry for reasons unknown when you come to understand that with each step further into that unknowing you get closer to home.

As you take those first steps through the niomon of Temple 1, commit yourself to looking for no less than what the Daishi came looking for when he dropped out of the university and walked into the mountains and coastal roads of the same island.

As the saying goes, only he/she who has the courage to go too far will ever find out how far they can go.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Habitual Ignorance

"A sign that ignorance is losing its influence on us is when our habitual identifications with externals—possessions and attainments—begins to diminish. We begin to realize that we are not greater if we have them or less if we lose them."

Inside The Yoga Sutras
Jaganath Carrera

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Living On Dotted Lines

I talk a lot about looking for silence, looking for those gaps between individual thoughts. The silence found in those gaps is where you want to spend your time. It is in this silence where you grow spiritually, where you come to see the truth of the reality we live in, where you come to see who you really and truly are. All progress on the path is made when you are walking inside this silence.

Here's how i see it. Look at this line:

_ _   _  _    _ _ _   _ _            _   _ _      _  _    _        _

What is it? Obviously a dotted line. When asked to describe it, our first response is that it's a solid line broken by sections of blank space of different lengths. But, that definition rests on the belief that the important part of the line are the solid parts; the blank spaces are omissions.

What if you turned that around, though. Look at the line again, but this time try to see it as the blank space from the left side of the screen all the way to the right, interrupted by a series of short solid lines. It's easy to say, yeah, i see that, on an intellectual level, but it's difficult to really see the blank space across the screen as what's really there and its being interrupted by occasional solid lines.

Take this to the idea of your mind and thoughts. As we start the process of trying to calm our minds, we realize that our thoughts run rampant. Our thoughts are like a solid line through our mind. As we learn to sit and allow the mind to quiet down, our thoughts start to resemble the dotted line, with longer and longer gaps between the solid thoughts the longer we persist.

And that's where a great many people stop the process, i imagine. They see the thoughts as natural and spend their energies trying to expand the gaps. This is the natural state.

But it's not. The natural state is the blank line, interrupted by the solid line. Instead of looking for the gaps, learn to live in the silence, enjoy the silence, and notice when a thought comes up. Let it go, don't pay attention to it, know that it's just one of those solid lines, short and temporary, and that it will soon disappear. Then let it dissolve back into the natural blank space again.

Is there any difference between noticing the thoughts or noticing the gaps? In principle, no. In practice, yes. When you come to see that it is the gap that is natural and normal, your focus changes. You have made a first step onto the path of freedom, as opposed to the path towards freedom. It's like being at home and thinking of the henro trail on Shikoku versus being on the henro trail and occasionally having thoughts of home.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Path

This from the beginning of the 16th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna is talking to Arjuna:

"A man who is born with tendencies toward the Divine, is fearless and pure in heart. He perseveres in that path to union with Brahman which the scriptures and his teacher have taught him. He is charitable. He can control his passions. He studies the scriptures regularly, and obeys their directions. He practices spiritual disciplines. He is straight-forward, truthful, and of an even temper. He harms no one. He renounces the things of this world. He has a tranquil mind and an unmalicious tongue. He is compassionate toward all. He is not greedy. He is gentle and modest. He abstains from useless activity. He has faith in the strength of his higher nature. He can forgive and endure. He is clean in thought and act. He is free from hatred and from pride. Such qualities are his birthright.

"When a man is born with demonic tendencies, his birthright is hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit, anger, cruelty, and ignorance.

"The birthright of the divine nature leads to liberation. The birthright of the demonic nature leads to greater bondage."

Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood Translation

And the same passage from another translation (maybe my favorite):

"Be fearless and pure; never waver in your determination or your dedication to the spiritual life. Give freely. Be self-controlled, sincere, truthful, loving, and full of the desire to serve. Realize the truth of the scriptures; learn to be detached and to take joy in renunciation. Do not get angry or harm any living creature, but be compassionate and gentle; show good will to all. Cultivate vigor, patience, will, purity; avoid malice and pride. Then, Arjuna, you will achieve your divine destiny.

"Other qualities, Arjuna, make a person more and more inhuman: hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit, anger, cruelty, ignorance.

