What exactly is yoga?
Is it Exercise? Is it a Religious Practice? or Is it just another health trend? Yoga is a way of Life!
What is human, is not an established state, it is a possibility. It is not a fixed state. If this possibility has to be made use of, there is whole system of understanding that needs to happen. Understanding the mechanics of how this life functions and what we can do with it. This mechanics, this technology, this science, we are referring to as YOGA.
Everything that human beings can do is essentially an expression of who they are.
Somebody sings a song, somebody dances, somebody writes a book, somebody paints a picture. Whatever else we do is an expression of who we are. You may be conscious of it; you may be unconscious of it. But still everything that you say, everything that you do, everything that comes out of you is essentially an expression of who you are.
Yoga, in that way is diametrically opposite to this. Because it’s not an expression of who you are; it’s about determining as to who you are, it’s about determining as to what you want to be, changing the very fundamental of one’s existence.
Today there is substantial, medical and scientific evidence to show that the very fundamentals of the activity of your brain, your chemistry, even your genetic content can be changed by practicing different systems of yoga. This needed no confirmation because we have always witnessed this. But today there is scientific data to prove this.
Yoga is a system needs much more involvement than any other forms of things that we do which are merely an expression of who we are. If you find full expression through any particular activity, it may also leave you somewhat transformed.
If you cook with all your heart, some transformation may happen.Taking care of a cow can change your life. If you sing with all your heart some transformation may happen. If you dance with all your heart, some transformation may happen. But that is only a certain impact that is happening because of absolute involvement in a particular activity. But essentially that activity by nature is an expression of who you are, it’s not determining the nature of who you are.
When we transform our activity, not as an expression of who we are, because who wants to find an expression like this by doing some poses? It is a method, it is a means, it is a technology through which you can change the shape of who you are; you can change the very shape of who you really are right now, that can be transformed.
Because who you are right now as a person is a combination of things—Genetic material, before that the karmic substance that you carry.Because of that you chose a certain womb, the genetic material and since the moment you’re born, whatever kind of impressions that have gone into you in the form of variety of experiences, situations, thoughts, emotions, relationships, associations, whatever else you have imbibed, all these things make you certain kind of person.
When you say, “I’m a certain kind of person”, what you are saying is, “I have this kind of compulsions”.
When you say, “I’m this kind of person”, what you are saying is, “This is the kind of compulsions that I identify myself with, so I am this kind of a person”.
It’s a very western thing but it’s very much there in India today, because lot of Indians are far more western than West. If you go all the way west, you come back to India. So, they are much more western than westerners are today. People say,” I’m a morning person. I’m an evening person”. What they mean is, “I cannot wake up in the morning, that means I’m an evening person.”, “I cannot stay awake in the evening, so I’m a morning person.”
It’s going far you know! Some are Samsung people; some are Apple people. It’s all getting the world divided into so many ways. They are not just instruments that you use and keep it down, you get identified with it. There are Chapati people there are Rice people, there are Dosa people, there are Idli people, all Kinds! So, what kind you are is essentially a certain type of compulsion.
So, you set yourself into the process of yoga, because you don’t want to be this kind or that kind. You will be the kind that you’re required to be in a particular moment. That is, you become flexible. This flexibility we start working with your body to start with. Afterwards it should come to every aspect of your life. Your Physical structure, your Psychological structure, your emotional structure, your Karmic structure, everything should become flexible, that it can be whatever it is required to be. It is not stuck being this way or that way.
Circle and Circus!
Yoga as a process, Yoga as a method, Yoga as a technology, Yoga as a science is essentially to break the limitations of a certain concretization that happens which we call as Personality. To evolve from being a person to a presence. If you are a person, that means you have made a shell out of yourself. You formed a shell, within that shell only you can operate. If you break the shell, you will no more be a person, but simply a presence, as Life is, as God is, just a presence. If it can be encased in a shell, it becomes a person. Yoga means, slowly you’re working on making this shell thinner and thinner, more and more porous, that one day you can exist without a shell.
All aspects of physicality are cyclical in the Universe. Planets are going around the sun, the solar system is moving, everything in the galaxy in the cosmos is cyclical. The more and more you’re identified with your physical system, the more and more cyclical you are also. Your experiences are cyclical; the process of life is cyclical. If you watch carefully enough, even the situations that you face in your life come in cycles.
