Picking up on yesterday’s theme, this video (shared by Dyspeptic Skeptic) has been stirring up emotions around the BabaHQ, and a little on the site in yesterday’s comments, so I thought I’d bring it to the front.
Just a few points about what’s discussed:
1. When asked about money and worth and its relationship to yoga, Brooks tends to tow the line that yoga needs to come into our contemporary age, as if to suggest that yoga came about in a culture devoid of money, and that accumulations of wealth are a modern occurrence. The fact is, people have been clamoring after money and hoarding it since someone decided to exchange one thing for another. It was definitely the case in the culture(s) where something that looked like “yoga” arose. And yet, this is a common trope within contemporary commercial yoga culture, and is one that is very misleading.
First, yoga (however you define it) arose in a culture that knew wealth and incredible socio-economic divides. I mean, the frickin’ Buddha was born into royalty, for goodness sake. The initial impulse that eventually lead to his subsequent realization came from witnessing the economic split in his culture. Hasn’t anyone seen The Little Buddha starring Keanu Reeves?
To suggest that the teachings of yoga occurred at a time when wealth and commerce were not issues is totally erroneous, and is a talking point mostly used to justify one’s own economic position.
2. This video doesn’t address what’s really being questioned. This point made by “The Babarazzi” in the comments, still stands:
“What’s so silly about this video is that it ultimately proposes a bit of a strawman argument. As if to say that making money from teaching yoga is the point of contention. I don’t know really anyone who says yoga should be free (I actually know a few people, but they are a true minority). From my perspective, what’s most contested in yoga discourse is the rationalization of wealth accumulation through yogic endeavors. When wealthy yogilebrities say “I should be able to make a living teaching yoga” their standard of living is usually WAY above the standard in the US. It’s wealth. Which is not even to say that wealth accumulation is inherently anti-yogic (though I believe that in order to acquire wealth one will usually step outside the practice), but rather that it is a definite site of temperature shifts and tensions.”
3. Here’s an “article” of ours responding to Sadie Nardini (who responds in the comments) about the difference between wealth and “making a living.” In this piece we state:
“[T]his is NOT about making money. This is about mocking the culture of money.“
4. And yet, what I find most troubling about this video is that it’s basically built on a lie. Amy talks good shop about wanting to bring the discussion of money and yoga into the room, as does Brooks. However, it’s clear that both have already made up their mind about the issue and appear to want to frame any discussion of the matter within the limits of their own conclusions. They basically say, “Hey. It’s OK to accumulate wealth from teaching yoga. Now let’s talk about why it’s OK.” There seems to be no interest in a significant unpacking of what it means to accumulate wealth in an Empire, accept as it relates to it being OK, and can be substantiated by Ganesh.
As I said in my interview with Where is My Guru (min. 78), what’s most interesting to me is to start by accepting (even if only as an exercise) that not everything can fit under the rubric of “yoga.” And, not only is that OK, but it’s actually useful and ultimately beneficial to us as practitioners, as it makes room for people to have open-ended discussions about the nature of money, the nature of commerce, without having to constantly justify one’s participation in it.
This one-drop deserves a serious wheel up wheel up wheel up wheel up!: