By Katie Manitsas on Friday, January 16, 2015
‘Life is love and love is life. What keeps the body together but love? What is desire but love of the self? … And what is knowledge but love of truth? The means and forms may be different, but the motive behind is always love. Love remains.’ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The word Yoga is a Sanskrit word which means to unite or bring together. The term ‘Hatha Yoga’ refers to the unification of opposites – of the sun and the moon literally – but metaphorically of the masculine and feminine, the light and dark, the restful and the active. When we look for that which is connecting, similar and fundamental we transcend these so called ‘opposites’ and find the essence of who we are which is love itself.
My teacher Sharon Gannon says ‘we’re all in this together – we are all this together.’ If we consider this statement in the context of Yoga, the union of self and God (or divine consciousness as opposed to mundane consciousness) then we start to see that at the core of all human striving, all religion and all spiritual practice is LOVE. Love is the unifying link that brings together the sun and the moon and helps us to find true Yoga.
In light of these teachings all the different world religions and paths of yoga and ‘methods’ for attaining union with God start to seem less important. What is important is the union itself not so much the path to union. When we have this bigger picture perspective religious tolerance and the celebration of diversity within the many ways we choose to connect to the Divine becomes easy.
It is my feeling, during these troubled times where religion seems to be an area of extremist conflict and is often a divisive element in our human condition, that if we make an effort to celebrate and understand faiths which are different to our own we could be instruments for transforming some of the conflict so prevalent in our societies. By looking for that which unites us and binds us (and our various faiths and cultural backgrounds) we build bridges of knowledge, understanding, tolerance, compassion and love.
Education is a key factor in this project, and I believe a more diverse religious education should be offered in all schools. Certainly teaching any children in your life about different religious faiths and beliefs (focusing on what they all have in common) is an important step.
The Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, the Bible and all other major religious texts have at their heart the teaching of love. Next time you switch on the news or pick up a newspaper keep that in your heart and mind.
Here is some recommended reading to help you deepen your understanding of the role of education in building religious and cultural celebration and tolerance:
‘The First Muslim, The Story of Muhammad’ Lesley Hazleton
‘I am Malala’ Malala Yousafzai
‘Ancient Futures’ Helena Norberg-Hodge
‘I Am That’ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Visit www.KatieManitsas.com.au for more blog posts.