Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why We Went to Goa
I first heard about Rolf Naujokat a couple years back while I was in Mysore. Many people I found interesting and enlivening, and whom I respected greatly, all had one thing in common: they had practiced with this phenomenal teacher on a jungle island in Thailand.

After looking at photos of Rolf’s jungle shala and listening to some rather brilliant stories about the man himself, I remarked to one of Rolf’s most vocal supporters, Nick Evans, that Rolf seemed absolutely phenomenal.

“Yes,” said Nick, “and please --- don’t tell anyone!” He was only half-kidding.

DJs used to cover up their record labels with black or white or even duct tape so all the other hungry DJs circling the table, craning their necks to see what was next, had no idea what rare and obscure track was about to absolutely flatten the floor.

I feel a bit like that about Rolf. Nowadays, with the Internets, we can learn about any teacher at any time, learn where they’re gonna be, what they’re like, get Podcasts from their lectures, check out photos of their shalas, and read blog entries by their students.

This is pretty brilliant for a host of reasons, chief among them, for me, is the fact that it helps one feel connected to a worldwide community as one practices in relative solitude in a mostly secular society, in which the concept of asana, pranayama, and the rest are not only fairly obscure but rather ridiculous. “Yeah, but can you make money off it?”

The loss, however, is that sense of exploration. I’m thinking here of the story of David Williams and company bumping into Manju Jois in Pondicherry strictly by chance and hopping the next train to Mysore. They had traveled around India before that and thereby also importantly knew what they were not looking for.

So anyway, the information floodgates are open and there’s really nothing we can do about that. In this instance, though, I’m not going to add to it, except to say the Rolf is the real deal.

Otherwise, I’ve no doubt that there’ll be other blog entries by other people that’ll be chock full of useful information.