Most people who practice yoga, only do asanas or postures on the mat. They think it is just a physical matter, but unknowingly a lot is happening under the surface. Many practitioners of yoga feel that ‘something is happening inside of them’, like an inner change. Have you ever felt like this after a yoga class? That is because you are working the energie; you clean the stream of prana which is flowing through body, mind and soul. When you are practicing for a longer period of time, you will notice that your character changes. You become more aware of the energy inside of you and around you. Your lifestyle gets healthier. Nature, the elements and natural food interest you. You try to live more in the moment to enjoy the little things in life; a little less stress and some more relaxation. And some people are living more righteously and become vegetarians for example, and wish for more natural balance with other forms of life and Mother Earth. You will see other people with more love in your heart and create a natural acceptance and appreciation of every person for who they really are.
Living a righteous life is described in the Veda’s as the 5 yamas (ahimsa, sathya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha). And the path of 8 yoga sutras teaches us that we should live a life in love and service, and that we should have controle over thoughts and senses, to be able to keep a perfect sadhana. The importance of living a loving life is actually described with thousands of guidelines in the Ancient Vedic texts. It is our universal dharma in life; basically the reason why we are here. It is the goal of every written Veda, which are so many; nobody has been able to read them all in one lifetime! Becoming love, to be able to melt together with the Divine light is Moksha and described in many different ways. All mantras have this same goal, but also every asana, every dhyana deep meditation and sadhana, spiritual practice has this goal of becoming love.
Becoming pure unconditional love is not that easy. We are bound to all kinds of rules and thoughts which convert our child-full innocent openness to a closed heart. With yoga we open the heart again, most of the time completely unconsciously; this is what makes us a different person after starting the yoga classes. Sri Narendra Modi called yoga ‘the opening to a spiritual life’. That is because from the first asana we become a little bit more aware of the fact that we are actually love.
Living a ‘righteous life’ is just a form of living in love. It is like coloring a painting; it adds happiness to your days. It feels like coming home to divinity, because it is bringing us to ‘love’. And God is love. And God lives inside of us. So it brings us to our true self. Living righteously is possible by living certain values with discipline and a strong character. These 5 simple values can help you form this inner strength that leads to love and happiness:
- With Sathya we become aware of the fact that we are all love. It is the truth of our existence. Living with this value we learn about the energy of love.
- Ahimsa teaches us nonviolence and living with love for all living creatures, like humans, animals and insects. Even plants and nature; because all energy is borrowed and we should treat it with respect. All energy is connected, we are one big family of love. We all get the same amount of energy in our lives. When somebody takes a lot of that energy, somewhere else in the world another person has to suffer; he (or she) has less. We always have to take this into account: don’t waste energy and don’t take more than you need.
- Shanti means peace, but not only the absence of war. It reflects a deep inner peace that we reach when we have no wishes or desires left. This gives inner rest, because of the absence of materialism, greed and egoism. One of the 5 yamas is aparigraha and that means that you give up everything you don’t need. You don’t eager for anything anymore, you live without any wish or desire to have internal peace. You are happy with what comes to you in life, good or bad, because in everything there is a message for you to learn and to shape yourself into love, like a diamond that is being polished.
- Dharma means that you do the right thing in life. Helping others without wanting anything in return. Dharma is kindness and compassion. It means living by the rules of society but also living your own personal goal in life. Everybody has his own dharma, why he or she is here in this body. Living that goal, which you can recognize by following your own personal talents, brings you closer to God. One of the 5 yamas teaches us asteya and this is part of dharma and doing the right thing. Asteya means that you are not doing any harm to others in mind, word and action. Living in dharma is the way to clean karma, and thus is every right thing you do a step towards God. Cleaning the karma means ‘becoming pure love’ by doing service to others, to melt together with Divinity.
- Another value is prema or love. When you live by only thinking of how you can spread love, how you can see with love and fill your own tank with love to be able to give it away again; you live in love. And one sees the world by the amount of love he has in his heart. All other values have an element of prema, therefor it binds everything and everybody at all times.
