|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 295 ]
You might love the taste of coffee and yearn for a cup each and every morning; or you might be a lover of movies; enjoy decadent desserts, exotic foods or fine wine. You might even be addicted to all manner of food, alcohol or tobacco. Perhaps you enjoy a relaxing massage, or take pleasure in listening to music, etc, etc. The list of things of a sensual nature which bring pleasure to all of us is endless.
<< Part 1 - Brahmacharya-restraint
Few people would ever give a passing thought to the potentially destructive element at work here, though. The pursuit of sense pleasures has become such a normal part of daily life, and we have all become so dependent upon them for feelings of happiness, that rarely would anyone think to question the merits of our conventional behaviour, let alone think that there ought to be a more favourable alternative approach to life.
These things are all part of the “normal life” for the average person at their current stage of evolution. It is easy to see, however, that liberation from this approach to life is no small task for the one who endeavours to tread into the yogic life, especially if they have already spent a significant period of their life enslaved by this very mind-set.
That is precisely why we have seen a "slackening of the reigns" in contemporary yogic attitudes, so-to-speak. The modern yogi wants all the benefits of the higher life, yet would prefer not to deal with the task of cleaning out the weightiest debris of their subconscious. Again, the Westerner is often keen to apply the dictum of "having one's cake and eating it too" when met with challenges upon 'the path' that demand more effort than one may wish to put forth. As Taimni say in his Science of Yoga:
"… This desire to combine the enjoyments of worldly life with the peace and transcendence of the higher life seems rather pathetic, and shows... unfitness for leading this (yogic) life. Those who can equate, or even consider comparable, sensual enjoyments with the peace and bliss of the higher life... and can consequently hesitate in giving up the former, have yet to develop the strong intuition which tells them unequivocally that they have to sacrifice a mere shadow for the real thing, a passing sensation for life's greatest gift.
Let the student who feels hesitation in giving up such enjoyments of the senses or seeks a compromise, honestly ask himself whether he believes that a person who is a slave of his passions is really fit to embark on this divine adventure ..."
Unavoidable consequences of attraction to any object of the senses are anxiety and craving for more of it, which indeed characterizes the life of the ordinary person. For the would-be yogi, all manner of sense enjoyments, even the most seemingly innocent, are detrimental simply because they carry with them the potential for constant mental and emotional disturbances.
"He who has conquered the senses, the mind, the higher mind [Buddhi], desire, anger and so forth, has conquered all. By what could he possibly be disturbed?
... Where others are dead, there he is fully alive. But where ignorant people are alive, there he is surely dead… There is nothing left for him to do, nor is he affected by what he does. Having become liberated in life, he is always transparent, free from every blemish."
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
"The Science of Yoga is a course worthy of
leather binding and an honored place in the
finest libraries in the world
... It is indeed a masterful work."
Dr. John Michael Christian
Learn More About
The Science of Yoga Course