From Knowing God to Being God - Kylee Stein

Every yogic journey contains at least one light-bulb moment. Mine came during a yoga teacher training lecture about who we are, who we really are. This lesson begins by discussing the differences between the creator and the created. This difference, we learn, is a delusion. We, the created, are all God. Our yogic path is a journey to reunite with our God-like nature. We become one with the creator by clearing our karmic baggage.

During this lesson, a sense of truth enveloped me like a security blanket—a prickly one at that. I was wrapped in a truth that I knew I could trust completely. This was the day I learned the vocabulary to intellectualize and articulate my “spirituality.”

Growing up in the Catholic church and having fallen in love and partnered with a man who was extremely devoted to his life as a Pastor in the non-denominational Christian realm, I had explored my “religious beliefs” in depth. All of it felt foreign, unreal. The words and rules bore no feelings for me. I was convinced I was broken, a spiritual dud, a heathen. I “knew” I was innately bad; God had overlooked me.

Fast forward to my arrival in Nepal in 2016. I completed teacher training; I read books (oh, did I read some books!). I surrounded myself with people who could discuss Tantrik Philosophy on an intellectual level. I had systematically put myself in extreme situations to test my understanding of my “ego” and to try to break out of the wheel of my samskaras. I felt a baseline level of preparation for this journey.

I knew nothing.

I’m constantly cultivating a broader, more thorough understanding of things intellectually so that I don’t have to feel them. I hid(e) behind my intellect. After all, living half my life with the inner “spiritual dud” refrain had left its scars. Those scars would deter me from wanting to explore feeling. This is not to say that I haven’t been an emotional basket-case my entire life. I’m certainly not known to have a flat affect. The feeling I’m talking about here is different. It’s a deeper and truer level of knowing.

Throughout our journey in Nepal, feeling was really the only tool I could use. It’s impossible to simply “know” your way through Nepal. The only way through is to feel. It doesn’t matter that I have the vocabulary, that I can tell myself over and over that “we are the same,” “we are all god,” “this book said this…,” “my teacher Raj told me this…”

It wasn’t the same.

To sit in a cave and have the pain that I carry in my body like an extra layer of skin dissipate in a moment’s time, like the most loving and healing touch from your grandmother, is not the same. To exist in the presence of a self-realized yoga master and feel utterly humbled to the point that your system goes haywire with emotion and you feel more than you ever have all at once, is not the same. To have people with “nothing” refuse to stop sharing limited food and supplies so that you feel their absolute non-attachment and unconditional love through free-giving, is not the same. It is not the same to “know” as it is to truly know and to feel connected to something so big.

Yoga is the union of the created (Prakriti) with the creator (Purusha). Purusha is the divine, universal love and pure consciousness. The essence of Tantrik Philosophy is exploring the relationship between the two on the way to being reunited. Being in Nepal, experiencing the land and its people, showed me what it’s like to feel the divine as a part of myself, to feel absolutely in relationship with “the big stuff.” I learned what it’s like to be in the presence of those who live their lives through that truth. I got a glimpse of the long journey that is learning to view others as I do myself. Because, ultimately, we are all God.

Raj Patra