Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, May 27th 2022
Beginning with Raja Yoga, for Loving God
“I will be able to do these things, no doubt”—this was my reaction to Raja Yoga, by Vivekananda, when I read it for the first time after starting to practice asana and meditation with Mahayogi Yoga Mission; so, I really did not put too much effort, but instead, I tended to believe, “I will be able to do it naturally” or “I am trying this already.” My approach was very dreamy, and self-serving in a way.
As years passed, at some point, I began to think the opposite, that raja yoga was actually something that is very challenging—methodical and demanding—and that it required a lot of constant attention, which is something I did not have or I was not so good at. I tried to put effort toward the practice of it, yet my efforts were inconsistent, fluctuating between periods of trying hard sometimes, and not trying at all, trying one way sometimes, and quickly switching to some other way without persisting on the first way. Consequently, I could not deepen my understanding of these practices or experience enough of an effect to change the way my mind functioned. And I lost enthusiasm, and rather, continued to struggle back and forth greatly.
It was not that many years ago, that I received from Anandamali, “Where There is Love, There is God,” a book of teachings of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, and unexpectedly, something changed completely. I felt as if something wiped away all thoughts, and all that occupied me was the overwhelming feeling of loving God in the form of vibrant and joyful gratitude. This also included a feeling of acceptance of what I had received from Shri Mahayogi. It was as if the block that was causing resistance to loving and being loved was crumbling down—I had never in my life experienced anything like that. This experience made me arrive at the conclusion that loving God is the only happiness that exists, and from that moment on, “loving God” became my aim; my only happiness, what I want to pursue happily and willingly.
Now, the reason why I mentioned about raja yoga is that even though my aim suddenly became clear, nonetheless, as time passed, the feeling of being filled up by loving God, and even of wanting to be filled up by loving God began to wane; and this made me realize the necessity of practicing raja yoga, so that the mind can return to my aim over and over. Raja yoga is to control the mind, it is the work toward establishing the foundation of a steady and tranquil mind, so if I don’t do this intentionally, or if the mind has not learned to function in a way that would be able to sustain this beautiful Love, it is very likely that it will end up where it was before—cluttered and feeling vulnerable, filling up again with the many unnecessary thoughts that occupy the space for loving God.
Recently I have been thinking about the yama (actions in relation to others) and niyama (disciplines in relation to oneself), and I understand that these practices seem to have the purpose of turning thoughts, words and actions toward harmony and respect, both in relationship to oneself and to others, because they help turn the mind toward a more loving way—a way that considers God, or the Truth, as the guide for living. Also, I am beginning to recognize asana is medicine that uses the physical body to restrain the mind and pranayama is medicine to control the prana through the breath; when taken correctly and regularly, these medicines bring the mind toward a type of calmness that cannot be easily affected by triggers that typically direct it otherwise. I feel that through asana and pranayama the mind is shown, without one knowing exactly how, what it means to be closer to God, the perfect Stillness. And, although when I spoke after class, I did not have such a clear sense of what pratyahara meant, and I referred to it as remaining uninvolved or unaffected by ideas or matters that are not God or the Truth itself, I later clarified within myself and began to think that pratyahara, the practice of controlling the senses to the point of becoming undisturbed by the mind’s biased likes and dislikes, must have a very important role in keeping the mind from being distracted from the simplicity and serenity that Shri Mahayogi describes as the essence of God or the Truth.
Anyway, what is different now, and the most important part for me, is that for the first time I feel the need to practice raja yoga for a specific reason and with a purpose that moves me from within: to cultivate loving God. And for that, I need to clear my mind from self-driven ideas and wants that can easily return if I go through daily life without remembering my aim, without acting from the longing for that aim. I really want to prevent my mind from filling itself up with what is not God, or the Truth. For this reason, I would like to remember always, and to act relating my thoughts, words, and actions to my aim of loving God. I truly feel that this is the beginning.
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