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Santosa to you in the New Year

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Lest we take lightly the requirement that we practice “santosa” (contentment) as serious yoginis and yogis in the new year, let me start this post with a quote from Vandana Shiva to buoy us up in the new year:

Vandana Shiva

“[How do I do it?] Well, it’s always a mystery, because you don’t know why you get depleted or recharged. But this much I know. I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation. I believe that if you just do your little bit without thinking of the bigness of what you stand against, if you turn to the enlargement of your own capacities, just that itself creates new potential. And I’ve learned from the Bhagavad-Gita and other teachings of our culture to detach myself from the results of what I do, because those are not in my hands. The context is not in your control, but your commitment is yours to make, and you can make the deepest commitment with a total detachment about where it will take you. You want it to lead to a better world, and you shape your actions and take full responsibility for them, but then you have detachment. And that combination of deep passion and deep detachment allows me to take on the next challenge, because I don’t cripple myself, I don’t tie myself in knots. I function like a free being. I think getting that freedom is a social duty because I think we owe it to each not to burden each other with prescription and demands. I think what we owe each other is a celebration of life and to replace fear and hopelessness with fearlessness and joy.”
― Vandana Shiva
And who is Vandana Shiva, you might well ask. An Indian activist who has stood by dispirited, embittered and impoverished Indian farmers (some of them depressed to the point of later suicide), while they protested the terminator seed technology that allows Monsanto to sell them seed for their crops that won’t bear seed again. An essayist about the genetic modification technology that allows scientists to make commercial seed “round up ready” so that Monsanto can not only sell unsuspecting farmers their terminator seed, but also their noxious pesticide. Evil genius at work, you might say, and I would agree. How better to completely snuff out nature’s “natural” generosity and liberal conservativeness, in her usual making of thousands of seeds for every plant that grows–just in case. How  better to milk the poor farmer, who for generations had been saving seed from this year’s crop for next year.
Since 2001 when “Patents: Myths and Reality” was published, Shiva has published on the topic of the privatization of water ways (“Water Wars”), globalization (“Earth Democracy”), the stranglehold that big oil has on the planet (“Soil not Oil”) and feminism (“Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development”). She is a leader in the International Forum on Globalization and in the slow food movement. She is a great light for us all.
We have local lights, too. Sister Vimala (Candace Boheme) of Bastrop has for over a decade maintained a website with all the information you could want to read on the topic of genetically modified organisms (saynotogmos.org). Currently, she is also maintaining a website on the proposed airport for the Bastrop area (stopcta.info). A better, more well trained activist than  Sister V. would be hard to find. If you have an interest in either of these issues, there are links on both sites.
The statistics are not out yet, but I’m guessing that though the vast majority of us don’t have money to be spending too much on gifts this holiday season, most of us won’t stint on good food. In  a way, this is a good and intelligent strategy. But I think our canny Texas (and international, by the way) grocers, have hit a nerve in the psyche of general public by bringing us organic and local food. This will be the last place where we will scrimp because we do not want to sacrifice our health.
So yes, of course, santosa or contentment comes from a full belly and a kitchen larder and fridge/freezer well stocked (and for the truly thrifty and earth-minded among us, a garden well-tended), BUT there is more to life than this, my friends!
If we stand idly by while HUGE injustices are done, not only to the earth, but to our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and sons and daughters, what kind of yogis ARE we? We are free this year to speak up on whatever issue we feel passionately about. Here are some ideas I’ll be choosing from:
  • Checking on the City of Austin website weekly to see what issues area on the agenda for the city council meeting on Thursday night I might like to address by attending
  • Joining the local Chapter of the Sierra Club, and or attending meetings if I am already a member
  • Finding a local group that works with the: homeless, hungry, or ill citizens of our city and volunteering with them
  • Educating myself about where my elected representatives stand on issues important to me (immigration reform, tax code reform, campaign finance reform, health care reform) and see where my views differ from theirs. Then consider backing an opposing representative if someone comes forward who more completely supports my views
  • Engaging my friends in respectful dialogue about issues that concern us all
  • Thinking through the Occupy Austin movement agenda and seeing if there is any way I could add to the better focus of that agenda
  • Helping the nonprofit Austin Yoga Institute focus group clarify their actions and recommendations by attending the meeting on Tuesday, January 24, place and time TBA.
Let’s turn to the “enlargement of our capacities” and “function like free beings”. We have so much potential to lend our voice to the world. I find contentment that people get reminded in my classes that the yoga path is much more than a path to a fitter body! If you are interested in enlarging this conversation, let me know. Eventually it might be useful to have a seasonal or monthly “engaged yogi” meeting to see how we are doing.
For now, my contented wishes to you for contentment in the New Year.

Written by algarita

December 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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