I had planned to go to George Purvis' workshop today but I decided to stay home, spend some time with Kelly and catch up on the work that has piled up in my absence instead of getting up early and spending all day in Austin. Must tend the home fires, so to speak.
I got an email from one of the Vancouver Immersion participants that I spent some time answering this morning. I thought I might as well share it since it is an issue that arises a lot in the world of Anusara Yoga. (Now, were I writing this answer for a book or an article, obviously it would be better thought out, punctuated and referenced.)But here is my response in its raw form instead. Enjoy!
Also, a question along the philosophical level, how does Tantra explain or understand the dark side of life? If life is inherently good why is there people out there who can not see it? I understand that there needs to be darkness to appreciate the light.
The main thing to keep in mind with Tantra and the ubiquitous “it’s all good” philosophy that follows Anusara Yoga around is the distinction between the Absolute and the relative. At the level of the Absolute, there is no evil. Nothing is Essentially Bad. It is, in effect, “All Good”.
But at the level of the relative- this life in which we participate- things are certainly good and bad and people behave quite horrifically at times. We live in a world of light and dark, of sun and shadow, so to speak. Tantra explains this by saying that (very briefly) the Absolute’s Goodness and Light gets “cloaked” in the process of manifestation. (The cloaking agents are called the mala’s and they are a function of Maya which limits the Absolute in order to create the sense of separateness/different-ness required for manifestation. We get to all this later in the Immersion!) And why some cannot experience the Light is that they are so cloaked within themselves that their true nature is obscured from them.
So the thing is that why is there evil and so forth is because the Absolute is so free that it does not even limit the many ways it can manifest by saying “no evil”. Of course this is very simplistic but good to keep in mind because any intelligent person knows that not everything is good and the life-affirming vision without maturity sounds like an ignorant Pollyanna kind of rhetoric, right?
Another thing that then follows is that the yogi’s domain of action is relative to his/her responses. In the world of sun and shadow the yogi can make choices to align with the sun or to align with the shadow. To affirm the Absolute is not a way to ignore the realities or challenges of living in the relative world, but is instead, an act of faith, deeper vision and the recognition that there is no part of this world that is Essentially not God. However, some things are certainly seen as “more God than others.”
This is a very lost point in most modern day discussions of Tantra, in my opinion. Tantra is an inclusive philosophy but is also very hierarchical. All things are seen as Essentially Good but they are definitely not seen as equal. This idea is very important to keep in mind here in the relative world. Things are, well, relative! Like you mentioned, contrast is necessary. That contrast is what makes the relative world what it is--a place where things are in relationship to one another unlike the undifferentiated domain of the Absolute where everything is a soup of Goodness and Light.
That is it in a nutshell. Although these are questions that we spend our whole lives exploring and working with. So, I think best is that we “live with the question," you know?
Enjoy your day.
I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903