On Judgmental Yogis

Yoga is about non-violence. It is based on non-harming (ahimsa). Oddly enough, I find a lot of judgmental attitudes among yogis. More oddly, it seems that ‘kundalini yogis’ (yogis of a brand who still think yoga is a bunch of different types, instead of Union) fall into this category the most, in my experience.

That in itself is odd, for the Sikh-based version of yoga taught by Yogi Bhajan (and typically known as Kundalini Yoga – as if the others have nothing to do with Kundalini) is modeled off the teachings of Guru Nanak – one of the first reformers and non-judgers in an age of judgmental people (circa 1530 CE/AD). Yogi Bhajan takes a more fundamentalist attitude, and this is reflected in his adherents. They disparage all drugs and alcohol (often while using other drugs like caffeine or worse ones), and look down their noses at people who do use them.

Hmmm…concern with the choices of others, and judgment of them, as opposed to focus on one’s own Path. That is what is called bhoga, a sort of travesty of yoga. Bhoga is typically associated with attachment to sensual pleasures, but is evident in any attitude or action that takes us away from Union…with the Self, with the Divine, with others. It is manifest any time we succumb to violence – and judging others is not only violence to them, it is violence to the Self. Maybe Yogi Bhajan needs to stress that more, or his followers need to listen more closely; I don’t know.

I suppose those who do this judging feel somehow holier than the rest of us – more capable of determining what we should and should not do. Although they may wear flowers in their hair and smile a lot, when I hear people like this, I cannot tell the difference between them and that mean old Baptist church that hates the US and gay people and everyone else not like them. The difference between the two is smaller than you think…it is just a matter of degree, at best.


‘Pastor Deacon Fred’ of the Westboro Baptist Church

…this guy hates pot smokers, too

…and all people who are not like him

…he judges them, as if he were God Himself

…when you hate, you align yourself with him and his ilk

…when you judge others, you align yourself with him

How does THAT fit with your ‘yoga’?

This blog was inspired by a yogi who commented on a free cannabis giveaway here in Boulder, for the homeless and those displaced by the recent flood. She called it ‘silliness’ and ‘disturbing.’ If that is not judgmental, I had better re-check the dictionary. She feels it is not judgmental, and feels no shame for holding such a non-yogic attitude. i was surprised beyond belief, as this person appeared to be a Child of Light, and full of love. Well, love is as love does.

Here’s the definition of judgmental, per Wikipedia:

“A value judgment is a judgment of the rightness or wrongness of something or someone, or of the usefulness of something or someone, based on a comparison or other relativity. As a generalization, a value judgment can refer to a judgment based upon a particular set of values or on a particular value system. A related meaning of value judgment is an expedient evaluation based upon limited information at hand, an evaluation undertaken because a decision must be made on short notice.” (emphasis mine)

…and in counterpoint, Wikipedia’s definition of non-judgmental:

Nonjudgmental is a descriptor that conveys the opposite meaning to the pejorative[clarification needed] sense of value judgment: it expresses avoidance of personal opinion and reflex “knee-jerk” reactions.”

So I cannot tell who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’. I do not want to tell. Let the homeless smoke all the pot they want; it’s better than booze, and they are the ones who have to sleep outdoors tonight. Let the judgmental judge all they want, or use pejoratives like silly and disturbing to describe behavior they do not approve of. All good. Let me simply concentrate on my own practice.

Of course, there is a large measure of hypocrisy in these words; in no small way do I appear to be judging the people who are judgmental. Don’t be fooled. I cannot judge them, for I am entirely human, fallible, and the least of them. I am just one yogi, trying to figure it all out (or drop it all and just BE).

‘Who am I to say what needs to be done? I’m just nobody, another lost one…caught between what’s left and what needs to be done.’

-John Mellencamp/Now More Than Ever

“They say you got to choose your side and when it’s done…nobody right, nobody wrong”

-Michael Franti/Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong


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