SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE – WHOLE YOGA :
The UN General Assembly has declared June 21 as International Yoga Day. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his maiden address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014, asked the world leaders to adopt June 21 as Yoga Day. He stated that Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being; a holistic way of life that brings harmony between man and nature and promotes simpler lifestyles. Prime Minister Modi has expressed the hope that by changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, Yoga can help us deal with Climate Change.
WHAT IS YOGA ????
Yoga is a general term for spiritual practices, and spiritual discipline followed for centuries by devotees of both Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism to attain “Higher Consciousness”, liberation from ignorance, release from suffering, and Freedom from Rebirth. It is also one of the six orthodox systems of Indian Philosophy. Patanjali(2nd Century B.C.,) expounded the Theory and the Practice of Yoga called “RAJA YOGA”(Royal Yoga). He stated Yoga Sutras or aphorisms and divided the practice of Yoga into eight stages.
Patanjali considered “SAMADHI” as the highest stage of Yoga practice in which the Yogi, the practitioner of Yoga finds identification of the individual “Consciousness” with the Ultimate Godhead, or the Absolute Reality(often called Brahman). Hindu tradition recognizes three main types of Yoga; JNANA YOGA, the path of wisdom and discrimination, BHAKTI YOGA, the path of Love and Devotion to a personal, or impersonal God, or both, and KARMA YOGA, the path of selfless or unattached action. HATHA YOGA emphasizes physical control, holding body in systematized postures, and the practice of controlled breathing. In Jainism and Buddhism, the emphasis may involve withdrawing from the world, mental concentration without allowing the mind to get distracted by extraneous things. In Indian traditions, the highest meditative state is called “NIRVIKALPAKA SAMADHI”, content less trance that constitutes Liberation or “NIRVANA.”
While Yoga may explain the highest aim or purpose in “LIFE” for most Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, certain physical practices have found their acceptance in the West without any concern for the religious doctrine or the philosophical basis. Even in the Indian tradition, the practice called “JAPA YOGA” which involves the repetition of certain sounds with mystic power or “MANTRAS” is concerned about providing relief to man while coping with “STRESS”, the physical, and mental challenges posed by day-to-day existence in a world where threats to existence come from several known and unknown directions.
The word ‘YOGA’ is related to the Sanskrit word ‘YUGA’ which symbolizes union, or association of entities or events. It may be noted that the problem of human existence is always connected to the TIME and the Place of man’s existence. In the Indian tradition, the events in one’s life are conditioned by the Cyclical Flow of Time, and the time cycles have designated names called “YUGA.” The term ‘YOGA’ is variously used in Indian tradition to describe the ‘YOKE’ which is often seen as a mark or symbol of bondage. ‘Yoke’ is commonly used all over the ancient world where the agricultural practices are similar.
Yoke (Hebrew. motah, an oxbow, a yoke, tsemedh, yoke of oxen; Greek. zeugos, a team and Zygos, yoke) in the literal sense, is a bar of wood so constructed as to unite two animals, usually oxen, enabling them to work in the fields, drawing loads and pulling the plow. For these two chief functions yoke was commonly used all over the ancient world.
The Yoke imposes a burden of its own and can be seen as a sign of bondage and servitude. At the same time, the Yoke provides some relief to the entities that are paired or joined together while they are subject to bondage and servitude for there is sharing of the burden. Man’s existence in the world imposes a burden for man has to constantly find an external source of energy to support his living functions. This burden of ‘Life’ is eased for man is paired with Providence, the term that describes God’s Compassion, Mercy, and Grace. Man is never alone in the toils of his ‘Life.’ I use the term “SPIRITUAL” to describe the nature of a relationship, a partnership, a pairing, “Yoking”, an association, a connection, or bonding between two, or more living entities to find Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in their living experience. For man’s existence is conditioned and is constantly threatened by both internal, and external challenges from known and unknown directions, man has to find comfort and solace by pairing with the Divine Providence.
If spirituality is about finding Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in the living, human condition, the spiritual practice called ‘Yoga’ demands the “YOKING” of man with “The Good Shepherd.” In The New Testament Book of Bible, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Chapter 11, verses 28 to 30 describe the ‘YOGA’ prescribed by Jesus Christ: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In my view, the phrase ‘WHOLE YOGA’ is about establishing humility in the heart and to find rest, comfort, and ease from the burdens of ‘Life’ by accepting the “YOKE” that is Easy and whose burden is ‘Light’.