Who am I? — Yoga’s Call to Action

Who am I? is considered to be one of the core inquiries in yoga practice. Am I composed of divine radiance manifesting into form or am I primarily this compilation of qualities and traits that feel to be thick, dark, and dense? Why is radiance obscured from my vision? If I am divine, why do I still suffer?

Who am I in this? Am I universal awareness, individual consciousness, or both?

From which layer of conscious awareness do I choose to perceive? Do I have choice in this? What does my choice have to do with how I experience life?

If the divine radiance propels manifestation in the first place, why does it mire the personal into the depths of form so that the universal source is missed by the individual’s perception?

Why even in serious and committed practice do we need to aspire so constantly to witness the source of who we are? Why is it not immediately evident to all? Variations on these questions have led many to deny the existence of God and completely denounce spiritual practice altogether.

What if the universal design is just not what we think? What if the design is to create a seemingly chaotic explosion of structure and events in order to play? What if the design is for the vastness of universal creativity and intelligence to play and enjoy its own ability to create and manifest? Wouldn’t a nearly limitless intelligence want to throw the pieces asunder in order to challenge and entertain herself? What if, like a creative and intelligent child with a huge bin of Legos, the divine radiance has joyfully dumped them out on the floor, and with focus, determination, and love, is assembling them together into rich and varied forms? What if that is the game?

Would it be alright to simply be one of the disjointed pieces, that when woven together can make a whole?

The manifest world, as we experience it through our intelligence and perceptual abilities, is an intricately woven field of awareness and form. It is always fragmented and broken, and it is always whole. Nearly infinite creative possibilities are inherent in the pieces, and the pieces are always in flux. Everything that is alive is moving. If it is moving it is infused with prana, and prana is the creative partner and vehicle for divine awareness.

So, who are we in this? We have to choose. We choose based on what we are able to perceive directly. So, we practice. We refine and clarify our perceptions to the very best of our human ability. As we travel deeply within our form and function, we notice that we are radiating with life, love, and intelligence at our very core. At the same time, we are broken and fragmented.

It is a wholesome desire to see life more clearly, to experience its source as radiance and love. As spiritual practitioners, we may work for many years to try to become more perfect, less fallible, less emotional, less fundamentally dissatisfied. When confronted directly with our fragmented form we want to “heal” the whole thing. But, what if it doesn’t need to be healed? What if it is just fine as it is, just as the divine wholeness of unified awareness intended? What if each imperfect fragment is already fully unified into the whole? It never left it. There is no way out of unity. However, there is differentiation in unification. Maybe effective spiritual practice is the discriminative mind honing in on and noticing the very nature of the fragments, without need to alter, change, or improve their form in order to recognize their nature.

Unfortunately, so often we perceive only the bits and fragments of our personal existence without perceiving ourselves directly and immediately as part of the unified whole. We completely miss the universal context in which we live and don’t notice who we actually are at our core. Radiance is obscured, not because it isn’t there, but simply because we are so preoccupied with something else. We become unwittingly trapped in the swirling of our individual ego-mind. This is the root of pain and suffering.

Our practice clarifies vision. We discriminate and pierce through the illusion of separateness. We see the pieces. The old pattern of seeing the pieces as a problem falls away. How can the fragments be a problem if they are nothing more than the creative play of the Divine? In other words, can we accept our flawed humanity, and at the same time recognize our divinity?

The egoic self-involvement must simply be seen for what it is, without the need to demolish or extinguish individuality. There is no need for self-aggrandizing or self-loathing. We are able to accept the variations and fragmentations that the universal awareness has created. In this way of looking at the universal plan, the methods of purification and perfection are processes of clarification of consciousness. It is necessary to practice, hone, clarify, and excavate our deepest fears and obstacles to reach a clear vision. Yoga offers precise means to enhance our ability to see life in all of its fullness. Deepening consciousness breeds compassion and love and becomes the impetus to act for the benefit of all.

Dharma is integrated and knowledgeable work performed in the world that is in accordance with the betterment and clarification of consciousness for all. Dharma arises from recognizing our place in the movement of life.

In Tantric traditions, it is taught that desire, intelligence, and freedom are attributes seeded deep within life’s very source. These qualities are keys to the universe’s ability to create and manifest. The vast field of awareness has moved, and in its movement, it shattered. In shattering, it created billions of tiny multi-dimensional self-reflective mirrors, fragments of itself. The nature of the fragments is the same as their source.

As yoga practitioners, we contemplate our true nature and through dedicated inquiry develop a more inclusive view of life. We recognize our own intelligence and the nature of our connection to source. Like the universal, we too are endowed with freedom and choice. Dharma is making good choices.

In difficult times, we feel called upon to help. We pick up our dharma and act in accordance with our best natures for the good of all. We take responsibility for being part of the solution, for adding to the clarity and helping our human family move in the direction of comfort, fulfillment, and freedom.

We all have dharma. We know in our hearts who we are. One’s dharma needn’t be huge. It can be loving and caring for a single person. It can be kindness toward a clerk at the grocery store. Dharmic action is every movement that offers more space for ourselves and others to recognize the nature of life.

Inquire into who you are with diligence and persistence.
Don’t give up.
Find your personal gifts.
Take responsibility and take action.
Speak up.
Let your people know what is possible.
Take your stand.

Embrace your dharma and do your work.
“Rise up, Arjuna!”

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