As yoga spread as a form of physical fitness across America, some of its terms have become widely used by the general population. These arise in Sanskrit, one of three recorded languages that are believed to be close to a proto-Indo-European root of many of today’s languages that stretch across much of Asia and Europe.
Here are ten you may hear.
Namaste. Often translated as “that of God in me greets that of God in you.”
Karma. Action or doing, leading each individual to reap the consequences of his own actions, good and bad.
Mantra. A word or phrase that is sounded repeatedly to aid concentration in meditation.
Om. Also spelled Aum. The greatest of the mantras. Repeated properly, it produces great harmony in the body and the mind.
Chakra. One of seven points of subtle energy threaded along the spine, each one opening like a lotus and unleashing related awareness.
Asana. Sitting or posture. Each of the physical exercises is known as an asana.
Ashram. A hermitage or dwelling place of a teacher and students.
Just look at the topics percolating in Yoga Bootcamp.
Here are ten:
The origins of yoga as a popular American practice.
Yoga as a way of life. It’s much more than a means of physical fitness.
Back-to-the-earth lifestyles. There’s a lot of basics to learn from a hands-on perspective when it comes to gardening, firewood, well water, construction, and the like.
Sharing a household. It’s another way the resident yogis come to know each other deeply. That includes faults and failures despite individuals’ idealized professions. Their goal, of course, is to help each one become a better person. You can’t do this part alone.
Authentic identities. There’s no room for holier-than-thou facades in this maverick laboratory. Swami’s faults are front and center.
Meditation and selfless service. These are emphasized more than the physical exercises, for good reason.
Celibacy and sex. It’s a struggle to stay focused on the spiritual path. Just look at all the males in their bramacharies.
Vegetarian as more than a diet. They also garden and make their own bread. And then there’s the coffee, which other ashrams would ban. Oh, yes, and they fast every Monday. Care to know why?
No recreational drugs, no radio, no TV. The ashram is a place for detoxing from addictions of all kinds.
Counterculture identity. The story is set in the high hippie era, and despite their prohibitions on sex and drugs and the like, the residents are more counterculture than ever in their lives. They’re seen on its cutting edge, in fact. It’s a curious paradox, in its own way, but it is colorful and exciting.
Kittery, Maine, is a few miles downstream from where I live. It’s also across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth, which is loaded with eateries – maybe as many per capita as Manhattan.
For much of its existence, Kittery has been pretty blue-collar. It’s home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – the U.S. Navy’s oldest continuously operating yard – and now tasked with the upkeep of nuclear submarines. It’s also home to a lot of lobstermen.
When I first came to New Hampshire, the Kittery Grange Hall was the scene of a monthly contradance – both the grange and the event now ancient history.
Oh, yes, and its strip of discount outlet stores along U.S. 1 is a major tourist attraction. Seriously. As is the adjacent sprawling Kittery Trading Post.
But with Portsmouth booming and the cost of its retail space skyrocketing, Kittery has been undergoing a transformation. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Wallingford Square, which used to be a gritty cluster of bars around one of the shipyard’s two gates. Today it’s been rechristened Kittery Foreside and is the center of some enterprising fine dining and food sellers.
Here’s what you’ll find.
Anneke Jans. Upscale trendy dining with a devoted following. It’s the culinary anchor.
Rudders Public House. Specialty: Kittery Fried Chicken.
Lil’ s Café. Crulers, anyone?
AJ Wood Grill Pizza. Get the picture?
Anju Noodle Bar. For that Asian touch.
Wallingford Dram. Artisan cocktails in “that walk-in closet, timeless gem of a bar,” as one critic describes it.
The Black Perch. Duck-gravy laden pontine.
Festina Lente. Rustic Italian.
Authentic India. As it says.
Tributary Brewing Company.
Nearby is the Beach Pea bakery, the best baguettes around, and Loco Coco’s Tacos, with its wonderful fine Mexican cuisine.
When I first started to reflect on his, I was inclined to cite the obvious big forces – the superrich, their military-industrial-financial complex, and a host of similar drains on the common good. I’ll let Bernie Sanders carry that side of the argument for now.
Instead, I’m thinking of some of the themes that play out in my novels Daffodil Uprising and Pit-a-Pat High Jinks.
Individualism. The do-your-own-thing outlook had its upside, but it also dampened our ability to come together for sustained work toward shared goals. Ultimately, it lessened our common identity. Like Kenzie’s housemates at the farm, finding much common ground could be elusive.
Fuzzy goals. Knowing what we were against, often fueled by anger, was rarely balanced by knowing what we were for – nobody had a clear idea of how to go to the better world we sensed was possible. Lifting the draft, for instance, was only one step toward making a more peaceful world. And not wanting to have a marriage or a job like those our parents endured wasn’t the same as raising children in a new way or running a small-is-beautiful successful business.
