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Lesson 240 - Regarding One’s Highest Ideal

From: Yogani
Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:56pm

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

Q: Should one practise yoga only if the desire is for enlightenment? Enlightenment is definitely a difficult thing to understand for a layman in wordily life. Maybe more understanding about it and the desire to achieve it will develop as the yoga practices go on. But anyone will want to live a life with a healthy body and peaceful mind. Can they practise yoga if they have no desire of getting 'enlightened?'

A student will want to overcome the pressures of daily commitments successfully and progress in his academics, and his immediate concern is not enlightenment -- he may not even be aware that such a thing exists. Can't he use yoga just to help him develop a sound body and mind?

Can one have their highest ideal as a happy life with healthy body and peaceful mind, instead of enlightenment? Can one practise yoga just for this, setting it as their highest ideal, not resisting the devotion for enlightenment though, if and when it develops?

A: Yes, any reason (ideal) for doing practices is a good reason. The result will be the same -- purification and opening of the nervous system, and there are many practical benefits that come from that. All that is necessary is a desire to advance toward something we believe yoga can help with. Then daily practices can be sustained. 

With practices such as deep meditation and spinal breathing pranayama, the nervous system opens to the light within, and the desires gradually becomes colored by that. Then bhakti evolves naturally toward a more divine longing. It is not something we can invent. It happens as we become a purer vehicle for the bliss that resides within us. 

We start where we are, with whatever our aspirations may be, and go from there. As you point out, there are plenty of reasons to do yoga besides an ultimate objective of enlightenment. Saints, in fact, don't aim for enlightenment at all. They constantly crave union with their Divine Beloved! The student craves a diploma, and the rest of us crave good health and success in our daily endeavors. All of these are good reasons to do yoga practices. 

Everyone has their own ideal that can be used as inspiration for yoga. As the ideal is fulfilled, enlightenment is the by-product. We don't even have to know what enlightenment is. With practices it will come – more and more inner peace, creativity and happiness.

The guru is in you.

Note: For detailed instructions on employing desire and action on our spiritual path, see the AYP Bhakti and Karma Yoga book, and AYP Plus.

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