Living these 5 values, brings you closer to this inner state of yoga. There is one well known moral prescription in yoga-life which contains elements of all these 5 values and that is brahmacharya, which is a very important starting point to be able to live a righteous life. Modern interpretations talk about controlling impulses so that you can learn to use your energy the right way. We are spending a lot of energy in worrying, stressful lifestyles and full agendas. Becoming aware of the energy, learns us to use the energy more efficiently to focus it on our path of yoga instead of all kinds of worldly matters. Though brahmacharya was mentioned differently many ages ago. I think that the modern interpretation is a little bit weakened because we depend much more on our senses these days; we don’t master them anymore. Therefor the Sattvic lifestyle is hard to live in modern life in which almost everybody is drinking alcohol, smoking and eating meat. This does not fit the value of ahimsa at all. We are not valuing the nature of our being, we are destroying our own body and kill the bodies of animals. That is against nature. Sattvic means living with respect for natural laws, for yourself and be loving towards others. All 5 values are being put in practice with the Sattvic lifestyle.
The Sattvic lifestyle isn’t just eating with discipline. It is living a disciplined life in doing the right thing at every moment in your life. When you are eating, dreaming, thinking, working and talking. It is having thoughts, words and actions in one line; that is an honest living. You are honest to others and to yourself, that makes you an authentic person. The way to a happy life according to the Bhagavad Gita. Therefor we need to have control over senses and thoughts. That is the first start to brahmacharya, which means that you live in God. Everything you do is with the disciplined intention to come closer to God. For that we need a strong disciplined controle over thoughts, senses, emotions and actions without distractions; with complete celibacy. Nowadays there is a lot of distraction with sex and short relationships. When you want to start the process of Moksha seriously, you cannot be in a relationship. You need to do this on your own. Your energy needs to become pure and cannot be polluted with other energy. That is the only way to God. We come alone from Divine energy and we leave alone to melt into Divinity.
Brahmacharya means that you are living an austere life, without distractions and with little material things during your period of training and being an apprentice. After that you can choose to continue living like that (like I did myself). In ancient times these where mostly monks and nuns. Or you can choose to become a householder and even then you can live brahmacharya by being faithful to your partner for the rest of your lives. Even that is hard in present times for a lot of people.
Living a celibacy life for me personally, means that I am completely focussed on my spiritual path and serve the Divine Love. I have no distractions and it makes me a stronger warrior for God; all energy is focussed on Jnana, Karma and Bhakti Yoga. Not many women can understand this and see it as ‘a shame’ or even ‘a waste’ of my life. Though for me it is the other way around; just living and enjoying life without a spiritual purpose would be a waste of time for me. I did that for many years, and found out my dharma later in life after severe spiritual training. I found out that my soul has another purpose; everybody is unique and lives their own dharma. By finding your dharma you reach happiness, because this is the job God has meant for you. Mine is to help. Every minute counts in Kaliyuga; the more people we can help the better. Everybody has to go to the light. And ‘living in service’ means that you are an instrument for God to help everybody reaching that goal. I am not saying that I will never be a ‘householder’ but I would never do it to please myself or based on earthly desires; if it would happen to me, it would be to serve the Higher Energy.
Living a righteous life you can interpret on you own unique best way. You can make it as deep as you wish. Living brahmacharya is not the easiest path, indeed, it is the hard way. But the feeling of bliss, happiness and unconditional love you get in return from it, is impossible to describe in words; perfect bliss is amazingly beautiful. A truly Divine sensation. It is a deep inner feeling of peace, patience, happiness and love. The path to this bliss is living righteously. There is no other way. When you want to receive the best of the world, you have to give the world the best of you. When we radiate this unique special form of bliss and happiness, we are actually healing the universe; all energy is connected. If we would do this all together, the Spiritual Golden Age will start sooner than we think.
Being halfway of Navratri it is interesting to mention that Durga got her powers not only from the male Gods. Of course she is the most powerful force Shakti, similar to the Atmic principle. But she got her power and strength on earth, because of her celibate life. Durga was the unreachable Goddess. Nobody was able to seduce her. She lived brahmacharya by having complete controle over her thoughts, senses, emotions and actions. She focussed completely on serving the Higher Intelligence or Brahma, without any distraction; only this way she could defeat all demons for us. Only Durga was able to do that, nobody else. Only the Mother was able to protect us from harm, by living the perfect righteous yoga-life. She lived love.
God bless you. Namasté.