background of yoga
Om Poornamadah Poornamidam Poornaat
Poornasya Poornamaadaya Poornamevavashishyate
This is full. That is full. Even though this fullness came
out of that fullness,
all that remains is fullness itself.
Truth was revealed to the Rishis. It expresses the wisdom
of the universe underlying all aspects of creation from the
tiniest atom to the mightiest galaxies; whatever comes out
of the fullness that is God, is also fullness itself and doesn't
in anyway diminish the fullness of the whole. A baby coming
to life is fullness itself, but the fullness of the baby does
not diminish the fullness of the mother. An apple tree is
fullness itself. The apples that spring from it are fullness
itself, and so are the seeds in the apple. And this doesn't
in anyway diminish the fullness that the tree is. All of creation
is a manifestation of this Truth.
The word YOGA, which means "union," is highly suggestive.
It reminds us that the goal and purpose of life is to realize
that we are Sampoorna - Fullness or Divinity Itself, One with
the Supreme Consciousness, Brahman. From ancient times this
has been the experience of all the Enlightened Beings. All
the Scriptures attempt to awaken us to this Truth. The expression
of this experience is called Scriptures and the philosophy
and practice that leads to this experience is called Yoga
and Vedanta. The purpose of Sampoorna Yoga is to bring this
ancient experience into the modern life of people of today.
Each individual is as full as the fullness, the pure consciousness
from which he comes. Yet, as this pure consciousness functions
through the limited equipment of body, mind, intellect and
senses, human beings perceive themselves as finite, limited
and incomplete, which reflects as confusion and madness in
the world. In order to fill the inner void and find happiness,
fullness and freedom, people spend their lives acquiring and
hoarding. They feel that the more they can acquire and grab
for themselves, the more secure they will be.
Throughout history, examples abound of those with unimaginable
wealth, power and pleasures but who failed to find everlasting
fulfillment. Solomon, the Emperors of China, the Egyptian
pharaohs and so many others had this experience. Even in the
Scriptures there are examples of individuals like Ravana,
who had conquered the three worlds. Yet they remained unfulfilled
because this kind of experience can only bring temporary happiness.
In spite of those illustrious examples, most people think
they will succeed where others have failed. They continuously
run in the wrong direction, striving to find fulfillment in
objects, relationships, success and pleasure in the outer
world. More is never enough. They fail to see that, "at
the end of the rat race, the rat is still a rat...!"
How do you get out of this collective hypnosis? The Scriptures
instruct that you do this by, "refining and harmonizing
the three bodies and five sheaths through which the soul functions
to experience the world of objects, emotions and thoughts."
This powerful technology of the human body, senses, mind,
intellect and self-awareness has been given to us to accelerate
our evolution and uplift our consciousness by transforming
our whole personality from the gross to the subtlest level.
However, without proper understanding and guidance, this technology
can be misused to degrade consciousness very rapidly. Through
a process of constant refinement, an ordinary human being
can evolve into a divine being in one lifetime. That is why
the Sages say, "to be born as a human being is a very
special privilege, a true blessing." The more the equipment
through which the Self functions becomes transparent, the
more the Divine Light will shine through. Perfection or fullness
is not to be acquired. It is already there. All we have to
do is remove the veil that keeps us from experiencing it.
This is the real objective of yoga as outlined in the Scriptures.
This objective is tremendously accelerated through the practice
of Sampoorna Yoga.
Many people in the West have been mislead into believing
that yoga is just doing postures, developing strength and
flexibility, getting more power and becoming more attractive.
This misunderstanding takes them in the opposite direction
of the true meaning of yoga. It leads to inflation of the
ego and increased identification with the body, thus further
thickening the veil. But their mistake is not really surprising.
From the time we are born, we are conditioned to identify
with the body, the mind, the intellect, the world of names
and forms, not realizing that the fruits we get are as illusory
and fleeting as the mirage of an oasis in the desert. Becoming
aware of this wrong programming is the first step. Willingness
to get rid of it in order to evolve into something higher
is the second step, and this will create a new movement in
our consciousness and relationship with the world. Yearning
and restlessness are bound to appear, but that stage is much
higher than a state of dullness, blindness and delusion.
You may be born into a favorable environment. You may have
the yearning to understand the mysteries and purpose of life.
And you may have the desire to unfold your highest potential.
But all these blessings are not enough to take you to the
goal of perfection. Until you meet your Guru, there is no
way to experience the ultimate fullness, which is our true
nature. That is why even the great incarnations had a Guru:
Sage Vashistha instructed Rama; Arjuna was taught by Krishna;
and John the Baptist initiated Jesus. In the mundane life,
we find it natural - someone who has an earnest desire to
become a pianist, a dancer or a surgeon, for example, wants
to study with a teacher experienced in that particular field
and to imbibe his teachings. That person will serve as a reference
and a model and the pupil will be willing to follow the disciplines.
Imagine how much more imperative it is to have a spiritual
guide on the inner journey when so many years of wrong conditioning
have to be erased! The mere presence of the Guru creates an
upward movement in consciousness. He knows how to guide the
seeker around the pitfalls on the path. That is why all the
Scriptures emphasize Satsanga, the need to associate as often
and as long as possible with Enlightened Beings who are established
in the experience of their fullness and divinity.
According to Shankaracharya, a great sage of the 6th century,
a human birth, the longing for liberation, and a Guru to guide
you, are the three greatest blessings in life.
Yoga is a journey, a grand adventure. Before competitors
in the America's Cup set out on their journey, they have to
be familiar with their ship, know the laws that govern the
seas and have reliable charts to navigate safely. They are
not setting out on uncharted waters. Their predecessors handed
them all the knowledge they need. Then, they can commence
It is the same with yoga. Although the path to self-realization
is an inner journey, it is by no means uncharted territory.
You can walk a well-traveled path, equipped with knowledge
made available to you by the Sages of the past and present.
They have already acquired full knowledge of the universal
laws that govern the human embodiment and the universe, both
manifest and unmanifest, that will best assist you in attaining
“O traveler, wake up! There is no time for sleep
From "Sampoorna Yoga", Shri Yogi