Informal Poll

And I really mean I’m not even going to tally the answers that I may (probably may not) get to the following question. How many of you naturally believed the saying that if you came across yoga during this existence, you probably had done yoga in a previous life? If you have never heard of such a thing, I suggest that you ask or google around for the origin of that saying. I for one went the “but of course” route as soon as I read/heard (can’t remember which) it. I am thinking that having a position on this would solve so many of the perennial differences about such things as: Which style is authentic yoga? Who is a serious yogi? Is yoga elitist? Am I doing it right? Should I quit? I think every life experience that we perceive as priceless is therefore precious. A Buddhist teacher once told me that being born into human form was such a rare occurrence as that of an underwater sea turtle’s head surfacing inside the hole of an only ring that has been floating in the ocean’s currents. I immediately assumed I had won the yoga lotto by being able to huff and puff my way through learning the Ashtanga yoga sequence even with both my Kapha disposition and my cultural baggage of perceiving all hardship as a mistake/failure in finding the best solution, working against me. I thought about this during today’s morning practice: How lucky are we in this room, to give this a shot every day.

2:37 PM Update: I found this in AYNY’s Blog-

“Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) was fond of quoting the Bhagavad Gita, wherein Krishna proclaims that only by its practice in a previous life will an individual come to the practice of Yoga in this life—and come to it as if pulled against his or her own will by a magnet.”

12 thoughts on “Informal Poll

  1. My initial reaction to that saying was “yea right”. Over time, it became “hmm, maybe there’s some truth to this”. Right now, I’m pretty much convinced that I was a hippie in a previous life so no need to ask me what I think of that saying 😉 We are indeed lucky to be here, now, to make our lives count.

    PS: I love your latest profile pic (FB) by the way. You look strong, fearless and beautiful!

    • Aw D, thank you. I just had a great weekend with lots of good news and I wanted to take a pic while it was fresh in my feelings. I guess you don’t need a shower to look pleased!

  2. ‘me’ and ‘previous life’, nope couldn’t go there. However I am amused (and quite delighted actually)with the idea that once you begin on the path of yoga you supposedly pick up in the next life where you left off. Makes me feel a little better on the days where I feel I’m getting nowhere or going backwards somewhat ( not so much in asana by with Yoga in general).

    • Exactly. This belief, as we say in Spanish: No tiene lado malo (has no bad side). I retain very little of long explanations (as you can tell by the size of my blog entries) and I even try tho paraphrase the short ones! One thing that has stuck with me is the idea that we are all recycled atoms. That makes it easier for me to buy into it.

  3. Like D, I am also in the “hmm, maybe there’s some truth to this camp”. Like Grimmly, I also am amused with the idea that I am picking where Ieft off the last time around.

    But here’s a little quandary: If my coming across yoga in this lifetime is the result of my having encountered it in the previous one, doesn’t this mean that there was never a first lifetime in which I first encountered yoga, because for me to have encountered yoga in that “first lifetime”, I would have had to have encountered yoga in a lifetime prior to that?

    And if there is no such thing as a first lifetime, doesn’t this mean that people who have yet to encounter yoga today will never come to encounter it?

    Sorry to bore you with my random ramblings. But I’m just thinking aloud, as always.

    • Is there any other way to think? It is always loud inside my head. I’m quoting one of my former 2nd graders there. I used to tell those second graders that not everybody learns to tie their own shoelaces (a big deal when you are 6 or 7) on a Wednesday, at exactly 9:45 in the morning. Everybody learns on a different weekday and at a different time of day. My guess is that yoga might not appear in your first “rodeo” necessarily (and as a human! let’s throw that in too) but all life forms have been making this commute for so long that maybe those of us that chose yoga as the path to self knowledge, have been at it for awhile. I’m just willing to belief that yoga did appear in a previous “episode”. I’m perfectly fine with not everybody knowing yoga or not encountering it. There are many ways to have an adventure. Ours is not the best or the only one.

  4. Ahhh, wouldn’t it be nice?! But, I don’t quite believe in what strikes me as the “wishful thinking” of having lived past lives – which goes hand in hand with the hope of living again, in form, with the opportunity to get it right the next time(s) if you mess up this time around. I don’t believe my individuated separate soul has been jumping from form to form through eternity, with the carrot/stick of karma predisposing me to a future form in punishment or reward for my acts in this life or in past lives.

    I think the universe works a bit more simply and elegantly than that.

    No, just this one life is it for me; although I do firmly believe my “soul” is eternal. I like the idea of “recycled atoms” too, Maria – recycling the energy. Consider Einstein’s “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.” Which means our energy has always been here, and will always be here, to be used again and again, endlessly throughout eternity, never decaying, never dying. That seems more meaningful to me.

    Perhaps there is a resonance, a vibration, of energy in me that once experienced ujayi breath or sat in meditation, sometime in the past millennia, since my energy has always existed. If so, does that make me tend towards practicing Yoga in this form? Perhaps!

    • Beautifully put Michelle. My reason for asking this question was to sort of disarm the frequent controversies about how and who is doing a good job at transmitting yogic knowledge, and how and who is trivializing the traditions of yoga. It seems to me that if you had the good fortune of desiring knowledge about yoga, you will find information which your intellect/intuition will sort out as true or false, which is really the function of learning.

      • One of my favorite stories is about talking to a Tibetan lama who came to visit our zendo for a few months. We got to chatting and I couldn’t resist asking him if he thought that teachings on reincarnation were literal or metaphorical. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “What difference does it make, Karen?”

        I still laugh when I think about it. It really doesn’t matter what I believe.

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