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December 02, 2008

The Value of Study

December 2, 2008

Namaste...!

The days are getting shorter and the weather is growing increasingly colder.

Now, while this weather requires more clothing, the air is also much cleaner and has a higher level of energy or "shakti" to it. I love this time of year. I find that the colder, cleaner air helps my mind to become more focused and sharp.

This is the time of year to increase the time and energy spent on study of sacred yoga books.

I cannot stress enough just how important it is to commit one's time and energy to this kind of study and activity.

Yoga philosophy is not just about memorizing some difficult concepts. It is about making a commitment to understand one's own self and nature.

Yoga, more than anything, is about self-discovery and self-knowledge. It is only through self-discovery and self-knowledge that we can gain the necessary power to have dominion over ourselves, the way that we live our lives. It is only through directly experiencing the true nature of our own selves that we can create real happiness and peace in our lives.

Because there is such confusion in our own minds and the world around us, it is important to seek the necessary guidance and help from those who are truly qualified to guide us. Usually, that help comes only from qualified teachers and/or from universally recognized sacred texts.

Sacred texts and books are valuable because they present us with a kind of road map to our bodies, hearts and minds. And, while a good teacher is often hard to find, sacred books and texts are all around us. They are so ubiquitous, that we often take them for granted and do not appreciate just what they can offer to us.

In my own experience, I cannot imagine what my life or my practice would be right now had I not taken ample advantage of these great books. They have unlocked hidden doors within myself that have given me access to incredible wisdom and personal power. I simply would not be the same person today without the time that I dedicated to the study and understanding of the great texts.

My three favorite books include the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita and the Viveka Chudamani by Sankaracharya.

These three books, each in its own way, describes in great detail the dynamics of the mind and of the nature of consciousness.

All beings are creatures of habit. Normally, most our behavior is ruled by habitual patterns of thought, emotion and behavior. The only way to alter these patterns is to understand how they work and then to bring the light of awareness onto them.

Otherwise, we are trapped in these particular patterns by our own ignorance and unawareness of them. If we are trapped in these kinds of habitual patterns, we are bound to suffer as a result of them.

Thus, the first and foremost step to any kind of relief or freedom is to begin to understand how the mechanism of these patterns of suffering works. That is why the use of these particular kinds of books is so important to this process.

You must begin to see once and for all that understanding and awareness are the only true keys to freedom. No amount of force or will can ever break you free from the chains of your own habits unless you truly begin to understand their underlying nature. You must begin to observe and to know yourself with the utmost level of care and devotion.

I usually go about this process in a relatively intuitive manner. That means that let my intuition guide me as to what book to read, what part of that book to read and when to read it. Try going to a bookstore and choose a book based on what your feelings and instincts are telling you. I like reading different parts of the book in the bookstore before I purchase the book. If the book "speaks" to me strongly in any way, I will usually end of purchasing the book and putting it in my library. Sometimes, I may not pick up the book again for months at a time, but I still like to have it at my disposal anyway.

Then, pick the book, or the parts of any one book, which resonates with you personally most strongly and read that book or parts of the book at least 3-4 times or more. Let the information sink as deeply into your mind and heart as much as possible. Reflect on how the information in the book relates to your personal life directly. Remember, you are not just reading the information simply to memorize it, but you are reading it in order to practically apply it to yourself and your life.

Sometimes, if the information in one book really rings true for me, I will read and re-read that book 10 times or more. That way, the information in the book literally becomes part of me. That is the most powerful way to interact with these kinds of texts. Truly, you want the information, the knowledge and the wisdom in the book to become "alive" in you. That means that you have an active and ongoing interrelationship with the contents of the book.

Go out and try what I have been talking about in this entry. You will be pleasantly surprised on just how powerful an affect these books can have on your life and your practice.

Life is Truly Great...OM!

Govinda Kai

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