on opposites…

In gratitude for Tiffany Hambley’s post on Prashantji’s teachings. Prashant says, “Imagine a scenario where two mirrors reflect one another. The potential for refraction and reflection is endless. This is quite a different situation, he pointed out, than a wooden yoga brick and a mirror facing one another: in that instance, it can clearly be seen that one is reflected and one is reflecting. But with two mirrors, you cannot label one as the reflector and one as the reflected. They assume both roles, and the reflections produced are infinite”.

How amazing is that? Patanjali explains “pratipaksa bhavanam” – to cultivate more of the opposite. B. K. S. Iyengar writes that this is why yoga actually works (Light on Yoga sutras 2.33). It is our “internal checks and balance” process. In observing the balance poses it is clear that balance isn’t just moving away from falling, but also moving into the falling, and then away again and observing that too much of one direction is as destabilizing as too much of the opposite direction; that balance is a constant re-appraisal from the reflector and reflected. This duality plays itself out in our bodies all the time – we have instant philosophers in our legs, knees, hips, sides of the spine, shoulders, arms, neck. eyes etc. I recall Mary Dunn saying in class one day – “My two legs are like my two daughters; I love them both the same, but they are very different”. I have quoted this often, but at its essence, she is talking about the interaction of opposites, rather than the duality of opposition. That the bad hip/knee/shoulder etc, is like looking in a mirror and passing judgment from a subject (me) to an object (my bad hip). What about the reflected? and how can I know which is right or wrong, or good or bad? Pratipaksa bhavanam does not instruct us to do the opposite in the sense of either one or the other, but, as Prashant says, both sides “assume both roles” even though they may have different parts to play toward being balanced. Again, from Mary – “evenness doesn’t mean the same as”. I love this one. I might have to work differently on my right leg or left leg in order to balance. Additionally, my right and left side can only understand what to do in relation with each other, not in opposition to each other. The richness of interaction is “infinite” (Prashant again). Guruji writes that we often live in the “insanity of individualism” instead of the “joy of singularity” (Light on Life). Standing on your head, hands, shoulders, and feet requires a interaction of many single parts rather than being boxed into only one part, way, one belief, one opinion, one emotional response, or the other. Lastly from Mary…” yoga is not an either/or subject”.

“Pratipaksha bhavana works because it reflects back to us what is true, deep, and abiding. It provides opportunities to transcend an ego hampered by desires for limits, boundaries, the need to always be in control, and right (rather than in right, i.e., productive, relationship with truth)” Reverend Jaganath Carrera.