Svadyaya – Study of the Self

5 November 2008 0 Comment(s)

Self study in yoga is not about finding reasons for the way we are. It is not about digging into the past and finding out all the whys. This would be self analysis! The invitation however, is to leave the world of cause and effect, justifying or blaming all the events that have happened for the way things are. The question is not “why” this happened? “Why” am I here? But rather “to whom” it happened and “who” is here. We are invited to ask the question “Who am I?”

How do you answer the question “who am I”? Do you start by saying your name? Then your family status? Your gender? Your occupation? If you were asked to go beyond these definitions, what would you say? Human being? If you were told that none of the definitions you think you have can describe who you are, what would you think? Your mind will try very hard to find the right answer…But this question cannot be answered by the mind because the mind can only tell you “words”. The answer to the question “who am I?” cannot be described in words, it cannot be told. The answer is recognition; a realization, a remembering or an awakening.

Once you realize yourself, the journey of wholeness begins. This awakening is the initiation to the road of healing and purity. This healing, rather than healing physical, mental or emotional wounds, is about transcending them and rising above them. It’s about admitting their existence, letting go of our resistance to them and knowing that in the core of our being – which is beyond our body, feelings, emotions and thoughts – we remain untouched by them. This realization marks the start of a journey into eternity, a never ending path to freedom and peace.

From this point on we cease to be an individual with a beginning and an end. We cease to be one who tries to cram as much purpose and activity in life while letting it pass by in the process. We realize that our life’s purpose is to feel what we feel, do what we do and say what we say at any given time. What you are is exactly what the universe requires at any precise moment; “the now of the past, the now of now and the now of the future”.

Knowing this as a piece of information will make no difference in our being and the perception of our lives. But the realization of it, the knowledge of it, will result in a level of unconditional self-love and compassion which cannot otherwise be achieved. Anything goes, all is included and nothing is thrown away as trash in the manifestation of this love. Whatever you’re feeling, you’re thinking, you’re doing or you’re saying, all of it is required now and you – just as you are – are serving the entire cosmos just by living life in your unique way. When I say that, friends tell me this belief is dangerous! They say that by believing that one will stop wanting to better oneself and there will be no motif for self improvement. My answer is that this is not a belief, if you just believe it, you’ve added another string of words to the encyclopaedia in your brain but; if you come to know it with your entire being and not just with your mind, you’ll know that improvement and growth are what will happen organically and effortlessly. In fact, self-love, compassion and acceptance are the necessary ground for growth. The pain endured by the lack of self-acceptance – which is rooted in the ignorance of who we are – is familiar for many of us. No matter how much we improve or achieve, we are still not really satisfied with who we become. True self-acceptance is not a fruit of action, but of recognizing our true self; only then can we truly love ourselves and be compassionate.

Every time we feel shame, guilt and disappointment, we fight life and in that, fight ourselves. We fight existence with our resistance and, we try to stop these feelings passing through. We become shameful of our shame, guilty of our guilt and disappointed at our disappointment.

“Know thyself” and see as Rumi puts it that:

If we come to sleep, we are His drowsy ones.
And if we come to wake, we are in His hands.
If we come to weeping, we are His cloud full of raindrops.
And if we come to laughing, we are His lighting in that moment.
If we come to anger and battle, it is the reflection of His wrath.
And if we come to peace and pardon, it is the reflection of His love.
Who are we in this complicated world?

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