Philip Goldberg


An alternative history




Thursday, January 17, 2013


THE SUBTLE BODY, The Story of Yoga in America, by Stefanie Syman, is an excellent and informative book published in 2010, that gives a different  approach to this often confused and intricate history as the introduction will reveal. The introduction is one of the best I have read for many years that intelligently discusses YOGA  and its beginnings and some of its consequences and contradictory aspects in- so-far as American understand YOGA.                                                                                                                                

I became acquainted with yoga as a 'baby-child' when I used to be given a massive book on MEDICAL HOME REMEDIES and the like. In that was,though it was a while before I actually understood such,  a section on YOGA with photographs and descriptions. It was from this that I gave my first 'lecture',actually a classroom talk in Stevens High School when I was a sophomore in Mrs. Bucko's English Class. My topic was entitle WHAT IS A YOGI? And my answer to that was, A YOGI IS ONE WHO DOES YOGA.
One of my classmates(Harriet Fish)  at the time said,"Oh, yogis are people who stand on their heads!"  At the time, a movie comedian had a film out that involved 'wrestling' and one of the wrestlers did yoga and from that everyone seemed to have that erroneous conception. Of course, other things, like RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT, often showed yoga drawings and some times pictures in magazines appeared of 'yogis', sword swallowers, fakirs,etc. All of which led to many misconceptions of YOGA.

A popular magazine came out that further gave much occult and mystical information,etc. It was called FATE and I once had numerous copies of this magazine and was an avid reader. My aunt introduced me to this magazine and others. Since those days, my interest in YOGA has had its 'ups and downs' with other similar things. Some of which I may discuss at another time.

THE SUBTLE BODY is the English description of  THE SUKSHMA SHARIRA or, as it is called more often by those mentioning this: THE LINGA SHARIRA. Other names for the various 'bodies of man'  will be discussed eventually when I have more time. There are the 'astral body', the 'etheric body, the mental body, the emotional body, etc. Much of this needs a lot of time to describe and discuss and the information varies, of course, from attempts to prove the existence of all this to merely stating such exists and then giving 'exercises' or 'practices' to use or work these bodies,etc. often with just printed instructions rather than from a personal teacher, guide or 'guru'.

SHARIRA means 'body' or 'sheath' which surrounds these 'subtle aspects' and these 'coverings' are also known as KOSHA of which some writings describe as five in number envelope the ATMAN, another term that needs further elucidation.

