Showing posts with label Society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Society. Show all posts

Sweet Shop Of The Spirit

 


The ability to inquire as to why? may be a beautiful feeling of liberation. 


It's like to letting a tiny child wild at a candy store, but there are clear consequences. 

Overindulgence at the sweet counter may make us feel really unwell, and being spoiled for spiritual options can have its own set of risks. 

The query "why?" may not yield the results you desire, so where do you go from there? 

You can be perplexed by competing moral or ethical norms. 

For example, numerous celebrities who profess to follow Buddhism are homosexuals; the Dalai Lama has said explicitly that homosexuality is incompatible with Buddhist practice. 


Many of these issues arise from the hundreds of mind, body, and spirit books now on the market that are solely focused on spiritual approaches. 


The seeker approaches the instructor with a working grasp of the language but little understanding of the truth of the faith they claim to be studying. 

Many people approach with a checklist that informs them how much dedication they can get away with. 

This is one of the reasons why many neo-pagan faiths appeal to spiritual nomads: there seems to be few regulations in the public realm to clog up the process. 


When people are not taught what they want to hear, or when reality does not match the newest New Age book, they will seek for something more approachable. 


For example, you may buy a dozen books about tantric sex with the most vivid graphics, but few (if any) would explain why comprehending what is perhaps India's oldest religion is so important. 

Neopaganism is more closely related to Christianity and the 1960s flower child movement than it is to the indigenous traditions from which it claims descent. 

Mel, an esoteric guru, says, "People will always tell you what they anticipate from a spiritual path." 

After reading a few books and deciding this is what they want, many are taken aback when they discover entrance isn't handed to them on a silver platter. 


Before becoming a chief in most real esoteric systems, you must study for three to seven years. 

After all, you wouldn't expect to convert to the Jewish faith without much study, so why do people believe that any other road or tradition will be any easier?'


You may also want to read more about Spirituality here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.



The Holistic Truth



Everyone notable is espousing the merits of a newly chosen holistic approach to life, health, and beauty that promotes inner and outward harmony. 


Most, one assumes, are simply hopping on the PR bandwagon in order to appear more fascinating, "spiritual," and wealthy! 

As previously said, nothing prevents anybody from incorporating the insights or practices of other traditions as long as they are done in a way that does not diminish the spiritual worth or compromise religious/spiritual purity. 


However, whenever substantial expenses are associated with spiritual activity, we must maintain a significant degree of skepticism. Is it possible for such actions to make individuals more spiritual?


In a nutshell, the answer is no. 

To begin, we must recognize that studying these techniques is not immoral, but that they are just self-centered physical exercises. 

They aren't spiritual or religious in any way. Most are offshoots of many Eastern forms of mysticism, and if they lead to a healthier, calmer outlook, they should not be dismissed. 


However, no matter how many Qabalah parties we attend, we will not be able to develop the spiritual half of our nature unless we engage in long-term mental training and discipline. 


We know how to do a simple chakra exercise, meditation, aromatherapy, and relaxation methods, but they are just a small portion of the discipline necessary to discover our spiritual nature. 

We could even realize that we have a special skill for one of them, which motivates us to help others, but without the private, inner discipline and dedication, we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking it's part of our spiritual search. 


Be truthful to yourself and write down your responses in your journal: 


What do you hope to get out of any changes? 

What do you believe the outcome of your adventure will be? 

Why do you feel compelled to make a change? 

When did you make the decision to change things? 

What strategy will you use to complete your mission? 


Our holistic approach to assisting you on your path ensures that you do not seek to construct a spiritual illusion on shaky ground. 

You'll be wallpapering over the cracks until you know why you need to look into different options in the first place. 

All of the questions we've asked and the answers you've given should have provided a clear picture of the underlying issues that are causing your discontent with your current situation. It's time to start distinguishing between spiritual hunger and religious commitment.


You may also want to read more about Spirituality here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.



The Goats From The Sheep? Mammal...



Although spiritual counseling or teaching from a friendly priest or mentor may be extremely valuable, it is an unavoidable truth that all faiths have bad priests. 

If you and your priest are at odds because you or a member of your family have broken the rules, you must honestly assess whether the fault lies with the priest or with yourself. 

It doesn't make him a terrible or terrible priest just because he won't give in to your begs or pleadings. If, on the other hand, he dismisses your request without explanation or discussion, you are free to take your ‘custom' elsewhere. 

After all, the clergy is just human, and the ego may inflate a person's feeling of self-importance to absurd levels. 

A local wedding was on the verge of being canceled when the female vicar objected to the bride's desire that the words "to obey" remain in the wedding ritual. 

After several weeks of heated fighting, the vicar eventually conceded defeat and went about his business. Bullying and blackmail are frequently associated with the fabric. 

In other words, refusing to accept theology without explanation is considered a sin, and the sinner faces expulsion from the church. 

The worst documented incidents frequently stem from monotheistic fundamentalists who oppose any sort of democracy, religious tolerance, free speech, or separation of church and state. 

Fundamentalism, on the other hand, is not limited to the ‘big three' (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam); it may even be found in the more passive Eastern faiths of Buddhism and Hinduism. 

Members of the group are barred from mixing with ‘outsiders,' whom they see as inferior and/or dirty. In this case, anyone seeking to quit the group will be more afraid of the priesthood than of God's wrath.


You may also want to read more about Spirituality here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.



The Soul's Mirror



A priest serves as a communal conscience. 

If one is required. They remind us that if our contracts with our deities are to be honored and preserved, we have specific duties as individuals and as a collective of whatever size. 

Should we wander too far from recognizing that our souls are assessed by our finest achievements rather than the depths to which we may go in our specific tradition? 

A priest might remind us that it is the purpose for an action – not the deed itself – that our souls are evaluated against. 

A "good" action, for example, might be carried out for the wrong motives - selfishness, manipulation, and so on. 

A priest or priestess is essentially a servant of the god to whom they are sworn. This implies that what is communicated to members of that faith or tradition may not always be popular — we all resent constraints, especially if they serve as a reminder that we are not up to par. 

We should try to listen to the message rather than shooting the messenger merely because we don't agree with what they're saying. 

If we are unwilling to listen to a religious priest, it may be a good idea to consider why we are shutting our ears and thoughts to them; perhaps our own hubris tells us that we know more about our lives than they do. 

