Tag Archives: oneness

Ten Years After

NYC-Ten-Years-After

Photos © James and Karla Murray

In a few weeks I’ll be visiting some of my old neighborhoods in New York City. It’s been a while since my last visit and I expect to feel discombobulated by its unfamiliarity. Like a time-displaced Captain America bounding into a future-ized Times Square, I’ll recognize all the old familiar places that this heart of mine embraces and reconcile myself to the fact that they look all wrong.

But it’s not just a case of sullen nostalgia because my old haunts don’t look they way they used to; it’s a case of disenchantment because now my old haunts look just like everyplace else. When I was born, no other city in America looked like New York City. Now, New York City looks a lot like everyplace else. People from Des Moines can have dinner in New York at the same restaurant they go to in… Des Moines! C’mon: really? You’re in the Big Apple and you want to eat at Applebee’s?

Every day everyplace looks a little more like everyplace else: the same corporate brands, the same architectural design, the same urban planning, the same kind of commoditized experience, sanitized and made safe for mass consumption. You used to be able to escape from the malaise of the suburbs by moving into The City. Now, the only real difference is that you won’t need a car (but you will need a trust fund). Continue reading

How to Give Advice to a Bobble Head

BGKrishnaBobbleheadHere’s an idea: find an object that has some personal significance for you, something that represents you or some aspect of yourself; something you can use as a proxy for ‘you’. Personally, I find that Bobble Head dolls work best. Put the object ‘you’ on a table or desk and sit with it. Then think of the biggest challenge you currently face in your life or a challenge that you know you will have to face soon. Now, imagine that you are the Supreme Being and you are looking at the proxy ‘you’ in full knowledge of the challenge ‘you’ face and the difficulty associated with facing it.

What would you, in your role as the Supreme Being, do? Continue reading

How to Charm a Rope

Continuing with our musings on the relationship between illusion and reality, I concluded my last blog entry with a couple of questions: how does Shankara, the founder of the school of absolute non-dualism, explain our experience of a dualistic world if, as he insists, we are, in reality, identical with Brahman – the highest truth – and Brahman is not subject to illusion nor in possession of energies that may be subject to illusion? Has the supreme reality of undifferentiated oneness somehow been subdued by an inferior illusion of differentiated many-ness? Continue reading

Sankara’s Selfless Service

“I know that the choices we make, every choice, including the choice not to do something, makes a difference in the world because no choice is made in a vacuum. So can one person make a difference? Duh!  It’s impossible to NOT make a difference so the question we must ask ourselves is not ‘can I make a difference’ but ‘what kind of a difference do I want to make in the world?”

Julia Butterfly Hill

Some time back I pointed out how translations and commentaries on yoga texts like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are often written from a point of view – the philosophy of absolute non-dualism – that’s not inherently part of the text being translated or commented on. And I left you with an unresolved question: why does this matter?

I’ll answer my question with a question: does what we do matter? Continue reading

The Hermeneutics of Confusion

“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.” – Edward R. Murrow

At the conclusion of my previous blog post I asked a not so rhetorical question: where does the popular association of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra with non-dualistic philosophy come from? A good example of how this happens played out a few months ago: A respected teacher of yoga philosophy spoke about the Yoga Sutras at a local yoga studio. He gave an insightful overview of the Sutras from Patanjali’s definition of yoga all the way to asamprajnata samadhi; the stage at which the yogi relinquishes the mind altogether and experiences the fully liberated self by direct perception.

Elaborating on this final stage of self-realization, the speaker matter of factly stated that, according to Patanjali, all sense of our individuality, along with the apprehension of a multiplicity of beings, disappears as we experience the absolute oneness of pure awareness. Continue reading

Love or Confusion

Most people who’ve spent a significant amount of time hanging around the yoga-sphere have heard at least one yoga teacher put forward the proposition that, according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, when one attains stillness of the mind then not only is the true nature of the self revealed but one simultaneously merges into an Absolute Oneness of Being beyond all form, qualities, names, and relativity, constituting an ever-present reality of pure consciousness, exquisite peace, complete knowledge, immeasurable happiness, and unconditional love.

Wow, that sounds great, but… uh, love for who?

Continue reading

Why ‘Om Scampi’ is Full of Baloney

Some time ago I was out to eat with a fellow yoga teacher. The restaurant, naturally, had both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. As we discussed the menu, my companion, a teacher of far greater experience with the goings on inside the yoga community than I, shared some surprising insights. Thereafter ensued an illuminating discussion about what many yoga teachers eat when other yogis, particularly those from the vegan-activist sector of the yoga world, aren’t looking. Last year, one such yoga teacher came out of the meat-eating closet with a vengeance.
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