A YOGI CHA BLOG
Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞
“The good and the pleasant are two different things. They motivate a person to pursue two different goals. The one who embraces the good meets with auspiciousness. But the one who chooses the pleasant is lost.”
We live in a world of sensory stimulation. It is the constantly changing world where we can experience strong sensations and emotional highs. It’s a wonderful paradise to savour and expand in. But we experience suffering when we take it for everlasting.
It is highly addictive to experience the wonders of the world. The reason we get addicted to things in the first place, is the sensory stimulation in itself. Like a test rat in a cage, we will keep pushing the button that creates the sensory response until we choke. Especially since we cannot control the reactions or the trigger. Which makes it even more addictive. Life IS sensations!
The idea to choose the good before the pleasurable is not to punish, on the contrary. It is to rest in the awareness of the observer and to see beyond the temporary.
When we are taking the easy way out, we become dependent on what eases us in the moment. But since this is bound to the temporary, the sensations, the emotional highs, we are doomed. Because it isn’t everlasting.
It is the constant battle between wisdom and ignorance. The battle field that Arjuna faces as the Gita begins. The battle field we all face on a daily basis.
What to choose? What do I want, what is best?
The Mundaka Upanishad says:
One whose mind wanders among desires, and is longing for objects of desire, goes again to life and death according to their desires. But one who possesses the End of all longing, and whose self has found fulfilment, even in this life their desires will fade away.
We often misunderstand the teachings and find that this idea of not desiring is a way to self-punish. It brings this notion of being self-righteous in to the picture and many of us imagine a very sour looking old catholic priest maybe. The self-flagellation idea that we in the west understands as a way to lower oneself humbly in front of God.
Or simply very serious religious people with frowned foreheads.
But the teachings are not of this quality.
It is not a question of the cessation of desire. Because if that becomes your focus, then you are desiring not to desire.
So the lesson isn’t to STOP doing something but instead to BEGIN doing something else.
When we are slaves to our senses, when our joy or sadness depends on the external situations, we live in the ignorant mind of seeking to be fulfilled. What the ancient teachings that are the base of the yogic philosophy tells us, is that THE ANSWER IS WITHIN.
The way to find it is to follow the very explicit and and simple procedures to reach enlightenment.
When we talk about choosing the Right thing to do, it means that we accept a different perception of the world as we know it. Not the different laws and regulations and to follow them necessarily.
But instead, the acceptance that nothing is separate. That we treat everything with the value we would treat ourselves or at least, that we wish to be treated with.
What is right then becomes anything that would be beneficial, not harmful, but helpful.
Acting this way, just for the sake of doing so even if we are ignorant, is beneficial in itself. As we all know, when we act with integrity, when we do a selfless act, we feel good about ourselves. So it means that if we keep just doing what is beneficial on a larger scale, we end up feeling good on a general basis. Research in social psychology has shown the effects of this: a test done more than once, where someone who finds a dollar bill on the ground (this was in Canada) is more prone to just minutes later, hold the door open for someone, compared to a person who did not find a dollar.
This is just one example, but many studies show that if we feel good, we do good.
And you know that for yourself.
You got a compliment from your boss?
At lunch time you are more inclined to smile at the waitress.
It is, of course, the reason Patanjali makes the first two limbs of yoga the universal and personal ethics.
It is also why the intention behind our actions becomes primary to the action itself.
If you do something to get approval, how you feel will simply be a reaction to the outcome of the action.
So naturally, we are in a big mess since our whole lives revolve around approval. Parent’s approval, teacher’s approval… the boss…to just name three.
It’s conditioned in our minds and it is, for sure, directly linked to our instinct of survival. So if we could learn to not do things for approval, we would not put the weight of our survival on them. That means: we would know that we are fine, no matter what the outcome of our actions is. This is the explanation to the idea of “non-attachment” and the concept of karma (causality).
If you can start your journey of feeling better in your skin, simply by trusting that everything is connected and that therefore your own wellbeing is directly linked to how you treat everything around you (people, animals, things!), then your intention behind your actions do not need to be one of approval. If you are seeking everything’s wellbeing instead of approval, you are not attached to how someone else reacts to it. Because you did not do it for them to say you are “approved”. You know that you are approved, just like everyone and everything else. Simply by the fact that you exist. So if you are not attached to the outcome but you do for the sake of doing, your karma will also be positive. If I seek approval and do not get it, I will feel negatively about someone or myself. That is my karma. It is the reaction to the action.
So you have read up to this point, and still I have not said how all this will make your immortal.
The message from the upanishad is this: “turn your senses inwards instead of to the external world that will never satisfy you as a constant, and you will realise the inner Self (Atman).
The external, the matter, is mortal by definition since it will always change. But the Atman, your personal Higher Self (the representation of the Universal Higher Self, Brahman, Source, in you) in eternal. Has always existed and will always exist.
So the idea behind my title today is the fact that by coming closer to your true nature, your Self, you come to realise that there really is no death. As you keep choosing the action in any situation, of what your true nature knows to be right, you experience the wellbeing of resting in your true nature.
How do you do that, you ask?
Patanjali explains in sutra 2 and 3:
Yogah cittavritti nirodhah : yoga is the cessation of the mental fluctuations
Tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam: then the Seer is established in his true nature
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