Tag Archive: Isha Upanishad

Expanding to Receive the Beauty, Opening to Grace, and the Isha Upanishad

In Anusara yoga, one of the ways the first principle of “opening to grace” can be experienced and practiced  is as a radical expansion of the capacity to receive and appreciate the very wonder of being.  During my visit to India with Professor Douglas Brooks, I found myself repeatedly thinking of the concept of radical expansion and also the preamble to the Isha Upanishad (long a favorite of mine; Shantala on their first CD, Love Window, have done an exquisite rendition), which can be roughly translated as saying that adding fullness to fullness is itself fullness (fullness can also be translated here as perfection).

What I believe this is saying that being itself is infinitely full; thus, we cannot make it more infinite by adding to it.  Human consciousness of the infinitude of being, though, is limited by the filters of space and time.   One of the key reasons to practice yoga (including meditation) is to expand both our capacity to appreciate the fullness and to receive its full wonder by uniting our own consciousness with the infinitude.  When we can appreciate ever more the wonder of our being, we will naturally be more joyous, and I believe, led to be more compassionate and generous with ourselves and others.

Day after day on the India pilgrimage, just when I thought my heart and mind were already full to bursting, there were yet more experiences of the beauty and extraordinariness of life and creativity and nature.  I found myself chanting the Isha Upanishadpurnamadah, purnamidam, puranata purnamudatacyate.  Fullness and fullness is fullness.  “Let me expand still more to appreciate to its utmost yet more beauty,” I thought to myself again and again.  Though I already thought I’d developed a fairly full understanding of the concept through study and practice, I thought, “this is what John Friend means when he is talking about radical expansion.” I look forward to studying and practicing to experience and share ever more beauty.

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An Excellent Sufficiency, Homegrown Tomatoes (and the Isha Upanishad)

The Isha Upanishad starts, “That is fullness (purna).  This is fullness.  Fullness comes from fullness.  Take fullness from fullness, and the remainder is fullness.”

My maternal grandfather died when I was just a toddler, so I never got to know him.  My mother used to tell us that when he had eaten enough at a bounteous meal, he would say “that was an excellent sufficiency and any more would be a superabundency.”

On Sunday I went over to Lovejoy Gardens to my little plot (approximately 3′ X 7′ raised bed on concrete, half shaded by a fence) and harvested tomatoes.  There were about 15 ripe tomatoes.  The first thought was that it was too many tomatoes.  Then I thought of all the neighbors I had who didn’t have their own tomato plants.  I knocked on one neighbor’s door.  He gave me tea while I played with the cat.  I gave him tomatoes.  I went for a massage in the afternoon.  I brought tomatoes.  I was sent home with freshly made spanakopita.  I invited another neighbor over for dinner.  We at pesto with basil from the garden and cucumber and tomato salad (cucumber, tomato, and shallots all from the garden drizzled with a little of the best balsamic vinegar and seasoned with just ground sea salt and pepper).  We had a lovely visit, and I sent him home with tomatoes.  In the next day or two, I will make a batch of tomato sauce and put it in the freezer and have someone over for dinner another night.

There is only “too much of a good thing” or a “superabundency” if we hoard it or try to ingest it all ourselves out of fear, greed, or desire for power or control.  When we have enough ourselves and then share the abundance, we simply create more abundance.  Once again, I am given again from my garden another sweet insight into the yoga teachings.  I am also reminded by this small example that I could share even more broadly from my blessed lot of fullness in global society.

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