“What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more ... Our task is to cut back content so that we can see the thing at all.”
Susan Sontag

Against Interpretation

A Political Headstand


There is a famous image of Israel’s first prime minister Ben Gurion doing a headstand. I think it’s pretty impressive that a newborn country’s first prime minister was a yoga practitioner. But this morning, it is not a romantic notion that set me thinking on this path, it is a critical one.

Headstand provides a popular image for Yoga – it stands out. It providers an easily accessible metaphor for a fresh perspective on life. For many people it is a challenging posture – and when it’s finally conquered it can bring a gratifying sense of achievement.

Beyond it’s obvious physical qualities, headstand posture has energetic qualities and it can be used to affect the body’s energy system. These energetic qualities are available in additional more accessible postures that provide less distraction and enable a practitioner to go deeper and experience more subtle qualities in practice. They are much less “sensational” and it takes persistence and patience to sense and appreciate them. They require intricate breath work and lead to meditative places.

Following is a quote (source Wikipedia) from 1957 attributed to Ben Gurion:

“Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country … There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it is simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army.”

Ben Gurion made his mark on life in a time of extremism – a conflicted birth of a conflicted country from a conflicted background in a conflicted world. A country that exemplifies and in which manifests one of the most powerful forces of friction on the planet – a conflict between east & west, between established religion and fmodern politics, between tradition and free thought. An extremism that I feel almost every where around me in Israel, and as the years go bye seems to be insinuating itself all over the world.

I don’t know what Ben Gurion’s Yoga practice was like, but I wonder if instead of doing headstands and making them famous he would have have practiced and made famous forward seated bends with long and quality breath. Would he have made different decisions and planted different seeds in Israeli society, culture & politics? If he was instead famous for inhaling 12 seconds, holding his breath for 12 seconds, exhaling for 12 seconds and holding his breath for another 12 seconds – what effect that would have had on Israeli society? What if this would have fostered amongst popular Israeli traits, things like patience, attention and respect?

If Ben Gurion’s teacher was Desikachar or even Krishnamacharya and he practiced more Pranayama, could that have made a different world for us today?

Posted in Asana, Expanding, inside, Israel, Yoga, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 9 comments and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-07

