Karma Yoga and the Divine Comedy

The Big Bang hasn’t ended. And it wasn’t a beginning. That outpouring of energy hasn’t stopped – because things continue to change. Everything in the known universe seems to have started there. But our telescopes can’t see forever. Beyond the telescopes’ range? We have no idea what’s there. Maybe our Big Bang was just a firework in a much large sky. A literally endless and limitless display – what if it all really is endless?

Yoga teaches that every part is the same as the whole. That to know now is to know forever, to know oneself is to know all. There are so many hidden implications in these words: to ”know” – without reference to prior knowledge. Oneself as all – one Self is all.

This is at the root of Yoga’s Tantric philosophies: it’s called “non dualism”. It’s often interpreted as saying that all differences are superficial – that wherever we see two (apparently contradictory) things, just one process is actually at work. But the divine comedy is the notion of one. There cannot be one. There can only BE.

What does it mean to BE? Yoga breaks it down into santosha and tapas. When I accept my life without recrimination or boastfulness then I show santosha. If I participate fully in life’s endless changes, as if I could make the world a better place, then I show tapas. Of course I can’t make the world better or worse – it is what it is; I, and the world just ARE.

To live like this is Karma Yoga. Here’s an example: I took a serious knee injury 10 years ago. The injury is perfect, but I want to remedy it. It won’t be better if I do, but I don’t do things out of any idea of “better”. I keep addressing the injury because it’s an injury – help is needed, help must be given and if it isn’t then the situation will deteriorate. Such a missed opportunity would be a great shame.

It can seem paradoxical to do things for no payback but accept the payback as a good thing anyway. But think again about the Big Bang. As far as we can tell that’s where everything we know – even the space we move around in – began, and subsequent causes and effects have unfolded from it ever since. The paradox resolves because EVERY possibility gets expressed – even the possibility that endless expansion and heat actually ends up cold and right back where it started.

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