Q-Tips, Enlightenment, etc.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yoga Teacher Murders Yoga Master

In keeping with my time-to-time observations of the clash between eastern spirituality and western culture, here we have the story of an 11-year yoga student and 9-year yoga teacher murdering a 40-year yoga "master" in New Berlin PA last week. The murdered "master", Sudharam, was an ex-navy SEAL who was initiated into the Integral Yoga path of Swami Satchidananda in the early 1970's. He had recently broken away from the bureaucratic machinery of the IYI and it is conjectured perhaps this is what angered the murderer, who was still an IYI loyalist. Further astounding is that fact that another (female) swami, name of Karunanda, received e-mails from the murderer 1 month in advance of the murder, containing direct threats against not only against Sudharam, but (of all people) Andrew Cohen. It was her information that broke the case for the police, but is begging the question of why she didn't step forward earlier.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

an unfinished collaboration - primarily between Steve C and \m



the man said,
for one who wants
peace, happiness, god, or truth;
this world appears as an illusion;
as a thing in this world,
enlightenment is also an illusion.
how does one proceed?


any action i take
is a diversion
taking me farther away
from happiness or peace.


sometimes i "know" and
sometimes i "don't know" ...
which understanding is best?


my guru, my mother, my god,
have dropped me here on this desert.
who will save me?
how can i save myself?
where is the courage,
what are the inner resources
that i need?


i have accomplished great things.
i have accomplished nothing at all.
why am i plagued with these thoughts?


daily life at times seems pointless, repetitive, without end;
other times, chaotic;
my own body disoriented;
my mind, in tatters;
no interest seems better than any other interest;
where is the joy in carrying on like this?


the guru said;
do no harm
persist in this one action;
do no harm
in the midst of what you experience now as
tedium and stress.
do no harm and
the self will be revealed to you.


have courage, he said;
concentrate your mind.


the man said,
i cannot concentrate.
the world seems like
cardboard cutouts;
like a video game.
the sky is a painting and
everything is cold.
where is the heart,
where is god?


the guru said,
man, you are not listening to me.
all this is coming and going.
all this is living and dying.
all this is male and female.
all this is truth and lying.
do not engage this falsity;
for peace and understanding,
engage the truth.


the formless intelligence said:
What is suffering anyhow?
An unpleasant bodily sensation?
A negative emotion?
A troubling thought?
An undigested psycho-physical lump containing all of the above?
If so, then suffering is simply a mistake, a meta-indigestion
Of whatever the situation happens to be.
What does it mean to "face fear" ?
Look at all the details, but without judgment?
If so, then the devil is not the only entity in the details!
May all beings be set straight again and again and again.


the man said;
guru, teacher, healer, giver of light,
how? how do i
engage the truth?
how do i transform
bitterness and delusion into
wisdom and peace?



the temperature seemed to drop as
a cool wind blew fog away
from the surface of the moon.
om! cried the owls, while a chorus of
frogs beat the leather drums.


the formless intelligence said;
Listen now will I explain my workings.
You might even see me
if you are profoundly and positively devoted.
I work all things;
this universe is a magnificent machine;
like clockwork all this is manifest;
all actions, all worlds, all beings,
simultaneously moving;
all coordinated by my
limitless virtue;
truely i am magnificent, awe-inspiring,
if you see me but for a second,
such a vision will never be forgotten.
OM! at all times
i am unmoved, in the midst of all motion;
i cannot be touched;
i raise and crush mountains, just as i
beat the wings of an insect;
your spiritual processes,
your thoughts,
if you turn your own head,
all this is ordained not by thee, but by me.
OM! i am beyond comprehension;
all that can be done is worship me,
be awed by me, love me,
honor me, and enjoy me.


the F.I. said:
Is fear to be something run away from,
or run directly into?
Paralysis or flow
are results of these two approaches.
The minute details of random paranoias
should be looked into, and understood.
Once understood,
the exact location
of the intersection of Spirit and Matter
becomes obvious.


the man said:
what is this?
is truth a method,
an empirical reality,
something else?


the infinite intelligence said:
is it not remarkable
i can speak, when i am beyond words?
do not be confused, oh
the only way to be is to BE.
the only way to be not-confused, is, to not be confused.
you can know NOW
as that is your inherent


the infinite intelligence said
look to the sky.
look to the water lily.
look to your own death.
look to your daughter,
and know,
life is transient.


the man said
can i conquer
can i conquer
can i conquer


F.I. said:
There is a point in time,
rather quick perhaps
(but you know how time is)
where identification takes place -
and you get eaten.
In the next micro-moment
you are free to rise to infinity
if you dare.
The cost is realizing that you know far less
than you thought you did.


the man became quiet.
he didn't know why that answer
satisfied him on some level.


