Sunday, November 14, 2010

6) Book Review : World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony

Product Description
Food is our most intimate and telling connection both with the living natural order and with our living cultural heritage. By eating the plants and animals of our earth, we literally incorporate them. It is also through this act of eating that we partake of our culture’s values and paradigms at the most primal levels. It is becoming increasingly obvious, however, that the choices we make about our food are leading to environmental degradation, enormous human health problems, and unimaginable cruelty toward our fellow creatures.

Incorporating systems theory, teachings from mythology and religions, and the human sciences, The World Peace Diet presents the outlines of a more empowering understanding of our world, based on a comprehension of the far-reaching implications of our food choices and the worldview those choices reflect and mandate. The author offers a set of universal principles for all people of conscience, from any religious tradition, that they can follow to reconnect with what we are eating, what was required to get it on our plate, and what happens after it leaves our plates.
The World Peace Diet suggests how we as a species might move our consciousness forward so that we can be more free, more intelligent, more loving, and happier in the choices we make.
About the Author
Will Tuttle has a master’s degree in humanities from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. in the philosophy of education from the University of California. A professional pianist and teacher, he has for the last thirteen years toured progressive churches, vegetarian and macrobiotic conferences, and intentional communities throughout the country. He trained in Korea as a Zen Buddhist monk and has worked extensively in Tai Chi, yoga, massage, and dance and movement. He lives in Healdsburg, California.

Book review :
Various review exists for this book but I am presenting here one excellent review from by a person named Delisa Renideo that expresses wonderfully what this book contains and why one must buy and read the same and imbibe the principles in our life .Here is the review below :

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to grow spiritually, who wants to live a conscious and compassionate life, and who wants to contribute to world peace. I have read many books on the topic of vegetarianism, animal rights and animal welfare, spiritual growth, and peace and nonviolence. This book stands alone in its ability to make the connection between all of these subjects.

Will Tuttle, Ph.D. is a rare combination of extraordinary compassion, scholarly research and education, spiritual commitment and wisdom, intuitive insights, and the courage to challenge a worldview which goes back 10,000 years

In this book, Tuttle explores humanity's relationship with the foods we eat. He points out, very convincingly, that when humans began herding animals, it began to create a consciousness of exploitation which then spread to the control and domination of other humans, as well as animals. So the roots of human's violence to humans are found in the practice of seeing animals as objects to exploit for our own purposes: for food, furs, labor, entertainment, "sport" and experimentation. The use of humans as slaves and the subjugation of women followed the subjugation and enslavement of animals.

One thing that sets this book apart from any of the others that describe the problems associated with a meat-based diet is the focus on the spiritual aspects of our diet. When we take food into our bodies, we are also ingesting the energy contained in this food. Animals that are tortured and filled with terror and agony as they are killed are filled with this very negative energy. When humans eat their flesh, we are also ingesting this fear and anger. This affects us deeply. We cannot live with peace in our hearts as long as we are filling our bodies with the pain and suffering of other beings.

Tuttle helps us to see that none of us have actually chosen a diet based upon meat. Our mothers fed us meat from our infancy. As we got old enough to understand that we were eating animals, we were told that animals were put here for us to eat, so it was okay. We didn't question this, any more than we questioned wearing clothes or taking baths. Thus, we absorbed the acceptance of exploitation of animals so naturally that we didn't know it was happening. And being unconscious, it is hard to recognize the violence that is part of our everyday lives through the eating of animals. Therefore, it is also hard to recognize how insensitive we have become to violence, because we have to protect ourselves from an awareness of the violence we are part of 3 times a day.

This is a very important book for everyone who wants their lives to contribute to more peace in the world, rather than more suffering and violence.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

