Non-harming, truthfulness, nonstealing, chastity, and greedlesslness are the disciplines (yama). These are valid in all spheres, irrespective of birth, place, time and circumstance, and they constitute the “great vow”.
I really wanted to write about this, as for me is sums up a no-brainer guide to this existence. Patanjali is saying – there is no exceptions. This is the code for life or ‘The Great Vow’. As yoga asprints, we must always hold ourself to a higher standard. It’s written in black and white. Not merely morality, but a yogic lifestyle and a step by step guide to being a better human. We all want to be a better person right? So it’s almost unbelievable that this was written two thousand years ago, and it still as relivant in todays society.
Yoga holds you to a higher standard with in 5 ways; Non-harming, truthfulness, nonstealing, chastity, and greedlesslness, which are the disciplines (yama).
By following theses (yamas) you will ultimatly become more ethic considerate person, but that’s not the reason for their creation. They are for the purpose of queitening your mind.
Even wirting this, I feel slightly on edge due to the fact I made a big point to stay here and write this, as opposed to getting in the car and going to do the groceries wth my partner. Am I being greedy with my Sunday for the self gratification of actually finishing this, or am I exercising discipline to my practice. Either way, I feel uneasy with the need to satify the needs and wants of my partner who craves my company in his ill state.
So In saying that, when the yama’s kick in – it’s that churning of the mind that can create unsettled behavior and inner turbulance that can and most probaly will steer us off our practice.
Patanjali also says in this sutra; “ This vow is not limited by birth, place, time or circumstance’. – this instantly knocks out any wiggle room to try and get out of it with excuses. It’s actually a delusion-buster.
This is facinating, as while you should always adapt your behaviour in different locations, times and circumstances, with different cultures and people, you must certainly adapt a personal standard. It’s called integrity (as discussed in more detail above). Even when shit gets hard, we are still called to yogic integrity.
It is said that with the understanding of the yamas, everything can become easier. The way you live your life in your own skin can becomes easier. One of the things that makes it easier is that you no longer compare yourself to others. The distintions your receive from the yamas allow you to look to that higher standard, which essentially is above and beyond traival matters. You can compare your self to our own divine essesnce. Pretty cool hey?
There is also practical benefits in the fact that when you refrain from doing, saying or thinking things that upset your mind, your body and breath become more open. Your heart and mind opens, prana into your spine and calms your nervous system. This ‘great vow’ is a tool to keep your self open and soft.
It is said that patanjali offered us the opportunity to take ‘The Great Vow’ to get beyond doing a practice and arrving at some kind of mastery. The word ‘practice’ is very important in yoga. It means that you are consistent, that you apply yourself and repeat as needed. It also means that you are learning something and getting better over time. Practice leads to mastery.
I once watched an associate warm up for a show on the guitar. His fingers were moving with finesse across the fret board. Sweet music flowed from the instrament matched with his butter smooth vocals.
I asked him, ‘How did you get so good on the guitar?’.
-‘If you wanted to run a marathon, what would you do everyday? I practice for an hour every day – This is my training’.
It was profound to imagine that feeling of ‘practice’ becoming ‘mastery’. When the most important aspect of all that practice is hidden from view. I could see his ability to share music with others, but perhaps what others can’t see is the effect the guitar had on him. The way he hears music in the street, they way he uses his hands, the way his brain works to operate, to how he thinks and feels in the world through music, and the wonderful abilty to play for the joy of playing in complete flow-state, without having to think. His guitar playing is second nature due to his mastery from dedicated practice.
For me, yoga has changed everything. It changes us. It changes the way you feel inside your own body, mind and heart. It changes the way you see others and even how you interperate the world. It changes the way you think and especially changes the quanity of your thoughts. Your mind can become quiter – through lots of practice of couse.
The beauty of ‘The Great Vow’ is that it’s not religious, it’s not a rule, –it’s an opportunity. The big lesson is always to ‘DO YOUR YOGA’.
Love and Light, RIA