Well, first, let’s debunk the title. I spent most of the last theatre production keeping my mouth shut because 1) my role or my agreements with people demanded it or 2) I have a personal policy that I don’t speak whenever I think an expletive is going to come out of my mouth. So I can keep my mouth shut when I think it’s morally necessary. It’s not good for me, I usually implode and suffer, but I can do it.
However, when it come to ideas, and my thoughts and opinions about them, well, I have been pretty unsuccessful at keeping my mouth shut. I can sometimes rephrase, though. Like, “Give me a fucking break, do you think I’m stupid enough to believe that?” Becomes, “I disagree with that statement.” Sometimes. Don’t hold me to that.
So, yoga teacher training starts tonight and in preparation, I’m doing some of the required reading. Like, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I am grateful that I started reading them last summer, and I started with the Chip Hartranft translation, which, according to reviews, is skewed toward Buddhism. His commentary was more simpatico with my own beliefs.
By the way, there are 196 Yoga Sutras, basically translated statements like, “Yoga is the mastery and integration of the activities of the mind,” or “Non-attachment and supreme non-attachment.” The translator then explains the application of the sutra.
Anyway, I did some research and bought the Bryant translation last year, because it was supposed to be close the original, and now the class is using a third translation (not so well reviewed).
But this blog is not about the relative merits of the translations or even the content of the Yoga Sutras. This blog is about whether I will be able to keep myself from arguing with the Yoga Sutras and comparing them with Darwin, Rousseau, Plato, Aristotle, Nietsche and basically the whole history of Western philosophy which I read when I was 17 and fortunately or unfortunately still remember. Or arguing that Buddhism’s interpretation of the different kinds of thoughts and what information can be trusted is better. Because in Buddhism they don’t tell you to believe, they tell you to experiment and find out for yourself, which is part of why I really really really like Buddhism.
So. Do you think I will be able to keep myself from arguing with the Yoga Sutras in yoga teacher training?
I’m guessing that a yoga teacher’s job is to learn about the Yoga Sutras, not to debate them and try to come up with a new philosophy of her own. This is why I probably will never be a traditional yoga teacher.
But, and here’s the rub, as Shakespeare would say, I know that if I lead on class one with my usual intellectual comparison/contrast, attack, debate, rebel, I’ll pay for it. In graduate school, my usual meant I stood out in a good way. Yoga teacher training? My guess is, not so much. I will be seen as a High Maintenance Pain-in-the-Ass-Show-Off, which is not, of course, inaccurate so much as incomplete.
I therefore plan to sit in the back of the room and stuff my mouth full of imaginary cotton. I plan to not mention the contradictions within the text. I plan to say nothing at all. Today. It’s one day at a time, right?
There’s always the temptation to say f it, I’ll be myself–my original, authentic, intellectual, questioning, curious, super-smart self. I won’t pretend to be what I think is the usual yogi–open, idealistic, wide-eyed…or middle-aged, searching, in need. I’ll be my rebellious, out-there, outspoken, radical, queer, wild me.
I’m getting flashbacks to Catholic school. Sitting in a roomful of women working with a common belief system…well, that makes sense. But my flashbacks aren’t to high school, where being with all girls meant it was finally okay to be smart. It’s to elementary school, where the silence after I’d disagreed with the boys or the whole class (again) meant bullying on the playground next recess.
Oh, the long shadow of the school yard.
It’s truly tempting to say f it, and just open my mouth. I mean, really, it’s only a matter of time until I do. So let’s just say I’ll be quiet tonight, and tomorrow I can say whatever I want (minus expletives) about the contradictions of the translation and how saying that holy scriptures are a solid source of reality is just plain fing ridiculous.
Two hours. Can I do it?
And, as a fallback, at least I can’t rant first. If someone else rants, I will definitely follow them through the door.
This is how I make decisions about relating to people.
And I will say this–once I took a job and I swore I would do everything in my power to keep below the radar. I didn’t rebel, or speak out, or anything. So, I got offered about three promotions and the other employees voted to have me be their representative to the company (50 of 52 people voted for me, and clearly, I did not put myself forward). I asked a friend why they did that and she said, “Because we all know you don’t take shit.”
Some people, apparently, aren’t meant to fly below the radar.
Attempting the impossible…well, delaying the inevitable could be another way of putting it.
Did I mention that I expect I will be (possibly) the only out queer person?
Oh, look, I think that’s what people call an emotion. I’m nervous about the first class. I might even be a little scared about being different. That I’m also wildly excited…well, I am that person. The one who has to figure out everything that could possibly go wrong, just in case.
I figure, positive thinking, fine. Just be prepared for everything.
If you’d like to bet on whether I can make it through the two hours, I’m betting I can’t. I’m not sure if that means I’m under-rating my self-control or under-rating the sheer fury of my life force, which has always resisted repression or suppression of any kind.
But, if I can make money on it, one way or the other, well, it’s a plus.