I have joined a Philosophy Group that meets once a week or so to discuss certain topics such as right versus wrong, and the definition of the “Self”. Being a student of yoga, which is a philosophical system, this group is socially and intellectually gratifying.
Our most recent topic was whether marriage was necessary.
“How does marriage pertain to a blog on yoga?”, you might ask. Well, one of the topics discussed was that the end of marriage can often be so bitter that the institution did not seem like a good idea anymore.
What Comes In Must Go Out
Swami Satchidananda, the swami who opened up Woodstock, was famous for saying, and I paraphrase, “what comes in must go out”. What he meant is that if something begins, then by natural design it has to end.
Marriage is the same way. If it begins, then it is certainly going to end. Perhaps not in divorce, but unquestionably in death.
So the question is, should we not do something for fear of it ending?
In yoga, the answer is a resounding “No”.
The Practice of Non-attachment
A yogi is a witness to life. We watch the ebbs and flows of life without too much attachment to the outcome. That is what meditation teaches us, and even asana, the physical practice of yoga.
When we practice yoga poses, some days we are good at them, and some days we suck. Our bodies, our thoughts, our focus are all different every day, so of course our physical yoga practice would vary from day-to-day as well.
In The Bhagavad Gita, yoga’s greatest parable, it states “As for you, do the work that comes to you–but don’t look for the results. Don’t be motivated by the fruits of your actions, nor become attached to inaction.” (2:47)
The Gita continues by defining yoga. “Equanimity of the mind is yoga…Renouncing all attachments, you’ll enjoy an undisturbed mind in success or failure.” (2:48)
The next verse: “Work done for the sake of some results is much lower than that done in mental equilibrium…”. (2:49)
Essentially, the Gita instructs us that peace comes by giving for the sake of giving, and by living for the sake of living. Being unattached to the results of your actions is peaceful.
Accept. Adapt. Move Forward.
So what happens when things end?
Let’s be clear, everything ends. Life is change. When we accept that, we can adapt to the change so that we can move forward in life.
The Gita explained that to us approximately 5,000 years ago. When we live our lives performing the actions required of us without attachments to the results, we can be nothing except happy.
Happiness is our true nature; attachment and expectation get in the way.
We cannot predict the future. All we can control is how we live in the present moment. The future unfolds moment to moment, so expectation is really useless energy when you think about it. Moreover, it is useless energy that can lead to negative emotions such as resentment, fear, and anger.
Another way of looking at it: Expectation is an obstacle to happiness.
“Practice and all is coming”
Sri Pattabhi Jois was famous for saying “Practice and all is coming.” I find those words comforting.
Just do your best. Everything else will work itself out. If you do your best at something in each and every moment, be it your yoga practice or marriage, you can never fail.
How could you fail if you are trying your best with no expectation? This is especially true if you are able to accept, adapt, and move forward to every circumstance that comes your way.
Buddha said “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”
Focus on doing your best and being your best right here, right now. Everything else will work itself out. That is the path of the yogi.