My forthcoming considerations may be seen as situated in a tradition of apologetics, if we understand something different by that word.
This personal essay will focus on various issues which arise when one is a scholar-practitioner in a spiritual tradition.
Most of modern yoga is done with the Advaitic intention of oneness, even if its practitioners don’t know it! And though the boundaries have become so blurry over time that we accept the integration of these two systems without even questioning it, it is important to realize what a huge leap it originally was to incorporate dualistic yoga into the non-dualistic system of Advaita.
To be a true yoga master, you need to master the art of negation. That’s Patanjali’s idea, from the Yoga Sutras: 2.33 Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam. The practice of pratipaksha bhanavam prescribes that, when disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite thoughts should be brought into awareness.
The more we learn about other civilizations, the more anomalous the West seems. If we resist the presumption that Western culture is the growing tip of social evolution, to be contrasted with the stagnation of non-Western ones, what becomes highlighted is its dynamism, for better and worse. Rather than trying to account for the “undevelopment” of non-Western societies — why they did not evolve further along our path — it is the apparently self-generated and future-driven “progress” of the West that needs to be explained. What caused it?
When practitioners set foot on a spiritual path, we want to bring our whole selves—our ethics and values, our commitments to social and environmental justice, and our embodied interbeing with all animal and plant species, water-bodies and air-bodies, soil and rock.
The Upaniṣads, the ancient oral texts within the corpus of the Vedas, are the world’s earliest extant discussions of nonduality. They develop an integrative vision that reveals the hidden connections tying individuals to the world.
Lucidly expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita and especially in Tantra, we see instructions on why we should not escape the endless woes of samsara, but rather embrace this dualistic world of ecstasy and heartbreak openheartedly and with deep spiritual intention.
What’s happening is real and painful, but if we recognize that our emotions function within a narrow level of our consciousness, we can save ourselves from being devoured. Even as we’re being bludgeoned by an experience, we can pull back and tune in to a deeper dimension in ourselves.
How do we define the feminine, especially the divine kind? And who gets to define the divine feminine?
The question of the Hindu goddess’s feminism is embedded within the larger question of the instrumentality of religion in the post-colonial nation and thus moves far afield of a de-contextualised if more focused consideration of an answer.
Ιn Ancient Hellenic language, ‘El’ stands for the Light of Being—or spiritual Light.