Saturday, March 28, 2015

No more eight o clock

Things are winding down in Mysore. People are leaving, the shala is less crowded. All the 8:00 am practice starts were moved to 7:30 and now we have only two days left both of which will be led primary. I am a bit reluctant to leave but also looking forward to easing back into real life. 

Masala dosa - I did not take this picture because of
my deep aversion to photographing my food in public
but this is what it looks like. Mmmmmm.
I am devoting my last days to working (as always) and eating as much as a possibly can without negatively impacting the rest of my life and my general sense of well being. The three things I am most focused on consuming are 
1) Dosa: Fried fermented lentil rice pancake (really its delicious despite that description) which, in its most iconic from is wrapped around potato and onion and served with sambar and coconut chutney. I have been trying to scheme a way to bring coconut chutney home with me. 
2) Thali: Pile of rice and side dishes. I wish I could do better than this in description terms but I am struggling. Sometimes it is served in a never ending style where people walk around and you can just keep asking for more of things.
3) Tropical fruits especially papaya. I also just learned to eat green mango with salt and chili - so good!

I did take this picture. The man across from me politely pretended
 not to notice. I was quite proud of myself for getting all that food
in my body using only my hands and hardly getting any of it on
my nose.
In other news: Continuing the theme of mixed feelings about everything from last week -  I was so enamored with transcendental meditation that I googled it. This revealed a fairly loud subset of people who think that TM and its associated organization is a culty scam. The basic argument is that the TM organization which I believe traces its origins back to its founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi takes people through a carefully scripted indoctrination wherein people meditate themselves into a trance-like state and are then gradually convinced of ridiculous claims and to become more deeply(and of course monetarily) involved with the organization. These claims include that practitioners will be able to levitate, become invisible and that if the square root of 1% of the population practices TM something miraculous will occur (for those of you who are number oriented its sqrt(0.01*population) not 10% of the population which is how I read that the first time). Based on the TM websites these all seem like plausible complaints and honestly it doesn't look like an organization I want anything to do with. Fun fact - David Lynch is big into TM and apparently believes most of the above claims.

On the other hand, I've been enjoying transcendental meditation and I really like my teacher Narasimhan who didn't mention anything about levitation or take us through a carefully scripted seven part initiation. I think for now I will keep doing what he taught me and ignore the organization. I am a bit suspicious because my main reasons for liking TM are that it is easy and feels good (right so of course its someones tool to obtain money and power). 

It bums me out and at the same time is sadly unsurprising that what appears to be a fairly benign practice is being used as a tool for apparently non-benign ends. I recall finding similar complaints about the Vipassana meditation organization founded by HN Goenka when I was trying that out. 

Since I seem to have worked myself into a cynical afternoon and you've already read this far - I will say that in the last six years learning about yoga, meditation, and that ilk of spiritual pursuits I have had one teacher in whom I have complete faith confidence and trust (and she is leaving! what to do!!). I have had four or five teachers about whom I had fairly serious misgivings surrounding some aspect of their teaching or organization. I still believe - maybe because I am naively optimistic - that most of them are genuinely positively motivated but don't really know how to approach their teachings given my misgivings. I have friends here who are much better at the "take what you want and leave the rest" approach but I still feel compelled to try to make it all cohere.

 Of course my biggest set of conflicting feelings are about the relationship between Sharath's teaching which I find wonderful, caring, and devoted and the running of the KPJAYI which I find baffling and, when I am more cynical, suspiciously money and power oriented. Maybe I will say more about that in the future as this is already kind of a long ranty post. 

Sharath's lovely mansion built last year. Each of the 400 ish students at KPJAYI pays the
 equivalent of 550 american dollars per month which doesn't include food or lodging. 

1 comment:

  1. Eh, if you didn't go through the carefully scripted 7 part course, how do you know that you learned TM?