Yoga Blog

JULY 21, 2011

Embracing Tradition over Intuition

Posted by Dorothy under Community Interests, Philosophy2 comments

I was browsing through Baron Baptiste’s “Journey Into Power: How To Sculpt Your Ideal Body, Free Your True Self, and Transform Your Life with Yoga and found his thoughts interesting because of its relation to the current world. He interestingly listed 7 myths in yoga practice and how to avoid them. One of the myth which I would like to share with my fellow readers is Baptiste’s thoughts on “Embracing Tradition Over Intuition”. I will be providing the whole text word by word as my worry is that my readers will not get the whole of his precious advice if I write a conclusion. With that, I hope readers who think that I am plagarising will understand my reason for doing so. If you find this little advice interesting, you can easily get his book from online stores or your local bookshop. So here it goes:

No one person can tell you what is right for you. Not in a pose, not in a diet, not in your life. Every single body is unique, and only you can ever really know what is right for you. You can hear advice, seek out guidance, and even ask for help, but ultimately, it is you and you alone who knows what is best for you.

Enlightenment about your body, your mind, and your life is a very individual process. Teaching becomes problematic when we prescribe that there is only one way of doing something. It is said that the path to englihtenment is like a bird flying in the sky: It leaves no footprints behind. That is why traditions that claim theirs is the only way are absurd. Tradition is valuable for what it can teach us, but the minute it becomes absolute, it negates the most precious human resource there is: our intuition.

One of the singular appeals of yoga is that it promises a definite technique by which we can make ourselves independent of preceptors, teachers, or gurus. But so often we are not shown that side of yoga in the West. We are given teachers, or “gurus” who establish themselves as divine intermediaries and claim to hold in their hands the key to our enlightenment. Traditional yoga often sends students the message that they must follow teachers or tradition to the letter, that they know nothing in comparison to the guru, that it is the teacher’s way or the highway. Believe me, I’ve been around the yoga world my whole life, and I’ve seen every angle of intimidation, humiliation, and blind devotion. Since I was a boy, I have witnessed many soul-searching people get swallowed up into the unthinking atmosphere that surrounds popular gurus. To this day, I’m stunned to see educated men or women blindly following a master. Regardless of what inconsistencies arise, they make excuses for the master, as though they have forfeited their powers of discernment and common sense.

Many gurus control their followers through the brilliant process of contradiction. Do what they say, and they promise you will achieve enlightenment. The catch is that the tasks or problems they present you are altogether unsolvable. You become emotionally and spiritually absorbed in the problem, then are taught that you need the guru to guide you through such a big and confusing process. You doubt yourself and come to rely more on the guru, believing that he is the one with the answers.

At one point in time, my life was guided in this fashion. I could not break away, because at that time I believed my guru possessed the only key to personal power. Whatever he said was right. If i didn’t understand something, it was because of some defect in me, not the master. I did the long hours of meditation, chores, asana practice, and endless study, all with small amounts of sleep. I was the true brainwashed yogi disciple.

Eventually I woke up and and saw that I was only regurgitating what my teachers had told me. Without personal common sense and intuition, I realized, self-actualization was impossible. I could never really find the wisdom in myself if I only listened to what others were telling me.

I later came to realize that the stakes in this kind of game is very high, and that people will do things in that state of mind they would normally not do; bending their bodies into positions that are ridiculous for their body type; memorizing sutras until their heads spin; or following diets, rules, vows, and techniques that make absolutely zero sense for what they are.

If I sound a bit critical of gurus, I should clarify that the target of my criticism is the ignorance, hypocrisy, and downright spiritual dishonesty of many who profess to be gurus and masters in this ancient practice. The honest teachers are the ones who are willing to kick themselves off the pedestal and be real.

People bow to an orange-robed master, and then find out one day that he’s not wearing any underwear. He may have amazing and wonderful things to teach us. But when you start thinking of him as holier than thou, you are falling into a trap. My father told me, ” Don’t be too fast to trust, but don’t automatically distrust,” and I think that’s the best advice anyone can give.

Your intuiton is always right. ALWAYS. It is never wrong. And it is important that we get that. To the degree that I remember that, and listen to my intuition, my life flows and abundance pours in: the right people, the right guidance, the right circumstances. But when I ignore my intuition, I create a mess.

The question is, when are you going to start trusting your intuitive power?

Here on your yoga mat, start practicing intuition in action. Don’t follow me, or anyone else; follow yourself. If I tell you to do something and it doesn’t work for you, question it, modify it, play with it to make it work for you. I will push you, poke you, prod you, guide you, but it’s up to you to tune in and flow from what’s right for you.

So dear readers, please re-evaluate your yoga practice and think real. You do not have to be a pretzel to do yoga, nor do you have to follow every single thing you are adviced to do by “gurus” for the Almighty never created everyone to be equal. Always pick and choose what you think makes sense to you, as long as you do not injure yourself physically and mentally.

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Comments (2)

  1. Gary B Jones

    This is a fantastic and practical article. Every yogi should read and know this.

  2. Dorothy

    Thx Gary.Pls help me to spread Baptiste’s words:)

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