However, like a mirror, they may be able to see something that we cannot. We don't smash a mirror just because it reveals our grey hairs! We either learn to live with them, color them, or remove them - in other words, we deal with the problem, good or bad. 

The priesthood is also the servant of people for whom they assume responsibility - whether it be a parish, a coven, a grove, or a hearth. 

They are, however, simply servants of that organization as long as it keeps its end of the contract with the deity it purports to worship. 

This isn't something that can be negotiated. 


Why should the priest reject their God's desires in order to pander to the contract defaulter if the god has indicated a preference for a specific form of behavior and that wish is continuously and purposefully ignored? 

So, what is the priesthood's function? 


In short, a priest serves as a mirror to the soul, as a facilitator and conductor of particular rites of passage, and as a piton in climbing, ensuring that any fall is limited to the distance between the piton and the ground. arating as a rib prod to remind us to speak out and ask for an explanation, or a tap on the skull to remind us to think for ourselves. 

While we are concerned with physical and material issues, as a mentor and (in the Celtic language, anam chara), a soul-friend. Or, to put it another way, a help-meet. We all need a sounding board now and then, but none more so than when we're going through a spiritual crisis. 


Is there somebody you can talk to about spiritual matters? 

Is it tough for you to talk about your spirituality? 

Do you feel vulnerable and alone due to a lack of personal support? 


Doubts and periodic lapses of faith are more widespread than the priests would like to acknowledge, as we've already covered. 

For fear of the doubts spreading to the rest of the flock, the wandering lamb is frequently sent out, and the 'doubting Thomas' is made to feel as if they've performed some terrible act of faith. 

In actuality, Thomas was the sole disciple who wanted proof rather than accepting Jesus' return on the basis of faith.


You may also want to read more about Spirituality here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.



Soul Studies And Guides




People have come to assume that the priesthood is nothing more than a self-proclaimed channel via which they are supposed to speak with deity through time. 

It's also true that several priests from numerous global faiths and traditions have advocated for this position. They've done very little to dispel myths and even less to inspire people to explore their spirituality inside the faith. 

At the absolute least, a ‘good' priest or priestess - one who is skilled in their duty – is a sheet of paper on which we sketch down how we wish to approach our deity. 

This isn't to say that the priesthood makes decisions for us or tells us what we can and can't do. Rather, they provide a mirror or sounding board for us to view our own mental processes and behavior via their talents and questions. We know what we're attempting to express as people, yet what we say may not be what others hear. 

A priest should be a "debating or study companion," or if you choose, a "co-counsellor." 

They and we are both studying and investigating the subject of'soul studies,' and though they may express their knowledge of the issue at that time (based on their own and second-hand knowledge of other people's experiences), it is not within their capacity to provide an answer. 


There isn't always a single, constant response to a question. 

We can only give each other "an" answer at most, which may be enough till we can go deeper into the spiritual worlds. A skilled priest will not avoid difficult questions with clichés like "It's God's will," "You don't need to question, just believe," or any of the other evasions. 

If they do, it shows that they are spiritually immature. 

A good priest will acknowledge to their own ignorance, doubts, and even loss of faith — as well as how they re-found it. 

Failures, not achievements, the tools we used to find our path, the mistakes we made, and what we gained from them are the most significant gifts we can give to each other.


You may also want to read more about Spirituality here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.



The Start Of Anything New



Do you recall how, as a youngster, you used to drive your parents crazy by constantly asking why? 


To adopt a Joblike mentality, we must quietly take all that life (or our gods) throws at us. 


Instead of asking God the "grail inquiry," 

"What does this mean?" 


Job sat mute and dumb, learning nothing until even Jehovah lost his cool and gave up. 

In Arthurian tales, the equivalent is apparent when the dumb knight fails to ask the why? inquiry. 


The actual meaning of sangraal, or the hunt for the grail, is the pursuit of knowledge. 


Those who embark on this trip are each searching for their own personal "holy grail," which will lead them to their spiritual destiny. 


Whatever road we take, we must have some type of guidance, which commonly comes in the shape of a priest/ess or guru on a spiritual level. 


Some people will believe they can handle it all on their own and that they don't need somebody to arbitrate between them and God. 

Of course, you don't need anyone – but how can anybody investigate a religious path or tradition if they aren't sure what it comprises or how long it will take? 


This is the kind of knowledge that cannot be discovered in books, particularly those that praise the benefits of dealing with angels and nature spirits. 

One student grew more irritated as he sensed a lack of tolerance for New Ageism, especially in the publishing industry. As he correctly pointed out, there is an exotic, watered-down, popularist version of every new "fad" that appears, bombarding the novice with a high proportion of shallow and erroneous information. 

Many of the books do include suggested reading lists and bibliographies that a serious reader may delve into further to have a better grasp of the subject, but in fact, few people care to do so. 


The result is that people with only a rudimentary grasp of esoteric tactics form groups, publish magazines, create books that are plagiarized from others on the shelves, and generally attract media attention. 

Because everyone was pursuing the same objective, our student believed that there should be a balance and harmony between traditionalists and New Agers. 

He can't wrap his brain around the idea that many traditionalists studied for at least seven years to achieve their positions, but many New Age adherents have simply read a professionally produced book. 


Consider how much time and effort you're willing to put into your quest: would you prefer to study entirely through books? 

Would you consider a priest's or a priestess' involvement to constitute interfering? Do you prefer one-on-one instruction? 



Since we grow familiar with the "jargon," sound book learning is always a good foundation on which to build, but it seldom substitutes for the genuine cut and thrust of an active spiritual journey.

In esoteric circles, there's an ancient proverb that says we'll find our next teacher when we're ready to absorb the wisdom they're prepared to give us. 


You may also want to read more about Spirituality here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.





Freedom Of Mind And Spirit.



An individual must strike a balance between ethics and morality. 


Morals are the expectations we have for each other as a social community. 

Ethics refers to what we tolerate in ourselves and/or each other as persons. 

There might be a significant difference in either way, since one person's ethics may be more strict than the morals of that community - or vice versa. 

Many faiths, both ancient and modern, have been used to control large groups of people, particularly when communication and access to outside influences are restricted. 


