“I woke up. I realized that the goal was not to find a guru, but to find me.”
~ Brian Leaf
From the very beginning, yoga captured my heart. Especially a style called Kripalu Yoga. In a Kripalu yoga class I felt at home, like I had full permission to be me. So, when our guru, Amrit Desai, was asked to leave The Kripalu Center in 1994 upon accusations of abusing his power and having affairs with disciples, I was devastated. If he had mastered yoga’s postures and practices yet still committed these transgressions, what could yoga offer me?
I wanted answers, and I thought perhaps Oskar, my very first yoga teacher, could provide them.
I travelled to visit Oskar. He looked just as I remembered him: relaxed smile, comfortable white clothing, big beard, sandals. I told him about Kripalu yoga, the news about Amrit, and my disillusionment. While Oskar answered my questions, I noticed that his eyes were half closed, and I remembered that three years earlier, a friend who was doing a research paper on enlightenment had told me that an enlightened person is so relaxed that their eyes are always half closed.
I was elated. I had done it. I had found my new guru. He was enlightened, and better than in a fairy tale, he had been my very first teacher.
As our visit was coming to a close, I told Oskar, “I’ll be in town for a few days, and would love to attend your class.” I could just see it, lead disciple returns to the master, like Luke returning to Yoda, Harry returning to Dumbledore.
But instead of inviting me to join his class, instead of asking me to be a disciple, instead of donning me with a Sanskrit name right there and then, Oskar said, in his unmistakable baritone that made his guided relaxations so velvety, “Brian, I’d love for you to come to class, but I just had cataract surgery, and the doctor won’t let me teach for another two weeks. Plus, with these darn drops in my eyes, I can barely see.”
And actually, I was not disappointed. I woke up. I had an epiphany. I realized that the goal was not to find a guru, but to find me.
Brian Leaf is the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness. In this hilarious and wise tale, Leaf talks about this epiphany and many others as he embarks on a quest for health and happiness — visiting yoga studios around the country and consulting Ayurvedic physicians, swamis, and even (accidentally) a prostitute. Visit Brian Leaf online at www.misadventures-of-a-yogi.