So last week we discovered that our identity is an illusion. Click here if you missed the blog about this to make more sense of this week’s article. Our mind, being so full of thinking stuff, creating obsessions with our problems (always bigger than other people’s) creates this imagined self and stores up all the differences between ourselves and other people.
The best way for the Ego to boost itself is by looking out for others being wrong and me being right! If you spend one minute on Tickhill Community Forum, you will find lots of big egos, all trying to shout each other down by proving themselves to be right in front of all their friends and neighbours! Notice how many people join in these arguments over the electronic garden fence in an attempt to divide folk clearly into categories (the ego loves to be right and to divide and conquer). Also notice how the ego loves to divide experiences into good and bad. It is very rare that we remain entirely neutral about what is going on!
Our journey in Yoga takes us in a different direction in which we are noticing what happens when the whirling mind stuff begins to subside. What is there instead? A stillness. A lightness of being. A spaciousness. An experience of what some have called Awakening, Consciousness or God. But none of them really can describe the experience, since words immediately shrink the real experience and generally make you want to strive for some-‘thing’ that cannot be strived for. In these moments, in which we let go of ego identification, desires and sufferings we begin to experience that there is no separation between Self (capital S) and others as well as being able to grasp the concept of the mind and body not being separate from one another and Self and the world in general being one. The tendency to distinguish things as two separate camps is a mark of the ego and is well explained in the following short video:
Dualistic concepts of God, point toward a Divine Man (why is it always a man?) sitting with a white beard on the clouds above us, in control of all things and separate from us. In fact in Dualistic Bible interpretations, although God has his own agenda for the world, and wishes his people to get in touch with that and bring his wishes into fruition, you can still interrupt his plans with your own begging and pleading for what you want and need (he is the God of Parking Spaces)! Though quite what would happen if you prayed for rain for your parched lawn whilst your fellow Christian neighbour is praying for sunshine to dry her washing, none of which might be part of God’s divine plan, since he is busy at the time solving wars and other crisis (though not winning all of them) is a question that isn’t always answered in your average pew seat!
Unfortunately this Dualistic thinking often serves to increase the identification with ego, particularly through misinterpretation of scripture in which the zealot identifies with the “one right way” approach to salvation which encourages her to attempt to convert all the non-believers for fear that they will not receive what the believer is entitled to on judgement day from her pleased God who is separate from and outside of her. As you can see, this believer has all the answers, is quite separate from other non believers who do not and she must spend a lifetime proving their rightness and demonstrating the wrongness of others (sometimes in history, to the point of killing them).
Not all Christians hold with this dualistic standpoint however. For the non-Trinitarian or Monotheist, believes that the Holy Trinity wasn’t biblical (the doctrine isn’t explained anywhere) and evidence that the concept was only devised some 300 years or so after Jesus’s death. This means that Jesus wasn’t one part of a Triple Godhead (God in a man suit) but human, the same as you and me and his lifetime was an example to us mere mortals of how Divinity within is possible (so Self – capital S – and God are not separate in this non Duality).
Buddhists talk of Buddha-nature as the essential element in all of us that is discoverable in meditation and that allows all sentient beings to become Buddhas in their own lifetime on Earth. New Age Non-Dualists will speak of our oneness with Universal Energy through the seeking of a mature state of consciousness, in which the dichotomy of I-other is ‘transcended’, and awareness is described as ‘centerless’ and ‘without dichotomies’.
In Somatic Yoga we are on a spiritual journey of enquiry about the possibility of being one with all that is, but not as an experience to be pressed on others. We are also non-dualistic in our approach to the relationship of Body and Mind and to our experience of the body from within which confirms this unity. Lots of you are reporting to me at the moment that you notice much more (since practicing Gentle Somatic Yoga) that you are present to your body, instead of living in your head all the time. Thich Nhat Hanh demonstrates in his story of the Father who is home with his child in body, but very distracted in his mind, producing an impoverished relationship with his son (start the video at 05:08 for the main story):
Thich Nhat Hanh points out in his book “Body and Mind are One” that our mind state profoundly affects our body state and visa versa. We will be doing some exercises in class which demonstrate this. We have all noticed in class these past few weeks that when we still the body, the mind and our thoughts begin to calm. Gaps between mind wanderings increase. Something beyond language is available to be experienced. Our access to this is quite often through sense perception (smell, sight, sound etc) and an experience of embodiment. Some of us might give this experience a description. Others may be loath to give it a noun, such as Awareness, Consciousness or God just because doing so may serve to limit our experience of it.
Reading This Week: