|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 343 ]
When we understand what the True Self is, then we can proceed effectively in worldly affairs and achieve whatever we set out to do. The difference is that we are not motivated by selfish gain and thus able to make decisions which are for the greater good of humanity and not the good of ourselves alone. As the Bhagavad Gita reveals:
"The sage centred in the Self should think, 'I do nothing at all' -- though seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, going, sleeping, breathing, speaking, emptying, holding, opening and closing the eyes -- firm in the thought that the senses move among sense objects."
~ Chapter 5, Verse 11
Power, influence, wealth and material affluence can just as readily come to the one who has risen above the sense of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, yet this power and wealth does not stimulate conceit, superiority or vanity. Rather, it stimulates a sense a reverence, gratitude and duty towards all fellow human beings.
When we transcend the ego, the sense of separation and duality, then we have regained the sense of 'Oneness'. This is exactly and precisely what the word Enlightenment refers to! And many spiritual traditions have crafted many ways to reach this realization. Yoga is one of them.
But in transcending the ego, we speak here of the highest ideal. For the vast majority of people upon this earth today, this ‘total realization’ will likely escape them throughout their current lifetime. This does not mean, however, that we all cannot and will not find immense value in our spiritual pursuits. In fact, we will! We will all evolve, according to our own pace, life after life, knowing that the highest ideal is indeed our unavoidable destiny!
The understanding of the ego holds the key to a vastness of human potential; be it leading a more holistic and naturally aware life; finding health, peace and harmony; experiencing all of life with the utmost sense of joy; or basking in the contentment and sense of fulfilment that wisdom and truth bestows. These attainments are all inversely proportionate to the ego self.
As we lesson the ego, we gain in spirit. But as we build and protect the ego to further dimensions, we lose our ability to truly experience any of these wonderful things. The ego and the intellect (conscious mind) are irrevocably tied. One cannot deconstruct one without lessoning the other.
This concept of ego is a point of great self-study (svadhyaya). The student will not find a single aspect or concern in their life where its inquiry is not relevant, and the realizations which you uncover with courageous self-examination will illuminate to you the true vastness of your human potential...
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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