Greetings! The fullness of spring in the Northeast is upon us! I’m usually teaching in Europe at this time of year. It’s such a delight to be home and witness the fullness of the season.
A few days ago I had one of the best swim workouts ever. I’m not sure why. It might have been because prior to swimming I did a deep hip opening yoga practice. I managed to be the lead swimmer in my lane, which hardly ever happens.
After swim practice I am driving home feeling fresh, clean, and clear. My breath is totally open and full from the swim. The sun is setting and the light of the early evening is crystal clear. As I’m driving, I look out the window and see the most beautiful spring colors. Everything is full and the colors and shapes seem to jump out at me. The flowers are full. The leaves are full. The grass and trees are super bright green. The sky is blue and the edges around all of the houses are vibrantly clear. I’m having a moment of Purna, fullness. I relax and feel the perfection of the moment. Everything is okay. I am at peace. I am merged with the now in full appreciation of all that is.
Purnatva, the principle of fullness and perfection, (Purna = fullness, perfection. Tva = principle, technology, or the quality of…), is an attribute of the Absolute: that part of us that is unbounded, infinite, eternal, and free. Paul Muller-Ortega (world renown tantric scholar), translates a famous line from the Brihadaranyka Upanishad and Ishad Upanishad:
Purnamadah purnamidam…..”Adam” means over there, “idam” means closer to home, or closer to myself. Fullness is that yonder over there. Fullness is also this that is here closer to me. From fullness, only fullness arises. Even when you take fullness away from fullness, in fact, only fullness remains.
Even if what appears to arise from the Absolute seems to show itself as fragmented, incomplete, contracted, small, limited, bound, or en-darkened, in truth, what is arising is the radiance and perfection of the Absolute moving in expression, articulation, and shaping itself. In its perfect movement of fullness from fullness, it is eternal and perennial.”
Paul is saying that the principle of fullness is so full, it includes lack. It includes our contracted states and feelings of unworthiness or imperfection. How could this be? It’s a paradox to contemplate…
The principle of fullness comes from the notion that life is full and perfect as it is. The tantric view is that the universe doesn’t make mistakes. It’s perfectly unfinished just as it is. It is a work in progress and continually becomes more of itself. The universe is expanding. In it’s true essence, life is abundant. The present moment is complete as it is. An easier way to understand this is to consider that when you offer yourself acceptance and love, even when you feel down, not enough, or incomplete, you are practicing the principle of Purnatva.
I think the real key is how to grow myself spiritually. When I embrace and accept my limitations, I usually don’t stay stuck. Instead, I learn something. I shift. I change. But when I judge or shame myself for having a moment of negativity or lack, like quicksand I feel even more stuck, more limited. The key to experiencing Purnatva is attitude.
Accepting yourself just the way you are is another way of practicing Purnatva. It’s easy to accept yourself when you feel joy or fulfillment. But can you accept yourself when you feel sorrow, lack, or frustration? Can you embrace your shadow (the part of you that you don’t feel proud of)? Can you allow yourself to feel sad or mad? The Upanishad is telling us that all is Purna. When I hear this teaching, I relax and stop trying to be perfect. I stop trying to be joyous when I feel sad. Purna is your capacity to feel sad when you are sad and to feel happy when you are happy. It’s a state of mindfulness that allows you to be present with whatever is happening in your life. Amy Johnson, psychologist and author, says that any negative emotion fully experienced only lasts about 90 seconds. It doesn’t mean that you’ll get over the loss of a loved one in 90 seconds. But the raw energy of the pure emotion only lasts 90 seconds. Emotion is “energy-in-motion”. When you stay with your emotion, follow it, ride its waves, it takes you back to your heart where it integrates into its source of pure energy.
There’s a part two of my story about swimming and leading my lane. Today I swam and I was feeling good, just like a couple of days ago. However, today the workout was particularly challenging. I found myself becoming winded quickly and I had to slow down. Needless to say I was not the lead swimmer in my lane. In addition, one of the swimmers in the fast lane next to mine, swam in my lane since his lane was crowded with swimmers. This made the swimmers in my lane speed up to try and keep up with the fast swimmer. I brought up the rear in every event, and at the end of the practice, I was exhausted.
However, on my drive home I felt full again. I had an awesome workout even though I couldn’t keep up or lead in my lane. I did the best I could and went as fast as I could. This is why I experienced Purnatva again, but being the slowest one in my lane. Life lesson? Whenever you do the best you can with what you have to offer, you gain access to Purnatva. There is a tangible reward from being full and not holding back. Even if you feel tired, when you give your fullest, you always receive the benefit of your efforts. It doesn’t matter if you come in first or last place. If you give your all, you will always be a winner.
As the sun continues to move through its expanding arc to its fullest, the zenith of the summer solstice June 21st, may you take a moment out of your busy day and enjoy the fullness of spring time and appreciate the perfection of right now. Whatever you do today, may you do it fully without holding anything back. Only then will you experience the blessing that life is patiently waiting to bestow upon you.