Mark Knowles

This may upset you.  Or you may have never heard of any of this before.  You may not believe any of this.  You may not like any of this.


There is a story in India about how they catch monkeys.  It seems they would take a coconut, cut a small hole in it and nail it to a tree, with the hole pointing out, parallel to the earth.  Inside it they would put a tasty treat.  A monkey comes along, sees the nice delight and sticks his hand inside, closing his fist around the morsel.  The hole is large enough only for the hand, not the closed fist, the monkey is trapped!!  He’ll remain there for days perhaps thoroughly baffled as to how he’s not able to have both this treat and his freedom.  Soon some trappers will come along, release the coconut from the tree and take our simian friend off to be sold into a circus or some other such fate.

See something here?  Sound like you?  Well it is, it’s all of us.  This idea of enlightenment we’ve been sold sounds great.  But can someone tell me exactly how tree pose will lead me to enlightenment?  And better yet, show me someone who it has worked for.  Come on, any idiot in a white coat can sell this acne cream, where are those 9 out of ten dentists, and why do lawyers use paid actors dressed up as lawyers to tell us we need them.

Ya want to know why.  They’re selling us something.  Yoga classes, books, prayer beads, peace of mind, all this stuff to lead us to non-attachment!

 ”Take it off the mat” they say.  Take what off the mat?  Exactly what?  And why?  And where did I get this, did I not have it before?  And where am I going to keep it in these little tight yoga shorts?

The minute we decide to take something off the mat (I’ll say apply a “Spiritual Concept”) we invest an interest in it, we have an expectation of the outcome an ATTACHMENT.  Practice, let things play themselves through without orchestrating every little aspect.  Quit TRYING to be enlightened, you’ll miss it when it happens.

We have an amazing knack of accessorizing the practice of Yoga.

Not too long ago I was subbing a class for another teacher.  A student came barging up to me and demanded, “Where’s—–, is she not teaching this class?”  “No”, I said.  She stormed out.

I stayed, taught the class and got paid.  I don’t know what she did, I know I didn’t suffer any.

Do you want to know how addicted you are to your attachments?  Use the other hand for a day, brush your teeth in the opposite direction, put your keys in the opposite pocket. 

I taught a class recently to illustrate this point.  I had the students, many of them dedicated regulars, switch sides of the room, and then switch rows!!  There was definitely some tension.  But, many of them almost immediately recognized the purpose of the exercise (remember, they are dedicated regulars) and laughed at their own discomfort.  I was ecstatic.  I encourage everyone to try this, it can change your life.

We have an amazing knack of turning a liberating practice into a binding one.

Yoga teaches that without practicing non-harming (अहिंसा ahiṁsā) realizing the goal of Yoga (samādhi समाधि) is much more difficult.  Notice I didn’t say “Jivamukti” or “Anusara” or some other style?  It’s because the idea is a fundamental and universal one, not particular to a certain style.  It’s expounded upon, made into sutra, verse, chapter, story, allegory, and even the qualities of God Himself are associated with it, it forms the BASIS of Yoga fundamentals and yet…. Don’t like it?  Shop around, you’ll find a teacher/class that will re-enforce your attachment.  A good example is if a student says “What about this vegetarian thing?”, the teacher may say “Well, I think it’s a personal decision, so I don’t teach it.”

Go to a driving instructor and see if when asked about the need to use a turn indicator they say the same.  When you put two of us together with our attachments-LOOK OUT!! 

We have an amazing knack of re-enforcing and justifying our attachments.

Darwin tells us we’re evolved from primates.

I think that may be true, bigger bodies and brains-more advanced thought capacity.  Bigger more complex attachments.

If our simian friend had it to do again from a different perspective, do you think that little scrap of food is worth more to him than his freedom, he had alot of time to think about it while he stood there.  All he had to do was let go, though.  Not analyze the hell out of it.

We have an amazing knack of complicating simple matters.

लोकः समस्तः सुखिनो भवन्तुः

lokaḥ samastaḥ sukhino bhavantuḥ

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