A series of small failures

The past and present colliding, constantly — the law of karma
November 18, 2008, 10:08 pm
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I’ve been thinking about karma lately. How could I not, after spending the weekend in a workshop with Shri Dharma Mittra. Being in the presence of a yoga master and enlightened being for so much time was such a gift. Especially after the harrowing week I had dealing with the aftermath of the Salon article (http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/11/13/mormons_prop_8/index.html). My family was horrified. It hurts to find out that they didn’t really seem to care that I had resigned (they thought I must have done that long ago). It was going public with it that really upset them. But the Dharma Mittra workshop changed my energy, my outlook, everything. Thanks to Jennifer Ellen at Flow for bringing him here.

I believe in the law of karma. After working for Ann Wigmore for three years, I saw the direct results of my good actions, from amazing places in which I got the chance to live, to the people I met who taught me and changed my life, as well as other opportunities that unfolded.

When things were going sour with my boyfriend, again (for the last time, i think), and I needed a place to live, I was offered a chance to live in a wooden house on a beautiful property on the beach, in exchange for working in the owner’s art gallery four days a week. The owner and I became close. We shared a lot about our pasts, our beliefs, and our experiences. One day he told me he wanted to build a yoga deck on the property. Together, we were going to create a yoga center where we could hold yoga retreats. We choose a spot, right on the ocean, under sheltering trees. It was an immensely generous offering. I was honored.

The owner’s brother returned to the island just as we were planning to build the deck. We went to Home Depot and bought the wood. As we were unloading it from the truck, he said, “be careful. The wood is treated with arsenic.”

I didn’t know anything about pressure-treated lumber before then. I was horrified. Still, we were in the middle of unloading it and carrying it to the space. It was too late to look into using reclaimed wood from the bottom of the ocean or something like trex, a green wood substitute made with plastic. I noticed after a while that the wood burned my skin.

Being the reporter and investigator, I went to the internet and did some research. Also, my ex boyfriend sent me a link to a site with some information on arsenic-treated lumber. I forwarded it to the owner. This was the beginning of the end. He accused me of being ungrateful. I tried to explain that I was not judging him personally, I just needed to gather information. I was worried about my students practicing on poison.

The wood was wet, and needed months to dry before being coated. The only solution i could find was to cover it with cloth. I bought four canvas tarps, which we unfolded and laid on the deck before each class. at least there was a barrier between us and the poison. Yoga is supposed to be healing, not toxifying.

Not long after that, I learned that the wooden house i was living in was built with the same stuff. Only, because the house was built years before that, it was pretty likely that it was treated with arsenic instead of the copper azole (cca) that was being used at the time. I just found this link tonight–i guess copper azole has also been phased out: http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/ (dated april 2008, it states: “Pressure treated wood containing CCA is no longer being produced for use in most residential settings, including decks and playsets.” Yikes. nice to know. Anyway, I started noticing that i wasn’t feeling well. Then I noticed black mold on the eaves of the house, inside and out. I moved out. Back in with the ex. Not before getting a chance to write about it for yoga journal: (http://www.yogajournal.com/for_teachers/2158)

Somehow I managed to keep teaching at the beautiful place for a couple more months. I had organized workshops and a Shiva Rea prana vinyasa flow teacher training intensive, taught by Shiva’s senior assistant, Twee Merrigan. That training was the last week of being involved at the beautiful place. After that, I was banned from the property. And was no longer friends with the man who gave me the gift of that beautiful deck. There seemed to be no way to mend things. I tried. But i had become an ungrateful demon to him.

Back to karma… I wondered why this was happening. It was hard to give up on the space and move on, but the energy had become so toxic, just like the deck. I eventually found another space on the ocean, where we had four teachers sharing and lots of good energy.

“You can’t escape your karma,” Dharma told us this past weekend. We are born with what we need to work through our karma. Accidents, cancer, these are all predetermined based on our past actions. “You have to accept your karma,” he said. Maybe things turned sour because i had to pay for past actions. I don’t know. 

Families stay together, Dharma said. As long as you love each other, you keep being born into the same family.

My family does love each other. We overcame my coming out. I’m sure we’ll overcome my leaving the church. but what is it that we need to learn from each other?


4 Comments so far
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Hey Jodi,

I’m Sugarhouse1 on Twitter….That deck is amazing!

Interesting article on Karma….I gave up on Catholicism to the horror of many in my family, and am kind of finding my way on religion…Actually, have found my way towards athiesm at this point. So Karma is kind of like we get back what we put out? I do believe in our energy creating reality, is that like karma? How do we think about abused kids, what is their karma, is it the sins of the father visited on the son?

Anyway, interesting….thanx


Comment by Matt

hi matt,

I asked Dharma, during a break, about the law of karma concerning children who suffer. Specifically, about my nephew (4) who was killed in August. I wanted to know what he would say about that, and if there was anything I could say to my family to help them. He said that everyone has karma, so my nephew had his own karma, as does the kid (15) who accidentally killed him. And the parents on both sides. This kid’s mom has been charged with negligent homicide. The kid is free, thanks to the compassion of my brother. My brother’s compassion may have worked out some sort of karmic debt, so that hopefully this kind of suffering won’t be necessary in the next life… I say that not knowing that there is a next life. But i like the idea of reincarnation. Who knows. Dharma says that the more you live your yoga, not eating meat and practicing compassion, that these mysteries become undeniable fact. I’m not there yet. Today is day five on my vegetarian path–again. Yes, karma means action. The law of karma means that the effects of our deeds — in the life, and in past lives –create past, present and future experiences. There are different kinds of karma. some that we can change, and some that we can’t escape. I don’t know much. I’m still learning.

Comment by jodimardesich

God, it’s so sad about you’re nephew….Believe it or not, I find a lot of wisdom in Mark Twain’s essay, “letters from earth”….not on Karma, but more on how to think about suffering and my fellows….

Thanks for the response!

Comment by matt

[…] just thought of one incident:  Just after I got kicked out of the Secret Garden, we moved the class down the road to a deck at “the scorpion’s den,” a bizarre […]

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