When I was little, I loved watching Disney’s fairy tales. (Who am I kidding? I still love watching them…) Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast were my favorites. I love the first few songs in each movie. In these songs, there’s longing:
Beauty and the Beast: Belle, the lofty reader that she is, wanders through town, wishing she could live the stories inside her books, being courted by the arrogant Gaston, singing, “There must be more than this provincial life!” Belle and her father are not native to their town, and she ultimately belongs elsewhere (with the Beast!).
Sleeping Beauty: Singing with the birds in the woods, Aurora wonders when love will find her: “I wonder if my heart keeps singing will my song go winging to someone who’ll find me.” Aurora is a princess who has been removed from her family as protection from an evil curse. She knows she belongs elsewhere.
Both Belle and Aurora were made for bigger lives than they had at the beginning of their stories. Belle might not have been separated from hers at birth, like Aurora, but they knew they didn’t belong where they were.
This is the story of our hearts.
On Tuesday, I posted the first part of Viveka’s story, as retold by Stephen Cope in Yoga and the Quest for the True Self. When I first read Viveka’s story, I thought he should be made into a Disney movie too.
At a young age, Viveka was separated from his royal family, and in a reverse Moses story, he was sent down river to the peasants, who didn’t tell him he didn’t belong. Cope writes, “But something else lived inside Viveka. He had a recurring dream of palaces and lush green fields and a mother’s love.”
In Cope’s retelling of the story, Viveka experiences much of the same longing that Belle and Aurora do. Belle is searching for something more, Aurora is searching for love, and Viveka is searching for home. They are all longing.
Longing for God. for Home. for Eden. for Wholeness.*
Yogic philosophy maintains that our suffering comes from our separation from God (Brahman). Christian philosophy says our pain comes from The Fall, when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. Original sin. In Calvinist doctrine: Total Depravity.
And what is Original Sin or Total Depravity but being separated from God? Here the two philosophies converge: we are separated from God. Separated from Home. Separated from the source of our lives.
I understand sin better as separation. Jesus is still the bridge, making wholeness possible.
The two philosophies diverge in their conceptions of God–in yogic philosophy humans come from God and becoming whole means finding our divine self. In Christian philosophy humans are made by God, in the image of God, and we live because of God’s breath in us. Becoming whole does not mean becoming one with God, but becoming more like God, like Christ, and finding the life of God within us (God’s ruach life-giving breath).
The practice of yoga (small “y”) can be used by both the Yogic philosophy (big “Y”) and the Christian tradition as a spiritual practice. Our hearts are all longing for God and wholeness.