People in most societies are now considerably more willing (and legally competent) to change their religion, just like they would their car's transmission if it broke down. 


As a result, several religious organizations have had to reconsider how they communicate with and interact to their followers. 

They can no longer impose one set of ideas on a whole society without provoking negative reactions. 

If individuals cannot find the peace that their souls, minds, and bodies yearn for inside their own ‘family' religion, they will, no matter how painfully, abandon their faith and seek it elsewhere. 

People will seek for faiths, sects, and cults that pretend to accept them as they are now for that "feel good religiosity." 

They will frequently seek faiths that do not evaluate them as persons, but rather as humans with issues. 


The focus has shifted from: 


'I am a sinner seeking to achieve perfection' – implication: 'I'll never get there – it's impossible' 

to: 

'I am a perfect soul plagued by sin' – implication: 'I was there – I am now "fallen" – I can return'. 



Those who have been banned or banned from religious community will undoubtedly find this new method appealing. 

Those on a spiritual path should now be able to look at these difficulties through the lens of mental and spiritual liberation. 

Because we are no longer cognitively constrained by dogma, we can see that the priesthood does not need to offer a hotline to our chosen deity. 



Do you feel at odds with your own faith's teachings at this point in your spiritual journey? 

Interested in something less dogmatic and more personal?

That you'd want to learn more about inside your own religion? 



Exploring Spirituality isn't about switching to anything new. 


It's about reconnecting with the old whenever feasible and learning more about the mysterious forces that make you rethink whatever you think isn't meeting your spiritual needs. 

No one should judge you if you desire to pursue your faith on a deeper intellectual or spiritual level than the weekly service provides.


You may also want to read more about Spirituality here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.




Our Ego-Centric Society



The Ego-Centric Society is a term used to describe a society that is centered on itself, and its relationship with itself being the center of existence.

These sentiments reflect the shift from a socio-centric to an ego-centric culture, in which religion has become less important (church, temple, etc.) is considered as a handy pseudo-spiritual watering hole for the individual, rather than a group meeting site.

Individualism today requires that traditional religion be customized to the needs of the consumer era, and as a result, people only want to be bothered with religion when it is convenient for them.

When the church, for example, can provide a beautiful backdrop for a pricey family wedding, christening, or burial, the vicar is expected to welcome everyone with open arms, even if regular attendance is not included in the package.

Whether we like it or not, the majority of people live by the philosophy of "what's in it for me?" 

However, if we have spiritual requirements that aren't being addressed, it's not irrational to look for an option that is more intellectually interesting. It does not mean that we need to discover an alternate religion at this point; rather, we need to discover a new perspective. 

Even if our grandparents weren't devout believers, stepping beyond our own religious group would have generated social criticism in their day. It was nearly unheard of for people of various cultures to mix socially in our parents' day, and how many youngsters sleep over at the houses of school-friends of a different race or religion nowadays, in our multicultural society?

If we are compelled to live in an egocentric culture, we should at the very least use it to our spiritual benefit by fostering communication with others who have diverse lifestyles and religions.

Regardless of our specific histories, when we remove the cultural trappings and ways of communicating, we will uncover a rich vein of experience just waiting to be tapped.

Make a list of your own personal feelings towards organized religion.

  • Do you believe that religion should be used to meet people's needs?
  • Should people be encouraged to worship in the ways, places, and times that they see fit?
  • Should cross-cultural religion instruction in schools be mandated?

The essential choice is whether you want to pursue your spiritual search as part of a larger group or whether you want to do it alone and learn from other people's experiences.




You may also want to read more about Spirituality and Healing here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.






Social Cost of COVID-19



COVID-19 has had a major impact on everyday life around the world, in addition to its broad economic consequences. In certain ways, government policies such as social distancing laws, stay-at-home mandates, company lockdowns, and curfews have harmed neighborhood interactions by greatly restricting chances for physical face-to-face contact.

These interventions have had a huge impact on family life, both in terms of growing proximity for those required to share confined spaces during lockdowns and in terms of holding families apart to avoid infection risk.



For example, during the pandemic, one grandmother in California described her experiences with her granddaughter as follows: [My husband and I] were both looking at her, and she was looking at us and embracing a dolly. And they're looking through the window. It was her special day.

And she approached the bottle, put her hand up [to ours], and kissed it, and I kissed it as well. We kissed through the bottle, and it was absolutely heartbreaking... ‘I wish I could hug you, I miss you, and I'm going to give you kisses,' I said. We'd go out into the yard and keep a safe distance. We did a little bit of everything. We only used FaceTime at first.

Then we moved in between the bars, where we could at least see her.

Similarly, a grandmother we spoke with in Italy said, "The pandemic has swept away the spontaneity from natural expressions of affection." During the lockout, there is anxiety, but there is also an urge to embrace grandchildren, girls, and friends. Physical communication has been lost as a result of the pandemic, and people have had to replace it with video calls or tweets, both with family and friends, in an effort to overcome their anxiety.

Many people's relationships with families and friends have been strained as a result of the pandemic. However, increased consistency in time plans, alternative job conditions, and less options for other social events have brought some individuals closer together. Communication systems have also helped to maintain relationships with relatives and friends after the pandemic. Furthermore, social media has played an important role in eliminating alienation for both older and younger people, despite the fact that these platforms have often helped spread rumors and disinformation.


The modern social distancing and travel constraints have often forced romantic relationships and dating to change. For example, some dating apps have changed their usage rules and added new video technology options so that users can continue to engage with others while mitigating risks and adhering to social distancing guidelines. COVID-19 has had an effect on romantic love in general, and has led to increased tension among romantic partners in certain situations, compounding factors that may lead to increased infidelity. During the Stage lockdown, major social gatherings such as weddings had to be cancelled in cities like metropolitan Melbourne, Australia.


Human-nonhuman animal relationships, as well as the social practises that accompany them, have been influenced. For example, statistics indicate that pet owning and adoption has increased significantly, owing to the fact that pets can help people cope with depression and isolation, as well as promote healthy and more active lifestyles. There has also been debate over the pandemic's consequences for specific species. During discussions over future animal welfare problems, the dog racing industry in Victoria, Australia, was exempted from tight Stage lockout controls.

