Raja Yoga

raja-yoga-02Exploring the roots of yoga is like digging into the earth only to find an entire underground forest, a rich system of interlinking, interwoven paths, traditions, and teachings. There is just so much there.

Among the many paths, there is one thing deeper than any path. Is somehow we all share the same underlying reality. The same love, whatever that is, that grows the flowers, and everything in this universe. That which beats our hearts and allows for this incredible experience of life. What that is, why, and how may be pondered, but that we all share this mystery is our common ground. The essence of some underlying truth. It doesn’t belong to any one school, practice, teacher or doctrine… it is simply there to be found like a diamond if you dig.

And this discovery process is the beginning of true joy and the end of suffering. Philosophy cannot produce the joy of this discovery, only lead you towards it. It is something we need to discover for ourselves in our experience. Funny enough, this is not something we seem to think is available to us in our modern lifestyle. We do not seem to consciously put it on our to-do lists, “Car wash, check. Pick-up the kids, check. Discover my true nature….  nah not today.” Instead, we seem to settle simply for symptom relief, and carry on carrying on. Maybe because as a concept it seems big or out of the ordinary. Maybe it seems like there would be too much to give up, or it just sounds weird, but it is possible to discover what we are already and the ensuing peace of that discovery. Not only possible, but ultimately it is what we are truly wanting, but didn’t know it. Every time we seek happiness, we are seeking the truth. Modern society obviously does not have the answers to our problems. Stress and depression have not been decreasing no matter how much research the academics are doing. Yoga is on the rise, but a lot of the yoga is simply exercise, and although it has an echo of what yoga really is, it doesn’t put a stop to our suffering in the ways that it could.

However there is more for us here in this lifetime. It is possible to see that we do not have to give up everything, and become beatific and wear robes in order to discover it. Right now, right here, in the middle of our messy lives, we can wake up to the sweetest thing. It is possible and it is available to anyone no matter what the circumstance. For some it comes all of a sudden, and for many it is like a slow coming to one’s senses, but either way, this fruit of what yoga was always meant to be is available. The key to unlocking the door, so to speak, is to desire it. To wake up and claim the desire to know our ultimate potential for well being in this lifetime. To not settle for any less.

This is what yoga has always really been about. It has very little to do with accomplishing complex yoga postures. Much sweeter than trying to accomplish something, it’s a letting go process. A release, an unlearning in such a way that what is already shining in you can simply come out to play. Yoga in this sense, is a goal. That is what raja (royal) yoga means. To discover the King/Queen inside that is already there. The one who knows what is best, how to move with the moment… the one who is no different than any Buddha, and never short of the mark. To discover this is the highest bliss and through the methods of yoga, we can use different kinds of practices to realize this.

Hopefully this lengthy explanation does not leave you as confused as I have been at times, trying to understand the complex root system of the many kinds of yoga. May it instead leave you inspired to explore from the array to help you in the discovery process.

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