Disrespect for labor. Yes, I know the “lazy hippie” slur, but I did see a lot of effort put forth, too. An expectation of something for nothing, though, had a divisive impact. Respect for labor also means knowing how to perform a job well and how to earn a livable wage. We were so naïve on so many fronts here.
Drugs. Admittedly, passing the pipe had a tribal quality, but too much simply removed an individual from action. In that sense, the rumors of CIA involvement in the importation of hard drugs as a way to blunt the peace movement begin to sound deviously rational. And LSD left a lot of wreckage.
Sexism and racism. It was there, one way or another. By the way, we didn’t see a lot of black hippies, did we? That in itself could be another topic of discussion.
Free love fallout. For many, it was fun while it lasted. Some even ended up in marriages that have lasted. For many, though, it led instead to betrayals, breakups, and bitterness – not exactly the ideal image when you define hippie as happy.
Irresponsibility. Think of the vanishing food from your shelf in the refrigerator or the things that got permanently borrowed without anyone asking. The list of examples will be long.
Aging. It was a youth movement, maybe the first generational tide in history. Geezer is not part of the definition of hippie – never has been, never will be. Besides, can we trust anyone under 30?
Violence. Few of us have turned out to be as consistently gentle as we’d like. Even if we never crossed over into physical hostility, we’ve likely been verbally wounding. Anyone else remember a few from back then who bought a gun – for self-defense, as they always argued? Especially if they were involved in dealing?
Global warming. I’m not kidding. This will completely thwart any Revolution of Peace & Love as everyone runs for the hills. Or tries to swim in the riptide.
It’s not just Cassia in What’s Left who wants to know about her father’s fascination with Tibetan Buddhism. It plays a big role in his movements in Pit-a-Pat-High Jinks and Subway Visions, too.
Number of Tibetans in U.S.: Estimated at 9,000.
Buddhists in U.S.: 3,860,000 (Pew Research Center, 2010). Other estimates range from 1.2 million to 8 million.
Number of converts: 800,000.
Buddhism in Indiana (scene of What’s Left): Includes the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and Kumbum Chamtse Ling Temple, both in Bloomington and founded by Thubten Norbu, brother of the Dalai Lama.
Other major Tibetan Buddhist centers in U.S.: Barnet, Vermont; Berkeley, California; Boulder, Colorado; Chino Valley, Arizona; Red Feather Lakes, Colorado; Poolesville, Maryland; Portland, Oregon Seattle, Washington; Sedona, Arizona; Woodstock, New York.
Population of Tibet: 6 million Tibetans, 7.5 million Chinese settlers.
Estimated number of Tibetans killed by Chinese since 1949: 1.2 million.
Number of monasteries destroyed: 6,000.
The Dalai Lama: Its spiritual leader has more than 13 million Twitter followers.
Most Tibetans fear the spirit world and its demons: They’re blamed for illness, bad luck, and misfortune.
While monasteries with wider church support are a longstanding institution in Christian history, independent, self-sustaining faith-based communes have made their mark in America. Unlike a monastery, not all of them were celibate.
Here are ten.
Ephrata Cloister. Pennsylvania, 1732-2008. Founded by Johann Conrad Beissel, the pietist group broke off from the German Baptist Brethren (or Dunker) denomination, which largely continues as today’s Church of the Brethren. It had the second printing press in the American colonies. Its celibate emphasis was gradually eliminated.
Moravians. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1741), and Salem, North Carolina (1753). The denomination dates to Jan Hus (1369-1415), a Czech reformer years before Luther and Calvin led the Protestant Reformation. The American communities initially had common ownership of all property by the church, supervised housing for single men and single women, and likely other communal aspects.
The Shakers. Founded by Mother Ann Lee, it settled in Watervliet, New York, 1774, and spread from Maine to Indiana and Kentucky. Best known of the communal movements, in part for its beautiful furniture and architecture. One village remains.
Hebus Valley. Pennsylvania. Founded by George Rapp, 1824-1906. Christian theosophists and pietists.
Hopedale Community. Massachusetts, Adin Ballou, 1842-1856. “Practical Christianity” with a Universalist base. Utopian ideals included temperance, abolitionism, women’s rights, and spiritualism. Attempted to be part of the surrounding community.
Amana Colonies. Originated in Germany in 1714 and arrived in Iowa, 1855. Communal system ended in 1932.
Bruderhof. An Anabaptist denomination arising from the Hutterites in Germany in 1920, it has communities in Paraguay, Europe, Australia, and the United States (from 1954). Its beliefs are similar to Mennonites – peace, simplicity, adult baptism, and so on. There are currently 17 communities in the U.S.
Hare Krishnas. The best known of the ISKON (Krishna Consciousness) communities is New Vrindaban, West Virginia, settled in 1968.
Friends Southwest House. McNeal, Arizona, opened in 1976. I didn’t even know of this Quaker community, much less of its long life.
Eighteenth Avenue Peace House. Portland, Oregon, opened in 1986. Ecumenical Christian.
Any you’d add to the list?
Top Ten, Religion, Spirituality, History, Inspiration,