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Born Naked

oṃ | pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidaṃ pūrṇātpūrṇamudacyate | pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇamevāvaśiṣyate ||

"That is whole. This is whole. From the whole, the whole becomes manifest. From the whole when the whole is negated, what remains is again the whole."

--Invocation of the Iśa Upanishad

The Sanskrit word pūrna seen several times in the mantra above means filled with, filled, full of, whole, full, entire, complete. It means that everything is whole and complete, and even when a part is separated from the whole, it is still whole, and holy.

One of my favorite Ram Dass quotes appears in the February Jivamukti Focus-of-the-Month: “Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.” In other words, treat everyone you meet like the holy being they are. Everyone has the same divine essence, despite the many different forms this divinity is manifest in. Ram Dass said we can think of our bodies as “spacesuits for Earth.” Everyone we encounter is a holy being having a human experience.

Another favorite quote of mine comes from RuPaul, the celebrity drag queen, with whom I became familiar when my husband and I started watching his show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” during the Covid lockdown. On this reality show, drag queens compete in various singing, acting, performing, and costuming challenges to become the winner of the “drag race.” Viewers of the program learn the remarkable effort it takes for the queens to transform themselves from men into women—so many layers of padding, and makeup, and wigs, and clothes. As members of a subculture within the gay community, the contestants also often share the emotionally painful experiences they have had with their families and society, not only as gay men but also as drag queens.

What RuPaul says is, “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.” Here we can think of drag as a metaphor. We each come into the world pure and innocent, full of unconditional love and free of biases and judgments—naked in every way we can be. And then begins the layering on of all the elements that will eventually harden into our sense of who we are: upbringing, family structure, gender identity, education, sexual orientation, racial factors, socio-economic factors, religion, political affiliation, career, relationships, etc, etc, etc. Our sense of self, of who we think we are, becomes fixed, rigid, and hardened. We get so caught up in all these layers that we mistakenly think they are who we are. We forget that we are the divine made manifest, that we’re just here for a short time wearing our spacesuit for Earth. We forget that we are holy beings. We forget that we are whole. The practices of yoga help us to peel away these layers so that we begin to remember who we really are, and just as importantly, we begin to remember who others really are too.

Love is Love is Love. God is Love. Who we truly are is Love. Love that is unconditional, compassion that is boundless, joy that is limitless---these are inherent in each and every one of us. The rest is just drag.

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