  • "I wish it so, that all who go through among my people may find peace when they come in, and leave it when they go out" http://bit.ly/dx0EZL #
  • life currents: http://bit.ly/d785NE #
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  • "The idea that 'all men are created equal' is a gift to the world from the American Indian" http://www.bit.ly/dx0EZL #
  • "First you say things our way and then we'll listen to you… an invisible wall of prejudice… a 'cultural immune system'" #
  • "Quality doesn't have to be defined. You understand it without definition, ahead of definition…. it is a direct experience #
  • Quality is indivisible, undefinable and unknowable in the sense that there is a knower and a known #
  • but a metaphysics must be divisible, definable and knowable .. it is a kid of dialectical definition #
  • this means that a "Metaphysics of Quality" is essentially a contradiction in terms, a logical absurdity #
  • he himself had insisted…that Quality cannot be defined. Yet here we was about to define it. Was this some kind of sell-out? #
  • the minute u open ur mouth to say 1 thing about the nature of reality you..have a whole set of enemies who've said reality is something else #
  • 'Ahh, do it anyway, it's interesting.' this was the intellectual part that didn't like undefined things #
  • To the intellect, the process of defining Quality has a compulsive quality of its own.. produces a certain excitement … leaves a hangover #
  • Writing a metaphysics is, in the strictest mystic sense, a degenerate activity … avoidance of degeneracy is a degeneracy of another sort #
  • Purity identified ceases to be purity…objections to pollution are a form of pollution #
  • The only person who doesn't pollute the mystic reality of the world … is a person who hasn't yet been born #
  • The rest of us have to settle for something less pure. #
  • Getting drunk and picking up bar-ladies and writing metaphysics is a part of life #
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  • "From bitter searching of the heart, Quickened with passion and with pain
    We rise to play a greater part." http://bit.ly/dgfV3c #
  • "Any person of any philosophic persuasion who sits on a hot stove will verify without any intellectual argument whatsoever #
  • that he is in an undeniably low-quality situation; that the value of his predicament is negative. #
  • This low quality is not just a vague, woolly headed crypto-religious, metaphysical abstraction. It is an experience. #
  • It is not a judgment about an experience. It is not a description of experience. The value itself is an experience. #
  • It is verifiable by anyone who cares to do so. It is reproducible. Of all experience it is the least ambiguous, least mistakable there is. #
  • Later the person may generate some oaths to describe this low value, but the value will always come first, the oaths second. #
  • …Our culture teaches us to think it is the hot stove that directly causes the oaths… that the low values are a property of the person #
  • Not so. The value is between the stove and the oaths. Between the subject and the object lies the value. #
  • This value is more immediate, more directly sensed than any 'self' or 'object' to which it might be later assigned..more real than the stove #
  • … It is the primary empirical reality from which such things as stoves and heat and oaths and self are later intellectually constructed. #
  • The reason values seem so woolly-headed to empiricists is … they keep trying to assign them to subjects or objects. You can't do it. #
  • You get all mixed up because values don't belong to either group. They are a separate category all their own. #
  • The Metaphysics of Quality would show how things become fabulously more coherent when..Quality is the primary empirical reality of the world #
  • "The feeling left was one of enormous confusion and weariness, a kind of back-to-the-drawing board, back-to-square-one feeling #
  • ..you get when you're thinking you're making great progress and then suddenly some question like this comes along #
  • .. and sets you back to where you started." #
  • "For a while he had wondered why his boat always seemed to stop in the oldest part of each city it came to, and then he realized that #
  • ..small boats stopping right there is what got the city started in the first place" #
  • "The idea that the world is comprised of nothing but moral values sounds impossible at first. Only objects are supposed to be real. #
  • …but we see objects and subjects as reality for the same reason we see the world right side up although the lenses of our eyes actually #
  • ..present it our brains upside down… The culture in which we live hands us a set of intellectual glasses to interpret experience with #
  • .. and the concept of primacy of subjects and objects is built right into these glasses. If someone sees things through a somewhat #
  • different set of glasses or, god help him, take his glasses off, the natural tendency of those who still have their glasses on is #
  • to regard his statement as somewhat weird, if not actually crazy… #
  • As Einstein said, common-sense (non-weirdness) is just a bundle of prejudices acquired before the age of 18 #
  • The Metaphysics of Quality .. [says] that the values of art and morality and even religious-mysticism are verifiable [empirical] #
  • …They have been excluded because of the metaphysical assumption that all the universe is composed of subjects and objects … #
  • There is no empirical evidence for this assumption at all.It is just an assumption..that flies outrageously in the face of common experience #
