The Yoga Tutor

Don't Get Pissed ... Ignorance is Bliss!

By: Yogacharya


In a recent article, I said that ignorance is the main reason why there are so many 'new yoga styles' today. Well, let me tell you, this little statement set off a bit of a fire-storm online.

Out there in the big bad world, the word 'ignorance' is sure a flashpoint for intense emotional reaction. That's because to most people today, the word ignorance means crude, unrefined, rude, dim-witted, or just plain stupid.

But this is NOT what the words actually means. It simply means that you are operating on assumptions that are not entirely true. It means that you have not yet come to understand the full extent of the thing that you think you know so well. It means that you are not fully aware of your own unawareness.

In other words, it means that you are HUMAN!

Yoga teaches us that ignorance (or avidya, as it is called in Sanskrit) is part and parcel of the human state of being. The fact that we are here, now, in this form, means that we have yet to possess all the pieces of the puzzle, which is really why we are here in this life in the first place ... to learn, to deepen our understanding and to ultimately outgrow this worldly state altogether.

Avidya literally means 'non-knowledge'. On one hand, it can mean incorrect knowledge, which is probably the most common form of avidya ... thinking that we know something, but getting it wrong because we haven't yet learned all that we need to know about the subject to really understand it fully.

It can also mean incorrect perception, just like the man who mistook the rope for a snake, or the mistaking of a car backfiring for the sound of a gun. Those types of things demonstrate to us that a lot of our reactions and our beliefs are triggered at a subconscious level, from our deep-seated conditioned ideas about things, which may or may not even be true.

Yoga also teaches us that we have to potential to overcome ignorance through deep, inner study of ourselves. It teaches us that we have the potential to rise above the assumptions that we have been basing our beliefs upon, and to gain a much deeper understanding of everything that we know and do.

... But yoga also reminds us that this is not a hasty process. It takes time, and above all else, a willingness to let go of a lot of our assumptions and a willingness to admit to ourselves that we may not know quite as much as we thought we did.

We shouldn't be embarrassed about our ignorance ... after all it is all just part of what it means to be human. But what we do need to be ever-mindful of is leading others down the road of our own ignorance, which is why guidance from someone who has greater clarity than we do is an essential part of the growth process. Without it, we run a great risk of misleading others with with our mispersceptions and misunderstandings too.

So the next time someone suggests that you are ignorant, please don't get offended. They might not be saying that you are a bad person ... Take it as a reminder that you are human!

... and perhaps more so, that you don't have to continue to be. The choice is up to you!

READ THE ORIGINAL POST that got some folks up in arms ... Why Are There So Many Yoga Styles Today.


Yogacharya is the Director of International Yogalayam, Editor of The Yoga News, and creator of the yoga training programs at

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