Unity in Plurality

By Rudra Shivananda

MurugaSince the goal of yoga is unity with the One Divine, why do we need to utilize images, mantras and other aspects of different manifestations of the Divine such as Ganesha or Lakshmi?

If we can purify ourselves from all our desires and achieve awareness of the Divine, then we can practice a duality focusing on the One, with the eventual merging with the subject of Unity, when all duality ceases. However, in our current state of confusion, it is not possible to become aware of the non-Manifest Divine and so we must focus on a Divine manifestation. In fact, our karmic tendencies make it difficult to even focus on the awareness of a single manifestation of the Divine and so in this relative world, we must make use of the tools of duality. We need to invoke various manifestations per our needs to overcome the obstacles to yoga.

Different seekers will resonate with different forms of the Divine and there may not be a universal form that can satisfy everyone. Some will resonate with the Divine Father Shiva, others with the Divine Mother Shakti, yet others with the Divine Son, or with various functional aspects such as Lakshmi, Saraswati or Krishna.

There will be some seekers who will not find it comfortable to utilize any image of the Divine and will be satisfied with the intellectual concept of the Divine, whether as the creator of the universe or as their true Being-Self.

There will be also those who see no need for the Divine and seek the unity beyond all concepts. However, it is cautionary to consider that even thinking the word non-duality is a dualistic phenomenon – it is not possible to utilize any human language or mind-born thoughts to contemplate non-duality or an attribute-less Divinity. Only in a state of pure awareness, without mind or thoughts can non-duality be experienced.

Whatever the predilection of the seeker, until we can reach our goal, there will be times when we need to make use of the tools of the relative world – this is the utilization of skillful means in order to attain to non-dual wisdom.

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