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413Yoga: What For?

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Nov 20, 2005
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      by Georg Feuerstein

      You can practice Yoga for all sorts of reasons: to remain fit; to
      stay healthy or recover your health; to balance your nervous system;
      to calm your busy mind, and to live in a more meaningful way. All
      these goals are worthy of our attention and pursuit.

      Yet, traditionally, Yoga has for several millennia been employed as a
      pathway to liberation or enlightenment. Long ago, the masters of Yoga
      recognized that we can never be completely satisfied with life until
      we have found the source of happiness beyond pleasure and pain. Even
      when we are completely fit and healthy, enjoy a relatively balanced
      nervous system, and live in an apparently meaningful way, deep down
      we still feel ill at ease. We just have to dig deep enough to go past
      all the layers of limited satisfaction—the kind of satisfaction that
      depends on having just the right sort of external circumstance. We
      can easily discover whether we are truly content and happy when we
      lose our job, have our marriage break up, or have a good friend
      suddenly turn against us. In the case of a great Yoga master, these
      events will not cause as much as a ripple in his or her mind.

      Upon enlightenment, when consciousness is free from all mental
      conditioning, neither pleasure nor pain will diminish our inner
      freedom. We are pure consciousness and one with the Source of all
      things. This is what the Yoga tradition calls "Self-realization." The
      Self, or Spirit, is superconscious, immortal, eternally free, and
      unspeakably blissful. From a yogic point of view, there is no higher
      attainment than this; nor is there a pursuit more worthy than this.
      For when we have realized our true nature, as pure consciousness,
      whatever we do will be infused with the bliss of Self-realization. We
      are all right in any circumstance, and because of our inner freedom
      and bliss, we can enrich all situations with wisdom and compassion so
      as to benefit other beings.

      Whatever your personal reasons for practicing Yoga may be, it is good
      to bear Yoga's traditional goal in mind. This will prevent you from
      getting stuck with a particular achievement. Yoga seeks to recover
      your full potential.