The Mighty Hercules was a low-budget, visually stilted cartoon on tv that enthralled me when I was a very young child. Thanks to youtube, which makes the past perpetually available, I was able to pull up a couple of clips and share them with someone recently. We had a good laugh.
Hercules (or Herc, as his friends called him) had a ring that he would slip on at crucial moments in the predictable-but-immensely-satisfying plot of each short episode. As he slid that ring on and stretched his fist to the sky, thunder bolts would flash and crash from the heavens, re-empowering the ring, and thus the wearer, with tremendous, otherworldly forces of goodness and strength.
I totally believed in that ring. I wanted one myself. To be truthful, I was convinced that I already possessed such a ring. Not as an object, but as a state inside that could be accessed when really, really necessary.
Apologies if this sounds hokey, but I believe that the practices of yoga (and here I include meditation and deep study, which alter understanding and perception) serve as that ring for us. They can function as vehicles that plug us back in to our noblest energies and capacities. They remind us that these qualities do exist.
Goodness is always relevant.
Mighty Hercules made overcoming cheesy villains look easy, of course. Outside of cartoon world, the process is more difficult. It always has been. The yogic traditions, from ancient revelation and mythology, to Patanjali, to teachings of Tantra and beyond, took a close look at the form and function of the dysfunctions in and around us. They named them. And they developed techniques, practices, ways of working with the body, the life force, the mind, the emotions and our awareness in ways that can trigger or re-awaken inherent positive forces.
Yoga is not the only tradition that does this, but it is one that I and many others have studied deeply and have benefited from. I believe yoga merits respect and preservation – especially those aspects that directly help us uphold that which is positive and worthy.
In our current reality matrix, yoga, like many other things of value, is often presented/sold/bought/taught like just another commodity. The effects of this are degrading. The degraded version of something honourable is easily criticize-able, both from within yoga’s communities, and from outside as well.
But goodness itself, and the traditions, techniques, or characters that keep reminding us that such a thing exists and teach us ways to plug back in to positive forces, need to remain relevant. They are truly worthy of being upheld, being held to, and even fought for.
If you want to take a short cartoon break, watch the first 5 minutes of this episode of the Mighty Hercules. In this one, Herc vanquishes the villain’s “Chameleon Creature.”