September 2014

Any attempt of the mind to rise from low values of its present existence to a healthier and diviner scheme of life is yoga. –  Chinmaya

The word yoga comes from the root ‘yuj’ which means to unite.

There is a constant attempt made by the mind to unite with something or the other. The only purpose behind all these attempts is to get rid of the present state of incompleteness, and to gain a sense of total peace and fulfilment.

From the unicellular organism to the most evolved human being – all are in search of happiness. Explorations into the deep space and the ocean, inventions and discoveries in the field of science and technology, extensive research into the atomic and the sub-atomic particles… all are geared towards only one goal – happiness.  

Thus all of us are yogis in some sense of the term, as we are trying incessantly to ‘unite’ with an ideal state of perfection!

A casual observer of life finds that a good job, a good home, a good spouse, good children, good friends, a good car, good bank balance, luxuries and comforts, possessions and positions indeed give happiness. So with his superficial analysis of his experiences in life, he concludes –The world is the source of all happiness. This philosophy of life makes him a bhogi or a samsaari– the one whose mind is ever extrovert seeking union with the outer world.

From then on, true to his theory of happiness, he is in a constant hunt for peace, perfection and security in the outer world. Very soon he gets dragged into a world of cut-throat competition, of greed and jealousies, of bribes and scams, of indulgence and addiction, of revenge and rivalry, of restlessness and sleeplessness.

Constant blows from the outer world compel him to think that there is something wrong with his equation of happiness. A deeper analysis reveals to him that this world also is a source of great sorrow. He discovers that everything in the world is impermanent and unpredictable. Therefore holding on to the world can bestow nothing but perpetual tension and worry, fear and anxiety. Soon he finds himself at a crossroads where neither is he able to leave the world, nor is he able to hold the world. His search for happiness intensifies day by day and soon his inquisitiveness takes him to the world of religion and spirituality – a world which he had never explored till then.  

Mother Nature, who is ever waiting anxiously to guide her children, soon exposes such a matured, ripened person to scriptures and spiritual masters. And there he comes to realize that happiness has more to do with the state of the mind rather than the external circumstances. He observes that one can be happy even amidst tragedies and failures if the mind is at peace; on the other hand, one is miserable even amidst luxuries and comforts if the mind is disturbed.

Thus he learns the greatest truth of life – “Seeking happiness outside is futile. Happiness is one’s own nature. Quieter the mind, the greater the happiness.”

This new revelation totally transforms the erstwhile bhogi into a yogi. The extroverted seeking ends and a new journey into one’s own within begins. This inner journey, where efforts are put forth to awaken oneself to the higher, healthier and diviner state of existence constitute yoga.

Two boys in a boarding school were assigned rather menial tasks involving manual labour – such as cleaning tables after the meals, mopping floors and so on. One of the boys was very unhappy with this kind of work. He would do the job uninterestingly and half-heartedly, shabbily and hastily, grumbling and complaining all the while. Whenever he found that none was around to inspect, he would skip off and go out to play.

The other boy, on the other hand, would not only do his allotted task well, but also do his best to complete the other boy’s work.

The teacher in charge noticed this, and he asked the diligent boy what prompted him to do another’s work. The boy’s reply was significant, “This school has given m so much. I am just expressing my gratitude in a humble way. Also, Sir, haven’t you taught us in our daily prayers that the one who is the servant of all wins the heart of the Lord?”

Even menial tasks become yoga when they are performed with noble intentions.

A poor but devout woman wanted to give away some of her clothes to earthquake victims in Gujarat. “I can give away some of my blankets and bedsheets. There are many which I rarely use,” she thought. “Poor ones! They need it more than I do. Without homes and without anything to cover themselves, how difficult it must be to camp out in the open air! Let me do for them whatever I can.”

She pulled out her clothes, blankets and bedsheets from her wardrobe. She was careful not to give the torn, the unusable and the useless ones. Rather than heartlessly bundling up the clothes and the blankets, she carefully washed them, dried them, mended them, ironed them and then handed them over to the collector.

“This is meant for God’s children,” she said. “And so I wanted to make it as nice as possible.”

True yoga is not about learning to walk in the air or to walk on the water; it is all about learning to walk on the earth with a clear head and a clean heart.  

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Posted in: Chintana

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