COMING from a yoga background, sometimes it still surprises me that something so inclusive can have followers who are incredibly dogmatic.
If you choose to practise at a different yoga studio, you may as well stand in a courtyard and wait for the stones to be thrown.
What’s even more surprising is if you go to a different teacher within the same studio, and you may face a backlash worse than what US President Donald Trump is facing from the world right now.
Dogmatism is prevalent everywhere, I have discovered. The Merriam-Webster dictionary has two definitions of “dogmatism”, the first is: “the expression of an opinion or belief as if it were a fact: positiveness in assertion of opinion, especially when unwarranted or arrogant” and the second: “a viewpoint or system of ideas based on insufficiently examined premises”.
The capacity to be dogmatic exists in everyone and every institution. For example, in politics, we Malaysians have been experiencing the “this guy is a better PM than that guy” phenomenon for years.
We see it in business “this brand is better than that brand” and I am sure it exists in families also “that family is so terrible, you better stay away!”
What people don’t seem to realise is how toxic this kind of attitude is. Will one fanboy’s dogmatism make me like one PM candidate over the other? I don’t think so.
Shove your religious beliefs down my throat thinking that I will “see the light”? Nope. Think your yoga guru is better than all the others who have ever lived? Talk to the hand.
This kind of behaviour from fanboys and girls not only puts others off, but also what they’re trying to promote. It basically creates ill-will.
But external dogmatism like this isn’t as destructive to the self as when one’s dogmatism is internal.
For example, I have one or two acquaintance yoga teachers who refused to do any online classes during the strict movement control order.
One of the reasons was because people may record the classes and then sell it or do whatever else with it.
Only they and their egos know what their own students would do with their recorded class videos.
Other reasons include “don’t know how” or “what for”. Yet these same culprits are then sitting home morose and broke. This dogmatism on their part, the belief that they are right, spiralled them down into depression and being penniless.
I used to be pretty bad myself. I had the belief that my days would go in a certain way, that my life must be led in a certain manner, and anything that upset that apple cart would get me into a funk.
Some people have this type of dogmatism when it comes to doing things. You can usually tell when they send you a 3,000 word response to a simple query. And run for shelter if you don’t follow that 3,000 word response to a tee, because the “I told you so, you never listen” will begin.
So why do I bother? People are people, let them be and, truth be told, I do.
But sometimes, something of beauty or value – like a yoga school or a political candidate or a religion – may get tainted in the dogmatism of the fanboys and girls.
And the same could be said about people. There is beauty in all of us, and sometimes I wish I could reach out to people I love, but prefer to stay away because one word from me could lead to a long slew of “you should” and “you shouldn’t” and “why are you so stupid” kind of responses.
I think the first step is self-reflection. Beyond that, it is up to the individual. But if that doesn’t happen, the world sadly will lose something potentially beautiful.
Daniel is passionate about fitness, yoga and writing. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org