As a result of the pandemic, many households became unable to pay their rent or mortgage fees, putting them at risk of foreclosure and homelessness. This has occasionally resulted in extreme and violent reactions. In other ways, it has exacerbated pre-existing social problems such as heightened domestic violence and other types of harassment. Domestic and family abuse has increased in Brazil, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Cyprus, according to early estimates. Domestic abuse increased within the first two weeks of the stay-at-home order, according to a survey conducted in Dallas, Texas. The pandemic's long-term isolation, tension, and confusion can intensify alcohol and drug consumption. Furthermore, these circumstances will raise the risk of relapse in recovered alcoholics and drug addicts. Online gaming has also grown in popularity.


Due to the need to re-imagine spaces and people's interactions within them in ways that conform with social distancing standards, COVID-19 has also modified social practices in different daily environments. In-person teaching has clear practical problems, such as how to handle students on school campuses. Closures and social distancing practices have been suggested as options. Educational institutions are increasingly relying on online instruction, posing new obstacles.

For example, we met with an Italian schoolteacher who clarified that the move to distance learning had some benefits but also had several drawbacks. For younger students or students with disabilities, the current teaching style was not always appropriate. Furthermore, online education continued to exacerbate the ‘digital gap' between families with varying degrees of access to appropriate home rooms, laptops, and high-speed Internet connectivity. When our school reopened... the classroom was reorganized with single-seat seats... pupils still had to wear surgical masks and could only remove them in ‘static' times, seated at their desks, he said. They were unable to move or transfer materials among themselves... The way teachers interacted has also changed dramatically. The faculty lounge, which could no longer be used due to COVID-19, was where teachers used to congregate. Teachers started to meet in online spaces like Google Meet, particularly to exchange teaching practices, as opportunities for meetings and encounters with colleagues were visibly diminished. However, the opportunity to communicate was severely hampered.


Universities have also had to adapt their courses and curricula to accommodate internet distribution. If this is possible, students will have less chances to engage in off-line social networking, which is critical for job advancement. Furthermore, many universities will not be able to withstand the financial impact of the pandemic.

People's eating and drinking habits have since changed as a result of the pandemic. Restaurants, for example, have had to make a variety of improvements, including redesigning their rooms, accommodating fewer guests in order to adhere to social distancing laws, using smart technologies (e.g., for menus and meal orders), and extending their takeaway and delivery options. Some of them also devised ingenious tactics to maintain social distance between patrons.

Similarly, government restrictions have forced some bars in many locations to close for extended periods of time. Many that have reopened or stayed open have had to rethink how they represent consumers and handle staff-to-customer experiences. Complex laws governing indoor and outdoor areas, as well as food service in relation to the selling of alcohol, influence our decision to attend these places and our encounters there. Menus, salt and pepper shakers, cutlery, and coasters, among other ‘multi-touch' products, are now kept away from customers. One Irish pub in Spain's Canary Islands used humor to convey some of the actual risks involved with social activities in pubs, posting a sign warning customers not to sing Neil Diamond's hit "Sweet Caroline" at all costs. Employees scribbled lyrics on a chalkboard stating that, under COVID-19, "there would be no: holding hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you."

Cafes have also been compelled to adapt creatively to the pandemic, with some selling their inventory as groceries and extending their takeaway and delivery services. Furthermore, the pandemic has weakened the position of cafes as "third spaces" between home and work, critical for socializing and networking in many countries. The pandemic could have long-term consequences for coffee culture all over the world.

Over the pandemic, barbershops and hairdressers have also been at the center of national discussion over lockdown policies, with disagreement about if they are considered "necessary" companies that should be excluded from lockdown constraints. Barbershops have long served as vital meeting spaces for certain ethnic communities, including community building, recreation and entertainment, gossip, and local civic activity, as well as local education programs. They're also beneficial to men's mental health. Similarly, hair salons can act as a "comforting center of self-care and culture" as well as a "vital link between community members and resources such as domestic violence shelters." This is why many consumers objected to government decisions to shut down these companies after the pandemic and, in some circumstances, were successful in overturning them. In one severe situation, an armed paramilitary group assisted in keeping a barbershop open in a small Michigan city.

COVID-19 has had an indirect impact on people's desire to remain well, in addition to its overt impact. Lockdown and social distancing constraints, for example, have altered how people exercise, with online streaming courses and program being a common way for people to interact and participate in gym events. Gyms also also had to deal with stringent health and safety measures, including the implementation of "hygiene marshals," when they haven't been required to close.

COVID-19 has had an indirect impact on people's desire to remain well, in addition to its overt impact. For instance, lock-


Internet video courses and programs have become a common way for people to interact and participate in fitness events, thanks to down and social distancing constraints aimed at reducing its reach. Gyms also also had to deal with stringent health and safety measures, including the implementation of "hygiene marshals," when they haven't been required to close.

Outdoor exercise has become increasingly common, partly as a result of the dangers involved with exercising in confined spaces. However, research shows that overeating and other poor eating habits have risen, posing additional health risks to individuals and the general public.

Other aspects of social life, such as sport and tourism, have been impacted by the pandemic. In order to connect, event-based social networks like Meetup have been pushed to migrate to virtual channels.

According to a new study conducted in Australia, during the pandemic, Meetup activity declined by %. Participants in this study stated that Meetup was one of the key ways by which they were introduced to new, future relationships, and that they were unable to extend their social networks and thereby make new friends due to lockdown steps. COVID-19 also amplified current relationships within Meetup communities, causing close relationships to become stronger and weaker relationships to become weaker. Participants used other social networking services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram to keep in touch during lockdown where their relationships were solid enough, highlighting the relevance of polymedia use.

The way people fly for vacations and tourism has changed as well. Customers and business owners at beach resorts, for example, face unparalleled obstacles such as new social distancing laws, as well as shame and public humiliation for those who do not comply.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on people's desire to visit and enjoy national and local parks, as well as green areas in general.

Taking public transportation now comes with the added requirement of maintaining social distance on crowded buses and subways. Passengers must also take new steps to prevent touching handles and other areas where the virus may spread. To avoid an inevitable return to a car-driven transportation environment, forward-thinking experts would need to build safer mass transportation infrastructure and new transportation innovations.

