Once upon a time a mystical movement became water and moved from east to west. The gurus of this movement dreamed it would take root, grow, and change people in the new land. A bold vision drove their mission; they were certain and sure. The gurus taught students but were confused by them. They were tall, loud, and rich, but they listened to their gurus and absorbed the way of wisdom and ancient discipline.
The gurus were overwhelmed by bright neon lights and an infant culture. They misplaced prayer beads and lost their way. Their movement danced and shape-shifted. It wasn’t what the gurus expected but better than they could have hoped for. In a short time, the practice prospered.
Many in the new land feared it, but someone discovered it was good for prisoners, alcoholics, the sick, those suffering pain, and even angry youth. The rich and healthy began to think that perhaps the gurus offered good medicine.
Western teachers, overlooking spirituality of the way, taught their version. The culture moved fast, like a river’s rapids. Westerners, motivated by money, fed off the illusion of freedom. The west land had great diversity and creativity; and when coupled with entrepreneurial spirit, energy drinks, and ambition, yoga flowed across the land. This was, after all, the guru’s original vision.
The movement became a symbol of youth, change, and the culturally hip. Athletes and celebrities endorsed the practice and photographs of yogis posed in peacock asana were featured in glossy magazines, billboards, and Instagram glossies.
But the Eastern gurus’ mystical remnant became a vanishing dream, a memory from a place and time long past. They didn’t like what the Interstate highways delivered; they didn’t understand how their sacred gift had been co-opted. Some gurus left the land of glitter and returned to the source. Other gurus had students, money, and food, so they chose to stay and lived through the movements’ ongoing metamorphosis, but alone, they wondered what happened to Brahman.
The gurus had landed on fertile soil. Their movement took root and was growing, growing, growing, growing out of control. The original vision grew faint.
One day at a gathering, a yogi at the ashram wept on hearing a passage from Shelly, “Life, like a dome of many-colored glass. Stains the white radiance of eternity.” Once upon a time the waters of Babylon moved fast, the gurus moved slow, and there was no direction home.