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Ding Dong Osama is Dead, Thoughts on the Yoga Response

in World News, YD News

While many celebrate the death of the world’s most notorious terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, we can’t help notice the hesitance in rejoicing amongst the yoga community. This could have to do with a variety of variables, but, without generalizing, do yogis respond differently?

We took part in a Yoga Sutra discussion recently and we offer this bit from Pada One as food for thought:

“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.”

1:33, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Translation by Sri Swami Satchidananda

How does your yoga practice affect your response to major breaking news? Is it somehow different?



    44 comments… add one
    • For me, yoga is about breath. Yoga poses are situations–in turns interesting, difficult, challenging, delightful, awkward, amazing…–that give us different experiences of and access to breath. And breath is about life. So the alchemy goes something like this: Yoga is about breath. Breath is about life. Therefore, yoga is about life. And I take no delight in the destruction of any of it. In this pose today, what comes up for me is the shocking remembrance of a decade ago, the great price that so many have paid in the 10 years since, and the debt that we’ll continue to service in the days beyond the death of OBL.

    • This is likely weighing on many minds today. Since learning of the news last night, I think my yoga practice has helped me to sort out two bittersweet emotions: joy and sadness. It seems inappropriate to celebrate a death…while it’s also difficult not to acknowledge the sense of relief felt by 9/11 families, NYers and Americans. I’m looking forward to yoga tonight (Marco at Pure Yoga) to be part of a like-minded community. Thanks for opening this topic to online discussion.

    • SB

      “Justice has been done.” Really? When I heard this on the radio this morning it felt like an inappropriate response to the death of a human life, any human life. I am Canadian but was living in the US during 9/11. I remember where I was when I heard, I remember the horror, and the ensuing loss of hope for survivors, but cannot share in rejoicing over killing another. It feels wrong and as usual, diverts attention from the real issues. Perhaps it had to happen, necessary violence to prevent violence to others, but it is not something to celebrate.

    • @jenni i just posted on this exact same subject! I taught my students today to celebrate their life by celebrating their breath. great minds.

    • JenniferPaige

      The definition of Yoga is union. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras we learn of the eight limbed path. The first limb emphasizing the five ethical restraints (yama) First of these being Ahimsa (applying non-violence) . This applies to how we react to the news. As a devoted practitioner I abide by this path. Applying non-violence in every thought and action. Also, thru meditative practice we learn that the union that is Yoga also applies to all of us together. We are all One. This applies to our enemies, murderers.. etc. If we are to overcome war, we must realize the war is within ourselves and is caused by the inability to truly open our hearts to Love. Please read the poem by Thich Nhat Hanh- Call me by my true names.

      Namaste! Love & Bless!

    • As a yogini, I find that I am not content to be swallowed up and carried into the maelstrom of emotional response to this sort of news without thought. Rather, I find that yoga has enabled me to take that extra moment to pause and determine what an authentic response looks like for me. Yoga has allowed me to be less of a follower, and to feel more confident pursuing my own truth.

    • I feel such mixed feeling on the celebration of any life lost… yes there are bad people out there, but feeling justified in taking a life seems wrong. I was devastated when the attacks on the twin towers occurred, my best friend was supposed to be on one of those planes.. i’m thankful every day that she wasn’t.. i’m thankful for all the lives lost that day and every day that followed because of the lives that were lost over seas.

      My response, i have love in my heart for those who have lost their lives… for those that have lost someone close to them, and i send love and light to the world, may we be able to see pass the tiny differences we have and focus on all the similarities we share with every one.. great post!

    • Two wrongs don’t make one right. Ahimsa!

    • I just finished posting about this as well. I think that my yoga practice has helped me to gain perspective. I now realize that a life lost is not a reason to celebrate. No matter how much someone might want that life to have been lost, it was still a life. A precious life, as precious as my own. Yes, he took away tons of precious lives, but that does not give us cause to do the same. Yoga has shown me that we are all one, all one consciousness, and until we all realize it, this devastation and further dividing of the earth’s people will continue. I have a very heavy heart today.

