|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 408 ]
Much of what ails the common man/woman has as much to do with what is going on inside of his/her mind as it does with the external influences. Yet poor health is not an individual problem. We are all suffering in many similar ways.
Why? Because in societies, the collective the attitudes, beliefs and conditionings are reflected in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of its population. The prescription for our ills lies not in pill or physical form, but in the examination of the Self on a deep, philosophical, emotional and psychological level.
Psychology literally means "the study of the psyche." In Western culture, most people would likely consider themselves to be of sound, healthy mind. The branches of Western medicine of psychiatry and psychology are seen as existing for those who have become mentally sick -- otherwise 'normal' people who have for some reason or another become unable to function as smoothly as the average person on a day-to-day basis.
But it is no secret that modern psychology is a dismal failure. In fact, it could not have been any other way, simply because the foundations upon which the modern medical doctor lays his/her structure of the mind and mental health is insufficient. As Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani states in her article, Yoga Psychology:
"[In Western thought,] the Ego and the thinking power which sustains it are seen as having the ultimate importance in man's life... The Western science of the mind is not yet mature enough to step back and view the mind as conditioned also by the cultural, political and religious environments, which themselves may be inherently flawed [and hence harmful].
A society which glorifies individualism and Ego necessarily tries to treat its mental problems as ‘individualistic problems’, and not [problems which are] merely a result of the whole ‘mistaken world view’ of the society in which the ‘individual’ has been conditioned."
How many have cried over the loss of property, disappointments in career, dissatisfaction with status or position, the frustrations of romantic relationships, disharmony in family and social affairs, etc.? How tragic the disappointments of day-to-day living have become for so many.
Yet how many throughout their entire life -- many decades within this body and upon this earth for some -- have ever felt inclined to ask themselves the questions: "Who am I?" "What is this being behind my thoughts, my likes and dislikes, my desires, my emotions, my beliefs, etc.?" "Where did I come from?" "Why am I here?"
That scarcely a tear has been shed by so many over the lack of answers to these questions is indeed the real tragedy of humankind! Any science of the mind must necessarily deal with these questions. All troubles -- societal and individualistic -- are a direct result of ignorance of the answers to these questions.
These questions are not just philosophical musings, but they hold the key to being able to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. Yet they cannot be answered for you. The answers to these questions cannot be found in words. They are the discoveries gained through the expansion of the consciousness, which comes first from increased understanding and awareness...
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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