|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 363 ]
We are living in a time where wars, human unrest and global catastrophes are wide-scale -- where higher values have been pushed aside for self-interests and the relentless pursuit of material affluence. It may even be true that suffering is at an all-time high.
It is no surprise that ignorance is as well!
Suffering and ignorance have always existed in direct proportion to each other. So though one may see all of the pain and all of the suffering which pervades the earth today as deplorable and appalling, one must also understand that, as Alexander Pope famously quipped, "What is, is right." Karma exists in its most palpable form, right here and right now, almost everywhere one can choose to look.
There is no other reason for any pain, suffering or unfortunate circumstances, other than our own human ignorance. We need not pray for salvation, nor look for a miracle from without. We need only to look within -- to learn the lessons that karma is trying to teach us -- to grow, evolve and to free our own selves from misery!
It is known by the yogis, through their understanding of the evolutionary process, that the lessons we learn and the knowledge we gain remains with us, accumulating life after life. This wisdom eventually elevates us so that we no longer have to experience first-hand the knocks and kicks of karma in order to learn and to grow.
Ultimately, we will no longer have to acutely suffer from diseases, misfortune, mistakes, confusion, failed hopes, foolish attachments, selfish action. We can observe and learn from the behaviours of others and their experiences, from their mistakes and their successes, without having to undergo all manner of experiences ourselves in order to learn.
Gradually, our minds and hearts will then gravitate towards those who have some mastery of the art of right living and we will learn from their examples and listen to their teachings.
The science of yoga is precisely that -- the collective body of teachings of those who, through the trials and tribulations of their own experiments, have come to know the truths of the cause and effect relationships and have mastered the 'art of living', an art which transcends all pain and suffering.
They have laid for us a clear path in the yamas and niyamas, through which we may raise up and come to know the very nature of all causes and effects ourselves. When we start to understand karma through yoga drishthi, then we can know more readily the implications and potentiality of results for all of our physical and mental activity. Then we can begin to re-organize our behaviour and psyche for a better and more harmonious existence. Ultimately, through yoga, we will develop the ability to live skilfully, and through our example, also help to raise others out of the cycle of karma.
"We suffer less and less because we no longer need to suffer to learn. As we enlarge our field of awareness and consciousness, we no longer need to suffer catastrophes and calamities to wake us from our slumbering ignorance. The slightest nudge, the faintest call, rouses us from our unconsciousness and with open eyes we avoid the pitfalls and the danger.
We learn to live. We graduate from the School of Hard Knocks into the realm of learning where a glance of the Guru, the fall of a leaf, the flutter of a bird’s wings are enough to put us back again on the right track... We realize our oneness with everything and everyone. When we harm another, we harm ourselves. When we love 'the other', then we love ourselves. Our sense of separation melts away—a drop of water on heated sand..."
~ ICYER; Karma, The Cosmic Law of Balancing Cause and Effect
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.
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