FI said:
On the matter of kindness to oneself,
really the ultimate kindness
is to stop struggling.
Cease to fight reality.
Reality has an unfathomably terrible quality, sometimes.
But...once this terribility is faced,
with patience and calmness,
then psychic deconstruction does begin,
dismantling the illusion-machine
needle-ray by needle-ray.
Imagine that.


How quickly will you allow
the next moment to appear?
The next moment is inherently free
of the stink of the last moment...
...but only if you allow for it to be so.
It is a tricky arrangement, no doubt -
after all, who gives permission?
but simple in concept.


The man
did not even hear FI's last statement;
his mind was plunged into the silence ...
why am I here?
what is this?
the vastness is pervasive ...
his mind was remote indeed.


the great and almighty Formless Intelligence wrote:


the man said
i am overwhelmed.
there is NO ANSWER possible in words
that is not inverse math, poetic, based on dirt and water, sound, stories on gods and masters, wind, or typographical.


[verse editorially deleted - ram ram ram ram ram ram]


The Formless Intelligence Spoke: "2:00AM. Closing time."
The man woke up. He opened his eyes. He was lying on the floor. He stood up, sauntered out to his car, and drove home.


Upon arriving home, the man went to a special door in his house and opened it. Upon flicking a switch inside the door, 25 high-intensity spectrum-balanced floodlights flicked on in a bright dazzle. The man bathed himself in the soothing rays.
Then the man took a 10-minute nap to decrease the baseline rate of his nervous system.
Then the man took a hot-and-cold shower to stimulate the nervous system.
Then the man judiciously picked the 3 most appropriate yoga asanas of the moment and executed them with great and deep concentration.
Then the man judiciously picked the 2 most appropriate pranayama routines of the moment and executed them with great energy and depth.
Then the Formless Intelligence, for eons pondering whether grand and dramatic aren't trumped by small and subtle almost all of the time, manifested an astral eyebrow and cocked it, while remaining completely silent.


Such is this human life. Formless Existence's foot moved by accident or on purpose, and pushes the boat of the human body off shore, where various size and shapes of waves are encountered, at various speeds, color, and temperature. Sometimes the waves are pleasant and desirable, sometimes frightening and unwanted. Rigorously and with great interest, man works the sails.


The man climbed into bed. He stared at the ceiling in the dark. He thought to himself, "Is this all there is?"


[verse editorially deleted - ram ram ram ram ram ram]


His mind sped quickly through the subtle realm and unraveled to the causal plane of existence. By the focus of his mind due to his existential dilemna, the man became aware of himself sleeping, as if he was in a deep pool or silent awareness ... he heard himself snoring as if he was awake and listening to another person.


The next day he awoke and went to the local Masonic Lodge. There he requested to be made a member of the craft, and they made him so. To the 33rd degree over several months.


After having attained the 33rd degree, the man found himself detained in the Masonic lodge. The man was told that he attracted "type 2" people and he must stay and work on attracting "type 3" people. The man was shown a small bedroom. At an opportune moment, the man snuck out of a side door to the street and started running for his life away from the situation, in a southwest direction, toward "home".


The Guru said, "Nothing much can be done about groups that engage people every deeper in the mind, levels, numbers, and all sorts of nonsense, except to speak the truth, and to avoid useless human beings, while helping those who wish to no longer be useless, to help themselves."


Formless Intelligence was being ignored, both by the man and the Guru. An unforseen consequence of the unavoidable creation myth. Well, what of it, that's their problem! After all, Formless Intelligence is unborn. Anytime those silly animals care to turn around and look, all they will find is radiance anyway.


