Yoga is the ancient art of Self-Discovery, and Self-Realisation. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Union with God’, – ‘Union with the Highest consciousness’. When we talk of Self-Realisation, it means realising the divine nature of our Higher Self, our Inner Pilot. A Buddhist may call it entering into Nirvana, a Hindu may talk of liberation / God-realisation. Ultimately, it is a state of consciousness beyond name and form and the limitations of the mental world. The Upanishads talks of ‘Sat Chid Ananda’ – Existence, Consciousness, Bliss – Our highest Self – a being of pure delight.
Such ideas may seem very far from our present state! Given the limitations of our mind and nature, a consciousness of unbridled delight and peace seem a far cry. Most of us would settle for just a little bit more peace, a little bit more joy. But, the highest teachings of yoga tell us that there is no end to our inner self-transcendence. – All we need to do is realise the divinity within.
In the West, yoga often invokes images of hatha yoga – difficult postures for calming the physical being and gaining greater peace of mind. But, hatha yoga is only one small aspect of the ancient path of yoga. There is also.
- Bhatki yoga – the path of love and devotion. Bhakti yoga doesn’t worry about philosophical discourse and explanations, it merely seeks to love. It is not a human love based on possession and expectation. But, a divine, universal love without expectation or sense of possession.
- Jnana yoga – the path of wisdom – gaining true insight into our real being; a wisdom which is much more than intellectual understanding. A wisdom that comes from knowing our deepest soul through meditation.
- Karma Yoga – the path of action. Making progress through selfless service to the rest of humanity. It is selfless service without expectation of reward, recognition. It is egoless work done with detachment to the outcome.
How To Make Progress Through Yoga
Yoga means we make a conscious effort to transform our consciousness. It means facing upto and transcending our weakness. It requires a faith in God, or at least a faith in our self. It requires patience and persistence and the ability to remain focused on our self-improvement.
Patience is sometimes viewed as a negative, or at least static thing. But true patience means ignoring the demands of the ego and accepting the transformation of nature which inevitably takes time. It is a mistake to think the path of yoga is about austerity and a bed of thorns. To seek our real self, is the most rewarding thing we can undertake. But, neither is it an easy downhill path with everything done for us. But, nothing worthwhile is without trials and challenges. We cannot give up at the first hurdle, but must remain committed to yoga, however, bumpy it is. How to be more patient
To make progress in any aspect of life, we need an enthusiastic attitude. It is the same with yoga, we can make the fastest progress only when we value and are enthusiastic about the goal. See: Enthusiasm
Honesty / Self Appraisal.
In yoga we need to overcome the ego. The justifications and excuse of our ego, just make our journey longer. See balance between self-criticism and self-encouragement
Yoga is not for the feint hearted, sometimes, you need to go against the prevailing way of the world. We cannot allow ourselves to be sucked into materialistic goals. Yoga doesn’t negate the outer life, but, seeks to give a proper balance between inner wealth and outer wealth. This needs an inner strength to be true to our inner calling.
Sometimes it is the simplest things which matter in yoga. A sincere smile, doing something with love, doing something selflessly – outwardly it may not sound much but it can make a big difference in yoga.
Is a radical
photo: Sri Chinmoy Centre Gallery