Positivity in Life

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

If there are two piles, one of gold and one of dirt, which one will you choose? The gold one. If there is only one pile in which the dirt and gold are mixed, what will you do? Separate the gold from the dirt and take the gold. Can you do that with yourself? The personality is a combination of both rubbish and gold. Generally people are affected by the rubbish and ignore the gold.

It is for this reason that, despite having so much to give, so much to receive and so many positive qualities within, we identify with the negative. Separating the negative from the positive and selecting and holding onto the positive is the purpose of yoga. It is that purpose which has to be fulfilled in life. When it comes to individual development and perception, the awareness must be deepened in such a way that we are aware of the grime or dirt, the negative, as well as the beautiful, the positive. Rejection of the negative and connection with the positive has to take place. This is not only an intellectual concept, it is something one has to imbibe in life. After all, why do we react in life? Why do we desire one thing and not another? Reactions are a result of identification with the negativity and the dislikes. Actions follow positivity. This awareness has to dawn and develop.

It is not meditation that is important, it is not the performance of a posture or asana that is important. After all, how long can we practise postures? As long as we are fit, but when we are unfit asanas have no relevance. How long can we practise meditation? As long as there is the desire, and if there is no desire there is no meditation. How long can we practise yoga? As long as there is the desire, and if there is no desire one leaves yoga. If we are just going to revolve around our likes and dislikes, actions and reactions, desires and rejections, all our life, it means we have not learned the lesson. The lesson is to bring out the positivity. That positivity has to be expressed in every situation whether it is an exam, a human relationship, social living or reclusive living. This is the understanding that yoga tries to give. It cannot be an intellectual understanding. It has to be an experiential understanding of the process which leads to development of the self, and this infuses one with contentment, peace and tranquillity.

You go through various experiences, some good, some bad. Whenever you react it is a bad experience and whenever you accept and act it is a positive experience. This positivity and acceptance has to be the focus in life if you want to succeed. If this focus is lost then do not claim to be a practitioner of yoga. You can only claim to be a practitioner of asana, or a practitioner of meditation.

Change has to come from within. This is not a momentary gain. Rather we are looking at a gain of positivity in life, a gain of fulfilment and satisfaction. The satisfaction or fulfilment we experience within is due to harmony, which is both external and internal. If you identify only with the inner experience, with the inner state of happiness, and there is reaction in external attitudes, behaviour, relationships and communication, then that experience can never be complete. That is the true meaning of the word yoga. In the third sutra of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali discusses being established in one's own nature as the seer, the drashta. To be established in one's own nature means there has to be harmony, there has to be a flow of life. This flow of life, this harmony, optimism and balance does not encounter and is not affected by blocks.

The example is the flowing river. If there is a big rock on the river bed, the river simply flows around it and carries on with its journey. The river does not come into conflict with the immovable object. It is this lesson that you all need to learn because, frankly speaking, personal attainment is only a selfish subjective attainment. That attainment can be lost at any time. It is easy to attain and also easy to lose because life follows a principle of give and take. That is the flow of life with which yoga identifies.

At this stage yoga becomes a way of life. In the beginning yoga is a practice, then it becomes a way of life. When it becomes a way of life identification with and expression of the balanced, positive and optimistic nature takes place and then one attains physical health, mental health and spiritual wealth.

Ganga Darshan, January 28, 2002