I spied this list over at Elephant Journal. Readers will note that I have a vested interest in the outcome, as I have a friend in the running. We were just talking about this before class this morning, during which her full Vashistasana was very “shri.”*
On February 1st, Yoga Journal kicked off a nationwide online “talent search contest” to find its next model.
©2011 Yoga Journal
To enter, applicants were asked to provide the following: their name, style (presumably referring to the type of yoga practiced), teacher, the number of years spent practicing, what they’re inspired by, and a photo “show[ing] off a pose you’ve mastered.”
Until April 15th, readers are able to cast votes for their favorite contestants. Five finalists with the most votes will win Athleta gear, and one will be featured in the September 2011 issue of Yoga Journal.
The following index includes actual data submitted by applicants of the 2011 Yoga Journal Talent Search (YJTS), and various other Internet sources, where noted.
“Snark” may well be the opposite of shri, and it seems to come in spades over at Recovering Yogi, which hosts the list of “Words We Loathe and Abhor,” which figures prominently in the EJ post. Seriously? Whatever happened to ahimsa? And what, specifically, do they have against John Friend? Given the great power and beauty of internet trackbacks, this blog too, may be coming to a Recovering Yogi list near you.
This isn’t the first time I’ve engaged the Recovering Yogi mindset on terminology. The “Words We Loath and Abhor” page explicitly links to a post on the term “manifesting” (“The Difference Between Manifesting and Gardening“). The post concludes that the term is “is one of the top five catchwords that people in the pseudo-spiritual scene are conditioned to use these days. ‘Manifest’ is an all-encompassing verb/adjective/noun that implies harnessing the alleged Power of Positive Thinking in order to achieve our egocentric desires.”
That’s not what I read in Anodea Judith’s Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System (1997; 1986). I said so, in a reply to Joslyn Hamilton’s post.
The way I read this, the idea of manifesting predates “The Secret” in Anodea Judith’s book on the chakra system “Wheels of Life.” It’s perfectly sensible to see gardening as manifesting in this view. The liberating current is one that moves toward expanded consciousness from the root to the crown chakra, while the manifesting one moves the opposite way. Liberation is toward freedom from constraints, and manifesting is toward limitation. These currents can be likened to the nonduality of spirit and matter so alien to the Western view. Again, the liberating current is toward spirit, and the manifesting one moves toward matter. Our consciousness may give us a creative idea, but we have to work to give it form. So hard work and dirty fingernails are perfectly appropriate expressions of the manifesting current expressed by this view. The “power of positive thinking” is probably unduly Western in privileging consciousness over matter in a way that Judith’s formulation is not. Judith’s formulation is more in line with the Shiva-Shakti Shaivism embraced by Anusara yoga. Further, this seems not inconsistent with the Taoist view, which has influenced some variants of Buddhism.
Hamilton seemed a bit taken aback by this, citing the worthy goals of simplicity, clarity and the diversity of perspectives.
I do agree that one can be creative and use the word “manifest” in virtually any context if one really wants to. As a writer, though, I am an advocate of being clear and communicative. In this regard, it makes more sense to say I was gardening… yes?
My rejoinder follows.
Are we simply telling a story about gardening, or are we trying to write a reflection in a spiritual journal?
I do most appreciate yoga teachers who can use “skillful means,” perhaps by metaphor, to convey often complex truths. Of course, at one level, you were gardening. I do agree that some are sometimes clearly “jargoning.” My background is in sociology, and my heart is warmed by those who in their writing try to avoid the jargon which abounds in the discipline. You are right to critique repetition and overuse of the term.
My point, I suppose, is that some readers of Elephant Journal may understand the manifesting current precisely as the point you are trying to make, that the seed does not spring forth simply from your imagination. I’ve never understood setting an intention as mere desire. For example, I’ve long had the desire to kick up into handstand, and I’ve had the ability longer than my fear would allow. I used to dream, literally, of driving a standard shift car. When I got behind the wheel, or more accurately, when I was finaly poised above the clutch, I first flubbed many a hill. Imagining one can do something is (only) half the battle.
I heard an interesting podcast last night that conveys a critique of popular conceptions of genius. In particular, though I am in no way a hockey fan, or a fan of most spectator sports, I enjoyed the story of Wayne Gretsky. In the critic’s view, Gretsky was so great because he so loved the sport. Eating, sleeping, and breathing it, he did it. A lot.
Thich Nhat Hahn said that the real miracle is not to walk on water or air, but on earth, alive in the present moment. This is the place your yogi friend’s “new agey” comment would reach me (were I having a good day, not caught up with climate change, poverty, war, or the BP disaster).
Today in my “Modern Social Thought” class, a course on sociological theory, we considered the work of Pierre Bourdieu. We considered it carefully, and I tried to give it its due. But at the end of that segment of class, I did share with my students that for subjective, nonacademic reasons, Bourdieu’s pessimism was not my ma tasse de thé.
We sociologists are a cantankerous, critical and snarky lot. We wrote the book on “conditioning,” which we call “socialization.” Expect that what I write about the power of positive thinking will have gone through the wringer before it gets here. It will always have been considered, neither accepted nor rejected facilely or uncritically for a quick chuckle. As Mario Cuomo said in his now famous speech to the 1984 Democratic National Convention,
We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship, to the reality, the hard substance of things. And we’ll do it not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that bring people to their senses. (Source BrainyQuote.com)
*While my own attempt was much more humble, it still made me feel elated.