It is said in the Yoga Sutras that through special devotion to Ishvara, which is translated as Lord or God, we can attain samadhi, the knowledge that we are not the material external world, but that we are, in fact, our highest Self.
This whole God thing didn’t resonate with me at first but after many years of study and practice, I have come to realize that the God Patanjali is referring to is not anything or anyone other than me.
That’s right, I am God. And so are you.
What the Sutras tell us is that Ishvara is a special kind of Purusha, a Self that is not subject to the obstacles to yoga or to the fruits of actions. This special Self is the seed of omniscience and is the teacher of all ancient teachers. The sound of Om is the very sound of this special Self, a sound that if repeated over and over, will lead us to our true nature. Because our true nature and the nature of Ishvara is the same.
For a Jewish girl, this was a tough concept to get on board with. Any time God is mentioned, I have the vision of an old man, yes, man, with a long white beard, floating up above taking care of all of the souls who have passed on. I am not even sure where I got that one from. I don’t know if God was ever defined for me or just somehow instilled in me.
Now through my studies, of not just yoga, but of all of the great world religions – Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam – I have come to a place of respect for the powerful concept that is God and for people all over the world who believe so deeply.
But, through my study of the yoga scriptures, specifically, I have come to see that the path to Self-realization is not religious. It is not dogmatic. It is not a belief system. It is a practice. It has been codified by teachers who have previously walked on this path and have experienced the divine in themselves.
Now, it’s my turn to see the divine in myself. And that is the hardest practice of all.
Lisa Dawn Angerame
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