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The Safe Path of Yoga

safe path of yogaIn the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna continues to amaze us. After speaking of Psychological Yoga, he states:

“Here [in this yoga] no effort is lost, nor is any loss of progress found. Even a little of this discipline [dharma] protects one from great danger” (2:40).

All effort is effectual, and there is no regression from progress attained in this yoga. It also protects the yogi from mahato bhayat–great danger or great fear.

Even to try the path of yoga for a while and then abandon it, or to try it and fail, or to follow it and die before making any significant progress–all these will result in tremendous benefit. Not one calorie of expended energy will slip away from us.

This is incredible, and reveals the profound nature of authentic yoga. Yoga (the real thing, that is) inaugurates such a profound change in our entire mode of existence, such a deep-reaching extension of our higher will, that it cannot help but come to full effect in time. So powerful is the psychic restructuring accomplished by even a little yoga practice that we are permanently changed, as Krishna will expound later.

Even more: no negative effect can accrue from such yoga. In other endeavors failure or abandonment often produce psychic damage, weakening, or loss in some form. Not so with this yoga. So mighty is its effect that even walking away from it cannot cancel its positive and inevitable results.

Only good can come of our attempts. For even a little practice of this yoga will save us from the terrible wheel of rebirth and death by breaking the chains of desire–or rather, the weakness and ignorance that render us capable of desire.

The secret of its effectiveness

“Here [in this yoga] there is a single resolute understanding. The thoughts of the irresolute have many branches and are, indeed, endless” (2:41).

In the practice of yoga there is only one ideal: liberation of the spirit (moksha). Nothing else can be a motive. It is like threading a needle. The thread cannot have fibers sticking out, otherwise it cannot be put through the needle’s eye. In the same way the mind must be focused on the single purpose: freedom in union with the Divine.

Many types of actions may be engaged in and many “goals” may be aimed for or achieved. Yet, to the yogi they are nothing in themselves. The final result alone matters and alone is ever before his inner eye.

It is much like the rays of the sun. They can be very hot in the summer, but if even in the winter they are focused by means of a magnifying or “burning” glass they will cause any flammable object to catch fire.

The narrower the point of a weight the more pressure is produced. A brick weighing a pound or two will cause no discomfort if held in the hand. But if the corner of the brick is brought to bear on the palm it will be painful.

The idea of both these examples is that the more united or “pointed” the mind is made through yoga, the more powerful–and therefore effective–it is.

Single purpose

To lack this single-mindedness in relation to moksha is disastrous to the yogi. This cannot be overemphasized because yoga is nothing less than the intense form of liberating sadhana Krishna envisions and which impels him to say: “The thoughts of the irresolute have many branches and are, indeed, endless.” Lost in the labyrinth of many goals and focusing on a multitude of objects, the aspiring yogi becomes lost in confusion and frustration.

Krishna’s picture of such a person was presented by the Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock when he wrote about a man who leapt on his horse “and rode madly off in all directions.” In the Bible several times people are urged to walk straight forward without turning to right or left. (Proverbs 4:27; Deuteronomy 5:32, 28:14; Joshua 1:7) The meaning is the same as Krishna’s.

As Swami Premeshananda was wont to say: “Go Forward!”

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