What About Confidentiality?
“Principle before personality.” A fine slogan in the fellowship of AA. Those three words strike at the heart of anonymity, and incidentally, Yogani shares this kind of humility. The goal is to put the teaching before the teacher, and the emphasis on the how rather than the who. In this spirit, he ends every lesson with: “The guru is in you.” We also find the following autobiographical description on the AYP homepage:
He has no desire for guru status - only to have the joy of making a small contribution to helping the disciplines of effective spiritual practice become open to everyone. He wishes to remain anonymous, preserving a quiet life in practices. AYP is not about the author. It is about all who long for knowledge.
In a mass media culture that highly values grandiose images and worship of celebrities, AA and Yogani’s quiet position of non-promotion certainly goes against the grain. Yet, there is great advantage in this style of transmission, because the knowledge is given freely in order to empower students in a way that does not bind students to the teacher. This kind of dissemination shifts the direction from vertical to horizontal. No longer is there a need for guru initiations or esoteric games to buy into. Instead, the open-source knowledge is now publicly available for our consideration.
To take the focal point off an individual and place it on the whole is paramount, clearly. But are there any weaknesses in anonymity, especially in regards to recovery? Well, it might be worthwhile to consider a few angles on the matter.
First, when we look at the recovery community surrounding AA, we might find an understandable desire for privacy. If “alcoholism” or being an “alcoholic” has negative, disease-like connotations, a person naturally wouldn’t want to wear that identity badge on their sleeve. Furthermore, if such transparency threatened someone’s professional reputation, that’s all the more reason to guard against broadcasting such sensitive information. But how long can this confidential, hush-hush mentality last? Can we move beyond the shame created from a supposedly abnormal past and defective constitution?
We can, and we will, if we recognize and call upon the purity within our seed desire for transformation. We can shake off the extra baggage accumulated from social trends and fleeting norms. We can embody the AYP sutra “Akasha – Lightness of Air”, which is without the heaviness of superimposed judgments and false assumptions. We can claim our birthright as divine beings, and live without the stifling shame of condemning our imperfect past. We merely have to rotate a few degrees on our axis (some more than others) and fine-tune our approach in accordance with our karmic destiny and intuitive devotion. A combination of flexibility and firm resolve.
Let Yogani have his privacy, and let the founders of AA have their anonymity, but for the next generation of recovering spiritual practitioners, let us shine to the extent we need to shine, however modest or ostentatious that may be.