ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पूर्णमुदच्यते ।
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
oṃ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idam pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
Invocation of the Isha Upanishad (Upanishads Lesson 1)
That is whole. This is whole. From the whole, the whole becomes manifest. From the whole when the whole is negated, what remains is again the whole.
There was a great Vedatic scholar from the 8th Century who said that this verse was not meant for ritual, like so much of the Vedas but that its purpose was to reveal the light of awareness and the nature of the true Self or the Atman. The Isha, from the Upanishads, means Lord of whose root is meant to reign or to rule or have power, as in the word ishvara or personal God. This word Isha is All! It is purnam, it was written to mean that it is complete, just take a moment to contemplate that, it means to pervade all of creation like saltwater permeates the oceans or heat permeates a metal ball when heated with fire. In Sanskrit, the word purna means a circle, a shape without a beginning or an end, and is complete.
The word Purna means That, which is the source of creation and the physical world/body that we live in. Purnam means This, the coming together of our bodies and our consciousness. Both are part of everything that moves and breathes together on the Earth. Purnam also means the sum of This and That and it represents all vastness.
This is kind of funny at first but what he meant was that things are not always as they appear to be. That we should be ready to see God in others, even when we do not want to look at someone or know someone because of how they may look or even because of the way they behave.
Renounce and Rejoice!
The Bhagavad Gita is big on renouncing, and it may seem a simple concept but it actually is fairly profound. If we renounce finite-nes we become infinite. There was once a reporter who challenged Gandhi to sum up his philosophy in three words, inspired by the Isha Upanishad, he said “renounce and enjoy.” Only when we renounce all worldly fruits and the results of short-sighted gain and pleasure can we truly enjoy the Atman as a living state of pūrṇam.
If we could look beyond ordinary appearances with yogic vision we could start to see how the macrocosm and microcosm weave together, where the individual self and the cosmic soul touch. To experience this kind of vision Patanjali says we can practice and cultivate yogic skills of discrimination (viveka) and reason (vichāra) we might also begin to ask ourselves – what actually limits our experience and our existence?
Why is it so difficult to connect with purnam? Is it because we see ourselves so very differently than other people we meet? So many stronger emotions like anger, jealousy, and fear are rooted deeply in our lower chakras rooted in survival that we miss the underlying wholeness of all things. For instance, when we treat others badly, or even worse when we cause indirect or direct suffering purposefully, it is actually our true selves forgetting who we really are and why we are, The Atman. We can see as well how our societies have had a collective adverse effect on the entire planet! Just look at the weather patterns and how violent they have become, it is really the collective consciousness of all of us that creates this state of unrest.
On a spiritual and material level, we stuff our larger selves into a false and fragile shell of mis-understanding! We have just purely misunderstood our existence and we have become part of the collective energy, both good and bad that makes this world go round. This practice should awaken and inspire you, the recognition of your true self will help you focus your positive energy towards the greater good of humanity rather than contribute to fear and violence. We often begin these “spiritual” practices as a superficial habit, but that is ok because eventually, it turns into a deeper existence and habit of being. This mantra is an invitation to practice yoga as a science of self discovery, it encourages us to ultimately reveal ourselves to our own Nature. We do not need to go to Bali or India to find this but we can begin to transfer ourselves from what we have right here and now, it's right in front of you and has always been. Every simple act that you do throughout the day is an opportunity to change the world around you. It's especially valuable to know that it is in the small things we do mindfully that builds the strongest roots and foundation. The simple act of eating or walking or sleeping can become spiritual practices if done mindfully.
The practices of yoga are an anecdote for forgetfulness. It can be as simple as bringing our attention to our breath, or to be more conscious of our bodies and energies that flow through them. Become more aware and willing to connect to purnam. This is the mind, body, and soul connection. How willing are you to preserve wholeness as a loving and generous gesture to humanity? Try by starting to look at your asana practice as an extension of the Earth, creating states of harmony and balance with your movements, breath, and thoughts.
As we focus on purnam we can begin to see that even our weaknesses can be transformed into strengths, this will happen because of the vastness and greatness of the Atman, your true self, so it is inevitable that this shift to occur. When doing this you may see that even your least favorite asana becomes your favorite, we only need to change our perception and be present. You will soon find that this practice continues throughout the rest of the day without much more effort. Doing this for ourselves can give us confidence to make positive changes in our thoughts and habits and then expand it to our families, and communities. There is nothing that is not purnam, even empty spaces are whole, even our misfortunes and what you might think of our demises, they are whole as well.
This life is enough, it is not too small or too vast. It should bring comfort to understand that nothing can ever be broken or lost. That we always have another opportunity to reconnect to our true nature. Remember that you are here to serve all beings in purnam, this will lead you to being more inclusive to the differences in the world around you. To show that we are all one and the same and working towards the same goal. That which is and will always bed.
Hari Om Tat Sat