Life is a field of activity - call it nature, universe, prakrti (Sanskrit word), space-time matrix, quantum field, or by any other name. It is absolutely experiential to any participant of it. Activity means a constant action. And this action is inevitable to all living beings. We all dwell inside the action game of the 'cause and effect'. We can’t remember the beginning of it and we don’t really know where the end of it is. We all reside within a certain framework of law of nature.
If we concentrate for a while and observe - we see that there’s always a freedom of choice within that field of activity. And these, our choices, they define the direction of our activity, shape our very existence. It is not necessarily to be spiritual in order to understand that choice - conscious or unconscious - is always there. Our whole life is a chain of choices. One can find that not choosing is also a choice - choice to have no direction in the field of action and decision to depend on inner and outer flows of the circumstances.
Spiritual teachers say: "Chose wisely". There's guidance in this saying, also as a warning and reminder about responsibility for one's own actions, because the effects are inevitable. So we see now that three things are for certain - field of activity, action and freewill choice.
If we look around and observe the lives of other people - we see how vast this field of choice is. We see that choices made by some people keep them in poverty and/or the most miserable conditions of the mind. Whilst choices made by other people bring them social status, material abundance and/or led them to the heights of the spiritual existence. One might disagree and say that some people are born into poverty or born to be non-intelligent and their destiny is to live like that all their life. Yes, conditioning of the inner abilities and outside world is very strong, but there are examples of people who with their hard work and determination rose above their unfavourable circumstances and achieved recognition, social status, wealth, peace of mind or wisdom. So we see that choice by its own nature is limitless. Only circumstances to make a certain choice might be more or less favourable.
People, who are considered to be enlightened, say that there’s a way to break the bondages of karma and be totally free. They teach that to achieve that - one has to drop one’s own false identity and dive into endless depth of the inner observer, destroying all the inner stimulus of reactions. Let's say that purpose of liberating oneself from the karmic bonds has been achieved, but we see that cause and effect game is still on. That person, walks, talks, turns to left or right, decides to go meditate or go to sleep. Action is still there! Zen proverb says: “Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment - chop wood, carry water”. We see that after liberating our inner being from the confusions of the mind is not an end. Till we are present in this physical plane - we are still making choices, moment after moment, very likely much more simple, wise and effective...
Yoga is an art of choice. It’s a precious guide and discipline showing us the way how to chose wisely in our daily lives. Thus, after reaching a perfect balance - ultimately, as scriptures say - it is guiding us even beyond human existence. It's a map which allows us to understand and explore laws of nature at all levels of our existence - be it physical, emotional, mental, energetic or spiritual.
Spiritual teachers say: "Know yourself". That's exactly what Yoga does. It helps us to unlock the doors of our innermost core and have a look within. Also, while seeing what is within, it reminds us not to attach to appearances - no matter how real they would seem to be - and keep maintaining the position of the observer. It's not an easy task to do, it doesn't happen just overnight. Actually it's a long way to go and if one wants to maintain the process - there must be a constant, right type of effort and persistence in every single moment of every single day.
In our journey of going within and meeting ourselves we use a medium of awareness. That's a key. It's a fundamental refinement factor of any type of existence. As we are aware - we can learn. Normally we learn through a trial and error. That means - there's an experiment, meeting of results, analysis and then - new choices made by considering the results of the previous experiences. That's how individual learns on his own. But we - as a social beings - are able to share our experiences, knowledge and wisdom. Yogis and teachers of the past left for our consideration a huge diversity of views, different types of guidance and techniques in order to live our lives peacefully and ultimately get liberated from our own bondages of the mind. Now it's only up to our quest for the truth if these messages from the past will be unlocked and properly understood. But how to gain this ability to reach the truth and not to get lost in the labyrinths and reflections of the false identity of the mind? That's an inner knower of the truth which resides within each one of us and recognises the same truth which comes from the outer source - be it a person, scripture, artwork, situation etc. That inner knower of the truth is our ultimate teacher. Even the greatest guru is not able to replace it. And again, it's merely up to us if we chose to drop our false identity created by our mind-projected ego and open ourselves to allow that inner knower to guide us through the ocean of infinite possibilities to the highest state of being.
There are so many things to discover and to learn about ourselves using the art and science of Yoga. We are very complex beings with many layers of existence and, in order to live a harmonious and happy life, each one of these layers must be reached with light of our awareness, properly understood and taken into consideration in regard to our further choices leading to actions. During this process we simultaneously work with our physical and subtle bodies: physical exercises, power of concentration, direction of awareness, breath, self investigation and meditation.
First steps of Yoga heal from any imbalances that we have created by our previous actions. It involves recovery from physical and physiological imbalances, then re-vitalising, clearing emotional hindrances, clarifying the mind, and finally - as a result of all these changes and increased awareness – it illuminates our being.
Once one gets illuminated - the insights start to come one after another. On the personal level it is experienced as the deeper meaning of life - oneself and surrounding phenomena. It can be more or less dramatic but at the end - always joyful. It's a great power of transformation thrusting forward in evolution. As a result of this power, we, without much thinking, naturally quit harmful habits, disengage from purposeless activities and relations and start living a life with a completely new sense. Beside the happiness caused by a good inner change this new sense of life and power of transformation also gives new challenges, tasks and responsibilities. But why is it happening like this? Is it really a freedom?
It is happening like this because of a new light within. You are not a "previous you" anymore - you started to see much more within yourself and others. Good, neutral, or bad - all that is. Actually you start taking first steps in seeing beyond duality, without taking things as good or bad, just seeing them as they are. And there is a great sense of freedom in this seeing because you don't need to bother anymore with so much of unnecessary things like judging, classifying, evaluating, reacting, or acting in a specific manner etc. And that gives such a relief! Knowing comes in the place of thinking. You just know what needs to be done and thinking becomes just a loyal servant that comes to assist whenever help is needed.
Once you find a certain amount of balance and harmony within - you start to see that this world is not in a perfect balance and harmony itself! There are still so many decisions made by majority of people and representatives of our governments that cause a great harm to humanity, other living beings and our environment. Wise choices are crucial in this very moment and big challenges are there.
We must reconsider our own choices on the personal level. The way we live, consume, care about our body and mind, interact with other people, values we hold, how we work, rest, influence others and allow ourselves to be influenced, use our time and energy, the very goals we want to achieve in our lives - these must be reconsidered with each and every spark of new consciousness arising. Similarly on the collective level - if we want to shift our life course out of ignorance and self-destruction towards much lighter perspectives of this world - we as a human race, have to make major improvements in the fields of science, education, ecology, economy, legislation, resource management, banking, industry, agriculture, social and medical care, media and technological advancement. But most importantly - everyone in his/her own personality - must shift from a greedy, ignorant and competitive character – of individual living in the illusion of separation - towards more bright, vibrant, intelligent, caring, sharing and willing to collaborate beings. The real work starts deep within, only then successful cooperation is possible. The person that received precious gift of coming in contact with the Art and Science of Yoga should remember that True Yoga doesn't stay in a studio on a fancy mat - the True Yoga - like a light of a flame, radiates outwards to take its further steps in creating balance and harmony in our daily lives.
May this process unite all goodwill people and bring to everybody lots of appreciation, joy and love during this great transformation.
HIMALAYAN IYENGAR YOGA CENTRE