Tat Twam Asi

When you start practicing yoga, you’ll find that you start seeing little bits and pieces of yoga all around you. You’ll find beauty in your surroundings, like noticing for the first time the architecture of a building you’ve walked past a million times, or how the sun shines through the leaves of a tree in the late afternoon. You will find yourself feeling that everyone around you is an angel, and develop compassion for those who in the past may have made you angry…

I do not know if author John Irving actively practices yoga, but while reading his “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” I could not help but feel that he is in fact a yogi. Everything about that book felt yogic – but I am not sure I would have realized what the book was really about if it were not for my practice. This particular quote appealed to me: “Watahantowet believed that animals had souls, and that even the much-abused Squamscott River had a soul – Watahantowet knew that the land he sold to my ancestors was absolutely full of spirits. The rocks they had to move to plant a field – they were, forever after, restless and displaced spirits. And the trees they cut down to build their homes – they had a different spirit from the spirits that escaped those houses as the smoke from the firewood. Watahantowet may have been the last resident of Gravesend, New Hampshire, who really understood what everything cost. Here, take my land! There go my arms!” It is that last line that really got to me – “Watahantowet may have been the last resident who really understood what everything cost. Here, take my land! There go my arms!” Watahantowet (and possibly John Irving, since he wrote it…) is a realized being. He felt so strongly about his natural surroundings as being part of him, the same as him, that it was as if his own arms were being cut off.

…Through the practices of yoga, you will hopefully one day realize that you are the same as that person who made you angry, or the birds chirping in the morning, the cow in the field, the trees and rocks in the park, even the rats in the subway…one day… We all come from the divine; we are the divine. We are not the body and mind, yet we have a body and mind. Tat Twam Asi – That Thou Art; You Are That. Limitless, eternal, boundless joy.

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