In a post I made a little while ago about why there are so many “new yoga styles” today, I said that ignorance is the main reason. Well, let me tell you, this little statement seems to have set off a bit of a firestorm. Not here on my Blog where I originally posted the article, but on another Blog where I reiterated that comment.
The word “ignorance,” out there in the big bad world, is sure a flashpoint for intense emotional reaction. But if we think about it, why should it be? After all, ignorance does not mean that you’re crude, or that you are dim-witted, or that you are stupid. It simply means that you are operating on assumptions that are not entirely true. It means that you have not yet come to understand the full extent of the thing that you think you know so well. It means that you are not fully aware of your own unawareness.
In other words, it means that you are HUMAN!
Yoga teaches us that ignorance, or avidya, is part and parcel of the human state of being. The fact that we are here, now, in this form, means that we have yet to possess all the pieces of the puzzle, which is really why we are here in the first place … to learn, to deepen our understanding and to ultimately outgrow this worldly state altogether.
Avidya literally means “non-knowledge.” On one hand, it can mean incorrect knowledge, which is probably the most common form of avidya … thinking that we know something, but getting it wrong because we haven’t yet learned all that we need to know about the subject to really understand it fully.
It can also mean incorrect perception, just like the man who mistook the rope for a snake, or the mistaking of a car backfiring for the sound of a gun. Those types of things demonstrate to us that a lot of our reactions and our beliefs are triggered at a subconscious level, from our deep-seated conditioned ideas about things, which may or may not even be true.
Yoga also teaches us that we do have to potential to overcome ignorance through deep, inner study of ourselves. It teaches us that we have the potential to rise above the assumptions that we have been basing our beliefs upon, and to gain a much deeper understanding of everything that we know and do.
… But yoga also reminds us that this is not a hasty process. It takes time, and above all else, a willingness to let go of a lot of our assumptions and a willingness to admit to ourselves that we may not know quite as much as we think we do.
We don’t have to be embarrassed about our ignorance, after all it is all just part of what it means to be human. But what we do need to be ever-mindful of is leading others down the road of our own ignorance, which is why guidance from someone who has greater clarity than we do is an essential part of the growth process. Without it, we run a great risk of simply continuing to further delude ourselves with our own misconceptions and misinterpretations, mistaking them once again for real knowledge and understanding, and maybe even influencing other with it as well.
So the next time you hear me suggest that you are ignorant, please don’t get offended. I’m not saying that you are a bad person … I’m only reminding you that you are human!
… and perhaps more so, that you don’t have to be!
READ THE ORIGINAL POST that got some folks up in arms … “Why Are There So Many Yoga Styles Today?”
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