The reason for my fascination is that so much of yoga philosophy comes down to the basic idea that we are practicing to somehow harmonize these necessary polarities inside of us. It’s a metaphor of sorts, but as you get down to the deeper levels, many find that the metaphors point toward an embodied experience. An embodied experience of what? Of the underlying unity of all things. At it’s heart, yoga is the fusion of complimentary opposites which brings us home to rest in a state of unified consciousness, the very heart of all reality.
It’s not hard to understand the logic of oneness even before it becomes a felt and known experience. If this whole cosmos and everything in it wasn’t at essence all one thing, then where exactly would the other thing(s) be? How can anything truly be outside of the one?
Now, the tricky thing to grasp for many, is that this understanding surpasses all thinking. What the heck? Yes it’s true, you can’t think your way into or through the actually experience of oneness. For many people that is a very hard thing to appreciate at first, in part because we live in a culture that glorifies thinking to the exclusion of other ways of experiencing…reality.
On the surface of things we may feel separation and see differences. The mind is brilliant at the compartmentalization and categorization of all things. It is a beautiful tool for discernment and reasoning. After all there are true differences in the world and even a hierarchy to the levels of truth, justice and spiritual revealment that an individual and even a culture can express and experience.
In classical tantric yoga philosophy there is an idea that differences are real and that oneness is also real. It seems like a paradox, yet both are true. The idea is that all of life originally began as one and that through the ultimate power of creation and the freedom of life force energy out of that one grand unity, a multiplicity of diversity was “born”. Yet even with the extreme differences found (in say) a single atom and an elephant, those two different things never lose the essential quality that, at essence ~ makes them one. Now you might be saying, “Well, I can see how the atom is in the elephant but is the elephant in an atom? I’ll let you ponder that one.
From the one comes the many, and the many contain the one.
It’s very much the same principle expressed through the Western Scientific theory of the Big Bang, only the metaphors are different. (Let’s call it all metaphor for now, as it keeps one humbly in a state of not knowing and can help stave off gullibility to belief systems). After all, no one yet truly knows or can empirically prove how this all began ~ how it all fits together and where it might all end.
If we come down to earth and look to the theories put forth through the philosophies and observances of permaculture — the healthiest ecosystems are known to be the ones most full of diversity. It’s called the “edge” and it often refers to where two landscapes, biological regions or unique ecosystems meet. Such as the edge of where a meadow and a forest meet and begin to biologically blend. It’s at these meeting points, in the most diverse intersections that we see especially robust and thriving ecosystems.
It’s interesting how most people that would consider themselves compassionate and conscientious feel fine with diversity of all sorts, just not the sort of diversity that they themselves don’t fundamentally agree with. It’s seems though that in the bigger picture, polar opposites are part of the grand design. This particular solar system is strongly ruled by the forces of sun and moon after all.
So, when you contemplate the big differences out there in the world at large or experience confronting opposites you might take heart — that at the essence of things, there is a complex web of interrelations and unseen connections. Sometimes when two things are most seemingly opposed there might just be the possibility of a vibrant fertile landscape teeming with an unseen underlying harmony within the greater system…as a whole.
If only in your own mind, go to the liminal point where two seemingly opposite ideas intersect and look for even the smallest particle of melding and unification, like the Vesica Piscis. These are pivotal points where the disparate might meet up and find common ground.
When all else fails, and two things…or your thoughts about those things feel too extremely contradictory for your mind to reconcile, try if even for just a few moments of peace to slip between those two thoughts. Hang out in the place in-between thinking…and notice where you end up. Often when one comes back from the place between two thoughts they find a more natural state of tolerance and even compassion for the differences among people and things.
Experiencing the underlying unity of life does not serve to absolve a person from working tangibly in the word to help bring awareness to dysfunctions within oneself, the culture or larger systems. After all, differences and dysfunctions are real. If anything, the embodied experience of presence and awareness of the unified field of consciousness might serve an individual (or group) in maintaining greater levels of serenity in the face of adversity, uncertainty, and even chaos ~ as individuals and societies work to find places of common ground, greater understanding and collective peace.
When we dive down beneath the surface of life and behind the thought waves of the mind, we arrive at the quintessential essence of things — the vast space of unbounded presence, the unified field of consciousness. It’s that which connects all things.
✶If you’d like to take this experience a step further, then try this meditation: Sit somewhere inviting in a comfortable seat. Feel your connection to the earth. Literally, feel your seat and the stability of the floor or ground beneath you. Connect to a feeling of being rooted and grounded. Bring your awareness to your breath. Breath deeply and imagine the breath like a thread or tether that you can yoke to, in order to stay very present within your own body and the present moment reality, as it is. Keep breathing deeply and consciously as you close your eyes. Turn your awareness inside. From there, imagine expanding your view as far out in every direction as you can imagine. Open up the walls of perception and take your awareness to the very edges of the universe. Stay grounded ~ and then go vast. Go big! Infinite and timeless. Contemplate how far this universe expands. Ponder for a moment that no one even knows where this vast cosmos begins or ends. Now…bring the entire planet and cosmos inside of your expanded view and inside of your awareness. Relax into the state of pure undifferentiated consciousness. Feel the vast web of connections ~ and bask in the oneness of all things.
Slowly bring yourself back to your breath. Open your eyes and bring your awareness to the present moment reality as it presents itself to you ~ to the sights and sounds and sensations. Feel your connection to your seat, to the earth, to all of life and to the underlying matrix of all things