„People travel to see the heights of the mountains and the waves of the sea, the wide rivers and the expanse of the ocean, but they pass by the greatest wonder, themselves.” St. Augustine.

Since time immemorial, the philosophy and practice of yoga have guided spiritual seekers to Enlightenment. Yoga has become part of all human cultures, and today people all over the world adopt this practice to keep themselves physically and spiritually strong. The yoga method deepens self-awareness, broadens one’s perspective on Reality, and mediates between sensory perceptions, leading to heightened sensitivity, introspection, convergence, mindfulness, kindness, and compassion towards others.

Similarly, the spiritual journey can be seen as an ascent of a pyramid. The sages of ancient India knew that man could ascend this pyramid through merits of kindness to others and fall through undeservedness, causing suffering. The pyramid of evolution has a base. We rise gradually, step by step, until we reach the highest point. In the Vedic view, this pyramid structure of human life comprises four aspects called dharmas. These eternal relationships gave rise to the concept called purushartha.

Purushartha means the goal of life. The four dharmas or purushastras are the ultimate goals of life that we bring together into one focus of attention. Yoga is the power through which we realize them.

Sometimes the dharma is called Sanathana Dharma, the eternal dharma that will not perish because its source is in the depths of Eternity.

Pure Truth is difficult to understand, and therefore, we are asked to look at it as a four-faceted object, viz:

Dharma – living following our highest human potential and the Divine purpose within;

Artha – setting goals and benchmarks that lead to and secure the inner meaning;

Kama – fulfilling the desires of the heart and finding happiness in actions based on personal dharma;

Moksha – attaining liberation of consciousness or Infinite Eternal Divine Bliss.

In the light of dharma, the purpose of human existence is one and indivisible, to realize Cosmic Consciousness. However, this purpose appears to be manifold because of the limitations of the human personality. Therefore, to minimize the difficulty of understanding the Truth and merging with it in yogic life, we undergo a disciplinary system called tapas (spiritual practice).

All these (dharma, artha, kama, and moksha) are the foundations that we must pursue simultaneously in the aspiration towards spiritual perfection so that, from the very beginning, we can experience a gradual ascent of perception to the realization of the ultimate totality, which is the Absolute.

More often than not, spiritual seekers emphasize moksha (attainment of the liberation of consciousness), seeming to forget the other three aspects (dharma, artha, and kama) through which we can transform ourselves completely. Unfortunately, today’s society puts material attainment and pleasure, which are aspects of artha and kama, before dharma and simultaneously ignores moksha. On the path of yoga, we call beneficial actions dharmic actions and contrary actions adharmic. If our actions are not rooted in dharma, the adharmic pursuit of any life goal cannot bring us happiness.

Although purusharthas are called the four dharmas, they are also known as Artha Dharma, Kama Dharma, and Moksha Dharma. So the Sanskrit word dharma has a deeper understanding and should be interpreted according to the context in which it is encountered.

Dharma means to live according to our inner purpose and highest human potential.

The soul of a human being born on earth takes shelter in the most suitable body necessary to perform its duties. On this earthly plane, the work done and the tasks performed are called the dharma of being. In this context, dharma is considered the duty or, in other words, the true vocation of a human being. A being’s dharma may be a combination of things and actions, but as the being progresses, different stages of life may require other dharmas and purposes. Therefore, by purifying his heart and living by following the inner guidance of his heart, man can identify his dharma, his true calling.

The path of dharma is complex, subtle, and multifaceted. Dharma refers to the right way of acting, awareness of the deeper dimensions of being, and our whole interaction with life. It cannot be reduced to a simple routine or formula and requires constant adaptation to the rhythm of life. Man undertakes actions for the sake of happiness but does not achieve true happiness and thus fails to end suffering because two strong motivations mainly drive him:

(a) an (eternal) desire, which results in the acquisition and

(b) joy (sensual pleasures), which are temporary and limited.

Thus, the man spends his whole life fulfilling these two motivations and forgets the ultimate goal. The Dharma urges us to overcome these motivations, and the practice of yoga gives us the means to reconstitute our personality on a higher plane of life’s values to achieve the ultimate goal: Eternal and Infinite Divine Bliss.

As individual human beings, our primary dharma should be based on the universal dharma, of which our soul is but a manifestation. In this more profound sense, dharma should be the foundation of our goals, pleasures, and pursuit of freedom (artha, kama, and moksha). Unfortunately, however, and especially nowadays, this is not always the case.

To live a dharmic life, we must first determine our primary dharma as an individual soul, i.e., our dharma. This consists of personal dharma (svadharma), social dharma, and duty to the Universe. In the yogic view, dharma is the purpose for which we came into this life and reflects our actions (karma) in previous lives. It is our nature and duty as divine souls.

Although dharma is sometimes translated or understood as a religion, it is not necessarily a confessional religion or a kind of ism. Dharma is, instead, a law operating in the Universe whereby everything is maintained in a state of unity so that there is no dispersion of anyone or anything. Dharma is what makes us feel that we exist as complete individuals. It is the universal law that governs all Reality. A supreme law that balances the Universe keeps body, mind, reason, society, and everything in a state of perfect integration. Dharma is the law that reigns everywhere and eternally in the Universe, every aspect of creation, and every degree of manifestation, including our existence. Dharma is, therefore, the eternal law and not the custom or religion of a people.

Because of the multitude of choices, no intelligent human being is evident about how to act, but dharma arises from how we are within ourselves. If we are in a state of inclusion, we will act according to our intelligence and according to each situation. If we are not in a state of inclusion or if we are in a state of „me against you,” everything we do is wrong. In this state, nothing is right. Our existence is submerged in error because we have turned it into „me against you.”

A search for dharma involves examining our inner being and life to see the best path we need to follow to realize our full potential, not just in career, wealth, or relationships, but also in consciousness, creativity, and self-realization. Throughout life, we can have the dharma of artist, entrepreneur, healer, yogi, or any other vocation. However, as part of our roles in life, along with svadarma (personal dharma), we have more duties to the groups we work with and associate with and to society. Svadarma is not something imposed on us by circumstances but a vocation we have accepted in the higher order of things as part of a process necessary for our evolution. With caution, we can distinguish between a job and a servile chore. Sometimes the performance of a task can be painful, but pain itself is not a definition of work. We can tell whether a version is a duty or a chore by the attitude underlying its performance. The outward manner of a job does not reflect how we make this clear. The difference between a duty and a mere chore lies in attitude and intention. If we can somehow discover an inner meaning or relevance between a job and the ultimate purpose of life, then it becomes a vocation. Every action we take should be relevant to the ultimate aim of our life.

From time immemorial, the essential aspect of dharma has been Satyasya Satyam, or the Truth of Truth (Supreme Truth). To realize this Truth, we must be true to ourselves, control and subdue our ego (which is associated with the body and the idea of ‘mine,’ a concept that is bound up with the world, things, and desires), be devoted and surrender ourselves totally to the Supreme Reality, which is the good God the Father.

Artha, setting goals and benchmarks that convey and provide an inner purpose

The Sanskrit word artha means purpose or object, but in this context, it refers to pursuing goals and obtaining the resources needed to sustain our lives in a dharmic way. Therefore, we must be mindful of our plans, especially when striving to achieve something in the social world. 