Having offered the secret Masonic handshake to his Guru, the man felt he was holding a limp fish. The Guru merely smiled at him. The man withdrew, shocked that he had spent so much effort to attain the 33rd degree. Nevertheless, there is always the Masonic retirement home for the later years. (That and Public School.) The Guru continued smiling.


[verses not written...yet]

Thursday, August 17, 2006

mrsa mrsa mrsa ----------> (rant/educational essay)


What you are looking at in the photo to the left is a skin abscess caused by MRSA (multi-resistant staphylococcus aureus). MRSA is mutant staph bacteria that has evolved quickly to outwit 2/3 of modern medicine's antibiotics. It's been well-known since the '90s that there have been problems in hospitals with resistant staph, which soon spread to prisons, and to locker rooms. This form of MRSA is known as HA-MRSA (hospital acquired).

Not content to merely flourish in institutional environments, this hardy microbe has mutated even more and now freely roams the general community striking perfectly healthy people of all ages. This form of MRSA is known as CA-MRSA (community acquired). There are actually 2 defined strains of CA-MRSA in the U.S. known as USA300 and USA400. The USA400 strain is more potent, containing an exotoxin known as
Panton-Valentine leukocidin), whose aggressive action can cause abscesses like the one in the photo.

MRSA infections start out looking like a spider bite and depending on the strain of MRSA involved and the amount of infection it's able to inflict before the antibiotics kick in, can manifest as a boil or an abscess or a lesion. Boils are red raised bumps, with a black spot in the middle and are painful to the touch. A badly infected boil can reveal an abscess underneath when a doctor lances it. Lesions take place on flat skin in the form of "weeping wounds".

Although most antibiotics are ineffective in combatting MRSA, there are still a few that work - sulfa compounds, for example. However, these still-effective antibiotics must work awfully hard and long to accomplish the job. Instead of a typical 10-day course for a simple infection, antibiotic courses to treat MRSA typically last 30-60 days. It seems that pharamaceutical companies haven't been terribly interested in developing a new generation of antibiotics - the big money has been in other kinds of drugs. And MRSA is an under-the-radar epidemic, especially in states like Texas, Missouri, California, New York, Georgia, Maryland and Minnesota.

Despite recent media attention in publications such as
The Globe and Mail, USA Today, Time Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, websites such as CNN.COM, and local TV station KNBC (just in the last 3 months), public awareness of this superbug is scant. Mention bird flu, which is not even here in the U.S. (yet) and everyone knows what you're talking about. There is a fairly severe MRSA problem in British hospitals, and in France, Japan and Australia, among other places.

Sometimes the aforementioned still-effective antibiotics only manage to suppress the bacteria, rather than kill them (which of course is the goal). Upon cessation of the antibiotic regime, the bacteria (which has been battered around perhaps, but still staggering) is once again free to create a new infection. It is not at all uncommon to have recurrences after an initial healing. Such stubborn cases are referred to "ID" (Infectious Disease) doctors, specialists in such matters who receive referrals when the general practitioners, family practitioners, internal medicine doctors and pediatricians have thrown in the towel. An ID doctor may recommend what used to be called "the antibiotic of last resort", vancomycin, administered intravenously. This method has proven to be fairly effective except in the last few years a new strain of staph called VRSA has appeared which is resistant to, you guessed it, vancomycin. There are newer compounds, such as zyvox and daptomycin which have been found to be of some use in specific circumstances.

For those who despair of the western allopathic approach, there are all kinds of homeopathic, herbal (both Chinese and western), and naturopathic products that many claim to be effective in treating MRSA and even killing the bacteria for good. One highly-touted compound is allicin, which is the extracted antibiotic component of garlic, used in "high" doses. Of course, no dosage standards exist because these are not FDA-approved substances. A good bet is to engage in whatever strengthens the immune system.

The prevalance of this superbug is due to modern Western society's extreme overuse of antibiotics which have given these bacteria ample opportunity to evolve, even speeding up that process. And evolve they do. So, if you think you have a spider bite, but don't remember seeing the spider, please see a doctor. If it only turns out to be a nasty spider bite, drinks are on the house!

