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All the important texts on Yoga lay great emphasis on sadhana or abhyasa (constant practice). Sadhana is not just a theoretical study of Yoga texts. It is a spiritual endeavour, Oil seeds must be pressed to yield oil. Wood must be heated to ignite it and bring out the hidden fire within. In the same way, the sadhaka must by constant practice light the divine flame within himself.


"The young, the old, the extremely aged, even the sick and the infirm obtain perfection in Yoga by constant practice. Success will follow him who practises, not him who practises not. Success in Yoga is not obtained by the mere theoretical reading of sacred texts. Success is not obtained by wearing the dress of a yogi or a sanyasi (a recluse), nor by talking about it. Constant practice alone is the secret of success. Verily, there is no doubt of this.'

'As by learning the alphabet one can, through practice, master all the sciences, so by thoroughly practising first physical training one acquires the knowledge of Truth (Tattva Jnana), that is the real nature of the human soul as being identical with the Supreme Spirit pervading the Universe.' – (Gheranda Samhita, chapter I, Verse 5.)

It is by the co-ordinated and concentrated efforts of his body, senses, mind, reason and Self that a man obtains the prize of inner peace and fulfils the quest of his soul to meet his Maker. The supreme adventure in a man's life is his journey back to his Creator. To reach the goal he needs well developed and co-ordinated functioning of his body, senses, mind, reason and Self. If the effort is not co-ordinated, he fails in his adventure. In the third valli (chapter) of the first part of the Kathopanisad, Yama (the God of Death) explains this Yoga to the seeker Nachiketa by way of the parable of the individual in a chariot.

'Know the Atman (Self) as the Lord in a chariot, reason as the charioteer and mind as the reins. The senses, they say, are the horses, and their objects of desire are the pastures. The Self, when united with the senses and the mind, the wise call the Enjoyer [Bhoktr). The undiscriminating can never rein in his mind; his senses are like the vicious horses of a charioteer. The discriminating ever controls his mind: his senses are like disciplined horses. The undiscriminating becomes unmindful, ever impure; he does not reach the goal, wandering from one body to another. The discriminating becomes mindful, ever pure; he reaches the goal and is never reborn. The man who has a discriminating charioteer to rein in his mind reaches the end of the journey - the Supreme Abode of the everlasting Spirit.

' The senses are more powerful than the objects of desire. Greater than the senses is the mind, higher than the mind is the reason and superior to reason is He—the Spirit in all. Discipline yourself by the Self and destroy your deceptive enemy in the shape of desire. {Bhagavad Gita, Chapter III, verses 42-43')

To realise this not only constant practice is demanded but also renunciation. As regards renunciation, the question arises as to what one should renounce. The yogi does not renounce the world, for that would mean renouncing the Creator. The yogi renounces all that takes him away from the Lord. He renounces his own desires, knowing that all inspiration and right action come from the Lord. He renounces those who oppose the work of the Lord, those who spread demonic ideas and who merely talk of moral values but do not practise them.

The yogi does not renounce action. He cuts the bonds that tie himself to his actions by dedicating their fruits either to the Lord or to humanity. He believes that it is his privilege to do his duty and that he has no right to the fruits of his actions.

While others are asleep when duty calls and wake up only to claim their rights, the yogi is fully awake to his duty, but asleep over his rights. Hence it is said that in the night of all beings the disciplined and tranquil man wakes to the light.

 

Written by Conrad Howard — November 22, 2012

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