Duality: An instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism. (Oxford English Dictionary)
Transcendental: going beyond normal or physical human experience…existing apart from and not limited by the material universe. (Oxford English Dictionary)
When my kids were really small they used to journey. They’d ride their magic carpets to a place they called Silly Language World due to the odd tongue spoken there which only children could comprehend. Their magic carpets where their blankets, with rocket boosters attached. That’s similar to how I imagine my yoga mat, as a conveyance to the unseen, a portal through the rabbit hole to where a different truth lays.
Here are some of the things I’ve seen there.
In the beginning we are whole and we float in a balanced sea. We float beyond language and time along a seamless stream of forms connected.
If the soul has a shape, it is the circle, the eternal ring of balance and unity.
In the beginning we are still close to our spiritual selves, and we remember our natural wholeness in the dream time before birth that echoes our species beginnings. As we grow the wholeness is forgotten, and severed by our material reality.
If we can remember the whole, we spend our later years trying to reconnect the circle, trying to transcend the material for the star dust from which we come.
This is the ultimate goal of yoga.
The first age of humankind, the legendary Golden Age, is analogous to the earliest stage of our individual development.
The reality of the Golden Age is not important. Rather, the point is that our cultural memories of this sylvan period are universal, and imply a common species memory of wholeness and connection to each other and to the greater self within.
This wholeness is our natural spiritual state, but it is effortlessly retained only until the self is discovered.
The story of the Fall from grace is an expression of our species leap from childhood to maturity.
When the earliest humans acquired the knowledge contained in that primal bite of apple, they met themselves for the first time the same way the infant of today does as he moves from placidly floating wholeness to the Me! stage.
Self-recognition implies a separate opposite, which paves the way to a dualistic world view, and is followed by the breaking down and definition of everything within the realm of the material.
The circle is broken into fragments as apparent reality is expressed via the languages that have been intrinsic to our survival. Language introduced a daunting set of conceptual problems by its very definition.
Languages rely upon and define only the five obvious senses and are dualistic in nature. These conceptual limitations restrict us from experiencing the full range of our capacity by pinning us firmly to the material plane.
They exclude the spiritual because it is too ethereal to define. Everything must be in solid material form, which excludes anything but what is perceived by the five senses.
These conceptual limitations also separate the circle into opposite halves, so everything must have its separating duality, good vs. evil, male vs. female, and this is the very duality which causes strife through its divisiveness and inherent lack of balance. It is compelling that some of our earliest legends feature people who were simultaneously male and female joined together as one whole, and who lived with no regard to the material as all was provided.
This is where yoga comes in.
This is a time of growing species maturity, just as the child grows wise with age, so does the species.
We are realizing our disconnection from wholeness and we are witnessing the destructive tendencies unleashed by unbalanced dualities. We can imagine a universe that includes more than what the material allows, and we seek a way forward beyond the limitation of the five sense and the dualism of our language.
This is where yoga takes us. The inner journey goes far beyond the yoga mat, it transcends the self, and in so doing transcends all limitations.
When yoga’s great peace descends, it takes us back to the timeless balanced sea, floating us past duality and back into the circle’s ring. It gives the spirit a place to make the crucial reconnection to self and the other, transcends the material, and opens our hidden senses to reconnect the circle, reconnect the self, and ultimately reconnect to each other.