Touchless pedestrian crossings and crowd simulation technologies to promote social distancing are suggested steps to contain the virus's spread among pedestrians. Uber and other ridesharing providers have had to adjust their business models in response to lower consumer demand. For example, they have prioritized food distribution over taxi service in order to retain drivers employed and alleviate food insecurity. Disruptions to their business model, on the other hand, have had significant social consequences for segments of the community that depend on rideshare transportation services.

COVID-19's wider social implications provide the potential for conflicts to occur between persons and social classes. At the start of the pandemic, social hoarding was especially widespread, with people battling over toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bread, and pasta in stores and supermarkets. Facemask laws have also sparked outbursts of frustration, resulting in the deaths of innocent people and deadly confrontations with law enforcement.

Furthermore, in online spaces, ageism and intergenerational tensions are on the rise, especially between the millennial and baby boomer generations. Infected patients and others who have recovered from the disease, as well as physicians and health professionals, have all been subjected to social stigma. COVID-19 has also fueled xenophobia and bigotry. Hate speech, hate crimes, and racist policies have been particularly prevalent against citizens of Chinese and East Asian descent, Muslims, Jews, and Romani groups. On a global scale, the pandemic has engendered negative views toward countries with high infection rates. According to one report, there was an increase in incivility aimed at China on South Korean social media.


POP YOGA! Yoga in Popular Western Culture

 

Yoga has explicitly entered mainstream culture in the United States. Every few years, Yoga Journal conducts a survey to gauge the importance of yoga. This is self-serving—the paper wants to know if it has a suitable audience—and the survey model is skewed because it stands to profit from the results. Nonetheless, the findings are eye-opening: according to Yoga Journal's 2012 poll, 20.4 million American adults practice yoga, they spend $10.3 billion a year on "yoga lessons and merchandise, including supplies, clothes, holidays, and newspapers," and 44.4 percent of non-practicing Americans are interested in giving it a shot. In my own research into the cultural past of yoga in the United States, I look at how yoga has been marketed as "Eastern" and mystical; as non-Hindu, universal, and scientific; and as a health-promoting activity.

This 150-year process has aided Americans in envisioning yoga as a secular discipline that has been gendered, culturally classified, and socially classified in a specific manner, free of any religious practices or convictions. This categorization entails both buy-in and push-back, and in this segment, I look at three examples of buy-in and push-back, as well as the resulting tensions and dialogues. Examining the popularity of yoga pants, Christian Yoga, and the Hindu American Foundation's (HAF) protests can demonstrate how mass culture and faith intersect to build pockets of unity and tension.


A pair of yoga pants



In the United States, yoga reveals the blurred boundaries between religious and secular practices (and in fact calls into question the many ways in which religion is defined). Yoga is debatable as to whether it belongs to any faith or whether it may be done by all. These issues will be addressed in the second and third sections of this series. But first, I'd like to look at how many of you might have discovered yoga—the cozy yoga pants that many of us wear even though we aren't practicing yoga.

The material and visual exploration of yoga pants reveals how they reify gender, age, and race categories and normativities. In other words, while yoga is not readily classified as religious or secular, it is more accessible to white/Euro-American, upper middle-class people, and yoga's visual culture in the United States represents and reproduces this construction of yoga. The easiest way to explain this phenomenon is to look at yoga pants in popular culture.

What is the ethnicity and ethnicity of most people portrayed wearing yoga pants if you do a short Google search for “yoga pants” and click on “images”? What part of the body is the subject of most of these photos? How many of these photos really feature someone doing yoga? If you see any pictures that are identical or different in terms of race and gender? What are the costliest and least expensive yoga pants, and how much do they cost? Now, just for kicks, look up “male yoga pants” on Google. What are some of the similarities and variations you find in terms of pant styles, body representation, and pricing? When I do this search, I find that most of the photographs are of white, slender women, with an emphasis on the lower half of her body. These trousers are also short and can cost anything from $14 to $120.

Many of the men's trousers, on the other hand, are loose, but the pictures also depict white, very healthy, athletic men, and the price range is close. Lululemon has been the brand most associated with yoga pants in recent years, owing to their appeal and affordability. It does not make men's yoga pants, but it does market men's kung fu pants. Its yoga pants for women range in price from $88 to $118. As women protested about their pricey yoga pants pilling, Chip Wilson, co-founder of Lululemon, said, "Frankly, those women's bodies just don't fit for it." They don't suit the bodies of those ladies. It's all of the rubbing on the elbows, how much friction is applied over time, and how much they need it.”

As a result, a Lululemon client would have not only a lot of discretionary money, but also a thigh gap. Lululemon would not make trousers bigger than a size 12, according to Wilson, since plus-size clothing needs 30% more fabric. “It's a money loser, for sure,” he said, trying to be sympathetic. I understand their situation, but it's difficult.” Women of color have begun to feature in Lululemon's catalogs in recent years, but the visuals and staff in each of the company's shops make it plain that the target buyer is a white, thigh-gap-thin woman who can afford to spend at least $200 on yoga jeans, top, and bra.

Lululemon's ads (aimed solely at slim women) and high costs aren't the only things that make the brand notorious. Some also questioned its success due to alleged unfair labor practices. Lululemon began manufacturing in a nonunion shop in Vancouver, Canada, in 1998, although it has since shifted all its production abroad, mostly to China. “Third-world children should be able to work in factories because it provides them with much-needed wages,” Chip Wilson is quoted as saying at a business conference in Vancouver. Furthermore, he claims that "ninety-five percent of the factories I've seen in the Orient are much stronger than factories in North America."

“Many people in China come from the western provinces, and their ambition is to work seven days a week for 16 hours a day in order to have enough money to go home with and start a company in five years.” “In Canada, for example, 99 percent of our factory workers are Chinese woman sewers,” he said. They would be furious if you worked them eight-hour days. They'll ask, "What are you doing?" if you just work them five days a week for eight hours. I'm not interested in working with you.' If you just work them for so long, they'll leave at 4 p.m., walk across the street to another warehouse, and work for another six hours. This is in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.” Wilson made no mention of salaries, working conditions, unions, or benefits in his speech. Such marketing policies have sparked controversy, and Lululemon has received negative press as a result.

