Let's start by un-wrinkling our expectation of what we'll read here. You need not have ever stepped foot on a yoga mat to appreciate the concept of knowledge, and I'll try my best to give context to this theme outside of the yoga class that it's usually digested in.
I don't think that it's clichè to say that "knowledge is power". When we are equipped and informed, we feel connected to a subject, capable of taking on challenges within the realm of that subject, and we are more likely to share with others what we've learned.
Ok, you may be thinking in a climate of "alternate facts" this perceived knowledge could lead to a misuse of power in some realms, and while that may be the case, that is not the direction we are looking towards in this space.
The direction we are looking towards is not even knowledge in an intellectual sense, but rather knowledge as discernment, or jnana.
To paint a broad but beautiful stroke, Buddhism refers to jnana as pure awareness that is free of conceptual encumbrances, and is contrasted with vijnana, which is a moment of 'divided knowing'. Pure awareness, let's look at that for a moment. First, what are we meant to be aware of? Reality, specifically the reality of our true nature. Second, the word "pure", how do we know if our awareness is "pure"? That's where our power of deduction comes in, the tool that allows us to be free of conceptual encumbrances.
If you are still reading by this point, thank you and congratulations! Let's unpack it some more.
*BRIEF synopsis of dual vs. non-dual yoga philosophies:
Dual or classical yoga philosophy is based on the belief that God (enlightenment) is separate from us, and can only be attained by renouncing our attachments to and identification with the material world.
Non-dual aka Tantric aka Advaita Vedanta yoga philosophy is based on the belief that our true self is already divine by nature, and enlightenment can be experienced by knowing this "oneness".
I am of the latter school, and this philosophical construct is our tool of discernment. This knowing that we are essentially condensations of (enlightenment, consciousness, truth, love, peace, oneness, spirit, God) in corporeal form is how we sort through the garbage that makes us feel disconnected to our true nature.
Let's circle back to what we experience when we are equipped with knowledge, from this new perspective.
We feel connected to a subject, in this case the subject being ourself. When we are connected to ourself, we can tune in and nurture what needs to be nurtured.
We feel capable of taking on challenges within the realm of that subject, in this case the realm of one's body, mind, emotions, energy, circumstance. We can say thank you to our victim mentality for what it has shown us, and see our challenges as lessons to be learned for the highest good.
We feel more willing to share what we've learned with others. With a deep knowing of ourself, we can connect and relate more authentically and compassionately with others, and confidently share our gifts with the world without the expectation of reciprocity or recognition.
Can we take a moment to soak that in?
This discernment about true nature doesn't have to have a shred of spiritually in it if you don't want, it could be the path to God if you want, and it could fall somewhere in the middle if you're like me. Whatever higher universal concept rings true for you, there's your measuring stick. There is no wrong answer, and it can change at any time.
We are talking about untangling ourselves from self destructive and limiting identifications, from divisive othering with the world, from blame.
May we remember to connect, that's our practice.