By Cara Butler.
Carlos does not shy away from challenging topics and in fact considers it a part of his yoga practice to stay engaged, educated and involved in societal and global issues. Even when it would be easier to turn inward and ignore the external chaos.
This is one of the reasons I hold Carlos in such high regard.
I have observed all too often in the yoga world that the teachings and practices are used by some to border on what I would call self-obsession. I resonated immediately with Carlos when he shared that part of our duty as yogi’s is to be an active and engaged member of the world we inhabit.
As Maya Angelou beautifully said ‘The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free’.
Last time Carlos visited New Zealand to teach in 2017 he made a radical statement… he said something to the effect of ‘Donald Trump is currently my greatest teacher’….. Jaw dropping moment!
But very quickly (with a lot of laughter) he explained to the attending students that it was not because he felt that Trump was a good man by any means or that he was contributing anything of value to the political or global climate of the time but in fact the opposite… It was because we had HUGE lessons to learn about how such a man could have been voted into such a position of power. What lessons must be identified and learned from this?
So naturally one of my questions for Carlos was how he was currently feeling about his unlikely teacher, namely Donald Trump?
Carlos – “One of the great things is that he lost the election. I swear the challenge has diminished a lot because when you just have a normal person there, whether you agree with the politics or not, it’s not an issue, it’s not a challenge because it’s normal to have differences. But to see that constant example of mendacity, really just lying every single day, and corrupt behaviour as that is really corrosive and that was a challenge.
And I have to say still when I see him he pushes my buttons. So I think the challenge continues but it’s also an area where the bhagavad gita is really helpful for the same reason right, because having a higher awareness doesn’t change what appropriate action is on the day to day. Less of a challenge because he is out of office, a really big difference, but the issue still remains…. it‘s still the challenge when you find something that pushes your buttons and again I see it that way that life is trying to teach us something. This is the challenge for you and can you rise to the occasion?”
My personal concern around some of the behaviour I have witnessed in the global yoga community also extends to those that seem to endorse and engage in conspiracy theories and groups. I have also witnessed this in New Zealand first hand and it is something that I have no tolerance for and I’m keen to hear Carlos’ perspective on this……
Carlos – “It has been a huge, I have to say, disappointment really for me because it’s something that I have been studying for many years. The mechanisms of delusion. Because I think on the path it seems we are already pure consciousness, we are already the self, that’s not an issue, we don’t have to become the self. The issue really is fighting with the darkness. How do we eliminate the mechanisms of delusion in ourselves?
So that has occupied me for years and one of the things that I have noticed, in fairness not only people in the yoga or spirituality camp right, every single person in society now is prey to conspiracy theories, emotional manipulation, all these mechanisms, everybody.
But I do think that people in the yoga world or spirituality in general, unless they have trained themselves in the proper development of knowledge. Unless you have trained yourself you are very easy prey to misinformation. Since you are dealing with metaphysical things you already have an openness to believe in things that cannot be seen.
Of course when you look at the yoga tradition it was always supported by the strictest logic, the rules of logic. You couldn’t talk as a teacher, you couldn’t present anything if you didn’t follow the rules of logic, people would laugh you out of town, you wouldn’t survive. But in the modern yoga world that’s not the case, there is so much teaching out there that is just not rigorous intellectually and so I think one of the by-products of that is that many people just don’t have the discipline of looking at how do we build knowledge? And therefore they become really really easy targets for manipulation, misinformation and so on. And when you study all of our cognitive biases you realise how easy it is for example how as humans we tend to latch onto the bits of information that match our preconceived notions and we tend to block out the other. So all you need is ‘some guy’ on youtube telling you something and if it resonates with you…you say ‘SEE!’ Even though the person is just making it up!”
Thankyou Carlos – this is a voice of knowledge and guidance that I hope many in the yoga world come to hear.
Carlos – “Here’s the thing…. Social media has created a tremendous disparity of power. People are so naive about this right. I’ve been talking about these issues for 10 years about how social media stores all this information about you and you don’t even know what they have.
And when you talk to someone who is uninformed, they say ‘so…who cares?’.
‘Who cares?’…. They know they know more about you than you do yourself. I mean literally, this is not a figure of speech. Facebook has employed teams of psychologists to develop these algorithms and they know how to trigger you because they know stuff about you based on all your responses and all the little crumbs of information that you have left, that you may not even be aware about yourself.
So that’s how we got to all this manipulation, and the USA elections, I think the Russians have been manipulating public opinion in a really evil way, behind all these secessionist movements. Just today it came out in the press that the Russians have paid influencers in Europe trying to get them to speak against the Pfizer vaccine in their channels. When they followed who was behind this, it was a Russian organisation. So this is the problem, there is such an imbalance of power that we are all as humans subject to the same vulnerabilities in our cognitive processes, If you are not aware of those vulnerabilities it is all but hopeless. I don’t really blame people so much for falling for the manipulation, because the manipulation is very sophisticated. But I do blame people for remaining really addicted to social media. I separated myself from social media, occasionally I use it or I check something but very much on purpose. Because it is addictive by design and that’s therefore unhealthy. More and more social media seems to me like a parade of foolishness, not that people are fools but that the behaviour that goes on is foolish, and I see many yogis involved, people that should know better ideally.
And it’s a pity as social media could be wonderful, and it is in some ways.
Tim Cook, the apple guy, has it right. He realises we have created an internet that is a negative force, a destructive force, because it is based on selling people’s information. And frankly Facebook is in my view at the top of that, and in my view Zuckerberg has blood on his hands.”
It is here I discuss with Carlos my total agreement. Especially in all I observed and experienced as a result of the 2019 Christchurch Mosque attack which resulted in a political summit being initiated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, ‘Christchurch Call to Action’, in an attempt to bring to an end the ability to use social media to organise and promote terrorism and violent extremism. And like Carlos I also hold out hope that this technology could be so helpful if regulated and the platform providers disempowered.
Carlos – “Sure, I would pay for a Facebook that I control, where I choose what I see and what I put on my feed. People don’t realise that what they see on the feed is not a natural thing, it is manipulation. So I would pay for a Facebook where I control it and because I love the ability to stay in touch with so many people, it’s fantastic!
If you are interested in online study options with Carlos check out his website Carlos Pomeda and from the following links
Carlos is also presenting virtually at the upcoming Hauora Yoga Conference on November 7th, you can book your attendance with confidence here.
Now I know we have only just got started and I promise there is SO much more to talk about with Carlos so please keep an eye out for the final conclusion of our conversation, Part 3 coming out soon.
Life’s too short to shy away from the big topics….
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