What you are looking at in the photo to the left is a healed MRSA abscess, 57 days after initial outbreak. Note the "normal" skin tone in the lower and upper right. The skin discoloration around the former infection fades over time.

Many other issues surround MRSA such as the need for national policy in setting standards for institutional cleanliness, managing contagion, educating the public. The CDC does not consider MRSA to be a reportable disease, which causes the demographics of MRSA outbreaks to be known only through the compilation of local studies. In other words, there's no unified, co-ordinated strategy to deal with the superbug at present, really. But nevertheless, it is here among us now. Whenever it becomes widespread enough to become a discernible blip on the national public health radar, maybe then good old American ingenuity will produce breakthroughs. Until then,
caveat emptor. And,
at vero accusamus dignissimus...

More info:
Some light reading from the Journal of Clincal Microbiology


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Deep Throat and his daughter Joan tell all - about the Guru, the forced book/movie deal, shameless elder abuse and shocking extortion demands!


Monday, May 16, 2005

Yoga Guru Settles Copyright Dispute

From Associated Press

Bikram Choudhury, the Indian yoga guru who became a multimillionaire by popularizing "hot yoga" in America, has settled with a coalition of yoga studios that challenged the copyright to his version of the discipline — an art form that is thousands of years old.

Choudhury, who trademarked his name and copyrighted his techniques, had been sending cease-and-desist letters ordering studios to stop teaching the same form of yoga that his private school has used to train more than 2,000 yoga instructors who have opened more than 1,200 Bikram studios in the United States.

Some of the studios formed a cooperative and sued Choudhury, claiming that yoga cannot be copyrighted.

The settlement is confidential, but the parties involved, speaking on condition of anonymity, described it in general terms: Choudhury has agreed not to sue the 50 members of the San Francisco-based yoga cooperative, known as Open Source Yoga Unity, for copyright violations. Cooperative members have agreed not to advertise the trademarked name "Bikram" without authorization by Choudhury.

The settlement avoids a June 20 trial that might have settled the legal question of whether Choudhury's copyrighted package of 26 poses and two breathing exercises, performed in a certain sequence in 105-degree heat, could be legally protected in federal court.

"Yoga, the word itself, means unity. So our lawsuit was of the intention of creating unity," said Sandy McCauley, co-owner of Yoga Loka, which has three studios in California.

McCauley and dozens of other instructors who formed the cooperative received threatening letters from Choudhury's attorneys.

"We were very frightened that we were going to lose our business," she said. "We are very happy with this settlement."


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Two entrepreneurs are establishing a national chain of yoga studios. Critics consider such commercialization an intolerable stretch.

By Hilary E. MacGregor, Times Staff Writer (originally published in the Los Angeles Times on 9/10/04)

When software was hot, they worked at an educational software company for kids. And when the Internet went wild, they worked together at one of the earliest search engines. When that boom busted, entrepreneurs George Lichter and Rob Wrubel went searching for the next big thing.

They looked for a wide-open market, ripe to be plucked. And all the while they worked through their own stress-related ailments with deep breathing, sun salutations and downward-facing dogs.

Then it hit them what their next business should be: yoga.

That was 2001. With a group of investors, they began snapping up some of the nation's oldest, most prestigious yoga studios, including Yoga Works in Santa Monica and the Center for Yoga in the Larchmont district, considered the first eclectic yoga studio in Los Angeles. They recently bought five studios in Manhattan, including four Be Yoga studios. That brings the total to 15 so far. They plan to open a new studio in West Hollywood this fall and are talking to studio owners across the country.

Their goal: a national chain of yoga studios that, they say, will feature well-trained teachers and high-quality classes while preserving the authentic, community feel of a neighborhood studio.

Lichter and Wrubel don't offer many details of how they will go about that, however, and already some yogis — as yoga practitioners are known — are saying that the businessmen's plan for a branded national chain marks the beginning of the end for yoga as they know it. A corporate yoga business, they say, could drive many small studios out of business, squelch the creativity of yoga instruction and fuel the growing commercialism of what for many students is an intensely spiritual practice.

Their business is called Yoga Works, after the two Santa Monica studios they bought from Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty, two yoga pioneers who opened Yoga Works 18 years ago. Miller and Ezraty, who are moving to Hawaii, have trained some of the most prominent teachers in the country and are credited by many for setting the foundation for yoga in the United States.

