"Do I contradict myself? Very well then...... I contradict myself:
I am large ......... I contain multitudes."
We are all (alot of us are) familiar with these lines from Walt Whitman's, Leaves of Grass, it is probably the most famous portion of the epic poem. I am fine tuning my Yoga Nidra workshop this week and that quote sprang to mind to help describe our actual state of being - beyond our identifying roles and traits and characteristics. We contain multitudes, not WE ARE multitudes. There is a mixup in our awareness between what we do and what we are. What we are is infinite. What we do is finite. In yoga this confusion and misidentification is called avidya - or wrong knowledge; ignorance.
So this line in the poem, which resonates because it so perfectly distills our complicated nature, is actually coming after a passage that is even more interesting and beautiful when viewed through this lens of yoga philosophy and the process of Yoga Nidra specifically (with which I've been viewing everything this week : )
"There is that in me.... I do not know what it is.... but I know it is in me.
Wrenched and sweaty..... calm and cool then my body becomes; I sleep.... I sleep long.
I do not know it.... it is without name... it is a word unsaid, It is not in any dictionary or utterance or symbol.
Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on, To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.
Perhaps I might tell more.... Outlines! I plead for my brother and sisters.
Do you see O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or death... it is form and union and plan... it is eternal life... it is happiness."
Perhaps you know that yoga means union and it's very aim is to reach beyond words, names, symbols and "the earth I swing on" to that awareness that contains everything. That awareness that is our true nature.
Our true nature that contains multitudes.
So put that in your pocket for a rainy day. xx