It’s not until I began engaging the non-dual practices of yoga nidra and the Enneagram (Gurdjieff) that I really began to understand that we are not either human beings or spiritual beings but both simultaneously. It’s simply that in the hub-bub of manifest reality we often forget our spiritual nature. This is why people all over the world seek experiences that quiet the external noise so that we can begin to hear the call of Spirit. I’ve just begun re-reading BKS Iyengars book Light on Life which is basically describes the anatomy of our dual nature from the yogic perspective. In it he says: ” the whole practice of yoga is concerned with exploring the relationship between …. Nature and Soul. It is about …. learning to live between the earth and the sky. That is the human predicament, our joy and our woe, our salvation and our downfall” (9). It is typical of our ego to wish to narrow our “predicament” down to being either human or spirit, to not hold the tension between these two forces but rather find a quick, easy (no-down-payment) way to Enlightenment.
I’m sure many of you have heard the adage “we are not human beings that can have spiritual experiences but spiritual beings having a human experience”. This sentiment was always a little peculiar to me since I wondered what it meant to be a purely spiritual being (which would then be able to wiggle its way into a human embodiment). Would I be a big ball of light? But as I understand it light is both wave and particle, hence it is an entity of the physical realm. Would I have any form at all? Perhaps I would just be a thought, but, who’s thought? The idea that I am a spiritual being having a human experience always seemed to elevate Spirit to the only real and valuable realm and left me feeling as if I needed to doggedly pursue some path to get me back to that sacred place. Often yoga is misperceived as a path to spiritual perfection where the body and manifest realm is transcended and one basks in eternal bliss. I can’t even imagine what that would look like.
In the upcoming session that I am teaching we are focussing on the spine. The spine is a symbol that can be used to begin to make the notion of our dual nature more concrete. Once again, we seek to embody the profound concepts that guide our practice. The concepts are the what of our human/spiritual potential, yoga is the how. The spine’s movement both toward the earth and toward the sky simultaneously tells us all we need to know. Feel, for a moment, this movement in your spine. Feel how it moves up and moves down at the same time. There is no division point where one movement starts and the other ends. A hint: You can’t use your normal thinking mind to understand this in a felt way. You must feel, sense, See. Let this be a meditation this week, and watch how difficult it is to suspend the dual nature of the spine in your awareness. Watch how vehemently your ego reacts and resists. When we can begin to feel the true Unity of the dualisms in our body we will begin to touch on the ability to then experience our spiritual/human nature as a Whole.