As a lifelong journalist and a more recent arrival into the compassionate philosophical arms of Yoga, I wish to share a deep concern about this troubling time in the world. And how I connect my life as a Yogi to troubling current events. For in truth we all are connected.
Every real Yogi lives a conscious life of kindness and service. The first posted signs I noticed after arriving in Yogaville six years ago offered these guiding principles: “Be good. Do good. Love all. Serve all.”
While there are whole libraries filled with Yogic teachings, the above eight words turn out to be the keys to a happy life that sustains not just one person but their entire community. I came to understand those eight words as inspired, even magical in their simplicity and their power to help create lives of contentment.
None of that gentle magic is accessible to people who are lost in fear and rage. Sadly, their numbers are growing in the US and among our allies. Fear of the “other,” is being wielded online and in person by demagogues of every stripe with clear consequences.
In Germany (February 2020), one angry right wing extremist with a legally purchased gun murdered nine innocent people who did not look like him. Also recently (January 2020), the much-awaited attempt to pass an assault weapons gun ban in Virginia failed after some members of the state legislature were intimidated by opponents of the gun ban who had made their armed presence known in Richmond for weeks. Not all gun owners who demonstrated near the State Capitol were vicious white nationalists plotting a secret race war rebellion. But enough of them identified with white supremacist ideology to have real law enforcement worried and ready to pounce—to prevent a horror like in Germany. Or even worse.
Some days the best we can do is to stay awake and in our hearts. We never know how much that might help. The great teacher of Integral Yoga, Sri Swami Satchidananda said, “If you want a more peaceful world, start with yourself.” Indeed. We do have dominion over our own words and actions. And if we get those right, we might help pave the way to peace. That’s our path. I walk it with gratitude, with the understanding that the only thing I may be able to change for the better is me—no matter how much I may yearn to help heal the world in this challenging time.
About the Author: Jeff Ananda Kamen
Award-winning journalist Jeff Kamen is the author of Warrior Pups: True Stories of America’s K9 Heroes and co-author with Robert Kupperman of Final Warning: Averting Disaster in the New Age of Terrorism. His New York Daily News Magazine cover story, “Facing the Terrorists,” provided readers with extraordinary access to the NYPD’s storied Bomb Squad. His news reporting and documentaries on national security, law enforcement, race relations, and politics have been featured on radio TV and in print for more than forty years. Kamen has reported for NPR, NBC News, ABC and CBS Radio, CBC and Mutual News. Jeff’s documentary, “Outside the Wire,” for the Air Force won the top prize for Pentagon-produced films in 2005. Watch Kamen’s 1973 documentary, “Yoga for the City,” featuring Sri Swami Satchidananda here.