Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Forgotten Remedy for Modern Ills

There is an ancient story about a man who was pierced by a poisoned arrow. His companions immediately wanted to fetch a physician from a nearby village. The victim would not hear of it. Instead, before permitting medical aid or the removal of the arrow, he obliged his concerned friends to inquire first about the name of the archer, his town and family circumstances. Next, the victim instructed them to find out the type of construction of the bow and the materials used in the arrows. Furthermore, he mentioned….but then he died. The same plight afflicts modern living.
         Modern people know that they are busy about life, but are they going about their business with optimum awareness? Society’s wound is the presumption that pragmatic solutions are the preferred answer to life’s dilemmas. Like the storied victim, one prolongs his or her injury by readily pursuing new versions. Unknowingly, reliance on these concoctions only weakens recovery. Entranced by them, we are caught by arguing that it our destiny to find the universal resolutions to life’s issues in the same way.
         For society’s sake, yoga poses a critique of the vicissitudes of culture. Whenever people become complacent or discouraged with their current level of civilization, yoga quietly insists upon a special feature of human nature.
         “There is a bridge between time and eternity; and this bridge is the human spirit.
         Neither day nor night cross that bridge, nor old age, nor death nor sorrow.”
         Yoga sees humans embroiled in a world of ineluctable change and needless suffering. Starting from this inescapable condition, yoga refuses temporary palliatives. Five year renovation plans are not endorsed. Instead, a different tack: an applied philosophy of virtuous agendas, that only reveals its meaning in the act of performance.  More, an investigation of human consciousness whereby the mind probes as its chief tool living awareness itself; self-probing self, an inner alchemy of spirit.
         “It is this spirit that we must find and know; one must find his or her own soul.
         Who has found and knows their soul has found all the worlds, can achieve all desires.”
         Yoga views one’s aggravation with life as stemming from a profound ignorance, self-imposed, if you will, and so thick at times with confusion. That feeling of bondage inspired yoga, for it traces the root problem of living to one’s stressful ignorance about the truth of spirit.
         Yet pain can spur emancipation. Life’s afflictions can have an ironic impact: suffering goads a desperate search for liberation. Addressing someone as a patient too long in the hospital of society who finally gets sick of being sick, yoga primes that fundamental appetite for liberation, moksa. My sense of bondage beckons this ancient visitor to make his rounds and dispense his remedies.
         Highly optimistic, with centuries of practitioners to embody its claim, yoga insists that one’s normal state is healthful, serene, and beyond all suffering. The key to this epiphany, as well as the lessening of society’s turmoil, lies in one’s ability to restore through practical experience the unlimited vision of his or her spirit. One cannot think pious thoughts or quote perennial remarks of sages to get there. You must do it to yourself: a spiritual praxis of integrating your inner world of awareness on all its levels as you go about making your mark in the society. Familiarity with the world alone may profit feasible knowledge and temporal success; yet combined with a systematic self-exploration, one can develop tranquil confidence that leaves one undisturbed in performing amidst the flux of culture. Time and eternity, like every antithesis in life, find their crossroads in the human spirit.
         The mystery of history and the cosmos, the principles of matter and energy, the archetypes of creation, are discernable to one’s persistence. These manageable truths beckon not by the route of abstract analysis, but as a comprehensor---evamvit---one who verifies in person.
         The discovery of oneself as the inner center of the universe awakens through the methodology of non-discursive meditation, dhyana. Meditation widens the scope of abiding intuition. Like a concentrated spaceship plunging above earth’s gravitational pull, your mind moves past the attractions of society, entering into the silent inner space to sight hidden galaxies of wonder and knowledge.
         “When the vision of reason is clear, and in steadiness the soul is in harmony; when the    world of sound and other senses are begone, and the spirit has risen above passion and hate, magic can happen…”
         An unlearning process expands within, leaving aside conventual thoughts, fond images and fancies, inner awareness ensues to go its natural way. Gradually, a strange paradox takes shape: the more one recedes inward, the more one comes forth to encompass the world daily at large without anxiety. Through meditation’s companion, contemplation, Nature’s unfolding of matter and form, body and soul, the individual and society, the past as well as the future, even life and death—every apparent contradiction and dichotomy becomes discernable. The virtuous person of self-knowledge knows the oneness in the immense diversity by absorbing it.
         “When one dwells in the solitude of silence, and meditation and contemplation are companions; when too much food does not disturb health, when freedom from excessive passion is one’s constant will…and selfishness, violence and arrogance are diminished; when lust and anger and greediness are foreign, and freedom from possessiveness reigns, then one has risen on the mountain of the highest---worthy to be one with the Divine.”

As for the future of human culture, we decide which font to water the tree of our life.