Yoga Training and Beginners Yoga
Yoga Instruction and Non-Duality
Yoga Training and Non-Duality for Beginners
Yoga, as you may have heard before, means union. But union of what with what ? Often it is said that it is union of your lower self with your higher Self, or union of the self with God. But I would argue that it is something much simpler that is meant. And I would even go so far as to say that it is not union at all that is meant. In order for there to be union there would first need to be separation and this is where the problem arises.
We believe that we are separate from objects and if we are of a spiritual, religious or philosophical nature then we try to unite that which we consider to be separate. This usually takes the form of uniting the time-bound with the Absolute. But the fact of the matter is that we know nothing about the Absolute except theories we have developed either by our own intellectual efforts or by studying the thoughts of others written down in books or passed on orally.
Robert Adams and Ramana Maharshi
However, before studying theoretical possibilities we should start much closer to home by studying what we actually experience. Our normal experience of the world is one of separation (or apparent separation), by which I mean that when I see a table I consider myself to be separate from that table. This may seem to be a reasonable and logical conclusion, but it does have consequences. The main consequence being that I extend this notion of separation to myself, i.e. I look at myself and apply the model of separation to the experience and consider therefore that the 'myself' that I am looking at is in fact an object of perception and that there must therefore be a separate subject (or higher self) who is aware of this object of perception (or lower self), in the same way that I consider that there is a separate subject that is aware of the table I see.
This, however, is clearly nonsense. How can there be two 'selves' one of which is aware of the other? The conclusion that is often reached at this point is that the self that is seen as the 'object' is in fact false and that only the self that is considered to be the subject can be the true self and that it is this self that I must discover (or unite with). This naturally leads to a long and generally frustrating search as one self continuously looks for another self which it considers to exist apart from itself and with which it wishes to unite.
The truth is much simpler. There are not two selves. There is only one self and you are it already. There is not a subject self looking at an object self, there is therefore no need to go looking for it. The idea that there is a subject self is just that, an idea. Just drop that idea and what are you left with? Silence. That silence is you. You are your self and you are aware of yourself, because the nature of your self is awareness. You don't need a second self to provide the awareness. There is therefore no need of any union with this non-existent 'second self', just be as you are i.e. aware of yourself.
Once this notion of your separation from yourself is done away with, what happens to the table and separation from objects? You see that this too is just an idea. There is no table and there is no separation, these are just ideas, just drop them and you are left with silence which is you.
This may seem non-sensical but don't dismiss it, consider it carefully. It is a total 180 degree shift in understanding. The notion of the separation between you and objects leads to the non-sensical conclusion that you are separate from yourself.
The notion that you are not separate from yourself, on the other hand, leads to the conclusion that you are not separate from anything, which despite what it may seem, is not nonsense. It is in fact the only logical conclusion.
The shift in understanding required is similar to that needed to understand that the Sun does not revolve around the Earth. The Sun only appears to be moving through the sky because the Earth is rotating on its axis. To the casual observer it appears that the Sun revolves around the Earth, to actually understand that it is in fact the Earth that is moving not the Sun takes some reflection.
The same applies to yoga i.e. union. You are not separate from yourself, you are aware of yourself because awareness is your nature. There is no need to seek union with yourself.
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