  • Unlike subject-object metaphysics, the Metaphysics of Quality does not insist on a single inclusive truth… #
  • .. then one doesn't seek the absolute "Truth". One seeks instead the highest quality intellectual explanation of things #
  • with knowledge that if the past is any guide to the future this explanation must be taken provisionally.. until something better comes along #
  • One can then examine intellectual realities the same way he examines paintings in an art gallery #
  • not with an effort to find the "real" painting, but simply to enjoy and keep those that are of value. #
  • ..Saying that a Metaphysics of Quality is false and a subject-object metaphysics is true #
  • is like saying that rectangular coordinates are true and polar coordinates are false. #
  • A map with the north pole in the center is confusing at first .. but in the Arctic it's the only map to have. #
  • Metaphysics of Quality provide a better set of coordinates with which to interpret the world..because it explains more of the world..&better #
  • .. [it] can explain subject-object relationships beautifully..but a subject-objects metaphysics can't explain values worth a damn. #
  • This problem of trying to describe values in terms of substance has been a problem of a smaller container trying to contain a larger one. #
  • Value is not a subspecies of substance. Substance is a subspecies of value. #
  • "Early zoologists classified as mammals those that suckle their young and as reptiles those that lay eggs #
  • .. then a duck-billed platypus was discovered in Australia laying eggs like a perfect reptile and then,when they hatched,suckling the infant #
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  • The answer is:it doesn't. Platypi have been laying eggs and suckling their young for millions of years before zoologists declared it illegal #
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  • In a subject-object classification of the world, Quality is in the same situation as that platypus. #
  • Because they can't classify it, the experts have declared there is something wrong with it. And Quality isn't the only such platypus. #
  • ..free will vs determinism, relation of mind to matter, discontinuity of matter at the subatomic level… are all monster platypi #
  • The world comes to us in an endless stream of puzzle pieces that we would like to think all fit together somehow, but that in fact never do. #
  • There are always some pieces like platypi that don't fit.. we can ignore [them]..give them silly explanations.. #
  • or we can take the whole puzzle apart and try other ways of assembling it that will include more of them #
  • When one takes the whole ill-shaped, misfitting structure of a subject-object explained universe apart and puts it back together in a #
  • value-centered metaphysics, all kinds of orphaned puzzle pieces fit beautifully that never fit before." #
  • I am finding it extremely difficult to bring myself to write about things close to my heart #
  • "Trying to create a perfect metaphysics is like trying to create the perfect chess opening, one that will win every time. You can't do it. #
  • … Dynamic Quality is the pre-intellectual cutting edge of reality, the source of all things, completely simple and always new. #
  • ..It's only perceived good is freedom and it's only perceived evil is static quality itself – #
  • – any pattern of one-sided fixed value that tries to contain and kill the ongoing free force of life. #
  • Static Quality emerges in the wake of Dynamic Quality. It is old and complex. It always contains a component of memory. #
  • Good is conformity to an established pattern of fixed values and value objects. #
  • Static morality is full of heroes and villains, loves and hatreds, carrots and sticks. It's values don't change by themselves. #
  • Unless they are altered by Dynamic Quality they say the same thing year after year… sometimes loudly… sometimes softly…always the same #
  • ..When the person who sits on the stove first discovers his low-quality situation, the front edge of his experience is dynamic. #
  • He does not think 'This stove is hot' and then make a rational decision to get off. #
  • a 'dim perception of he knows not what' gets him off dynamically. Later he generates static patterns of thought to explain the situation. #
  • A subject-object metaphysics presume that this kind of Dynamic action without thought is rare and ignored it when possible. #
  • But mystic learning goes in the opposite direction and tries to hold to the ongoing Dynamic edge of all experience, both positive & negative #
  • .. of the two kinds of students, those who study only subject-object science and those who study only meditative mysticism #
  • it would be the mystic students who would get off the stove first. #
  • The purpose of mystic meditation is not to remove oneself from experience but to bring one's self closer..by eliminating static attachments #
  • …imagine that you walk down the street past a car where someone has the radio on and it plays a tune you've never heard before #
  • but which is so fantastically good it just stops you in your tracks. You listen until it's done. #
  • Days later you remember exactly what the street looked like when you heard that music… store window, colors of cars, clouds in the sky… #
  • ..and it all comes back so vividly you wonder what song they were playing, so you wait until you hear it again… #
