The Inner Self
What is Yoga, anyway? Some may say that Yoga is an exercise routine. Yet some may say that Yoga is a philosophy. In fact, they my say that it is the oldest continuously practiced philosophy in the world, dating back to 5,000 BCE. This is true, but unfortunately, mostly ignored.
Now maybe you don’t want to think about philosophy when you are taking a Yoga class. Fair enough. But you actually don’t have to think about it at all. The essence of this philosophy is there in the asanas, It is there in the breath, It is there in your heart. But it is most evident and most penetrating to the deepest essence of you when you take it slow.
That is taking time to allow your mind and your intuitive heart to catch up with each other. And what happens when they catch up with each other? You see, feel, and realize things that your everyday competitive, transactional, functional awareness, and ego cannot see. And what is that? Why, very simply, it is the realization that there is more to life than competitiveness, transactionalism, functional awareness, and ego. These are the attributes of a small and limited version of yourself. Wouldn’t your life be more profoundly interesting if you were able to see who you really are?
Of course, we all get caught up in the gyrations of the ego, such as fixations on getting ahead in the world and struggling to stay there. We have all run into conflicts that seem to need resolution and we become obsessed with the act of resolving, which is most often an act of the ego such as “I am right, and you are wrong.” And who has not been haunted by the irony of the “to do list” stuck on the refrigerator door with a magnet that says, “Peace” or “Don’t worry. Be happy.”
But perhaps the time has come in your life when you have begun to see the dissatisfaction of identifying with competitiveness (also known as “To heck with the other guy. I’m number one.”) transnationalism,(also known as “What’s in it for me?”), functional awareness (also known as (“Gotta get it done” or “What’s the next product to order from Amazon?”),.or the ego which is a combination of all three of the above-mentioned attributes. As my teacher, Swami Satchidananda, said “All these things we call identification are called that because each one is a dent in your eye.” (“Eye-dentification”) It distorts what you see as self.
We are attracted to these things because we think we need to pay attention to them. But really, really, really ask yourself, do you really, really, really need to dedicate your precious life to these superficialities that are robbing you of your true life and leaving you a pauper in the sense of ignoring your inner life for the sake of elevating the material life.
Maybe you are afraid of your inner life. Maybe you fear looking too deeply into yourself because it is, perhaps what you consider to be a dark and unfamiliar terrain. Maybe, as the line from the movie says, “You can’t handle the truth.” But the fact is you can handle the truth. It is not even something that needs to be “handled” but rather, embraced. You can rest assured that this fear is very, very common. The question is, are you brave enough to go beyond the common to the extraordinary?
How do we experience this extraordinary way of being? How do you get to know your True Self, the embodiment of peace and true knowledge? You look deeper than your name. You look deeper than your relationships with spouse, partner, friends, children, and extended family. You look deeper than your stock portfolio and your finances. You look deeper than your position in society, and deeper than the unspoken rules of the culture. You look deeper than the way you have been defining yourself for thirty years or more. You are deeper than what you see as your limitations and your successes. You look deeper than your fears, touching the deepest essence of who you are.
You don’t have to look long and hard for this. You don’t have to go to an ashram in India or a Zen temple in Japan. You don’t have to read all the books on the ”Self Help“ shelf. And you don’t have to search for and get peace. You, this true inner Self I have been talking about, IS PEACE. It is here, right now, inside of you. Though reading provides a foundation for self-awareness, realization of your true nature is a direct experience. This is the philosophy of Yoga.
With courage, and looking inward, whether it be from practicing yoga, or meditation, or sitting quietly several times a day, or asking for help from those who have traveled there before you, you will see that everything you need is right here where you are, in this moment. Stop for a few moments right now. Be still. Here it is.