They also pose a threat to the yoga culture, which is known for being socially and politically liberal. The fact that their favorite yoga pants are made by a self-described libertarian whose labor policies may be construed as abusive has opened the door for other brands. Lululemon does not own the yoga pants market—as our Google search revealed, yoga pants can be purchased for $14, making them affordable to a wide range of people, and since they are comfortable, many women of all ages, styles, and sizes choose to wear them. However, this is not without its own collection of issues about women's bodies. Yoga pants are always too tight, and schools are enacting legislation prohibiting them.

In 2014, officials at Devils Lake High School in North Dakota held a girls-only assembly to clarify the current dress code, during which they demonstrated footage from Pretty Woman to highlight how women can be treated differently based on their clothing choices. This is not the case at Devils Lake High School. Yoga pants and leggings were banned at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in 2015 unless they were protected with skirt or trousers, as the school believed students should dress more professionally; however, the students were not persuaded. Female students have been advised that their casual attire is a distraction to male students and instructors, and they have responded by demonstrating. “Hundreds of students signed a petition, and some marched—one holding a banner that demanded ‘are my jeans dropping your test scores?'” after a middle school in Evanston, Illinois, outlawed leggings and yoga pants.

To oppose the surveillance and sexualization of girls' bodies, several students launched the hashtag #iammorethanadistraction. Given how disputed female bodies have long been, the controversy over yoga pants is unsurprising, but it does highlight how popular yoga and exercise accessories have been in the United States. Yoga can be done in any outfit—I've seen women in saris do asanas (poses) that I could only imagine. Yoga skirts, on the other hand, have been the staple yoga attire for American women in the last fifteen years. It's almost as if the material and sensation of yoga pants psychologically prepares us for yoga practice and healthier health—or maybe only to be relaxed.

However, we struggle with the objectification/sexualization of the female body in American popular culture, as well as the need to keep the body sacred, as well as reminders that it must be healthy, slender, and shapely. This conversation has found a new home in yoga pants. It's not so much a question about who should and shouldn't wear yoga pants as it is about who should and shouldn't do yoga—and how.

Yoga by Christians


Yoga and Christianity have a long history together. Swami Vivekananda and raja yoga came to the United States thanks to the Unitarians, who founded the World Parliament of Religion in 1893.

They held the International Congress of Religious Liberals twenty-seven years later, and it was through that conference that Paramahansa Yogananda and kriya yoga were brought to the United States. Yogananda, following in the footsteps of Swami Vivekananda, refers to Christian scripture and uses Christian imagery in his Autobiography of a Yogi to position kriya yoga as an interdisciplinary activity. Both Vivekananda and Yogananda came to the United States to collect funds for their ventures in India, and they had to make yoga appealing to Christians and their values while being nonthreatening. Pranayama (yogic breathing) is a form of yoga.

 

Yoga, especially pranayama (yogic breathing), was a complement to Christian activity rather than a replacement.

Yoga practice in the United States began to move away from pranayama and toward asanas (yogic poses/postures) in the 1940s and 1950s, signaling a shift away from pranayama and toward asanas (yogic poses/postures). Yoga began to make its way into American living rooms in the 1950s and 1960s, thanks to books and regular television shows. Yoga was now a pagan discipline because of market forces. Hindu yogis, on the other hand, tended to advocate yoga as a discipline that was "ident with all of the world's great religions." In the summer of 1971, the second annual Yoga Ecumenical Retreat was held at Annhurst, a Catholic Women's College, where nuns, priests, monks, rabbis, and "long haired young people" all came together to practice yoga based on Swami Satchidananda's teachings.

Sister Maria explained, "Deep prayer often entails transcending the body and the senses." “Yoga is a huge support in this regard. It aids in the relaxation of the body and mind, as well as the integration of the entire person.” Sister Rose Margaret Delaney considered yoga to be a practice for prayer rather than prayer itself: “I don't use a mantra. She explained, "I meditate on the Gospel of the day and use Yoga to prepare myself for prayer." Christians are still using their biblical origins to reformulate yoga today. Many Christians participate in yoga courses at gyms or yoga centers, but others are turned off by the overtly Hindu comparisons, meditation, and chanting. Parishioners at Washington, DC's New Community Church sing "Sha-LOM," not "OM" or "AUM."

Many Christian yoga classes, including Sister Rose Margaret Delaney's, repeat Bible verses during those poses to keep their minds on God and Jesus Christ rather than Isvara, the Hindu Lord of Yoga. The Sun Salutation, or Suryanamaskara, is a twelve-step sequence of asanas and pranayamas. “Sun,” S-U-N, is replaced with “Son,” S-O-N, in many Christian yoga courses. As a result, when they do the twelve steps, it is to prove devotion to Jesus rather than Surya. The teaching of Christian yoga is known as "Yogadevotion" at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Minnesota, and while some participants are suspicious, one of the pastors, John Keller, is positive because "it attracts future converts into the church's doors"; "about a quarter of Yogadevotion students are not churchgoers."

This blending in practices does not sit well for everyone. Many Christian yoga critics are troubled by the combination of Christianity and yoga. According to one critic, using yoga to entice people to church is not harmless, but rather "dancing with the devil." A increasing number of books are advising Christians against combining yoga with Christian practice. “Yoga originated in India as part of the paganism practiced there,” writes Dave Hunt in his book Yoga and the Body of Christ, and argues that yoga is one way the West is being invaded.

Laurette Willis, the founder of “PraiseMoves,” a Christian alternative to yoga, which, along with “Fitness to His Witness,” is a trademarked system of exercise for good health, plus the blessing of Jesus, offers perhaps the most innovative and interesting critique of Christian yoga. Willis, a former "New Age" believer who came to faith in 1987, grew up doing yoga with her mum, but says, "From experience, I can tell that yoga is a risky exercise for the Christian and takes seekers away from God rather than to Him." Willis, like Hindu opponents of Christian yoga, claims that yoga and Hinduism are inextricably linked because all "yoga postures are sacrifices to the 330 million Hindu gods."

Christian yoga, on the other hand, is a "oxymoron" for Willis, who defines syncretism as "an effort to combine contradictory belief, religions, or doctrines." Willis also developed the proprietary "PraiseMoves," which is not Christian yoga but a "Christ-centered approach to the discipline of yoga," as an alternative to Christian and Hindu yoga. Willis claims that, while the class appears to be yoga and is structured similarly to many yoga classes in the United States and India, it is not. Since she's "discovered there's not an unlimited amount of ways the human body can move," she admits that some of the PraiseMoves postures mirror yoga postures, and she tells us that these postures were formed by God, and that PraiseMoves is "a way to untwist these advantageous postures back to glorify God."

