Yoga and Life
February 2, 2011 § Leave a Comment
There exists a common belief, certainly an erroneous one,
among the majority that Yoga is for those, who live in caves and forests, in
monasteries and nunneries, away from the busy world, in seclusion,
minding their own business without the least concern about other
fellow-beings, renouncing the normal pleasures of life and aiming at
some postmortem happiness, in some far-off unknown worlds not seen by
any one so far.
While these recluses give up all the happiness of this world,
the happiness in the form of enjoyments
afforded by rich and affluent family life with all the modern
facilities, high status in society, name and fame and the like, in
the name of spiritual renunciation, the vast majority of people are
not sure of the future happiness aimed at by these recluses. Thus
arguing, most people shun all the higher values of life, which
religion and philosophy offer. This is a sad mistake resulting from
want of the right knowledge about life in this world.
Renunciation of the world is found to be the common factor in all
scriptures dealing with Liberation as the only sure remedy for all our
sufferings here in this world. This may sound strange. One who wants
good has to renounce the bad. This is understandable. He who desires
truth should renounce untruth.
There cannot be any difference of opinion in this also.
One who is after life should naturally give
up death. None will deny these logical conclusions. But, if what is
intended in the renunciation of the world is giving up of our normal
life with all sense-experiences, what remains in our life?
The remedy seems to be worse than the illness! This conclusion is a
result of not understanding the real import of the scriptures. Vedanta
does in no way find fault with this world, but certainly instructs
man, who is after Liberation, to renounce it.
It is not renunciation resulting from a dislike and hatred of this world. It is
renunciation by covering, the world with God, in the language of the
Isavasya Upanishad, filling the world with God. We are asked to
renounce the world of our present erroneous conception and realise
its true nature. In short, to see the world as God is real
renunciation of the world, prescribed by the seers, who have seen the
Just as the different parts of a big banyan tree, such as its underground roots,
the aerial roots, the stem, the branches,
the leaves and the fruits, though appearing separate, are yet not
different from the tree; just as our limbs, the legs, hands, eyes,
ears and mouth, though seemingly separate, are not distinct from the
body; just as the various parts of a huge modern machinery are all inter-connected and serve the
common purpose for which the machine has been erected, likewise, the
umpteen objects which we see here and which we consider as separate
entities are not independent and disjointed, but form a whole to make
up this universe, an organic whole by itself.
The least disturbance in any corner of this vast cosmos, let it be in the most
insignificant object, affects the whole cosmos, even as the slightest
pin-prick in any part of our body is felt by the whole being. A
scientific analysis of any object here, say a chair, will prove that
it is made up of atoms which are finally reducible to forces.
When we perceive through the intellect, these forces that constitute the
chair, the chair as such vanishes; and when the chair is seen, we do
not perceive the forces, These forces have Consciousness as their
substratum. No hair-splitting arguments are necessary to prove that
nothing can exist without Consciousness.
Pure Consciousness is therefore the basic reality. It is the perceiving principle, the
object perceived and the principle of perception also. In other
words, Consciousness which cannot but be one, homogeneous and non-dual,
and therefore eternal and immortal, is called by the different names
of seer, seen and sight, hearer, hearing and heard, knower, known and
knowledge, and so on.
Again, it is this Consciousness alone that is referred to through different names,
such as Brahman or Atman by
Vedantins, Bhagavan or God by devotees, Vishnu or Narayana by
Vaishnavas, Siva or Paramesvara by Saivites. Other religions of the
world give different names for this one Principle, the Truth Supreme.
It is called as Christ by the Christians, Allah by the Muslims, Arhat
by the Jainas and Buddha by the Buddhists.
The truth about the relationship between God and the world is beautifully brought out
in a simple Tamil verse which means: The wood is veiled by the
elephant and into the wood disappears the elephant; even so, elements
veil the Truth and into Truth disappear the elements.
The reference is to a life-size elephant made out of black wood by an
expert carpenter. The likeness is complete. Though the eyes perceive the
form of an elephant, the intellect and the mind will perceive the
wood of which it is made. It is the form of the elephant that veils
the wood and when the truth of the wood is seen, the elephant
disappears. Likewise says the verse, this world made up of the five
elements veils the Consciousness, and when one realises the latter,
the former dissolves itself.
Knowing, experiencing and becoming one with the Consciousness is Yoga.
This Yoga practice
varies according to individual temperament. The rationalistic, the
devotional, the active and the mystic temperaments, with their countless
permutation-combinations, make the Yoga practice of each individual
distinct from those of others. Strictly speaking, no two aspirants
can follow an exactly similar method. Notwithstanding this, there are
common factors in the methodology adopted by all seekers.
Not a few in this modern world are benefited by a combination of the
essentials in the different Yoga systems. Hence it is that sages
prescribe this wise mixture—a little of Japa, a little Asana and
Pranayama, study of some scriptures, worship of one’s tutelary deity,
selfless service, concentration and meditation—especially for the
neophytes in the spiritual path.
When they go on practising all these intelligently and sincerely for a sufficiently long time, each
one finds himself attached to that particular Yoga which is best
suited to his temperament or natural turn of mind acquired as a
result of the Karmas done in innumerable past lives, the others
dropping off without his knowledge. And further concentration along
the lines of the one particular Yoga with one’s whole personality—not
as a hobby, but as one’s sole aim and purpose of life—takes one to
the Supreme Awareness.
Tags: Yoga, Renunciation, Consciousness, Pranayama