NIYAMA – the second limb
The niyamas relate to how to conduct your inner life. Again there are are five of them.
- Shaucha – purity, clearness of mind, speech and body
- Santosha – contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one’s circumstances as they are in order to get past or change them, optimism for self
- Tapas – persistence, perseverance, austerity
- Svadhaya – study of Vedas , study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches and actions
- Ishavarapranidhana – contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, True Self, Unchanging Reality, Life etc.)
“purity, clearness of mind, speech and body”
This is a wonderful description of:
LOVE IN ACTION
If I love my life, my inner consciousness will always automatically endeavour to keep my body clean. Just like a cat.
Being clean however goes much further than just the physical body. It is a state within the psyche as this niyama rightly says.
When I am clear within, I will speak more clearly, my intentions are clear and I will also create a crystal clear mind.
My sexuality is clear and I very clearly know what my needs are. I have clear relationships and develop a very astute intelligence, among other aspects.
In other words I lift the VEIL OF AMNESIA that I have hanging of top of my pure psyche, and find out who I really am.
Additionally, I will take care that my environment is clear and clean and that there is a great degree of clarity in my communication as well.
There are many practical things that I can do here, for example:
– I take care that I wash my body regularly and that I wear clean natural clothes; also that I smell nice.
– I sort out the confusion in my head by meditating regularly and by practically attending to those things that cause me to be clouded over.
– I get to the roots of my emotions, which cause me to be unclear and uncertain.
– Once I have done that sufficiently, I find that I can take much clearer and intelligent action in my life.
– I make sure my house is as clean as can be. I check my thoughts and find out where I cause a mess for myself or for others.
– I check my intentions, habits and opinions.
– I am open and listen to other people and communicate with them intelligently.
– I get clear about what I really need, what I want and where I am going in life.
All of these are great exercises that will change my life and all can be done on a daily basis.
In short, I create the ”air” of cleanliness around me everywhere. And I’ll be a joy for others to be around.
Big thumbs up for this shaucha!
“contentment, satisfaction, acceptance of others, acceptance of one’s circumstances, optimism for self”
Another beautiful description of
LOVE IN ACTION
In my own experience, only by being in love with life can I ever be content with what is.
Acceptance of other people for who they are is not always easy and requires a lot of tolerance and true love.
True love in the sense of seeing things as they are, of being intelligent and able to discern what action by others is acceptable and what not. Of being fearless and unafraid to act, when necessary.
There is a new age notion to “LOVE EVERYONE” – In my experience this is true only when I have realized that I am LIFE itself.
At that “cosmic” level, strangely, life is beyond good and bad and I am impartial to good and bad and right and wrong. But to realize this it is necessary to actually change to a different inner dimension, literally.
On a more “human” level though, it is clear I cannot love what is not lovable, and I cannot accept what is not acceptable.
I my experience, when living this 21st century life I have to be realistic. I need to be able to discern what causes imbalances, ie. what’s ok and what is not. And if possible, I will then act and stop the rot.
But I also have to accept life as it is because everything that happens it is all part of life. Two sides of the same coin – LIFE.
Life on earth these times certainly does not feel perfect. I agree.
But I am also intelligent enough to see that everything that happens here seems to be OK with life itself (unless, of course, I go with a concept that God or Life has lost the plot – which would make God or Life rather questionable, being the Creator of Everything and all).
So, what is, is. If what is is not OK with life, life would stop it, yes?
And it often does – through me and you!
Now, SANTOSHA in my meditation reveals that I AM LIFE.
That there is no separation between me and life, because everything happens literally inside of me. (more on that one in later posts, it’s a big thing)
And by BEING ONE WITH LIFE, I accept that which is. I stop fighting.
In short, I stop that negative, complaining guilty whinger inside of me that thinks that everything is out of whack on this planet, while in reality it is all part of a bigger picture that I am unable yet to see clearly.
I then become responsible for my life. I participate in life and if have made a mess of things, I clear it up to the best of my abilities. I start to love.
And I always start with my own life first – then rest of life will follow. There is not much us trying to change others or situations. If I have not changed first, most likely I will create a similar mess the next time around.
I realize “FIRST THINGS FIRST”, love first, and that very action can be the catalyst for love spreading everywhere.
Granted, this may take time, even considerable time. But as the movie “The fifth element” so rightly stated, TIME IS NOT IMPORTANT, LIFE IS!
And it is well under way, as so many people are waking up to love and truth.
Practicing SANTOSHA in the way that I have just described it, I’ll find my own life getting better and better and better in a very real sense. That means more love to be shared.
Very good news, indeed.
And what about optimism for self?
Well, what I just described is pretty optimistic, wouldn’t you say?
“persistence, perseverance, discipline, austerity, burn, create heat”
In traditional terms TAPAS may be translated as “austerity” or even “body mortification”. Although these types of practices have fallen largely into the background due to the western influence on yoga,
there are still religious traditions that focus strongly on getting past the physical body in order to attain spiritual freedom.
In order to do this there exit many tapas practices that yogis of old would undergo, such as this yogi sitting on a bed of nails or this sadhu holding one’s arm over the head for forty years. In tradition these people are seen as “holy”.
The impulse to do this comes from an energetic process in the psyche of man to overcome the “burdens of the body” by using willpower and by dedicating life only to “god”. It also goes generally alongside the religious practice of celibacy, which as I have shown in part 2, is known to create a lot of really strange phenomena in the human psyche.
To me it is clear that this physical body is an expreession of divine consciousness.
I cherish and celebrate my body. I see it as an incredibly sophisticated temporary carrier that I use for the time that I am here. It is definitely nothing to be gotten rid off. Why do you think life makes these bodies in the fist place?
