It was in a first year philosophy class that I first heard the famous Socrates quote “Know Thyself”. I kinda thought I did. I was a rural Albertan girl with all the hard work values of a redneck, the social morals of an activist and the naive dreams of a hippie. That sums it up right? Almost twenty years now I’ve sought to embody Socrates words – words that have become an incantation of sorts living just beneath the surface of perceivable thought. Like any good incantation the pursuit of self-knowledge bubbles up from the cauldron of my unconscious inciting questioning, feeling and understanding. I am truly spellbound by it.
The concept of “neti neti” stems from Advaita Vedanta which is a non-dual Eastern philosophy. Neti neti means “not this, not that” and is a specific way to approach the search for God. In our human experience we have thoughts, emotions and sensations of living in every day life. The notion of neti neti posits that Spirit or God is none of these things. The ecstatic experience of being moved by the primal sounds of a chorus of drums – that’s not It. The vast, spacious feeling at the apex of a mountain or the silent, soft longing for wholeness and peace – that’s not It either. I am.
The following post is an article that I wrote for the Spring issue of the Yoga Bridge, the Yoga Association of Alberta’sNewsletter. Perfection and Yoga: a ReflectionBy Pam Moskie Georg Feuerstein comments that yoga is a “vast body of doctrines and practices geared toward self-realization by means of perfecting the body.” As a recovering perfectionist, his use of the word perfecting got me thinking. Is self-realization a product of perfection? And if so, what does it mean to perfect the body? Whose standard of perfection is to be used? My Random House dictionary defines perfect as “having all the desired qualities or having no flaws or defects.” Yet, what is.