Attaining the Highest – One Step at a Time
The word “yoga” literally means “union.” When you experience everything as one in your consciousness, then you are in yoga. To attain to that unity within you there are many ways. Hatha yoga, for example, is one where you start with the body.
The body has its own attitudes, its own ego, and its own nature. Apart from your mind, do you see, your body has its own ego? You have to succumb to it, isn’t it? See, you say, “From tomorrow, I want to get up at five in the morning and walk.” You set the alarm. The alarm rings. You want to get up but your body says, “Shut up and sleep.” Doesn’t it do it? It has its own way. So we start with the body. Hatha yoga is a way of working with the body, disciplining the body, purifying the body, preparing the body for higher levels of energy. All of us are alive; all of us are human beings, sitting here. But all of us do not experience life to the same intensity because our energy levels are not the same. Our pranic energies are not the same. Different people experience life in different levels of intensity.
For example, somebody sees a tree. A tree is just a tree. Most people don’t even see it. Somebody sees the tree in more detail. An artist sees every shade of it. Somebody else not only sees the tree but also sees the Divine in it. Everybody sees. But seeing is not the same because the level of intensity with which you experience life is not the same. So we start with the body because that is something that you know.
The whole process of yoga is to take you from something that you know and take the next step into the unknown. If you talk about something that you do not know, either you have to believe it or disbelieve it, isn’t it? Suppose I start talking about God. You either have to believe my God or disbelieve my God, which will only take you into flights of imagination, not into growth. If you talk about something not known to you, you are only going into imagination. Imagination will run wild. Today all that is left in the name of religion is stories, stories and more stories. Now you don’t know which is imagination and which is the reality. Yes? Many stories - story inside a story, and you don’t know where the beginning is and where the end is.
So now I talk about the body. This is something that you know. Now you take the body to its peak. Now I talk about the mind. That is also something that you know. Take it to its peak and then the next step. You can only grow by taking the next step, the next step, and the next step from where you are. Realizing where you are right now and taking the next step is growth.
So yoga starts like this – with the body, then the breath and then the mind. Now we have made this yogic science almost like a physical science. Suppose you mix two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen; you get water. Even when a great scientist puts it together it is water. Even if an idiot puts it together, it is only water. Similarly, in yoga too, if you do this, this, and this, only this will happen. Whether a great yogi does it or an ignorant person does it, it doesn’t matter. If he does the practices and sadhana properly, the result is there to be seen.
So, in yoga, these systems have been identified. To start with, you work with the body, then you move to the breath, then to the mind, then to the inner self. Like this many steps have been created. They are only different aspects. They are not really branches of yoga. In fact, we address all of them at once. It is important that in a very balanced way all of them are addressed at once, as one unit. Otherwise, if you work just with the body, it is only preparatory in nature. So, there is really no division as such. Yoga is a union of all these.
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