Why Liberation is the Highest Ideal in Yoga. And Not Peace or Even Happiness!

 

Classical Indian Thought, or rather Beyond-Thought, has held ‘Moksha’ or Liberation as the highest ideal. Not Peace. Not even Happiness. And this has remained the ideal through varied, even contrasting “Darshans’ or schools of Thought.

Not one of them differ in what the ultimate purpose of Life is – and even that of daily Living. And this has remained consistent across millennia – extolled by people experiencing heightened states of Being. 

 

When I sit Still, there comes a moment when all Thought settles and there is Silence within. None of my worries – even none of my joys, are there anymore. And then I feel a sense of Liberation – from my own Life-Story.

   “….karde mujh ko, mujh se hi reeha….”

Yesterday I was listening to the beautiful ‘Kun faya kun’ song where these poetic lyrics capture this essence.

This is exactly the feeling of Liberation we experience in those moments of Stillness – I’m liberated from the constant narration of my own Life Story, that in my waking hours feels as if it is my whole Life itself. 

 

I am invested emotionally, mentally, whole-heartedly in my Life Story – I am Manish, I am a Yogi and Teacher, I live in India, I’m an entrepreneur with 21st Century Yoga and all else. And yet in those moments of Liberation, none of this matters. 

It’s not that this feels false – it just doesn’t matter. If it were false, then some other story would be True – the fact is that, it just doesn’t matter.  And there’s no inherent need or desire in me to change it, or to find something permanent or true. Why would I even change something if it doesn’t matter.

 

It’s a beautiful Stillness and Silence. For a while, I am Liberated from myself. The gift of that experience is Space. A sense of space, ease and liberation from my own thoughts, my own Life Story.

 

Two things happen then. I’m of course tremendously relaxed, even relieved as the burden, including Joy, of being ‘me’ drops. And then when the Thoughts return, the next thought is simply that if my Life Story is peripheral to me – then let me only live a happy, free life. 

Of course, that feeling of Happiness is simply a function of my Body-Mind experience and varies when I ‘forget’ this experience of Silence. The Buddhist root of Mindfulness is this. We call it ‘Smriti’ – Remembrance. Not merely to watch your Breath, or Thoughts. But to ‘Remember’ your Self. This is the root experience to live a stress-free, joyful existence.

 

And finally, the Thought arises – how can I base my Life on this experience of beyond-thought? The Fish doesn’t know that it’s inside water – it has known no other existence. For almost all my day, I know no other experience, immersed as I am in my own ‘thought-sphere’. 

And so I must cultivate the experience of Silence regularly, lest I ‘forget’ and immerse myself in my Life Story – investing all my Life resources – body, mind, prana, emotions in a Life Story that is simply peripheral. 

 

How then can I live whole-heartedly, completely engaged in Life- knowing fully well that it is only my Mind-stuff. What will be the nature of my Life Story if this ‘Smriti’ or ‘Zikr’ or Remembrance of Self is 24/7. To Dance wholeheartedly whilst realizing that the dance isn’t fundamental.

There are 2 options – either live sloppily cause it doesn’t matter. Or live with tremendous grace and passion – EVEN THOUGH it doesn’t matter!

 

That’s the choice, O Yogi. And realizing you have the choice, is Yoga.

 

 

Manish Pole Yogi + Guide
Having taught Yoga & Meditation since 2003, Manish leads Abhyasa as well as Himalayan Retreats and Teacher Training Courses globally.

 

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