Similarities can eliminate duality!

My 5th grade niece did an impromptu word study connecting knowledge of her DARE class to words she read in church. During church she leaned over to her mother and exclaimed, “HalleluJah and mariJuana are the same!” She noticed the use of a silent “J”. She then got the giggles, and of course, created more of a scene than her mother wanted.

But what a gift!  To be able to see similarities in so many places brings us a step closer to oneness. Identifying similarities in words, people, church, and in nature is a gift. In yoga, the ultimate challenge is to find oneness, to feel connected and empowered by all around you, and to go beyond what is tangible, knowing that you are united with the Great Divine! Yoga means to unite.

The Bhagavad Gita discusses the importance of eliminating duality and the benefits of doing so. Instructions are provided, to eliminate duality, finding samadhi through meditation. What I see, is that we can begin to practice for samadhi by finding similarities whenever possible, just as my niece did.

Delusion arises from the duality of attraction and aversion, Arjuna; every creature is deluded by these from birth.

Excerpt From: Eknath Easwaran. “The Bhagavad Gita.” Chapter 7, verse 27.

Well flip and flap!  From birth?!?!?  Krishna tells Arjuna that we are affected by duality from birth. True. We are separated from our mother and primal oneness with the mother is lost. It takes work and conscious effort from birth on to reconnect with our source, God. Even in oneness, we find individual distinctions but recognize we all have the same distinctions.

Thus he (Krishna) is both happiness and suffering, birth and death, being and nonbeing. Like the Brahman of the Upanishads, he is beyond duality, utterly beyond the constricting categories of the things of this world.

Excerpt From: Eknath Easwaran. “The Bhagavad Gita.” The Introduction to chapter 10.

When we see similarities, the categories of things and people begin to fade and distance among people diminishes.  We become one.

Start small.  Hallelujah and marrijuana use the letter “J” in the same way.  I am interested in gardening, just like my neighbor down the street.  I am seeking a spiritual path, just as my catholic sister does.  We are all the same. We are one.Do Something!

In your downtime, begin to train your brain to find similarities. Watch people in public and look for what is the same.  When you are in conflict, look for similarities. If you are in conflict with another person, focus on what is the same between the two of you. If you are having internal conflict, accept that you have distinct emotions, but they are the totality of your oneness.
You are all that!

Hari Om

There will be much happy! How to manage expectations.

While hopping on a cruise ship with 25 of my husband’s family members, I looked up at Geoff (my husband) and reminded him of something he often tells me.

Disappointment comes from expectation.

So, we should set our expectations low in order to not be disappointed. This goes against so many things I believe.

Assume the best in people.
Set your goals and aims high, in order to achieve your greatness.
Expect that people will do the right thing.

I was ready to enter a week where the best outcome in my mind was that there would be no fighting or petty squabbling among the family. As a relative newcomer to this group, I really did not know what to expect and I did not know all of the family dynamics. In an unexpected twist of events, after reminding Geoff of his own philosophy on expectations, he looked at me with a suspicious glittering in his eyes and a grin that I couldn’t resist. He responded with.

OH! There will be much happy!

I laughed heartily… maybe at the language choice, but absolutely at the statement. Maybe I had Geoff pulling in my direction to set higher expectations. But if his low expectations were, “There will be much happy…” then this was going to be an AMAZING week! And it was amazing. The trip far exceeded my expectations! We did put effort towards much happy by laughing, hugging, (drinking), water sliding etc. Proof that there was much happy?  A picture says 1000 words!Geoff as a rasta man.

The niyamas are contained within the 8 Fold Path of Patanjali and often called “the rules for living”  suggesting qualities we should cultivate.  My understanding of two of the niyamas used to conflict in my mind and now the two together, rule many of my daily decisions. These sutras are from The Unadorned Thread of Yoga.

II.43 By purification through fiery aspiration, the body and the senses are perfected
Tapas: Fiery aspiration, discipline, effort
II.42 From contentment, unsurpassed happiness is gained.
Santosha: Contentment

If we are content with the amount of effort we put forth, we can never be disappointed with the outcomes.  Taking on this philosophy puts YOU in control situations.  If you did the best you could, then the outcomes can be accepted. If you did not try, or overworked and exhausted yourself, the outcomes might not be what you expect. Instead of being disappointed in the outcomes, adjust the effort you put out.
Think about itAs New Year’s Resolutions approach, think about how you define your resolutions. Are your resolutions about outcomes or effort? If your resolution IS outcome based such as, “I will write a novel” then define the process through effort. I will spend 5 hours a week writing. If realistically, you can only find 5 hours a week to write, you do just that, and the novel doesn’t get finished, then you can be proud of your progress and continue on your path! But if you see the novel will not get finished and you have free time when you do not write, then you are not content (santosha) with your effort (tapas).  Change the effort to a level to where you are content. Does the novel get finished? Does it matter?

Peace is complicated… but everywhere you look!

Context: I gave up on India for a moment and checked myself into a 5 star American Hotel chain and was running on a treadmill with Bon Jovi blaring in my headphones. I realized that while running and breathing (much cleaner air than I had in weeks), I felt alive! Vibrant! And yet peaceful.  How is that possible?  To be so filled with energy and appreciation for the action of life, and yet peaceful.
Explanation: For many years, I tried to make my life fit on a single line continuum with peace on one end and chaos on the other. I felt as if I always lived somewhere in the middle of these two points and rarely ever at peace. Peace is always present. It is in the middle of our being and available if we look for it. We may not always sit in the heart of peace, but it is never far. Among all our other emotions and actions, if we look for peace, it is present!Peace is Complicated
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali explains this phenomenon in the third chapter, verses III.4-7. This translation of the Yoga Sutras is by Alistair Shearer from the book, The Unadorned Thread of Yoga.

III.4 Dharana (conecntration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (shining knowledge) practiced together are known as sanyama.

III.5 When Sanyama is mastered, the light of supreme knowledge dawns.

III.6 But, sanyama has its application at every stage of the development of this knowledge.

III.7 It is the heart of yoga, more intimate than the preceding limits.

Explanation of these sutras tells us that we must practice. When concentration on an object (dharana) flows into meditation of that object (dhyana) and then the meditation flows to shining knowledge of that object (samadhi), sanyama is gained as a tool.  Once knowledge is gained, it never departs.  I meditated on God while on the banks of the Ganga and in temples and felt profound peace.  My concentration and meditation on God flowed into a shining knowledge of God.  I can only describe this knowledge of God as a profound sense of peace.

While running and feeling an active sense of life, I looked in my heart and mind and could feel, within the intensity of life, a profound sense of peace!

Application:  Now that the knowledge of God (peace) is present in my life, I can use Samadhi or sanyama as a tool to reconnect with God (peace) anytime I wish.  This understanding of peace in my life provides stability and an ability to let go while practicing non-attachment. As Alistair Shearer translates the sutras, “This is the heart of yoga, more intimate than the preceding limits.”  Connection. Union. God. Peace. It’s all here and this is the goal of yoga. Peace is always in us.  We simply must practice observing it and making space for peace to reside.

Do Something!

Sutra III.6 says it is the application of sanyama at every step that allows the development of the knowledge of peace or God.  We must never stop applying concentration, meditation and samadhi. So get on it!  Shut down the computer and take a few minutes to meditate of the object of your desire. God? Love? Peace?

Hari Om, Namaste