"The divine qualities lead to freedom; the demonic, to bondage."

Eknath Easwaran Translation

And from the perspective of the bible, in 1 Timothy Paul tells Timothy, who has been appointed a teacher:

"Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.


"[S]et the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. ...[D]evote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have,... Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."


Food for thought.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Life's Important Truths

The original post said:
Life's important truths
Seen whispering in silence
Fall's colors appear

Maybe it's not easy to see the truths in this if you don't sit on your butt a lot. On on a seiza bench, or chair, if necessary. Or even lie down, if absolutely necessary. Seeing silence takes a lot of practice. Seeing anything whispering in silence is even harder. But absolutely doable if you commit to a regular meditation practice.

But just sitting is not the key. You can sit for 20 hours a day only getting up to eat and go to the bathroom, but if your mind is up and wandering around all day, regardless of what the rest of your body is doing, your are wasting your time. You won't see results. Sitting, as i talk about it means sitting with a still body AND a still mind. That's what meditation is.

In fact, the still mind is the more important ingredient. Once you learn how to do it, you can meditate while running along the side of the highway, while riding your bike hours on end. You can meditate while working out at the gym, while eating your meals, especially while eating your meals. Meditation is what you do with your mind, not with your body.

Over time, the meaning of "life's important truths" will change for you. Over time, as you spiral deeper and deeper into Being, instead of existing, your life will redefine itself, old 'truths' will be discarded, and new truths will appear — all without your trying to manage it.

And as you dig deeper and deeper, behind that door between two thoughts that i talk about a lot, the truth of who we are becomes clearer, the truth of the nature and rules of the game called life become clearer, the truth of Being becomes clearer and clearer.

No one can teach these truths to you. No one. If your teacher says he/she can, they are lying. A teacher doesn't teach you anything. All you can hope for is to find a teacher who can clearly point out where your blocks to seeing the truths lie. Can tell you where the wrong paths are, where the dead ends are, where the pitfalls are. A good teacher will give you hints, poke and prod you, encourage you, but in order to find and see the truths, you have to do all the work yourself, all the searching yourself, and remove the obstacles in your path... all by yourself.

So the first question to ask is "what are life's important truths?" And if your teacher or friend kicks you of the room when you offer your first version of an answer, know that you have a lot of sitting still to do. Remember, you're looking for silence — not answers.

Then, someday, you will get a glimpse of that silence, maybe on the other side of the office, hidden between two cubicles. Or in the car in front of you as you work your way to the office in stop-and-go traffic. Or, more usual, on your zafu while sitting in your living room. But that glimpse changes your search.

If you continue to sit, silence shows its face more and more often, staying around for longer periods of time more and more often. But only after you stop trying to greet it every time it appears. If you greet it, it disappears immediately. Just observe. Don't say or think anything. Just watch. Learn to sit together. Silence loves to sit with people who meditate, sitting there staring you in the eye, watching every cell of your body. Learn to sit quietly, simply observing as silence appears, sits with you, and finally eats you alive so that only silence remains sitting there.

When that happens, silence will talk to you. It will whisper life's important truths sweetly into your ear and show you the way down your path. As with your teacher, though, you have to do the work, you have to show up and be willing to walk where silence tells you to walk. Progress is dependent on your perseverance, your courage to continue against all odds. Progress is dependent our your willingness to be silent. Your willingness to BE silence. Your willingness to let the person who sat down at the beginning of your meditation session, and the person who will get up again at the end... disappear.into.complete.silence.

So, if the question at the start is "what are life's important truths?" the question at the end of this is "what does looking for the truth, seeing the truth, have to do with fall's colors?"

There is a direct connection.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

So Foolish

"You are a fool," Matt wrote.

"You know nothing," he added for emphasis.

That's it, his entire comment to my last post was those two short sentences. I invited him to clarify his point, but he seems reluctant to do that as he hasn't answered. But, believe it or not, Matt, i appreciate your comment, even as short as it was. Why? Because it forced me to sit up straight and wonder — about my life right now, my practice, my attitude, my seriousness.

And what i come up with is... I agree with you. But that's why my blog name happens to be Lao Bendan, Stupid Old Man in Chinese.

