|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 305 ]
Pick a shining example of yoga in your midst. If you don't have any, then there is your first and most crucial task. Find at least one!
As we have come to know, the path of yoga is a 'razor's edge'. Difficulties and challenges will continually present themselves to the yoga aspirant, and without the proper support and encouragement, the student is bound for repeated setbacks.
Inspiration is an invaluable resource, which is why the yogis emphasized the value of spiritual community. The modern-day yoga student has innumerable forces that continually conspire to trip him/her up. Family and friends can often be the ones who cause the student of yoga to question themselves the most, when even the choice to abstain from alcohol or to adopt a vegetarian diet can evoke discouragement or even outrage and hostility!
The yogi cannot hope to find in the tenuous justifications and feeble persuasions of the ignorant masses, whether they be loved ones or not, a foundation of encouragement for continued growth.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say that the spiritual aspirant was like a young tree, very vulnerable in the beginning and in need of protection. This is why the Buddha himself put so much importance on the sangha (spiritual community), maintaining that without it the average person cannot succeed. One needn't relinquish the loving and often life-long relationships of theirs. But a 'spiritual family' is important as well, one that will nurture and encourage your continued evolution and allow you to then be a strong and positive influence on the others in your life.
Many will influence you throughout your yogic journey. Just be mindful that some who claim to know yoga and even to teach it may still fall well short of the 'yogic mark' themselves. Remain steadfast to what you know in your heart of hearts to be true, surround yourself with genuine and like-minded aspirants, and do not allow yourself to be swayed down seemingly more attractive roads by those who do not have the resolve or discipline to properly take up the task of yoga themselves. As Albert Einstein said, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
“There is a path of goodness, and there is a path of pleasure. Those who choose the path of the good, reach a destination at which joy is complete. Those who choose the path of pleasure, never reach the highest realm. These two paths are open to all of us. The wise person chooses the path of good and joy; the ignorant person chooses the path of pleasure. Many ignorant people who imagine themselves to be wise and learned, they lead others without knowing where they are going; they are the blind leading the blind.
... Lo! Do not mistake the pleasant for the Good!"
~ KATHA UPANISHAD
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