Dualism vs. Non-dualism
Welcome to Module 4! I really love this module because of the depth of content and how it relates to understanding Yoga Nidra. I love telling stories and I've included two stories that I feel are perfect for helping to understand the concepts here. Stories are powerful ways to Source Our True Power.
I introduce the hindu gods Ganesh, Shiva, and Shakti and their role in understanding non-dualism with the stories.
Among Ganesh's many roles is that of gatekeeper to the inner-sanctum and the lord of our self-realization. He's the lord of doing good work. I keep a small statue of Ganesh on my desk and give him a nod before I start my work to dedicate my work to function toward my highest realization. I thought it would be fun also add a chant to Ganesh in this module.
Shiva and Shakti are the primordial male/female elements of the Universe I've included a great story about them to help understand the marriage between form and consciousness.
Also, there is a wonderful and simple meditation practice called the "There Is" Practice which is a great compliment to Yoga Nidra. I've included a brief explanation and an audio guide through that.
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Outline of Discussion Module 4
Duality vs. Non-duality
I'd like to start this module with a simple meditation practice. It's something that was taught to me by Dona Farhi. It's simple and brilliant and a perfect compliment to practicing Yoga Nidra. I absolutely love this style of meditation. It's called the "There Is" Practice.
"There Is" Practice
One benefit of the "There Is" Practice meditation is that it allows you to practice experiencing the world as it is rather than as a product of your own skewed misapprehensions. We all do it. It's time we start to see it.
I suggest taking a few minutes now and doing this meditation. You may want to get set up with a timer and a spot to sit--floor, chair, meditation cushion, etc. You can also do this lying down but I have more success staying awake when I'm upright. Set the timer for however long you want. I might suggest 5 or 10 minutes.
I would highly recommend doing it on a regular basis in addition to your Yoga Nidra. The audio explains the process and starts you along the way. I'll tell you when to start your timer. Once you understand the concept, you wont need the audio to do it in the future.
Our True Nature is a non-duelist awareness.
Cool. What's non-duality? Well, duality deals with two things, this and that, as separate things. Non-duality melds the two opposites to understand that they equal a third, larger, and more expansive entity, larger than the sum of their parts. Like the combo of chocolate and peanut butter is exponentially much more than either chocolate or peanut butter alone. I think you know what I mean.
I think the Yin-Yang symbol is the perfect example of non-duality. These two halves of the Yin-Yang symbol seem like opposites but the two polarities complement each other perfectly. And the essence of one is located in the heart of the other, not only making a perfect balance, but creating in their aggregate a third, interdependent, and larger entity. That larger entity is the essence of non-duality.
In yoga philosophy, Shiva and Shakti are known as the primordial male and female energies in the Universe. It is said that the heart of Siva is in Shakti and the heart Shakti is in Shiva. Consider the Yin Shakti and the Yang Shiva. I believe the Yin-Yang symbol demonstrates this concept of non-duality perfectly.
Yoga Nidra celebrates non-duality because through practice, just like the Yin-Yang (both halves together as a whole) we can see with stunning clarity our own True Nature which is large enough to hold all opposites; we practice identifying with the Yin-Yang as a whole rather than either the Yin or the Yang separately. Again, this knowledge is what it means to Source Our True Power.
Remember the Gayatri Mantra from module 2? I love it because it provokes us to practice understanding ourselves as everything together rather than, disperate, separate beings.
Ironically, we gain the knowledge of non-duality by exploring duality. The process of naming opposites and exhaustively exploring their duality, then pairing them, we are forced to open to a perspective that yields a truly non-dual and clear perspective from which we then invariably view ourselves and the world.
In Yoga Nidra explore all that changes, the kosas, to reveal that which doesn't change, Awareness or consciousness . But consider the ultimate marriage of consciousness and form. We are not trying to transcend form or our koshas, things that are changeable, to experience Awareness or consciousness, but rather we are using the tool of the form to gain an understanding and experience of the perfectly balanced third entity of conscious/form. Truly we are inseparably both.
Another symbol that represents a perfect non-dualist balance is Ganesh.
Ganesh is the the child and perfect combination of Shiva and Shakti. He is form and consciousness, animal and man, austere and temporal. He is the perfect middle ground, the advocate for us to the Divine, and the protector of our auspicious beginnings. He represents the guardian to the inner sanctum; he rests at the threshold between the sacred and the profane. He is the lord of self-realization and knowledge. He understands our purpose on this earth and not only pulls us back on the path when we stray, but also cuts down the obstacles that arise along the way. He rides a mouse to show his ability to embrace opposites.
What I love the most is that Ganesh wields his axe at the crossroads. I love the implications this has with the history of the Blues. But that will be a different series . . . .
In Yoga Nidra we are celebrating the marriage of form and consciousness. Really, that's Yoga Nidra's main bag: revealing Awareness through exploring all that changes. It's the dance of the stickers on the Window of Being (module 2).
We know that perhaps the only constant in the Universe is that it's always changing. What is that Awareness that can witness objects (emotions, thoughts, sensations, etc.) orbit close and then orbit far away? Where is the stillness in the movement?
Awareness manifests through form. Form "IS" because of Awareness.
Our True Identity lies within our ability to pay attention to the world. If we are not paying attention, it's not as if the world dries up. It's that there is nothing to be found by the world.
Siva represents the seer. Shakti represents the dancer. The dancer needs to be seen and the seer needs to watch the dance.
The following is a story I heard from Sanskrit scholar, Chris Tompkins, about Siva and Shakti and the marriage of consciousness and form which perfectly illustrates the knowledge we hope to gain through practicing Yoga Nidra.
Here's a poem written by Meister Eckhart in the Middle Ages (translated recently by Daniel Ladinski) but could have written by Shakti herself. Enjoy!
When I Was the Forest
When I was the stream, when I was the
forest, when I was still the field,
when I was every hoof, foot,
fin and wing, when I
was the sky
no one ever asked me did I have a purpose, no one ever
wondered was there anything I might need,
for there was nothing
I could not
It was when I left all we once were that
the agony began, the fear and questions came,
and I wept, I wept. And tears
I had never known
So I returned to the river, I returned to
the mountains. I asked for their hand in marriage again,
I begged—I begged to wed every object
and when they accepted,
God was ever present in my arms.
And He did not say,
“Where have you
For then I knew my soul—every soul—
has always held
–Meister Eckhart (1260 – 1328)
Yoga Nidra Practice
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