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May 02, 2007

Why Do We Practice?


Who do we practice?

By Govinda Kai

In many ways, the question, "Why Do We Practice?" is perhaps one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. Hidden within the depths of this question lies the essence of Yoga and of the true nature of our very Self.

In order to begin to seriously delve into this question, we must first begin to look into the fundamental aspects of will and action. When we act, what part of us is actually responsible for that action? Most of us assume that what we would refer to as our ego or our personality is responsible. It is the most basic way that a majority of us see ourselves, as some kind of combination of mind, intention and will.

However, according to the central tenets of Yogic and Vedic philosophy, this particular interpretation of ourselves is fundamentally flawed. Okay, if this is not true, then what and who exactly are we?

To say that we are some kind of conglomeration of mind and will is to describe only the most superficial aspects of ourselves. Who we are, at our essence, is pure consciousness, Who we are is that essence of Reality that pervades all things, everywhere, at all times. It is Satchitananda, which is pure and unlimited Truth, Consciousness and Bliss.

Yoga, in it's deepest sense, is also the very same as this. It is the union of Brahman (undifferentiated Reality) and Atman (the individual Soul). While many of us see Yoga as simply a kind of practice or method (or set of practices or methods), it is also a very well defined and specific state of being.

With this understanding then, it is very clear why we practice. We practice, not because we are seeking something outside ourselves or because we are seeking a particular feeling, but because it is essentially who we are. We practice because we are merely seeking to directly experience our own Selves.

In fact, I would propose to you that when we practice, the part of us that causes us to practice has little or nothing to do with our minds and our wills. I would propose to you that what causes us to practice is only the highest and purest parts of our Selves.

The only reason why any of us would not practice is because the veil of our own ignorance is too impenetrable, too dense. As soon as that veil of ignorance is pierced to any significant degree, we cannot help but practice. Once we begin to have any kind of awareness of our true nature, we cannot help but move towards it both internally and externally. In other words, we cannot help but be who and what we are.

By beginning to reflect about the question of why we practice in this way, we can begin to give credit to the more real and true source of all that is good and true in our lives. We can begin to focus on our more essential Selves and less on the part of ourselves that are more superficial and transitory. We can begin to harness the power of that part of our Selves that is Yoga itself. In the end, what else is there?



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