My wife Martha and I are returning from Las Vegas the city where fantasy, greed, and materialism are merged into a single response—a response that makes fiction seem truer than truth. We were invited there for a wedding.
I look down at the Grand Canyon from 33,000 feet. Martha sits at my side. She is reading Light on Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar. She is preparing to teach the yoga class that I was supposed to teach at our yoga center in Clearwater tonight. I was asked to talk to another group about proper breathing—a group suffering from emphysema brought together by the American Lung Society.
What will I tell these emphysema sufferers? I must avoid the old saws, “you must exercise, you must stop smoking, you must change your diet, you must, you must, you must.” We’ve all heard these injunctions a million times. What is not clear to most people, including President Obama,–who still smokes at this writing–and everybody else—smokers and non smokers alike—what is not clear is that we are driven into poor health and dysfunctional habits. Yes we are driven, it’s not something deliberately chosen anymore than a child chooses the food his parents prepare, or the neighborhood the child lives in, or the teachers he has in school. These un-chosen influences shape our lives more powerfully than anything else, and to break from these influences one must make changes more powerful than the influences that drive us into ways of being that we have not chosen.
We live in a huge matrix of unconscious tribal influences. Everything we do is a reflection of our culture, our families, and nation. None of us does anything much different than what others are doing. We copy the masses. The habits we’ve formed are being reinforced every day through corporate advertising, television programming, lobbying, and government control. The reasonable way of doing things is derived from our cultural-religious heritage. We think we need to be reasonable. Reasonable means we follow the masses, that is we follow our form of government, and other institutions. Our form of government—usually labeled Democracy—supposedly represents the greatest good for the greatest number. Democracy is a good form of government only in an enlightened society, a society where the masses are educated sufficiently enough to make healthy choices. In the U.S. we are not. When the masses are uneducated they cannot make choices that result in responsible leadership, or healthy living. The reasonable life—which is manifested by the masses—is the lowest form of living as compared to what is possible when we give ourselves to a wholehearted effort for creating a healthy physical-mental-spiritual life that is un-copied, and addresses our best interests. Universities do not educate for the common good. University education in the U.S. is controlled by corporate interests. Former corporate heads often act as presidents of Universities. Our elected officials are primarily agents for corporate interests. Lobbyists own them. Corporations provide the funding that makes a politician’s election campaign possible. They do not represent us. There are many dedicated, honest, people who work tirelessly for our good, but when we look at the overall state of our environment, and our families, we must be extraordinarily naive to be unaware of the overall burden of disease, starvation, and war that plagues our world.
Now consider, what, or who is God? Well, God is what anybody thinks he is, and what man thinks about God is derived from their tribal-cultural influence, just like their appetite for chicken wings, or Big Macs. Wars are fought and social problems develop for no more valid reasons than our desire for Big Macs and chicken wings. These problems are real, and they are pervasive, and we all participate in one way or another. Therefore if we’re told to cultivate habits of good spiritual, mental, physical health we’re being asked to go against the social norms—against the influences and habits of the people around us. That’s a pretty bold request. Only the most courageous can do it. People will not support you, they will dislike you. Yet some of you are determined to realize the greatest good in spite of all obstacles. So here’s a daring approach that will stand against all odds. Begin this way.
Think about how good you are. The doctrine of original sin was created to control you and your forbears. When it is believed that God created you with original sin then there is no remedy because the Almighty created you that way and you can’t change God. next Don’t think about your misbehavior at all. You can overcome your weaknesses, and it’s not really hard to understand how. Beyond the social norm and the popular way of doing things there is a part of you that is un-copied. It stands apart from tribal-social influences. Think of the infant you were and still are before your consciousness was impregnated with social influences. Real beauty is not so much in anybody’s appearance as in their spirit. Let your spirit be magnified. How can you do this? Look for the answer in the next post.