Monday, 22 July 2013

Tax and the pain of yoga

There's nothing like anxiety over tax to keep me awake at night expecting the worst. For about three months I've been waiting for HMRC to come and check my record keeping at the bookshop. The inspection took place this morning and I passed with flying colours. I shall sleep well tonight and there's an easy smile on my face as I write. 

While we waited Angela browsed a copy of a book about yoga by the master yoga teacher Iyengar. Interesting how he justifies the physical pain that is part of the yoga exercise process, on the grounds that without physical pain spiritual and mental progress are not possible. While he tells people not to overdo it, he also urges them to go as far as they possibly can. 

I find the implicit notion that there is something intrinsically good about pain a dangerous one. It reminds me of paintings of St Sebastian pierced with a score of arrows, apparently serving as an example to us all. There is a fine line between enjoying hurting yourself and enjoying hurting other people. Some people find masochism liberating. Unfortunately some people find sadism 'liberating' too. Practising yoga and deriving spiritual enlightenment from the physical extremes of that practice is one thing. Teaching others that this is a road to enlightenment for all is quite another matter. 

I see no merit in the pain and fear that tax affairs can cause me (though I can usefully examine why they do). Similarly I see no merit in moving my body in such a way as to cause me pain and I remain deeply suspicious of those who would have me do so. 

(I wrote this a few weeks ago but only just posted it. Some kind of slip up.)