It’s true. I couldn’t have done it without yoga. I am who I am today, sane and healthy, chiefly because of Raja Yoga in my yoga sadhana plus Zen philosophy. Truly, the mat and zafu have only one goal to lead you to an awakening experience that is – transcend, transform and transmute.
Actually, this entire article can be summed up using just this metaphor. We are the potter and we are also the clay. This is clearly explained in Samkhya philosophy. Raja yoga would be the potter’s wheel while our yoga sadhana or spiritual practice is the power that regulates the wheel and animates the potter’s hands. The Divine is the potter’s hands and the water that is necessary to help shape the vessel is the creative energy that cause us to Transcend, Transform and Transmute. It never stops and the vessel is always a work-in-progress that is finished only when we realise our true self and come fact to face with God. As for me, I am still on the wheel constantly being reshaped.
My awakening experience
I couldn’t have understood this earlier but now I am able to say with a teeny weeny bit of confidence that I am beginning to get what is the true goal of yoga. All that hard work was to reach a state of ‘knowing’, and I’m going to use a metaphor here:
As if there was a flower within me that finally bloomed and its petals opened to reveal a most delightful fragrance as well as knowledge. When that happened, I found myself changed irrevocably. Literally turned inside out. Gone was a lot of the fear and anxiety that used to rule my life. In its place, an unshakeable faith.
If the root word of ‘yog’ is yuj (युज्) which means ‘to join or unite with‘ then what do we join to or unite ourselves with? Again, another metaphor:
It is as if there is a merging of myself with a presence that seems so familiar but which I wasn’t fully aware of until the day it dawned on me that it has always been there. There’s this sense that ‘I know you. I have always known you.’ And it seems to emanate from the heart and spreads to fill me up. The awareness grows each day until right now it seems like my life is no longer my own in the sense that a good deal of synchronicity occurs that tells me it is run by someone or something other than me.That this presence has a name and the closest I can give to it is God but without any particular religious connotation. It can equally be the Divine Source, Divine Godhead, Brahman or the rest of the 108 names.
Yoga is truly a process of transformation, metamorphosis, and change
If the true goal of yoga is to unite us with our Godhead and our true self, the Atman and Brahman, what really happens after that? My experience says this and it’s a double-edged sword. If we meet God in us, and if God is our also our true self then it can only mean we are going to start thinking, speaking, and behaving like a godly person, right? Actually, yes. You’d not only want to work at being good and kind but you seem to have gained a great deal of power with which you can choose to do harm or good.
Being good and kind is like growing flowers in a garden. I find that I need to do a lot of work to see that they grow well. Heart work is certainly hard work. I have mentioned this before in another post about our spiritual heart and the knot, or granthi, that must be untied. Time and again, I have been knocked on the head (and a very hard knock, too) that opening the heart chakra is key to progress on the spiritual path.
So even if it’s hard work, I realised that I must really, really work at being kind and forgiving. Then loving and compassionate. Then hopefully, just being naturally and unconditionally loving. To me, this has taken immense effort and some days can be almost Mount-Everest-difficult, yet I know I have to do the work. No wonder our teachers always say ‘hold no like or dislike; anger hurts only yourself; have only pure intentions; ekcetra, ekcetra!’
Yoga is about approaching God and being love personified
The toughest lessons i have received are all about love. That there is no spirituality if there is no love or humility. I never thought I would say this but as of right now, I will choose humility over anything else any day. I have been humbled in so many ways it’s a wonder I still chose to stick to the path. Be forewarned. There are many, many lessons that will come your way on your spiritual journey. In the end, you will come to realise that you cannot help but love, be humble, care and don’t do harm. No choice in that.
This I believe is the point of the whole journey. The true goal is to be godlike in our existence. And in that sense, we return to our original state because after that, all the wanting, planning, running around seems to have ground to a stop. And we start a different sort of existence where there is calm and a readiness to listen and wait. Could this truly be our original state? Wow!
Raja Yoga is the royal road back to God – this is all that I will teach
Now that I know what I know, my yoga teaching would begin and end in the yoga sutras of Patanjali. I especially like how Swami Satyananda describes the sutras as the ultimate path to freedom, that is, freedom from the tyranny of the mind. And where the highest goal of any spiritual endeavour is to finally manage the mind instead of letting it run our lives. It’s true. That’s what yoga is all about.
I have been very fortunate on my own journey, beginning first at Prashanti Kutiram and then at the Dayananda Ashram in Rishikesh and going over to Sivanananda Ashram down the road day to day, my, I began to finally get that it is a total system of spirituality. By the time I made my way home, I had a yoga sadhana put together that has since led to an awakening experience that has, in turn, shaped what I want to do with the rest of my life.
Related reading: My mission – to shine the light for you.
Related reading: My journeys in search of clarity – as within, so without.
Lastly, let the masters speak for themselves. Click on each image for a free download of a pdf of their books which by the way are also freely available on the internet.
~ ॐ ~