5) My first Yoga Inspiration : Sri Krishnamacharya

Even though I have been involved as a teacher /student with the Sivananda System of Classical Hatha Yoga ( founder Swami Vishnu devananda )  right from 1997 , my first Yoga inspiration was not Swami Vishnu devananda but Sri Krishnamacharya . I have never met Sri Krishnamacharya but used to see his pictures in many local magazines doing amazing asanas even at his old age . During those time I was not motivated in to yoga much .But there was once a special edition of a local magazine in Tamil language which was in the form of a question and answer session by Sri Krishnamacharya's son Sri Desikachar ( who founded KYM ) and there in he described the origins of yoga , various health and spiritual benefits of yoga , what makes Sri Krishnamacharya so special and why is yoga so popular these days and other related questions .Since that book had a vast variety of questions from many common people ,I felt as though those were the questions I wanted to ask for which Sri Desikarchar's answers were really excellent and motivating . 
Some of the things I found motivating in that book are :
1) How Sri Krishnamacharya  cured the 20 year insomnia problem of an English women in just one session of yoga .
2) How J Krishnamurti came to learn yoga from Desikachar and how much respect  J Krishnamurti gave him inspite of the fact that J Krishnamurti was already a world famous spiritual teacher .
3) How Yoga therapy under Sri Desikachar's guidance  helped one famous sports person in Chennai who was affected by a wrong medical treatment to develop self confidence and start facing life positively inspite of the fact that wrong treatment crippled him from playing competitive sports again .
4) Most motivating for me was Sri Krishnamacharya's daily yoga sadhana in spite of his old age  and Sri Desikachar had mentioned that Krishnamacharya used to get up early morning before 3 a.m and do his own yoga sadahana first and also his morning worship to the Gods and finish them before people got up .This was very motivating for me as Krishnamacharya's house was hardly 2-3 km from my house and yet he was doing this daily Yoga sadhana inspite of his old age and inspite of being a family man with wife ,kids and grand kids  . So I thought that to be a Yogi one need not run to Himalaya's but that one can very well practice yoga sadahana being in the city and this was what got me hooked on me to start trying Yoga . So I would say that Sri Krishnamacharya was my first Yoga inspiration but I could never meet him personally as by the time I got really interested in yoga i.e in 1997 he was no longer alive and fate pushed me to learn yoga from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Chennai and that was one of the biggest blessings in my life as it turned me from a Yoga practitioner to a yoga teacher to a person who did a Yoga TV show .Though Sri Krishnamacharya was my first Yoga inspiration , it was Swami Vishnu devananda ( founder Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre ) who was my main guiding force for all the Yoga sadahana and Yoga teaching I did so far .More about that later in another post .

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

4) Inspiration from Senior Ashtanga Yoga Teachers

Most people get attracted to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga due to the intensity of its practice and the wonderful benefits it gives to its practitioners . While that may be true , I got motivated to try Ashtanga after reading about the lives of many senior Ashtanga teachers  .One thing that I noticed in the lives of these senior Ashtanga Teachers was that they had a very deep commitment to their own daily practice before they started teaching and some even spent nearly 10 years of dedicated practice before they started to teach professionally outside .More that that they still continue to maintain a high degree of their own personal practice in spite of their hectic teaching schedule .Many of them have made 7-8 trips to Mysore and stayed in Mysore for 2-3 months during each trip  to practice under the  guidance of Sri.K.Pattabhi Jois and his grandson Sharath and they did this inspite of the fact that they were well established as Yoga teachers in their respective countries . It is not that these people were super rich or were earning a lot .They saved money to visit Mysore and went back again to earn to come back again next year . This definitely involved investing lot of time ,money and energy and sacrificing lot of personal comforts . Also one of the other important trait that I found in these senior Ashtanga teachers was that they get up early  in morning  around 3 a.m and finish their intensive Ashtanga practice for 2 hrs or so before they start giving their first Yoga class at 5.30 or 6 a.m . This really demonstrates a high degree of commitment to the Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga system and this is what made me admire these Ashtanga teachers as well as the Ashtanga Vinayasa  Yoga system .Some of the senior Ashtanga Teachers who impressed me most were Sharath , David Williams , Nancy Gilgoff , Louise Ellis ,Danny Paradise , Hamish Hendry ,Govinda Kai and many more can be found in the book Guruji : A Portrait of Sri K.Pattabhi Jois through the eyes of his students by Guy Donahaye , Eddie Stern. I read this book only later but even before that I came to know of some of the senior Ashtanga Teachers through internet and was amazed by their personal commitment to the Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga system and the book Guruji only amplified the same through many more examples of senior students who are currently keeping the flame of Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga tradition alive . Except for Louise Ellis ( who was my first Ashtanga Yoga Teacher ) I have never met any of these other Ashtanga Teachers in real life and I do not know how they are in real life and  do not know how  far they carry on the principles of Yoga beyond the Yoga Mat /Yoga Class . Whatever  that may be I admire them for their dedication to their personal practice and for living the message of Sri K Pattabhi Joise that Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory .  This is what impressed me most in them and this is what inspired me to take up Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga seriously and I hope that I too will live by  the same standards as set by these senior Ashtanga teachers .