The type of goal we have determines the type of effort we will put forth to achieve it.

 Higher dharmic goals are inclusive and caring; they do not isolate or promote conflict and division. Adharmic goals are those based on violence, selfishness, or division and aim to achieve what is desired on a personal level, without regard for the needs of others. Adharmic actions cannot lead to a meaningful and happy life. Dharmic goals promote a life lived following our inner purpose and highest human potential, and these goals help the world.

Artha implies abundance, prosperity, and money, goals that are common to human life, especially in this age. Vedic thought is not against prosperity and promotes sensible business procedures as part of life. The Vedic social order is not a form of socialism. On the contrary, it encourages entrepreneurship and the development of the economic sector in a caring and responsible manner for society as a whole. However, prosperity must belong to the Divine Force and the power of higher consciousness, as it will be used to promote higher causes, not just personal pleasures. Earning for Divinity is a beautiful occupation that upholds dharma, and all who support dharma should be honored with wealth for the good of all. Such dharmic approaches to business and livelihood are also part of Vedic management. There should be abundance for everyone, which is possible when we stop trying to get things just for ourselves.

It is very accurate that the body’s physical needs are an essential concern. Whatever spiritual aspirations we aim to achieve, we cannot ignore the fact that we have a body and feel it there. Even an advanced spiritual aspirant has specific physical needs, such as protection from heat and cold, hunger and thirst, sun and rain, etc. Ignoring these essentials can make the body sick, even if there is a sincere or innocent spiritual aspiration. The totality of material requirements is known as artha, material inevitability.

People sometimes think that you cannot be spiritual and rich simultaneously or even that a spiritual seeker should live in poverty, but this is not true. The Universe is abundant, and poverty is just a state of consciousness. If abundance is a quality of Divinity, can the pursuit of wealth be in contrast to the pursuit of Divinity? If one is in a state of poverty, with a constant preoccupation with survival, one will find it harder to pursue spirituality. Life is too short of giving up. Indeed, it is easier when there is no constant preoccupation with survival to shift one’s attention away from the cares of life. The important thing is not to cling to possessions or to obtain wealth but to enjoy it. For one who lives in this state of mind, the pursuit of wealth is no different from the pursuit of Divinity because he sees abundance as a form of the Absolute. In this state of detachment, you can recognize when you have achieved your financial goals, and the desire to pursue them is extinguished, thus completing the path of ultimate liberation, moksha.

Karma on individual dharma

Although the West has given karma a specific connotation, karma means action. Therefore, karma or action and dharma are inherently linked. We evolve, improve and act (karma) through dharma.

When svadarma manifests through karma, our actions are established in dharma, reflecting that we are in harmony with the great laws of nature.

This can be achieved through two simple principles of dharmic action:

Avoiding adharmic karma. It is essential to avoid activities that do not support the ultimate purpose of life and those that go against the highest good.

Cultivate dharmic karma. Let your actions reflect your dharma (svadharma). Put dharmic values and high principles into action.

Any truly dharmic action is a kind of Karma Yoga (selfless service). Dharma begins with duty to Self and commitment to all of life. Karma Yoga (selfless service) is a form of offering (yajna) or doing something sacred to uphold dharma. Working for and serving others is a beautiful way of inner healing and bringing our more profound capacities into focus and action. Karma Yoga involves developing higher consciousness and offering our best as an offering to the Divine. This attitude (and the effort that results from it) naturally enables us to fulfill our true and highest dharma.

Cultivating higher dharmic values

From the shadows, morality may appear to be a kind of external constraint, but in its natural form, the law is not a kind of „must”; the law is liberating, a necessity, and for that reason, cannot be called a constraint. The law of nature is both outward and inward, where it becomes a conscious acceptance of eternal values.

Mulaprakrti has been interpreted as the primary substance from which all other things in the Universe derive, the material cause of the Universe and all that exists, the infinite, eternal, and unchanging basis from which all things are born. Some ancient Indian thinkers called it Maya. To understand it, mulaprakrti can be interpreted as the ‘unmanifest’ or ‘unseen’ Reality that underlies all manifestations, the source of gunas (qualities). It is most often found under the name of Prakrti.

In Sanskrit, Prakriti is the name given to nature, and the law of nature is its law. We live with the feeling that nature is there, but we are nature in every way, and every fiber of our body is part of it. The core comprises physical, biological, psychological, intellectual, moral, and spiritual laws. Ultimately, the direction of the Absolute operates in this Universe, and this law is called Dharma. A dharmic life is based on values that improve our lives and that we can all enjoy. This requires everyone to put effort into a sustained spiritual practice called tapas. Tapas does not interfere with developing clarity of mind. Therefore, the fulfillment of dharma is not about doing what we want but about working for growth, development, and overcoming our previous limitations. Dharma means seeking what is highest and not what is convenient. Only when the Divine allows us to achieve something new, extraordinary, or beyond our previous capabilities can we feel excited and fulfilled.

Glorious is this Indian culture that conceived these ideas, for they have Eternity as their background.

Yama and niyama guide us through different spiritual practices and attitudes. Cultivating the right psychological attitudes through yama and niyama brings peace of mind.

The yoga system was designed for an ever-deepening awareness not only of the body but also of the mind. Yama and niyama are the foundations of all yogic thought and can be regarded as guidelines, principles, ethical disciplines, precepts or restrictions, and observances. They are like a map showing you where you are and how to look for the next landmark. Yama and niyama make it easier to take control of your life and direct it towards the fulfillment you seek. They bring light and understanding to everyday experiences while pointing the way to the next experience. Yama and Niyama are essential steps that help strengthen the being and make it fit for higher practices: Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (Divine Ecstasy). Yamas are the steps we take to free ourselves from unwarranted relationships with other people and things. While yamas are about relationships, niyamas are the disciplines that focus on one’s being.

A recent study published by the Indian Society for Education and Environment provides preliminary evidence that yamas and niyamas can potentially impact the overall energy levels in the human body, as well as the health and entropy status of the five major internal organs (brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys). One hundred healthy young adults were assigned to study the effects of yamas and niyamas for 12 weeks. The study results show that the practice of yama and niyama improved subtle energy regulation in the body and balanced, vital energy to promote physiological well-being further. The study was conducted using the Electro Photonic Imaging (EPI) measuring instrument Bio-Well, which can measure a person’s subtle energy reserve. EPI technology is based on the concept of quantum biophysics. The Bio-Well device has been verified in numerous clinical case studies over the past 20 years.

Yama and niyama are good subjects for study and meditation, an ideal to keep in mind. A discerning practitioner truly understands that yamas and niyamas should be considered the consequences of an authentic yoga practice. Only through practice can we enter their true meaning and, consequently, obtain their fruit. Cultivating the right psychological attitudes through yamas and niyamas can bring peace of mind. It is a way to cultivate and maintain peace of mind because the mind has a much greater influence on the body than the body has on the mind. Therefore, yoga emphasizes yama and niyama and prioritizes them among the various yogic practices.

Yamas is the process of fortification against all the weaknesses characteristic of human nature. These are how we become more aware of vulnerabilities that can reveal unsuspected energies, strengths, and the ability to tolerate pairs of opposites successfully.

Perhaps in a single day, the honest one can assess their weaknesses. Many acknowledge them; only a few would like to stifle them under the guise of a more pleasant notion than this painful conduct of an inquiry into one’s nature. Avoiding this will be the stagnation of a true seeker determined to practice yoga, for yoga is the blessing we deliberately seek for the Self and is not imposed from without. Therefore, yamas should be practiced from the very beginning.

The fundamentals of yama and niyama are purification of body, speech and mind. An attitude of thankfulness for what is given to us by God’s grace and the circumstances of life; a type of life that is content with a minimum of needs; and a life devoted to the sacred study of the scriptures and the love of God. 

The practice of yama and niyama and the various stages or steps of the path of yoga lead to the purification of the path to the Self and the revelation of knowledge until perfection is attained. In addition, these stages of purification and expansion of the personality dimension result in an increased understanding of one’s dimension of being.

Therefore, the necessary preparations on the path of yoga are complete: moral, physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual. Once this process begins, a spontaneous purification of the personality takes place. All the rubbish of adharmic (disharmonious) actions and tendencies of the mind directed towards pleasure in things rather than wisdom cease, and a revelation, Enlightenment, takes place. This Enlightenment is not merely a vacant light shed upon particular objects; it is Enlightenment of one’s being – a knowledge of Truth and penetration into Reality. Each stage of the yoga path is essentially different, and preparation is necessary for this comprehensive experience. Therefore, the practice we undertake must also be similar, and the means are, to some extent, the characteristics of the goal towards which each aspirant is moving.

In practice, yama and niyama are like raising a flower from a garland; the others will naturally follow. If you choose one method of these ancient spiritual disciplines, you will find that the others follow naturally.

The five Yamas

Yamas involve five abstentions that apply to actions, intentions, and words:

1) Ahimsa – non-violence;

2) Satya – Truth;

3) Asteya – non-theft;

4) Brahmacharia – sexual continence;

5) Aparigraha – non-possessiveness.

Yama suggests a global adjustment of the personality, the inner environment of human nature, and an adaptation to the outer world, a balance in every moment, considering the various tensions we have to go through. This adjustment is not a stereotypical movement along a paved road but a lucid engagement from moment to moment. Every seeker of Truth is required to be unceasingly vigilant about the manner of this self-adjustment with the outside world. For him, life is nothing but a genuine movement towards his goal. A tendency towards the finest and most comprehensive integration, namely the realization of the Ultimate Reality, the Supreme Absolute.

Ahimsa, non-violence

Ahimsa is a combination of the particle „a,” meaning „non,” and the noun „ahimsa,” meaning „violence.” Therefore, ahimsa can be interpreted to mean „non-violence.” Consequently, it has been translated as „deliberate abstention from harming any living being.” Ahimsa has been practiced in various traditions, including Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism.

Ahimsa, or non-violence, is the central value in the yogi’s philosophy and guides his behavior towards harmony and peaceful conflict resolution. The yogi sees the whole world as a family, and his love embraces all creatures. Ahimsa is regarded as his duty, dharma, and is more than a negative imperative not to be violent. It urges us not to harm in any form by our deeds, words, or thoughts to any being.

The sage Vardhamana Mahavira transformed ahimsa into a means of self-control, pure conduct, and discipline. He defined ahimsa as „complete detachment from himsa (violence)” and considered all violence, great or small, and committed knowingly or unknowingly impure actions. Buddhism also emphasizes self-control and ahimsa. Gautama Buddha cultivated ahimsa through control of body, speech, and mind. This was made possible by the compassion that reigned supreme in his life and behavior. Guru Nanak Dev emphasized pure and virtuous deeds and self-control to introduce a new, non-violent social order. Moreover, like Gautama Buddha, who conformed to the prevailing conditions of his time by making karuna (compassion) the wellspring of non-violence, Guru Nanak Dev made harmony (Sundara) the basis of non-violence.

Ahimsa is not just a physical action. It is an attitude of mind, and the intention behind acting is the deciding factor in understanding whether a particular action violates ahimsa or not. Non-violence is a position of inclusive relationship with others and Self, which is neither self-sacrifice nor self-aggrandizement. This principle guides us to live together, share goods and do what brings us happiness without causing suffering to others or ourselves.

When a man feels rushed, powerless, and unbalanced, he may find himself uttering unkind words or even exploding with anger. The yogi, as he becomes aware of these nuances, learns that the ability to be non-violent with others is directly related to the ability to be non-violent with himself. 

Ahimsa appeals to the capacity that depends on the proactive practice of courage, balance, self-love, and compassion for others and has many implications. First, man must rely on God, for God is the source of all power, and then he will fear nothing and no evil. Violence is born out of fear, weakness, ignorance, or anxiety. To master it, it is necessary to free oneself from fear. To achieve this liberation, a new attitude to life and a reorientation of the mind is needed. Love, affection, and friendship, qualities that belong to the heart, help us to overcome fear.

Capacitatea de a rămâne centrat în suflet fără a fi paralizat se numește curaj. One of the reasons Mahatma Gandhi had unparalleled strength was that he did not run away when life became confusing or complicated. He became a skilled leader no one could match and a force no one could stop. One of the biggest challenges in maintaining balance is overcoming feelings of powerlessness. Feelings of powerlessness lead to aggression in the form of frustration and anger or emotional shutdown leading to depression and victimization. When people feel they have no choice, they fear their weakness and feel trapped by a sense of powerlessness. Rather than accepting the feeling of powerlessness, ahimsa questions it because man forgets how many choices he has.

It has also been observed that the desire to exploit goes hand in hand with the desire to harm. Exploitation itself is harmful. It is „perhaps the bigest harm done to people because it is ultimately a philosophical attitude.” The desire to use someone, at that person’s expense, for one’s advantage is the basis for the subsequent manifestation of verbal, psychological, or physical harm. Therefore, it is essential to give due consideration to other people. This is the philosophy of ahimsa. If we regard the people around us in a derogatory sense as „others,” they may also treat us as „others” similarly.

The non-violence of the yogi does not mean that he is passive towards evil or that he does not have to intervene in the course of certain events that take a negative turn. In these cases, the yogi opposes the evil in the person doing evil, but not the person himself. He advocates repentance and correction, not punishment for a wrong done. Opposition to evil and love for the evildoer can coexist, but opposition without love leads to violence. On the other hand, to love the one who does you harm without opposing the evil in him is foolish and causes unhappiness. A yogi knows that the best way to proceed in such situations is to love a being while fighting his corruption. If love does not work, then one should act with compassion. If compassion doesn’t work either, then distancing is the only solution. The fight is won by the one who loves—acts with love. In conclusion, it can be said that every situation is a new one, and each case must be analyzed individually. There is no general recipe for all humanity, for all times, every circumstance and condition, and it is necessary to practice our skills and adaptability.

Constant practice of skills and adaptability to achieve non-violence has the effect of uprooting feelings of hostility towards any being. Around the one where non-violence has taken root, beings let go of hate, dislike, and hostility.

Satya, The Truth

The word Satya is usually rendered as „truth,” which is the closest equivalent, but Satya is not what is commonly called Truth in Western thought. Instead, Satya can be seen as „Eternal Truth,” relative to the ultimate truths of Consciousness and the Absolute, Brahman, Atman, and Purusha in Vedic thought that lie beyond duality. Satyam or Satya, derived from the Sanskrit root sat, means ‘ natural’, ‘eternal’ or ‘unchanging.’

Thus, Satya is often translated as reflecting „the reality that is and always has been .”Sincerity, honesty, and Truth are among the values attributed to Truth (Satya). The concept of Satya connotes ‘truth’ and the upholding of universal laws. Satya applies to the divine order governing human society and is considered a virtue of the Divine. Satya supports actions motivated by dharma (sacred duty) or justice because Truth is always concerned with the destiny of all people, regardless of race or religion.

Man must live in Oneness with Truth because Truth and Life are the same. This fact is recognized in yoga by using two closely related words describing Life (Satta) and Truth (Satya). Consequently, only life in unity with Truth can be described as true life, proper.

Since everything is based on Truth, there is nothing that the power of Truth cannot attain. In the Veda writings, the law of God is defined as Satya and the law operating in the world as Rita. The cosmic law is Rita, and the law of God, we might say, is the righteousness of the Kingdom of Heaven, Satya.

The 12 qualities that Satya implies are truthfulness (or refraining from any form of falsehood, which attracts the disappearance of fear), mental balance, self-control, absence of desire in emulation (competing or competing at the level of superficial desires – this shows us whether it is worthwhile to desire a thing), forgiveness, modesty, power of forbearance (endurance), absence of jealousy, mercy, care, and consideration for others, selfless philanthropy, self-control.

Be accurate rather than pleasant, says Carl Jung. It is always good to be natural rather than enjoyable. When we choose fluidity over rigidity, we begin to understand the deeper dynamics of sincerity and thus start to taste the freedom and goodness of Truth. The Truth appears to us in its true light when we realize that hurting someone’s feelings violates ahimsa (non-violence).

Adaptation must take place regardless of the situation and in every moment. Through the practice of Satya, the level of tolerance increases because, through sincerity, the aspirant to the state of yoga knows himself, understands his limitations and weaknesses, and accepts them, thus releasing accumulated tensions and increasing physical and mental energy. Therefore, he finds more creative ways to overcome or adjust negative personality traits through this increased energy.

Truthfulness implies sincerity of heart, words, thoughts, and deeds. Living in Truth means living a virtuous life. Truth must be understood and lived. For this, the sins of speech must be avoided: lying, obscenity and insults, frivolity or saying things that are not serious, slander or making things up, and ridiculing what is sacred or worthy of reverence for others. Satya is to say only what is directly perceived, inferred, or learned from a reliable source. Satya at the level of speech also means not saying what we know to be false and misleading. Care in speech plucks all malice from the root, and the spirit is purified. He who has learned to control his speech, feeling when to speak and when not to say, has achieved self-control mainly because he has mastered his tongue, and by this, he has primarily learned himself. The being who has got himself will be listened to with respect and attention, and his words will remain alive because they are good and faithful.

Truth spills from the core of our unique essence and prevents non-violence from being a cowardly escape, while non-violence prevents Truth from becoming a weapon. When Truth (Satya) and non-violence (ahimsa) come together, they become nothing but deep love in their fullest expression. And when there is a reason for disharmony or confusion between Truth and non-violence, Truth inclines towards non-violence. The priority should be to avoid causing harm. Be honest with yourself and stay true to your purpose, but ask yourself, „Will this truth cause harm to someone?” Sometimes it may be better to keep the Truth to yourself. If you are about to say something that might be hurtful, take a moment to breathe and consider the consequences before speaking. When you tell the Truth, you shouldn’t be afraid of the power of your words. You are not scared of your powerful words when you say to the Truth. Here are some actual words: „I’m sorry I hurt you.” „It’s not fair.” „Thank you.” „I love you.” „Forgive me.” When you tell the Truth, it’s natural to experience a sense of relief.

Swami Sivananda urges us, „Speak little, speak truthfully, speak softly, speak sweetly.” This is our duty to the manifestation of the Divine Mother in us as Vak Shakti (energy of speech). Sivananda, through his teaching, conveys that there is no more significant duty (dharma) than Truth. Truth (Satya) and non-violence (ahimsa) are the two great guiding lights for the seeker of spiritual life. Truth makes it possible to live in harmony with nature’s forces, other living beings, and human beings. Satya is the essence of dharma, i.e., the essence of all ‘debt.’

The words of the great masters are, indeed, forces that stimulate actions and lead to the materialization of values. Materialization through words is achieved by practicing the coordination they maintained between the words they spoke and their deeds. In this way, „everything becomes friendly” because there is close coordination between what is said and what exists.

Because of Truth-centered thinking, sometimes even thoughts will materialize. Practicing Satya, if there is a feeling in the yogi’s mind, it will take effect. Thinking about a thing will happen for the same reason because when thoughts are generated in mind, they always correspond to facts and thus induce the manifestation of a reality that corresponds to the nature of the study. Therefore, thoughts materialize and become true, and words take effect due to the practice of Truth which causes the specific energy of the yogi to increase considerably, resonating beneficially with the power of the collective subconscious. 

This is the excellent and outstanding consequence: the practice of Truth (Satya) entails vak siddhi, or, in other words, the paranormal power obtained through the course of Truth (Satya), thanks to which everything that the human being says or becomes genuine, compelling, and is realized.

Asteya, non-theft

No one can hide anything from God. Yoga is finding Truth in its ultimate vastness. The yogi knowing this becomes honest before the Truth, not only in friends’ eyes. The word asteya means not to steal. On the path of yoga, this is an essential virtue.

The desire to possess and enjoy the good of others leads people to profoundly negative deeds. Asteya, or non-theft, calls us to live with integrity and reciprocity.

The man who lives in fear and lies, dissatisfied with himself and life, driven by these, looks on with a tendency to lie and steal what does not belong to him and thus „steals from the opportunity and the right for all of us to live a prosperous life.” But while other people greedily covet wealth, power, fame, or pleasure, the conscious yogi devoted to noble ideals desires only to discover and love God.

Disparaging someone and deliberately dragging him down or making malicious comments that may also stem from jealousy or envy can be considered theft because one is stealing from what he could become or is. In all cases of stealing, the situation has been „me versus you.” We can ask ourselves about our encounters: does the one in question feel uplifted and lighter for having met me, or does he think decadent as if something precious has been taken from him? Have I brightened their day by giving them a few moments to listen, a sincere compliment, or smiling at them?

According to the asteya concept keeping more for oneself than is necessary is equal to stealing. Therefore, the yogi reduces his physical necessities to the possessions he needs and uses them. Another way to disrespect asteya is not to let others use it. What is cultivated in a well-organized country can be given to its citizens first, and the surplus can be shared among everyone else. If we know how to take care and share, there will be no poverty or hunger anywhere.

