Yoga – an Introduction
OM Poornamadah Poornamidam Poornaat Poornamudachyate Poornasya Poornamaadaya Poornamevavashishyate
This is full. That is full. Even though this fullness came out of that fullness, all that remains is fullness itself.
This Truth was revealed to the Rishis. It expresses the wisdom of the universe underlying all aspects of creation from the tiniest atom to the mightiest galaxies; whatever comes out of the fullness that is God, is also fullness itself and doesn’t in anyway diminish the fullness of the whole. A baby coming to life is fullness itself, but the fullness of the baby does not diminish the fullness of the mother. An apple tree is fullness itself. The apples that spring from it are fullness itself, and so are the seeds in the apple. And this doesn’t in anyway diminish the fullness that the tree is. All of creation is a manifestation of this Truth.
The word YOGA, which means “union,” is highly suggestive. It reminds us that the goal and purpose of life is to realize that we are Sampoorna – Fullness or Divinity Itself, One with the Supreme Consciousness, Brahman. From ancient times this has been the experience of all the Enlightened Beings. All the Scriptures attempt to awaken us to this Truth. The expression of this experience is called Scriptures and the philosophy and practice that leads to this experience is called Yoga and Vedanta.
The purpose of Sampoorna Yoga™ is to bring this ancient experience into the modern life of people of today.
Each individual is as full as the fullness, the pure consciousness from which he comes. Yet, as this pure consciousness functions through the limited equipment of body, mind, intellect and senses, human beings perceive themselves as finite, limited and incomplete, which reflects as confusion and madness in the world. In order to fill the inner void and find happiness, fullness and freedom, people spend their lives acquiring and hoarding. They feel that the more they can acquire and grab for themselves, the more secure they will be. Throughout history, examples abound of those with unimaginable wealth, power and pleasures but who failed to find everlasting fulfillment. Solomon, the Emperors of China, the Egyptian pharaohs and so many others had this experience. Even in the Scriptures there are examples of individuals like Ravana, who had conquered the three worlds. Yet they remained unfulfilled because this kind of experience can only bring temporary happiness. In spite of those illustrious examples, most people think they will succeed where others have failed. They continuously run in the wrong direction, striving to find fulfillment in objects, relationships, success and pleasure in the outer world. More is never enough. They fail to see that, “at the end of the rat race, the rat is still a rat…!”
How do you get out of this collective hypnosis? The Scriptures instruct that you do this by, “refining and harmonizing the three bodies and five sheaths through which the soul functions to experience the world of objects, emotions and thoughts.” This powerful technology of the human body, senses, mind, intellect and self-awareness has been given to us to accelerate our evolution and uplift our consciousness by transforming our whole personality from the gross to the subtlest level. However, without proper understanding and guidance, this technology can be misused to degrade consciousness very rapidly. Through a process of constant refinement, an ordinary human being can evolve into a divine being in one lifetime. That is why the Sages say, “to be born as a human being is a very special privilege, a true blessing.”
The more the equipment through which the Self functions becomes transparent, the more the Divine Light will shine through. Perfection or fullness is not to be acquired. It is already there. All we have to do is remove the veil that keeps us from experiencing it. This is the real objective of yoga as outlined in the Scriptures. This objective is tremendously accelerated through the practice of Sampoorna Yoga™.
Many people in the West have been mislead into believing that yoga is just doing postures, developing strength and flexibility, getting more power and becoming more attractive. This misunderstanding takes them in the opposite direction of the true meaning of yoga. It leads to inflation of the ego and increased identification with the body, thus further thickening the veil. But their mistake is not really surprising. From the time we are born, we are conditioned to identify with the body, the mind, the intellect, the world of names and forms, not realizing that the fruits we get are as illusory and fleeting as the mirage of an oasis in the desert. Becoming aware of this wrong programming is the first step. Willingness to get rid of it in order to evolve into something higher is the second step, and this will create a new movement in our consciousness and relationship with the world. Yearning and restlessness are bound to appear, but that stage is much higher than a state of dullness, blindness and delusion.
You may be born into a favorable environment. You may have the yearning to understand the mysteries and purpose of life. And you may have the desire to unfold your highest potential. But all these blessings are not enough to take you to the goal of perfection. Until you meet your Guru, there is no way to experience the ultimate fullness, which is our true nature. That is why even the great incarnations had a Guru: Sage Vashistha instructed Rama; Arjuna was taught by Krishna; and John the Baptist initiated Jesus.
In the mundane life, we find it natural – someone who has an earnest desire to become a pianist, a dancer or a surgeon, for example, wants to study with a teacher experienced in that particular field and to imbibe his teachings. That person will serve as a reference and a model and the pupil will be willing to follow the disciplines. Imagine how much more imperative it is to have a spiritual guide on the inner journey when so many years of wrong conditioning have to be erased! The mere presence of the Guru creates an upward movement in consciousness. He knows how to guide the seeker around the pitfalls on the path. That is why all the Scriptures emphasize Satsanga, the need to associate as often and as long as possible with Enlightened Beings who are established in the experience of their fullness and divinity. According to Shankaracharya, a great sage of the 6th century, a human birth, the longing for liberation, and a Guru to guide you, are the three greatest blessings in life.
Yoga is a journey, a grand adventure. Before competitors in the America’s Cup set out on their journey, they have to be familiar with their ship, know the laws that govern the seas and have reliable charts to navigate safely. They are not setting out on uncharted waters. Their predecessors handed them all the knowledge they need. Then, they can commence their journey.
It is the same with yoga. Although the path to self-realization is an inner journey, it is by no means uncharted territory. You can walk a well-traveled path, equipped with knowledge made available to you by the Sages of the past and present. They have already acquired full knowledge of the universal laws that govern the human embodiment and the universe, both manifest and unmanifest, that will best assist you in attaining your goal.
“O traveler, wake up! There is no time for sleep any more!”
(Extract from Yogi Hari’s Book “Sampoorna Yoga™”)