Yoga means, on one level to break the cycle of Life. We want to open up the circle and make it a straight line. Because if you are going in circles, you’re not going anywhere! It just gives you an impression that you’re going somewhere, but you’re not really going anywhere, you’re going through the same thing again and again. So, yoga means to open up the circle and stretch it out like a straight line, that if you follow the line you go somewhere, you are not going round and round. Nature is not going to release you so simply. You have to work at it and work at it and work at it; otherwise you must be happy doing the circle. A circle also can be described as a circus! If you become conscious, the whole thing looks like a circus.
If you are not conscious, you can only see three feet in front of you, then it’s all real. If you can see the whole circle of your life, suddenly it becomes like a circus. Once you realize this circus, you don’t want to go through the circus again and again. Only if your vision is too limited you can see only three feet in front of you, everything is real for you. If you open up and see the whole circle the way you’re going, it looks like a circus and definitely you don’t want it to continue forever, you want to do something about it. So, these cycles, these repetitive cycles of compulsiveness are coming because there are various types of memories in the system.
Any Information essentially means memory. How do you carry information? Only by memory, there is no other way. Either in your head or in a computer, it doesn’t matter, you can carry information only by memory. There is a huge volume of memory: Karmic memory, Genetic memory, mental and psychological memory, every kind. If this memory was not there, your body wouldn’t even take a form. Your body knows that it has to take this form. When you were in your mother’s womb, so many billions of people on the planet, everybody took this form, 2 legs, 2 hands, 2 eyes etc. If the memory was not there, we do not know what form it would have taken. It never ever happened that a woman delivered an elephant or a lion or something else. It never ever happened, because there is memory. If the memory is not there, this could have taken on any form. So, you have retained your physical form the way it is only because of memory.
Memory means always that which is past. If information that you carry, which is memory is the only thing which determines the nature of who you are right now; that means you are past or life is past you. There is no real life; it’s just a play of memory. If you go and watch movie in a theatre, it’s so big and so real, more real than a real, it becomes a bigger reality than reality because it’s so exaggerated. But all this is just memory being played out. It’s recorded in a film or a digital format or whichever way, it’s just memory, it’s already over.
Even in your mind, your thoughts, your emotions, your compulsions as to what you like, what you don’t like, whom you love, whom you don’t love, this is all by memory isn’t it? It’s already past. Yesterday you loved somebody with that memory you’re living today. Yesterday you disliked somebody, with that memory you’re living today. So, you’re trying to live that which is over. If you try to live that which is over, that ‘which is’ will bypass you.
Final Thoughts: SADHANA
So, yoga means to liberate yourself from that information which determines who I am right now. That information which determines the color of my skin, that information which determines the shape of my body, that information should not determine how I think, how I feel, how I experience my life, but unfortunately it is. If you become down/sad, that information does not determine how you are right now, then, you are moving into YOGA.
Daily working, daily morning sadhana is just this to slowly, gradually, to create distance from that information. You don’t have to lose it or forget it. If you forget, you will once again do the same idiotic things all over again. Never ever forget! The more unpleasant your life has been, the more you should never forget! This is not about forgetfulness, but being able to carry. Memory is still there, but not compulsively working through you. When you want it consciously, you can activate it; otherwise it lies there. Then once that freedom comes, memory is not a problem. When memory is playing up all the time, it will not allow you to experience what is today, it will not allow you any possibility of life, it will just keep on playing that you are like a broken record, just going on the same thing. Which will not allow you any perception unless you begin to perceive life in larger and larger doses. There is really no experience of life, just mind playing over and over, same record.
So, Yoga means breaking this cycle and nature will not release you from that just like that! It needs a certain amount of work. If you want to be just like that released, then you have to release yourself from the body itself. Staying in the body, which is the way it is only because of its memory and not being a part of that memory. It is the foundations of information that we carry which is constructed this body the way it is to live in it and not to be of it, will not come easy. It’s not difficult though, but it needs to be worked at. The SADHANA is just about this. However simple the sadhana is, every day if it is worked at, slowly you can see a certain level of freedom happening within yourself step-by-step, maybe inch-by-inch, maybe micro-millimeter by micro-millimeter. But nobody can say it is not releasing you, it will slowly release you. If you want to go rapidly, lot more to do. You don’t mind going slowly, something to do.