Totality. Conversation with a Yoga Master
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Totality. Conversation with a Yoga Master

First published in Jeunessima Magazine 14

How do you live your daily life?

It is quite likely a very busy life. A life where you play many roles: wife/partner, mother, daughter, sister, friend, business woman, colleague, … and others.

You probably have many things to do. To get as many things done as possible, you undoubtedly try to multi-task as often as possible.

And if you could be in several places at the same time, I bet you would do just that.

This creates a lot of issues … issues for our body, mind & soul.

A little while ago I had a fascinating conversation with Dr. Kansal, a yoga Master from India where we spoke about totality.

After our conversation he agreed to write a short article about totality and what it means. Here is the article for you:

Dr. Kansal writes to Dr. Ines O’Donovan:

Whatever you do, just involve your being in it, do it with totality.

The Bhagawad Gita says that karma is enjoyable if the heart is involved in it. Then there is no karma and Karta; both melt and become one.

That is totality.

Quote Perfection is a Myth. Totality is Reality

Perfection is a myth, while totality is reality.

Perfection is a goal somewhere in the future while totality is an experience this very moment, in which your act is transformed into meditation and a beautiful prayer descends in your heart. In fact, there is not future reference for totality; only a routine lifestyle soaked in spiritual fragrance.

If you do any work or any acts with your whole heart, then you are total, then you are walking on the same path which our saints followed.

The whole idea is to ‘be total’ in everything that you are doing. It doesn’t matter what you do, whether you are eating, laughing, drinking, reading, watching, listening, cooking, driving, bathing, writing, cleaning the floor or anything you are doing.

The job is immaterial. The focus is that doing is with totality, which is the only way to transform the act into meditation and to transform the doing into a beautiful prayer.

fierce samurai ninja fighting a battle

I remember a story I heard long back. Once upon a time in China, there was a Samurai Ninja. He was a perfectionist in his work. He played the sword in such a way like a child playing with the toys. He was a great Samurai. The King came to know about him. He called him, and after seeing his talent, the King gave him the post of the Senapati, Chief of Army Staff. China won all the battles under his guidance.

As a result … the neighbor empires were afraid to attack China. Many years passed. With total peace, no war.

One day, Senapati was sitting in his garden, thinking: “Like this, if there is no war, then my sword will rust. I will forget all the knowledge of Samurai’s”.

He was thinking about a solution when his servant came with tea to serve him. The servant said,” Master, I have brought tea for you.” Senapati looked at him, top to bottom twice, and ordered him: ”Today at 4 o’clock on the ground behind the temple, we will have a sword fight. You are my opponent.”

The servant shivered with fear. He fell to on his knees and said: “Master, if I have done any mistake, please forgive me but please don’t order me to fight with you. You are a great Samurai, and I don’t even know how to hold the sword. Nobody can defeat you.” He cried and begged his master but in vain. Senapati left him saying:” See you at 4 o’clock at the ground.”

The servant was continuously weeping and went home. His wife asked him: ”Why are you crying?” He said: ”You will become a widow today.” And he narrated the whole story as it had happened to his wife. She too was worried after hearing all about it. But she kept a cool mind and suggested to her husband: ”There is one person who can save you. Come with me.”

Together they went to the Great Master of Senapati, the person who had taught Senapati that sword fight. The servant fell down on the Great Master’s feet and told him everything that had happened.

The Great Master was also worried. But he gave the servant a way to escape from this problem. He taught him how to hold the sword in a battle and asked him to reach the ground in time.

Samurai Ninja

At 4 o’clock, Senapati was waiting for the servant on the ground. The servant came and bowed on his left side looking somewhere. Senapati saw that his Great Master was standing there in the corner.

He also bowed to him but he was quite confident that even though the Great Master might have taught the servant how to hold the sword, he could not teach him all the steps of the fight which he learned in years in just a few hours. He was confident about his victory.

They came nearer and the fight started. Senapati waived his sword in the air with some particular steps he was taught. But the servant was standing still & straight holding his sword with both his hands.

When Senapati stopped waiving his sword, it was now the servant’s turn to swing the sword. Without the specified and particular steps, he waived his sword here and there keeping his eyes closed. It didn’t take long. In a couple of minutes, Senapati was dropped on the ground, defeated.

That’s what the Great Master had taught the servant: “Senapati will follow each and every step he was taught, but you … you and the sword should be the one.

Get absorbed in the act; there shouldn’t be any duality. You and the sword should become one. Fight with the whole of your totality. Only then you can win.” And following those instructions the servant won.

What the Great Master had given the servant was the real message of Buddha – to be total in the action is to be free of action.

Be total in your thoughts and actions and you will be free.

This is also what meditation is about.

Dr. Ines O’Donovan writes to Dr. Kansal

Dear Dr. Kansal,

Thank you very much for your article. I would love to use your article to let other women know more about totality and how they could apply this in their daily life.

One thing I am wondering about is if you have a different example that is about women and not related to war/physical fighting-type of situations.

Dr. Kansal replies to Dr. Ines O’Donovan

Dear Ines,

Letter from Dr. Kansal to Dr Ines O'Donovan

The story stated in the previous article was just an example to define totality.

Totality is nothing just related to the war and fighters. It is something that concerns each and every person in his daily lifestyle.

For example, a husband in a house asks his wife for a cup of tea in the morning. The wife prepares the tea and hands it over to her husband together with the newspaper.

The husband reads the newspaper at the same time as he drinks his tea. After a while he again asks his wife for his cup of tea. She says: “You have just finished your tea. How many cups of tea do you need?”

What is happening is that the husband is completely unaware about his actions. Neither does he really know what news he has just read in the newspaper nor is he aware of the taste of the tea.

This is what is known as lack of concentration. And concentration is a part of totality.

If a woman is for instance doing some work … whether in the household, at the office or anywhere else, whether she is cooking, eating, dancing, driving, walking, washing clothes, taking a bath, brushing the teeth, polishing the shoes, watching a movie, reading … It should be done with the whole of her concentration and totality.

One should do one act at a time, including their efforts (Body), Mind and Soul.

Only when they come together, you can see perfection in your work, in your action.

Merge concentration and totality in your daily lifestyle with acceptability.

These are the three pillars for conscious stage: Concentration, Totality and Acceptability.

And then this consciousness is nothing but meditation.

Woman meditating in a conscious stage ... with concentration, totality and acceptability

So, what does this mean for your daily life?

We are all very obsessed with getting more and more done in less and less time. But as a result, we often forget to really live.

We don’t appreciate the little things in life anymore. We often don’t even realize and even less celebrate our little or often not even the big successes anymore. We are always on the lookout for the next thing or the next things that need to be done.

This is a recipe for disaster. A recipe for stress, disease, accelerated aging and yes, unhappiness.

Let’s start with one little thing today that you can fully focus on. When you write the next letter to a customer, when you play with your children, when you make some tea, … whatever you choose, focus on it with all your senses.

How does the pen look like, how does it feel like when you take it into your hands? How do you feel when you play with your children and where do you feel this? How does your tea smell like? What is the sound of sipping your tea? What is its taste on your lips and in your mouth?

Enjoy bringing more totality into your life!

Ines O'Donovan, PhD
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