  • One day it comes on the radio and you get the same feeling again.. you catch the name… rush to the store… and buy it… #
  • You get home. You play it. It's really good. It doesn't quite transform the room… but it's really good. You play it again. Really good. #
  • You play it another time. Still good but you are not sure you want to play it again. But you play it again…it's okay … you put it away #
  • The next day you play it again, and it's ok, but something is gone… you file it away and once in a while play it again for a friend #
  • What has happened?… has the song lost its quality? Either it's good or it's not good. If it's good why don't you play it? #
  • The first good that made you want to buy the record was Dynamic Quality… comes as a sort of surprise #
  • .. weakened for a moment your existing static patterns in such a way that the Dynamic Quality all around you shone through. It was free… #
  • The second good,the kind that made u want to recommend it to a friend,even when you had lost your own enthusiasm for it is Static Quality." #
  • "Life can't exist on dynamic quality alone. It has no staying power. To cling to [it] ..apart from any static patterns it to cling to chaos. #
  • Static patterns…provide a necessary stabilizing force to protect Dynamic progress from degeneration. #
  • Dynamic Quality-freedom..creates this world in which we live,Static Quality-order..preserves ourworld.Neither can survive without the other" #
  • "If a company shows..signs of slowing..innovation, it's a good idea 2 sell." shortsighted,ignorant business attitude http://bit.ly/9KV0F8 #
  • "'All life is a migration of static patterns of quality towards Dynamic Quality.'… #
  • .. In traditional, substance-centered metaphysics, life isn't evolving toward anything. Life's just an extension of the properties of atoms. #
  • It has to be that because atoms and varying forms of energy are all there is. Historically..[this] put a strain on the Theory of Evolution.. #
  • ..At the time of it's origin is wasn't yet understood that at the level of .. small particles the laws of cause and effect no longer apply; #
  • that electrons and photons simply appear and disappear without individual predictability and without individual cause. #
  • ..So today we have a theory of evolution in which man is ruthlessly controlled by cause-and-effect laws of the universe.. #
  • while the particles of his boy are not. The absurdity of this seems to be neglected. Physicists ignore it..they are not concerned with man.. #
  • Social scientists can ignore it because they are not concerned with subatomic particles. #
  • ..evolution… goes into volumes about how the fittest survives but never once answers the question of why. #
  • It's self-contradictory that life should survive. If life is strictly a result of the physical and chemical forces of nature.. #
  • then why is life opposed to these same forces in it's struggle to survive? Either life is with physical nature or it's against it #
  • If it's with nature there's nothing to survive. If it's against physical nature then there must be something ..[else] ..motivating it. #
  • The 2nd law of Thermodynamics states that all energy systems "run-down" like a clock and never rewind themselves. #
  • But life not only "runs-up", converting low-energy sea-water, sunlight and air into high-energy chemicals, it keeps multiplying itself #
  • into more and better clocks that keep "running up" faster and faster. #
  • Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds if carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years #
  • to organize themselves into a professor of chemistry? What's the motive? If we leave a chemistry professor out on a rock in the sun #
  • long enough the forces of nature will convert him into simple compounds. It's a one-way reaction. No matter what.. #
  • we can't turn these compounds back into chemistry professor. Then why does nature reverse this process? #
  • What on earth causes the inorganic compounds to go the other way? It isn't the suns energy.. It has to be something else. What is it? #
  • Evolutionists..simpy say that in the scientific observation of the facts of the universe no goal or pattern have ever appeared… #
  • ..'… but has the question been taken up of whether life is heading away from mechanistic patterns?' #
  • In a metaphysics in which static..patterns are..fundamental, the idea that life is evolving away from any laws.. doesn't make any sense. #
  • 'No program controlled or directed this progression. It was the result of spur of the moment decisions of natural selection.' #
  • ..Dynamic Quality always appears as 'spur of the moment'. Where else could it appear? #
  • ..Naturally there is no mechanism towards which life is heading. Mechanisms are the enemy of life. #
  • The more static and unyielding the mechanisms are, the more life works to evade them or overcome them. #
  • The law of gravity..a ruthless static pattern..one could almost define life as..organized disobedience of [it]..birds fly, man..to the moon #
  • If life is to be explained on the basis of physical laws, then the overwhelming evidence that life deliberately works around these laws #
  • cannot be ignored. #
  • The reason atoms become chemistry professors has got to be that something in nature doesn't like laws that restrict the molecule's freedom. #
  • They only go along with laws of any kind because they have to, preferring an existence that does not follow any laws whatsoever. #
  • The patterns of life are constantly evolving towards something "better" then that which these laws have to offer. #