Willis' trademarked methodology claims to strip yoga of its Hindu jargon, revealing a fundamentally Christian tradition. The irony of this controversy over yoga in popular culture is that when Indian yogis first arrived in America, they courted Christian yogis. Many Christians today do not see yoga as a conflict; they happily practice it in gyms, church basements, retirement homes, and community centers. Yoga refers to a wider audience because it is non-Hindu, universal, and empirical, as well as a discipline that is sure to improve one's fitness.

Christians like Dave Hunt and Laurette Willis, on the other hand, demonstrate that combining religious, spiritual, or international beliefs and traditions can lead to controversy and discomfort in this region. What effect does yoga have on Christianity? Can it strengthen or weaken Christian commitment? Is it causing Christians to become less religious, or is it allowing Christians to dive further into their faith? Not only Christians debate the purity and roots of yoga; Hindus have also followed this line of investigation in unique ways.

"Take back yoga" and the Hindu American Foundation

Although Christians question whether to practice yoga, a Hindu activist organization claims that yoga is expressly Hindu and launched a "Take Back Yoga Campaign" in 2009.

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a Hindu advocacy or lobbying organization, identifies itself as an advocacy group that provides a radical Hindu American voice. The Foundation engages and educates public policymakers, academics, the media, and the public about Hinduism and global problems affecting Hindus, such as religious liberty, misrepresentation of Hinduism, hate speech, hate crimes, and human rights. HAF stands squarely against hate, injustice, slander, and fear by upholding the Hindu and American ideologies of empathy, equality, and pluralism.

In the last decade, HAF has been involved in several scandals. It objected Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus' National Book Award nomination, claiming it was biased and misleading, and it is the first to speak out when a garment manufacturer or designer uses Hindu iconography in "inappropriate" ways. Most prominently, prior to the "Take Back Yoga" movement, HAF filed a lawsuit challenging the methods used to write about Hindu culture and tradition in California social sciences textbooks. The lawsuit was dismissed in court, but the fight over textbook material in California continues, and the HAF has launched #donteraseindia to raise awareness. The "Take Back Yoga" movement is credited with putting HAF on the map of mass culture.

It all began with a blog post on the HAF blog in 2009 called "Let's Take Yoga Back." Sheetal Shah, a young Hindu-American student, laments in this post that the yoga taught in this country lacks the Hindu mark. She is particularly disappointed that Yoga Journal does not promote yoga using the term "Hindu," that there are no Hindus in her yoga courses, and that she was able to find several yoga teachers but none who were clearly Hindu. How do we preserve and encourage yoga's Hindu origins if most yoga studios don't have Hindu students, let alone Hindu yoga instructors, she writes? Our Hindu forefathers recognized the advantages of yoga and spread the word to the rest of the world. The West recognized yoga, fell in love with it, transformed it into a physical and “spiritual” art, removing all metaphysical connotation, and declared themselves experts. While many non-Hindu Americans are enthusiastic about yoga, the majority of Hindu Americans seem to have ignored its value in uniting their mind, body, and spirit, and have given up their understanding and possession of this life-changing activity.

As a Hindu American, I implore you to restore yoga by reclaiming your expertise in its teaching. I strongly advise you to enroll in a beginner's yoga class at a local studio and to invite your girls, siblings, parents, and friends to join you. Many of our nearby Hindu temples offer free yoga classes taught by Hindu teachers, and some of you might even be attending them... bring a friend or family member with you next week. If you practice basic asanas at home, take an advanced yoga class at a studio to take your practice to the next stage.

HAF responded to Shah's call with gusto. Following Shah's blog post, HAF published a position paper on yoga's Hindu roots in 2009: Yoga is an important aspect of Hindu belief and practice, according to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). However, regardless of religious religion, the science of yoga and the enormous rewards it provides are for the good of all mankind. Hinduism is a set of pluralistic doctrines and lifestyles that recognizes the presence of other philosophical and religious practices. As a non-proselytizing religion, Hinduism never forces yoga practitioners to profess allegiance or convert. Yoga is a path to personal enlightenment for those who seek it. In the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog, HAF co-founder and board member Aseem Shukla engaged pop guru Deepak Chopra in a dispute about yoga's ownership beginning in April 2010.

 

Underneath Shukla's grievances, one senses the indignation of an inventor who found Coca-Cola or Teflon but failed to patent it, wrote Chopra. Isn't that a petty reason for painting such a bleak picture? When most Indians consider the enormous success of yoga in the United States, they may grin at the glitzy facets of the phenomenon, but they believe something positive is happening overall. Shukla frowns in disapproval at the same scene. Shukla retorted that, while Chopra profits financially from Hinduism (which he refers to as Vedic knowledge) and claims to be an Advaita Vedantin, he does not credit the religion in any of his platforms.

This debate drew the attention of many Hindu bloggers, anti-yoga Christian blogs, and non-Hindu yoga blogs, with each viewpoint siding with Shukla or Chopra, depending on whether they preferred or required Hindu yoga. The New York Times and CNN have published articles highlighting the key actors in this movement as the controversy gained national exposure. Although many people have strong feelings on who owns yoga, the HAF has specifically taken measures to frame the discussion. While it claims that everyone can learn yoga and profit from it, it is adamant that the Hindu origins of yoga be recognized.

The questions become, “Is yoga Hindu?” or “To which religion does yoga belong?” when boiled down and distilled, as Internet discussions sometimes are. Scholars can disagree about the Jain or Buddhist legacies of yoga, or even argue that yoga is more European and imperial than Hindu, but in the end, none of this matter in a postcolonial world where religions are divided. Labels have repercussions in mainstream culture, and the increasing popularity of yoga among Hindu South Asian Americans, combined with the fact that it has been turned into a problem by HAF, has given yoga's name, history, and ownership religion, sociopolitical, and economic implications. The bigger question is why "ownership" is still a concern.