OK then. Going right past tradition, my own favourite word for TAPAS is “stick-to-it-ness”.
Australians use it a lot (I’m an Aussie). They are a down to earth type of people.
Stick-to-it-ness is a great energy to have. It is essential when creating anything in this world.
In fact, as I see it, Stick-to-it-ness is THE CREATIVE PRINCIPLE OF LOVE IN TIME.
Have you observed that TAPAS happens automatically if you love what you are doing?
Why? Because you love it. Just can’t stop doing it. You are right there, present and fully awake.
Surprise, surprise – this means that TAPAS IS LOVE IN ACTION !
The reason I need to be able to stick to things, see them out, is that because for various reasons I and everybody else on this planet suffer to one degree or other from EVOLUTUIONAL AMNESIA. (More about that too in a later post)
In other words we don’t really know who we are, where we’re from, what birth is, what death is, what we are doing here, what man and woman are all about etc.
We really don’t know much, but still we behave as if we do.
This “behave as if” takes energy, a lot of it. It causes periodic sleepiness and periods of unconsciousness while being awake.
We tend to sleep with our eyes open and call it daydreaming. Every night we need to go into unconsciousness to re-charge.
And that is exactly why it is not easy at times to find love, and it is also not easy to put FIRST THINGS FIRST.
Because those two things require a lot of energy!
Gradually, though, while sticking with it, TAPAS will help identify any energy leaks and help get things straightened out, especially when it comes to the spiritual life.
This requires more energy. It requires changes in my life to make more energy. It requires me to take ACTION.
“study of Vedas, study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches and actions”
Another great niyama that requires a bit of an introduction:
In traditional India it was very important for scholars to know the Vedic scriptures.
This is easy to understand, because Hindu culture believes that everything there is to know is written in the vedic scriptures. Learned scholars study the scriptures to this day and ruminate on the meaning of life.
This is all fair enough and it’s absolutely fine by me, as long as it is useful and applicable in the here and NOW as i said in part 1.
Unfortunately the Vedas are superfluous, when it comes to meditation.
Meditation happens in the HERE AND NOW.
By the very definition of the word NOW, there can be no time involved, can it?
Thinking tradition takes time!
The truth is that the truth has to be re-discovered every moment new, over and over.
It is a living process. It too is LOVE IN ACTION:
This is why in my own life, I don’t rely on any books, because I found that the ultimate truth is inside of “me” (And no worries, I still read books, but for fun and not when I am meditating, and I don’t take them seriously, anyway)
Even Jesus knew this apparently (“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” – Matthew 11:28).
No, I am not a christian (or any other religion, for that matter) but i do know ”me”.
So to me the real meaning of SVADHYAYA is the study “STUDY OF SELF”, as the translations rightly say.
In all honesty, if I am really serious about finding out who I am, I won’t get around observing my “self” or “me”.
“SELF” in the way that I use it is all my combined personal experiences of this lifetime and the various aspects of my education (any experience from being born until now) plus all my karmic hangovers that I have carried with me from the last times around.
That can be a lot of baggage! A lot of “SELF”
This “self” creates the AMNESIC BARRIER that separates me from who I truly am (which is LOVE and LIFE, just in case you are wondering).
* There will be more on “self “ later, in future writings, it’s a big, big thing.
So, if I ever want to know who “I” REALLY AM, it is vital that I study my “self” and that I realize how it cuts me off from the WHOLE.
(When that happens to you, trust me, it is quite a “bingo” experience.)
This is where the great practices of meditation and mindfulness come in. In meditation as well as mindfulness my attention is focused in the NOW, or as close to it as possible, anyway.
And I can’t be in the NOW without realizing my “SELF”..
Because I can’t be NOW and think. You are welcome to try.
That is also why mindfulness and meditation are not always pleasant.
Would it not be great if I just sat down, bathed myself in divine consciousness and live in eternal bliss, happy ever after?
This is definitely possible!
But not before I have dealt with the many aspects of my “SELF”.
So going within, in meditation, I discover my emotional self, my mental self, my cultural self, my spiritual self, my higher self, my lower self, my sexual self, the little boy inside me and the little girl inside me. And then there is Ronaldo and Messi (I am a boy) and all the other little voices in my head which all form my “SELF”.
However, and here is the good news, as I am going through years of meditation, self-exploration, relationships and life circumstances to find out who I am, I realize it is all just “SELF” – neither lower or higher.
And right behind that experience I realize that all my SELF ever is, is illusion, and that in reality I have always been and will always be LOVE.
“contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, True Self, Unchanging Reality, Life etc.)”
WOW. Wonderful niyama.
Everything that exists (or doesn’t, for that matter) is an expression of GOD/LIFE/LOVE.
“FIRST THINGS FIRST”
Keeping this awareness that LIFE/LOVE is everything and in everything, will cause an enormous amount of change both internally and externally.
It will lead to realization of LIFE and LOVE itself.
In other words, it will get you to where you already are.
Niyamas are great, aren’t they?
And in summary before we go on to the part 4, I created my own:
“Put love into action on all levels and live it 24/7”
“Persevere in studying the “SELF” and know “WHO “I” AM”
“Realize that everything is life and love and that life and love is everything”
And just in case you are wondering if I have another aphorism up my sleeve… – I do. Here it is:
“I AM ALWAYS IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME, EACH AND EVERYTHING I DO IS FOR MY HIGHEST GOOD”
This one I received from my alchemy teacher, Glynn Braddy. Thank you, Glynn, after all these years I am still smiling when I remember your teaching.
And on we go to limb no.3: Asana