Sharon Gannon, founder of Jivamukti Yoga
What is your job?
To contribute in some small way to the happiness and liberation of others.
What social causes are most important to you?
Animal rights, environmentalism, and music
What charities do you support – and how?
I give money to lots of amazing people who are doing hands-on work to relieve the suffering of animals—one being at a time. I also give money to many amazing people who are working to educate other human beings about the intelligence and sensitivity of other animals, trees, forests, bodies of water, and other ecosystems. I also like to support individual musicians who are doing wonderful musical things in the world.
All of life is alive. A bird is alive and feels and thinks and communicates. A Tree is alive and also feels and thinks and communicates. We live in a living world filled with feeling, and thinking beings who are communicating with us all the time, but we (human beings) have forgotten how to listen. I like to support other people who have organizations (sometimes it’s just them working solo) that are helping all of us human beings to remember how to live harmoniously/musically with all of life.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite non-profit organizations which I love to support:
PETA, Farm Sanctuary, Sea Shepard Conservation Society, Urban Cat League, Neighborhood Cats, Animal Mukti, Bonobos Conservation Initiative, Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, Animal Kind, Circle of Life, Gallmann Africa Conservancy, Rainforest Foundation, and Maverick Concerts.
How would you define social responsibility?
Being political. The word, politic means the body—the greater body—the community you live with. Some people may say that they are not interested in politics, that they are not political. Well, I would have to say that, you can’t help but be political because you live on this earth—you live in a community, you are not alone—you are living with other people. Even if you take yourself out of a metropolitan city and transport yourself to the “country” somewhere, you can’t get away from people—you will find yourself still living with people—perhaps tree people or bird or butterfly people or deer or bear people or maybe even elemental beings like fairy people—but still you will not be able to get away from “other” people. So for your own happiness and sanity, it would be best if you could find ways to get along with these other people. I think the real meaning of social responsibility is to be political –to dare to care—to care about the happiness and wellbeing of all the people who you live with. To be political is to live your life in a way that enhances the lives of others in your community—all others.
A great way to start getting into politics is to be vegan. To dare to care about others (animals trees—all living beings) is the most radical, political thing any of us can do at this time. We’ve all been conditioned by a culture, which has told us to look out for number one—no need to care about anyone else. This self-centered way of perceiving reality is simply not sustainable to live here on planet Earth. And besides that –it isn’t very much fun either to live so cut off from the rest of the world.
Do you have any tattoos that relate to your social beliefs?
On my right ankle, I have a tattoo of a black, gold, and red coral snake coiled around the alchemical symbols for entropy and evolution. It is a heavily encoded image, which speaks about equanimity of mind—the goal of yoga practice. The snake is modeled after a real person who I met when I was a little girl, living in the Florida everglades—this small snake spoke to me then—she taught me something about the power of one’s actions.
The snake is an ancient symbol of consciousness, DNA, kundalini, and perception. Entropy means to turn inward and evolution means to roll out. When we are able to bring our minds to a place of equanimity we become balanced, overcoming duality and the restrictions of time. This tattoo reminds me of my project to try to attain some level of equanimity of mind while I am still fortunate to have a body—to be alive.
Quick list of tattoos/mention artists if you’d like:
Madame Vyvyan Lazonga—the greatest tattoo artist in the world! This talented and amazing lady lives and works in Seattle Washington, we’ve known each other since 1968—wow that’s 42 years!
Check out: Pussycat Dolls’ Kaya Jones for Equality