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Breathing Formulas in Asana


Pranayama breathing practices and Asana practices create a cycle of growth and expansion of (amongst other thing) breath. Ujjayi breathing in Asana develops a strong and enduring breath. Then in Pranayama that strength and capacity is used to refine the breath and make it longer. Then that refinement and length of breath is again carried over into Asana practices – and this goes on and on in a never ending cycle of strength and length (similar to the gradual development of strength and flexibility in a physical body).

It is possible to intensify this cycle by introducing breathing formulas into Asana. To do this you must first have an established relationship with:

  • Asana – you need to have a well defined and rooted physical practice before introducing another dimension of physical and consciousness effort.
  • Ujjayi – ujjayi should be an inseparable part of your asana practice.
  • Pranayama – you need to be familiar and comfortable with your breathing capacity and with structured breath formulas.

The first meeting between breathing formulas and asana should occur in familiar and comfortable settings:

  • Breath length – choose an inhale length (your basic breathing duration) that is less then what you use in your Pranayama practice. If in Pranayama you use an 8 second inhale then in Asana start with 6 seconds.
  • Breath formula – start with an equal inhale and exhale and with a 1 second pause after inhale and exhale to allow for a controlled and smooth transition. For example, if your inhale is 6 seconds your breathing formula in asana would be
  • Asana – start with simple and accessible Asana, introduction of the breath is a worthy challenge, don’t overdo it by choosing difficult or challenging asana. If you have a personal practice that is gradual and balanced then it is probably best to start with the first set of postures.

This meeting of structured breath and asana can be a rich experience. You may find that each asana leads to a different experience. Some asana may seem connected and flowing with the breath, others may lead to friction. Different asana will challenge different parts of the breath – some asana may be aligned with inhaling and others with exhaling. Remember to retain a healthy relationship between breath and movement – the breath is a home to movement, movement takes place inside the breath. Adjusting breath to movement will probably lead to over-exertion, friction and tension –  the breath will “run-out”. On the other hand, adjusting movement to breath is fairly simple and may at most lead to some friction with the ego.

Practicing Asana with structured breathing may take some getting-used-to and it will intensify the development of the breath. When it becomes an established part of your practice you will have gained access to the alchemy of energy in Yoga.

Posted in Asana, Breath, Yoga | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

WordPress and Search Engines


There was a time when starting a journey to the city was a tedious task. You had to get a horse from the stables, get and mount a saddle on… and the ride was bumpy. Then cars came around, you had to pop open the hood, start your car with a crank and the ride was smoother. Now you can remotely activate your car from your living room so by the time you get to it, it’s nice and cozy and ready to go (in the future it will probably get going on it’s own too).

If you wanted to blog 10 or 15 years ago it would have required a lot of horsing around – you had to build your own web pages in HTML and Google were still playing around trying to get search working properly. Website developers were trying to figure out what search engines were trying to do and to build their web-pages accordingly – to make their pages attractive to the search engines. Things have changed since then, a lot.

Search Engines

The one most important thing you need to know about search engines (such as Google) is that they are constantly trying to improve their search capabilities. They are striving to provide us with the best possible results for internet searching. They do this by constantly scanning and cataloging all the information they can get their hands on and then trying to find the best matches when we all enter our search phrases. It’s a straightforward challenge and effort. They are constantly working to improve it.


Instead of manually building web pages we now have WordPress which creates quality, search-engine compatible web-pages. A lot of knowledge, care and effort is required to make good web-pages that are clear for search engines. There’s much more to web-pages then meets the eye. But the great news is that you don’t need to know all the details. WordPress developers have done (and continue to do) a wonderful job at taking care of all that for you – so you don’t need to worry about it. You can simply type in your content and WordPress will create web-pages that are optimized for web standards and search engines.

Search Engine Optimization

When search engines were trying to figure out web-searching, web professional were trying to figure out search engines.

When search engines used keywords to improve their search results – web professional figured that out. All of a sudden everyone was running around trying to figure out how to add keywords to web-pages, which keywords to use, what keywords were people likely to search, how was Google using keywords to rank it’s results … and on and on. Once web-professional figured out the rules of the keyword game they  became search engine optimization (SEO) professionals. They began offering keyword based promotion services to give you an edge over other sites and bloggers in search results.

