Home Yoga Exercises Oneness: We Are All One, But Not the Same

Oneness: We Are All One, But Not the Same

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One summer time morning earlier than the pandemic introduced us indoors, I used to be sitting on my entrance porch studying the Bhagavad Gita when two Jehovah’s Witnesses walked onto my stoop. “Can we tell you about Jesus?” they asked me.

“Only if I can inform you about Krishna,” I responded, holding up the Gita for them to see.

I should have caught them off guard. They hurried off with out a lot as a phrase.

That’s too unhealthy. There are few issues I get pleasure from greater than studying about folks’s spiritual and religious practices, and few books I get pleasure from discussing greater than the Gita. It is a crucial e book to me as a yoga trainer and as a scholar as a result of it asks what I contemplate to be the most important query for modern yogis: What does it imply to dwell a life dedicated to oneness?  

See additionally: 5 Reasons We Need the Bhagavad Gita Now More Than Ever

The highest secret

The Gita is a helpful e book for considering the idea of oneness. In the Gita, Krishna teaches the nice warrior Arjuna the “highest secret,” particularly, {that a} person’s soul (atman) is an incarnation of the common soul (brahman). This implies that individuals are not separate from God. The divine is in all issues.

There are vital historic and socio-cultural causes for why the Gita has turn into one in every of the bibles of up to date international yoga. But I feel the key to the Gita’s enchantment might be discovered proper there, in the doctrine that individuals are divine. It’s an empowering doctrine that may make our lives appear particular and sacred.

It additionally factors us in the direction of oneness.

All are one

Krishna tells Arjuna that variety and distinction are maya, an phantasm. Human beings seem like completely different, however in actuality we aren’t. When it comes right down to it, everyone seems to be mainly the similar, as a result of everyone seems to be an incarnation of the divine.

If the divine is in all issues, then all are one. Krishna teaches Arjuna that although the world seems to bop with variety, in actuality all folks—and all dwelling beings—are one.

In modern international yoga, we’ve taken this educating to coronary heart. “Oneness” has turn into our gospel.

There’s no query that believing in oneness has enchantment. For one factor, it appears true. It has the support of science, which has discovered that genetic variations amongst people are almost nil. And it’s comforting to know that, on a primordial stage, all life is constructed from stardust and rain and earth. When it comes right down to it, believing in oneness appears easy and straightforward. Psychologically, I feel it helps us to be ok with ourselves and our yoga observe.

Oneness and sameness

Politically, we dwell in a world of entrenched divisions, and so it may be reassuring and likewise fairly productive to recollect what we maintain in widespread. In spite of our variations, all people endure, and all people need to be free from that struggling. In spite of our variations, all people are sturdy, resilient, and able to boundless pleasure and wonder and surprise. I firmly imagine that the world could be a greater place if we addressed all folks as sacred and divine beings worthy of dignity and respect (in my new e book, The Ethics of Oneness: Emerson, Whitman, and the Bhagavad Gita, I name this observe “communication as yoga”).

But the true measure of a perception lies in the actions we take. To me, the most vital query we will ask about oneness is the way it shapes how we dwell our lives. There are some ways to dwell a life dedicated to oneness.

I’ve discovered that for a lot of yogis, oneness means sameness. These yogis are being true to sure passages in the Gita. However, if oneness means sameness, then there isn’t a want to have interaction in the sorts of troublesome conversations about variety, inclusion, and social justice which might be ongoing in our tradition. We can safely stroll away from such conversations as a result of they deal with illusory issues which might be maya—not actual.

This, I imagine, is a mistake.

See additionally: Why Yoga Has Always Been Political

The ethics of oneness 

Not all philosophies of oneness make the assumption that oneness equals sameness. Take, as an example, my favourite poet, Walt Whitman. Whitman learn and studied the Gita, and he, like Krishna, believed that each one in every of us is an incarnation of God. We are united in our shared divinity, but additionally in the widespread venture of life, a worldwide venture of many languages and many religions. Our experiences of oneness are numerous, conditioned as we’re by our life tales, our cultures, and our languages. These variations should not illusions. They are actual. For Whitman, oneness will not be sameness. We are one, however we’re completely different, too.

In my e book, I conclude {that a} life dedicated to oneness that doesn’t acknowledge distinction is unethical.

Unfortunately, our world is based upon hierarchies and legal guidelines that mark some lives as extra worthwhile than others. Not everyone seems to be afforded the similar alternatives to pursue happiness or to contribute to our widespread life. Many are actively excluded and made to endure due to the shade of their pores and skin or their gender or the place they have been born or their sexuality or their spiritual religion.

This type of injustice is all too actual and leads to struggling and violence (or himsa). If our perception in oneness leads us to disregard it—or to spiritually bypass it by insisting that it’s an phantasm, that we don’t see it, or that variations don’t matter—then we turn into complicit in the creation of struggling and hurt. This will not be the type of yoga I need to observe.

See additionally: I’m Standing Up Against White Supremacy—in Myself

The potential of our observe

For me, the final objective of our yoga observe is to advertise pleasure, happiness, and well-being by decreasing the quantity of struggling in the world, for ourselves and for all dwelling beings. Yoga is a observe of shared therapeutic. Yoga is how we put together ourselves to fulfill the challenges of dwelling in a world on fireplace.

For international yoga to dwell as much as its full potential, we should not stroll away from the probability to study from one another—particularly from each other’s variations. We should assume extra deeply, and speak extra overtly, about how we embody oneness in our lives and our yoga practices. Using oneness as an excuse to show away from the motion wanted to deal with the world’s troubles serves nobody—even the person who is popping away.

Believing in oneness might sound easy and straightforward, however it’s not. Once we acknowledge that we’re all on this collectively, and that we’d like each little bit of our collective knowledge if any of us are to thrive, then oneness calls for that we make main modifications to how we live our lives, each on and off our yoga mats and meditation cushions.

Yoga is an historic observe that is constantly evolving. It’s important that modern yogis don’t stroll away from the probability to contemplate and focus on the concepts that type the bedrock of our observe. By considering these concepts alone and contemplating them collectively, we will decide if our core beliefs are serving us or holding us again.

In the finish, I contend that we must always perceive oneness as an moral and political problem to construct a wiser, extra inclusive, extra numerous neighborhood committed to equal justice for all. Perhaps then we will start to construct new alliances that can heal the world.

See additionally:

How Restorative Yoga Can Help Heal Racial Wounding

12 Culturally Appropriative Words & Phrases to Stop Using Today


About the Author

Jeremy David Engels  PhD, is a Professor of Communication and Ethics at Penn State University and the co-founder ofYoga Lab in State College, PA. He is the writer of 5 books, together with The Ethics of Oneness: Emerson, Whitman, and the Bhagavad Gita (Chicago 2021). You can discover him on Instagram at @jeremydavidengels

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