We are in a constant search for that which completes us. We often look outward for such a reward, but the truth is that it is within us. We are whole, as we are. Our circumstance may change, and we may find ourselves looking outward toward materialism, toward experiences that create the illusion of wholeness. This is what the Niyama of Santosha gifts us, the ability to be where we are and with contended optimism and that we are enough, and whole as we are.
The Eight Fold Path is a map for us; no matter our spiritual beliefs it gives a guide. A direction. Over the past few months, we have explored the path. Everything that sets up a space and a place for us to access Samadhi, or at least create a connection to the unity of all or rather taps us into the collective unconscious in the words of Carl Jung.
As many spiritual and historical figures the Buddha provided us with some insight, Patanjali translated that into the Yoga Sutras. Yoga means yoke or Union; the intention is to connect us with a sense that is beyond our ego and our illusions. A connection of depth that is available to anyone. I appreciate Desikachar for the fact that he believed that the Yogic path needn’t apply to a certain spiritual faith but has a practical application regardless of faith or the lack there of.
In the Dhammapada the Buddha says in verse 170 “Look on the world as some bubble; look on it as a mirage…” He continues in verse 171 “Come look at the world! Is it not like a painted royal chariot? The wise see through it, but not the immature.”
When we see things as they are, our perceptions and respond with a sense of responsibility, we can release ourselves from suffering. We can mature and attain wisdom.
The Buddha continues in verses 345-346, “Fetters of wood, rope or even iron, say the wise, are not as strong as selfish attachment to wealth and family. Such fetters drag us down and are hard to break. Break them by overcoming selfish desires, and turn from the world of sensory pleasure without a backward glance.” This isn’t to say we shouldn’t love our family or take care of our possessions but to practice the Yama of Aparigraha, non-grasping attachment.
Break them by overcoming selfish desires, and turn from the world of sensory pleasure without a backward glance.
These verses provide us a direction toward Samadhi. The Yamas (codes of conduct), the Niyamas (observances), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (focus), Dhyana (meditation) and though some of these practices may be performed out of order they are intended to bring us closer to Samadhi.
The final limb of the path is Samadhi. Through Samadhi we can break through the illusions, and go to the place of equanimity and balance. We can find our authentic nature, beyond our perceptions. When we access deep meditation we are able to be truly present, and allow our inner guides, our inner guru, our inner light to lead us toward the place of oneness and connection to all. When we are connected to the infinite, we can move beyond the illusion of happiness which is a fleeting sensation and attain contentment. A sustainable and attainable place of presence and positive regard.