In this respect, YOGA and VEDANTA and other systems of HINDU PHILOSOPHY & THOUGHT have to be considered and most practitioners of modern yoga are seldom aware of such, focusing mainly on the PHYSICAL EXERCISES,GYMNASTICS, BREATHING, & DIETING PRACTICES among many other  things that do not deal fully with the 'secret', 'esoteric', 'mystical' or 'religious' areas,some of which have always been controversial for many in the United States as well as in other countries.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Recently, re-reading portions of Yogananda'  THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI, the paperback edition, I have come across references and mentions of several scientists and  their research, not in proving the assertions of yoga necessarily, or forming their personal practices of such,if any, but of their research and some of its possible applications, implications, and so forth. I have mentioned somewhere the work of BOSE and the crescograph that is in this work and now I wish to mention the work of Dr. George W. Crile also briefly mentioned in this work. I went to the internet and found some of his interesting and now neglected works on-line to read and also can be downloaded,etc. The work he did and studied and wrote about on Psychology, Philosophy, Medicine, Kinetics, and the like fits in nicely with some the areas in physics and radiation, sensations and other aspects of possible study and research. I cannot as yet do justice to explaining or expounding on this aspect but merely mention it here for those who are both in Yoga and in t he 4th WAY to possibly acquaint themselves with this.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I became acquainted with the writings of PAUL BRUNTON through his book,' A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT, published in 1936, the year I was born. I came across the volume on the shelves of The Fiske Free Library in Claremont, NH, when I was in either Stevens Junior High or the first two years of Stevens High,from which I graduated in 1954. The Fiske Free Library had a marvelous collection of books on nearly all subjects know to man, or at least classified under the Dewey Decimal System, as cumbersome at it often was, at least for me, who rearranges books on my shelves to suit myself and my tastes and needs and mental approaches to things. During the 1960's, as I have often mentioned to others of a literary bent and persuasion, nearly all of the books were decimated, discarded, even burned, by the ,modern barbarians' in keeping with 'business' operations and 'trendy notions'etc....In fact, this trend of 'overhauling' the libraries of villages, towns, cities,even colleges and universities is still going on, along with those drastic changes in other institutions such as, museums...which are, like the libraries, divesting themselves of their materials, whether collections of artifacts or books. I do not expect this pernicious trend to end any time soon before all the shelves and cases are empty and filled with the modern trivia and crap now so popular.But this is my own perception and feelings based as they are on old notions of 'knowledge'. This book' A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT' made a lasting impression on me,though I have not read it since those days and a copy now is more expensive that I care to pay at the moment. I was affected by this book because along with othe ocult books and magazines, such as Sinnett's,'ESOTERIC BUDDHISM' and the AMORC and other 'Rosicrucian'books and magazines,that I read, I formed a loose-knit group of classmates(boys) called 'THE ANCIENT BROTHERHOOD OF TRUTH SEEKERS' and wrote a composition entitled,'THE ENLIGHTENED ONES' amogn others that followed in various ways..... One of my classmates, 'IAN L' joined and when he heard of my interest in Rosicrucianism, told me his mother belonged to them but he was not sure which group it was actually.(There was also THE ROSICRUCIAN FELLOWSHIP,under Max Heindel). Seeing myenthusiasm over 'A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT' Ian borrowed the book which I had checked out of the library in my name, promising to return it and I naively thought he would do so which,of course, he did not and so the library was on my neck for its return along with a hefty fine. The library contacted my grandmother with whom I had lived since my parents divorce years before, and eventually the book was recovered but I do not know who paid the fines...Ian,I late discovered,was 'light-fingered' despite the 'wealth' of his parents...soemtimes he would snitch a pack of cigarettes from Dion's store,which we both frequented to read comics and drink ice cream sodas,etc. various times. Ian would then go with me and my best friend Bob W. after school where they would try to puff on these 'butts' in the woods, near the railroad tracks that crossed Broad Street...(these tracks, like the rairoads, are long gone and the old rail bed is now a 'hiking trail' complete with plenty of dog poop as expected these days)...Both of these friends and classmates are now deceased but at the time I decided never to become 'addicted' to tobacco or alcohol or
narcotic around 8 or 9 or 10, I had experimented with tobacco and beer and whiskey and wine so these were not mysteries to me and for this I am grateful that I never succe umbed to these pernicious and vile habits that ensnared and still do, many people who later attempt to give up such things and really can't except in some instances too numerous to mention... Although I have had numerous 'opportunities' to sample the pharmacy of various drugs that were and somewhat still popular over the years, I have refrained from such, having known from 'ancient sources' the one-way street and brick wall that arises from such .... It is my conclusion, based on seeing others who indulge in such and spend most of their money and time at such 'recreations' start out by becoming addicted to tobacco, namely cigarettes washed down with alcohol, generally 'suds' and 'brews' and then go to the more exotic and hardcore 'maryjane' and 'weed',etc. then take a tumble in the 'snow' and then 'shoot up' with a set of 'works',etc. But all this is another topic and far from the things I wish to discuss here.....

