Humans are amazing. Our capacity to be incredible alongside our capacity to be small and self defeating always remind me of a rubrics cube. The puzzle of complexity that is built into our innate nature. No one is outside this circle of wondrous, magnificent, and potentially destructive being, though we may perceive ourselves to be. Every human born is fundamentally divine, fundamentally able to do and be whomever and whatever they want, and fundamentally full of the goo that prevents them from fully realizing their ultimate potential.
Just as it is our nature to be magnificent it is also our nature to see ourselves as small, unworthy, separated from that which makes greatness, lacking in power and all alone. This kind of perception in the tantric philosophy of yoga is called Anava Mala and is just a veil limiting our ability to perceive ourselves in our most divine state. Like a layer of dust on a mirror or a sheath over a blade the perception only covers the truth of our most intrinsic nature. Mala in this sense is not like the bead, but is the veil that conceals the truth of the presence of divinity. Anava is derived from the word small, as in seeing with our small self through a small lens. This small self perception is the point of view that limits ones ability to see on self as able, magnificent, innately perfect and already full of the creative life force from which all things arise and to which all things return.
Anava Mala is not just some mental construct programed into us by society. It is a limited sense of individuality that makes possible the whole process of the formation of thoughts of aloneness and separation from the divine and all else. As it is not some program it cannot be countered by merely attempting to believe the opposite. To reduce and wipe away the veil of this limited perception one has to have the actual experience of the feeling of fullness that is the creative current of the divine. One must have the actual palpable experience of purnata deep within their own being, and have it so frequently that it displaces Anava Mala and becomes the basic reference point for who one is. The feeling of purnata is why we come to the mat, this is the feeling we have after a challenging or wildly opening pose or practice. The feeling of purnata is also the experience we have when we feel true love for others, and when we feel true satisfaction resulting from our efforts to succeed at some goal. When we experience purnata over and over again until it becomes the touchstone for our knowing of ourselves we then arrive at a place where the limited perception of Anava Mala has fallen away.
The paradox of the perception of separateness inherent in Anava Mala also has truth. Anava Mala is not only the self defeating nature of our own worst enemy but also the catalyst or the seed for our deepest potential of connectivity. Self-awareness, even in its most limited state leads to questions, leads to broadened perspective of exciting aha moments of awareness from ignorance. This deepest form of ignorance, the viewpoint that there is something wrong with us, that we are unworthy, powerless, and living meaningless lives has bearing as well as value. This perception is the foundation upon which we intellectually build our lives. As we start to pull back the veil of our separateness we begin the journey of sakti-pata, the initial awakening into our real nature, without this the practices of yoga cannot bear their real fruit. When the veil of the misperception of Anava Mala is lifted we stand in the truth of our real nature, divine, perfect, full. And If we look to see what connects us rather than what separates us we cannot help but to see the web of the divine un-tattered and un-torn between all things past, present, and future. We return to the practice so that we can re-member, so that we can re-connect, so that we can re-experience our truest nature. This opens the door to never forgetting.
When we begin to know and never forget that all things are truly connected, that without what happened yesterday, today would not be. That the same goes for the day before, the week before, the century before, the millennia and the billions of years of evolution that have led to this moment. When we perceive how many billions of years of actions had to take place for this moment to exist as it is then we live in the experience of every moment perfect and divine, purnata, no longer limited to the smallness of Anava Mala.
In truth we are as Marianne Williamson said in A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”