|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 423 ]
The term veerya means "warrior." Yoga was never considered appropriate for the masses, for the plain and simple reason that its challenges are immense, and demand great strength of will, discipline and effort -- characteristics generally beyond the capacity of the average person who is engrossed in the sensorial world.
The cultivation of the warrior spirit is vital if one can ever hope to overcome the many obstacles on the evolutionary path. One who embarks upon the yogic path must be a veerya.
Some people practice a 'spiritual path' but in the moment that certain discomforts occur, or if it becomes necessary to make an even bigger effort, they give up. The permanent avoiding of discomfort is not a spiritual attitude!
This doesn't mean that we must live in very difficult conditions all the time. But if (and when) such conditions occur -- for instance, when you have nothing to eat for a meal or two, or if you have to sleep on the ground for one night, or if you have to work a lot to pay off a debt or to save some money (all quite simple things in relative terms) -- then you must be able to surpass these situations with exactly the same attitude and feeling (sthiti prajna, or equal-mindedness) that you have when you live in affluence and comfort.
Those with a weak strength of will cannot do this. They grovel and whine and complain even about the simplest of inconveniences. Those people cannot hope to take even the first of the steps toward liberation from their painful material existence.
The yogis perhaps may not have foreseen the degree of degradation in modern society, but they were fully aware of the innate tendency of humans to seek the pleasurable over the difficult and, most often, the easiest course of action in any given circumstance. And they were acutely cognoscente of the degenerating effects that this behaviour has on one's strength of will, and consequently its detriment to the evolution of humanity as a whole. As the KATHA UPANISHAD reminds us: "Do not mistake the pleasant for the good."
The yogis have informed us that we can still reach enlightenment via a natural process -- through the natural way of the Universe. But they also say that it will take thousands of lifetimes to make such spiritual progress in this passive way.
Unfortunately, this is what most folks choose to do, and it is obvious that they do not choose this approach because of its effectiveness, but rather because they are lazy. They use phrases like "everyone has a different path" to mask their lack of effort.
One who truly aspires for understanding in life does not hide behind such trite and foolish comments. Instead, they understand that effort lies ahead of them and they are willing to make it. To overcome the inherent challenges in evolution, the will must be strong. So the willpower must be exercised and strengthened on a regular basis so that when one needs to call upon it for an important task, it will be able to respond with force and not flutter.
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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