On Power and Choice
“Yoga is an equal opportunity empowerment. But what we do with it and how we treat ourselves and others because we are empowered is what separates the divine from the demonic.” -Douglas Brooks, Hanuman lectures, disc 3
I was listening to a CD of Douglas Brooks yesterday. He is describing how the demons and the gods do the same yogic practices to acquire power; what they do with that power is what distinguishes them.
I’m taking this quotation way out of its original context (mythology in general and the Ramayana in particular). But the last few days have weighed heavy on my heart. On a personal note, two enormous, old, beautiful trees down the street from me were cut down to make room for more speedily-constructed houses. I felt- and feel- incredibly sad. Then the school shootings and the bombed Doctors Without Borders hospital.
Where are the best places to put time, money, and energy to alleviate some of the suffering and sadness in the world? There are thousands of good answers to this question, and each of us has a unique combination that is the most correct in the moment and over a lifetime. The above quotation was a good reminder for me to ask myself, again and again, “What am I doing with what is available to me? What am I choosing, and why? How am I treating myself and others?” These are important questions, and they can supply direction and solace when it feels like the wide world provides very little of either.
I’m potentially writing to a somewhat diverse audience, some yogis and some not, so for those who don’t know:
Douglas Brooks is a brilliant scholar who lived in India for many years and also happens to hold a few degrees from Harvard. He has a vast knowledge of mythology, philosophy, religion, and language.
Hanuman is the Hindu monkey god in service to Ram; the Ramayana is a long epic story of Hanuman, Ram, and Ram’s wife Sita.