Inviting the Light in
om. asato mā sad gamaya tamaso mā jyotir gamaya, mṛtyor mā amṛtaṁ gamaya.
oṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ.
Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.
Om peace peace peace.
The simple lesson of this chant is to remind us of our deep and innate divinity and holiness. It serves to direct the Yogi on the path of being dedicated to the truth, finding the Light within us and understanding that all we have right now is absolutely temporary. So too are our bodies, our lives and our limited perspectives, but what we are truly made up of is pure universal energy, unconditional Love and magnificent divinity - that which is immortal.
Yoga teaches us that we have the entire power of the universe inside of us if we could only get out of our own way and realise it. It teaches us that we are not merely a drop in the ocean, we are the entire ocean in that one drop, and when this life ends, the drop that we are returns to the ocean. Yoga teaches us that we are God, deep down, under all our human stuff. We are magnificent, we are mighty and we are intimately connected to each other and to all life.
I know a statement like this may make some people feel uncomfortable. I’ve had so many conversations over the years with religious people about how they feel about certain elements of the Yoga practices and Yogic philosophy. My mom, Jo-Ann, is a deeply religious woman. She is Catholic and I come from a very Catholic family. My uncle is a Catholic priest who has spoken in front of the Pope. Throughout my life I went to church, I had my first holy communion, I went to all the conformation lessons and was confirmed but I didn’t feel like that path was the right path for me. When I started practising Yoga and avidly started studying Yoga philosophy, I felt like I had found my home. My mom was, understandable, disappointed that I was no longer following the family religion and we got into deep, meaningful, intense and interesting discussions about religion and Yoga. At the same time, I started, very lightly, researching the different religions of the world. Through the conversations with my mom, my deep research and learning of Yogic philosophy and learning a bit about other religions, I found that the base of most religions of the world is Love, kindness and compassion. The underlying message to us humans is to love each other, love ourselves and all look after each other.
Over the thousands of years of religious history, man has taken that lesson and distorted it for his own benefit. What it all comes down to is that we are here to learn how to love unconditionally. We are here to realise that we are all connected to each other and come to understand that we are made in the image of God. In other words, we are God.
Each of us is different aspects of God; the universe, unconditional Love, source energy, divine energy (whatever name you have for it) made manifest to learn our lessons and remember who we truly are. This is what I practice and this is what I teach. I have learned from my teachers to see every being as divine, to see every being as holy and to treat each being as such. Every day I use the ancient teachings I have learned to try to make others see their own holiness, their own exceptional Light. This is my purpose on this planet.
In saying all of this, I would like to reiterate that Yoga is not a religion. All the practices of Yoga together teach a way of life or a way of being. It is not dedicated to a specific religion or proposed God. You can be Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim or atheist and practice Yoga without it interfering with your faith. In fact, the teachings of Yoga will add even more value to the teachings of your chosen religion. There are so many different practices of Yoga that you can pick and choose what works for you and your beliefs. The teachings of Yoga aim to remind us that we are holy, to help us remember that we are all made up of unconditional Love and we are all totally and utterly connected to each other.
If you are a religious human and would like to discuss this more, please reach out. I would absolutely love to learn more and understand other people’s perspective more deeply. Also, if you are a Yogi and have family or friends who are religious and perhaps don’t quite understand what Yoga is, share this blog with them and they are also welcome to contact me for a respectful conversation.
Namaste is a greeting in the Yogic philosophy, it means
"the Divine Light in me recognises, respects and appreciates the Divine Light in you.
When I am in that place in me and you are in that place in you, we are one."
It is a simple acknowledgement of who we are, without limits, labels or boundaries, independent of race, sex, religion or creed. It is simply a nod towards each other's innate holiness and divinity, no matter who you are.
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