By Yves Panneton CYA-E-RYTGOLD
Become who you are.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
When I saw the theme for the newsletter, I was excited and I could not wait to sit down to write a short article. Once in front of my computer, I just stared at my blank page. Suddenly, I did not know how to approach the topic.
The first thing that came to my mind was Karma Yoga. It seemed the most natural link between yoga and being involved in the world. I was going to say that it is the most accessible yoga yet probably the most difficult. I would have explained that the most important challenge stems from the fact that karma yogis do things for the sake of doing them; they act because their intervention is needed in the here and now; and they intervene notwithstanding what the yogi wants, or may benefit from, or may lose from his/her actions.
Then I thought it would not reach those who have a strong faith. So, I considered writing the piece on Bhakti Yoga. I was going to explain that being actively involved in the world is like serving God in the temple. The difference being that instead of making offering to a representation of God in a shrine, the bhakti yogi superimposes God over the world, and all actions in the world are regarded as offerings to God. I would have explained that the bhakti yogi sees himself/herself as the flute Krishna uses to play the music that keeps the Gopis dancing. I would have said that bhakti yogis can opt for various relationships with God. They can see God as a friend like Krishna and Arjuna; as a lover like Krishna and Radha; or as a parent looking after baby Krishna. I would have finished by saying that the main driver for action in Bhakti is love and compassion for others.
I was afraid to lose those in search of meaning. Then I was thinking of relating the theme to Jnana Yoga or the yoga of knowledge. I would have explained that in this form of yoga, the world is seen as a dynamic expression of Brahman, the Hindu Godhead. I would have said that the universe is in continuous motion; that actions in the world are referred to as sacrifice; and I would have given the example of rain falling from the clouds, which give without worrying if they cause a flood or help flowers to grow. I would have said that our actions are similar because, despite all our good intentions, we cannot be secure in the knowledge that we will achieve the good we had in mind. I would have said that the universe in motion is called Brahman’s Lila or cosmic play. I would have concluded by saying that our purpose in life is solely to partake in Brahman’s Lila. Only our contribution matters and whether we achieve success or not is irrelevant.
I then realized I could combine the three forms of yoga in one! So I was about to write about Raja Yoga. I was going to explained that the yamas and niyamas are guidance to properly behave in all the situations we encounter and as such they could relate to Karma Yoga. I would have said that the injunction of surrendering to the divine can be related to Bhakti Yoga and the injunction of studying the scriptures can be related to Jnana Yoga. I was so happy, I felt I was almost there.
Then I thought wait a minute! What about Hatha Yoga? After all, it is the form of yoga we are the most familiar with. I could have explained that the limbs of asana and pranayama in Raja Yoga allude to Hatha Yoga but it would not have linked it with the theme of action in the world. I realized I would have to explain that Hatha Yoga is a tantric practice that rests on the yamas and niyamas — that they are different than the ones in Raja Yoga — and it is within those that the practice of asana and pranayama are to be found. Then I would have explained that the Hatha yogi worships Siva and actions in the world are regarded as offerings to Siva. As such, Hatha Yoga is truly a form of Bhakti Yoga. I felt this would have been tricky to write.
A body made in the fire of Yoga
I was getting sad as I felt I was getting nowhere. Then I thought of the analogy that we are like ships sailing on the ocean of life. I smiled and started to get a bit exited. I was thinking that I could say the practice of yoga is making us healthy and with good health we can accomplish our mission in life.
In the end…
I stalled. Mission? What mission? I looked at philosophers for inspiration. The light turned on! I am sure if we were to ask Nietzsche to explain how a yogi can be in the world, he would say that yoga is to become who we are!
Yoga is about letting our potential bloom. It is not so much about achievements as much as skills. If I want to be a doctor but cannot for one reason or another, I can be a physiotherapist, a personal care attendant or a dedicated parent looking after a sick kid. What matters is to allow my caring nature to bloom.
All we do — be it consoling a friend or climbing Mount Everest — is yoga. If we invest all our soul, we rejoice and grow. Every achievement and failure is a celebration of life and so, in the end, I decided I would not write an article but wait anxiously to read what others have accomplished.
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