In the end Google realized that people were using keywords promotion to cheat their way into search results in high rankings so, though many people have hard time believing it, Google stopped using keywords to rank search results!!! So now the only way to actually make a “keyword” impact search results it to actually use “key words” in your writing – and guess what – if you are doing sincere and quality writing you are already doing this – no special effort is required

Keywords are just one example. So called “Search Engine Optimization Professionals” constantly try to figure out new ways to manipulate search results, while search engines constantly try to weed out their manipulations so that they deliver REAL quality search results.


You don’t need to worry about search engine optimization or page-ranks. You need to stay away from SEO professionals.

You need to publish your writing using a modern and updated version of WordPress.

You need to WRITE – express yourself, focus on consistent, sincere, passionate and quality writing. If you don’t know how – then that is where you should be focusing your attention and efforts.

Posted in outside, Wordpress | You are welcome to add your comment

Life Currents


Some weeks ago I had a mental image of flow as a metaphor for all kinds of life situations I have encountered. I wrote some words about it but they didn’t make much sense without the image. So I finally got around to drawing an echo of what I envisioned.

At the heart of the image is a strong current with clear direction. It describes my path through life. Being in this flow is exhilarating. It is obviously present when I am teaching Yoga or when I am creating.

Then just outside this strong core current, there is a weaker current. It’s still in the right direction, though not as strong. This feels more like my day to day life – sometimes it shines forth, other times I need to remember to look and appreciate what’s before me.

Then there is another current which is similar in quality, it is mostly in the right direction but it is not clear and focused – so it tends pull slightly away  from the core currents. This feels like situations in which I am distracted, preoccupied or a bit tired.

If I notice that I am distracted or tired I can do something about it. I can get some rest, watch a movie, pull some weeds around the house, there are many options. But if I don’t notice it or fail to do something about it – I experience a messy current. It is inconsistent, sometimes even moving in the wrong direction. It’s very difficult for me to navigate through this – it’s as if the steering doesn’t work.

If things get really messy and out of control (which fortunately doesn’t happen much) – then I find myself in a chaotic turbulence. It’s really an unpleasant experience.

I recall a story (I read in “The 5th Discipline”) about a man whose canoe flipped in turbulent waters. He fought and struggled to get free from the currents but he failed, drowned and died. Shortly after, his body surfaced near by. Apparently, had he surrendered to the currents, instead of fighting them, he had a good chance of making out alive. This story must have impressed me to have stayed with me for so long (I read the book 7 or 8 years ago) and I take it’s lesson to heart.

Yoga taught me surrender. In retrospect I can see it in many elements of my practice, though it was not as apparent to me when I received these teachings. Bending the knees has a quality of surrendering to limitations of my physical body. Moving inside breath is a constant surrender of physical aspirations to make room for subtle developments of the breath. Practicing softly inside my limits rather then pushing through them is another great quality of surrender. It goes on and on. When surrender in the body is practiced continuously it eventually affects mind as well.

I believe that surrender in mind and body enabled me to experience my first sensations of a path – of a central current that is guiding me, even when I am not aware of it or actively resisting it. I learned to have faith in a path and in my commitment to it. This prepared me for my encounters with art, photography and dance where I was gifted with many opportunities to dive head first into the water and experience bliss.

I believe that surrender is a great, and often times an only, key to releasing myself from raging currents and flowing back into a steady, peaceful and embracing core current, for finding my way out of confusion and into clarity. Surrender is not giving up, but rather about giving in, it is not a random  act of cowardice but rather a directed act of faith.


As I drew the currents in the image I recognized additional qualities which hadn’t occurred to me before:

  • Most of the currents are moving in the direction of life.
  • Misdirecting currents are generally weaker then the core life currents.
  • Misdirecting currents sometimes flow in direction of the core life currents.
  • Misdirecting currents are always in contact with currents that flow better, therefore it is just a matter of time before we get pulled into a better flow.
  • All currents are connected and flow forward together with the core current, therefore even when we are in a disturbed and chaotic current, moving in what feels like an opposite direction, we are still moving forward in life.
  • No matter what we do, what we feel, what we perceive – we are in an embrace of flowing life.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours