Purnam adah purnam idam
Purnat purnam udacyate
Purnasya purnam adaya
Purnam eva avishishyate
That (the Absolute) is full, this (the manifest) is full.
From fullness fullness proceeds.
If we take away the fullness of fullness, even fullness then remains.
This verse from the Upanisads is such a beautiful, yet paradoxical, teaching. Technically it is about how the ultimate reality is completely perfect, full, whole, and out of that perfection comes all of the manifest world. Yet the ultimate reality still remains full.
Since we come from perfection and wholeness, we are perfect and whole beings. And yet, we are limited. Just by virtue of having bodies we do have physical limitation. But at our essence we are perfectly full and whole. Again, it’s a paradox.
Do you feel perfect? Do you feel whole?
How do we deal with that feeling of lack? The feeling of being less than whole? Many people search for something to fill that sense of lack. They turn to various substances, consuming stuff, or creating experiences to feel whole again. At best it is a temporary fix, at worst it leads to addictive and destructive behavior.
Yoga is intended to help us connect with that place of unlimited perfection. Yoga turns us back to Source, to That which is inherently full. We can experience and recognize our own innate perfection through our practices, especially meditation. When we meditate, we settle in to a place that feels fuller and whole.
On a practical level, we can notice how we approach our world. It is the glass half-empty or half-full issue. Do you focus on your limitations and imperfections? Or can you acknowledge the aspects of perfection and wholeness that already exist in your life?
And further, what about others? Not only are YOU a perfect and whole human being – so is everyone else. Can you see the perfection in others? Or do you focus primarily on their limitations? What would happen if all your interactions with others reflected a fundamental sense that they were perfect and whole?
Even more paradoxical: we are all perfect, whole beings, AND there is even more wholeness and perfection possible. Each is perfect in this moment. AND THERE IS MORE!
For example, I love roses. I love the beauty and perfection of the bud, but even more beautiful is when it just starts to open – and as it continues to blossom it becomes EVEN MORE PERFECT. Each stage is perfection.
Think of babies and children, and how each are just perfect, yet they will continue to grow toward even greater perfection.
Each of us comes into this world whole, full, and perfect. The paradox of our lives is to acknowledge that perfection, even as we move to a more perfect fullness.
I invite you to consider this teaching on purna with the following exercises.
· Contemplate and journal on the above verse from the Upanishads. Feel free to replace the word “full” with “perfect” or “whole” for a different flavor.
· When do you feel most whole? What moves you toward a greater sense of perfection?
· What creates a feeling of lack in your life?
· Experiment with interacting with others as if they were perfect. Journal on the results.
· Notice any tendency you have to look at the imperfection in any situation first. Try focusing on what is perfect in each moment.