The Other Person is You
July 10, 2013 11:29 AM   Subscribe

There is a lot about Kundalini Yoga and White Tantric and Solstice that is very unbelievable. Does a turban really hold your brain together? Does one day of White Tantric Yoga really equal years worth of meditation? If you revolve your life around Solstice, as Yogi Bhajan says, will everything really be taken care of? I laugh at all of it, but I keep coming back, so I either believe it, or I want to...
posted by showbiz_liz (21 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
It wasn't the solstice on Mars.
posted by planetesimal at 11:50 AM on July 10, 2013


I'm not Sikh, but I'm a big fan of the music and the Langar at Gurdwaras, and everyone is welcome.

But these folks are part of a cult in Skih drag. Bahjan was just another run-of-the-mill charismatic leader abusing his followers for fun & profit, like Sai Baba.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:02 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does a turban really hold your brain together?

I think it was Yogi Bherra who said that was a turban urban legend.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:11 PM on July 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


Was the thing about the guy at the rental car place repeating the script also about mantras? It should have been. If he hadn't broken his mantra he wouldn't have had that bad luck with getting the car back damaged.
posted by wam at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2013


Correlation, causation, blah blah blah.
posted by gallois at 12:26 PM on July 10, 2013


When I was younger I wanted to be a religious fraud. Now I realize I just wanted to be Harry Fraud.
posted by Teakettle at 12:27 PM on July 10, 2013


Hmmm. I guess I'm not sure if this article was just humble-bragging? Or weird self-deprecating kind-of "I know this seems ridiculous but it works for me" or what exactly her purpose was with writing this. It is the Awl I guess, the King of "I can be a spiritual yogi and still say fuck so there" publications. But, look, if you're into the Kundalini, just own it - it's cool.

Though this made me LOL:

"It’s my mantra," she said.

"I’m sorry?" I said.

"It’s my mantra." Her tone made it unnecessary for her to add the words, "you fucking retard."

"Oh," I said. "Ok."

"I never turn it off," she said. "Ever. Sat Nam."

"Sat Nam," I said.


In my searching days, I tried a stint with the Kundalini. One of my best buds was a Kundalini yogi - moved to India, did the whole thing. Kept telling me he was visiting me at night in the astral plane. I stayed with him in Arizona and we would get up early in the morning and go do Sat Nams out in the desert. I was smoking kind of a lot of weed at the time. He was sober. Probably something there. Anyway, it ultimately wasn't for me. I love yoga, but the Kundalini folks are their own sort of out there in way that different work for me. Too much god, not enough stretching. Though the exercises are seriously tough.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:31 PM on July 10, 2013


This is hilarious and sad, mainly because Yogi Bhajan seems to be a quack who dishes out health/dietary advice that's as dangerously bad as his poetry:
One of the poem-songs used in our White Tantric Meditations contained the following: "Prosperity, Originality, causes Ich sound."
Ha ha, I'm so incorporating this soundbite into my Metatalk toolkit!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:35 PM on July 10, 2013


Not sure this article serves any real purpose or communicates anything.

I will say, if you are paying someone else to understand something for you and tell you what to do, I think you really have to examine what you are doing. It's OK to really try to understand your spiritual life, rather than just following the great yogi and hoping for the best.

Or to put it another way, don't be a tourist. If you are in it for the "experience", that is exactly what you are going to be fed.
posted by selfnoise at 12:46 PM on July 10, 2013


My pituitary gland had been spinning the wrong way for awhile now, maybe I should try this.
posted by Falconetti at 12:46 PM on July 10, 2013


She says that she either believes or she wants to believe, but the way she constantly negged on everything and everyone around her, she's clearly presenting herself as someone who only wants to believe. Except... She doesn't present herself as happy. And she doesn't present those around her as happy, either, even the true believers. So why would she want to believe, if she doesn't see the believers as any happier than she is? I think she does believe but wishes she didn't.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:50 PM on July 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Couldn't understand where she was coming from, much as IRFH said. Having read a couple other things she wrote, there's a snide side to her writing that maybe she doesn't see.

In another piece, she came across to me and a couple commenters as arrogant and nasty in describing someone, said in response to the comments that she thoroughly liked and respected the person in question.

Dunno if it's her schtick, how she is or what, but her tone makes my teeth hurt.
posted by ambient2 at 1:03 PM on July 10, 2013


if you are paying someone else to understand something for you and tell you what to do, I think you really have to examine what you are doing.

I can haz management consultancy?
posted by Damienmce at 1:11 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked "Not Another Word" by Gillian Kendall better. (excerpt)
posted by wam at 1:36 PM on July 10, 2013


If you revolve your life around Solstice, as Yogi Bhajan says, will everything really be taken care of?

I'm actually a devout follower of Yogi Berra, who said, "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:37 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I appreciated this article for giving us a view into a scene that, sitting here in Brunswick, Georgia, seems quite alien. I think that was the purpose, an honest, self-deprecating look at that world. It was Hunter S. Thompson who told us of the limits of objective journalism; this doesn't involve as many drugs, but I think it's the good kind of subjective, not entirely believing itself. Well, she says believes it, or wants to; I think the article makes it clear that the answer is wants to. But she says it does help her to feel better, and I would be loathe to tell her that's valueless or fake.