Though athletic types may take up yoga to build buns of steel, many who gravitate to the discipline are spiritual seekers. Among other teachings, they cite the yoga sutras written in the 5th century BC by Patanjali, an Indian sage, which stress the importance of not giving in to greed and doing no harm to others. For frazzled urban dwellers, the yoga studio is often a calm retreat from a world of commercialism — or at least it was.

When venture capitalists began calling yoga studios a few years ago, "you could see the writing on the wall," says Trisha Lamb, associate director of the Arizona-based International Assn. of Yoga Therapists. "It's America, after all," she says. "We commodify things here. We franchise."

Lichter says he understands. "Our biggest battle is the concept other people have of corporatization," he says. "We agree with them, and dislike that ourselves. It sounds hokey, but what we want is for people to check their fears about corporations at the door and pick up their hopes and dreams about what the future can be."

According to Yoga Journal magazine, 15 million people practice yoga in the United States, and market studies show that lots more want to try it.

Yoga is a 5,000-year-old physical and philosophical discipline from India that joins the mind and body together through breath work, or pranayama, and postures, or asanas. Diet, ethics, concentration and meditation are all components.

The number of gurus visiting from India, such as B.K.S. Iyengar, accelerated dramatically in the United States in the 1960s and '70s. Some studios were run like small ashrams, the place where Indians go to meditate and practice yoga. Often teachers were volunteers and classes were free; some owners lived on-site, cooking community meals.

These days, yoga seems more about fashion, comely figures and pop culture. L.A. women bound about town in form-fitting yoga garb from Lululemon, designer mats slung over their shoulders like chic accessories. Pop diva Madonna choreographed yoga poses into her recent Re-Invention tour. And Madison Avenue shows fit yoga moms piling the kids into Honda Odysseys.

Many yoga purists blame a guru named Bikram Choudhury for helping to strip American yoga of its spiritual dimensions. For nearly three decades Choudhury has taught his trademarked brand of sweaty yoga, in which practitioners execute a scripted sequence of 26 poses in rooms heated above 100 degrees. There are now 1,200 Bikram studios internationally, all independently owned and operated.

Choudhury, a native of India, has been teaching his form of yoga in the United States since the 1970s.

"I am doing it in America," says Choudhury. "So I am doing big business and selling it the American way."

When Choudhury organized the first World Yoga Championship in Los Angeles last year, awarding a two-week vacation and a $3,000 cash prize to the competitor with the best poses, many yogis were dismayed.

"Yoga is not a mass practice," says Deborah Willoughby, founding editor of Yoga International magazine.

"It is a direct transmission from teacher to student. And asana [the physical practice] is only one part of it."

It's not surprising that yoga is attracting increasing corporate attention, given its demographics.

People who practice yoga tend to be affluent, well educated and predominantly female: 30% of yoga practitioners have an annual income of $75,000 or more, according to a 2003 market survey by Yoga Journal magazine.

Although independent market statistics are hard to come by, an article in 2002 in Yoga Journal estimated that the average yoga practitioner spends $1,500 a year on instruction, mats, clothing, weekend retreats, CDs and videos. And many people see the market for yoga expanding as research bears out what many yogis have long claimed: that the practice can help reduce symptoms of such medical conditions as asthma, back pain, depression and heart disease. Indeed, mainstream physicians are more likely today to recommend yoga to patients as a potentially helpful therapy.

Opening a yoga studio requires little overhead. Teachers do not need much more than an empty room and some mats, blankets, ropes and blocks. Classes usually range from $11 to $16 a session; the teachers themselves may earn as little as $25 a class. A studio with popular teachers and well-attended classes might have a market value of as much as $400,000, a price that often does not include the property itself.

But the typical independent studio owner, while passionate about yoga, may not have the skills for balancing the books or managing a group of instructors. Studios open and close, making it difficult for yoga instructors — a number of whom in Los Angeles are underemployed actors and actresses — to get steady work.

"Yoga is like the new 'waiting tables,' " says Anthony Benenati, owner of City Yoga in West Hollywood.