    • @Claudia, so true. Those are two wrong things. Both acts are cruel and the world would’ve been better without them but killing someone doesn’t bring others back. While celebrating death just puts us in the same category as any terrorist wishing death to others. It might be hard to forgive and understand but that’s what a mature soul would do. Be compassionate to the ones wishing evil because they need it the most

    • Scott

      I think I would feel better about the concept of justice being done if that was actually a far more important value for our country than it is. In a just world, we wouldn’t be supporting the Saudi royal family in their dictatorship (which led to the rise of bin Laden). We wouldn’t have installed the shah of Iran when Iran had elected a liberal government via a western-style election. Our own rich would not be the only beneficiaries of the expanding economy since Reagan. No, this was simply revenge. I completely believe that the only justice we will ever receive is the justice we create for ourselves as a culture and the truth is, we have a very long way to be able to say we live in a just world.

    • Amelia

      Cheering for his death doesn’t bring back the thousands who have lost their lives from 9/11 on… Disregard means a lack of attention. I think as yogis, it’s important to be aware of what/whom we regard.

    • I am concerned that the mainstream US reaction is to celebrate revenge for 9/11 as opposed to sadly recognizing that this was an important step toward stopping the terrorism of Al Qaida – which has according to news reports killed 8x more Muslims than non-Muslims. In other words, much as we may grieve the victims of 9/11, it’s not all about us. One study showed that “2006 and 2008, non-Westerners were 38 times more likely to be killed by an al-Qaida attack than Westerners.” http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,660619,00.html And what about all of the people killed due to our invasion of Iraq? All those families grieve the loss of their loved ones just as much as we do ours.

      • Carol, I so agree with everything you’ve presented here. A whole lot of innocent people have died violently in our misguided attempt to avenge 9/11. This is not to say that Osama bin Laden did not incite a lot of violence and hatred. He did. His death is a blow to the cause of violence in his radical community. But al Qaida will survive, and perhaps even be emboldened by bin Laden’s death.

    • An excellent question. While I’m happy that he’s no longer in this world and I do not condem the operation, I don’t feel it’s ever appropriate to celebrate death of anyone. War is part of our lives whether we like it or not. I’ve made my peace with it. I don’t support most wars, but in terms of a sociopath without an ounce of humanity, I felt nothing but relief in knowing that chapter is closed. Many non-violent protesters are now coming out and condemning the act of killing him. However, the Gita reminds me there is dharma and sometimes participating in a war is part of that dharma. My yoga practice reminds me that there is a middle way. We cannot live in a world with only light. there must be darkness. We cannot live in a world without war. And I cannot live my life on a polarity (either only non-violence/peace or solve everything through war). It’s not practical for me and my own inner peace. The Buddha reminds me of the middle way. And that is how I accept the current event.

      In terms of “two wrongs don’t make a right” or “eye for an eye” … I don’t see it as this way. I see it as a sociopath who commited more than just the 9/11 and said he did it, and said he would do it again. I see this as humanity’s dharma to rid the world of such a monster.

    • I find this topic very difficult. I don’t like for anyone to die in such a horrific way, but this man had no problem doing this to others. What I find difficult is that if you go way back he was actually a friend to the states. He felt we did him wrong which is why he attacked. So, chicken before the egg??? Anyway, I live in Canada now, but until 3 yrs ago I have always lived in the states. Unfortunately, right or wrong, I am happy that he has been removed. I also hope that this will bring some peace to all of us and unite the world. It could be good for everyone everywhere.
      Suzanne Williams

    • shannon

      When I turned on the radio this morning and heard all the rejoicing in the streets, my stomach felt sick and I had to turn it off. It literally nauseated me. Not that I feel especially sorry for Bin Laden; he was a bad guy. But there is nothing to celebrate. We launched two pointless wars and thousands of people died and were maimed or displaced, just to catch that one guy. It didn’t make any sense at all.
      A sensible response to 9/11 would have been to find him and bring him to the world court in the Hague. But that makes too much sense, I guess.

    • Osama was the spawn of the USA… created by our own government to do our government’s dirty work. In the name of us all. Makes it just that much more sick and twisted.

      Not too mention last week in Libya some grand-kids were blown up “oops!”, while our government tried to kill their mean grandpa, again, done in the name of us all here in the USA.

