Knowledge through experiencing has always been a motivating force for me. We as humans spend entire lives in experiencing, but almost all of that experience becomes the cause for wanting for more, and the effect, being a repetition of same thing again and again. Very few of these experiences are converted into knowledge.
There is a shloka from Vishnupuran which says:
तत्कर्म यन्न बन्धाय सा विद्या या विमुक्तये।
आयासायापरं कर्म विद्यऽन्या शिल्पनैपुणम्॥१-१९-४१॥
—श्रीविष्णुपुराणे प्रथमस्कन्धे एकोनविंशोऽध्यायः
tatkarma yanna bandhāaya sā vidyā yā vimuktaye|
āyāsāyāparaṁ karma vidya’nyā śilpanaipuṇam||1-19-41||
—śrīviṣṇupurāṇe prathamaskandhe ekonaviṁśo’dhyāyaḥ
“That is action, which does not promote attachment; That is knowledge which liberates [one from bondage]
All other action is mere [pointless] effort/hardship; all other knowledge is merely another skill/craftsmanship”
Also in Yoga Sutra, Patanjali writes:
तदर्थ एव दृश्यस्यात्मा॥२१॥
Tadartha eva dṛśyasyātmā||21||
“Prakriti only exists to give experience to Purusha. It has no other purpose than this.”
“The goal of experiences of nature is to give us knowledge. It depends on us what we make out of it. Whether we turn it into a vicious circle never ending cravings and wanting, or we come out evolved and content of that experience. “
These words from Gurus have always been a source of inspiration on the yogic path. After all we pronounce yoga as evolutionary science. Evolution of a human being to its fullest! Our teachers have always said that we are born animals. We have to grow up to being a human. Yoga is one of the methods to achieve the full potential of humanity. According to me if we can reach the extreme of humanness, it’s similar to reaching god.
God realization or Self realization or enlightenment are not different words. They are just the same expressions for one state, and that state is of exploring your full potentials. But this potential is not just an intellectual idea, rather a very dynamic phenomenon where all the attributes of relaxation, calmness, neutrality, harmony, love, compassion, oneness etc come alive.
Yoga, always, have propagated that our actions should be performed with a view to attain knowledge out of them. This is karma yoga simply stated. Yoga never asks one to abolish karma or give up, rather it focuses on choosing the right set of actions which makes your path more convenient and generates more knowledge and almost none desires.
This is difficult to assimilate for most of us as we are all conditioned to be driven by desires. We have been taught and told to have desires so as to achieve them through actions. What is common in this and the yogic perspective is Karma. Both these viewpoints emphasize on karma. We cannot abandon the action. Just like god or nature are never out of action. If they stop acting even for a fraction of second, we cannot assume to be surviving. So giving up actions is not what is being taught. Rather what is said, is that our actions can be a source of our delusions, frustrations and sufferings and at the same time our actions can also be the source of freedom, tranquility and happiness. We have to choose.
Yoga, as a discipline, teaches us to make the right choices. Picking up the right set of actions which eventually becomes knowledge.
Now the question is how do we choose?
We choose with our intellect.
To support this Patanjali said:
द्रष्टा दृशिमात्रः शुद्धोऽपि प्रत्ययानुपश्यः॥२०॥
Draṣṭā dṛśimātraḥ śuddho’pi pratyayānupaśyaḥ||20||
The Self, Seer or Drushta, is only the seer, although pure, can be colored by the intellect.
Intellect is like a processor provided to us that help us make choices. Vedanta confirms that intellect can be colored by the various inputs it receives from outside and based on that color its functions are also modified. So what kind of coloring we have provided to our intellect, the kind of choices it will make. For example, you color it with sensuality, and it will pick up sensuality for you into everything. That’s how our cultures are getting more and more pornographic today.
Yoga in addition gives us method to refine this intelligence in order to make healthy choices. This is like a mutual relationship that is served. Healthy intellect, healthy choices. More healthy choices, more intellect grows healthy.
So where to start?
We can start with following:
- Indulge into a routine which includes more and more yogic activities.
- Wake up early morning. It’s a very different kind of energy in the morning which is soothing and rejuvenating to the whole nervous complex.
- Practice Asanas in the morning. They provide magnificent workout for the entire psychosomatic system. You can choose a flow practice or more static focus on each particular asana. if you feel more rigidity in the body select a static version of practice. If you feel an un-channelized flow of energy, choose the flow or vinyasa pattern.
- Learn to breathe fully and properly. This is the most precious gift we have received from existence. Be grateful for that and fulfill your dharma by breathing properly. Spend atleast half an hour on pranayama. The results are amazing!
- Take time out from your routine for some aware moments. Just at any point of time become aware of yourself. What are you thinking? How are you reacting? How are you moving? Try and get hold of your thought process. This small practice will lead to big conclusions in the form of keeping daily stresses to accumulate in the system.
- Chant a Mantra! You can pick a mantra suitable for your temperament and chant it over a Mala for 108 times every day with a whispering tone of voice. Choose a secluded place for this, and a time when you are free enough to give at least 15 minutes to the chant. Forget all about anything else and just think about the mantra.
- Spend some time in nature! Being with tree, plants, animals and natural surroundings has a very soothing effect on the overall system. if you don’t have such things around, look out for a place around. A park, a sanctuary, eco garden or anything like that. Just try and visit it for a couple of minutes every day. Even if you have to leave early from work, you must, as you got to make correct and healthy choices.
- Cultivate generosity, harmlessness and care in your heart. You are forced to show such feelings all the time, but they should be there like seeds which are buried deep in your psyche. You don’t become compassionate just by basking your attitude towards all. You can also be compassionate just by having that very subtle feeling inside your heart and then you don’t need to showcase it all the time.
I believe if we can adhere to the recommendations mentioned above, it would be a bright exercise to align the intellect towards making healthier choices for ourselves and thus leading us to the mark. For sure these factors mentioned above are going to influence the way we do our actions by nullifying the cravings and orienting us to more knowledge oriented Karma.
Have a happy yogic life!!
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