Let’s look at the world scientifically (but still simply). On the surface, a tree is made up of roots, a trunk, and leaves. If you look deeper, you find that on a more basic level the tree is made up of plant cells with varying purposes. Look inside of the plant cell. Without getting too complicated, let’s just recognize that the organelles and tissues and substances that make up the cell are, at their base, made up of compound particles- atoms and molecules- of something. Atoms are made up of subatomic particles of different sizes. Einstein’s very famous E=mc^2 is the concept that the energy and mass of a particle are analogous; the energy of a particle is its mass times the speed of light squared. At its very core, a tree is only atoms, and those atoms are made up of protons and electrons, and those subatomic particles are basically mass with energy.
The mind thus meditating becomes un-obstructed from the atomic to the infinite.
So, then, isn’t the same true of animal cells? Isn’t the same true of anything that has mass? Disclaimer: this really isn’t a science lesson or some expert theorizing in particle physics. But still, think carefully. Every bit of matter in our universe, including our own bodies, are at their very base made up of the same thing. This brings a deeper meaning to “we are all one”, doesn’t it? We really are.
The presence that pervades the universe
Is imperishable, unchanging,
Beyond both is and is not;
How could it ever vanish?
2.17 BG, Stephen Mitchell translation
And now we’ll bring this back to yoga. When we come together to practice yoga, we call it sangha, or community. We breathe into each other and share each other’s energy. Sometimes, we even feel like we know each other on a deeper level because maybe we’ve found pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) or even further; dharana (fixity) and dhyana (meditation). Sometimes, in a particularly intense class, you feel as if you’ve gone to war together and come back changed; making bonds with others that are far below the surface yet you do not know each other’s names. This is because past our egos and our basic identities there lies something much deeper. We are all made up of energy. We are all connected by that infinite energy to each other and everything around us on the most basic level. It is so easy to forget this, or to never see it at all. It is intuition; it is love. We strive to cultivate enough awareness to tap into the divine energy of the universe, buzzing around us and bringing with it changes.
And heat, pleasure and pain—
Are transient: they come and go;
So bear them patiently, Arjuna…
Nonbeing can never be;
Being can never not be.
Both these statements are obvious
To those who have seen the truth.
2.14, 2.16 BG, Stephen Mitchell translation
Everything is always changing, but at its core everything stays the same. What a bold claim. But think about your own self. On the surface we are our emotions, our work, our likes and dislikes. We are honesty, fear, courage, frustration, self discipline and impulsiveness. We are coffee addicts, mothers, brothers, teachers, and lovers. These feelings and identities are transient and you can change those parts of yourself; and you do, throughout your life. But at your base, you are breath, prana, and love. Anahata, the Sanskrit name of the heart Chakra, means un-struck, un-beaten, un-broken. This infinite, divine love can only be forgotten or covered up. It exists forever inside all of us.
We will never walk alone. There will always be those that don’t understand. That live in fear, frustration, and darkness. There will always be ignorance (avidya) and hate (dvesa). But, there is still beauty, consideration, integrity, faith, patience, breath, devotion, community. That is divine love, that is what is infinite. We are all part of an infinitely energetic universe; but we each are that divinity ourselves.
Think about this in your practice: connect with what is infinite in yourself, and what is infinite in others; then bring that into the rest of your life. Delight in the continuity of inhales and exhales; if you think they are separate pause at the top of your inhale and bottom of your exhale and you will understand the continuous cycle of breath. Breathe into that divine energy; it will support you and lift up your community. Have perfect faith in the universe; it will provide.