Tag Archives: wisdom

The Spiritual Side of Yoga: Introduction

“When (the yogi’s consciousness) pervades all things

by (his) desire to precieve, then why speak much?

He will experience it for himself.”


One of my goals in writing about Indian philosophy is to clear up some of the New Age misunderstandings, which, though they carry some grain truth, are only adding fuel to the fire of materialism, selfishness and corruption that is the hallmark of our age. Not that there is anything wrong with wanting a better life for ourselves, but to increase our own inner power at the expense of the outer world is incompatible with with truly gaining a better life. Incomplete notions of many of the key concepts of Indian philosophy (such as purity, karma ,the cycle of birth and death, and even the role of Mother Nature (Shakti) in our lives) is causing a subtle backlash from people who have interest in yoga but can see only the materialistic side that often collides with their own experience and understanding. I grow tired of hearing all the pseudo-philosophies that are so tirelessly spread through the western yoga communities.

Tantra is especially susceptible to abuse. For this reason it has attracted me for several years. Little of what I saw in the west made much sense to me: the manuals of Kundalini Yoga, Pranayama, meditation, hatha yoga, raja yoga, posters for tantric couples retreats, or whatever it might be. If enlightenment comes by grace, then none of these things matter.

And what is enlightenment anyways? These days I just imagine it as a deep wisdom. We have all met people with this deeper wisdom. We too have acted with it a time or two, it’s just not art of our everyday life. We’re generally acting on a whole different realm from wisdom. Wisdom is even scorned as foolishness these days. Everyone has the potential for this sort of wisdom, it’s there, but too often we get caught up in the power of knowledge as we climb.

I don’t claim to have anything figured out, my writing is merely my way of trying to put the pieces together for myself. In a way, you can say I’m even writing for myself as much as for you. The conflicts that arise in my work is much more of a conflict that is happening inside of myself rather than some conflict I might have with anyone else’s path. Freedom is an uncompromising path that we are all on, and though there are several manuals out there that will lead us to right action, nobody can agree on their meaning so everyone just searches for freedom where they want it to be.

Most people these days are looking for material acquisition to give them freedom. This is the abode of earthly things and is ruled over by Karma and Kama (action and desire). On this path we are tied to our actions, things and common desires. The powers (of Shakti) we gain in order to increase our material standing in society only serve to bind us more tightly to Karma and Kama. The point is, we have little freedom when we align our lives with the material world. Our inner life remains just fluctuating as the waves on the ocean or the wind in the trees.

If we want freedom we have to go to the source of the power by directing our energy inward. Your true self is the source! That moment of intent that arises before we do, think or say anything is the source of all things. When we learn to relate with this inner consciousness, our innate wisdom, then we have learned how to use our freedom; then we become free to act rather than remaining bound to react.

The problem is that most of us are just floating thru life going wherever the tide of our karma takes us. Life in the modern world can be incredibly easy if we allow it to just carry us, but at some point most people figure out that it isn’t very much fun. The real fun is in the choice, that way we know we will always get what we want. Real fun is living a self directed life. Accepting our karma is one thing, but rising above it is quite another. Most people are quite happy with the former while only a few people strive for the later. The true power of yoga isn’t in the power at all, its in the true freedom choice over how to use that power.

Traditional Living: The path of wisdom

Adavasi: In India this word is used to describe people who come from traditional societies living without modern convenience or codified natural law. They are tribal people outside of the caste system because they do not follow or fit with the social laws and customs prevalent in the land. “They live like animals,” I am told. They are the tribals. They are free and they are despised for it. They have no law in writing to tell them that murder, for example, is bad, and no group within their society is designated to punish murders in a certain way, but everyone knows that murderers will always receive their just reward for the bad feels caused by their action, by karma, by mind and/or by lifestyle. There is no reason to codify such punishments, and to call the following of these codes justice does a grave disservice to justice.

Adavasi society follows the ways of the wise: the laws of human nature and the natural law that abounds, but never it does not create laws or seek to order nature. The wise know that justice is inherent in the natural order of things; and the justice meted out by man is only part of the natural justice. There’s really no need to force the issue, for the wise know that force will only create more karma. It’s best to leave matters to those involved; let them deal with their own karma’s.

The warriors, of course, have always wanted to force such issues and have little patience for the counsel of the wise. The merchants too have dismissed the words of the wise and have little regard for the karmic value of the goods and services they provide to keep everything moving. And the labourers have never had much time for the wise, they are just doing all those structural tasks that are so vital for the functioning of the whole.

Meanwhile everyone knows that the warriors have too much heat for making clear decisions and that the merchants and too shortsighted to act in even their own best interest. But wisdom is easy to recognize but hard to follow so the merchants and the warriors have teamed up to give us the good life; civilized life: a shortsighted, materialistic comfortable life.

But everyone keeps asking why technology has not made our lives easier? Why with so much material wealth are so many people still starving? Why, with such information and knowledge that we have today, are people becoming more ill with more and more madness in the world? Why has is happiness still so elusive? Civilized life might be much more complex and physically comfortable (decadent even), but it is not any better of worse than adavasi life: joy and suffering remain untouched.

Adavasi has merely relinquished responsibility to the highest power rather than pretending that they have any power.

Behold: Life

The true nature of wisdom is that it can’t be shared. Each person has their own wisdom that is tied to their true self. The nature of an artist is to try to share their wisdom when the best they can do is share knowledge. This is certainly more satisfying than sharing mere information, but it’s still never enough. It’s not uncommon for artists to speak about being overcome by a kind of madness when they get into their zone. They don’t really know how it happened or where it came from but here it is: their art; their creation. Wether good or bad, nobel or base, authentic or not, this is what the artist has to show for himself. In many ways we value art more than most things, though not in a monetary sense of course.

When inner values spring forth into the material world we feel the inner value but cannot figure out how to give it value in the material world; it just is. And I think for most artists, once the work is complete, it’s in the past, done, time to move onto the next thing. Perhaps we even fear the stasis of our completed projects. And as much as we may identify with our art, we also seek to distance ourselves from it so that we don’t become identified as the work itself. After all the artist hardly knows how the whole creation was made. A person just sits down to something and gets tinkering with their craft and before they know it, behold: a work of art.

Life is the same. How often people say: “I don’t know how it happened: this happened, then that happened and then I did this, I don’t know why, and then all of a sudden this was the result. I don’t know why I chose this or that, I just did, and now….” Behold: life.

How much do we really know?