Jun 13, 2020
One of the most comforting things about Yoga, is that its entire ensemble of techniques and principles is not manufactured by anyone. It is not a religion nor a belief system. It is simply a codification and synthesis of the laws of the universe, and especially the operation of the human organism. The original name of this Universal Order was “Sanata Dharma” (everlasting law/truth). In the same way that the law of gravity was discovered, the forebearers of this tradition discovered the law by which the human body and mind operated. This is why Yoga works. It does not impose, nor ask us to submit to a dogma that isn’t grounded in the reality and mechanisms of the natural world. It doesn’t even offer any values that we do not already have. The values of a well functioning body, mind, relationships, and society are all intrinsic to humans in the exact same way that avoiding pain is. No one has to talk anybody into the fact that sticking their hand in a fire is not a recipe for a good life. The entire cannon of Yoga is a composite of millennia of innumerable beings that dedicated their lives to the painstaking discoveries that we now inherit. The very fact that these truths have survived the ravages of time, is itself impressive enough to win our attention over. It is a toolkit, and like a toolkit, it serves the individual. The methods of Yoga have no need of themselves. There is no Yoga without a person. Triangle poses don’t walk around on the streets, and meditation doesn’t happen without a meditator. Yoga becomes a religion only if we presume that the service should be extended toward it, instead of toward ourselves. It is a toolkit that helps squeeze out a better life experience, even in the midst of unavoidable environmental constraints. The ability to confront the perils and stresses of modern life, rests only upon the knowledge we possess. This is knowledge about the most complex feature of the known Universe, the Human Being. The story of the “2nd arrow” in the Buddhist tradition stipulates that the only distance between pain and suffering, lies in the skills we possess in dealing with IT.
It is often remarked in the greater meditation community that “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”. There can hardly be a more true statement. What fortunate circumstance can anyone be imagined to inhabit, where no amount of discomfort can be expected to assault them. How realistic is it to come to terms with what being alive means, where aging, disease, and hardships can be evaded?
So the question that all the great thinkers of the past have put forward, really comes back not so much to how can pain be avoided, but quite the opposite to, how can pain be tolerated. The reality of asking the right question, is that it forces you to understand what is actually in within your reach. What lever can you really pull, and what actions are really within your control. To understand that human beings are impermanent, and that our loved ones will not be around forever, gives us a much better ability and recourse to treasure the limited time with them that we do have. So instead of resisting what is inevitable, we can embrace and take advantage of what is truly possible.