"Most people are not looking for provable truths... truth is often accompanied by intense pain, and almost no one is looking for painful truths. What people need is beautiful, comforting stories that make them feel as if their lives have some meaning. Which is where religion comes from...
If a certain belief--call it "Belief A"--makes the life of that man or this woman appear to be something of deep meaning, then for them Belief A is the truth. If Belief B makes their lives appear to be powerless and puny, then Belief B turns out to be a falsehood. The distinction is quite clear. If someone insists that Belief B is the truth, people will probably hate him, ignore him, or, in some cases, attack him. It means nothing to them that Belief B might be logical or provable. Most people barely manage to preserve their sanity by denying and rejecting images of themselves as powerless and puny."
Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been intently reading 1Q84. Which may explain my lower level of blogging activity. I've been enjoying the novel so far, but it's a pretty intense read, not easy to get through. To begin with, it's almost a thousand pages, and it appears that Murakami is trying to squeeze every idea he has ever had about the world, every bizarre plot device and development, and every strange or interesting character he can think of into these 900 plus pages. You almost have to be a little ADD to be able to keep up with all these things. The novel is a love story, science-fiction tale and detective/mystery story all rolled into one. Personally, I kind of feel the love story (which is basically the central story-line tying everything else together) to be a bit of a distraction from the many interesting themes that he brings up. But then again, maybe Murakami is trying to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Who knows?
Anyway, the above passage from 1Q84 really speaks to me. I think there is much truth to the idea that most people (including, probably, myself) prefer to believe in beautiful narratives about life and the universe than to confront certain painful truths, especially if these truths contradict the beautiful narratives they want to believe.
Actually, this is kind of related to what I wrote about in my previous post. Think about it this way. We basically have two beliefs here:
Belief A: Ashtanga was designed for teenage boys.
Belief B: Ashtanga was not designed for teenage boys.
If you have been reading this blog for a while and/or know a few things about what many in the greater yoga world think about Ashtanga, you won't need me to tell you that many in the greater yoga world subscribe to Belief A. There are many possible reasons why people might subscribe to Belief A. One possible reason might be misinformation or indoctrination (I would personally call it "brainwashing", but I get the sense that I've already upset enough people as it is...). For instance, I hear that certain very reputable big name yoga studios which conduct teacher training programs all across the country actually tell their teacher trainees that Ashtanga was originally designed for young boys to channel their hyperactive energies and focus their minds. My acupuncturist, who recently completed a 200 hour training program with one such studio (apparently the program is designed in such a way that upon graduation, the graduate will be qualified to teach, among other things, Ashtanga/Vinyasa classes), also voiced the same belief to me when she heard that I practice only Ashtanga (see this post).
In addition, I also have a hunch that perhaps people subscribe to Belief A because it makes life easier for them, in a sense. What do I mean? Well, if it is indeed true that Ashtanga was designed for teenage boys, then if you are not a teenage boy, you have a perfect reason (excuse?) not to practice Ashtanga: It gets you off the hook, so to speak! Well, okay, maybe there isn't any hook to get off of, in the first place, but I think you see what I'm getting at: The general idea is that if there is a belief that makes your life a little easier, why not believe it?
So why don't I believe Belief A? For one thing, because I really don't think it's true. And I also happen to be an Ashtanga Fundamentalist. And it is actually easier to be an effective Ashtanga Fundamentalist if you believe that Ashtanga was not designed for teenage boys: Otherwise, you will basically be going into every practice with the idea that you are doing a practice that was designed for somebody else's body. This can't be healthy, energetically speaking.
Anyhow, I think I've written enough for now: I have quite probably reached my daily one percent theory limit, and need to get on with other things. So I'll sign off for now.