Thursday, July 5, 2018

Prashant's Class on Cleansing

3 July 2018 

Although he did not call the development of “natural morality, natural conscience-ness” a cleansing process, that’s what I’m going to call it in this report from Pune.

What evolved as he threaded his ideas through the two hour YOGA class he taught this morning (it involved asana, but it was not an asana class as I know it), was the notion that the colon is not the only organ that can become constipated. The brain, the mind, the senses, even the consciousness itself, which includes all, can become constipated, clogged, stuck.

So we were encouraged to defecate from the brain. Even writing that phrase sounds odd, but after living my way through this morning’s session, my brain does feel lighter. He spoke of the brain as a very greedy organ, eating all the time from the moment it is awakened in the morning to the moment sleep comes at night. All that comes into it is certainly not worth holding on to and therefore needs eliminating. There may be “stuff” that comes into the brain/mind/senses that will “feed” a person, but there is other stuff that might need to go right out without assimilation.

The word discrimination has developed negative connotations over my lifetime, during which the US as a nation has struggled to recognize inequalities—in education, in the workplace, in the home. Women felt discriminated against for earning less pay for equal work, people of color felt discriminated against for not having educational and work opportunities equal to others. People in certain neighborhoods felt discriminated against for not having access to safe places to live, often based on their income or skin color. Yet the capacity of the mind to discriminate (the Sanskrit word is “viveka”) can be one of its great strengths. So in our democratic process, we proposed and passed legislation to make it against new laws to discriminate in the workplace, in education, and in housing. 

Prashant’s point about natural morality comes in here. He said that unless there is an inner understanding about yama and niyama, to impose the moral code they imply simply will not work. What we may be witnessing in these dark recent months in our national history is the truth of that statement. It might have to be understood in the gut that “all people are created equal” and that also is a radically deep metaphor.

The moment in class where Prashant mentioned that if we continue to impose our will, our obsession with “hard work”, our obsession with always doing and never reflecting, our ability to reflect (and therefore, I suspect, our ability to be truly conscientious) can be lost forever. He stressed that point mightily, so mightily that he nearly brought me to tears. I pray that many of us watching the nightmare in our country unfold can find some “reflectivity” and “receptivity” so that we can clear our minds, “defecate from our brains”. Only if this can be done, it seems to me, will we be able to move on beyond the recent giant steps backwards that our nation has taken. Public discourse, in my opinion, has plummeted to a level lower than which it might not be able to go. It is because of this very fact that I welcome a month of study because I’ve made a conscious choice to combine it with a total news “fast.”

At this point in time, I remain committed to practicing and teaching yoga because it is such a useful path for recognizing and acting from “truth” rather than from some preconceived notion of where we/one “should” be. We are in deep, dangerous waters. Why not use every means possible to find safe harbor?

Other ideas surfaced in this morning’s session—how karma can be formed in the mind, by speech and by the body, for example. Prashant pointed out with a smile that as yogis we are potentially able to REDUCE our karmic debt, not increase it. One of the many miraculous aspects of the breath is that by observing it, feeling it, working with it in asana and meditation practice, we do not become part of the legions of “DOERS” of yoga. We get what he called a “waiver” from the activities that might otherwise add to karma. I am hopeful that Prashant-ji will expand these ideas during his classes all month long.

I’m just talking about how it feels to have to tell people here that I am from the United States (shameful) and how much yoga can help us and has helped me see more clearly. I would not trade these decades of coming to study here for all the gold in Solomon’s mines.


  1. Thank you Peggy. I too feel embarrassed to be an American right now. So grateful we have Yoga! 🙏🏻

  2. Thank you for your thoughts Peggy. As someone who travels the world most of the year, I can say that I too feel shame about America-about being an American at times. I would add though, that the extreme nationalistic fascistic, authoritarian tendencies along with the fear of the 'other' and the behavior that accompanies such fears is a global issue. India included. This is a human problem. History has taught us that. It is complex and requires intrapersonal and interpersonal work. And participation. And yes-activism. Thank you for your Blog. LOVE the title.

  3. Thank you Peggy for sharing about Prashant ji's teachings. Look forward to hearing more from you.

  4. Thank you for sharing please share more as it gives a bit of fresh air during this insanity class