Despite an ever-growing interest in living more sustainably, authentically and lovingly, it seems as if those with the greatest commitment to working for the common good are suffering under a new puritanism, where the focus appears to have become more about ‘becoming pure’ than ‘being truthful.’
as the lines between our personal and professional lives become increasingly blurred, and we rely more and more upon social media to maintain our connections, the avenues for open and authentic dialog seem to be shrinking.
While George Bernard Shaw may have claimed my reputation grew with every failure my personal experience is that despite a growing desire for greater authenticity in our private and public discourse people are frequently fickle and generally not quite so forgiving – except, perhaps, in retrospect.
It’s because of this that many of my friends and colleagues whose income is largely tied to their public personas often find themselves speaking to their greatest challenges, frustrations and failures historically – where the lens of irony and humour can be more easily applied – rather than in the moments that would be of most benefit to themselves, their colleagues and the world at large.
While I believe that open dialog is a requirement for a mature and high-functioning human society, I’ve experienced first hand – and on more than one occasion – the consequences of sharing my challenges with my community. I mistakenly presumed that all those with an interest in serving the common good were capable, due to their compassionate motivation for the plight of others, to consistently treat their partners on this journey with a similar regard.
I was wrong – and while these experiences were both dismaying and disappointing, it’s a failing of my own as well.
Existing social channels – facebook in particular – are woefully inadequate for engaging in supportive, open and authentic dialog as a community.
The language of ‘friend’ is misleading and, despite the ability to segment our connections into groups, a combination of in-person and online interactions can often confer an unwarranted depth of intimacy to relationships that represent a combination of family, friends, professional colleagues, clients and passing acquaintances.
I’ve both experienced and witnessed the polar extremes of responding to this homogenization of our networks – on the one hand, burying at worst or diluting at best, on the other, communicating with reckless disregard for the consequences. One of my closest friends, when we were in the presence of such an experience of (contextual) ‘over-sharing’ would frequently remark ‘wrong group of friends’.
Before we communicate with others, however, it’s in our communication with ourselves that the greatest benefit – and frequently the greatest harm – is to be realised. It’s in our identification with our beliefs about ourselves that we become trapped, and while we live in a world that appears to champion authenticity, it seems to be more interested in the sanitised and historical recounting of struggle than it is in the confused, conflicted and un-charismatic emoting that frequently accompanies our experiences in the moment.
Adversity has always been our greatest teacher. When stories of adversity are buried, however – especially when they’re representative of a conflict between our values and our actions – we not only suffer as individuals, we suffer as a society as well. Telling the truth provides a space for others to do the same, yet where do we do this when there is such a riotous confusion in our social dynamic?
Gibran says in The Prophet:
… when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light. And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.
naughtiyogi – a new project we’re preparing to launch – was created in order to subvert the internal and social dialogue of how we should be so we can celebrate who we really are.
Originally conceived as a home exclusively for refugees from the world of modern spirituality, it quickly became clear to me that there was a need for a space where we could meet, simply, as humans; where we could leave behind our social and professional roles and dive into this exploration of what it is to be human together. Where the price of entry was simply one’s willingness to be naked, to be student and teacher both, to hold space together, to explore without risk of censure our deeper, truer nature.
We do what we do because of some frequently unknown and unnameable impulse to contribute to the creation of a more loving world; yet along the way, we’ve developed a faux morality that interferes with the spirit of exploration required to discover greater and more foundational truths. While many of us may have begun this journey as artists and scientists, moved by the spirit of enquiry, we have permitted a creeping dogmatism to supplant our role as shamans, protagonists and edge-riders.
naughtiyogi provides a space that reminds us of just how dangerous it can be when moralistic frameworks are applied to any form of practise that has, at it’s core, the intention of liberating us from suffering.
I don’t believe that any one person or any one path holds they keys to resolving the universal challenges we are facing as a species. I do believe, however, that if those of us who are interested in finding better quality questions can’t find a place where we can engage in truthful dialogue then we are becoming trapped in our own social and philosophical silos. Further, if we can’t re-introduce some sense of levity – which seems so essential when we are faced with the universal suffering we feel motivated in some way to alleviate – then we are missing a phenomenal opportunity to explore new notions of family unbounded by traditional definitions.
naughtiyogi is, above all else, a playground. You might trip, you might stumble, someone might knock over your sandcastle or nick your lunch, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t come back day after day to play.
We invite you to kick off your shoes, roll up your sleeves and get dirty with us.