      And regarding all the celebrating sheeple… looks like the TV addiction of the masses is finally paying off for the powers that be.

    • yoginlapin

      None of this brought ‘joy’ to me, and suffering still continues despite his death. I am disturbed by the ‘celebrations’ that the media has been reporting. Now, I am even more disturbed by some of the words posted by my facebook yogi community. Should yogis be insulated from discussing politics, or anything else that is potentially inflammatory? Yoga teaches us to release judgement, but it is simply very disturbing to hear the fighting words about the situation and the personal insults to a political leader.

    • Yeah, I just wrote a short piece on this called “This is not peace”…

      • yoginlapin

        I just read it. so well put. thank you and namaste!

    • I would just ask, How many of you prayed that OSB be saved by grace or by some piece of New Age intellectual realizations or some shift in heart before this happened? How many of you think that it is possible for someone to be saved from a life of evil? How many of you even believe in evil? How many of you believe in good, hope, or God? Do you really believe that by “disregarding” evil it goes away?

      Unfortunately, evil is not something that can be intellectualized into being solved or ignored to death, it takes the will of God and Man together to destroy evil. Some yoga people have a hard time with destruction and even a harder time with evil, as do I, but we practice ridding ourselves of what we don’t want and need during our practice using our bodies, minds, and will every time we step onto the mat. How many of you practice detoxing or visual meditations where you are actively and with intent clearing what does not support you?

      Could this be viewed as such a detox? Did we as a world, just detox out a really big giant ball of evil? If peace on earth was a tipping point, could this be considered a big win for peace? Could the tipping point begin to lean more toward peace, safety, and less fear for many around the world? Could this help millions to feel safer and therefore give them comfort? Could we actually be grateful in this moment for the those who believe in Hope, Faith, and Love? Could we pray that the entire web of evil which this man and others spawned be disassembled by the clearing of this main blockage of evil (osb). Was osb to be the final one bearing the name, evil one? What if? What if he were to be the last of his kind? What if a kind of sick evil died along with him? Would this not be good? I think evil is to be eliminated so that we may have Peace on Earth. I pray that future evil can be dealt with through the supernatural, through prayer, peacefully. This is my hope and I have faith in Hope.

      I am grateful to the prayers and strongly held meditations, so far more advanced than that of my own, of the men and women who bore the burden of this harsh reality. I think of the moments in the White House as they watch the raid in real time…….I picture the calmness of those watching and the soldiers performing the operation, the surrendering to the moment, the purposely trying to relax the muscles and body skeleton as the moments draw closer. I admire the level of self control, focus, and determination of those who carried out this horrid deed. Could I have been so brave? Could I have held myself together under that kind of stress and responsibility?

      These are the questions I am asking myself today…..

    • JeffreyD

      For me, yoga is completely unrelated to Osama bin Laden. If I bring it up at tonight’s yoga class, I will probably get a few surprised looks, along with “Anyway, continuing on to downward dog…”

      That said, Osama is a famous murderer who died while trying to kill, and of course the world’s better off without him.

    • i find my yoga practice mirrors what i was taught as a child growing up catholic in america, respect for life, defense of right and freedom, and a non-gloating when victorious…

      it’s something i still struggle to practice, but it’s where i stand in principle

    • I just posted about this topic here, on my blog.

    • We brought this topic up on our facebook pg, too. Thoughts about the Bhagavad Gita and a “righteous war, for the purpose of justice”; thoughts about Ahimsa. Overall, a feeling of relief … combined with a gratitude for our yoga practice that allows us to pause and reflect and not react in a way we might have, in the world before we knew yoga.

    • I know that this event was important to the families and friends of all of his victims. His death likely brought them relief. As for myself, I can’t help but see the human behind the image…a father, son, brother, someone’s child. Killing him does not eliminate the evil in the world. Only love can do that.

