Losing the Essence
Rome was born, some amazing advancements happened (unless you were the ones being conquered!), and then Rome fell. And this pattern was not an isolated historical event nor is it only relevant to countries. Very few things that expand worldwide can sustain themselves into perpetuity unless their foundation is strong, altruistic, and based on integrity (AA might be an example but even it is only a few decades old and might become irrelevant if society were to evolve enough to no longer have addictions). But even in those scenarios, it is still possible to fall away from the original ideals and lose the very essence of the thing itself.
There was recently a great article in Newsweek that describes how Yoga's massive growth in popularity in the United States is having the exact same effect. From the article:
Do yoga, transcend your ego, and discover your inner humility—at least that’s the idea behind this ancient spiritual practice. The enlightened person is “friendly and compassionate, free from self-regard and vanity,” promises the Bhagavad-Gita. But in the recent past, around the time that $100 yoga pants became as common as designer jeans, the once inconspicuous yoga instructor has morphed into something more grandiose. Now certain teachers display all the monkishness of Keith Richards cooling his heels in the greenroom as adoring fans reach a peak of anticipation.
So rather than become more in tune with one's body, mind, and spirit (an internal discovery), yoga is failing victim to fame, egos, narcissism, etc. This detachment from essence (in my humble opinion) is the same thing we see in many modern day churches. The teachings are secondary or tertiary considerations to 'well Pastor Bob said.' But the pattern is occurring in business (profits more important than delivery a quality product to a customer), medicine (I'll take a pill to reduce my stress but not forgive the person for which the stress originates from), etc.
All of these things can truly enhance life on this planet (nation states, yoga, religion, medicine, etc)... but I would argue that they completely lose their effectiveness and even become quite detrimental when they lose their essence.
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.