Yoga is a Science that Deals with Body, Breath, Mind, Soul,
and Ultimately, the Universe Itself
(Sankhya and the Yoga Sutras)
By Swami Rama
What does Yoga science mean to you? When people talk about Yoga they often think it has something to do with the physical being only. Yoga is a science that deals with body, breath, mind, soul, and ultimately, the universe itself. It is both practical and theoretical.
Patanjali* is not trying to teach any particular religion to you. Yoga is not a new religion, nor does it condemn any religion. Yoga does not teach that if you are Jewish, you should become Catholic, or if you are Catholic, you should become Hindu, or if you are Hindu, you should become Buddhist. All the great religions have come from one source. Religions tell people what to do and what not to do, and provide a set of rules or commandments that are not fully satisfying.
Yoga science does not tell you what to do and what not to do, but teaches you how to be. Yoga science is a science of life that helps you to know the known and unknown parts of life, that helps you to liberate yourself from pains and miseries, and that helps you to attain that state which is free from pains and miseries.
How can someone living in the world practice Yoga science? If you understand the fundamental principles of Yoga science and why Yoga science should be practiced, it will become easy for you to practice. First you have to decide to search. You have to feel the necessity of finding yourself. Yes, I want to know myself. Something is missing, something I could not receive from my church, from my religion. Millions of people, both in the East and in the West, are searching for Truth and Self-realization—or as the religionists put it, God. You may go to church or temple or synagogues, but the questioning mind is still there. Sometimes orthodox religions do not satisfy your needs, so you question life. When your mind questions, it means you are not fully satisfied. Life is a question in front of you. You want to know something more, but you are using this little mind, which is like a yardstick, to measure the vast universe and its mysteries. You do not understand your religion because you do not understand yourself.
The highest of all books is the book of life. Unless you open the book of life, you will not understand the teachings of the scriptures. The scriptures say what to do and what not to do, but you have to learn how to be. All the gates to higher knowledge will be opened to you once you understand yourself. Patanjali offers something to such seekers. Patanjali says the source of knowledge is within you. The world and external knowledge can only inform you and inspire you. To evolve does not mean going toward the external world. Evolution means going back to the source. If you put ten covers around a light, what will happen to the light? The light will be as it is, but it will appear dim to you. You will not be able to see it. If you remove the covers, you will see it clearly. You can compare yourself with the light. Before you go to the source of knowledge within, you have to go through many barriers.
Yoga science does not offer any new religion; it offers a methodology. Through Yoga science you can understand yourself better on all levels, including your physical well-being, your actions, thought process, emotions, and desires. You will also understand how you are related to the world, and how to lead a successful life in the world. Yoga science creates a bridge between the internal and external conditions of life. Yoga is a way of improving yourself, a way of understanding your internal states. Whosoever you are, you have all the potentials within you. Are you aware of this? If you are aware of this, do you know how to use them? Patanjali encourages us to be aware of the potentials that we have and to learn how to use them. This practical science says to explore more and more.
The word Yoga means “unification, to unite with.” You have to unite yourself with the whole. At present you are an individual and you are experiencing miseries. The cause of misery, according to Patanjali, is ignorance. Ignorance is self-created. You can be free from that misery because it has been created by you. It’s as if you constantly slap your face and then say, God help me. It’s as though you blindfold yourself and then say, O Lord of light, of life, and love, give me light. This prayer is in vain.
You have to light your own lamp. No one will give you salvation. I am talking of enlightenment. All individuals have the responsibility to enlighten themselves. Do not think you cannot do it. You have that spark. You are fully equipped. You simply need to discipline yourself. Discipline is not a prison. It simply means practice.
This website is devoted to sharing the teachings
of Swami Rama of the Himalayas