    • Great question. My practice does affect my response to the latest news. While the general public is elated, I find myself hesitant to rejoice. When I heard the news I was shocked, sure, but not joyful – certainly not. Despite this man’s stature as the “most wanted terrorist” out there, how can we, as celebrators of life and cultivators of breath, celebrate in anyone’s extermination? My concern is that the incessant media coverage makes us look like we’re ready to host some sort of murder party at any given moment. Funny thing is, I bet you that our military has already moved on to their next mission – and it’s the media that will continue to cover this subject ad nauseum. I cannot rejoice in the killing of another but I can sleep soundly knowing that we are doing the best we can to prevent attacks like 9/11 from happening again. But that’s just where I want to do it – in my bed, fast asleep. I want to let the military do it’s job and I don’t want to know every gory detail of every raid and capture or murder. War and murder is a harsh truth that we live with in this world; instead of focusing on it, our job is to promote peace, to love, and to counteract those forces. Wasn’t it Ghandi who said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”? Turn the TV off!

    • NCDan

      When Osama was killed a major political stumbling block was removed. The possibility of bringing our troops home has improved. What will our power elite do with that possibility? Will the opportunity to disengage be embraced, or will our power elite look for ever more reasons to continue with endless war?

    • Scott

      As yogis we might want to distinguish between the truth and what is presented to us by the media. The truth is, a very small percentage of the people were actually celebrating in the streets. Most people stayed home. Most people have mixed feelings about the killing. The media presents us with a view of the world that suits their purposes and that rarely coincides very well with the truth.

    • “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

      • i’ve seen several really good comments to this thread, and yours is said as only a great orator and leader could express –

        thank you for the quote…

      • Eve

        This quote keeps popping up around the internets as a response and to me it is the perfect response, exactly what I was feeling before I could verbalize it. Thanks for quoting it here!

        • Actually, the first line of that is not MLK. It was mistakenly added to his words as quotes were reposted and reposted yesterday. One Jessica Dovey is the author of “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” Salon story here: http://www.salon.com/entertainment/tv/feature/2011/05/03/fake_mlj_quote_osama_death
          And Jessica Dovey’s original post, properly quoted, here: http://i.imgur.com/cqtjw.jpg

          • Jenni is right…

            The combination of quotes is great.. here they are separated.

            “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. ” -Jessica Dovey on Facebook.

            “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – MLK Jr.

    • ‘An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind’ seems like an appropriate quote here. When some people in the Arab world celebrated 9/11 in their streets, we called them barbaric yet yesterday’s celebratory events at Ground Zero, Washington D.C. and other places around the U.S. and the cries of “USA, USA” are a sad reminder that we (re)act so very similarly. The violent death of Mr. Bin Laden and some of his cohorts does not return the victims of Septemeber 11th, 2001 to their loved ones. The idea that it would provide closure is an illusion. Violence only begets violence: that is a basic Karmic rule. Mankind considers itself so technologically and intellectually advanced yet we haven’t even begun to understand how to settle our differences and problems non-violently. Maybe the study and practice of Yoga plants a seed within us leading to the realization that ignorance is the root of all suffering and that the ego provides the illusion of separateness. I will close with the beautiful words of a champion of Peace, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

      • JeffreyD

        What nonsense. There’s a very large distinction to be made between killing 3,000+ random people, and killing an infamous murderer.

        • melissa

          How about the 100,000 innocent civilians that have been killed in the Iraq war? If you’re going to create a scale that puts the U.S. way ahead of whoever orchestrated 9/11.

          • pam

            Where did you get that number? Please state your source.

    • pam

      Yoga has taught me to be a realist in the world. There are bad people out there who would do harm to us. Yes, yes, it sounds all nice about karma, and loving, and being the change, but try telling that to a Muslim who thinks you are the infidel and who is commanded by his holy scriptures to kill you. Sometimes we must fight. And while I don’t normally ‘rejoice’ in another human beings death, in his case I”ll make an exception. And I find some small comfort that after all the deaths and suffering he has caused, the last face he would see in his earthly life would be an American.

    • jcairo

      i actually tried to limit my news consumption on this event… it was near impossible. thanks to text, email, newspapers, radio, and civilians yelling out their car windows (im in new york) … all i could think was …
      is the world a brighter or darker place today?

    • brobob

      I heard that Bin laden studied yoga, believing could relieve his hemorrhoid problem by simply bending over and using his head for a therapeutic suppository .

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