tatra niratishayam sarvajna bijam
Bouanchaud: God (ishvara) is the unequalled source of all knowledge.
Desikachar: He knows everything there is to be known.
Swami J: In that pure consciousness (ishvara) the seed of omniscience has reached its highest development and cannot be exceeded.
For the past couple of weeks in this Sutra review, I’ve been looking at yoga’s description of what I call God. I use that term because I was raised in the Judeo-Christian culture of the West and that’s the easiest term for me to use. If I had grown up in Japan, I might make reference to one of their gods. I’m not going to explore that line of thought any further because if there’s one thing I’m not, I’m not an expert on comparative theology. The point is what I call God refers to the idea of a supreme consciousness. Yoga calls it ishvara which is a reference to the God-concept, as opposed to any specific deity or religious tradition.
Last week I looked at one of the attributes of this Supreme Consciousness, named Its ability to operate free from the kleshas (the colourings of our mind) or karma (actions free of consequence). It’s okay – I don’t get it either. I can’t even conceptualize what such a state would look like. Klesha-free I can imagine in spite of the fact I’m far from having achieved as much. Karma-free is outside my scope. As I said, comparative theology isn’t my strong suit but since when has mere lack of understanding of any of the key concepts prevented me from rendering an opinion?
In the spirit of ‘ever forward’, I continue where more modest souls would retire gracefully from the field.
This week, the Sutras tell me that God is the unequalled source of all knowledge – the absolute and literal “Knows It All”. Here’s the cool part about the yoga philosophy – this God-seed is inside me. When I clean up my collective act, I become aware of this Godliness within me. Call it clarity, call it discernment, call it inner wisdom – that’s what I’m talking about. It’s that deep-seated inner voice that lives beneath mere words, concepts and logic.
I frequently encounter this voice when I walk myself into an ethics issue. I want to pursue path X but I question if that action is morally right. It is one of those dodgy ‘grey’ areas that so frequently populate our lives. I can spin 10 000 rational reasons for Path X. I can justify and develop logically coherent arguments that support the pursuit of Path X. “It’s not hurting anyone”, “Everyone does it”, “No one will know” …, blah, blah, blah.
In the end, regardless of my extremely good arguments, I still know that Path X is ‘wrong’. I still have the choice of action. I can choose to act in accordance to my conscience and do the ‘right thing’ which sets me onto one karmic path. Alternatively, I can follow the dictates of my kleshas – most frequently desire (attachment) and aversions – and proceed with Path X, which sets me upon another karmic path. I’ve learned over the past four-plus decades that listening to my God-seed instead of my kleshas usually has better long-term results.
The second cool thing about this “God-seed” idea is that it lives in you as well. I’m not special or somehow blessed or singled out for divine special treatment. This God-seed lives in each of us. It is as much a part of the makeup of human beings as our physical brains or that muscular pump called a heart. In fact, the traditional yoga class salutation (which comes out of the culture of south-east Asia) where people place their hands in front of them in a ‘prayer’ position and bow slightly while reciting the word “Namaste” makes reference to this idea. The words Namaste means “I bow to you” and what it refers to is not our physical manifestation but that the God-seed within me seeks out and salutes the God-seed within you. I honour the God within you.
Here’s where the rubber hits the road. It exists in everyone. That ‘everyone’ includes: Muammar Gaddafi, Pot Pol, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Nicolae Ceausescu, Ted Bundy, Clifford Olsen, Paul Bernardo, Alan Légere and Jeffrey Dahlmer. Now I’m not claiming for one second that any of these 20th century monsters is a just some sorely misunderstood unfortunate. I condemn their monstrous acts. There is no merit in their actions. I’m not saying that they don’t have a bucket load of kleshas to straighten out and each of them has forged their karma baggage train that I wouldn’t care to carry. But here’s my point – notwithstanding the inhumanity and barbarity of their acts, they are still human beings and like all humans, have this God-seed within.
For me, this idea has been something I’ve really struggled with the past year or 18 months. I worked as a dispatcher in policing for over 20 years. Over that time, I dealt with some real jackasses who had done some really terrible things. I’m not talking speeding tickets or cheque fraud. I’m talking murdering, baby-raping, drug-dealing, violent, vicious, and thoroughly repulsive human beings. And there’s my challenge – remembering that they too are human with this God-seed within them as well.
Being at one with the people in my yoga class is easy. I like them. They bathe on a regular basis. They’re educated and polite. When they talk, their speech is coherent and informative. There’s no challenge in being at ‘one’ with them because they’re people that I admire. The challenge came when I realized that I was also ‘one’ with the addicted, the crazy, the vicious, the immoral, and the unrepentant. Don’t think that pebble didn’t stick in my craw for a while!
For me, coming to terms with the fact that God exists even in the people I don’t like was an important turning point for me. For me, this is what is meant by the Biblical teaching that we are all created in the image of God. Yoga became less a study or practice, an intellectual pursuit or a physical activity. Instead, yoga becomes a path to mental health, to sanity, to wholeness. I find that as I’m cleaning up my kleshas, my connection with my God-spring of wisdom is more readily available.
Next week, still more about God… until then, thanks for reading and Namaste,