In life and in yoga perspective is everything. Without perspective one can easily lose the context for understanding the process. I wrote an article several years ago about perspective as it relates to the concept of Samāpatti from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Samāpatti stands for correct (samyag) acquisition (āpatti) of Truth. Loosely translated Samāpatti represents the yogic principle of coalescence, whereby the subject - object relationship falls together or coalesces. Samāpatti is where yoga begins and "ordinary" seeing, seeing dependent on placement, ends.
Acquire an 8.5 x 11” piece of paper and a black writing pen. Draw a line across the page so that your piece of paper is divided into two separate spaces (it doesn't matter where you start or whether it is a vertical or horizontal line as long as it bisects the page). Now draw a circle near but not touching the line (it doesn't matter how large or small the circle is as long as it fits in one of the two spaces on the page). Place the paper in the center of a table you can walk around. Pick a side and stand facing the drawing. Describe the relationship of the circle to the line. Moving clockwise, walk around the table stopping in turn on each side to describe the relationship of the circle to the line. Continue around the table until you end up where you started. Notice how the relationship of the circle to the line changes. Sometimes the circle will be above the line, sometimes below. Sometimes the circle will be to the left of the line and sometimes to the right. Now ask yourself the following question:
“What changed the relationship of the circle to the line?”
The relationship of subject to object is an artifice of the mind relevant only as long as we insist on maintaining our perspective of up versus down, left versus right, inside versus outside, hot versus cold, black versus white, etc. What does this have to do with anything? Well, as long as we maintain a perspective that places us in opposition to our subject, we are separate from it. Placing ourselves in opposition to our subject makes sense if we are attempting to stay out of the way of the MARTA bus, but it begins to cause problems when we make ourselves the subject of our inquiry. How can you both be yourself and be separate from yourself simultaneously? How can you be in opposition to you? Trying to hold this kind of mental space is the root of dysfunction. It is easiest for me to conceive of this concept in terms of music. To experience music is not to read notes on a page or say out-loud the words of a song. To experience music is to hear or play or sing the notes and the words, to actively participate in the process of making the musical language into Being. To experience the Self, in yoga atman, or to experience God, in yoga samadhi, requires the same kind of active participation. God is not a conceit of the mind to be grasped but rather a continual act of non-placement where subject and object coalesce into a third "non-thing". My first teacher, Gayle, enjoyed explaining the process as 1 + 1 = 3…
With great affection,
John Merideth - Autumn 2011