The word “yoga” literally means union. Yoga does not mean twisting of body, tying limbs into knots, holding of breath or doing some other circus. The word “yoga” means, in one’s experience, everything has become one. It is a system of raising human ability to perceive, to enhance individual human beings to realise their ultimate nature. Yoga is the most profound exploration of the very mechanics of life.
The yogic science is of utmost significance now, like never before. Today we have tremendous tools of science and technology, enough to make or break the world. It is very important that we have an inner sense and awareness of life, that we experience every other being as a part of ourselves. Otherwise, our pursuit of wellbeing will destroy all.
If a certain population in the world experiences this, if a certain percentage of the world truly becomes meditative, definitely the quality of the world will change. Particularly if the leadership in the world experiences the unity or the yoga of life, there will be a dramatic change in the way the world will function. For all the problems of humanity, the solution is in enlarging one’s perception of life, from individuality to universality. The declaration of International Yoga Day is a significant step in this direction, and can have a ripple-effect across the planet.
Acknowledging yoga in this way will be immensely beneficial, particularly for the youth. Nowadays, a lot of young people are taking to yoga because it is usually the youth in the world who have a passion for truth. Youth is humanity in the making. Because they are in the making, they can shape themselves in whichever manner they want. If only youth are taught to handle themselves with a little more consciousness, then they are a great possibility. Otherwise, youth can be very compulsive. If they become a little more conscious, we have a great future for humanity and also the environment around us.
Ecology and human consciousness cannot be separated. The first fundamental fact of looking inward is always to see that you are naturally very much a part of everything around you. But now the problem is we are always trying to look at life in pieces – and that will never work. Only because human beings have become insensitive, we have to talk today about saving the world, which is a silly idea because it is we who are protected by Mother Earth, not the other way round! None of this would be necessary if human beings understood that, whether we like it or not, we are reverberating as a part of this existence.
Yoga is an essential science to bring this understanding and experience. On the day of the summer solstice, Adiyogi turned south and first set his eyes on the Saptarishis or Seven Sages, who were his first disciples to carry the science of yoga to many parts of the world. It is wonderful that June 21 marks this momentous event in the history of humanity.
The effort to bring the spiritual process to the world, and particularly to those individuals who have a big influence upon the rest of the world, has been on for a long time. Ashtavakra enlightened Janaka around eight thousand years ago. Krishna’s whole life’s mission was to marry the spiritual process and the political process. Krishna not only worked with kings, he also established over a thousand ashrams across the northern plains of India.
Yoga essentially means that in search of wellbeing, you don’t look up. Because if you look up, you will hallucinate, you will start imagining things which are not in your experience. And above all, you do not know which is up and which is down. In the last hundred and fifty years, most of humanity looked up, and a small segment looked out – gathering wealth and building palaces. But today, a large part of humanity is looking out instead of up. If we look out for human wellbeing, we will destroy the very basis of our existence, which is what we are doing. We have different names for this – ecological problems, global warming, climate change – but human beings are just looking out in pursuit of wellbeing. That is all it is. The only ultimate solution, and the only way human beings will truly know wellbeing, is by turning inward. This is what yoga means. Not up, not out, but in. The only way out is in.
International Yoga Day means the whole world should do some type of yoga. Let us make it happen!