One of the first things any serious traveler on this path finds is that the reality that the vast majority of people believe in is only a miniscule portion of reality as it really is. Before making much progress, we really know very little. Nothing, for all intents and purposes. But, i have been walking the path for quite a while now, so while i wouldn't say that i know nothing, i'd agree that i know very, very little, in comparison to what i should know.

I know i want the "rest of the story," i wish i could have made more progress on my walk along the path. But, over the years i've consistently chosen to keep one foot in the conventional, relative world, instead of making the jump to the absolute with both feet. That makes me a fool. You see the goal, you can see it, taste it, smell it, even touch it from time to time; you know you desperately want it, but you refuse to make the jump. That makes you a fool.

Matt, you're right. I'm a Stupid Old Man. I admit it.

This talk about losing your way, even though you want more, reminds me of a story in Jaganath Carrera's Inside The Yoga Sutras.

"There once was a young yogi who had lived at his guru's ashram for a number of years. He was a dedicated disciple who practiced with great fervor. One day, he noticed his master looking at him in a curious way.

" 'Master, is there something wrong? You are looking at me in the most peculiar way.'

" 'No, nothing is wrong. But as I was watching you, it occurred to me that it would be good for you to experience a period of seclusion to focus on deepening your meditation.'

" 'Fine, master. I'm happy to do as you say.'

" 'Good. A few miles from here there is a nice forest with a small village nearby where you can go and beg for your daily food. Stay there until I come for you.'

" 'It sounds perfect. I'll go at once.'

"Following his master's instructions, he took only a begging bowl and two loincloths. Arriving at the bank of a stream, he found an elevated spot where he built his hut.

"He then began a routine that was repeated faithfully for many weeks; after morning meditation, he would take one loincloth, wash it, drape it on the roof of his hut to dry, and then walk to the village to beg for food.

"Then one day, when he came back to the hut he noticed that a rat had eaten a hole in his loincloth. What to do? The next day, he begged for food and another loincloth. The villagers were only too happy to help him. Unfortunately, the rat would not go away and continued ruining one loincloth after another. One villager took pity on him.

" 'Son, look how much trouble that rat is causing you. Everyday you have to beg for food and also for a new loincloth. What you need is a cat to keep away the rat.'

"The young man was stunned at the simple logic of the answer. That very day he begged for food, a loincloth, and a cat. He obtained a nice kitten.

"But things did not go as he anticipated. Although the cat did keep away the rat, it, too, needed food. Now he had to beg for a bowl of milk for his cat as well as food for himself. This went on for several weeks, until...

" 'Young man, I noticed you begging for food for yourself and milk for your cat. Why don't you get a cow? Not only can you feed the cat, you'll even have milk left over for yourself.'

"He thought this was brilliant. It took a little time, but he was able to find a villager to give him a cow. By now, you may have guessed what happens next. While the milk from the cow fed his cat and provided some milk for him, it too needed to eat. Now, when he begged for food, he also had to ask for hay for the cow. After some time...

" 'Dear boy, what a burden it is to beg for food and hay for your cow, too! Just do one simple thing and all your problems will be over. You are living on very fertile soil. Beg for hayseed and plant hay to feed the cow. You will certainly have enough hay left over to sell in town. With the extra money you could buy whatever you need.'

" The young disciple wondered how he could have missed such a simple solution. He found hayseed to sow and soon harvested a rich crop of hay. But, one day a villager spotted him, looking haggard.

" 'Son, you are working too hard. You have a growing business to look after. What you need is a wife to share responsibilities with you. Later on, your children will also be able to help.'

" Of course, he thought. So simple. He did find a nice woman to marry. His business and family grew by leaps and bounds. In fact, his hut was soon replaced by a mansion staffed with servants.

"One day there was a knock at the door.

"The young man walked to the door and looked into the eyes of his master. A sudden rush of recognition brought back memories of long forgotten and neglected commitments. Looking heavenward, he raised his arms high and shouted...

" 'All for the want of a loincloth!' "

Ahhh, how easy it is to get distracted from the things we claim we so dearly want...

