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Dharma Talks , Inspirations

Same Difference

One of the most powerful yoga teachings I know is short and sweet – only two words – bheda-abheda. You will notice that the words are identical except for one small “a” that begins the second word. This is not some clever linguistic trick, but points to the heart of wisdom and best describes the human experience, every second of every day. This phrase means something like “different/non-different.” Bheda translates as split, divided, broken up, separate. It points to the building blocks of life that, like cell division, are constantly proliferating and always changing. And thank God! Difference is the spice of life.
Vive la différence! The question is can we embrace the myriad things of this world where no two moments are ever the same? Can we welcome and embrace people of all color and creed and from all walks of life? Difference is tricky for it is always messy, always in flux, and full of conflict. Because of this, the world at large is always doing “fluxasana.” But the second half of the phrase implies just the opposite. It suggests that things are perpetually the same, never changing, always fixed. There are many names, many titles for this. Sometimes it is called the “Unconditioned,”  “the deathless,”  “one without a second.” or simply, “Siva.” The Chan master Huang Po wrote, “Buddha and beings share one and the same mind. Otherwise they do not differ.” So in the midst of constant differentiation can you realize the one that never changes? Like balancing in a yoga posture, you have to ride the edge of “different/non-different.”
In each moment, be both limited and unlimited, complex and singular. See the world as both full to the brim and completely empty. If the world were only disjointed, things would appear chaotic and crazy. If creation was one without difference, all experience would be like vanilla pudding. So celebrate the wild, teeming diversity of your life and at the same time realize oneness. Then each day, moment by moment, your yoga will be complete.
Alchemy + Aim