We live in a time freckled by the scars of human evolution. Politics are becoming more polarized, in-fighting rips communities apart, and families disown their own. There is much to say about all of this; but what I'd like to bring awareness to with this post is the importance of tradition, balanced by the allowance of space for our traditions to expand and include.
In modern, progressive yoga circles, we hear cries for "post-lineage" yoga that makes claims about asana that simply aren't true. If we critically and historically examine the roots of yoga, we, perhaps bitterly, realize it's not the ancient magic to which we subscribed. I'm no yoga scholar, but my partner is... and we've had many heated discussions about the origins of yoga and decolonizing the lens through which historical yoga is studied.
What I find truly disheartening... even heartbreaking, is hearing South Asian teachers repeating false narratives and causing division in the yoga world. Suddenly this teacher won't associate with that one because she's too White appearing; or throwing shade to non-Indians who are given and utilize Hindu names given to us by our Gurus... Gurus that were ordained by their Gurus in India to share Sanatam Dharma with the world.
Now, I need to pause here and reiterate that, as an Indigenous person who is also of Lebanese and Irish decent, I understand how important de-colonization and de-centering Western European standards are. AND, especially as an Indigenous and West Asian 2 Spirit person, I find myself irate over hetero, cis, White privilege, White centeredness, and White Supremacy.
However... as a Hindu, and as one who truly strives to Practice Yoga BEYOND asana, it is my personal critical Race work to undo the knots that tie all White-appearing (how many of you thought I was White? We don't always know what we think we know... you know?) folx into one disgusting ball of racism and supremacy... because not all White folx live in that space.
As Black comedian Amanda Seales says, “People who happen to be white are people who do not adhere to the false notion that white is indicative of supremacy... However, they understand that with whiteness comes privilege and so they use their privilege to give those who don’t have access to it access. White people are people who believe the notion that their skin color makes them better. And if you believe that something that was created solely for the purpose of oppression makes you better, then you ain’t sh—!"
There's a difference between "White People" and "People Who Happen to be White"... and if we group all fair-skin folx into the box labeled "enemy", we will not progress along the long road of equality. For the Bhakta, that enemy is also Mā... or Krsna... that one that causes a violent eruption of anger in our gut is also an embodiment of the Divine we seek to worship and serve.
This realization and examination is the OPPOSITE of Spiritual-bypassing, which would turn a blind eye to the issues at hand altogether. No, friend. This requires deep soul searching, away from the shouts and momentum of social media... sitting with the wounds inflicted upon us and our Relatives by racism. I'm speaking to those of us who don't identify as White... we have some very real healing to do... and it's not going to happen by dumping our pain outside of ourselves. We must go in, listen, feel, cry, scream... and create the space for dialogue and community. This is not easy, and it hurts like hell... but I invite each of us into that inner sanctum anyway. Not because it's our "job" to educate others... but because it's our Sacred Responsibility to Heal. For All Our Relations. For the next seven generations. For Earth Mother. For ourselves.
This is how we allow the Grace of Tradition to breathe through us, infusing a new generation with Truth and access to Ritual; paving avenues to the Divine.
I'll see you along the Red Road... we can carry each other along the way.
Durga Devi Dasi