|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 442 ]
"Svadhyaya means self-analysis, self-study, self-awareness. 'Man, know thyself!' is an ancient dictum often forgotten by even the sincerest aspirant. True unity of spirit cannot come to one bereft of self-knowledge. Introspect, rather than introvert; look within; seek within... Seek knowledge of the self which can set you free from illusions and delusions of the ego, the 'non-self'... To know oneself will require patience..."
~Swami Gitananda Giri, Yoga, Step-by-Step
One of the first points that my dear Amma conveyed to me was that without svadhyaya, there can be no yoga. It is a message that has stuck with me and has grown in its profoundness as I continue along my own process of exploration and understanding. Unless we are willing to peer within into the 'mirror of truth' at ourselves, with honesty and frankness, without fear or denial, then any study of concepts in spirituality are mere intellectual exercises and will never take us anywhere significant.
But 'knowing oneself' is no small revelation. Most people assume that their Self is merely defined by their attitudes, their ideas, their likes and dislikes, their personality traits, their beliefs, their habits, their opinions, etc.
On the grossest level, some may identify themselves purely with things like their name, their job, their achievements and their position or status (i.e. "I am John’s wife," or "I am the director of marketing for company XYZ," or "I am Congressman Bob Brown"). To look within reveals nothing much more then the surface for most. It is safe to say that most people haven’t even the slightest idea what it means to 'know themselves'.
In all fairness, they have likely never been shown where or how to look! Now that we have treaded along a fair amount of ground in our uncovering of yoga, you have a basic understanding to explore this matter further. By now, you understand, at least on an intellectual level, that you are NOT all of these things mentioned above -- that, in essence, you are something much deeper and more profound...
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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