Relativity and Consciousness

Einsteinian vs. Newtonian Yoga
by Ganga White

According to Newton the universe is a big machine. Wind it up and it ticks away perfectly. Newton's discoveries and equations dominated physics for centuries and contributed greatly to mankind's understanding and to easing our burdens. However, Newton had a problem with his theories. There were glitches. Nature didn't always fit the machine metaphor. What goes up must come down--but not always. When Einstein confronted these problems he tried to penetrate a big obstacle. How could the constancy of the speed of light be proved? As we all know, instead of ending with that constant he started with it as a given. He started with what was actually so. The light released from Einstein's equations was seen around the world and totally transformed science.

How does this apply to Yoga and Yogis? Perhaps we need a similar innovation. Actually it is not an innovation but a radical transformation of our minds and the way we see things. Our consciousness may still be functioning on a Newtonian level. For many the understanding of Yoga, and of self, is mechanistic. But the universe is not a machine and neither are we!

We tend to operate from the notion that things are black and white. We assume that if we meditate a certain way, for a certain time we will get a specific result. We feel that if we practice the right form of asana in the right way we will achieve the desired result. But experience brings different ends. We are not machines. To live intelligently we must realize deep in our beings that living cannot be approached with a blueprint alone. The turbulence and unpredictability of life is the secret of its joy. Evolution is an unfolding of which we are a part. We must start like Einstein did, with what is actually so.

We cannot completely formulate our practice, whether it is physical or spiritual. Even though the body is machine-like it has its own intelligence. That intelligence acts only in the present and when we attune it guides our actions and practice. The forward bend that is correct today may need to be different tomorrow. We need to find the balance between prescription and intuition. The body is a living thing and should not be approached with a static mind. It is intelligence and perception in the moment, with awareness. When we are watchful in our daily actions we begin to notice that thought continually tries to explain, formulate or have a conclusion about everything. In this way it subtly maintains control. But thought is only a small part of consciousness. That which begins to see this process is the awakening of insight. Though in science we have moved from horse and buggy to the rocket ship our minds may be lagging behind. The Newtonian mind looks for black and white answers, right and wrong practices, and a well defined, step-by-step universe. Do this, and get that. The Einsteinian mind not only realizes but sees that everything is relative. What is right for me may not be appropriate for another. It may not even be appropriate for me tomorrow. Instead of living by beliefs, systems and authorities we begin to act with the awareness that comes from sensitivity and insight. This perception or seeing lives only in the present. It is outside of time. This is the greatest innovation in our Yoga.

Reprinted from Unity in Yoga News