Yoga and Archery


There are several aspects of archery that are often related to the practice of yoga.


  First, there is the target.  In yoga the target is the practice of being one pointed, focusing the mind, concentrating and ultimately obtaining the goal of Self-realization or Cosmic Consciousness.  In order to aim at the target, it is necessary to ask yourself, “What do I want.”  Identifying what you want, your desires, enables the mind to see the target more clearly and adjust the aim of your actions as needed.

The next aspect is the arrows which are like your actions.  There are three places the arrows can be.  They can be in the quiver, waiting to be used.  These arrows are related to latent desires that can pop up to be acted upon when circumstances are right.  These can also be results of past actions that take time to be fulfilled.  This is the meaning of the word karma.  Karma means action; it means for every action taken there WILL BE a reaction that results.  This does not necessarily mean BAD; it is simply a reaction, a cause and effect.  The action can be a thought, a word, or a deed.  All will create a reaction of some kind.  A more familiar phrase that relates to this is, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”  It is a universal principle.  So a practice you can do is to be more aware of your thoughts, words, deeds, desires and the possible effects they might have and then to take aim so that they “do no harm.” 

When an arrow comes up from the quiver and taken in hand to shoot, is the time to consider the above points, to be more aware of what you are getting ready to do, whether the action is useful or not useful.  At this point you can still be in control, you still have a choice of what to do, free will.  This is where the greatest amount of practice takes place.  

Once the arrow is shot, is in the air, you have no control.  The action is in play and the reaction will follow.  It will “play out.”  The practice at this point is to accept the consequences and take responsibility even if the results are bad.  In such cases, often we want to blame someone or something else or think, “It is God’s will,” ignoring our role as the actor, the cause.  Accepting and understanding this can help one avoid repeating such actions or avoid causing more negative reactions such as getting mad, jealous,  or feeling guilty.  

Another scenario happens when a desire is fulfilled, the target is hit, and you get what you want.  In this situation the aspect of being attached to the outcome can create more desires or reactions.  You might want to protect what you obtained, or feel proud or superior to others because of an accomplishment.  Such feelings, as well as the negative ones mentioned above associated with unfulfilled desires, can create even more desires or cause difficulty for others, a cycle of karma.  The practice continually must be to be aware – aware of desires, attractions, fears, actions, reactions – and to be responsible.

Another term that can be related to archery is “sin.”  A less familiar definition of the word is found in the Greek language that was used in archery meaning “to miss the mark.”  So instead of thinking of “sin” as doing evil or wrong, think of it as “missing the target” or misunderstanding and notice how the feel of it changes.  Such a change of thought might help us to overcome our mistakes and look for ways to correct them and deal with future actions.   

In yoga teachings four main misunderstandings, called avidya, are identified.  They are:  thinking that the “human self” is  our True, Eternal  Self;  forgetting the temporariness of things; forgetting things that cause temporary happiness usually result in misery; regarding impure things as pure.  These misunderstandings lead to attachments, aversions and fears that create mental disturbances which will need to be addressed in order to meditate.

All have “misunderstood” and come short of  Pure Consciousness.  (compare with Roman’s 3:23)  

In you daily yoga practice, be aware of your arrows, actions.  Consider your choices or aim, your reactions, the effects; take responsibility and strive to understand and be true to yourself.