“No Time for Philosophy”

Apr 16, 2020

 

A few days ago, I was listening to a story on NPR about a group of community organizers in Vermont who were putting new systems into place to coordinate their efforts. One of the organizers said something like, “This isn’t the time for thinking about things, it’s a time for taking action, there’s no time for philosophy, things have to get done.”

“No time for philosophy.” That phrase stuck with me. I suspect many of us might be feeling that way just about now. And when it comes to organizing food deliveries for homebound seniors I get it. But for the yogi, I’m not so sure.

I understand how in some ways yoga philosophy might not seem very useful or applicable right now.  At a time when so many of us are dealing with very practical and serious challenges, we might feel like there’s no place in our current reality for the teachings of yoga. It might feel like it’s a privilege even to have the luxury of time and mental space for thinking about things like philosophy. Spirituality itself might feel like an extravagance as we deal with the collective uncertainty of this time.

Even for those of us who aren’t facing challenges to our very survival, I get how it might be easy to get so caught up in managing our day to day reality that we forget the some of the understandings that might really bring us the meaning and comfort we need right now.

And, yet, if I’m honest with myself, if there’s been one place I’ve found solace these days, the one thing that has brought me inner stability in these times of such great collective uncertainty, the one thing I’ve been able to hold onto even amidst moments of deep questioning and all the ups and downs of my emotions is the wisdom teachings of yoga. This “philosophy” has unfailingly come to my support every time.

Of course, practical action is needed FOR SURE, but let’s not forget, yogis, the power of the teachings and the vision of the practices we do. Let’s not forget that the movement and awareness practices we do, the breath work we teach — all of it share roots in a very particular perspective and vision.  And this vision has the potential, indeed is designed, to bring us strength, hope, and resilience. 

Yes, even amidst moments of fear, anxiety, and confusion we can use the wisdom teachings of our tradition. It’s not extravagant. It’s a necessity. For me, it’s been absolutely essential to maintain some sort of perspective. Time spent in contemplative study allows me to find glimmers of hope and meaning. It helps me face difficult emotions and a scattered mental landscape with acceptance, spaciousness, and breath, and in my better moments with compassion and love.

What are the understandings that are supporting you right now to find comfort and solace? 

What are the perspectives that are helping you find meaning and hope right now?

 

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