Richard Freeman speaks, My own dogma, Piriformis

I fell behind in listening to Richard Freeman’s talks. Finally slowed down enough yesterday to download and listen to “The Myth of Technique.” (Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the download.) Well worth a listen. And (note to Sanskrit Scholar) he chants — and translates — and interprets! — the chant you taught us: the one that starts with sahana vavatu. And hey, SS, thanks for teaching me that Sanskrit is phonetic! Means I can spell, at least, even if not pronounce… 😉

I’ve always wanted to study with RF. Not really sure why — the zen connection, maybe. Anyhow, studying with him is one of my few Ashtanga ambitions. I distinguish, here, between ambitions and “notions,” or “enthusiasms.” I have lots of energy and some means, so it’s easy for me to act quickly on notions that catch my fancy.

On the other hand, I tend to have lots of patience with ambitions. I like to watch them unfold. Notions are things that pop into my head — things that capture my imagination. Things that appeal to the Karen of “The Karen Show.” Things that I’m not particularly surprised to find in my suitcase.

Ambitions, on the other hand, evolve. They intimate themselves, rather than popping up like jack-in-the-boxes. They have lots of psychic traction before they even become conscious. And they’re way bigger than “I” am.

I will remember, though, as Owl suggests, not to take RF to induce heedlessness. Like they say in the precepts. Or DO they???


I have been thinking about my practice of vegetarianism and dogma. ‘Nuff said for now.


This morning’s practice was terrrrrrrrific. I’ve had a spate of painful, sluggish, tough-to-motivate practices since returning from the Matthew Sweeney workshop. What’s that, about a month of not-so-nice practices? Those are hard spells, for sure.

Today, though, strong and happy and focused. I was nervous at baddha konasana when The Archangel moved in for an adjustment. I pointed at my right hip and said, “piriformis,” wondering if he’d just skip the whole thing. Nope. He did a usual adjustment, with the added detail of his knee sunk into the piriformis, which was astonishingly good. Kinda reminiscent of Candice-the-Massage-Therapist thumb magic.

In the changing room afterwards, I was putting on makeup when a blond woman entered and smiled at me. I smiled back, happy, and went back to my makeup.

As I was leaving, I picked up my stuff and said, “See you! Have a good day.”

“It was really nice practicing next to you today,” she said.

It was really nice practicing next to you, too — even though I didn’t know it was you, I was tempted to say, but left it at, “Yeah, it was a good practice day today, wasn’t it?”


2 Responses

  1. Traitorous comma!

    That’s hilarious but maddening–it’s just asking for textual exegesis.

    Been thinking about the ways state-altering drugs play in to the past century of westerner’s spiritual discoveries in the east. Ram Dass and friends traded psylicibin for Maharajii, and eventually found the teacher to be a far better mind-altering agent than the drug. (whereas in ashtanga the drug of choice among old-timers was marijuana… but that is a whole other topic). I guess the secret history of drugs for practice and teachers as drugs goes back to that teacher who ripped off his eyelids to stay awake while meditating, and then they grew into green tea plants? Actually, I’m going to go have a cup of Bodhidharma right now… but to become more heedFUL rather than heedless.

    Really interesting, this idea of volition that is ambitious in a sense but that you see operating kind of parallel to your own growth and change, and eventually intertwining with it.

  2. Hi Karen
    Oh, the Bodhidharma story. Quite a story and it sounds funny when you first hear it. Buddhist stories are like that. Now I forgot what I was going to say. Oh, yea, I was going to ask, I get Muscle Man, but how does Archangel derive his name?

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