My sister just showed up.... i'll finish this post tomorrow...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Silence Seen

Life's important truths
Seen whispering in silence
Fall's colors appear

How much time today did you spend looking at those silent whispers?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Travel Alone

This from the 23rd chapter of Thomas Byrom's translation of the Dhammapada

"If the traveler can find
A virtuous and wise companion
Let him go with him joyfully
And overcome the dangers of the way.

But if you cannot find
Friend or master to go with you,
Travel on alone
Like a king who has given away his kingdom,
Like an elephant in the forest.

Travel on alone,
Rather than with a fool for company.
Do not carry with you your mistakes.
Do not carry your cares.
Travel on alone.
Like an elephant in the forest.

To have friends in need is sweet
And to share happiness.
And to have done something good
Before leaving this life is sweet,
And to let go of sorrow.
To be a mother is sweet,
And a father.
It is sweet to live arduously,
And to master yourself.

O how sweet it is to enjoy life,"

The point i take away from this is not that as we travel through this life, being alone is the best way to travel. That's not what i read. Rather, if you want a sweet life, choose your friends wisely. And even more important than those physical friends you spend parts of each day with are the thoughts that rattle around in your head all day — the entire day. The thoughts that you must consider especially great friends since you refuse to be separated from them. Since you try and hang on to their presence with every ounce of your energy.

Don't carry around your mistakes! Don't carry around your cares! Deal with them as needed and appropriate, drop them, and move on. Learn to control your mind. Learn to control your thoughts. It's not easy at first, but it can be learned; with effort, dedication, persistence, and commitment. Not your garden variety January 1st New Year's resolution type of commitment, but rock solid commitment. Swear to yourself that if you accomplish anything over the next 12 months, it will be to control your mind.

Learn to meditate. It's hard work, but if you do, "It is sweet to live arduously, And to master yourself."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Who Told You That?

Until we learn to be aware, we see our lives through the filters of "conditioned mind." Conditioned mind is, primarily, our childhood survival system. It is watching you, talking to you, critiquing you, and interpreting life for you. Its full-time job is convincing you that it is you, and it's vey persuasive. You have learned to like what it likes, to want what it wants, and to try to get its approval at any cost. In fact, conditioned mind is reading this over your shoulder. It is letting you know whether or not what you're reading is true, relevant, accurate, intelligent, and well written. Most important of all, it is letting you know how well you are doing at understanding what you're reading. Can you hear it talking to you?

Awareness practice exposes conditioned mind's trickery. When we learn to observe conditioning, we can drop the belief that it is who we are and reclaim the youthful enthusiasm that was ours before we were taught to abandon it.

From the back cover of "Transform Your Life: A Year of Awareness Practice"
Cheri Huber

Many people believe that spiritual practice is mainly about rituals, postures, purifications, worship, and a great many other things that rightly should be shunted to the side. All of these have a place, a purpose, but they are not what should be at the core of your practice.

The core should be that hardest of all tasks — working with your mind. The one and only thing standing between 'you' and who you really are is the mind. The one thing that keeps you from seeing your true self is the mind. That lying, cheating, extortionist who's full-time job is to convince you that it is you will spare no expense to keep you from seeing the truth.

Incorporate whatever you want in your practice if it helps to keep you on the path. But always, always keep in mind that if you aren't working on evicting conditioned mind out of the house and out of the neighborhood, if you aren't making progress on controlling that rampant nonsense that rattles around in your head all day, then you are on a side path and not the main path.

The problem is, the main path can be excruciatingly hard work. No one will say it is easy. The side paths, however, are much easier; just do what you're told, follow the routine, ask someone outside of yourself for help. Admit it, you're just trying to pass the buck, let someone else do the work for you, yet hoping for the rewards yourself. The problem is, the problem isn't outside yourself! The problem is wholly, 100%, inside. As someone wrote once, this path is an inside job.

Are you on the path? Are you following the one that climbs ever higher or have you settled for an easier side path because others maintain it and it isn't as much work?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Yoga Topo Maps

I was reading a sample from iTunes of B.K.S. Iyengar's book Light on Life last night and fell in love with these two paragraphs in the introduction:

Yoga is a rule book for playing the game of Life, but in this game no one needs to lose. It is tough, and you need to train hard. It requires the willingness to think for yourself, to observe and correct, and to surmount occasional setbacks. It demands honesty, sustained application, and above all love in your heart. If you are interested to understand what it means to be a human being, placed between earth and sky, if you are interested in where you come from and where you will be able to go, if you want happiness and long for freedom, then you have already begun to take the first steps toward the journey inward.

