This week we will focus on just how much the “Upstream” Spiritual Path is a very practical one. We can practice meditation until the cows come home but without developing an awareness off the cushion of when the ego is limiting our ability to love and to grow, it’s all rather pointless.
Off the mat is where you have an opportunity to demonstrate carefully how you will be taking on different choice in every day life to those around you who choose to swallow Western Values wholeheartedly without thought to long term consequences. This is where the 8 limbs of Yoga, set out by Patanjali come in handy as a guide.
The first of the 8 limbs are the YAMAS. Perhaps without paying attention to this limb it is pointless to move on to the rest of the path? Our Western Ideology encourages us to consume as much as possible, developing dreams from a place of unlimited pride, lust and greed. The Yamas represent the following values:
- Ahimsa (non-violence)
- Satya (truthfulness)
- Asteya (non-stealing)
- Brahmacharya (right use of energy)
- Aparigraha (non-greed or non-hoarding).
We will be discussing these further in class this week. For the purpose of this blog, I will highlight the last of these, which I feel is the biggest help to practice on your Spiritual Journey. It is the reason why I have rejected a very wealthy lifestyle in favour of founding my Charity and living on less than minimum wage in order to fund other people to be able to access Yoga and Fitness when they might not be able to because of financial constraints. It is my passion and the purpose of my life is to help others find both the physical and spiritual release from rejecting their physical and spiritual health in favour of material values.
Overconsumptionism ruins the Spiritual Path
The last of these is key, especially in our modern world. We have really made it in the world if we are rich and influence and more especially if we are famous! The TV schedule is packed with stories of what we consider success stories in our culture. In “Sex, Economy, Freedome and Commuity”. Wendell Berry encourages us to go back to a simpler life in which we are aware of how our consumption affects the rest of the world and to put a stop to our striving for more and more material possessions.
One of the best ways we can begin to get out of the more and more pressure is to detach from “things”. It’s not that you don’t own things and live in a whole in the ground. It’s more that they don’t own you in the sense that you begin to not be able to live without your 4 x 4 car, 16 holidays a year etc etc. In Yoga we are looking for the head, heart and hand to be working in alignment and as far as possible to “Pay it Forward” – in other words, to look toward giving without counting the cost…
Sadly, in our deluded world, the purpose of education is to further our career, from which we will be able to make more and more money. A good school and university is considered to be a big one and is high up the league tables of academic results. This is where our Western Ideology of more and more is better is constructed further in a young mind. I noticed as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology that successful students were considered those who knew how to pass exams well and used their high grades to get them into further education and a higher earning position. The further education was designed to create a separate linguistic culture (the smarter you are, the more new language you had). The new knowledge leads to power and control which has the side effect of leading the graduate into an addictive path of material gain which is almost impossible to reject…
I say almost impossible. This is because I know it’s not impossible and there is a whole tide of us swimming against and rejecting the tide of materialism in favour of Spiritual grown and a new kind of satisfaction and experience of consciousness. My question is… how can you get out of the More and More Pressure of our Western Ideology? What can you do today to swim against the tide?