Love is what motivated me to connect with this week’s Unplug podcast guest. Sharon Gannon is love embodied. Along with David Life, she is the co-founder of the Jivamukti Yoga Method which distinguishes itself as a path to enlightenment by promoting compassion for all beings, challenging the modern belief that enslaving and exploiting animals and the natural world is our right as the dominant species. Jivamukti Yoga is taught worldwide and includes high profile students such as Sting, Trudie Styler, Russell Simmons, Joan Jett, Willem Dafoe, Madonna, and Michael Franti to name but a few of the well known people who’ve dared to go deeper into their essential nature.
Sharon is a passionate animal rights advocate and conveys her message of compassion through the ancient wisdom of yoga. She’s quoted as saying that “the fork can be a powerful weapon of mass destruction or a tool to create peace on earth.”
I certainly won’t argue with that.
Sharon is also quoted as saying: “How you treat others will determine how others treat you. How others treat you will determine how you see yourself. How you see yourself will determine who you are.”
Sharon is the author of the newly released book “Simple Recipes for Joy” which is a stunningly beautiful cookbook that just arrived in my household. She’s also the author of “Yoga and Vegetarianism” which is a book that I read a few years back when I was just getting into yoga and learning how powerful this ancient wisdom is for reminding us of our purest nature of compassion. There are more books, more accomplishments, and much more wisdom to share but I’ll save that for our conversation.
I thank my dear friend Jenny Brown from the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary for connecting Sharon and I. We had an amazing Skype conversation and instantly bonded – kindred spirits in compassion. When I found out that she would be passing through the Vancouver area on her book tour, I set up a date to meet her in person and it was beautiful. She’s passionate, compassionate, funny, warm, and wise. There’s nothing like solidifying a relationship with an in-person connection over a cup of almond chai and delicious hot soup on a cold and rainy west coast day. I’m grateful that we had a few hours to hang out together when we were both in Vancouver last week.
Sharon gave a lovely talk and book signing at a local bookstore after our culinary experience and before I share this week’s interview, I want to share a response to a question that came up during the Q and A portion of the talk.
There was a question towards the end of the talk about the northern indigenous traditions of giving thanks to animals that were hunted ceremoniously that Sharon answered so beautifully. Personally, I don’t really understand why a question like that came up during a talk about a recently published cookbook but people can be quite bizarre when they’re looking for ways to hang onto old belief systems. Including their romanticized spiritual notions of a long gone era. Romanticizing a cultural mindset that no longer exists in the consumptive world of today only continues the perpetuation of the illusion of separation and my belief is that we’re so much better than this and if we only remembered that, the world would be a completely different place. But let me tell you what Sharon had to say.
Sharon’s response to the ancient indigenous hunting question went like this:
“As a species we used to do alot of things that we really don’t need to do now. So what we did in the past, we can’t change that. It’s done. We did it. But we can move forward and evolve. In the past it was perfectly natural for men to rape women, to own women, to view women and children as property. There are alot of awful things that we did and when we grew up as a species, we began to see then in a different light. I think that the time has come to evolve into the kinder beings that we’re meant to be. We have so many choices and options these days. No matter where we live, we can get vegan food and now that we have the choice, it is always better to choose kindness over cruelty. And to not make excuses for ancestors who might have lived thousands of years ago who didn’t feel they had the choice. We have choice. Thank god for evolution!”
Hallelujah is what I say to that Sharon!
This week we speak about:
• How compassion for all life is the key to awakening.
• If we can’t accept ourselves, how can we accept others?
• Compassion must be limitless to be effective.
• The root cause of all suffering lives inside our minds.
• To communicate effectively to one another, we must establish a soul-to-soul connection.
• The world is a projection of what we believe.
• What is karma?
• The most important thing we can do at this time is to dare to care about the happiness of all living beings.
• If you make others happy, your own happiness will be assured.
• What is ahimsa?
• How the yoga sutras apply to veganism.
• How human greed is devastating the planet.
• What is spiritual activation/activism?
• The importance of cultivating patience and an unpolluted state of mind.
Sharon Gannon is one of a handful of yogis in the western world who lives and practices the pure essence of the ancient tradition of yoga – ahimsa. I am so grateful to have had the honor to be in this conversation with her and to now have the opportunity to share it with you.
Just a quick note – Sharon was at the bustling Jivamukti yoga studio in New York City preparing for her book launch at the time of this conversation so you may notice some bustling going in the background. It doesn’t detract from her wise and important words so enjoy this week’s show.
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