We Need Yoga Too

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Medicine is indispensable for those that are ill. It becomes a must for the patients. Likewise, yoga sadhana is also a must for those who feel something missing from their life, be it physical, mental or personality error of their being.

Yoga sadhana, in fact is a collective name of all those techniques which are deliberately adopted to remove the imperfections of the personality. Man is restless because he feels the absence of virtues in his life. Rather, he is more conscious of his vicious nature and habits which do not permit him to realize his own glorious and powerful self in the image of God himself.

Yoga sadhana is a Hindi word meaning 'practising yoga'. It is indicative of undergoing some self-imposed discipline to weed out physical and mental errors. The disciplinary exercises of yoga are meant to condition the mind, intellect, emotions, body and its group in their proper perspectives.

Doctors who are at home with the science of physiology, anatomy and medicine are available in our society for treatment of the physical body. But very few are available in society, who know the causes and cures of mental, emotional and supra mental disorders. Western psychology, no doubt, is progressing towards this end; it is yet in its infancy.

Let us therefore examine how yoga is an advanced system of psychotherapy too and discuss the points useful from both the spiritual and psychological angles.

When we talk about a man we do not think about his physical body alone. With the thought of the physical figure of a man, there comes at the same time remembrance of the nature of his inner personality also with all the evils and goodness. This idea of inner personality may not be very clear at first-hand but to us a man means definitely his body and appearance along with his virtues, vices and learnings. Thus, when we recollect the qualitative figure of a particular man, it is known as his inner personality which has preferred to make the cave of the physical body its abode.

Sometimes these two personalities of man — the outer and the inner — are not at peace within. A man thinks, speculates, desires, imagines something which is quite alien to his physical habits. He expects and aspires for something which he can never get. He imagines and dreams of what is really beyond his reach. It is here that he begins to develop a nature which causes personality conflict. Unconsciously and unknowingly he becomes a victim of frustration, weak will, indecisiveness, fluctuating emotions and desires, indetermination, inferiority complex, etc. Many other things like environment, wrong advice and guidance of friends, failures at enterprises shatter his personality to pieces. And ultimately he is left behind in the race and competition of success and evolution.

To overcome or compensate these weaknesses, assertion of lower-self (indeed a part of the inner-self) begins to manifest in various wrong points, anti-social and anti-moral.

Success brings confidence and strength, failures weaken the personality in toto. Then what to do? Can man get all he wants and aspires? No, nature cannot allow man to have his own choice in picking pleasures and leaving sorrow and failures. A man born on this earth has to taste life in its entirety. Amidst pains and pleasures he learns the lessons of life.

Life is sweet and painful both, and that is why man loves life. One who has seen the bright light of the day cannot avoid the darkness of the night, nor is it desirable in the interest of man himself. This is the law of nature and she makes no concession. It treats all alike. The wheel of karma must go on rolling and rewarding each physical and mental action of life.

It is therefore very essential to culture and develop the inner personality of man which is still in its period of formation.

It is believed that after passing through 84 lakhs (8.4 million) of births life comes to acquire human form. The various stages through which life passes are mineral, plant, animal and lastly human life. Coming to human life means that matter and the form have reached the stage of perfection. And now the subtle power of inner personality, residing within has to grow and reach the stage of perfection where a man becomes a deva or the superman. The gross, coarse and undeveloped mind of animal life has now to grow more subtle, refined, sensitive, dynamic and all-powerful.

Human life is the most blessed one as it is a signal indicating the beginning and the growth of divine life within. In animal life, we are compelled to learn the use and control of limbs and forms. In human life man learns the use and control of mind, and develops latent mental powers to the extreme.

The potentialities of mind are not known to every man. Man is in fact unaware of the dormant faculties which lie within his reach. These potentialities are just like unexcavated nature-preserves. Through the practice of yoga man unearths the hidden powers of his mind which could be utilized in the following three directions.

  1. for successful living;
  2. for acquiring siddhis, and
  3. for spiritual realization.

The first and the third are desirable and harmless. Through yoga sadhana one acquires equanimity, serenity, one-pointedness of mind and strong determination. He also regains his lost confidence. All these qualities are essential for successful living in all spheres of life, provided one knows how to utilize the energies generated by yoga sadhana.

For acquiring siddhis one has to crush and demolish his whole physical and mental structure by vigorous practices and divert all his mental faculties in toto towards achieving one siddhi only. These siddhis though hard earned, have no permanent value. You cannot utilize them in this world for your own sake nor can you do good to others by its demonstration.

Man is since birth chained with strong iron wires of desires and anadi vasanas. No siddhi can ever cut his bond of ignorance and avidya. Exhaustion of karmas is possible only by one's own effort of sadhana. Through meditation alone past samskaras and bad karma can be burnt. Through the practice of meditation the light of knowledge dawns which burns out all samskaras.

Yoga sadhana is good for self-realization, because all generated and unconsumed energies of mind and emotions are directed towards one healthy end – the realization of the Supreme Self, which is the ultimate goal of life. All emotions and mental powers are thus deposited in the safe account of self-realization. But for proper practice of yoga an adept's advice and guidance is always necessary for a beginner, otherwise he may get lost in psychic wilderness.

—Printed in YOGA Vol. 7, No. 9 (September 1969)