September 7, 2008

Waylon Lewis, Vida Yoga, Bryan Kest, S.N. Goenka: The Power of Dhana

Waylon Lewis, VidaYoga, Bryan Kest: The Power of Dhana

Giving maybe is one of the most…
… polluted practices in our world today. It is rare to find somebody who gives freely, detached from the Ego, without fear, and with no expectations. We usually give in exchange for something, to feel that we are better, we give because we are afraid to be judged as selfish, because we want to be liked by others, or simply to avoid paying taxes. I am not saying we are unwilling to give, you probably are a giver and know many others who are motivated by the pure intention of giving, still I can’t help but observe that intention

s though a strong source of power are not always a manifesting force, and giving is not always a genuine act of peace. To our fortune, free will to evolve is given in this life and the choice to give is always ours. 

 Waylon Lewis (elephantjournal.com) is the reason I am thinking about this, and God bless his heart. You see, Waylon gave me his car. Yes, he GAVE me his car. Title and everything. From one day to the other, from one minute to the next. When I left Los Angeles some years ago, I tried to give my car to somebody that needed it; believe it or not I could not find anybody willing to receive it and I ended driving it to Cabo with me, and now my brother drives it. So, when Waylon mentioned he wanted to donate his car to somebody who needed it, to me He sounded perfectly sane. His intention was familiar and since I really needed a car I accepted it with an open heart. Whatever reasons he had to give it away were his and not mine to question I thought; I had just come back from a 10 days course Vipassana meditation ( www.elephantjournal.com/2008/08/the-discovery-of-buddha/ ) feeling I was in synch with Dhamma and therefore I had been rewarded with what I needed the most at the moment. But what I observed next awakened my curiosity and has motivated me to explore Dhana a little bit deeper within my own practice. People reacted in the most funny ways about it. I heard the most interesting comments like: “Oh, probably you’ll have to spend a lot of money repairing it.” or “I bet he doesn’t have the plates updated” or “Oh well, it might be worthless, but it is free eh!” or “He is not telling you something, what about insurance, you have to get it insured.” and somebody even said to me: “Are you sleeping with the boss?”  To my surprise people that didn’t know him doubted his intentions from the very start and it reminded me of the old wise say: We see in others what we are.

It also reminded me of Vipassana’s noble teacher S.N. Goenka and his story about how people reacted when he wanted to offer Vipassana courses on a donation basis. People told him something like: “Goenkaji, when people in India find out they can eat three meals a day and have a bed on donation basis while studying you’ll have the whole country knocking at the door, there is so much people in India that can’t afford rice!!! Goenkaji, think about what will happen in the West when you offer the teachings on donation basis! In the West people will be suspicious of you! They’ll think you have hidden intentions or some kind of intelligence group is behind it all!” Hahahaha! So true. But Goenka’s intentions were pure and to this day there are Vipassana centers (www.dhamma.org)  all around the world that bring so much joy and peace to the people that practice… donation basis.

Mr. Goenka is a householder teacher of Vipassana meditation in the tradition of the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma (Myanmar).

It reminded me too that I’ve been trying to find a space to offer yoga, donations only. Through this effort I’v witness how much resistance there is to the idea. Basically studios have to pay rent, expenses related to their use, and teachers, so leaving their financial fate to the giving awareness of our society it’s a little bit scary and owners resist to do it. But, I keep remembering Bryan Kest,a yoga guru. Bryan Kest is one of the most popular and experienced Power Yoga teachers (www.poweryoga.com); when he is not traveling around the world teaching yoga, he is teaching in his old yoga room above Radio Shack on Santa Monica Blvd. in California (where he pays rent with his donations basis income); his classes usually are recognized by an around the block line of people waiting at least 15 minutes before class to make sure they get a mat space to practice in his class because they get so crowded. He recently expanded Power Yoga by opening a brand new building with yoga studios so other teachers can have a space to teach and people that prefer comfort can have a brand new space to practice at. Power Yoga studios on 2nd street in Santa Monica, CA, have a boutique and all the commodities of the modern yoga world (All this accomplished with his hard work and donation basis received money). As with Goenka, so many people get benefit from his practice without depending on money to keep practicing…and through practicing develop the awareness of giving. I was one of them, sometimes I didn’t have a dollar to give, so I brought oranges with me; but when I had money, i gave it gladly and abundantly in appreciation of receiving his precious gift of yoga experience and guidance.  But most of all, I desire to give him my donation awaken in appreciation of the more important gift one receives when somebody gives you something: the awareness of Thankfulness.

