Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Instant Coffee for an Instant World

 My sister sent me a link to last week’s sermon by a Catholic priest.  It was entitled “Coffee, Karate and Christmas”.  The sermon was about how Starbucks is now selling Instant Coffee - so you can drink it as soon as you want it.  He contrasted that with the movie Karate Kid where the character played by Ralph Macchio (I only watched the original) was made to do mundane chores instead of practicing Karate.  It turned out that these chores laid the foundation for the karate moves that he was going to learn.  Plus, the Master was trying to teach him that Karate is more than just fighting.  It’s about discipline, perserverance, mercy and self-control.  There is no such thing as instant Karate.

The priest used this analogy to introduce the season of Advent (the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas Day) and how Christmas was more Karate, versus Coffee.   For Christians, it is more than the lights, present, trees covered in tinsel and the sounds of carols which have sprung up overnight – the message of Christmas goes deeper than that.

Reading his sermon got me thinking about how many people today are taking the Coffee versus Karate route towards Yoga.  In our modern world where we get instant information via the internet and instant messages via SMS, we forget that the path of Yoga (like learning Karate) takes time, discipline and dedication.

The physical asanas are not easy.  It takes time to open up tight areas in our bodies, building up flexibility, stamina and strength.  Many also overlook the less visible aspects - developing the Breath (which is the key to a Calm, Focused Mind) and Yoga Philosophy which also teaches one how to behave towards oneself and others.  There are people who can do the physical practice easily but are they true Yoga practitioners if their thoughts are fractured or they treat others with dis-respect?  Does being a good practitioner necessarily mean that you will make a good teacher?

Yoga students used to devote themselves to their practice and One Teacher their entire life.  They used to remain students for a long-time before becoming teachers themselves. Today, Yoga is becoming more mainstream, but alas, also more commercial.  Many fusion forms of Yoga are appearing and Teacher Training Courses are becoming very common.  Sometimes I think that we all want to run before we can even walk.

It is hard to deny that with today’s technology, we live in a world where we can easily get instant gratification.  This is not necessarily bad but we have to remember that some things require time and the journey plus the lessons learnt traversing it is often more important than the destination.

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