This is the ultimate goal and promise of all Yogic Scriptures.
I remember a time thinking, I have the “perfect” life, so why am I still unhappy? I felt so tired of filling myself up with temporary things to bring flashes of happiness & excitement, only to be followed by sadness and lack. The world wasn’t giving me answers to the questions I so deeply wanted answered. I remember thinking at 21, “is this what life is all about?” I so longed for something more. That more and so much more, came to me when I started learning the teachings of Yoga.
All this reflection came over the last 4 days where we spent time in the tea hills of the Nilgiri Mountains with the most beautiful and conducive backdrop to truly “retreat” in its deeper meaning- to withdraw from the outer world and give time and space to look inward. We spent this time studying a Yoga scripture called the Amritabindu Upanishad (the essence of immortality) that felt like a summation of all the teachings I have learnt up until now, and it made me look back and realize just how far I have come to understand life in a completely different perspective. I don’t think I would even recognize my 21 year old self, and can’t imagine where I would be now if I didn’t find this path and my Guru.
The eternal peace that yoga offers is the bait that keeps me going. Despite the hard work, perseverance, commitment and ruthless self-reflection and acceptance it takes, this promise of eternal peace makes it all worth it. Someone asked at the retreat, “if it takes life times and so much work, is it even worth it?”. My Guru replied, “Only a few in 8 billion people are billionaires, but we all still dream of becoming rich”. It’s not just a pipe dream either. Working towards this eternal inner peace (enlightenment) has revealed to me so much more peace, confidence, clarity, assurance and strength to deal with my current reality.
Studying the Amritabindu Upanishad was a great reminder that Yoga is a step by step process towards this inner peace. There is so much wisdom backed in just 22 verses, but these are the top 3 I felt most compelled to share, and I will continue to write more on each in later posts.
Verse 1: The mind is primarily spoken to be of two types only, pure and impure. The impure mind is that which is possessed of kama (binding desire), and the pure is that which is devoid of Kama (binding desire).
Practical tips from this:
All yoga techniques are ultimately designed to work on the mind. ***note: not just stretching the body
A “pure” thought is something that will lead you to liberation, an “impure” thought is something that will bring limitation, so try your best to move towards liberating thoughts.
The mind is just an apparatus/tool to lead you to Eternal inner peace- You already ARE that Eternal peace. Example: The mind is like a boat to take you across the river, when you get to the other side, you do not take the boat with you. Don’t get stuck in the boat (analyzing all the thoughts as an answer to solve the problem).
Kama: A binding desire is something that fills your inner vacuum (the feeling of lack that consciously and unconsciously draws us to externals to make us feel whole)
The mind becomes pure when we remove the Kama (binding desire) out of the equation.
Verse 2: It is indeed the mind alone that is the cause of bondage and liberation. The mind that is attached to sense-objects leads to bondage, while disassociated from sense-objects it tends to lead to liberation.
Practical tips from this:
Again it reminds us that it is the MIND alone that we need to transform and that the mind is just the tool that will lead us to liberation (eternal inner peace)
Sense objects are never ending and comprise of our likes, dislikes, wants, distractions etc, and create the many identities we have of ourselves in our mind.
Yoga is a process of peeling back the layers of all these identities created to reveal our true nature (Eternal Inner Peace)
Sense objects (all externals) are transient by nature: come and go- rationally it makes no sense to cling to these things as it creates a cycle of happiness seeking and sadness avoiding, rather focus on the permanence of the SELF within.
One way to do this is through Vairagya or detachment: letting go of the objects and moving closer to the subject (YOU)= Abhyasa (Practice of elevating yourself) We can think about this simply as, “filling up your own cup from inside, not outside.
How will we know if we are progressing? External dependencies should reduce on all levels, mind, emotions, physically, materialistically. As well as less blaming others for your problems because you have gained inner self sufficiency.
Verse 3: Since Liberation is predicated of the mind devoid of desire for sense-objects, therefore, the mind should always be made free of such desire by the seeker of liberation.
Practical tips from this:
Liberation happens when we can peel back all the layers that are based in external identity until all that is left to be revealed is our true nature
Therefore we should constantly be reminding ourselves of our true nature as we go about playing the roles in the external world
Play your roles but don’t let them become your identity, your true nature is that of the Self (Eternal inner peace)
Life is the best “school” to teach us to move away from the external and towards our true nature because life & people are the greatest experience givers.
Our path needs to be from Bhoga to Yoga= only experiencing vs. experiencing and using it for liberation.
Discernment is knowing what to choose at any given moment and the best question to ask yourself is, “will this (thought, action, object etc.) liberate me, or limit me?”
As always studying such scriptures inspire me so much to dig deeper into my own practice. Making the commitment to come to India each year to be with my teacher is an essential part of my growth and development as a seeker and student on the path of Yoga. Every time I get to study with him I am blessed with life lessons and experiences that deepens my faith, brings clarity and understanding and fulfills my longing to keep diving deeper into the vast teachings of yoga. My passion to share with you all stems from these incredible blessings.