I'm probably going to piss off a few people by writing this, but I really think the yoga blogosphere has become a very funny place recently. What do I mean? I get the sense that, rather than using their blogs as a place to share their own feelings about their own practice and life as it pertains to the practice, many bloggers seem to be increasingly using their blogs as platforms to air their views about the latest storms and/or scandals in the yoga world, both online and in the "real" world.
Why is this an issue? Well, in a sense, it's not. After all, our blogs are our own private virtual soapboxes, and we should be allowed to say whatever we want, right? Who am I to dictate what people should or should not blog about?
Fair enough, fair enough... but I always feel that in order for yoga blogging to be meaningful and authentic, it needs to be based as much as possible on thoughts and feelings about things that one has experienced directly. These can be thoughts and feelings about the current state of one's own practice, thoughts and feelings about things that are happening in one's own life and environment, or thoughts and feelings about things and ideas that one is reading about or thinking about. I'm not quite sure how to express all this more succinctly, but the general idea is that blogging should be as close to one's first-hand empirical experience as possible. I've even coined a fancy term for this idea: Empirical Blogging.
But who says that blogging needs to be empirical? I do! Well, you may ask, what's so important about blogging's being empirical? Why should it be empirical?
To begin, the more one focuses on things that one directly experiences, the more one can come to understand what is going on in one's own life. In this way, blogging becomes a way of studying and understanding the self (i.e. svadhyaya or self-study). By contrast, the more one focuses on things in the greater world (even if it is the greater "yoga world") that may or may not have anything to do with one's own direct experience, the more likely one is to add to the already voluminous amount of vrtti that is in one's chitta. What's so bad about adding more vrtti to the chitta? Well, I can't answer this question. Only you can...
Wow, I think my professional life is starting to spill over into my blogging life: I'm beginning to sound like the didactic, preachy professor that I am in "real life"! So I better sign off soon. I see that this is not a good blogging day (or maybe it's the full moon?). But I'm guessing you know what I'm trying to say here with all my talk of empirical and non-empirical blogging. Well, in case you don't, I'll give you a couple of recent examples of non-empirical blogging:
(1) All that blogging about that William Broad book about how yoga wrecks your body: I have no problem with blogging about books. I do that myself. But from what I can see, most of the bloggers who have blogged so far about the release of this book have been blogging about it second-hand: They basically quote reviews of the book that have been done by other people or news agencies.
Rather than quote some review or other which I can go find and read myself online, wouldn't it far more valuable to go read the book yourself, and then write up a detailed, balanced appraisal of what is in the book based on your own reading? (Need I say more?)
(2) All that blogging about that John-Friend-Anusara affair: I really have no idea what is going on in this affair (which is why I don't blog about it!). Again, it seems that whatever blogging I have seen so far involves some kind of secondhand quoting of this or that source that may or may not know anything about what is actually going on.
But seriously, do I really need to know anything about what John Friend is or is not doing? If it's a matter of Famous Yogi X having sex consensually with not-so-famous-but-very-physically-attractive Yogini Y, and then going on to have sex consensually with another not-so-famous-but-also-very-physically-attractive Yogini Z, and so and so forth... why would I need to know any of this? I mean, don't people have sex with each other/one another all the time? Granted, Famous Yogi X, being a Famous--and therefore supposedly Self-realized--Yogi, shouldn't be running around having sex with a bunch of people. It's bad for his brahmacharya, and probably also for the brahmacharyas of all the people he's having sex with. But again, why do I need to know any of this? Knowing somebody's non-observance of brahmacharya isn't going to help me with my brahmacharya (nor, I suspect, with yours...). And moreover, the information, being secondhand, may or may not be accurate. So we are stuck with a very bad deal: We get some (admittedly juicy) information that may or may not be accurate, which benefits us in no tangible manner, and which most certainly adds to our collective chitta vrtti, and does nothing to help with our collective brahmacharya (or, I might add, with the other yamas, most particularly Satya, or truth).
So what gives?