The Yogic Journey Towards Betterment
by Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen
Evolution – it’s such a simple word, yet it has been discussed and debated over and over. Hence, what is evolution?
Scientifically, evolution refers to the gradual development of humanity. Human beings are believed to be the direct descendants of the ape, given fact that they have similar traits as the latter.
The yogic world, however, begs to differ. Evolution in the yogic context is the journey towards betterment – never perfection and definitely non-ending. Evolution is the process of constantly moving from diversity to unity. It has been said that instead of understanding the meaning of the word ‘evolution’, it may be better to focus on the concept instead.
Let us try and understand the concept of evolution from the yogic point of view. In the ancient yogic text, evolution consists of three components, satyam, shivam and sundaram. Directly translated, satyam means truth while shivam is auspiciousness and sundaram refers to beauty. With these three intact, we are thought to be ready to complete our journey. Only then, will we attain nirvana or completeness in life.
Attaining satyam, sivam and sundaram requires lots of conscious effort; it is the one that transforms a person out of their nature. It is not something that is embraced or attained overnight. One has to be continuously conscious and be in the NOW, the very present moment consistently. In fact, the entire process of yoga revolves around the principles of consciousness.
How does a person raise their level of awareness? You may ask. Try seeing yourself from a different level; once you do this, your perspective changes and at the same time, your perception, awareness and consciousness take a shift as well. This shift is also what we call the maturity of the mind; the process of moving from the present environment to a place where one can observe diversity and from there, they begin to experience unity.
The yogic mantra speaks of two concepts; the masculine and feminine. The masculine talks about auspiciousness, while the feminine is all about energy. These two factors are the motivational pull that governs the entire life of an individual – the inspirational guide, if you will.
While the yogic concept has been around for thousands of years, science is a growing and developing subject. Now, let us talk a little about the science of evolution. First and foremost, we all know that science has two components; the major one is based on rational findings, and there is also a part which is intuitive. As of now, many of the findings on evolution has been mostly rational, for example, the study of hormones, DNA, and measurement of brainwaves.
While yoga is seen as the father figure who has seen it all, science is the young adult, growing and experimenting. They are in actual fact, complimentary to each other and this is truly a blessing. Only when there is complimentary effort, will there be a full understanding how the individual and universe integrate.
As we go forward in our journey of evolution, we will come to four areas of attainment in life. The first is the attainment of security – whether personal, social or financial. The second is attainment of desires; it is the effort put in to obtain material/objects that we long for. Next, comes the attainment of the quality of consciousness where we become responsible for ourselves. Finally, we move towards the attainment of that inner freedom.
There are four stages in life. The first is studentship – this is when we develop our skills, enhance our understanding of the subject matter and work towards our aspirations for the future. Next, comes a new pattern of family and social life, where we become responsible for other people around us who are part of our family. After which, we enter the third stage, which is retirement. Finally, in the fourth stage of life, we dedicate the virtuous qualities towards the growth of humankind and inspire others to attain inner freedom and greater wisdom. The fourth stage, however, is not the end of evolution. It is on-going and developing all the time until the cessation of our existence. It takes lots of dedication and discipline – after all, we are inspiring others towards attaining peace of mind and growth of humankind.
Dedication of growth can take place in many forms; an example will be better awareness and a deeper understanding of yoga. The yoga instructor is the conveyor, passing on his knowledge to the students. Subsequently, the students will carry on the yoga legacy to family and friends. Similarly, this can also be observed in a family unit. While the parents’ role is to nurture and bring out the best in their offspring, the children, on the other hand, emulate positive behaviour of parents and of course, of those in the society. In such an environment, the future generation can only flourish.
These four stages have been defined as ideal life. It is up to us as to how much we wish to attain in this lifetime. Many reach the second or the third attainment and they remain there believing that it is not possible to go further. Each one of these stages is made for us and we have to strive to get as far as can. Only then will we make a difference in our life and in the lives of others.
Here are some lifestyle tweaks that can be incorporated to attain a higher quality of life. Harmonise your body by keeping it strong and healthy. This can be achieved by practising yoga and eating a healthy diet. Harmonise your mind by practising conscious breathing, meditating and thinking good thoughts.
Experiencing good health, peace and evolution requires effort. It is not easy but living with awareness and being mindful of your daily actions will take you there.
This article was featured in YogaMail Apr-Jun 2019 issue.