Today, making the mistake of scrolling Facebook with better things to do, I happened across a post on BLM and anti-racist issues above an article critiquing love and light washing in the ‘spiritual’ community. This post was all about how white yoga teachers should stand with indigenous Australians and stop being racists. Published in a yoga group, something called ‘tribal awakening’, the author of the post, declared that he could not agree more with the article and suggested we all had work to do on ourselves.
Nothing about how this ‘tribal awakening’ concept was itself criticised in the article…No link to racism and the cultural appropriation of yoga. No mention of the indigenous Hindu cultures he was actively engaged in destroying within the neo-tantric industry.
Further down, the next rant from the same guy, was above another post addressed to ‘white spiritual people’. This rant was about how we are all in this matrix of structural/systemic racism and had some work to do on ourselves, to face up to the painful shadow side, etc etc.
Basically, the idea is, to overcome the stereotypically superficial ‘love and light washing’, all one had to do was ‘face the shadow’ and ‘escape from the matrix’ by ‘waking up’. Nothing at all about what that implies for the indigenous traditions upon which his own career was built without any acknowledgement whatsoever.
This led me to ponder on how assuming the position of a spiritual teacher looks a lot like blackface on the silver screen. It’s one thing to wear a Native American head-dress for a party, for one-time event, and degrading the authority of chiefs and the laws of that tradition.
That is akin to blackface. It is another thing again to use that impersonation to obtain a living, such as blackface actors on the silver screen. There is a further step involved with ‘yogis’ that claim to be spiritual teachers, especially in the traditions of tantra — such as those that do include practices of a sexual nature. The assumption of the personhood of a tantric, combined with the utter misrepresentation of that indigenous traditional knowledge is not just cultural appropriation. It is impersonation and fraud.
In this case, it is exponentially more offensive to Hindus, who are the community from which the majority of today’s studio yoga practices were developed. Tantric traditions, aside from where they were selectively drawn into mainstream Hinduism and Buddhism, were hidden.
‘Sacred sexuality’, as re-presented by Neo-Tantrics, is not, and never has been, accepted by mainstream Hindu or Buddhist society. Whether or not that is fair or just is beside the point.
It still does not mean that they were not an integral undercurrent beneath Hindu cultures or accessed by a cross section of their communities. To make a claim that they were rejected by the Vedic Brahmins, and therefore are outside of Hindu religion — so uplifting them is AOK — would be absurd. Many of the greatest Tantric scriptures, ones that reject the caste system as criteria for practice, such as Tantraloka, were written by Brahmins and practiced by them for over a thousand years.
Secret initiatory practices in indigenous cultures, further, are not legitimately up for adjudication as to whether they can be made public, by YTT trained yoga teachers and scholars. These protocols cannot be simply explained away by concepts like ‘the Guru is Dead’, or traditions extinct.
If they are secret they may well appear to be extinct to those who are not initiates. It is this type of non-sense that comes out of Neo-tantric workshops. Some miniscule amount of Tantric philosophical materials may be available in translated texts, however those clearly state that the knowledge cannot be effective from books, it is to be obtained from a guru, by a qualified student, who are both subject to severe consequences for breaking the traditional law.
Clearly, however, even those intellectual approaches to the tradition are not taken by such ‘yogis’, as their ‘sexual intimacy’ products bear absolutely no resemblance to the scriptural teachings, nor the practical ones.
This is not only fraudulent to the traditions, it deceives clients who pay big money to get their weekend rocks off. How then, can such a person claim to be ready to catalyse some kind of ‘anti-racism’ movement when wearing what is the Hindu equivalent of blackface?
These and other questions cannot be reasonably dealt with from ‘inside that matrix’. It is like asking a domestic violence perpetrator to solve for others the same problem he cannot himself overcome.
As Einstein said, we cannot solve our problems from the same mindset that created them. No amount of Reiki, sexology, yoga or tantra from this alleged ‘healer’ can be trusted to shift the issue of racism in culturally appropriated yoga and tantra.
Whilst I agree with this teacher that they are part of the problem, I do not see any attempt to actually do more than to white wash their deep blindness to their own racism for PR.
Astonishingly enough, by posting his rant along with an article on spiritual bypassing. In this case, more than failing to face his dark side, whilst ramming that concept down our throats, he is simply taking the spotlight to darken his own shadow. And that is what in the woke society is called, white saviourism, and virtue signalling.