Anyway, quite a few people in the blogosphere (including Patrick and sereneflavor) have already said quite a bit about this latest round of Ashtanga muck-raking, so I won't say much more here. I'll just say two things here to Jean Marie Hackett, and to any other aspiring Ashtanga muck-rakers out there:
(1) If you want to eat dinner late (and eat a very heavy one, at that), please consider inviting me. I don't publicize this very much, as I am supposed to be an Ashtanga fundamentalist, but I am actually one of those "Ashtanga criminals" who often eat dinner pretty late (i.e. after 7 p.m.) Why? Because I just can't stand going to bed hungry. It hasn't really affected my practice too much, although I sometimes wonder whether I would have been able to get it up in Karandavasana by now if I quit eating dinner so late. Oh well. As they say, you gain some, you lose some, right? :-) But anyway, if you are also an Ashtanga criminal like me (and I am using this term in a tongue-in-cheek manner, just so you know), and you feel like having a partner in gastronomic crime will help you to feel less guilty about being so criminal, please, please invite me to dinner (gosh, how much more shameless can I get at trying to get myself invited to dinner?).
(2) I suspect that life will be easier if we take things just a little more lightheartedly. I mean, the practice is hard enough as it is. Why make it harder by beating yourself up for every little thing that you do that may not conform to the exacting standards of the so-called Ashtanga Police? You eat meat? Okay... so what? Maybe you will quit eating meat sometime in the future, when you are ready to do so. Or maybe you won't. One way or the other, life goes on. You get to live another day, and (maybe) practice another day. You are seeing other yoga? Who cares? I mean, is yoga-infidelity even a crime? Anyway, you get the picture. Nobody is a perfect Ashtangi. So what sense is there in trying so hard, and then beating yourself up when you "fail"? Unless, of course, you are one of those people who enjoy mentally flagellating yourself. In which case I don't know what to say to you (Uh... get some help, maybe?).
'Tis also the season for a little self-reflection. You see, I turned 37 today. Yes, I was born on January 24th 37 years ago. So I am now officially in my late thirties. Scary... Ah, what have I accomplished in 37 years on this planet?... I didn't even do anything today to celebrate. I just went to campus as usual. Taught my usual Thursday morning class, and then did jack shit for the rest of the day.
But something very nice did happen this morning. After class, a student came up to me, and told me I was doing a great job. She liked how I seemed to be pretty good at handling tough questions from what she saw as difficult students. I told her that I actually love being put on the spot by "difficult students"; at any rate, I actually think the best philosophy students are "difficult" students, people who simply won't stop firing questions at the teacher. In any case, I'd rather people ask me tough questions than have to lecture on and on to a class of unresponsive students.
You know, it's things like this that make me feel that teaching philosophy is worth the trouble, even if my present career outlook is very tenuous and uncertain. I've always believed that if you try to do what you do well today, tomorrow will take care of itself.
That said, maybe I will go have a big dinner to celebrate anyway. I might feel like shit during practice tomorrow. But I know I won't be alone... :-)