At a mental level, asteya means lack of greed, and this should be understood in a broader sense: ‘not to covet.’ The actual theft, if it occurs at all, is only a direct product of the original thought that brought forth the covetousness and thus disturbed the emotional and mental balance in the being. It creates dissatisfaction and envy. Coveting implies a limitation of claims. This does not only apply to those things; it mentally eliminates everything else as useless. There may even be a tendency, a feeling, a likeness, a so-called „give it to me!” longing. According to asteya, this is stealing because mental stealing is actual. Asteya refers not only to a gross form of stealing but also to the mind’s inclination towards theft, which is called stealing. Thoughts are basic actions. It is one’s feelings, desires, and thoughts that determine one’s personality and future.

The primary key to eliminating these tendencies is freedom from the tyranny of adharmic desires. A being can desire for himself what another being has more spiritually, but without seeking to profit from the efforts of others selfishly. In this situation, you don’t want what the other has but want equivalent self-realization. If he empties himself of desires, things will automatically flow to him. „Empty yourself, and I will fill you,” Jesus said. If we open ourselves, everything will come to us. Everything comes to us, provided we expect nothing from anyone. He who wants nothing will receive everything. If nature knows that we are not greedy, it will gain confidence in us, knowing that we will never keep it to ourselves alone.

Yogic wisdom reminds us that the desire to exploit manifests itself as an instinct, a natural expression of the majority, and a common human weakness. The selfish person desires to influence or possess more than he needs. Therefore, the exploitative attitude is nothing but the expression of this inherent selfishness in man. So, according to the area concept, theft has many facets and can be difficult to understand unless we delve deeply into its understanding.

Within the yoga system, whose purpose is the realization of the Divine, infinite in its nature, and whose intention is to establish Himself in the Infinity of His existence, these subtle slips of the mind, in the form of exploiting and hurting others, seem totally out of place. However, if we pause long enough to look at what is before us, to „let the mystery of beauty and the wonder of the seasons settle deep within our souls, our hearts cannot but burst forth in gratitude and thanksgiving to life itself.” This kind of wonder is innate gratitude for the place where we have received life and indebtedness to the future.

When the spiritual aspirant has firmly established himself in the yogic virtue of honesty, he acquires a power of knowledge akin to clairvoyance or intuitive awareness, the same quality possessed by prophets. Using this faculty of knowledge, the aspirant becomes aware of the precious stones near him. For example, some beings can realize how rich a man is. This intuitive awareness is made possible by absolute, unconditional, universal honesty. Its purpose is to cleanse the whole of life, to purify the whole structure of the personality. When this has been achieved, the character becomes like a mirror in which the Divine Mind is reflected. The virtue of being more and more honest „confers a higher intuitive state through which you can become aware of the hidden treasures in the heavenly, spiritual worlds (Swami Sivananda).

The yogi, freed from the lower adharmic desires, is allowed to remove a multitude of temptations. Lower desires cloud the mind and make people base and evil. He who obeys the commandment ‘do not steal,’ understood in a more profound sense, becomes the possessor of all wealth.

Brahmacarya, sexual continence

The word Brahmacharya combines the word Brahman, „pure consciousness,” and acharya, „one who moves .”The word brahmacharya has been translated as „one who lives in the constant awareness of Brahman” (God); „one whose consciousness is absorbed in pure awareness, whose mind is above the duality of female and male, who sees the divine Self Atman in all .”Brahmacharya also means the act or deed that leads to the realization of Brahman, or the Divine Self Atman. One in constant communion with the Divine Self Atman is called brahmachari. As is the Absolute, so should the yogi (one united with the Absolute) should be. This is „a total abstraction of the senses into a sublimation of consciousness which recognizes only itself everywhere and excludes everything else” (Swami Sivananda). This is an essential practice for which the yogi must strive, and words cannot express what it means. They are only „a symbolic indication of a miraculous experience and wonder to which we can aspire, through which the yogi must pass as a result of self-control and meditation practice .”By practicing it, „the being fulfills every other duty in this world because every other duty is a tendency towards the fulfillment of that duty.”

In the yoga tradition, including its stricter forms of practice, brahmacharya means celibacy, abstinence, or abstention from sexual relations. At the same time, however, it also refers to sexual intercourse with continence. In Tantra and yoga, brahmacharya implies control of all sensory activities, especially sexual desires (lust). For contemporary yogis, brahmacharya promotes responsible and deliberate sexual behaviour, in contrast to overt celibacy. So there is a clear difference between transmuting and sublimating (directing to higher planes of being) energies (sperm in men and menstrual secretions in women) to spiritual endeavors and suppressing sexual urges.

Just as chemicals are sublimated or purified by heating matter to vapor, which is then condensed into a solid form, sexual energy is redirected to body temperature through spiritual practice (tapas) and transformed into sacred energy. Sexual transmutation and sublimation is the process by which sexual energy is controlled, stored, and then directed through the ‘ten gates’ manovaha nadis to be transformed into Ojas shakti, spiritual energy. Channeling sexual energy can enhance creativity, concentration, and clarity, stimulate the mind and ultimately pave the way to the realization of the Divine Self Atman.

Brahmacarya practice focuses on channeling energy into the mind-body system, a power that must be prevented. The energy of the human system can be distributed equally or unequally among the sense organs. Sometimes it is centered in one sense, in two or three, and then an unbalanced personality development is felt. Also, there is a lack of brahmacharya practice when there is an unequal energy distribution in the mind-body system. Therefore, the path of yoga emphasizes brahmacharya under maintaining balance in the mind-body system. Brahmacarya does not want the uneven distribution of any force in the body. Otherwise, the mind will lean in that direction where there is excessive energy distribution. The reason will be the center towards which the energy has been directed more significantly.

Conversely, the power will concentrate in a specific direction when the mind pushes it in that direction for its purpose. The goal may be to satisfy an immediate need or an impulse. The path of yoga is not very much concerned with immediate needs but ultimate needs. Because being too concerned only with immediate needs, we may lose sight of the ultimate goal.

For the aspirant to the state of yoga who seeks to realize his or her highest potential, brahmacharya provides a way to sublimate our creative energies, remain centered in Divine Existence, step into Infinity or Supreme Consciousness (Brahman), and thus find a way to fulfill the most powerful and noble desire of all. Brahmacharya stresses the importance of taking the time necessary for evolution, alone or in a mutually loving relationship, to transmute and sublimate your sexual energies for transformational purposes.

Some studies have shown that the energy lost during a sexual act of discharge is equivalent to the energy spent in physical work for ten days or the energy used in mental work for three days. Also, vices are huge expenditures of sacrificial ojas spiritual energy, as are arguments. Keeping sperm and making love with continence is how the body conserves spiritual energy, ojas shakti.

The senses usually channel energy and direct it towards certain external things or goals. Not allowing feelings to interfere with inner powers is also the practice of brahmacharya. The forces that empower the body are those of brahmacharya. These energies combine to establish balance and harmony in the human system so that you can be more aware of your inner being and focus more on spiritual practices. This has proven to be a scientific and psychological necessity, but to achieve it takes patience and effort.

