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October 2013 - Yoga and What Really Matters

Dear Yoga Friends,

With respect to what really matters in life, what can we learn from Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg? Here's what he had to say a few years ago to an audience at Stanford:

I want to stress the importance of being young and technical. Young people are just smarter. Why are most chess masters under 30? I don't know. Young people just have simpler lives. We may not own a car. We may not have family. Simplicity in life allows you to focus on what's important.

Well, he got it partially right. Simplicity does allow you to focus on what's important. That's why monastic and ascetic traditions evolved. But they didn't evolve around chess or developing social networking apps. Why not? Because however important these things may be to our intellectual or social development, no one doing these things will, later in life, wish they had spent more time on them. They are not fundamentally about personal growth, the search for truth, real (not virtual) community, healing, or love. These are what people tend to value later in life when they are wiser, though they may or may not be as sharp as they once were in terms of raw mental horsepower.

Mark has already changed. He's married now and owns four houses in Palo Alto and a $10M house in SF's Noe Valley. Maybe he will skip the part about owning a car and having a family, but I'm guessing that even more complicated things are in store for him, as the CEO of one of the world's largest and most influential companies. And who will take care of Mark when he is old and dumb? Well ok, so I picked an easy target.

And yes, if chess is important and rewarding to you, then play chess. If creating social networking apps is your calling, then by all means do that. But if you happen to come across yoga on your path, you are in luck. You have something that you can always do, requiring no special equipment, simple yet inherently deep and evolutionary. Just you, a floor, and perhaps a mat. Ok, and maybe a wall.

Hope this message finds you well, and that you find an opportunity to get in touch with what is important to you as we enter the holiday season!



Chad Balch