Tuesday, January 24, 2017

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 the wounds of modern living.
            Modern people know that they are distressed about life. Society’s remedy is the presumption that pragmatic solutions, politics, and a newer model are always the preferred rescue to life’s dilemmas. Entranced by them, we are caught by defending that it’s our destiny to use them as universal resolutions to life’s issues.
            For society’s sake, yoga poses a critique of these 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, this visitor eschews temporary palliatives. Five year renovation plans are not endorsed. Instead, a different tack: an applied philosophy of virtuous agendas, that only reveals their meaning in the act of performance. More, an investigation into human consciousness whereby the one probes 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 her or his soul has found all the worlds,
can achieve all desires.”
            Yoga views one’s aggravation with life as stemming from a profound ignorance, mostly self-imposed, if you will, and so thick at times with confusion. Yet that very feeling of constraint inspires yoga, for this ancient visitor traces the root problem of unhappiness not to the world but to one’s stressful ignorance about the truth of spirit.
            Annoying or not, pain can spur emancipation. Life’s afflictions can have an ironic impact: they goad a desperate search for release. Yoga, addressing someone as a patient too long in the hospital of fitful society, who finally gets sick of being sick, primes that fundamental appetite for liberation, moksa. My sense of constraint 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, with diminishing 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 quest for spirit. One cannot think pious thoughts or quote perennial remarks of Sages to get there. Rather embark upon a body-mind praxis of integrating your inner world of awareness with all  levels of Nature and life as you go about making your mark in the society. Familiarity with the world can profit feasible knowledge and temporal success; yet when combined with systematic self-exploration, one can develop tranquil confidence that leaves one undisturbed amidst the flux of culture. Time and eternity, like every antithesis in life, find their crossroads in the human heart.
            The mystery of history and the cosmos, the principles of matter and energy, the archetypes and evolution of creation, become discernible to one’s persistence. These manageable truths arrive not by the route of abstract analysis, but only as a comprehensor---evamvit---one who verifies in person.
            The gradual 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 and seductions of society, expanding with its 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 rises within, whereby one leaves aside conventional thoughts, fond images and fancies. A fresh 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. With meditation’s host companion, contemplation, Nature’s transitions of matter and form, body and soul, the individual and society, the past as well as the future, even death—every apparent contradiction and dichotomy now becomes comprehensible. You, the virtuous person of self-knowledge knows the oneness in the immense diversity by fearlessly uniting with 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, you decide which font to water the tree of your life.
            So whispers the Upanishads.


At January 24, 2017 at 8:34 AM , Blogger slumbull said...

Timely indeed.

At July 6, 2017 at 6:55 AM , Blogger Eliz Harris said...

Dear Swami Jaidev,
Having practiced yoga for thirty-some years, having lived in (and been humbled by) India for some of those, having discovered Swami Rama's and your books, and -- especially -- having children and a relatively gregarious nature, I struggle with finding a balance between the inner and outer lives. I would be grateful for any advice/direction on this vast topic, especially around motherhood... thank you!


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