“Why does it have to be human or divine? Maybe human is divine.”
– Robert Langdon in Da Vinci Code.
This insight provided by Robert Langdon, the character of Tom Hanks, in Da Vinci Code is critical for understanding yoga. For millennia we humans have struggled with the idea of divinity. Our misunderstanding of this idea has been the source of endless conflict. Being divine and human has been considered mutually exclusive. You had to be something special to be divine and to prove your divinity you had to be able to perform miracles. Divinity became a source of contention and conflict.
But yoga changes all that. The deepest insight of yoga is that we are all divine. There is nothing special about divinity. The most vile mass murder also has divinity buried inside him. The choice is NOT between being human OR divine. The choice is between being divine and non-divine. When we are divine we are expressing our humanity in a particular way. When we are being non-divine our humanity is expressed in a different way. The mass murderer is expressing his humanity in the most vile and obnoxious way.
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish going the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
We are like the young fish. We are immersed in Divinity, and yet we are unaware of it. How can this happen? The answer in one word is: Ego. The ego is our source of ignorance. It is the cause of our separation from the whole.
The ego is simply a knot of consciousness that reflects back on itself in such a way that it creates an illusion of separateness. There is nothing inherently evil about the ego and we should not try and beat it up. The key insight with respect to the ego is to consider it as a tool and nothing more. If on the other hand we identify with the ego and become subservient to its wishes then the divinity within us remains subsumed. Our humanity is expressed in the most un-divine way. Our life is hijacked by the ego and we become servants of its whims. The mass murders begin to surface amongst us.
Yoga provides us the tools to take back control. It allows us to reach back to our source, our inherent divinity. Yoga recognizes that the ego is not something that is going to vanish overnight. It therefore provides us mechanisms to turn our ego into a tool. From being a master of life, the ego simply becomes a tool. As we get closer to our inherent divinity, the ego becomes less and less important. And eventually when we merge with our divinity the ego dissolves. The knot is released.
In Yoga miracles are not proof of divinity. They are a diversion, a sideshow. Since we are all divine no proof of divinity is needed. For a fish there is no need to prove the existence of water. Miraculous powers are known as “Siddhis” in yoga. Miracles are just one way in which we can express our humanity, and an indicator that we are making progress on our journey to the source. If we happen to come by some Siddhis and if we turn these into a source of power and attention, then the ego is back in business. Our progress stops and there is danger of slippage. On the other hand if we treat these as signposts that indicate we are on the right tack then we can continue along our journey.
The choice before us not between being human or divine. The choice instead is between being a servant of our ego or its master. The choice is between using our energies to move towards our source or to use our energies at the whims of the ego. What shall you choose?
Related: Surface Dweller Or Deep Swimmer?