Truly Profound Yogic Silliness
As I prepare to spend the Summer in the Himalayas where the seat of the Tibetan government is in exile I felt compelled to re-read Terry Pratchet’s comedic take on Buddhist traditions, Thief of Time. I know what you might be thinking, but in my defense I also watched Kundun (the life of the Dalai Lama) and read a lovely book by his holiness as well. These more sober activities were educational for sure, however Pratchet’s ridiculous and hilarious take on humanity, with a dab of Buddhist (kinda) philosophy, partially set in a monastery (sorta), was, hands down, the most fun part of setting the tone for my travels. As with most of Mr. Pratchett’s books it is as profound and truthful as it is ludicrous.
I have been in a love affair with Pratchett’s Discworld series for years but never thought to recommend one on my blog since the yoga focus seemed to make it a bit off topic. Yet, having pulled this book out in anticipation of being surrounded by Buddhist teachings this year I began to think back on all the other times I have also brought up these books in lighter Yoga Teacher Training discussions. I finally decided that to dismiss the yoga in these comedic works would do a disservice to the message of laughing Buddhas everywhere. Who said that joy could not be had in the yogic quest to find our own true nature?
When Terry Pratchett died in 2015, I was hit by the most intense celebrity-loss grief of my life. It was at first an immensely selfish grief, as I came to terms with the reality of never again starting a new Terry Pratchett book….ever. I have since however settled into a healthier place of gratitude for the many hours of pleasure that his books have brought, and continue to bring on every re-read (a bit of a lesson in aparigraha or non-grasping in here for sure).
For those who have never read a Terry Pratchett book I will attempt to give you a bit of an idea of what to expect. The fact that you would find him in the Sci-fi/fantasy section of your local book store would be somewhat illuminating, however not the full story. His books are indeed littered with witches, dwarfs, vampires, and pretty much every other fantastical creature you have ever read about. There is also a whole cast of, let’s call them “interesting”, human beings. These characters are not the point however, Pratchett was obviously a student of eastern philosophy and human folly, his books are unerringly intelligent societal and philosophical commentary that somehow also never deviates from the main goal of being laugh out loud absurd.
With a house overflowing with yoga practice and philosophy books in a to-be-read cue, his books have been the only non-fiction I have allowed myself to read in years. They make me laugh out loud, they make me think, they make me not want to put them down even on the 3rd or 4th read. In fact, when I need a work break I often pull out a random Terry Pratchet Book and start reading wherever it falls open.
If you decide to read this book as a yogi, look forward to the most interesting (and non-traditional) take on Tibetan prayer wheels and the monastic lifestyle that you have ever read, as well as the funniest and most spot-on insight into what it might be like for non-corporeal energy to learn the ins and out of residing inside a physical body (think purusha to ahmkara for students of yoga philosophy). If this is your first Terry Pratchett book I cannot tell you how envious I am that you will be getting to read it for the first time.
And finally, best of all, the book even lends itself appropriate to be read with an open box of very high quality chocolate at your side. You won’t understand what I mean until you read, but it will not hurt to be prepared. If you are reading in St. John’s I recommend a dark box from NL Chocolate with lots of George Street and Longs Hills, or Purdy’s maple creams if you are out west, or Anne’s Dairy creams if you in P.E.I
….or (while I wouldn’t do it this way) you could just read the book.