Saturday, July 25, 2009

Quest of the Soul

The soul is having a quest through my genetics and my flesh, my stories and my emotions, and my isolation and my relationships. There is a soul seeking expression through everything I identify as me. Yet the soul is not the same as the terrain that it is trying to inhabit. How can I make the terrain of my life in this world a place where something that is not a thing--a soul--can express whatever needs to be expressed? Very mysterious.

"The right means are just as important as the end in view. Patanjali enumerates these means as the eight limbs or stages of Yoga for the quest of the soul. They are:
1. Yama (universal moral commandments); 2. Niyama (self purification by discipline); 3. Asana (posture); 4. Pranayama (rhythmic control of the breath); 5. Pratyahara (withdrawal and emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses and exterior objects); 6. Dharana (concentration); 7. Dhyana (meditation) and 8. Samadhi (a state of super-consciousness brought about by profound meditation, in which the individual aspirant (sadhaka) becomes one with the object of his meditation - Paramatma or the Universal Spirit)."
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, twelfth paragraph of the Introduction.

Patanjali outlines a plan for this soul-quest in the Yoga Sutras. Where does the eight-fold path lead? When I think of a path visually I see a way that has been described by others, like a dirt path through the woods (created by humans or perhaps deer) or a path of stones leading to a gazebo. But this is a different kind of path. It is only a "path" in the loosest sense of the word path. It is a journey that each of us takes alone. 

There is plenty of help along the way, though. There are others walking this path. So teachers and friends are of great help as we move along in life. But, I find that it isn't true for me to try to live through the choices of others. Mimicry is a way to learn, but through trying out the suggestions of others I quickly develop my own tastes, and a desire to express myself uniquely.

Action creates this path. Action offers new pathways into the mystery of mind. The more I do, the more I learn.  Action creates new possibilities in one's life. Just by making a choice and doing something to support it a unique experience unfolds. An experience that is about my choice. The soul is finding it's feet.

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