This article was first published in Common Ground Magazine in February 2015, and speaks to a challenge that I myself faced head on in my mid 20s. It took me until my mid 30s, almost ten years later, to gain enough distance from that journey, and the healing that it required, for me to feel that I could write about it with the appropriate clarity, humor, and care necessary for a topic that many men struggle with to this day, through no fault of their own.
For anyone who is not a man (or has never been a man) I invite you to read on with an open, compassionate mind.
I wake up and meditate. All is well. Life is good.
Then I turn on the news and everything’s a complete disaster. Religious zealots are killing people en masse, peaceful protesters are being trampled by riot police, America is facing off with the Orange Clown, North Korea is being run by a B-movie Bond villain, and Israel is seeking unconscious revenge on the Nazis by persecuting the Palestinians.
So I turn it off and make breakfast with my wife. The morning sun shines through the kitchen window onto our toes. We admire the color of fresh chard. I marvel at the fact that I can make an organic hemp milk, matcha latte and chase it with wild Alaskan fish oils, bee pollen and adaptogenic herbs, even though I wonder about the DHA containing mercury, the water carrying aluminum, and the adaptogens being contaminated with Round Up. We sit down, and lovingly stare into each others eyes for a long, long time. It doesn’t feel cheesy at all.
Inhale, bring your palms together, and begin by dedicating this practice to all the great yogis and yoginis who are turning in their graves or laughing into their loin-cloths because of the Diet-Pepsi-maxification that Western culture has unleashed all over their sacred path of transcendence.
Take a moment to honor the great Patanjali who an entirely new wave of young mat-slingers often confuse with a sweet dessert that follows your dhal and rice course. Give reverence to the Rig Veda that is absolutely not the great-grandfather of the Lord Vader. Exhale and release any judgment around the effectiveness of hip-hop yoga, wine and yoga, or products like Water Mat Yoga to accelerate your union with “the god head.” If Western yoga culture is going through its adolescence, then it needs our support, wisdom, and compassion as it navigates through the madness of the modern-day mass media marketplace.
Sun salutation, raise your arms to the sky, and primal scream for every time that a teenybopper’s cellphone with a Taylor Swift ring tone has started playing “Shake It Off ” during your Corpse Pose, causing your subtle body to crash into your physical like the meteor that ended the dinosaurs.
Hello everyone, and welcome to our Tuesday night Non-Dualists Anonymous meeting. For those of you here for the first time – refreshments are at the back of the room. Bathrooms are on the left.
As many of you know this year-long program is for individuals chronically at one with everything, and as a result, feel as if they may have lost touch with the creative friction that comes from buying into the dualistic illusion. Many of you here tonight will have already spent months, perhaps even years attempting to find a way to “have dinner with someone else” to no avail. We here at NDA want you to know that there is still hope.
Congratulations, you’ve had a spiritual experience. After years of training you’ve finally touched the absolute nature of reality resulting in an ability to heal and guide others there too.
In a word: whatever.
Seriously, were you expecting a medal?
A band of followers to hang on your every word?
A book deal?
I mean did you really think that all the flowers were going to bloom and the birds would break into song?
Sorry to disappoint but that didn’t even happen with the Buddha.
Because it was a metaphor, silly.
But seriously, nice work. While all your friends were building their careers you were sitting on your ass in the middle of the jungle next to some old man able to warp time and space solely with the power of his BO. Now all your friends have houses, 401(k)s, and passive income streams that support their vacations in the Mediterranean while all you’ve got is access to “cosmic consciousness” and a ton of student debt.
What the hell is going on?