We live in a world where trademarks, copyrights, and phantom mortgages enable people to become billionaires. Religion, culture, and even basic fitness are all impacted by inequality and an environment that prioritizes financial stability and dominance above all else. So, it was only a matter of time before yoga became a battleground for names and histories. Aseem Shukla was referred to as a "fundamentalist" by Deepak Chopra.

Non-Hindu yoga instructors who liberally use "OM" in their teaching are often opposed to the HAF movement, and it is easier to label them as fundamentalists and ignore them than to hold an open discussion about the causes, implications, and advantages of colonization, as well as racial exploitation and power contours. To put it another way, I don't believe we should or should dismiss the debate about yoga's location or possession. Rather, I believe it is a good time for us to reconsider our assumptions about Hindus and Hinduism.

White Europeans and Euro-Americans can appropriate aspects of colonized societies and enforce their beliefs on colonized peoples, some of which have come to Europe and the United States, as a result of slavery, patriarchy, and racism. However, when there are little repercussions for this appropriation and subjugation, as groups respond, they react in ways that seem to perpetuate patriarchal ideals of distinction and roots of faith and common culture. Simultaneously, we should consider other Hindu practices that middle-class Hindus in India and the United States have attempted to neglect and abandon.

Tolerance, karma, dharma, and Brahman are listed as core tenets of Hinduism on the HAF website, but Tantra, sacrifice, possession, mosque bombings, female feticide, or dowry burnings are not mentioned. These are just as important to Hinduism as yoga. Since the Protestant British religious borders never made sense in India, yoga, Tantra, and even Hindu worship spaces defy categorization, belonging, and neat histories, it was perhaps unavoidable that they would defy categorization, belonging, and neat histories. HAF, on the other hand, has opted to focus on meditation, demonstrating once again how yoga has become a part of the religious and cultural landscape of the United States.

conclusion The three references presented in this chapter demonstrate that yoga is a contentious topic in modern America, with debates raging about the manufacture of yoga pants, the bodies of women wearing yoga pants, who can/should perform yoga, and the roots and identity of yoga. These debates demonstrate how blurry and sometimes subjective the line between religious and secular is, and how necessary it is to publicly explore this messiness.

Is yoga a religious exercise or a secular one, and how have yoga pants found their way into our daily secular wardrobes?

Also, how does looking at race, gender, and class reveal how yoga has been sold and created exclusively for one category of people in this country?

Why is it necessary to examine the intersections of mainstream culture, female sexualization, and yoga pants to better understand broader conflicts in American popular culture?

Finally, how and when do sects collide? Is this a US-only phenomenon or a worldwide phenomenon? Finally, who owns culture, and how can we draw the distinction between cultural exploitation and appreciation?

Why do you think yoga is so common in America?

What reasons do you believe are influencing its popularity?

In today's America, is yoga a religious or secular activity? When it comes to yoga, is the line between sacred and secular blurry?

What do you make of some Hindus' claim that yoga should not be segregated from its place in Hindu god worship?

What function do gender, race, and class play in the construction and practice of yoga, as well as other aspects of mainstream culture in the United States?

Is yoga practiced in your neighborhood?

Look for yoga-related advertisements or announcements. Is it promoted as a spiritual practice or a form of physical activity? To whom is it marketed?



Bibliography:

 

 1. “New Study Finds More Than 20 Million Yogis in U.S.,” www.yogajournal.com/uncategorized/new-study-finds-20-million-yogis-u-s.

2. Harry Bradford. “Lululemon’s Founder Blames Yoga Pants Problem on Women’s Bodies,” www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/lululemon-foundersome-wo_n_4221668.html.

3. “Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Resigns from Board,” Financial Times, February 2, 2015, www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5d16fdd8-aaf2-11e4-81bc-00144feab7de.html#axzz4Eljmiko3.

4. Scott Deveau, “Yoga Mogul Has Critics in a Knot,” The Tyee, February 17, 2015, http://thetyee.ca/News/2005/02/17/LuluCritics.

5. Lindsay Ellis, “Yoga Pants Too Distracting for Boys? A N.D. School Cracks Down on Girls,” Christian Science Monitor, October 1, 2014, www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2014/1001/Yoga-pants-too-distracting-for-boys-A-N.D.-schoolcracks-down-on-girls-video. 350

6. Ellis. “Yoga Pants Too Distracting for Boys?”

7. According to Patanjali there are eight limbs of yoga: yama (moral principles), niyama (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (pure contemplation) (Yoga Discipline of Freedom: The Yoga Sutra Attributed to Patanjali, trans. Barbara Stoler Miller [Bantam, 1998], 52). Only two of the eight, breath control and postures, are overtly popular in the practice of modern Hatha yoga (though there are allusions to yama), partially due to the influence of those that brought new exposure to yoga starting in the nineteenth century. Further, it seems that both pranayama and asana were latched onto by modern yoga “exporters,” for they were easiest to translate into a modern ethos—one that focused on health, control, and ecumenism.

8. Edward B. Fiske, “Priests and Nuns Discover Yoga Enhances Grasp of Faith,” New York Times, July 2, 1971, 35, 55.

9. Phuong Ly, “Churches, Synagogues Mingle Yoga with Beliefs,” Washington Post, January 1, 2006, C1.

10. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, “Stretching for Jesus,” Time Magazine, August 29, 2005.

11. Trayce Gano, “Contemplative Emerging Church Deception: Christian Yoga, Innocent Activity or Dancing With the Devil?”http://emerging-church .blogspot.com/2007/02/christian-yoga-innocent-activity-or.html.

12. Dave Hunt, Yoga and the Body of Christ: What Position Should Christians Hold? (Bend, OR: Berean Call, 2006), 23.

13. Laurette Willis. “Why a Christian alternative to Yoga?” http:// praisemoves.com/about-us/why-a-christian-alternative-to-yoga.

14. “Hindu American Foundation,” https://plus.google.com/HafsiteOrg /about.

15. Sheetal Shah, “Let’s Take Yoga Back,” www.hinducurrents.com/articles /19969/lets-take-yoga-back

16. “Yoga beyond Asana: Hindu Thought in Practice,” www.hafsite.org/media/pr/yoga-hindu-origins

17. “Shukla and Chopra: The Great Yoga Debate,” OnFaith, April 30, 2010,www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2010/04/30/shukla-and-chopra-the-great-yogadebate/4379.