The whole idea of spiritual life is based on pure, simple principles. The most appropriate principle has been mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita in the form of samatvam yoga ucchate – “Yoga is finding balance and equilibrium within oneself.” This equilibrium is the balance between what is attainable and not attainable, between the perfectible and the not perfectible, between that which gives happiness and that which gives unhappiness. It is the balance between the two polarities of life. This is the first stepping-stone of spiritual life. The idea of balance does not end as long as there is life, for life is an expression of paradoxes from birth to death. Until the time of death, one has to find the strength to experience balance. One has to find the strength to live harmoniously. Living harmoniously means with awareness of the body: health and illness, with awareness of the mind: the pulls of the mind, and with the awareness of trying to find harmony and peace.
The discovery of harmony and peace constitutes the foundation stone of spiritual life. People say yoga begins with asana or other techniques. People say spiritual life begins with discipline. However, from the facts, ideas and experiences of the teachers and masters, the real spiritual life is developed and experienced when one begins to take control over the fluctuating states of the body and mind, and brings about balance in their expression.
You have to make the effort, you have to make the attempt to find this harmony in thinking, in behaviour, in action, in living, in the environment, at home, in your profession. The different practices of yoga do help, but realization of spiritual life begins with balancing oneself. Therefore, as a beginner or an advanced student, one always has to try to find this harmony in action, in non-action, in pain and pleasure, in happiness and discomfort. This is the ultimate test of human spiritual effort.
28 April 2006, Ganga Darshan, published in On the Wings of the Swan, Volume VI