A certain disillusionment creeps in



The Bikram who started Bikram Yoga put together 26 Hatha yoga postures, taught them in a hot room, wrote a book about it, and had his lawyers send cease and desist orders to anyone who used similar methods without paying him a $5,500 licensing fee plus a franchise fee. A group of California Yoga teachers formed a group called Open Yoga Source Unity and sued Bikram. In 2005, the Open Source teachers secretly cut a deal that benefited them but didn’t help other instructors. Now, other Yoga teachers are copyrighting their methods.

During my web surfing, I also learned that Yoga Journal runs feature articles on celebrities along with plush Yoga vacation options. It formerly refused to accept ads for events other than the ones it sponsored. I was naΓ―ve in thinking that millennia old Yoga, a practice that owes it existence to shared teachings and cooperation, was at least one area of human endeavor that had escaped cutthroat competition.

None of this means that Yoga does not offer significant benefits, but I was immensely saddened to be reminded that there is absolutely no pathway to goodness. It is entirely conceivable that a person who has never read a book on philosophy or embraced a spiritual practice can still be a thousand times wiser and more compassionate than the most respected philosopher or devotee.

I have already offended one of the leaders in my Wiccan class, and he refuses to acknowledge my apology. What does this tell me about Wicca? What do Islamic terrorists tell me about Islam? I suppose there are many good and wise Wiccans just as there are many good and wise Moslems, but sometimes it seems that the worst people are the very ones who embrace a given practice with their whole hearts.