Teachings

Focus Of The Month

Focus of the Month

June, 2015

Flesh, Blood, Bones, Empty Space

Sanskrit audio pronunciation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 3:43 provided by Manorama.

Kāyākāśayoh Sambandha-Samyamāl
Laghu-Tūla-Samāpatteś Cākāśa-Gamanam

By samyama on the relationship between body and ether comes lightness like cotton to the body, and the body attains levitation in space.
PYS 3:43 translation by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati

Our experience of the world is a place filled with all kinds of solid bodies bumping into each other, especially if you take public transportation in any large city in the world today! We are absolutely sure that these other bodies are solid and that they are colliding with our solid body. Another thing that we are pretty sure about is that we are heavy and that the weight of the body will pull us down to the Earth. We worry about falling and dying not about floating away. We are crushed by the weight of it all and we worry about the day when our world will come crashing down around us. Serious things are spoken of as “heavy,” while frivolous things are “lightweight.” Since childhood we have been instructed to fight against gravity, first to stand, then to walk, and so on. Gravity has become our enemy, the seeming cause of one solid thing crashing into another. As many of us age various parts of the body give up the fight against gravity and sag earthward. Our spines round forward as the heaviness of life implodes the heart and lungs.

Well, here is the good news: All these solid bodies crashing into each other really are just an idea that we project onto the world around us. We see it happening because we believe that it happens. Our body and the other bodies that we encounter seem to be solid. We think of that solid person as our self, while we view empty space (actually the main component of the body) as not self. We identify ourselves as solid objects with certain characteristics like shape, color and weight. When we identify with the shape, color and weight of our body we become subject to limitations of strength, flexibility and stamina.

To maintain solidity both body and mind can become inflexible, ignorant, and intolerant. We identify with heaviness and solidity, rather than with lightness and subtlety. Actually, if you squeezed all the humans into one solid lump, with no space, that lump would be the size of a sugar cube - we are mostly empty. On a daily practical level we experience solid bodies moving in empty space, but a better description of what is going on is - emptiness within emptiness.

Many of us experience gravity as a mysterious attractant force that reaches out of the Earth and pulls us toward it. Einstein proposed that gravity is actually the curvature in the space/time continuum caused by the presence of a heavy body like the Earth. For him, it was more like sliding down a rabbit hole, than falling through empty space! Some quantum physicists speculate that gravity may be the universal force that moves through all possible various other dimensions of existence. Perhaps, during a yoga practice where we dance various shapes through gravity, we are actually sending messages to other dimensions as ripples of text in the field of gravity.

Do not mistake gravity for electromagnetism - the real key to understanding levitation. It’s all about the electrons. Each atom that makes up the molecules of your body has a shell of electrons that have a negative charge. When the negative electrons encounter other atoms’ electrons they repel each other, just like two negative poles of magnets. This electromagnetic force is strong enough to resist gravitational pull. The electrons of the atoms on the bottoms of your feet repel the atoms of the floor beneath them. You believe that you are walking on the floor, but actually you are floating slightly above the surface! The electron shell can also be missing electrons, and will share electrons with adjacent atoms - that keeps us attached to things, and holds molecules together.

Bodhi rupam bodhi-sattvam, bodhi-gamyam anamayam.
Param-satyam param-shantam, param-brahma parat-param.

It is the form and essence of intelligence and it is experienced through intuition. It is pure simple and transcendental. It is ultimate reality, ultimate truth and ultimate tranquility; which is called Brahman. It is smaller than the nucleus and greater than the greatest. How can something be smaller than the smallest, and larger than the largest - at the same time? The answer is simple - It is empty.

The atoms that comprise all the molecules that form your body are 99.999999999999…% empty. If you enlarge an atom to the size of a large football stadium the nucleus would compare to the size of an orange on the field while the electrons would be distributed throughout the stadium seating. All the rest is empty space - with the lightness of a fluff of cotton.

June 2015 — David Life

Teaching notes: 

 

  • The negative charge carried by the electrons forming the outer shell of each atom will repel other negatively charged electrons - preventing actual contact. This can be demonstrated with two magnets – when two negative poles are aligned they will not join, but repel each other. When you sit on the floor you actually are floating above the floor! If we could shift identification to the empty space that we are all a part of - our thoughts and actions can be liberated. When thoughts and actions emerge from the unbounded and unrestricted empty space they are immediately creative and fresh. Our bodies are actually weight free! Gravity cannot overcome electromagnetism and it is the force of electromagnetism that holds atoms together and apart.
  • Atoms can also share electrons. This causes atoms to stick together until a balance is reached and then they go back to repelling each other again. This is the force that holds molecules together. When a balloon is given a static charge by rubbing through you hair it will resist gravitation and stick to the wall (this is a great demo of levitation.)
  • Another great demo for this month is simply a little piece of cotton fluff. When you blow the fluff off your hand it will float in the air and gently descend. This lightness is what the sutra is referring to as the result of samyama on the relationship of body and space.
  • Teach how to float in and out of asana. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” – Mohamad Ali
Download audio (mp3) files of David Life reading the Focus of the Month
  1. Emptiness within Emptiness
  2. Gravity
  3. It is Ultimate Reality. It is Empty.
  4. A Fluff of Cotton