Origin of Yoga: Yoking to the Truth
The term Yoga, derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj” which means “ to unite” or “to yoke”. Yoga specifically refers to disciplined practices to achieve the goal of uniting ones self with the true nature of a human being or the essential truth of life (Satya). This absolute reality, of which there can only be one, is the very meaning of truth and the basis of all Yogic discipline.
Masters of Yoga recognized the existence of this reality (Satya) and understood that Life itself, was the manifestation of this truth. They understood that their existence and ability to experience life was directly connected to a universal divinity. Evident by the existence of an immense diversity of living beings, all with a sole common desire to expand and proliferate the experience of life, as well as, fervently resist and struggle against death. Simply put, all living things cherish life above all else and the experience of Life is at the root of fulfillment.
This profound insight led Yogis to question humans current expression of life and the quest of ultimate fulfillment. Was there a greater potential for an individual to experience more life? Was there an unending feeling of fulfillment? Was the individual fully realizing their capabilities or was there more? And, of course, the main query: what was the purpose of this human life and our role towards all living beings?
The Yogis set their gaze inward towards their inner being, as this was the only source of reality they knew. They realized that any other inquiry would be futile since there is no better channel to investigate than your own life experience.
Our Power and Reason
Human beings only true power is our power of attention. All accomplishments arise from focused attention. Compared to other living beings we are physically vulnerable and weak. Our power of attention has allowed us to dominate ALL other creatures despite this fact. They observed that Life itself was dependent on the power of attention. The Yogis observed that devoted attention upon anything would produce an expansion and growth of that entity. To raise a newborn baby requires constant attention from its mother in order to survive and thrive. Only from this do they grow into a healthy, mature adult with unlimited ability and potential. They logically concluded, that whatever we put our attention on would not only grow, but also expand its potential exponentially.
With the belief that attention is a human beings greatest power, the Yogi turned his attention upon himself through inquiry and mediation on the very nature of what it meant to be human. By diligently using the power of attention to observe the mechanics and intricacies of living, from the subtlest to densest qualities of existence, the Yogi sought to find the undeniable commonality all living beings share. This, he believed, would lead him to the origin of life and in turn the essence of the absolute reality he wished to fully embody.
The Absolute Reality of Life
Whether we are aware of it or not, when we identify something as living we are referring to specific and unique characteristics that are inherent in all living things despite the vast diversity of life we observe and the plethora of differences that distinguish one life from another. There is a universal meaning of Life, beyond debate or opinion, which is defined by Yoga as the innate experience of Consciousness, Energy, and Matter that all living things share.
Consciousness or Chit in Sanskrit refers to the all-pervading sense of being aware of ones own existence and attributing that awareness to a singular identification of self. All living things have an intrinsic awareness that they are alive. It is this sense of being that is at the foundation of experiencing Life that comes before purpose, personality, name, or even appearance. For example, when our consciousness traverses levels of lucidness in the process of sleeping, dreaming, and waking, our identification with our being is never lost. Even though we are not aware of our material world in the sleep state, evidenced by the fact that we cannot control or predict events in the dream state, we always awake immediately with a sense of being even though the things we typically identify with as “ME” (ie. our body, our name, our personality) were not consciously experienced.. It cannot be denied that there is a universal consciousness that pervades all that exists and emanates a sense of awareness that we all share. However, it distinguishes oneself from another and provides the backdrop of experience.
Energy (life-force )or Prana in Sanskrit is the animating force that governs the life -sustaining energy .Prana is the substratum power of the universe that generates the movement essential to creation. It is an energy that occurs from the vibration of two opposing forces (Prana and Apana) which are always in constant, ceaseless motion, rising and falling like waves on an ocean. Acknowledged as the original source of power that created the universe through an infinite cosmic respiration, Prana is constantly expanding and contracting to create the pulsation of movement.. For life on Earth, the greatest concentration of this infinite Prana is absorbed and assimilated through the respiration of breath. This is not the air or the oxygen that is breathed- but, just as important, it is the influx and efflux of the life-force that rides the breath. This life force that rides the breath is the catalyst for all life, pervading the body to movement, the mind to thought, and the vital energy of Prana itself to pulsate within embodiment.
Matter or Pancha Tattva in Sankrit, meaning “ the five elements “ indicates the composition and quality of all matter, from the subtlest to grossest forms. According to Yoga, all matter, whether it be a human body or a massive planet, is comprised of five primal elements known as earth (prithvi), water (apas), fire (agni), air (vayu), and space (akash). These building blocks of physical creation are the result of the vibrational power of Prana, refracting into particular qualities such as a white light illuminates the colors of the spectrum when passed through a prism. These five distinct subtle vibrations produce the substratum of all physical diversity. The quality and form of the physical matter depends on the density and frequency of the vibrations.
Fulfilling our Ultimate Potential
With great excitement and heroic fervor, the Yogis placed their attention upon Consciousness (Chit), Energy (Prana), and Matter (Tattva), asserting that a profound potential was not only available but natural for every living thing. They believed that there was no need for religion dogma, faith, or belief since everyone could prove for themselves that they in fact are conscious of their own being,( a living and breathing life-force referred to as Prana)manifested in a distinct embodiment. They believed they had found the binding universal reality of life and as such, opened a doorway to a collective sense of purpose which all humanity could strive to achieve.
As the experience of life began to grow in them; they realized that life was not limited to the physical plane, but something larger, which connected them to a divine intelligence. This process of opening up to the indwelling energy was observed and perceived through attention coupled with yogic processes. The enormous expansion of Consciousness (Chit), Energy (Prana), and Matter (Tattva) transcended the Yogi to the highest levels of bliss and fulfillment. Once fully experienced, this cultivated energy purified and transmuted everything. The human existence transformed into a pure transubstantiated body of light endowed with supernormal capacities otherwise known as the Divine Body (Divya Deha). In this body, the Yogi could carry out all benevolent and altruistic acts for the betterment of all life forms while fully embodying all the divine qualities that a human being possesses.
A human being’s most precious possession is the life they’ve been given. We did not ask for it, we did not pay for it, but we were given it with a purpose to uphold. The meaning of Life, and the journey of Yoga, is to experience the greatest fulfillment life has to offer and insure that this fulfillment can be experienced by all living thing. This is the Truth.