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Spiritual Laws Are Not Meant To Limit But To Empower

Spiritual Laws Are Not Meant To Limit But To Empower

The principles of yama and niyama are enumerated in that ancient scripture of Yoga, the Yoga Sutras of the

great rishi Patanjali; they come down to us from India's higher ages of spiritual civilization.

The yamas are: ahimsa (harmlessness); satya (truthfulness); asteya (non-stealing); aparigraha (non-covetousness, not being possessed by possessions); and brahmacharya (mastery over the creative force in the body).

Just as important are the niyamas: saucha (purity of body and mind); santosha (contentment in all circumstances, calmness, evenmindedness); tapas (capacity for self-discipline); swad-hyaya (introspective study of the scriptures); and last, Ishwara-pranidhana (devotion to God and Guru).
 
We are beings of infinite power, nobility, and majesty. And each of these spiritual rules is a portal, an opening, that enables us to access a particular aspect of that divine nature, which is otherwise obscured by delusion, cloaked in forgetfulness, as long as we live attached to the material body, the ego, and the physical world.
 
"We are beings of infinite power, nobility, and majesty. And each of these spiritual rules is a portal, an opening, that enables us to access a particular aspect of that divine nature ... "
 
Again, note your inner reaction upon merely hearing those qualities. Doesn't the soul, if it is awake at all in us, whisper: "Yes! That is what I want. That is who I am!" This response of the soul is how we know intuitively that there is tremendous positive value in these rules.
 
Our guru, Paramahansa Yoganandaji, said this about the Ten Commandments - which, again, are just another way of formulating these universal rules:
The Ten Commandments might have been more aptly named the Ten Eternal Rules of Happiness. The word 'commandment' is an unfortunate choice, because few persons like to be commanded.

As soon as you tell a child not to do a thing, he at once wants to do it .... Yet the breaking of the Ten Commandments is the primary source of all the misery in the world.

Because of the conditioning that the modern, mass-media-driven world tries to impinge upon us, many people have a rather negative attitude toward what they consider "old-fashioned" morality. However, as is true of so many aspects of the spiritual path, our Guru revolutionized the understanding of what morality is all about. He said, in essence, that morality is the way of living in the world while retaining our divine connection' retaining that link to what we really are - divine beings.

This leads to the first key point: We have to convince ourselves that we want to practise those rules. In other words, we need to be constantly mindful of the wonderful transformation that their practice will accomplish in our lives - how much they will enhance our ability to conduct our lives in a way that is fulfilling and brings lasting happiness.

Once there was a young man who was hoping to become an SRF monk. One day he went into an ice cream store where he bought himself a big ice-cream cone - three scoops! He was relishing it as he walked down the

street, but right then he was unpleasantly surprised to encounter one of the senior SRF swamis.

The young man did some quick thinking: "Well, if they're going to accept me as a monk, I'd better show them that I have the required quality of austerity." So he took the ice-cream cone, threw it in a trash can, and declared loudly: "Get thee behind me, Satan!" The Swami, no doubt intuiting the attitude behind the declaration, added wryly, "But not too far!"

The point is, we won't succeed if we are just half-heartedly convinced.




About the Spiritual Author

Debolina Choudhury

Swami Chidananda Giri has been a monk of the Yogoda Satsanga/Self-Realization Fellowship for more than thirty-five years. He is a member of the SRF Board of Directors and serves as assistant to the editor-in-chief of SRF publications. 


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