The nature of energy demands expression. Energy can be retained for some time but not in all conditions; therefore, it must be transmuted and lifted into the higher energy centers (chakras). If our energies are not used correctly (raised in the higher energy centers), they will find a way out and dissipate. So if energies are not transmuted and raised systematically through Hatha Yoga techniques, they are lost.

Brahmacarya enables us to become physically, mentally, and morally strong because of the energy equalized in the body through transmutation and sublimation of power in the higher energy centers (chakras). A true Brahmacarya can be involved in loving relationships with continence and retain the consciousness of the Supreme Experience. Brahmacarya in Tantra Yoga is explained as maintaining sperm (Bindu), i.e., not losing sperm. Sperm in men should be kept and should not come out through the sexual organs (through ejaculation). The practice of brahmacharya in women brings with it the shortening of menstruation and even its suspension at will for long periods. This does not mean that if you stop practicing Hatha Yoga, your menstrual cycle will not resume. Transmutation and sublimation of sexual energy is a conscious act that cannot be imposed from the outside.

Once you have mastered your body and mind through yoga practices, brahmacharya becomes natural. Tantra Yoga teaches that endless sexual love is not harmful to spiritual awakening and that sexual intercourse with continence and sublimation of sexual energy can be used to induce spiritual awakening. Unfortunately, human powers are not used properly because of faulty educational systems and degrading sexuality. This is part of the explanation for the social misery in our lives. There is no proper education. Whatever one’s beliefs about Divinity, being with God involves „an awareness of sacredness in all actions and attention to every moment that moves us into a position of purity.” It is from this place of sacredness that the boundary is set for leaving excess behind and living within the bounds of enough.

Energy comes to the one who masters himself. It comes not through diet, exercise, or any other foreign means but through an influx of energy that is perpetual. Through the practice of brahmacharya, we become inflexible in our strength, relentless in our work, and untiring in our efforts. The mind and body become strong, and lightness and buoyancy are felt in the spirit. When we stop thinking about objects but maintain awareness, the energy diverted to things is brought back into ourselves, and something surprising happens. Instead of the power going towards objects, the energy of objects starts going towards us. Directing the body’s energy towards things completely exhausts the forces. Therefore, brahmacharya encompasses many aspects and manifests in the mind-body system by practicing the spirit of withdrawing the senses from objects.

Brahmacharya, favors dynamism. The energy retained strengthens the nervous system and brain cells; memory is enhanced, muscles and organs are toned, and organic disturbances disappear, allowing the return of joie de vivre, spiritual clarity, intuition, and harmony. Sexual energy is transformed into psychic force and helps awaken latent powers: intuition, clairvoyance, and telepathic ability.

Aparigraha, non-possessiveness

Non-possessiveness frees us to immerse ourselves in appreciation of life and others. Non-possessiveness doesn’t mean avoiding or numbing our emotions; it doesn’t mean we don’t care. On the contrary, Aparigraha means being present and accepting of our thoughts and feelings while understanding that they are inherently transient because the nature of the realm of non-possessiveness is impermanence. Everything is transforming. By following the inhalation and exhalation of breath, we can feel this Truth. Possessiveness and attachment spoil our day when they are unsatisfied and dull the mind. What we cling to includes us.

By managing to cultivate strong and stable centeredness in our hearts, we can express ourselves freely as we ultimately learn how to master our thoughts and emotions instead of being at their mercy. Aparigraha means giving up all illusory interest in everything that does not exist. Aparigraha, the fifth Yama and the last of the guidelines known as Yamas, frees us from greed. 

The things we cling to–people, objects, ideas–only weigh us down and make life difficult. Practicing letting go is how we move towards freedom and joy. But it’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts and emotions, toxic people and situations, or the pressure to succeed. These things obscure our ability to see the present moment.

When we don’t keep things around us, people who consume our time, and situations that don’t contribute to sustaining our spiritual life, we are supposedly living a life of austerity. This simple way of life does not allow thoughts of what is not necessary for spiritual evolution to enter and releases the tension of the mind-body system.

Yoga helps us to understand that everything in the material world is temporary and not permanent. Everything comes and goes, appears and disappears, or decays. We come to suffer when we attach our happiness to the transient nature of life. Because of impermanence, nothing in the material world can be the cause of deep contentment. When we truly understand this, we learn to detach ourselves from whatever we have attached our happiness to – be it a relationship, an outcome, a situation, a fleeting pleasure, a material thing – and in this way, we come into contact with that which is happiness, that which is permanent, the purpose and fruit of yoga practice, the revelation of the divine Self Atman.

Often people unconsciously attach themselves to things and then are troubled by expectations, opinions, criticisms, and disappointments, all because they forget to show confidence in the face of life. Like breathing, when held too long, things can become toxic. Aparigraha invites us to practice divine play, experience complete intimacy, live in the present moment, and let go. This is how we become more than what we are capable of becoming and a way to remain free from the prison of possessiveness.

Nature does not tolerate any external constraints, which explains humanity’s unhappiness. No one can be compelled to do what they don’t want. In yoga, asteya (no-stealing) and aparigraha (no-possessiveness) act as a personal cue for spiritual advancement and a social remedy for human greed and selfishness. Simplified living and high thinking are the mottoes of yogis. He does not accumulate things he does not need in his house or room.

The journey of life is towards and about freedom. Two bound birds cannot fly together. Neither can we cling to something and at the same time be free. Practicing constant generosity and unwavering trust will curb greed and keep you open to life’s growth.

Mentally review the material you have and the things you surround yourself with. Do these things make you feel free and light, or do they have a weighing influence, making you feel heavy?

In the yogic view, lack of memory of past lives and unawareness of the future is due to an attachment of the mind to the body to such an extent that it does not allow reflection in itself of anything other than this present body. The attachment slowly weakens when the mind frees itself from this attachment to the body by eliminating ideas of appropriation, accumulation of possessions, etc. The weakening of the attachment to the body is simultaneously followed by the reflection of other things and states with which the mind is truly connected.

The opposites of the five yamas are nothing more than the externalized impulses of the human being. These insistent impulses must be sublimated and harnessed for higher concentration. The externalization of stimulants, the opposite characteristic of the yamas, is contrary to the practice of concentration and meditation because concentration and meditation are about conserving the driving force, the energy, and not its externalization. Meditation is the universalization of energy, whereas the personal impulses normally present in people are pressures that lead to the externalization of energy. Yamas are not just moral amendments. They are complete processes of disciplining the personality, the whole individuality of one’s person, including not only the moral nature but also other factors, so that we can say that the practice of yamas is a readjustment of one’s own being to the character of the Supreme, the Divine Self Atman.

By practicing yamas we can notice that time takes on a different dimension and that there is more space in life. Days begin to feel lighter. Work becomes more enjoyable and our relationships with others more fluid. We feel good, and our steps become more effortless. We’re finding that we need less stuff and enjoy ourselves more.

