David Life
(aka David Kirkpatrick)

david.jpgLocation: New York City
Position, Organization: Co-Founder, with Sharon Gannon, of Jivamukti Yoga
Major/Graduation Year: BFA, 1972

Become like a sponge and take every opportunity to absorb the light of knowledge.


Why/How I came to MSU: I grew up in Eaton Rapids, a small town near East Lansing. MSU was always my ideal. Ushering at the Spartan football games was a regular fall highlight for me as a young boy scout. My early educational experience had been unchallenging and the multiversity of MSU offered the kind of potential for growth that attracted me.

What I currently do: Yoga practices…we also teach Jivamukti yoga classes, workshops, retreats and trainings all over the world. This year we will offer month-long trainings in three countries, and workshops and classes in dozens of other locations including many Jivamukti Yoga Centers and Affiliated Centers worldwide. We have published books on yoga, vegetarianism, political and environmental activism, and continue with other writing projects. We also maintain a wild animal refuge in the Catskills, near New York City, and administrate several small corporations.

What students should be prepared for: Your education should be visionary, magical, thorough, diverse, empowering, and most-importantly - reflect your hearts desire at its core. We live in a world that is constantly changing. How do you prepare yourself to thrive in an atmosphere of change? You must become rooted in the changeless realm through meditation. Develop insight and receptiveness to the subtle indicators of the true nature of any moment in time. Then you become a shape-shifter, an improviser, with the grounding that will allow you to re-invent and renew yourself and your path with ease. You should be prepared to serve others and graduate from self-obsession. The sure path to happiness is to make others happy.

What should a current student take advantage of while at MSU: First: Perfect your studentship. Become like a sponge and take every opportunity to absorb the light of knowledge. Find teachers that you benefit from, and become their student. Second: Explore the limits of possibility. Our true potential is always more than we think or believe. Your time in university should be a fertile ground for growing into infinite possibilities. If adulthood means that growth stops, then you should remain as a child.

How my major helped with my success: Majoring in art was my umbrella, but thanks to Honors College, I was able to design a program that included a broad spectrum of related arts and sciences. From that foundation in psychology, philosophy, poetry, anatomy, materials science, design and studio art, my life has unfolded. In New York City, in the 1980s and 90s, our Life Café brought a disparate group of East Village artists, musicians and poets together in what became a movement. Graffiti and performance art were my media. At the same time though, the study of Yoga philosophy and practice became my personal and soulful fulfillment. In 2002, we published our book The Art of Yoga. Here is a quote from our Introduction:

“Art is experience. The word art also encompasses the techniques and tools used by the artist to evoke an experience. But art is much more than technique. Art is also a way of life and a way of looking at things – or a philosophy. The word yoga is used in somewhat the same way. It refers to an ineffable goal and the tools and techniques used to attain it. We say we are going to ‘make art’ in much the same way that we say we are going to ‘do Yoga.’”

You could call it an “artful” approach to living. This artful approach to life includes a deep appreciation for signs and symbols; the field of intention; and the alchemy of mood and moment. Learning the “art of living” taught me that good art does not fill any moment with “things,” but rather, with significance.

How I came to do what I’m currently doing: It seems to me that any life is the sum total of experiences and actions. The person that each of us becomes is the direct result of the karmas, or actions, that we undertake in our life now and in previous lives. What any of us becomes is a direct result of everything that we have done. If any aspect of our lives were changed – it would all look different. What I do is not a different field than my major. All action takes place in the field of time and space, and where we end up is always relative.

My advice to students: Be kind and do what you can to relieve the suffering of others. Go Vegan. Live sustainably and artfully.

My advice to new graduates: Be kind and do what you can to relieve the suffering of others. Go Vegan. Live sustainably and artfully.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” –Pablo Picasso