“Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”
There are flashes of insight that supersede the accumulated personality of who we believe we are. These transcendental moments give us access to the eternality of love and the limitless potential of human spirit. The practice of yoga gives you access to both the highlights and the lowlights of your being and in doing so carves the path toward ultimate freedom. There is no successful trajectory towards final liberation that does not involve the hard work of shining the light of your own awareness on all the sleeping places within your consciousness.
While devotion to the spiritual path assures practitioners of many such instances of peaceful realization, there will nevertheless be moments where a freight train seems to run through the best intentions and wreak havoc on the goal in mind. Stemming from old habit patterns latently stored within the subconscious mind, self-sabotaging train wreck scenarios deploy from the depths of a distant past and surface despite all our well-intended efforts to keep them at bay. Until the key issue fueling the steaming train of suffering within is confronted and ultimately resolved the issues will continue to appear throughout life like nightmare figures derailing the progress we hope to accomplish. There are patterns and issues so deeply held within each of us that the “samskara” layers its mess over many repetitive cycles. These closed circuit loops recreate the same story of suffering over generations and incarnations unless the core issues is quite literally brought to light.
In the philosophy of yoga it is stated that the “real” world is actually an illusory world of conditioned existence call “Maya” in Sanskrit, which is liked to a dream reflecting the inner state of mind. Part of the dream of reality includes the illusion of time and space, the belief in the individual ego and personality and pain, suffering, obstacles and ignorance. These are experienced as real, but in essence are not real. Empty, devoid of meaning other than which we assign to it, the world of mind and matter is merely a reflection of a deeper truth hidden from view. The only true reality is the subtle luminosity that hides under the emanations that populate the “real” world. Much effort along the path of yoga involves delineating the individual soul or “Purusha” from the manifest world of illusion, know as “Prakrti”. The belief in the illusion of materiality stems from a misidentification that the soul makes with the external world as being the source of life.
Suffering experienced in the world is felt as real while simultaneously there is a deeper peace within. In fact pain in the world of conditioned existence is the only way out of the false belief in its eternality. For when misery stems occurs it is essentially a key that opens a door to true heartfelt spiritual yearning. The practice of yoga asks you to take every pain and every joy that arises as a clue to help you deconstruct the code of “reality” and find the latent interface below. Once you begin to see through the illusion of Prakrtic world into the true nature of being there is a chance to gain lasting freedom. Traditional yoga philosophy postulates that we have more than one lifetime and that our patterns, both good and bad, accumulate over the transmigrations of the soul across millennia. It is this larger lifecycle pattern that we hope to transform from cycles of pain into pathways toward liberation. Painful life experiences that stem from a blockage in the subconscious mind will recreate the same unfortunate scenario until the core issues is resolved. If you do not find resolution in this lifetime you will carry you “work” over to the next. The end of a lifetime in the philosophy of yoga is not an escape, but a chance to reset the karmic wheel and try again.
The first step along the path of yoga is not brilliant illumination. Instead it is a humble acceptance that our best efforts may only lead to a lessening of old painful patterns. If we are diligent, enthusiastic and committed to our practice we can reshape the habit pattern of the mind to think better feeling thoughts. By reprogramming the subconscious strata within the yogi’s mind becomes more clear, peaceful and free. The ability to live a better life, that is a life more free from suffering and more filled with love, indicates progress along the spiritual path. While not every yoga practitioners can attain total liberation in this lifetime, every student of yoga can dig deep within the subconscious mind and excavate sleeping demons only to befriend them and ultimately find some true relief from the poison of conditioned existence. There are few chosen souls who will rise to a level beyond all the suffering of the world of illusion. We have these saints as true teachers of all time. But for us who are perhaps just beginning our journey a humble wish that we can hope for is to think less painful thoughts, to live a more peaceful life and to dream a better dream in the precious few moments we have left to share.