Yoga brings about transformation as we become more conscious of how we act, move, think and breathe. Once we stop being on autopilot, something starts to shift. In today’s literature there are many self-help books with a lot of emphasis on changing our personality. There are many techniques available that help one to achieve the desired results, behaviour, relationships. Although they are great and have helped millions, some only create change within the dimension of personality. The character changes and is able, with a lot of practice, to become different, acquire new skills and new, more positive beliefs. The ultimate goal of yoga though, is not about changing the character, from having one set of traits to another. The ultimate goal of yoga is transformation; it is real alchemy where dust turns to gold. With transformation, the old ceases to exist completely and the new is born. In yoga, it is our identity that transforms from being one of the character/personality to that of the intelligence, life force which moves all – without which any character can read, write, talk, breathe…
This transformation has been likened to the caterpillar becoming a butterfly, the only difference in our case is that there is no need to become. We already are IT. We already are the ultimate goal, a butterfly, but we insist on believing we are caterpillars.
Every Human being’s essential nature is perfect and faultless, but after years of immersion in the world we easily forget our roots and take on a counterfeit nature (Lao Tzu)
Transformation can occur instantly in any moment, every second/millisecond. All it required is a shift of the mind’s focus from a lie to the truth. The ego makes us believe that we are caterpillars and hence act like one. How can a butterfly believing it’s a caterpillar, fly? It has no wings!! Through yogic practices we understand the mind, we learn to focus it. We start seeing the patterns of thoughts entering the mind, its effect on our emotions. We start recognizing when we are thinking and acting a lie and believing we are less than we truly are. This transformation which is not a ‘becoming’ occurs when the mind sees through the veil of this lie. What do we need to do to see that we are butterflies? We only need to stop believing we’re caterpillars! The more we re-mind (new mind) ourselves of who we are, the more we start living and operating from our true identity which is not the same as acting from a changed character with traits we believe are better or more virtuous. Only through this transformation can we surrender the character and allow it to be used in whatever manner it is fit. That means a total allowing to let the character experience life in ‘every way’ life sees fit. One minute the experience is perceived as a negative nature, the next it would a positive one. In any case, if the character with all its sensations, emotions and, in its totality, is handed back to life as one of its resources, the ‘personal’ experience of life starts to dissolve. So we live life as usual, making choices, doing things according to our likes and dislikes, knowing that all the actions, choices, results are what the intelligence sees fit. Guilt, shame, greed, jealousy, pride, stress and everything we want to change and take away from the personality disappear when we know we are not our personality!!!
I ‘personally’ find using mantras as a great way to turning the mind’s gaze to truth. I have used and still use the traditional mantras and have experienced their immense power, but for the purpose of this article I take a mantra to be a sentence or a word (even a line from a poem) that can switch the mind to the truth. In the same way that in hypnosis, a tap, a phrase or a movement is used to take someone in and out of trance repeating sentences or a word that resonate with you can turn the mind’s gaze immediately. I don’t necessarily mean repeating the same mantra a few hundred times – although it is immensely valuable – I mean it to be used as a reminder whenever it is needed throughout the day. One day, you might find yourself having to remind yourself ten times and another day one hundred, depending on the pull of the events and how much power they have to sway the mind from its course (the Truth). The ones with the strongest pull, the ones that entrap us and keep us believing we are the personality for longer periods, sprout from our samskaras. These events are the ones that are attached strongly to our desires and they seem to be the ones being repeated over and over again. This pattern will repeat itself until regardless of the pull, regardless of all temptations, the mind which has realized there is more peace in Truth, manages not to take the bite on the apple.
I remember that after choosing a mantra that meant ‘There is nothing worth worshipping but the one intelligence that governs all from within and without’, I saw how many times we choose to worship (without realizing) our time, health, image, plans and so many other idols that we choose second after second, leaving us feel tired and empty without a sense of true satisfaction. As I went through my day, repeating my mantra at different times the importance of what I was focusing on dropped and I could carry on doing whatever I was doing without tension or sense of constricting urgency. The moment stress strikes and negativity engulfs us, that is the moment to use our mantra, that is the moment to turn to Truth, that is the moment to see the wings!! We live our lives in a society where most people believe to be caterpillars, we talk like one, act like one so that we can converse, exchange ideas…we’re actually really good at fitting in, as we’ve done it right from the moment we were born, we imitated to relate, to truly enter the world.
Although necessary, there comes a time when the truth needs to be known. The ugly duck cannot carry on not knowing who he is for long or life can be really tough!!! At one point the duck stops to be and a swan is born. You see all and everything has always been pointing to truth, there was never an ugly duck in the first place; he and everyone around him only believed he was!!! Whenever negativity comes, you’ve simply forgotten – use a mantra, use a mirror, use a question like ‘who am I’ and know that this transformation takes a millisecond and a willing and relaxed mind.