There’s an old Woody Allen joke from the movie, Annie Hall, that you might remember:
A guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.”
And the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?”
And the guy says, “I would…but I need the eggs.”
So, I need the allegorical eggs.
Or, more accurately, I want the eggs, not for their own sake, but for the pleasure they give me. I want pleasure, and I want to avoid pain.
I suspect most of us do.
Even some religious folks are motivated by the desire for enjoyment (Heaven) or the fear of suffering (Hell) —or, alternatively, the desire for liberation (moksha) or the fear of repeated birth and death (samsara).
But both ideas are based on the same broken paradigm:
We want the eggs.
In yoga, we get energy and vitality, beauty and acknowledgement, clarity and peacefulness. Some yogis even develop siddhis (mystic abilities). Imagine that.
We love those damn eggs.
I suppose that’s what Philip Urso was driving at when he likened yoga to drugs in his provocative post, Yoga = Heroin (Do You Treat Yoga Like an Addictive Narcotic?) at Elephant Journal last week.
In case you missed it, Mr. Urso made the case that a yoga asana practice is, in and of itself, no more “spiritual” than a nickel bag, so to speak, and (while I don’t care for the metaphorical use of the word heroin for its traffic-generating effect) I’m inclined to agree with him, to a point.
His idea was this: when asana practice ceases to be a tool for transcendence and becomes itself the object of our longing, we’re not yogis; we’re addicts –whether our “fix” is booze or bhujangansana.
Clearly, there are plenty of differences between yoga (sattvic in nature) and alcohol or narcotics (tamasic in nature), the most obvious being that yoga restores health, while drugs and alcohol destroy it.
In both cases, however, we like the way it makes us feeeeel.
We collect the eggs.
We enjoy them.
And then we go back for more.
To put this in Abrahamic religious terms: We become so enchanted with God’s blessings that we completely forget about God.
For Philip Urso, it was the practice of yoga itself that led him out of a results-oriented practice and into a deeper experience of the divine.
Does he still get the outward “blessings” of yoga?
I’d bet my blocks he does.
But they’re no longer his only motivation.
RECOVERY FROM RESULTS ADDICTION
There is only one way I know to recover from results addiction, whatever our “drug,” and it is this:
Step out of the center of your proverbial universe.
Imagine that you are like a heavenly body circulating the sun. Define the “sun” however you wish. It can be a deity or it can be a purpose, but it must be greater than yourself. Place yourself in its orbit.
By doing so, we no longer determine the value of something by how it brings us temporary pleasure or pain —but by how useful it is in our service to that center.
Let me meditate on the worshipable effulgence of the Divine sun [Vishnu] who enthuses my meditation.