Asmita and the Nightmare that is America

Day 119 – Oh, lordy, this reading is well-timed! This passage is about asmita, Patanjali’s presentation of the second affliction, which occurs as a direct result of avidya. For the individual, Rolf describes this as “the definition that seems to make sense [of ourselves].” Asmita, understandably, known as egoism, is the “mistaken belief that our abilities are who we are, and not a reflection of who we are.” More deeply that that, asmita “manifests as the madness of pride.” Rolf likens it to a lightbulb, “Having forgotten about electricity, believes that it is the light.”
Rolf likens asmita to the coin with two sides: “On one side is the sense that we are above everyone; on the other is the fear that we are beneath everyone.” On either side of the coin, the idea of disconnection occurs and, in extreme, isolation. Rather than coming to the garden of truth on our yoga mats, we stay in the “wasteland of our nightmare, a land without safety or love.” Rolf warns: “in conventional time, we have been living this nightmare for many generations.”
Rolf ends this with hope: “As we have believed in the lie of asmita, the lie of disconnection, we must now believe in the magnificent reality of spiritual connection.” I’m totally in for that, but are others? I honestly spend my days wondering if I should seek more medical attention before it is unavailable, stockpile medicines, buy avocados, write a book, march in the streets, or crawl under a rock after my yoga practice. I know I cannot fall asleep and let my brother and sisters become strangers. I feel this is the tactic in the current powers that be–to wreak havoc and let that fear further isolate us. Rolf warns that avidya and asmita will leave us “hungry, tired, and afraid” and it will criple us into forgetting who we are and believing the fiction that is the dream rather than the reality. Oh, lordy, this reading is intense.

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