Wednesday 8:15 pm with Rohit
Before class, Rohit said that the 6:30 class had been a decent size -- 24 -- and that it was all women. I've had a few classes that were all women except for me, and it's never bothered me. It hasn't even bothered me in classes where Lenette has used the generic "ladies." Even if I did think about it, how often do women have to live with the generic "guys" to talk about men and women together.
Anyway, the late class was only 12 and we had 5 guys, which is the closest I've ever gotten to a class with half men. Did it make a difference? Not that I noticed.
I've been thinking recently about sticking points in class. There are some predictable points in class where I lose focus, or energy, or otherwise fall short of what I should be able to do. Falling out of the balancing poses. Sitting out a set of either Triangle or Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee. Losing it in one or both sets of Locust. Coming out of Rabbit early and wiped out. For me, these are the most common sticking points.
On the one hand, I know that judgment is bad, and that I shouldn't beat myself up over these moments. And for the most part, I don't. But I can't help but wonder when not beating myself up veers into being too easy on myself. I'm not sure exactly what to do about this, but I think I may have to start concentrating on one of these sticking points at a time, and just bring a bit more focus to it for a few classes in a row and see if anything changes.
There's another oddity that amuses me. For me, Locust is always the hardest pose. It's the only one that actually brings up a bit of fear. And yet, I think if you asked my teachers, they would probably unanimously say that the third part of Locust is my best pose. I'm not sure what to make of this. If I could identify an easiest pose, I wonder if it would also be one my teachers thought of as my worst? Happily, I can't think of an easy pose.
The day 271 brings up some thorny, but ultimately not very practical, questions of philosophy. It starts with a quote from Mother Theresa. She compares us to light bulbs. Her idea is that we are the wires, and god is the current. If we let the current flow through us, we can light up the world.
Gates has a slightly different take on this. He talks about prana, the root of pranayama. It means "life force." Gates says that there is enormous potential in prana, but that it is neither good nor bad. It simply is. Gates thinks that people minimize the prana available to them because they are afraid of what they might do with it. I take this to mean that people shut themselves off from prana out of a fear of the evil they might do. He goes on to say that's why surrender to God is so important -- because it allows us to open ourselves up to the potential of prana.
I wonder if Gates has this right. It sounds to me like he has the priorities wrong. Surely, if surrender to God is important, its not for some instrumental reason. If there is a priority to these things, I would have thought that it worked the other way around -- that opening yourself up to prana is worthwhile because it ultimately makes it easier to surrender to God.
In some ways I think this whole discussion is utterly impractical. And it bears a strong resemblance to the Euthyphro, a dialogue where Socrates tortures some poor student with arguments about whether the something is good because the Gods approve it, or whether the Gods approve of it because its good.
But a similar, and interesting, question arises from this meditation. Could someone use the techniques of yoga -- pranayama and asana and mediation and such -- and powerfully put them to bad purposes? Here, Gates seems to suggest that its possible to put prana to evil uses. From everything I've read so far, I would have thought otherwise. What I've admired so much about yoga so far is that just doing it tends to make people better, both in body and mind. This makes me wonder whether I've misread this meditation. It does seem to go against quite a bit of what Gates seems to have said consistently throughout the book.