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Friday, March 11, 2011

Politics is like bad Gulab Jamun

Today was the first day of the first weekend of Minneapolis Anusara Immersion 2. This weekend will be focusing a lot on the yoga history and the yoga sutras, so the academic in me is totally geeking out. Tonight we went over the three schools of yoga - in case you aren't familiar, the three schools are:
Advaita Vedantya: Advaita Vedantya is non-dualist, and maintains that only the spirit is real - the body and this world are an illusion, and by practicing yoga we can see the true nature of the world.
Classical Yoga: Classical yoga is based on the dualistic view that both the spirit and body are real but the spirit is superior. By practicing yoga, you can still the fluctuations of the mind in order to overcome your body and mind to see the reflection of the divine.
Tantra: Tantra is also dualistic, but believes that the body is not inferior to the mind - in Tantra, the physical world is a manifestation of the divine, and we practice yoga to remember our true nature, which is divine.

Anusara is a Tantric form of yoga, but one of our teachers said she would encourage everyone to go out and take classes from teachers in different schools to gain a deeper understanding of where Anusara fits into the bigger picture. By experiencing and engaging with other viewpoints, we can more fully understand our own.

This brings me back to last Saturday and my dinner with friends after the Con reunion. We had a really lengthy discussion on the current political situation in Wisconsin, which turned into an even deeper discussion about educational policy and the feasability of public sector unions. All of us were coming from different places, and a pretty wide spectrum of political viewpoints was represented - but because we love and respect each other, we listened without judgement and were even able to see similarities and harmony between the various sides of the argument. And, I think we all came away with a deeper understanding of where those that disagree with us are coming from.

In a way it reminds me of Gulab Jamun.

... this makes sense I promise. Maybe.

Gulab Jamun is an Indian dessert that is basically a squishy ball of dough soaked in sugary syrup. I was totally convinced that I hated Gulab Jamun, even though my friend Amanda kept telling me it was delicious. Today, I went to Bombay Bistro with Ben, and they had Gulab Jamun at the lunch buffet... remembering Amanda's insistence that I "probably just never had good Gulab Jamun," I gave it a shot....and... I liked it! It turned out, Amanda was right - in all my previous experience, Gulab Jamun had been cold and flavorless, but these were warm, just the right amount of squishy with a nice rich flavor. Still not my first choice in a dessert, but at least now I understand the appeal.

In a way, a lot of our political discourse is like bad Gulab Jamun. It's easy to think someone is a total nutjob for liking Gulab Jamun when you've only had terrible ones, or even to think you hate hamburgers if you've only eaten MacDonalds - and often, we only hear the other side of the argument filtered through its worst forms by extremely biased media outlets. "Republicans hate babies and kittens," or "Democrats are just a bunch of crazy communists!"... of COURSE no sane person could agree with the other viewpoint the way it's presented in the media, but people generally don't bother to actually engage, converse with, or attempt to understand people who disagree with them.

So where was I going with this?

Yes. Talk to people you disagree with - you might find you have something in common. And try a food you think you hate...but make sure to ask the experts first so you don't get something terrible :)

1 comment:


    And for the record, as someone who lived in India for 2 years without having a good gulab jamun I was as surprised as anyone that they could actually be tasty...must be the magic of Bombay Bistro.


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