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Wednesday, January 21, 2009


yesterday, january 20th 2009, was the inauguration of the 44th president of the united states: barack hussein obama.

from all appearances, it looks like the entire yoga community has thrown its full support behind the new man in charge -- from the jai obama! emblazoned on a cake served at a david newman post-election kirtan, to the lululemon ad with a cartoon of "ombama" in lotus pose and gyan mudra, to the recent chant4change that was held in washington DC on inauguration eve (there's a chance you still might be able to catch part of the webcast of the four-hour event at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/chant4change). in fact, while obama's and biden's home states, the youth, the military, and a whole slew of other groups were dining and dancing at inaugural balls around town, the yogis were doing their own celebrating at their very own om ball!

and it makes total sense, especially since the values obama touched on in his inaugural address come straight from the yoga sutras of patanjali --

~ ahimsa (peace, or non-violence)

Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more...

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

~ aparigraha (non-greed, or non-possessiveness)

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

~ tapas (perseverance, or self-discipline)

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

~ karma (community service, or selfless action)

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

with all the madness that's been going on -- the loss of jobs, homes, and confidence in our government -- it's comforting to know that we now have a leader whose values resonate with ours.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

so what are we waiting for? let's make this change happen!

hari om-bama!