One of my teachers told me about witnessing two great Yogis coming to meet each other for the first time in the 1980s. The audience, comprised of spiritual devotees, were apprehensive because it would be the meeting of two very different traditions.
One of the yogis was known for many playful tricks to his inner circle; he would flip the offering of the garland blessing back onto the student who had offered it to him; as if to say — “you are the guru too”. The second yogi was from a more scientific background and although he laughed a lot, he was more academic. So when these two masters greeted each other, the playful yogi put the necklace of flowers over academic’s head in greeting and reverence. At that moment, the academic yogi did what the playful yogi was known for and used his thumbs to flip the flowers back onto the playful yogi’s head. Essentially giving him back his own trick! The whole place erupted in laughter and the two traditions found their meeting point in play.
After over 10 years of learning and integrating from the Shankracharya tradition; the non-dual, absolute relationship of the Soul and the Self. I have just completed my Yoga Teacher Training from the Krishnamacharya tradition; the union of dualism, the union of Ida and Pingala Nadis or Shiva & Shakti as the ultimate experience. This experience has brought the meeting place of the Vedic and Tantric traditions for me. As Swami Satyananda Saraswati says “Tantra is a process of evolution of consciousness and Vedanta is an experience. Therefore, the relationship between the sadhana (spiritual practice) and ultimate realization is the relationship between Tantra and Vedanta.”
As usual, and typical of Vedic students, I came to Tantric knowledge after having a Vedic experience! It’s like learning to skate backwards first! To me, there are many paths to same destination. And at the end of the day, We are all One.
There was never a fundamental point of difference between these two traditions, just two ways of coming to a place of Unity from different places. It makes me think that it is funny how the mind, a wonderful instrument of analyzing and discernment, cannot accept that even duality can lead to Oneness! It is a testament and a warning to the power of the mind. This is one of the things we discover in the course — knowing how to balance the heart, mind, and instinct in decision making.
Don’t be afraid to embrace your brother or sister’s philosophy, it’s probably similar to yours but just coming from a difference place! For me, all paths lead to the Divine!