The rules of nature cannot be bent. They are impersonal and implacable. But we do play with them. By accepting nature's challenge and joining the game, we find ourselves on a windswept and exciting journey that will pay benefits commensurate to the time and effort we put in—the lowest being our ability to tie our shoes when we are eight and the highest being the opportunity to taste the essence of life itself.

Ahhhh.... how sweet those words. And such wonderful benefits. I wonder which i will value more when i'm eighty — being able to tie my own shoes or having tasted the essence of life itself? On the one hand, you can always go without shoes on the inward journey; in fact, most of us usually do. On the other hand, though, no one really knows what the roads will be like on that journey between this life and the next, so shoes that stay on your feet might come in handy?

I don't know if i agree that yoga is a "rule book for playing the game of Life." Rule books tell you what you can and can not do and that's not how i see the spiritual teachings i regularly work with. Rather, i think i tend to look at yoga (as well as Buddhism) as a set of topographical maps. When you're out in unknown territories, the only thing you know about the terrain and what to expect are the topo maps you carry with you.

Topo maps don't tell you what you can and can not do, where you have to go and where you can not go. They simply tell you what to expect if you choose to undertake the walk. They tell you where past explorers have found areas of particular difficulty, maybe even danger. They tell you where travel will be hard, where patience and persistence will be required. They tell you about the high meadows and plateaus, where you can rest and recuperate, places to stop and enjoy the scenery, places where it's good or bad to spend longer periods of time, camping and studying the local environment.

I have always found that it is in those areas where a topo map is the only guide i have, that i am truly human, a true human being. Trusting those that walked these paths before, i leave the worries to them, taking the advice of the maps they provided. Not judging my abilities, not comparing myself to anyone else, not expecting or hoping to find anything other than what the maps tell me i will find.

Walking on these trips is far, far past Meditation 101; it is meditation at the graduate school level. Walking, climbing, exerting when necessary, relaxing when possible, but always being mindful of everything. Not mindful of my body and how it's functioning as well as mindful of the environment, no. On these hikes, there is no me and out there, no inside and outside, no body and environment, no me and no hiking. There is just movement, just breathing, just beauty and exertion being.

If you're a hiker, you may have had days like that. I hope you have. You may have had them on your bicycle as well, another wonderful place for this type of moving yoga, moving meditation. During these special journeys, you can find the same things that you find on a yoga mat or on a zafu. And what is it you find? Those invisible, nonexistent doors — the gaps between your never ending thoughts.

There is something alluring beyond explanation about the peace, the silence, the stillness that is found in those gaps. Those gaps that can be found when you trust the authors of the topo map of your choice. The gaps found with persistent, steady, and sometimes grueling effort along the paths laid down by our predecessors. There is something unimaginably beautiful about the scenery found in those gaps, where everything you see, everything you encounter, is just you, being. Being. And no more.

But, back to where i started — books about yoga. I remember when i first started yoga. I knew nothing about it. Zero. Like many, i assumed the asanas were all there was to it. Being the curious sort, however, i bought and read the famous Autobiography of A Yogi and mentioned it to my teacher. Her response? "Oh, that's a good start."

Good start? I thought that explained everything. Little did i know. :-) So now, 4 years later, several versions of the Bhagavad Gita later, three commentaries on the Gita later, and three commentaries on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras later.... i now know how little i know. But, i would agree, it has been a good start.

If i could only figure out a way to get Dainin Katagiri and Iyengar together to co-write a book. They could title it Light on Each Moment. How very, very nice that would be. It might be the only book ever needed for the rest of my life.

But i think i've said the same thing about the Shōbōgenzō before. ;-)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When Given A Choice...

