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Ooga Chaka, Ooga Ooga Ooga Chaka
You Tarzan, Me Mindfully Non-Violent

Once upon a time there was life in the mountains, in the jungles, on the prairies and deep in the valleys. Actions and reactions are primal in communities of hunter/ gatherers. A spear, a club, a great big rock... thrown, swung or beaten... In life’s raw quest for survival, when aggression is direct, violence is blatantly obvious.

Today, few of us rely on primitive tools of the hunt for sustenance. As our daily obligations have become conceptual and abstract, our potential for violent response has masked itself in sophisticated passivity. Accountants and attorneys, pharmacists and dietitians, designers and hair stylists... Boy, we clean up pretty good! We’ve gotten so far from our animal origins that we deny our inherent rage. Instead we have a shadow hidden our subconscious housing.

This hidden region of our experience is the realm of our disowned truth. All our taboos, aberrations and dreaded demons find sanctuary in the dim recesses of our denial. Like an absentee landlord who is insulated from the effects of his decaying tenements, we polish our social veneers with refinement and style. We put on our very well selected clothes, drink our finest, fresh ground coffee, and feel quite removed from the unseen reality beneath our civilized lives.

The problem isn’t that we’ve socialized. Nor is it the aspiration to present ourselves with beauty. The issue is that we’ve bought into the notion that we are this pretty package. We tend to be threatened by our organic realities, including natural responses to provocation and distress. Rather than throw a visible tantrum, we often resort to gossip, projected blame, or passive aggressive behavior.

When invested in a Western yoga practice, we need to interpret violence with an inclusion of subtly expressed resentments. For instance, “Was I truly unaware of tossing those red socks in with your load of whites?”, “Why did I build my case as I ranted about my co-worker for an hour on the phone?”, or “Was it really ‘just business’ when I scarfed up that piece of real estate before it hit the open market?” Much of our human substance is buried by our issues of superior refinement. On the surface we have occasions of marked generosity and tolerance. Beneath our politically correct cottons, however, we alone can examine our subtle motivations.

When we aspire to an ideal which is beyond our development, the resentment we feel needs to express itself somewhere. For example, if I think it’s wrong to eat meat, but am still attached to the pleasure of consuming it, I will resent and attack those who eat it. When my doctor says I need to reduce fat on the scale and on my plate before I’m willing to change, I will resent any lean person eating ice cream. When this response turns inward, we need to question the concept of yin violence... unseen, unspoken and unresolved. Where does all that bile go?

Our vibrations are infinitely honest. What we attract is a mirror of the emotion we are generating. The overlooked gift in aggressive encounters is the opportunity to access another forgotten, inner dwelling. That fixer-upper home within seeks our witness. A teacher once told me that the person who bothers me most holds the key to my next unfolding. If I’m on a path of excavating my Divine Self, I need to find my provocations and explore them.

If it is love you are looking for,
Take a knife and cut off the head of fear.

All of our methods of practice are symbolic. The repetition of form creates a metaphor to be integrated into our larger, exterior worlds. Push Hands, a Tai Chi technique, employs energetic acceptance. One moves with an opponent’s force and thereby avoids injury. The force naturally turns in upon itself. This is similar to my inner response with a non-violent teacher. If there is aggression in my assertions, it expresses without confrontation and has no righteous wall to hit. I am left in the resonance of my truth.

You touched the egg of my heart: It broke apart.
The bird of heaven is opening its wings.

When we seek ahimsa, awareness is essential. It’s necessary to identify the primal response to each provocation. If we don’t recognize authentic anger, we can’t handle it’s natural power. Whether direct or passive, yang or yin, concrete or abstract, conscious emotion enables conscious response.

Gold becomes constantly more and more beautiful
From the blows the jeweler inflicts on it.

“So Tarzan, tofu tonight?”

poetry excerpts from Rumi

by Toni Zuper
Alternative Healing
Center City, Philadelphia

published in Yoga Living -- January 2006 issue