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Yogacharya

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The Need For a Life Path

Yoga has always been a highest life path of humanity. But in modern times, the word “yoga” and its teachings have been usurped in various bits and pieces by so many people with a wide range of viewpoints and intentions, that often what is being taught as “yoga” now would be literally unrecognizable by the ancient masters of this profound system …





A perfect illustration of this point came to me just this afternoon, at a lecture by the eminent physician and yoga expert, Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani. During his discourse on the therapeutic use of yoga, he referred to the modern approach to yoga therapy as “Yog-Opathy,” or the irresistible tendency today to view yoga primarily through the filter of the allopathic medical model – to approach yoga as little more than an exotic form of physiotherapy.

… See Dr. Ananda’s article entitled, “Yoga Therapy, or Yogopathy?”

This short-sightedness by many modern yoga enthusiasts neglects yoga’s considerably broader perspective on the human being, and its profound methodology for gaining genuine health, wellbeing, and ultimately transcendence.

But those who have taken the time to properly study yoga know that it is much more than just a group of practices that deal with a singular dimension of our being. To realize all of what yoga is, and all that it has in store for us, we need to be aware that yoga itself is not merely a set of practices and principles.

It is a “life path” – a well carved, well trodden trail through the realm of human existence, with numerous conduits, passageways, and avenues, which altogether give rise to a marvellous and awe-inspiring spectrum of human experience.

It is that “life path,” that trail with all its tangents and intertwining routes, which remains a constant marker for the upward, human evolutionary journey.

The Guiding Light of Yoga

Just as one who wanders through a dense forest cannot hope find their way without some guidance; in the dark and chaotic jungle of human existence, with all of its illusions, enticements and dancing shadows, the one without an experienced guide will surely become hopelessly lost.

The ancient masters knew this, and so, in times of old, structures were interwoven into the fabric of societies to ensure that even the common person could lead a relatively happy, healthy and harmonious life without falling into darkness and spiritual decline.

The civilizations of old were supported upon a firm foundation of morality and ethics by which the average person lived. These safeguards ensured a life lived in accordance with higher principles, such as respect for all beings and all of nature. They called for virtue, honesty, and selflessness, and recognized the evolutionary value of restraining our animal passions.

On one hand, this foundation afforded ample opportunity for spiritual advancement for those who were so inclined to delve deeper into the mysteries of life; on the other, it prevented, as much as possible, a further slide backward down the ladder of evolution for those who remained consumed primarily with worldly life.

Those safeguards, however, are gone now. Modern societies have pushed the importance of so-called “morality” to the very basement of significance, and as a result, today’s world has developed into a chaotic array of “anything and everything goes.”

The Need for Direction

Westerners in particular have been reared right from the very beginning of life with a strong sense of individualism. “Going it alone,” “looking out for number one,” and “doing it my own way” are the common attitudes now, from which a smugness arises at the notion of “following” anything.

The usual approach to life today consists of “leading one’s self” through the murky sea of the modern-day world — although where exactly everybody is heading is anyone’s guess.

The fact that so many people prefer to blindly feel their way through all manner of human indignities and humiliations, rather than to be set right by another whose experiences may be of invaluable assistance, to me, is terribly sad.

What an unfortunate state to which we have “devolved” as human beings, where a life path is often seen as a burden rather than what it truly is — a blessing. Humanity continues to spiral into further and further states of confusion, to stride forth blindly into the sea of fantasy and to stumble farther and farther away from the light of truth.

The irony of it all is that we tend to think that civilization is moving forward – that because we are building more sophisticated machines and gadgets, and automating our lives with rapidly advancing technology, that we, as beings, must therefore also be evolving.

This is pure delusion – precisely the same form of madness that has led to the downfall of all so-called “sophisticated” societies in the past. But we don’t have to keep following this course. We have the ability to lead higher lives; to step out of the rat race and instead tread upon a more dignified life path – one that will release us from our ignorance and sorrows, and lead us to genuine, lasting peace and prosperity.

The need for a life path today, perhaps more than any other time in history, is unquestionable; a path by which one can set their self upon a higher course is an essential for anyone who truly wants to rise above the quagmire of the modern material life.

The path of yoga provides a well-carved route to this higher destination. I don’t mean yoga simply as a routine of twisting and bending and propping yourself into weird positions with new-age yoga accessories; but yoga as a “path of perfect living” – one that will guide you deep within your unknown self to uncover your full, divine potential.



About the Author:

Yogacharya is the director of International Yogalayam, and Editor of The Yoga News


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