Most yogis agree that a shakedown is occurring in the yoga world, especially as more gyms offer yoga classes with membership.

Into this Darwinian environment enter Lichter and Wrubel, who first met at Knowledge Adventure, an educational software firm. There they helped create the highly successful "Jumpstart" computer software for preschoolers and school-age children. Later they went to work for Ask Jeeves, one of the first Internet search engines. Wrubel was the company's chief executive when the firm initially sold stock to the public, and Lichter headed the company's international operations.

By the end of their run at Ask Jeeves, Lichter was hobbled by low-back pain; Wrubel's weight had soared to 200 pounds and he had developed high blood pressure. After trying a variety of alternative therapies, they discovered yoga, which they credit with helping to change their lives.

Now they contend that their company will change other people's lives and make the world a better place. Their goal, they say, is to bring more yoga to more people."If you believe in yoga as passionately as we do, you want to eliminate all factors that keep people from doing this," says Lichter. "We are evangelical about this."


Lichter, 53, and Wrubel, 43, are almost studiously laid-back, and they dress the part for their foray into the yoga world. They are fit and look younger than their ages. During meetings with a reporter, Lichter, a former entertainment lawyer, wore Prana pants and a turtle pendant on a leather cord around his neck. Wrubel has an open face and the rumpled look of a perpetual graduate student that belies his business savvy.

After Yoga Works acquired the Center for Yoga, Lichter and Wrubel tried to assuage fears and preempt the questions and rumors they knew would come.

"Do we have plans on becoming a Wal-Mart or Starbucks of Yoga?" they asked rhetorically in a four-page, single-spaced letter to students at the Center for Yoga. "Definitely not. This is probably the hardest thing for us to hear.

"That has not stopped some students and teachers from grumbling about the coming of McYoga.

"To have a brand is to be recognizable," says Mark Stephens, who invited Lichter and Wrubel to buy his financially troubled L.A. Yoga Center this spring. "McDonald's has the golden arches, Bikram has 26 poses, and Yoga Works has a blend. Yoga is becoming hardened. What was once fun becomes homogenized."

Yoga Works bought the studio, but Stephens had to sign a contract not to teach yoga in Los Angeles County for two years.

At the Center for Yoga, changes can already be seen. The studio store is slicker and better stocked, there is a new station where patrons can listen to CDs, and walls and tables are papered with advertisements for Yoga Works events.

Most instructors will have to go through Yoga Works teacher training, even those who have taught for decades. The intensive training includes the Yoga Works approaches to anatomy and philosophy and how to teach and sequence a class and read a student's body.

"If they make this a standardized practice with a box mentality, I don't think they will produce free-spirited teachers," says Subhadra Griffiths, a teacher at Yoga Works and founder of Yoga Angels, a program that provides instruction for children. "I don't think they will produce people who are self-empowered and strong and [who] will take yoga — the art — to the next level."

Lichter and Wrubel are "really nice guys," says Frank White, 84, a teacher at the Center for Yoga known for his enthusiasm and devoted following. But, he adds, "I have the feeling that if Mr. Iyengar himself came from India, they would probably have him go to teacher training.

"Wrubel says, "It is not like people will have to retrain from the beginning. It will be more like a professional course, modified and adapted to the experience of these teachers."

Ganga White, the founder of the Center for Yoga in 1967, says "a lot remains to be seen."

"Yoga is a lot about the teacher-student relationship," he says. "When you are a big business and a big corporation, a lot of times the bottom line is drawn above the heart."

Lichter and Wrubel say their efforts have helped keep some financially struggling studios afloat such as Westwood's L.A. Yoga Center, and the Center for Yoga in Larchmont.

Even yogis such as Randi Beck of Orange County and Alan Finger in New York, whose studios were doing well, say they were relieved to sell to Lichter and Wrubel.

"It is too hard to be a complete yogi and help people and direct them and help them evolve, and to think about how to pay the rent and how to fix the floors," said Finger, a patriarch of the yoga movement who is often referred to as the first yoga millionaire.

Many studios would likely welcome a buyout offer, says Julie Deife, publisher of L.A. Yoga magazine. "With the economy the way it is," she says, "I don't think there are a lot of studios that, if they were given a big, fat check, wouldn't take it."