I spent Monday at the Museum of Science and Industry downtown. It's a great place to spend time and i don't think i every tire of going there. In one exhibit glorifying the entrepreneurs and technological leaders of the past, a sign was posted with these aphorisms:

  1. If anything can go wrong, Fix it!!! (To hell with Murphy!)
  2. When given a choice — Take Both!!
  3. Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
  4. Start at the top then work your way up.
  5. Do it by the book ... but be the author!
  6. When forced to compromise, ask for more.
  7. If you can't beat them, join them, then beat them.
  8. If it's worth doing, it's got to be done right now.
  9. If you can't win, change the rules.
  10. If you can't change the rules, then ignore them.
  11. Perfection is not optional.
  12. When faced without a challenge, make one.
  13. "No" simply means begin again at one level higher.
  14. Don't walk when you can run.
  15. Bureaucracy is a challenge to be conquered with a righteous attitude, a tolerance for stupidity, and a bulldozer when necessary.
  16. When in doubt: THINK!
  17. Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing.
  18. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.
  19. The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.
  20. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!

At first glance i love these. The exemplify the never give up, shoot for the stars, always chase your dreams point of view that one part of my brain never tires of reading about. At second and third glance i still like them, even though about the time the third glance starts to make its appearance i am having doubts about some of them.

When i sit down and let myself think about them, getting past the fist-pumping, Yeah! Go for it stage, i see many things that i worry about.

If you can't win, change the rules? Maybe years and years of trial and error have shown that the rules in place need to be there for a reason. Maybe there are unseen consequences if the rules aren't followed. Of course, when the rules have been put in place to protect those that don't wish to be challenged, then they need to be broken. Or when the rules are results of beliefs, dogma, and ideologies that are frozen in time, unchangeable because the believers just can't, or don't want to, imagine other possibilities, ... then these need to be challenged as well. In other words, this aphorism should really be, If you can't win, change the rules if you can — but only after thoroughly understanding what they are and why they were put in effect in the first place.

The squeaky wheel gets replaced? That's absurd in a great many cases. Everyone knows (or should know) that dissent is absolutely essential to any successful organization. Blocking out, getting rid of, any and all dissent, opposing viewpoints & opinions, any ideas about the future, leads to certain death. Working from a portfolio of different, and sometimes opposing, ideas, is where the best ideas come from and where the best successes grow from.

I won't go through all of them, i leave it up to you to think them through. But as a last thought, i was reminded of the one that says "Bureaucracy is a challenge to be conquered with a righteous attitude, a tolerance for stupidity, and a bulldozer when necessary" last night in yoga class. As we all know The Affordable Care Act took it's next step yesterday as the health care exchanges were opened for business here in the US.

One of the women in class last night made it very clear that she is absolutely opposed to Obamacare. Her words were, in effect, that while she understood the need for more people to have health care, she did not want to pay 50% of her salary in taxes so that those people could get it.

Ignoring the question of where she came up with that 50% figure, i wonder about her relationship with yoga. Yes, it's true that a great, great many people who do yoga think of it as nothing more than asana practice. And, yes it's true that i have only had one yoga teacher so can't say what goes on in other yoga classes around the world. But, i assume that my class is typical in that the teacher brings at least a little of the philosophy of yoga to each class. I assume that anyone who does yoga is exposed to at least a little of the spiritual side of the practice. No?

But, even more than that, whether your spiritual leanings are yoga/Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Islam, whatever, how can you not go to bed and cry at night when you catch yourself saying in public, 'Yes, i understand that everyone needs health care, but my personal gain and prosperity should not be affected in any way to provide that.'

How can you not find yourself sobbing in your pillow when you suddenly realize that you have let yourself drift so far that your personal benefit is more important than the benefit of society as a whole. That your material prosperity is more important than the health and welfare of those less fortunate. That you shouldn't have to surrender one iota in order to help those less fortunate.

How can you not be wracked with guilt when you realize that what you are saying, publicly, is, in effect, 'I don't care if they do get sick and die, that's not my problem. My problem is increasing my own wealth, prestige, and power.'

Is The Affordable Care Act the best solution? I doubt it; but it's a start. And this country will be immeasurably better off when everyone realizes that we will be better people, a better country, a better society, when helping others isn't just mindlessly throwing a couple of quarters in someone's styrofoam cup, but getting rid of styrofoam and finding ways to actually help others — even if that means a bureaucracy is involved and even if my personal gain will be affected.