The last few days have been overwhelming, in every sense. Bikram's house party was nice, but fairly uninteresting. His house was definitely more of a "house" than a "palatial mansion", up on a hill in Beverly Hills. Really, nothing much happened. We ate indian food - saw people in their nice clothes. I was in a weird mood, quiet and antisocial and sad, without a really clear idea why.
Today was frightening. One of the visiting teachers, who taught a fantastic class last night, has just recovered from a total hip replacement surgery. His surgery was six and a half weeks ago. Today, for reasons unknown (but probably related to the repeated insistence that this yoga cures everything), he decided to first do the advanced class with Emmy at 12:30 and then to do the regular class with us at 5:00, taught by Bikram. I was about two rows behind him, and just a bit to the right - maybe ten or twelve feet. So I had a really good view and was within earshot when, in standing head to knee, his hip completely dislocated. POP. Followed by shreik, and scream, and tears. The class was shocked and frozen, and Bikram reacted very unexpectedly (actually, in retrospect, not unexpectedly).
He yelled at John to stop crying, to calm down, to stop panicking. He never left the podium. John's femur was visibly sticking out of his hip girdle, his leg twisted. Bikram made him turn around on his back, do wind removing pose, flex and point his feet - all while the paramedics were one their way. All the while, yelling at him to stop panicking, that fear was the biggest enemy, that he must be calm. I was fucking terrified. I actually had to lay down and not watch the proceedings after awhile. I couldn't believe how hard Bikram was pushing John, how he was showing no compassion of any kind - and even more - he was lashing out angrily at anyone who was attempting to intervene on John's behalf. The paramedics came, took him to the hospital, and class continued. Oh - it's worth noting that Bikram continued class through most of this, having us do standing bow pulling and balancing stick over John's body while he was weeping to Bikram's commands. A few hours later, during a Bikram lecture, we learned that John had been heavily sedated and after a "few tries" they managed to relocate his femur into his hip bone without surgery. Thank god.
Bikram lectured to us later in the evening about having total strength, not allowing fear to have even the tiniest foothold, and to be a total leader - especially in situations where fear is likely to occur. I couldn't help but think, through all of this, that faced with a similar situation, I know I would not have reacted with Bikram's ferocity. I think I would have kept my shit together and handled the situation okay, but I would not have been able to be that strong. And, I'm not sure I would want to be - I still feel like there should have been more caution displayed - if John had actually tried to stand up, or if we had lifted him, as Bikram suggested (but Craig refused - he is truly a hero), it would have DEFINITELY made things worse. I don't like the feeling of questioning Bikram to this extent, and it makes me feel doubt of the rest of the training.
I feel like, at the moment, this evening's drama and scariness are overshadowing the staggering awesomeness of the other guest lecturers we had this week, but I'll try to describe them so I don't forget.
We were visited first by Dr. Anne Marie Benstrom, who Bikram insists is the only person in the world that he defers to in matters of eastern and yogic philosophy. As usual, I sat in the front row, and she was, for lack of a more imaginitive word, TRIPPY AS HELL. She talked about the chakric system, energy in the body, the persistence of our spiritual energy beyond the death of the body, and towards the end, she described her system of "body reading". It involves looking at the posture of the body in resting state, along with the basic shape of the developed body, and talking about different aspects of the person's life based on their body. The central idea of "the body is crystallized emotion, or coagulated thought" was a very strong recurrent theme. The body reading seemed hokey, except that she had people stand up and she told them their entire life and emotional and familial history, with freakish accuracy, causing one person to start crying immediately. She spoke to me directly a few times, and much like Amrit Desai, I felt very electrified and stilled by her eyes and contact with me. A lot of what she spoke about was out of my experience (seeing energy fields, "orbs"), but like most of this experience, I tried to absorb it and tuck it away for later, when I have more experiences to bring to my understanding. More about Dr. Benstrom: The Ashram .
Today, before the drama, we were also visited by Dr. Mani Bhaumik, a physics professor who coinvented a particular kind of laser and who has spent the last many years of his life using rigorous scientific analysis to understand and share his understanding of eastern philosophical ideas, particularly energy, oneness of all beings, and life force. This lecture was AWESOME. He was TOTALLY unfruity, completely logical and succinct (didn't say "ah" or "um" the whole lecture). He described, in surprising detail for his audience, quantum fields and how they fluctuate througout the universe, and how they interact to form the building blocks of matter and energy, of which we are constructed. He introduced a magnificent idea, which I was so thrilled by - just as every cell in our body - every single cell - contains a copy of our DNA, so every "cell" in the universe contains a copy of that blueprint from which the universe itself was created. He described how the behavior of energy at the sub, sub atomic level in matter exactly mimics the conditions that would have existed at the very beginning of the universe, just after the big bang. This lecture was magnificent, and I felt like so many of my fundamental questions about energy and "chi" just fell into place. I feel like I should let Dr. Bhaumik speak for himself: Code Name God .
This has been a hard week so far - possibly the hardest. Still, only 14 yoga classes left, and then, graduation. (thank god!!!).