Thursday, January 8, 2009

5/8 Stripping away the unnecessary

Day off.

Renunciation, it turns out, is at least partially a process of letting go things that are not needed.  Bikram emphasizes this quite a bit in our practice.  Bit by bit, we try to do without all the little things we think we need for comfort:  our little fidgeting, wiping sweat off our bodies, adjusting our towels, drinking too much water, bending forward to gasp for air.  Even in an environment where there are no props, where we are basically naked, and there is little external distraction, even there it is so easy to invent "needs". 

It turns out that stripping away what's not needed may be a pretty good idea in general.  This one is a bit tough for me.  I've been a collector at heart for many years.  If I decide I like a musician, for example, it is easy for me to get obsessed with getting everything the musician has recorded.  Same goes for books, for camera lenses, etc... It's so easy to invent needs, and easy to take comfort from Shakespeare's "O reason not the need..." speech from King Lear.  But then, Lear's needs ultimately forced him into a lonely, mad death.  So as much sense as his speech may have made, it didn't lead to any good result.  Maybe there's a message there.

In some ways, instead of being like Lear, I think this passage makes me think of myself as being more like Steve Martin at the end of The Jerk, where he's lost his fortune, his wife and everything else and says he doesn't need any of it.  And with the ease of google, I found it:

And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.

So, I understand what Gates is driving at.  In my practice, I've even made some strides in this direction.  And, to a certain extent, I've done the same at home.  For example, a couple of months ago I gave away about seven boxes of books.  Thus, I feel it safe to declare that I don't need any of my day to day trappings ... except this ashtray...

1 comment:

thedancingj said...

"And my dog." "GGRRRRRR" "... I don't need my dog."

Classic. :)