Monday, August 1, 2011


Miss Manner's column on contemporary manners and etiquette by Judith Martin, has the title: GOOD YOGA TEACHER BEGINS EACH CLASS BENT OUT OF SHAPE! The 'bent out of shape' part does NOT refer to the poses, postures and asanas that turn people into pretzels and contortionists but to the attitude of the 'teacher of yoga'....the writer describes the modos and attitudes that the yoga teacher seems to be displaying and which turn people off by her describing the things that have 'gone wrong with her'etc. before class...apparently then teaching, in the words of the writer to Miss Manners, ' a wonderful class'.... This basic attitude demonstrates that many of today's trendy yoga instructors and certified practitioners,even afer years of assuming the obligatory postures of Hatha and other yogas, have yet to quell the mind and the emotions and only subdue the body....mastery of the body should, as many think and feel, relax the body and eventually the mind but thei takes time.... The writer of the letter seems to want to help the yoga instructor get out of the doldrums and negative state she has 'posed herself' into....claiming that the teacher is in financial difficulties(which seem, if real,to be of her own doing)....and is overly concerned with appearances, wanting people to think well of her(the instructor)...... Self-centered yoga instructors of all persuasions often do care more for 'perfect' postures or 'appearances' and will often go to great lengths to do so, by 'standing on their heads' or 'bending over backwards' to both please students and bring in cash and other 'sacrifices'.. Miss Manners shows the correct attitude for dealing with this, perhaps gained from her devotions to manners and proper behavior, a sort of yoga in itself....helping people has become a sort of, as Miss Manners astutely notes, 'A NATIONAL PASTIME' along with other similar recreations of a national character.... But I seriously doubt that this yoga instructor will ever be able to 'get into the proper mood for yoga' if she has not early on in her career learned how this is done....usually self-taught persons or DVD trainees fall into this group...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Yesterday, I spent most of the day and some of the night reading a bit of the MAHABHARATA, the William Buck Version in English and also watching the two disc DVD of Peter Brook's movie version which was based on stage plays done around various parts of the world.........Peter Brook is a very intense and creative person, often described as 'demanding' and'rude' but with whom I can sympathize since doing a few TV projects myself and wanting to do the images as I have and hold them in my mind for what I want to do........I have his 'MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MEN' based on GURDJIEFF'S second book...and which I have watched innumerable times but which actually needs expansion and details that seem lacking in certain areas, and which might lead those unacquainted with THE WORK to make conclusions based solely on the film.......thus going nowhere beyond the 'cinematic' presentation..... THE MAHABHARATA,however, has some interesting things that take it from the realm of the 'cultural-ethnic' classification that many will place upon it, and ignore the universal aspects that need to be understood, basically some of the 'causes' of war and the social ills that plague mankind and how they often arise...though one need not accept the 'religious' twists and turns that fill both the written and film version(s) of this. A multiracial cast provides a most provocative performance while the MARTIAL ARTS movements, are interesting as are some of the weaponry performances,all of which seem derived from JAPANESE,FILIPINO, & South East Asian weaponry systems in a mix that will delight many traditional persons to a great extent if they keep an open mind. A few familiar uses of shields often used in other 'epics' that deal with armies and wars and face-to-face combat and tactics will come to mind as one watches the ba ttle scenes....a few horses add to the fray but the lack of elephants and some others that are often found in such movies, does not detract from the interest one feels during the film....which could have been a realy great epic if it had been done with a big multi-million/billion budget, no doubt, the ESSENTIAL FRAMEWORK of the magnificent MAHABHARATA is there..... Like the movie, ASOKA, another grand epic set in India, this movie gives one many things about which to ponder over and to meditate upon, if one is willing to make the effort beyond the mere form of exciting entertainment and examine the personal and moral and social and historical dilemmas posed to everyone...... THE YOGA OF ACTION, of course, seems to be the focus given by KRISHNA and which has been come to be termed: KARMA YOGA....a sort of 'Hindu' "KUNGFU" so-to-speak....and the other great works allied with this one: The BHAGAVAD-GITA & THE RAMAYANA also are most deserving of attention by martial artists who wish to know more about 'ancient warfare and combat' as well as some strategy...but I am afraid few will seriously take to this special arena as they often are more taken up with strictly Chinese and Japanese strategies that have become of common interest lately,namely both from books on the subjects and numerous movies on such that have flooded the West in past years, all of which I also find enjoyable and significant and take not in the ordinary way of mere entertainment and the like.