A Yoga of Engagement

A Yoga of Engagement

An interesting thing has been happening during yoga class. While we were deepening our breath and refining our Triangle poses a group of the super-wealthy has hijacked our country! Little by little, as we have focused on inner peace and transcendence, the super-wealthy, the 1%, has been buying up Congress by making huge donations to their campaigns. In return they are demanding and receiving changes in the laws that favor their businesses and the growth and protection of their wealth.

Some yogis’ have told me they don’t vote because all politicians are corrupt. That logic doesn’t make sense to me because it’s like saying all triangle poses are the same. We’ve learned that when we take the time to pay attention we see that some triangle poses are more aligned than others. In the same way, when we take the time to pay attention, we can see that some politicians are more aligned with integrity, justice, and service than others. Yoga is not just about transcendence; it’s also about engagement, as we learn in the Bhagavad Gita. Douglas Brooks’ teaches us that yoga is first about being a responsible citizen.

The inequality of wealth and power between the 1% and the 99% continues to increase and it troubles me greatly. Princeton professor and Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has noted that unequal wealth translates into unequal power, and we’re seeing that now.

Productivity of our workforce has been increasing even through the economic downturn, and yet wages are flat. All of that increased productivity has fattened the 1%, and flattened the 99%. The 1% has obtained greater wealth at the expense of those that produced it! Companies are transferring jobs offshore to maximize profits for their investors at the expense of their workers. Offshore is also home for much of the wealth of the investors where it is safely out of the reach of U.S. taxes. Taxes on the super rich are not proportional to their share of the wealth. All of this has greatly diminished the middle class.

I have had the privilege the last few years of teaching around the world, and it’s given me the opportunity to see how differently other countries approach the responsibilities of citizenship. For example, in Australia, instead of making it harder to vote, citizens are actually required to vote! In fact, they are fined if they don’t! As a result everyone is engaged in what’s happening in their country: everyone, including the bus driver, is discussing politics and debating the pros and cons of the options. Interesting that Australia does not suffer the extreme spread in wealth that we do in the U.S. and I wonder if it’s due to the fact that everyone knows what’s going on and the populace is engaged more fully than the average citizen in the U.S.

I’m writing to make a plea to take an hour of your precious time and go online and research where the 1% is investing its money in the upcoming elections. This is an urgent plea for all of us to educate not only ourselves but also our students, friends, and family. Go online and research candidates for federal, state, and local offices; listen to the debates; do a little digging; go to a non-partisan website to find out the facts; look below the surface. After all, as a wise man once said, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts!

Let’s engage in the process of preserving and extending democracy and equality for all people in our country. If we don’t step up and get involved, who will? What is at risk are our children’s and our grandchildren’s futures. I know that the yoga community is a formidable force for consciousness, compassion, and aligned action! The Dalai Lama said at the Vancouver Peace Summit in September 2009, ”The world will be saved by the western woman.” Maybe this is one of the avenues he had in mind!

Get informed! Choose! Vote! Step up! Speak out!
We can make a difference when we practice a yoga of engagement!