“Bryan Kest is synonymous with Power Yoga”. – Vogue Magazine



Vida is a donation based Yoga studio in Boulder, CO.

I live in Boulder now and Boulder is a place were abundance is as real as the mountains. There is money everywhere and people are used to be charged 500 dollars for a weekend of yoga with the best yogis, or go in retreat with their favorite instructor for a week and pay 3,000 dllrs. Nonetheless, like anywhere else there are people who would like to keep a daily practice and 15 dllrs a class per day ends up being a whole check sometimes. Granted, one does not need to go to a studio to practice yoga but still sharing practicing in a group and learning from a more experienced yogi is worth the attention. So, imagine the joy of finding Vida Yoga Boulder Studio at the corner of Iris and 28th. All their classes are offered on donations basis (www.vidastudioboulder.com). It has great teachers and positive loving vibes! Today, talking with Silvana, the owner, a brazilian beautiful woman, she explained to me her attempt to bring yoga to everyone on donations basis. She shared with me that it has not work entirely because most people don’t give, simply take, and she ended up with bills and teachers to pay and no money to do so, so she had to add next to “Donation basis” the reminder “with a 10 dollars minimum”. But she believes in Dhana, so she is giving us the opportunity to have yoga on donations basis only, no minimum.  I am convinced that we, the human race, are an evolving race and therefore we will awake to our best virtues sooner or later. So Mondays and Thursdays from 7:30 to 8:45 AM and Sundays at 6:00 PM you will find Dhana Power Yoga  and Sundays at Noon you will find it in Spanish. Whether you have money that day or not. When you have money, give money, when you don’t have money, give your practice and share the love for yoga with us. It is my believe that the practice itself will open us up to the power of Dhana.

Live many others I believed Dhana means Giving; some believe Dhana means Donation. Read this: Dhana in Sanskrit means Wealthy. Talking to my beloved friend Kate Watson, who is a yoga teacher with a degree in History currently studying Garden design, I found out that in the American Indian Tradition “Wealthy” means “the one who has more to give”. Basically those who gave the most where considered the wealthiest. Isn’t that beautiful? By offering Yoga on Donations only basis the intention to bring awareness about the art of giving is my prayer. I am learning that the best place to start is to open ourselves to receive. To trust that we deserve what we are been given. It is in receiving where giving becomes unavoidable. I say give to yourself what will make you a genuine happy person so you have something to give to others. By giving yoga it is my hope to give you the priceless gift of thankfulness. It is when we feel thankful when the best vibrations flow through us. Thankfulness brings awareness of how blessed we are. It is through thankfulness that the heart gets healthier and the mind gets wiser, it is through thankfulness that motivation to give arises and the joy of smiling survives. It is through thankfulness that Love is recognized in our lives and friends bond forever.

And why not, maybe next time you think about who you are going to vote for to rule your country, think about what you can give to that ruler instead of what you want to get from that ruler. In the finding of that answer you will recognize yourself into the reflexion and I can assure you the choice you make will be an enlighten choice. Let’s hope your choice is everybody’s choice of peace and happiness. Equality and love. Community and support, appreciation of the Earth and our neighbors, trust that what you give is what you get. And value your freedom to make that choice wisely.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, it turned out (to my enjoyment I confess) that the car Waylon gave me is a fabulous car, with less than 95,000 miles driven, very hip and well taken care of, with excellent vibrations and all the right stickers. A Saab with a sunroof and a stereo! It is a beautiful car, but what is priceless about it is that by donating it to me he gave me the most precious gift that the act of giving provides and that which we often forget: THANKFULNESS. 

May Dhana be our teacher to find truth among each other and bring peace into this world.


yeye … www.myspace.com/yeyeorganicpop , www.yogichocolate.com



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