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INTRODUCTION




   
WHAT IS THE PRACTICE OF YOGA?



    IMAGES: PANKAJ SETH AT KHAJURAHO - INDIA
    CREDIT: SOPHIE HAWKINS, 2008



YOGA and PEACE
Conflict is predicated upon an "us and them" or an "I and other". However and wherever this dividing line is drawn determines the battlefield. "I" is an affirmation of selfhood and this may be personal/biological, based upon one's sex, nation, race, religion or other creed. There are many potential battle lines all around us and within us. To the extent we have given ourselves over to any of these selfhoods, to that degree we have situated ourselves closer to potential conflict. Notions of self are constructs that ferment in the mind and may or may not stand up to the scrutiny of a deep self-exploration.

Who am I? What am I? These questions when thoroughly explored may yield a surprising result to those who have become attached to various notions of self. The path of Yoga brings one to a radical experience and knowledge of selfhood. Let us understand Yoga as a universal process at the heart of being. It is seeking for the deepest self-knowledge possible and this process is hindered if one chooses to attach to a particular culture, time or person. The process is primary, the illumined persons are a result of it, not the other way around. If I consider myself Eastern or Western, Christian, Hindu or whatever, I have not sufficiently engaged the process of self-discovery. To the extent that human beings have traversed the path, to that degree there could be peace.



                                                                           
THE PROMISE OF YOGA
                              The message of Yoga is that Universal Being can be sighted within oneself.
                That this can be lived, rather than merely known at a distance is the promise of Yoga.


                                              


THE FRUITION OF YOGA
I have always known that there is nothing except myself. This knowledge has seemed non-sensical and essential at the same time. This has seemed non-sensical for the obvious reason that it does not appear to be so, but this knowing persists anyway. In deep, deep quiet, with absolute focus and wakefulness I have lived this self-experience of being everything, have seen that there is nothing except myself. This has not been a fuzzy, dream like knowing, but with a clarity and certainty which trumps every other knowing I have ever lived. This experience has been astonishing but not unexpected, for my intuition has always known this to be so. I have one eye, everywhere all at once, and countless lesser eyes fixed in innumerable limits. I know myself completely as only I can, as well as conceiving and seeing myself in countless ways through the infinite variety of the lesser eyes which I also possess.

Yogis say that only the deep can know the deep. To a Yogin, the deepest part of everything is known as Ishvara (SELF), so when the surface is let go, there is only SELF. Only SELF which sees, and only SELF to be seen. Everything is enfolded in SELF, unfolds from SELF and folds back into SELF.

While it is enfolded, there is only SELF. While it is unfolded it is a reality in its own right, but unlike SELF it does not rest on itself. Language confounds... SELF is one and many, but logic dictates that this cannot be so. I have always known that there is nothing except myself, but this has seemed non-sensical when measured against logic and language. That I am everything is certain, but language does not enable this communication. But when the limits of logic and language are seen, their protests can be put aside.


SELF
And what does this do for me, I who am aware of my lesser condition as well as of my origin, my essence? What does it mean that I know I am SELF? The limits of my lesser selfhood come to mean less. The realities and compulsions which arise due to these limits become less. The flow of time in which I unfold is experienced with greater ease; I can just as easily swallow it as it use to swallow me. The limit of being localized in space is not as constricting; I can expand to contain space as easily as space use to dwarf me. Lesser is the burden of personality, lesser its pulls and pushes, its wants and anxieties, its fear of non-existence. I can be at ease with the personality as it is no longer the center of selfhood.

I who was born, one day will die. I, within whom birth and death were born, remain outside their power. Both of these are truths so if the personality has been shown its proper place then it remains at peace with its reality. The personality's wants may or may not be met, but I cannot be denied, for who is there other than myself to deny me? And in this regard, I know my deep, essential nature, so am not perturbed. This nature is playful and benevolent, not inclined to hold back anything worthwhile. And if the personality assumes the center and becomes cut off from its essence while pursuing lesser realities, to it is given the pleasure and pain too, beyond measure, time after time. Then it tastes greedily, in anxiety, until it longs to remember its essence, and then that too comes to pass. A journey far and away, then back home. Some travelers will help you forget the essential, others will remind. Though my true nature is the same as yours, my lesser nature compels me to remind you that while on your journey, do not forget what you are.

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