The study and practice of the five niyamas constitutes a very high-order personal code and therefore relates to the ‘personal discipline of the practitioner.’ The Niyamas reduce mental and emotional conflicts and make the mind peaceful for concentration and meditation, leading us gradually into a more refined and subtle realm:

1) Saucha – inner and outer purification of the being;

2) Santosha – the purification and acceptance of inner Reality and outer environment;

3) Tapas – austerity;

4) Svadyaya – spiritual study and reading in a transfigured state;

5) Ishvara pranidhana – worship of God; directing actions, thoughts, feelings, and aspirations towards the Divine.

While yamas are meant to harmonize social and external interactions in one’s life, niyamas create a sense of discipline in the inner life. Inner discipline is a step above outer discipline. It directs the yogi toward a high integration that gradually moves from the external to the internal and rises further towards the Universal Reality. Such daily study progressively leads to knowledge, from knowledge to wisdom, wisdom to Enlightenment, and Enlightenment to Liberation.

Saucha, purity

Saucha is an invitation to cleanse the body, mind, heart, and attitude to everything and actions. It asks us to wash our lives so that we create space and can be more available for the qualities we seek. This precept also invites us to purify how we relate to what is above the moment. Finally, it is balance in our relationships with others, with our tasks, and implicitly with ourselves.

In the light of the great purpose of the power of yoga, what we call purity is a particular attitude towards all things related to us. At first, it may seem challenging to understand what purity is and what impurity is complete. We undoubtedly have a standard routine imposed on the mind, but this does not necessarily explain the deeper meaning of purity (saucha) as understood in yoga practice. Any connection of consciousness with things or circumstances that have no constructive relationship to the purpose of yoga must be considered an impurity. Saucha, in a more profound sense, implies purity or freedom from all that cannot be brought into tune or harmony with the ideal or goal of yoga. 

A yogic analysis of the human being shows that, besides the body, it contains the prana, the sense organs, the mind, the intellect, and the various ramifications of these inner layers. Each individual is therefore composed of layers of different densities (koshas), which perform other functions in the evolution process. Consequently, it is a little challenging to understand what mental purity is. This is the final crown of the whole system of saucha practice. When there is mental purity, the other purities automatically follow. Therefore, pure thought is a virtue, even more than a virtue. It is a great treasure, possession, consolation, power, and source of energy for one’s being.

In essence, purity of thought is that state of mind during which ideas are shaped to align themselves only with life situations that positively support the path and faith in the precise purpose of the union in God. Because of this, there are levels of purity of thoughts that cannot be outlined in simple logical sentences, no matter what circumstances one may have to go through. There are also many levels of psychological purity, and a higher stage will appear to us as a higher state of purity than a lower one. The lower one will appear impure in the light of the higher one. However, each stage may seem unclean or pure, depending on how we look at it or from what point of view we realize it. And here, we are dealing with a purely personal matter, a case that varies from circumstance to circumstance. Ahimsa (non-violence) being the supreme virtue, ultimately, everything comes under it. All other principles of yama and niyama, including saucha, are under the umbrella of this vast and all-encompassing principle called ahimsa, a complicated thing to understand but which is the most important of all standards of behavior. The way we speak to others should be positive and constructive, not negative or hurtful. Our words should be uplifting and inclusive, not repulsive.

To the extent that health is regarded as pure, anything contrary to health maintenance is impure. After bathing and wearing clean clothes, we feel a particular state of purity. However, by the word saucha or purity, the science of yoga does not refer only to bodily cleanliness, although it does include this. For in the being, there can be impurities other than bodily ones. For man is not just the body. Therefore, although it is necessary to keep the body clean outwardly and inwardly, it is not enough to keep only this cleanliness and other aspects impure. Every part of the being must be kept clean. While the body must be kept pure, all these must be kept pure.

Physical sickness is not in keeping with the aim of yoga, the ill health of the body affects everything else one aspires to in yoga. We can conclude that purity means body, speech, and mental purity. People generally understand physical purity to represent not only a clean body but also clean clothing and a clean atmosphere. This physical purity is relatively easy to maintain. Verbal purity is complex, and mental or psychological purity is more complicated. Mental purity is impossible for vulgar people who do not want to change. While a person may have a sleek body and clean clothes, he may be horrid in his vocabulary and very antisocial in his statements. Someone can misbehave in human society despite being a very physically clean person in the home environment.

Purity, which is expected to be maintained, allows the mind to be permanently aware of the true nature of the body because it is an inadequate understanding of the nature of the body that causes attachment to it. We have a wrong notion of the body. The body must be maintained daily by bathing, cleaning, eating, sleeping, resting, Hatha Yoga postures, and many other things. If any of these are withdrawn, we find that the body loses control of itself, like a house that is not properly maintained.

The yogic masters teach us that the mind becomes brilliant because of the awareness of the transient nature of things and the defective nature of sense objects, including the physical body. Man is discouraged, melancholy, brooding, and unhappy because of the activity of the mind and its impurities. Peace of mind manifests purity of mind, absence of movement, and impurities. Pin saucha distraction and torpor are eliminated, at least to a large extent, if not entirely. Then there is a radiance of the light of purity, which we call serenity or peace of mind. Then comes the bliss of concentration of mind. Attention becomes difficult because of activity and impurities in mind. There is, therefore, a consistent manifestation of purity, which is immediately followed by concentration of mind. This facilitates complete mastery over the senses, to a withdrawal of centrifugal energies or energies that tend to move away from the spiritual center Anahata chakra. And then there is automatically a tendency towards universality. This is the condition for the manifestation of self-knowledge.

Santosha, contentment

The whole Universe is moving towards great cosmic success through the prism of positivity of creation. Every being is a part of this Universe and, in this way, participates in realizing this greatness. However, it may seem that they have to bear the weight of the trials of facing various sufferings. These sufferings must be seen in their true essence and judged according to their actual value. All the things we accomplish to achieve our goals unite with our satisfaction and well-being. Satisfaction can be found in accepting the present moment, and the more we learn to be at peace with what exists in the present, the more contentment will continually pour upon us.

Santosha is a state of contentment, satisfaction, and pleasure. It comes from the root verb ‘tush,’ which means to be pleased or satisfied. The prefix „san” denotes comprehension. We can find contentment from within when we have a pure mind, body, and speech. But if we can be happy with what we have, our desires will disappear, and so will our sadness. Santosha is the key to happiness; it is content with what we have.

Contentment is the source of joys of the best kind. Such joy flows only from God. When contentment is at its peak, God blesses us with contentment. God is the ocean of happiness. True contentment transmutes desires, for when one touches Him, all aspirations are alchemized. This kind of contentment comes as a result of accepting God’s wisdom. If God is wise, you have nothing to fear because, in His wisdom, He keeps us in the best of circumstances, even if sometimes this seems hard to understand.

Santosha is always the ideal state of a spiritual aspirant who is sincere about the path of yoga and self-realization. It is almost impossible for someone dissatisfied with himself or his surroundings to achieve the ultimate fulfillment. Dissatisfaction is one of the veils of avidya (ignorance, delusion) and therefore must be removed, and compromise with situations never brings satisfaction. The blow can cause many undesirable complexes and induce a state of mental illness, and if the mind is diseased, no sadhana (spiritual practice) is possible. Man must be satisfied with what he has, even if he is dissatisfied with what he is. All needs will be fulfilled when contentment and intelligent effort go hand in hand.

