As a teenager I often found myself hanging around a group of cordial Hare Krishnas* heaven-bent on converting (on a bad day) or exposing (on a good day) wayfaring youths to the path toward Krishna Consciousness. On the whole my interactions were mostly pleasant, and fancying myself a Buddhist, I spent much of this time debating HKs on the existence of God, buying books espousing Prabhupad’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, chanting the mahamantra, and eating some cray cray delicious prasad. As far as I was concerned, this was a most delightful way to engage in “alternative religions” and hone my “I see what you’re saying, but…” chops.
I remember during one of these hangouts a Krishna Conscious lad telling me that the Buddha, my chosen guide on the spiritual path, was actually a false deity, incarnated solely to lead non-believers like myself away from the path (would love a reader to forward me a link reflecting this view from a non-Rapture perspective). While I challenged this idea, I simultaneously loved its inventiveness. Seeing the Buddha as a supreme trickster leading the weak over a spiritual cliff so as to make more room for devotees sounded like such a diabolical twist! And, it stuck. Although I never bought into its premise, I thought it a rather clever take on the whole “Who is the Buddha in the Hindu pantheon” question.
To be honest, I’m not exactly sure why this memory is coming up for me today. Perhaps it has something to do with the recent Yoga Journal snub of the working class. Perhaps I think Yoga Journal has been placed on this earth in order to lead “wayfaring” yoga consumerists into a manufactured ravine of their own making.
If I were to be completely honest, this memory is probably arising as a latent aspect of my own arrogance about “what is yoga” and “what isn’t” begins to creep to the surface. In my experience, these moments, when otherwise hidden belief patterns begin to secrete out through psychic sweat glands, are oft occurring and, for some people, oft ignored. When caught in the act, however, these beads of outgrown perspective may serve as points of entry into a better understanding of my own perpetually redesigned self.
On the sour end of the spectrum, the realization that my perspectives are not entirely angelic may cause doubt about my own grand narrative. Maybe I’m the scam I so wittily counter punch? Is my point of view even worth a damn? Perceived without condemnation, I am able to see the newly arisen insight as lacking any real consequential substance, but rather acting as a nebulous skeleton key able to unlock historic doors of perception with rusted hinges and knotty seems. In these moments I am able to recognize, even feel, the movement of ideology through and out of the body itself.
Recognizing self, or identity, to be largely performative in nature (in this regard Judith Butler speaks specifically of gender), it’s not hard to imagine how this self-doubt, this questioning of the position I perceive myself to be in right now, plays an integral role in my development. And yet, were I to use Conquering Lion Yoga founder, Kelly Morris,’ Facebook updates as a guide, the ones that decry doubt as being something to rebel against, I’d find myself responding to my own personal curiosity by “wrestling it to the ground” and “keeping my mouth shut.” How unfortunate.
It is careless comments like the above that make static a life marked most profoundly by its own meandering. Elevated to level of “teaching” and the one-off soundbites come across as almost fascistic in nature. You are the bliss. Your doubt is the enemy outlier. Fight it! I think about this and quickly return to that confident devotee of Prabhupad’s Krishna, and wonder, “Is Kelly Morris the Buddha?”