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Living Our Life

(The below excerpt is the conclusion of an essay I recently wrote (Yoga: Manifesting Our Dharma) in answer to the question, ‘What is Yoga?’. The introduction is here.)

Yoga means many things to different people, yet ultimately it seems to be about finding happiness and meaning in our life, allowing us to live life to the fullest. Whatever one’s beliefs, career goals, or family situation, yoga will help us discover and share the talents and love that already lie within – making our human life truly great.

To paraphrase the great 16th / 17th century poet Tulsidas, when we come into this world as newborns, everyone smiles in joy and we cry. Yet throughout our lives, we are to engage in so many noble pursuits and benevolent endeavors, that when it is our time to leave this earth, we will smile knowing in our heart that we have done as much as possible to make the world a better place, and everyone else will cry knowing they are parting with a dear and trusted friend.

The practice of yoga stimulates and enhances our growth not just as individuals, but as people who are connected to a greater whole. We no longer view the world as fragmented parts but as a natural extension of ourselves; and, we no longer see others as being separate from us, but as people with whom we have an inherent bond.

Many challenges confront us in our modern culture. Yoga may be part of the balm that will help us unite to face those issues and together discover the solutions. When we become connected to our own heart and mind and realize our inherent dharma, then naturally we can better see the same in others. After all, is that not what living together is all about?

  1. I often find it confusing when yoga is applied broadly as a life practice. I know the basic principles of balance and such, but in general I (and society) see yoga as a physical practice. What is the philosophy of yogic practice (this is probably too broad a can of worms)? Is it like Buddhism or grounded in another tradition entirely? They seem similar. Can you give some insight into how yoga can be a path, not just a physical practice?

  2. Wonderful question Whale Woman – I will try my best with it.

    Basically, yoga is goal oriented and that goal is psychic, or perhaps more accurately, it is psycho-spiritual. That means goading the mind toward a more subtle state, i.e. realization.

    This advancement happens (most quickly) through meditation.

    Does it really work? Well yes.

    The mind itself is dynamic – always going up and down. Meditation is the process of channelizing the mind towards a point / idea. To do this a mantra is used.

    Just like if someone says, “I can’t do it.” Then really they will never be successful.

    On the positive side, by using a mantra that awakens the idea of peace and universal oneness, then veritably the mind will move in that direction, and ultimately become that very thing, i.e. supreme peace.

    As the yogi says, the mind takes on the shape of its object of ideation.

    The physical practice of asanas prepares the body to be a good medium for meditation. That is the main role for doing asanas.

    Hope this is of help – there are a number of ways to answer your question – this was one of them…

    Thanks for your thoughtful inquiry!


  3. The ancient sages also would say this when people wanted to know the way to move ahead:

    1. Doing good to others is punya (virtue)

    2. Doing harm to others is pa’pa (vice).

    These two simple directions would solve many of the people’s queries.

    Although simple, I think it is still quite relevant today…

    The greater ethical / moral question then becomes: What constitutes “good” and what constitutes “harm”.

  4. There is a Sanskrit verse which says,

    सारं व्यासेन कीर्तितम् ।
    परोपकारः पुण्याय
    पापाय परपीडनम् ॥

    The following two gospels by Vyasa summarize the essence of all his eighteen Puranas. “Helping others leads to purification. Hurting others leads to sins.”

    Nice post. Keep up the good work.

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