Opening to What Is | iHanuman


Love, Service, Devotion, Yoga

Opening to What Is

Now is a time for embracing the Darkness.  In a literal sense, the nights have become longer and colder; in a figurative sense, Hallowmas and the days that follow are the time of year when the veil between our world and the underworld is most transient, and when we are best able to shed light not only on our ancestral spirits, but also on the darkest corners of our own soul.
There is an aspect of opening to this Darkness that is frightening, hence the little ghouls and goblins in costume that are begging for candy-or toilet-papering our houses-on All Hallow's Eve.  But before we can transform the Darkness we have to accept its existence.  The current thinning of the layer between our world and the next marks a unique opportunity to embrace our fears as well as our courage; our weakness as surely as our strength; and our Darkness as openheartedly as our Light.
Yoga means Union with the Whole.  This seems easy enough to stomach when we think of the Whole as the embodiment of love, compassion, and other desirable characteristics.  But this viewpoint, while highly seductive, is also inherently dualistic. Anger is as Real as compassion; greed and generosity go hand in hand; all across the world in this very minute, people are both massacring and mothering one another.
The Hindu Goddess Kali is seen as the aspect of the Divine Mother that embodies both nurturing and destructive energies.  Her name means "black" in Sanskrit, and she is often represented wearing a necklace of skulls and standing atop a corpse. Kali is the power that destroys our ego, thereby removing the illusion that we are separate from everything around us.  She can be painful if we resist her, but if we open to her she is the agent of powerful transformation that removes all suffering.
Yoga defines suffering as the misguided belief that we are separate.  Many of us have experienced periods where we feel either literally or figuratively isolated from ourselves or others, and we know how acutely painful such feelings can be.  Deep down, we long for warmth and we crave connection-but there are times when the reality of What Is is that we feel separate and unable to connect.  Yoga asks us to cut through the veil of illusion that makes us feel as if this isolated feeling is, at its core, any different from the feeling of connectedness that we seek.  If it is all truly One, then the Darkness is no less a part of the Whole than the Light.  This parallel could be drawn with any of our darkest aspects-anger, resentment, fear, regret, contempt-it's all One.
Yoga, or Union, suggests that rather than struggling to extract with a surgeon's precision the things about the world that we do not like, that we instead throw our arms around the qualities that we most despise.  Transformation does not mean that we get rid of less desirable aspects of existence, it means that we cease to see these elements as separate from ourselves.  Can we embrace the Darkness as well as the Light in ourselves and others?  This is the meaning of Union, and the essence of unconditional love.
A sneaky byproduct of this opening to the totality of our experience is that when we are no longer resisting What Is, we may suddenly find ourselves to be more contented human beings.  We are no longer dependent on gain or loss, success or defeat, darkness or light-in either ourselves or others-to determine our mental-emotional state.  As Sri Krishna reminds us in the Bhagavad Gita, "Yoga is perfect evenness of mind."  Whether things go well or ill, whether we are experiencing blind rage or deep compassion, through our practices we can accept our experience and ultimately transform it.  We can eventually learn to see it, but not act it out.
So as we head into Winter, and the separation between the Darkness and the Light is temporarily less distinct, we are invited to shed light on and embrace our darkest corners.  If we can embrace them now, by the time we get to the shortest day of the year at Winter Solstice, the Darkness will not seem so frightening.  It will just be another aspect of What Is, and one to be celebrated as festively as the longest day of summer.


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