This month’s Yoga International has a wonderful article titled “The Legacy of the Sages.” This article traces all forms of yoga and their expansion from East to West. It starts generally and then moves to two sages in particular- Swami Rama and Patanjali. There are two gems in this article I thought very powerful. I hope they hold some meaning for you as well.
Swami Rama writes that, before coming to the West, he told his master that the lifestyle, habits and cultural values of the people of the East and West are quite different and asked, “How can I deliver the message of the sages of ancient India to the people of the West?”
His master replied, “Though these cultures live in the same world with the same purpose in life, they are each extreme. Both East and West are still doing experiments on the right way of living. Extremes will not help humanity to attain the higher step to civilization for which we are striving. Inner strength, cheerfulness, and selfless service are the basic principles of life…
Patanjali made a conclusive discovery: a confused mind is not fit to follow any path… The mind is often run by uncontrolled and aimless thoughts, feelings, and desires. It is influenced by preconceived notions, prejudices, and preoccupations, and is driven by the demands of our ego and the cravings of the senses. As a result, the mind continually drifts from one state to another- from disturbance to distraction to stupefication and back again, becoming depleted in the process. The mind’s clarity and sharpness become veiled. Its capacity to understand the difference between right and wrong, healthy and unhealthy, is compromised… As this happens, we become more and more dependent on outside sources to guide us, and on utside forces to heal and nourish us. According to Patanjali, therefore, inner healing and positive change, both within and without, are dependent on mastery over our mind. The essence of yoga lies in gaining this mastery.