I like that there are people who are seeking some deeper meaning to the world than Jebus and Da Bibble. I don't think any true answer is going to involve "purifying your body." These kinds of practices are rife with pseudoscience, and when I read someone claiming that it "increases cerebral power" there's a part of my brain that replaces those words with a quacking noise. But it is possible for it to work, in some ways, even if the reasons that it does are not the ones the yogis suggest.
posted by JHarris at 2:05 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a friend who started doing Kundalini yoga and really found it to be a great way to relieve stress and get healthy.

She got so into it, she signed up for a very expensive Kundalini Yoga retreat in India. It was really eye-opening-- after a few days, she decided the whole thing was a gigantic scam and rip-off. She left, asked for her money back (didn't get it), and still does yoga, just not there.
posted by cell divide at 2:18 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm fascinated by reading people's stories of spiritual retreats, mostly because it makes me feel better for not going. If I can manage to meditate for half an hour, I think I've done well. I admire people who can do the full-on retreat thing, but it's nice to read about their humanity as well. They're not necessarily any more spiritually enlightened/karmically balanced/worthier people/in on the secret of life, the universe and everything than me.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:39 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Resituate this narrative to Burning Man and subtract the top-down guru group agenda and you have every LiveJournal post written by a whiny wanna-be Gaia-goddess who hated the physically challenging aspects of the playa and blamed her bad time on people who didn't shade her, feed her, keep her hydrated - basically blaming everything but her lack of ability to behave like a self-sufficient adult, let alone one capable of caring for anyone around her.

The part where Sarah gets off on bullying the rental car agent (and bitches about people driving too fast through the gates! And snivels about the PortaPotties!!) outs her as a completely precious SPARKLE PONY.

Intense festivals like this are intense by design. Most people go to them to push their psychic limits in a way they hope will help them grow and connect as people. You may not personally dig the crowd or the philosophy of a particular gathering, but the most reprehensible people at these shindigs are the parasites. "Oh, I don't know how to set up my tent. Fiddle-de-de, will you do it for me for US dollars?"

Anybody who is so goddamn stupid as to willfully fail to learn how to set up her own tent belongs at Pampered Princess Camp, not at a gathering where she intends to make money by reporting on a culture of which she is clueless. Sure, Sarah, their spirituality may not work for you but plopping your privileged ass down in the middle of their gathering, brandishing your cash and your entitlements for special care doesn't make you anything close to a reliable reporter or a narrator for anyone else. And for a person who is purportedly walking a path of compassion for others, your writing is astoundingly narcissistic.

I'm not a follower of Kundalini or Bhijan or religions in general. I'm not even a religious burner. What I am is dedicated to securing my own air mask so that I can take care of other people around me. Shit like your pageview desperation, Sarah Miller, annoys the crap out of me. I know the drivel you write drives pageviews for The Awl and pays a few of your bills. I'm sure it's worth it to you and I'm glad I can at least rant here at Metafilter about how little value your writing provides to the real world.
posted by SakuraK at 1:59 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anybody who is so goddamn stupid as to willfully fail to learn how to set up her own tent belongs at Pampered Princess Camp, not at a gathering where she intends to make money by reporting on a culture of which she is clueless. Sure, Sarah, their spirituality may not work for you but plopping your privileged ass down in the middle of their gathering, brandishing your cash and your entitlements for special care doesn't make you anything close to a reliable reporter or a narrator for anyone else.

But... it seemed pretty clear to me that she was a long-time practitioner of this form of yoga. She didn't just go to report on it. And as a person who does practice it... well, so she can't set up a tent. I have lots of friends who can't set up tents, they're stil fine people who deserve to seek spirituality.

Frankly, as a person who can take perfectly good care of myself and DOES know how to set up a tent, you make Burning Man sound like a horrible experience full of withholding, unhelpful jerks who will mock you for daring to ask for help or for pushing your boundaries to the point where you become uncomfortable and need to retreat a bit. That doesn't sound like a place I'd want to go.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:55 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


@showbiz_liz: I am sorry if my description of Burning Man made it seem unwelcoming to those experiencing distress. It is quite the opposite - my camps have happily given food, generators, water, and anything else necessary to help others survive and thrive on playa. I've had complete strangers go far out of their way to help me repair a dome that buckled under sustained 70mph winds. Burners will do just about anything to save each others' asses. But asking for someone to help you with basic survival tasks by expending no effort and brandishing your US $$ is the most insulting way you could possibly approach such a situation.

The question after any such festival is whether someone is entitled to brag about her cavalier lack of preparation because her $$$ can buy what her pathetic refusal to prepare herself can't. By her own account, it's not that she can't set up a tent - it's that she couldn't be assed to spend the half hour learning how to do it. Or how to be compassionate and respectful to the people she interacts with on her journey.

Nor could she summon the least but of loving-kindness for any of her fellow practitioners. No matter how long she's been practicing her brand of yoga, the core principles have clearly not taken hold because her account is nothing but contempt and "me me me". But it does get pageviews, so perhaps this article is not the whole truth.
posted by SakuraK at 2:13 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


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