Gabi : Do your practice
I think I have said this before, but Mysore life pretty much revolves around practice and food. Before practice people talk about where they are going for breakfast, after practice coconut chatter revolves around how your practice was, breakfast chats are all about how awesome practice and your new asana is and where you’re eating for lunch or dinner. The cycle is on repeat. For months. And with the same people. There is so much analysis of everything “you” that it is nice to get away sometimes. So I decided to go to the animal shelter. I am very much an animal person. I hate seeing people in pain, but animals in pain is some how so much worse. The shelter, People for Animals is about a 15 min rickshaw ride away from Gokulam. Before you start think nice clean shelters like RSPCA, don’t. The shelter is fairly basic. The operating rooms are almost open air. The “healthy” dogs are allowed to roam around, dogs that are healing are chained, usually with buckets on their heads, animals that are recovering from surgery (still sedated) are chained and grouped in larger rooms. There are other animals, cats, pigs, macaques, birds (a pelican, ring necks and assorted birds of prey), horses, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. At the moment anyway. The first time I went, I nearly cried. So many of the animals, to western eyes, look so sick. They are missing limbs (deliberate), are scabby, dirty, skinny. But they are so happy to see and play with people, just to get a pat. And they are being looked after. There was a cat who has so sick and skinny, his fur was falling out, his tail was scabby. He was scared and hissing, and me being fluent in cat, thought I have to make this guy calm. So after a few minutes he chilled out and let me feed him, from my hand. Then I realized that he was so scared because he had a double eye infection and a nose infection. He couldn’t see or smell. For a cat this is like living in the dark. This week when I visited, he looked so much better. His eyes had cleared up. He was still a cranky sod, but then, he is a street cat. The main thing is the animals are being cared for.
This brings me back to the idea that Gokulam, particularly the yogi’s (not just ashtangis FYI) is so isolated and is in it’s own weird little bubble. It seems to bring out, what I consider, to be the worst in people. I’m sure most of them think it is their best and that they are the best people that can be on their spiritual journey to enlightenment. Or some may think they have already reached enlightenment. A good example is the odd responses to a post I made on the Mysore yoga community page about going to the shelter. I posted that I was going and that if people wanted to come that I would be leaving at X time from the Shala. One persons response was that I shouldn’t be telling other people what to do and should let others focus their energy on what they thought was best. Another response was that shelters are wrong because animals are wild and should be allowed to roam free and humans shouldn’t interfere. I disagree and am insulted by both of these comments in so many ways. But this is what Mysore can be like. People spend so much of their energy trying to find that one elusive thing that will make them whole and enlightened and spiritual and peaceful and calm, that they miss the point entirely. The woman describing how zen she was now that her childrens nanny was here to care for them, or the man saying how he was going to get some woman fired because he didn’t like the way she cleaned. Just because you’re a yogi doesn’t mean you’re not an arsehole.
But, as the teachings and philosophy or yoga tell us, the people that annoy or frustrate or anger us, are just mirrors. By working out what it is in them that elicits the reaction in us, we can grow as people (back to enlightenment). I’m not aiming for enlightenment. I am aiming to be a better, happier, person. If I never levitate, or make it to the final of the eight limbs, I’m ok with that. I’m not ok with never binding in marichyasana c though.