Lichter and Wrubel declined to discuss how much they paid for studios. As a condition of their contracts, studio owners are forbidden to disclose the financial details of their sale or say anything negative to the media, according to one ex-owner who asked to remain anonymous.

Some teachers have chosen to leave rather than work for a chain. "I am completely for anyone trying to bring more yoga to more people," says Christine Burke, who left Yoga Works to open Liberation Yoga at Y.M.I. with her husband, Gary McCleery, a few miles away on La Brea Avenue. "But when you start to create a super-competitive market, you are starting to get into a sketchy area — if you are trying to align that with the principles of yoga."

Wrubel and Lichter liken their business model to Whole Foods, the health food chain that brought organic produce to many communities.

"In some ways, I feel like we are pioneers," says Wrubel. "We are trying to figure this out on the fly, set against a backdrop of globalization and a lot of other things. We are part of a revolutionary change in America, in the business and cultural world."

Ganga White, now owner of the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, has watched the transformation of yoga in the United States since the 1970s and believes the practice is better than ever today, because of the constant change."

Yoga is an evolving, changing science," he says. "I think it will grow into something far beyond anything we can envision. We are in the caterpillar stage, and we have a butterfly growing. I'm sure Yoga Works thinks they are the butterfly. But we don't know that yet."


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Bikram Choudry: enlightenment not enough, must have copyright to yoga!

Condensed, Readers Digest-style, from here

We are pleased to report that Bikram and Rajashree Choudhury have achieved a significant victory in their lawsuit against Kim Schreiber-Morrison, Mark Morrison, and their business, Prana Incorporated (the “Morrisons”).
This outcome represents a significant legal victory for Bikram, Rajashree, and the Bikram Yoga community, and fully vindicates Bikram’s conviction in the originality and legal enforceability of Bikram’s Yoga.
With great pleasure we would like to announce that Bikram recently secured federal copyright registration under 17 U.S.C. Section 410 for his original work of authorship in his asana sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises.
Please join us in congratulating Bikram for more than three decades of groundbreaking work in bringing to fruition the recognition of the priceless intellectual property assets that are Bikram Yoga.
Registration of the asana sequence with the U.S. Copyright Office
represents a significant milestone for Bikram in his efforts to formalize the intellectual property rights which encompass the Bikram Yoga style and method.
Bikram’s insight and creativity have once again proven them

* Payment of substantial monetary compensation to Bikram and Rajashree, the amount of which must be kept confidential pursuant to the settlement agreement
* To provide a signed statement of apology to Bikram and Rajashree.
Bikram's Yoga College of India reminds yoga practitioners and aspiring yoga instructors everywhere that this litigation serves as a powerful example of why there is no benefit to learning from uncertified and unlicensed yoga instructors
This lawsuit is proof that the legal system will vindicate Bikram against those persons who exploit and adulterate Bikram Yoga for their own purposes.
It is for the protection of...the true spirit of yoga that these imposters must and will be stopped.
Bikram can now easily and effectively enforce these rights.

Virtually all modifications or additions to the sequence will constitute copyright infringement, including:

* the unauthorized use of even a small number of consecutive postures
* the addition of different postures or breathing exercises to the sequence or portions of the sequence
* the teaching or offering of the sequence with or without the Dialogue
* the addition of extra elements to the sequence, like music

Bikram will be entitled to receive an award of statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement and can also recover his attorneys’ fees from infringers in lawsuits concerning copyright infringement of the sequence.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Charles Tart on Digital Darshan
Digital Darshan

This is a fascinating, inspiring, and very important discussion!

Yet something worries me. I haven't got it quite fully articulated in my mind, but let me try.

The worry started when Jordan, in his second post, described my QuickTime video on his site and said " When you can look into Charley's eyes, and hear him say something wise, then a bit of spirit flies, and a bit of the old you dies." Fortunately Jordan added, "Not always, but sometimes," but I was still bothered. In that interview I was trying to be honest and accurate about what I know, but "wise?" "Spirit flies?" And the subtle poetic form of Jordan's phrasing (eyes, wise, flies, dies) adds extra "oomph" to the statement I'm not comfortable with.

