Every now and then, a political issue comes up on social media and takes over. There are usually two definitive black and white opinions to choose from, because that’s how America is divided politically (and yes, I do mean divided – we ARE divided, so much so, we feel we must choose one or the other): two ways, two parties, two opinions. No room to veer off course and form one’s own opinion when there are two ready-made opinions sitting under the heat lamp waiting to be picked up. There are inevitable religious or moral undertones to either side of the argument and we all know that politics and religion can either make or break a friendship.
Seeing the streams of commentary floating through my internet world, I can’t help but ask myself what my opinion is. And why? Why does anyone believe the things they do, or lean right or left? Why pick a side?
Well, I’ll just go ahead and say it. I’m talking about the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. Duh. So, again, I ask: why pick a side? I saw this quote in a post adamantly against this ruling:
“Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down.” – G.K. Chesterton
I ask, “Is this political decision truly evil?”
And other posts supporting the ruling say things like, “Love wins!” and “We’re equal now!”
I ask, “How does love win? Will this decision magically cause love and respect to flourish between all beings?”
And the most important question of all, “Why does the vote of 9 people have such an enormous impact on this country of millions?”
I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I do have advice for any fellow yogis and seekers. These posts have caused me to again engage in svadyaya, or self-study, the important aspect of yoga that begs us to constantly inspect our own inner lives.
B.K.S. Iyengar simplifies the definition of yoga as, “the union of the individual soul and the Universal Spirit.” Svadyaya: self-introspection. It’s continually asking oneself, “Am I aligning my individual soul to the universal spirit? What is the universal spirit? Is it love? What does that mean anyway? What is love?
This is where the marriage of yoga and philosophy flourishes. Iyengar calls svadyaya the yoga of spiritual discernment. If I take these philosophical questions and apply them to myself, I have the means toward discerning what is right and wrong in my spiritual life. Key word: MY. No one else’s. In my human reality, there is no definitive right and wrong, black and white. There are gray areas. Maybe this notion sounds absurd, but what may be true for me, may not be true for you. If we’re talking about a moral issue, my personal opinion is that homosexuality is not immoral. Maybe another person disagrees, but I don’t think they are wrong either. This is the dichotomy of human beliefs. We must discern for ourselves what is true and through this satya, this truthfulness, discover what aligns our individual soul to the universal spirit.
What we post on social media is a part of our individual soul, our identity, and how we want others to view us. We adhere to certain beliefs about ourselves and want to perpetuate how others view us. I could say that I want to perpetuate the image of being a loving, tattooed, hippie yogi who likes to be creative, open-minded, and learn new things. This could lead others to believe I’m a political “liberal” (which I’m not) or “not conservative”. But this image that I’d like to perpetuate is not the core of my identity. There are layers of humanity piled underneath the tattoos and the backbends. Who I am underneath those layers is my true self. I catch glimpses of her in my yoga practice and through dedicated, consistent self-study.
This universal spirit, which unites us all as human beings, allows us to relate to one another and feel empathy. We are all part of our own families, whatever that means to us individually. We are all also part of the larger human family, and yet we separate ourselves with political jargon, emphasizing our differences rather than rejoicing in our similarities. Let’s find something that unites us and celebrate it…like cat pictures…
My boys, Dovah and Spooky
Self-Observation Without Judgment by Danna Faulds
Release the harsh and pointed inner
voice. It’s just a throwback to the past,
and holds no truth about this moment.
Let go of self-judgment, the old,
learned ways of beating yourself up
for each imagined inadequacy.
Allow the dialogue within the mind
to grow friendlier, and quiet. Shift
out of inner criticism and life
suddenly looks very different.
I can say this is only because I make
the choice a hundred times a day
to release the voice that refuses to
acknowledge the real me.
What’s needed here isn’t more
prodding toward perfection, but
intimacy – seeing clearly, and
embracing what I see.
Love, not judgment, sows the
seeds of tranquility and change.