Is it really so sad and dangerous to be fed up with seeing your own eyes, breathing with your lungs, swallowing with your mouth, talking with your tongue, thinking with your brain, having an anus and larynx, head and legs? Why not walk on your head, sing with your sinuses, see through your skin, breathe with your belly: the simple Thing, the Entity, the full Body, the stationary Voyage, Anorexia, cutaneous Vision, Yoga, Krishna, Love, Experimentation. Where psychoanalysis says, ‘Stop, find your self again,’ we should say instead ‘Let’s go further still, we haven’t found our Body without Organs yet, we haven’t sufficiently dismantled our self.’ Substitute forgetting for anamnesis, experimentation for interpretation. Find your body without organs. Find out how to make it. It’s a question of life and death, youth and old age, sadness and joy. It’s where everything is played out. – Deleuze & Guattari, (1988) A Thousand Plateaus, p.150-1.
I learnt a few things before I got fired from my job as a sales assistant at a spiritual shop. I learnt about the importance of the energy of a room. People either take energy or they give it. There is no neutral place.
In the Mysore practice room, energy is paramount. A new body will add or take away. The desire is to fade into the shadows but none of us can disappear; we are all caught up in the game. But sometimes in the heat of practice, our self-hood gets so slippery we can perhaps dissolve into one. We reach the place of the body-without-organs, we keep pushing through that complacency and dissatisfaction with the body, we don’t rest with what we are given or what comes easy but we keep asking what else? The body-without-organs is what remains when you take everything away – the material – leaving us to discover the virtual dimension of the body where there lies a collection of possibilities: like standing on one’s head, or turning our bodies inside out.
To find our body-without-organs is a constant process of becoming; it is a horizon not a goal. We are told about the goals of yoga all the time: relaxation, happiness, self-discovery. Because these are all supposed objects we can obtain, if you’re still unhappy, confused and lonely well you’re just not doing it right. Perhaps it would be more fruitful to think about a becoming without a being. A becoming is a process without an end, it ignores the markers of age and societal norms that dictate ideas about how to be and act, in becoming a body-without-organs we don’t have to ‘be’ anything because in the constant dismantling we are becoming over and over again. It is to lose the attachment to figuring it all out, especially when you realize you might not be one of those that can play that game well.
The wall of the practice room read to me: ‘…when we are no longer upset by the play of opposites’ (Yoga sutra 2.48). The space of difference between you and I, us and them. Sometimes when we try to bridge that gulf is when we feel that otherness the most. Because its pressed up all over your space, face, body. But if we are becoming and not being, if we seek a body-without-organs and not a impermeable self, each encounter is a mode of transformation; it acknowledges we are invested in one another already, we are already one, and so the intimacy is not the bridge but an experimentation with no need to prove closeness (the closeness is already there).
Because sometimes we also listen way too much to what others think we should do with our lives/relationships/self. What then develops is a sense of underlining sadness to all our actions we make in the name of freedom and happiness. We are free to do whatever we desire so why does it feel so sad. We keep looking for that something that is missing; we feel we once had it or at least deserve to have it. We want it back, bad. And then we follow paths that tell us we can ‘be someone’; we make choices that tell us there is only one valid option at the end (doing a PhD = being an academic, practicing yoga everyday = being a weirdo). If you veer off course, you’ve just wasted time – who’s time? Or else we’re just running away – from what? It? This city life? How about we follow paths with our eyes open. We have to make choices but only if we do not forget the possibility of other choices, other ways of becoming. How about we stop the short cut means to escape and painting over the doubts and brushing away the thoughts that entice us to ‘…go further still’. If only we gave ourselves time we could stare into those walls long enough until the cracks begin to show again.
Who is this ‘We’?: I’m already speaking as a body-without-organs. Too much softness that’s my problem my teacher told me today. Too much softness, not enough strength. What happens with too much softness; too much permeability; see through skin, is you bruise easily. A body-without-organs is not attached to anything, it has lost all anchors from the world, it is crazed and irrational, it cries, runs away, it lives without boundaries. This is why the body-without-organs is always a horizon and not a goal. To live as a body-without-organs is to live only as a remainder, only in the virtual without the actual, it is a body that constantly seeks and attaches to earthy bodies to hold them down. ‘There needs to be a lot more mula bandha action happening’, was my teacher’s advice. ‘If you carry on as you are, you’ll just hurt yourself’. And so now I face months of practice focusing on the hard work of grounding my body-without-organs, containing it, being less of a ‘jellyfish’ (another teacher comment). For many the challenge of the practice is to dismantle the self but for me it is to put it back together. Everything was already taken away, now I need to find somewhere to anchor myself down.