“READING GIVES US SOMEPLACE TO GO WHEN WE HAVE TO STAY WHERE WE ARE”
I have often been asked for a ‘recommended reading list’ re Yoga; I have steered clear because I am so aware whilst I have read hundreds of books on the subject there are many more I haven’t read. It is not hard to google for such a recommendation anyway; why should my list be any better. BUT I am on my third reading of the one I mention here (all good books should have at least 3 readings methinks 😉 good ones offer up something new on a re-read.
FIRST READING: I read ‘KARMA COLA’ long before my Yoga path was even on my horizon. If anything, on its first reading, it merely served to support my attitude towards those ‘other people’ in the Yoga world (which was not so uncommon an attitude back then) ‘happy clappy new agey hippy dippy etc’. That first reading, which debunked many Yoga fallacys, laid the ground for how I would receive the teachings of all those I met when I later entered the Yoga world (with a heavy ‘pinch of salt’ on hand until I went off to check sources). Whilst I didn’t particularly have it at the forefront of my mind, I had absorbed its wisdom and it probably helped me be more discerning when I went on my first Yoga ttc 2001.
SECOND READING: picked it up on a stall in Goa 2005, one of only 3 English books available (not sure it is wise to read books about another country whilst IN that other country (other than Lonely Planets) But I was bored, LOL) (the other 2 were ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘The Hungry Tide’ I got so lucky with books that day; btw I recommend those books too J ). It served to ground me, reaffirmed my early caution was wise, question everything that doesn’t make sense; Lord, I was in India and I was ‘looking directly at’ some of what the book was describing; it was true! But Darren and I weren’t in India 2005 as spiritual tourists so we were safe.
THIRD READING: I am in the middle of my third reading. I think it is still a relevant read but we are on the cusp of good change (a lot has happened in the Yoga world in the last few years; people are waking up). Hoping this book will soon just be a description of times past and not reflective of any ‘present’; but still I would definitely recommend it (just in case) to everyone taking their early steps on their spiritual path, especially if they are not just dabbling but want to go the distance with a Yoga lifestyle (good to get a sense of the ‘unnecessary journey’ many spiritual seekers took to pave the way and make it easier for today’s aspirants; alltho’ many might say “meh, that other stuff was just part of the journey too”). This book is not about spirituality and it is not about Yoga. It is not even a travel book but I think that it will help you understand all the things that will try to attract you and distract you when you embark on a spiritual quest ‘tho; a useful tool to help people realize not all Sadhus are equal and then separate the wheat from the chaff, the fakirs from the fakers. At least having read it might help them steer clear of the teachers who have a preference for fantasy over reality and not to get caught up in the performance even if they are enjoying it (elst supply will meet demand). People need to be alert and discerning because those who do get caught up are contributing to the malfunction that will come later! (nowadays there really is no excuse for ignorance). Such malfunctions happening all around right now and it is not pretty.
It is an excellent read and I think Gita Mehti is very eloquent. Here is a little excerpt to whet your appetite: “the bad tempered old gents who lived in the jungles of India several thousand years ago and came up with the Upanishads were well aware of the dangers of trying to take on what you aren’t up to handling. That is why they made the curious sweat it out sometimes for years at a time before they grumpily revealed their wisdom, and also why they refused to write down their wisdom, but insisted that it be transferred verbally from teacher to pupil. There is a difference between being kicked in the teeth and reading a description of being kicked in the teeth. Some call it existential.”
‘Karma Cola’ is my big recommended read here but IF I really had to pick a proper top 5 ‘spiritual-ish’ reads for people new to Yoga, it is hard but I remember the following five with fondness ~ they served me very well; the first 2 essential reads for any aspiring Yogi; these I frequently reference, I should probably give the last 3 their third reading soon 😉 :
- Bhagavad Gita (excerpt from Mahabharata ~ there are many ‘translations with commentaries’ to choose from)
- Patanjalis Yoga Sutras (there ARE other sages ‘tho)
- Tree of Yoga ~ BKS Iyengar
- Awakening the Spine ~ Vanda Scaravelli
- A New Earth ~ Eckhart Tolle
Om Om Om “sometimes I could just lay on the couch and read for a couple of years”