I think sometimes I share my convictions without doing a great job of sharing how I got there. I can explain to you why something about the practice is fair by the standards I’ve been given, but I don’t always include why I believe in it.
I see that my belief can be off-putting. Let me explain.
I really want people to be happy and kind. I am a firm believer in the phrase “you don’t have to be wrong for me to be right.” I love seeing people do whatever brings them happiness. Doing my practice brings me so much happiness that it has taken over my life. This happiness is complex. It’s not necessarily enjoyment, but rather a contentment that comes from a good effort.
I have a really hard time knowing if I am doing a good job. I have this constant, nagging fear that I could be putting more effort into everything, whether a posture or my life in general. I think this is likely some type of anxiety disorder, so I self medicate with yoga. When I do the work set before me by my teachers I know that I am doing enough; I am trying hard enough; I am doing a good job. It is so calming and grounding to feel like this. Feeling purposeful and challenged and humbled is a great combination. This pranidhana (surrender) brings me an immediate sense of contentment.
If someone is not seeking this relationship to practice and teacher, then they don’t need to bother with my opinion. I can’t speak from any other perspective because this has pervaded every thought my mind produces. It’s a security blanket and maybe that’s a fault, but this is a spiritual practice and I have a spiritual belief in the leadership of my teachers. It is not blind or irresponsible; my belief in their guidance was (and is) earned by them over years of good advice, consideration, and reasonable judgement.
If you don’t have any interest in trusting Sharath, then there’s no need to go to Mysore. It will be a lot of work without much gain if you aren’t at least considering being his student and attempting this surrender. I don’t take it personally if this work doesn’t seem valuable to you and my experience doesn’t need to affect you personally; we are different people. I still hope for your happiness and contentment and I don’t want to tell you that my way is the only one that will work. That’s definitely not the case.
To everyone out there upset by Sharath’s new rule: I am sorry that you are hurting or sad. I don’t want you to think that I am unsympathetic to how this impacts your life. I know this will be hard for many people and make many practitioners face their priorities differently. Maybe going to Mysore will have to slide down the list of priorities a few notches and I understand that this is disappointing. I love Mysore and as my life becomes more dynamic and complicated I also feel the pain of the Shala feeling harder and harder to get to.
But I want my friends and students and fellow practitioners to know that I truly believe that Sharath will make the right decisions for us and that his decisions are in our collective best interests.
Someone called Sharath lazy today. She said it to me personally as an explanation for why he would impose this new rule. It hurt me. I very nearly became angry with her, but as she kept talking I could see in her face the pain she felt over the confusion of feelings this has caused in our community. I also feel the pain of the collective shock and subsequent reordering of priorities. I am sorry that some in my community are sadden or defeated or feeling left out.
We are a community, no matter who your teacher is. We will support and guide each other as best we can and we will all come off the better for it. Sharath has decided he wants to work with the students who have the closest link to himself. Only one degree of separation allowed. He has NOT, however, said that anyone should stop practicing. He has not said that he won’t take on new students (imagine that! he would have just as many students even if he completely stopped allowing new enrollment). He has not said that your specific non-authorized teacher is no good. He simply wants you to be sure that you want to do the practice he teaches, so studying with his students (or guruji’s senior students OR his mother -in Mysore- on your first trip) is the best way to check.
I am sorry it is causing so much upset in the community, but I will not be sorry that the rule was made. Sharath is my teacher and I trust him. I get bad news from him about how I have to do more work than I want to every year. He tells me on almost every pose that I have not done enough yet and to keep trying. That is the nature of the practice. We follow the prescribed steps until the teacher says we’re ready to move on.
Sharath made having an authorized teacher like marichasana D. It’s easy for some people and reeeaaally hard for most people. But it’s possible. If you are consistent and put in enough effort, it will happen. If you don’t want to go to that effort, then Sharath is not your teacher and that’s okay. There are a lot of great teachers out there in the world.
Sharath is my teacher, so I trust his judgement. If Sharath says something is important, I will believe him.
Or I will at least try before I doubt him too loudly.