by Anneli Rufus
On December 30, three boys and a girl walked into Berkeley's Yoga Mandala Studio whose goal, according to its web site, is "to cultivate a community that embraces the sacred feminine as the very fabric that knits us all together, both women and men in the hoop of life." One youth asked to use the restroom. When he returned, three kids distracted the clerk; the other seized the cash box. They fled, according to the Berkeley police log.
"Americans," reads the studio's mission statement, "generally report a sense of purposelessness and deep dissatisfaction with their lives; the inevitable outcome of a society founded on greed, violence and the pursuit of personal happiness above the greater good. It has only taken 200 years for this path of rampant consumption, commercialism and the elevation of the importance of the individual over the whole of society to undermine the family, the community, and the importance of selfless virtuous conduct. No amount of money, material possessions, entertainment, or psychotherapy can alleviate the emptiness produced by such a path." True, true.
As one of many yoga styles taught at the studio, "Tantra offers us a model of virtuous self-conduct, family, and community which reflects the core values of enlightened societies the world over. Tantra teaches us that real satisfaction in life is not based on how much stuff we have, nor how interesting our personal story is. Real enjoyment of life and the contentment and creativity that flows unimpeded from such a life comes from a change in orientation. It is a shift from the obsession with 'I, me, my' to experiencing ourselves as part of a larger fabric of family, community, society, and world."
If only those kids had stayed to take a class.