Contentment, or santosha, suggests developing a sense of satisfaction in every situation, no matter what is going on, and the attitude: „everything is for my good” – is always favorable. Whether you have more or less, gain or lose, you should try to be aware that you have more and thus experience a sense of sufficiency. The opposite of sufficiency breeds insecurity, which further creates anxiety and instability. Trust that you have everything you need and that God looks after you. Always be grateful for all you have, including your health, friends, family, and possessions. Try to focus on the satisfaction and happiness of the present moment. Avoid the idea that some change in the future will bring you joy because this idea is the very mind projecting into the future. Happiness is now and here and depends on the degree of purity and contentment. Most people find joy in material fulfillment, but after a while, dissatisfaction arises. When you realize that your desires can never be fully satisfied, it is time to turn to the Self. This is the only way to feel santosha or contentment truly.

Being joyful and full of energy is santosha. Inner purity is achieved by right thinking (saucha). Contentment or santosha arises from this practice of purity. These observances constitute a kind of austerity or tapas.

Tapas, self-discipline

The third niyama is tapas or self-discipline. The practice of tapas is known as the discipline of self-control. It is a spiritual practice to achieve peace and remove impurities from the body and mind. When the mind thinks about something external, „we” consider that external thing to be the object of our contemplation. Now, the energy of the mind’s power drains in this way. The reason, when not absorbed in its own experiences or focused on a single point, tends to turn to something external. The mind contemplates or is attracted to objects, and in all the practical actions of daily existence, not being aware of true identity, we become only the mind. Every thought, as an outward expression of the Self, is a channeling of power in this direction, and by feeding this feeling of letting it flow outward, the character is gradually starved, and thoughts become weak. The more we succeed in restraining and directing the impulse of thoughts inward, the stronger we become physically and mentally. Tapas is essentially restraining the senses and thoughts from flowing to external objects.

In the science of yoga, it is expounded that since the dawn of creation in the context of all spiritual life, regardless of tradition, tapas (austerity, self-control, penance) has never been lacking. On the contrary, it has been a vital factor. It was and remained one of the indispensable ingredients of an authentic and genuine spiritual life. In this age when values are still partly reversed, Truth is rejected and, as a result, suffering befalls people. But one who adheres to the Truth (Satya), practices the Truth, and fulfills the austerity of Truth (Satya tapas) gains the power to overcome every obstacle. „The light of Truth defeats the evil influence of darkness. In this light given by Truth (Satya), its observance appears to us as the greatest tapas of this age.” Tapas is a purifying and uplifting fire, a force that helps, at every step, the one set on the path of yoga to tread and overcome all obstacles that stand in his way. The Truth is, therefore, a great benefactor. It is the highest good, and observance of it can be the most elevated tapas.

Tapas means „warmth” and can also be translated as catharsis. Tapas is what impacts the yogi’s transformation and is his preparation for greatness because success in yoga is mainly achieved through tapas and brahmacharya. Thus through tapas, an attempt is made to set in motion a process of metabolism, through which all habits that create weakness and obstruct the awakening of the will can be eliminated from the personality.

In the Bhagavad Gita, it is mentioned that there are three types of austerities:

(a) the discipline of the physical body;

b) the discipline of communication and speech (Mouna) and

c) discipline of the mind.

Tapas is the power we exert within ourselves with which we keep our energy within ourselves. We do not want this energy to go to an object of the senses or predominantly to a particular body part. As brahmacharya teaches us, energy must be distributed equally. There is also a Divine Energy (Shakti) that acts in the powerful; this power comes from tapas. The greater the inner energy, the more muscular man, becomes and never tired.

The purpose of sense control, sacred study, and worship of God is unique – namely, the affirmation of the supremacy and ultimate value of the Divine. This requires persevering effort and can be an intense effort on the part of the mind to prevent, on the one hand, the penetration of impressions and desires that are connected with the external world and, on the other hand, to create impressions of a positive character in the form of a love of God. Ishvara pranidhana invites us to end habitual beliefs received from outside (from objects) and to allow only those impressions conducive to the contemplation of the Divine Reality. This manifold effort – namely, a positive effort to control and restrain the senses from direct action regarding external objects, a deep sacred study in a transfigured state that is dedicated to the liberation of the spirit from beginning to end, and a constant reminder in the mind that God is All, with a surrender of Self to His supremacy – constitutes a very important practice in itself. In our daily aspirations, worship of God plays a vital role. Action, worship, and knowledge are the stages of one’s ascent.

The ideal chosen for meditation practice must be such as to attract our full attention and invoke devotion and love. The love and aspiration aroused in our hearts by our ideal is the power that will lead us to that ideal. That is why the concept of Ishvara was naturally introduced by Patanjali as an ideal to be attained and accepted to concentrate the mind in yoga practice.

Without a process of divine transfiguration, we cannot love a being entirely because each has a limitation. Although we may be attracted to a particular person or thing for the moment, in certain circumstances, for our reasons, this attraction without transfiguration cannot continue for long because it will only exist as long as emotions overwhelm us. Thus, finally, the sage Patanjali believes that no ordinary human being can be an object of adoration. Therefore, we must have a supreme personality concept – a Supreme Being who is not a normal human being and who is free from the results that flow from actions. Thus, for all practical purposes, Ishvara is none other than God.

Since God is different in the general conception of men, we reach this stage by other means and in different situations. It is the moment when the aspirant ultimately gives up the ego and surrenders himself to destiny. For Maharishi Patanjali, the fruit of perfection in Ishvara pranidhana is Divine Ecstasy ‘Samadhi’.

Although yamas and niyamas can be found in other cultures, they were formulated by yogis. A yogi knows that the mind should never be forced to accept anything. They can be cultivated with the help of spiritual effort, and when they become spontaneous, there will be no repression. By keeping yamas and niyamas in mind, they will develop naturally. Any new work may seem very difficult, but one finds it more accessible when one goes through the process. In this way, you need to start following the yamas and niyamas by first bringing them into behavioral patterns and allowing your understanding of them to deepen. Gradually, they flourish by themselves.

Over time, the yamas and niyamas become part of the meditative transformation the yogi experiences. Purity, saucha, contentment, santosha, study and self-analysis, svadhyaya, are experienced in meditation. Meditation becomes a process of purification from all the residues accumulated over time, which is a form of tapas. Meditation becomes a tool to learn how to surrender and surrender to the Divine, Ishvara pranidhana. Meditation becomes a tool for living sincerity, Satya. With this purification of one’s nature, the intensity of violence recedes from the personality and reflects non-violence ahimsa. Keeping our highest goal in mind, the Immortal Divine Self Atman, asteya, non-fur, aparigraha, simple living, non-possessiveness, and sexual continence brahmacharya, become natural and spontaneous.

Periodically when you feel more relaxed, with increased vitality and concentration, return to the yamas and niyamas. Anyone who practices a little medicine can be called a doctor, but to qualify as a doctor, there must be specific training. Similarly, to become a yogi, you need this special training, and the yamas and niyamas will become essential for meditation and Divine Samadhi Ecstasy. This is the proper approach to yoga practice.