Yesterday in my mindfulness class at ITP I led the students in a mindfulness "warm-up" exercise (like the morning exercise described in my "Waking Up" or "Living the Mindful Life" books), but added a thing of working in partners, with one partner gently touching the part of the arm or leg of their partner that I was asking people to sense. We had an odd number of students, so I partnered with one. Afterwards, when people were sharing their experiences, he reported that he felt a strong energy flowing from me when he touched me, which he attributed to my status as an "advanced Buddhist meditator."

Oy! I know I'm no advanced meditator in any tradition, just a beginner (who talks good, so people tend to assume I know more than I really do). Energy? Next they'll be projecting darshan on to me, digital or face-to-face.....

One of the few things I'm moderately good at on the spiritual path is honesty, so I try to perceive the world and myself as accurately as I can and watch out for projections, and encourage others to watch out for projections. I have seen too many people project (wonderful) things on to people designated as spiritual teachers -but it's old-fashioned Freudian transference, the teacher becomes the Magic Mommy and/or Magic Daddy, invested with the status of parent to infant, so much more knowing, wise, and powerful. But transference is pathological - it's a projection of things that do not exist in reality. When something happens that finally upsets the transference, it flips from positive to negative, and that wonderful, all-wise loving Master who understood me perfectly becomes a nasty charlatan who was dishonest all the time, and the student leaves having learned little or nothing.

And these transferences can be taken on unknowingly by a teacher, so a person who is an imperfect human like us, but nevertheless has something valuable to teach, gets their ego swelled and their faults amplified...... I once ran a Gurdjieff style group, but eventually dissolved it when I saw I couldn't stop projections on me. When I said I didn't know the answer to some question, I got tired of it being perceived as a profound answer and illustration of my great humility - I just didn't know!

My observation has been that many teachers don't understand transference and so it runs unchecked, creating mischief. In reality, it's possible to deeply appreciate a teacher and learn from them without unnecessarily and unrealistically projecting on them.

So there's an outline of why I'm uneasy.

The class worked out fine, incidentally, this opened up a great discussion on projection and transference.

Now applying this to digital darshan or cybersangha.

I can think of two extreme models here, that have been in our discussion.

The "it's-all-inside you" model is that you're just awakening to your own true nature, and if you awaken to it, who cares about the form of the stimuli that awaken you? As an extreme example, if some very nasty person is also a great actor and can really play the part of wise guru, then a video of them might enlighten someone.

An ordinary life example. I did hypnosis research for some years, so am fairly expert in that area. Stage hypnotists claim extraordinary powers. But if you know the area and observe, most stage hypnotists use only very crude techniques. Since about 20% of people are highly hypnotizable, about 5% hypnotic virtuosos, when you have 500 people in an audience, you have 25 virtuosos who pretty much hypnotize themselves from their expectations. They come up front and do wonderfully. The untalented ones who come up quickly get shunted to the back row where they aren't too visible.....

The "guru-has-special-powers" model, at the other extreme, may admit it's ultimately our own true self that awakens but the special (psychic? smell? touch? pheromones? ??) powers of the guru are absolutely necessary to stimulate that awakening. There may be several different special powers, some may not transmit over digital media, some may. We should try and find out what works and what doesn't work.

My own guess is that reality is some combination of the above models.

So do we need to worry about getting videos of genuinely awakened/enlightened people (hard to find in the Yellow Pages), or can we just get good actors and work out a good script for them?

And just to remind ourselves that reality can be more complex than our models....
when I teach mindfulness I do make a (moderately successful) effort to be mindful myself, with the belief that this makes some difference in the way I talk, move, etc., that may touch something in the student and encourage their mindfulness. So projections can hook on to a reality, but can blow them way up.....

And so......

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Scott Lowe's essay
The Strange Case of Franklin Jones

Shinzen Young
Vipassana, anyone?

The best (and most expensive) collapsible Dobsonian telescopes in the world
Obsession Telescopes

One day, somebody posted the URL of a private Adidam auction website. This was one of the items.
That Infamous Q-Tip

Body Parts

A different 7-stage model...
The 7 Tantra of Da

True Story
How I Came To Join And Leave The Community