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One sacrifice ends, and another begins; one Asana is held, only to be followed by another. Standing, we sit, then sitting we stand. We go to the shrine, and return home, and go to work, and return, and go play. There is perpetuity, and cyclicality in all things. Such perpetuity is a means by which to understand what is beyond eternal, and permanent: the nature of change itself subtly changes as time begins and ends - and we understand that the time has not yet begun, nor ended. Beyond time, beyond space, beyond duty, beyond the conditioned and co-conditioned, there is that which is non-conditioned and un-conditioned. There we find true Dharma.
This understanding was applied by Rama to the development of Ashramic practice: there are stages, or rest stops, in every pilgrimage. And life itself is such a journey through time. When we have traveled far enough, we must rest: rest, Asana, is the means by which we "occupy" the path which has been conquered, and prepare to begin another stage. Parashurama showed that even varna may be taken up and laid down as our nature evolves cyclically. Krishna showed that the conscious growth in a moment of pause is valuable. The Buddha and Kalki advanced ashramic practice further.
There are at present understood to be at least four major stages to any journey: Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa. There are many minor stages. These stage are typically sequential, but the Buddha taught a training by which one may free one's self of the sequentiality of these stages - and all of time. One may, through this Yoga, choose the time and place for a particular duty, or perform a particular duty at any time and place. Such self-control is achieved through a combination of Jnana, Hatha, Bhakti and Karma Yoga. Kalki instructed in the means by which the Yogi may release control of time and place. To briefly summarize, at any given Asana, rest, between stages, the self, identity (often mistranslated as soul, or god), is wielded as a tool using Maya to shape our basic instincts and nature, to consciously alter our Dharma. This Dharma is then itself placed on the altar for sacrifice and utterly given up in the self-sacrifice.
One of these most basic instincts which is shaped is that of belief and believing, and the religiosity and other insanity which results from belief. When it is understood that we need not remain without gods, but may create them as our need requires, or even become such a supreme being, there is no limit to our ability. But this requires understanding the very nature of our gods, and a firm grounding in Vedic theory. The practice when performed by experts has in the past resulted in dramatic revolutions in the practice of Yoga, most recently the development of Ganesh during the expulsion of the British from India. In America, it has and will continue to be used to manifest Shambhala, and bring a successful end to the Buddhist Yoga of Gotama.
We must journey beyond theism, beyond atheism, beyond non-theism, far beyond what is beyond these if we are to truly understand the nature and purpose of our practice. The means of this journey is sacrifice: it is only by giving up, using up, sharing and other acts of sacrifice that we will find the limits of belief, and probing it, discover how to break through. Through sacrifice, the purpose, the end, of sacrifices is found. Sacrificing is sacrificed. We must sacrifice our sacrificing.
We must not be afraid to leave our refuge, our island in the flood, our little area of light in the darkness. Give up all you hold onto and bravely enter the water: you have rested long enough to continue your journey, and the path resumes on the far shore. Far beyond your religiosity and gods. Far beyond your atheism. Far beyond your non-theism. We cannot remain where we are in any case, for that refuge is impermanent, and whether we choose to let go or not, we will be forced from it. The only safety is in growing strong enough to not require it. All our monastic practices, our dogma and religion, our doubts and faith - these are unnecessary and heavy baggage. Beyond the far shore the path is not easy to follow, and even disappears from time to time. What will you do in that unfamiliar wilderness with no path to guide you - if you do not know where it is you are going?
Look for the Sangha, and if you have lost your companions, look for your teachers and heroes; if you have lost their banners too, then remember the Dharma: know the purpose of your training. You will accomplish your goal: even if you are lost, and remember the direction you are travelling, you may yet find your way.
Understand the five skandhas as empty, and this emptiness as the form of form, if you would cross beyond your present difficulty. Form does not differ from the void and the void does not differ from form. Form is void and void is form. The same is true for feelings, perceptions, imagination and consciousness. Understand delusion, the characteristics of the void. See all Dharmas are non-arising, non-ceasing, non-defiled, non-pure, non-increasing, non-decreasing. In the void there are no forms, no feelings, perceptions, imagination or consciousness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body or mind, there is no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch or even imagination. There is no realm the eye can see until we come to the non-realm of consciousness. There is no ignorance, also no ending of ignorance until we come to the end of old age and the end of death. Until we come to eternal old age and eternal death. There is no truth in suffering – truly we do not suffer! Because there is no beginning of suffering, there is no end of suffering, nor a path, because there is no path, there is no knowledge, there is no gaining of enlightenment, only the destruction of obstructions.
Om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.
Inferiority results in an economic phenomenon called "conspicuous consumption." When a person believes they have inadequate resources they will make their wealth visible, or "conspicuous," in an effort to calm themselves. They will spend money to convince themselves that they have enough. They will impoverish themselves because they fear poverty. They then displace their dissatisfaction on the things and experiences they have acquired, thinking their things and experiences are as inferior as they are. Identifying with their possessions, attaching to them through materialism, worsens a sense of inferiority. In their growing anxiety, they feel hatred, and do regrettable things.
Things and experiences cannot make you happy. They are insufficient and unsatisfying. If you enjoy what you have bought better, you will buy fewer things: it is by fewer possessions, not more, that there is the potential for greater satisfaction, and happiness - because it breeds familiarity with the objects. Even if a thing is broken, or imperfect, we may love it - and even learn to love ourselves, our family and friends - despite numerous imperfections.
Clothes kept in a closet stay new and don't wear out - but they also get no use as clothes. It is the wearing of clothes, and their washing, which stains, tears and fades them. We cannot avoid this vulnerability if they will achieve our purpose: it is by proper use all things are ruined. Food becomes feces. You will one day grow sick, old, wear out, and die. To be broken by use is reasonable, and honorable. Like a drum, you may inspire heroes to success - but only if you allow yourself to be beaten to pieces!
Consider why you purchase things. Is it to use them? Will you, on your deathbed, be happier for those clothes, or other things you worked so hard to purchase and now keep dusty in a closet? Will you enjoy them 10 years from now? A week from now? Even if they get worn, and ruined? Well, you should. Enjoyment is also your human nature.
Worthwhile work is worth doing, good things are always worth the price we pay for them. Remember the reason for which things are bought, and you will never regret the price you pay. Remember the purpose of your life, and you will die contented that you achieved all that was needed to be done. You will have earned honor; your sacrifices will be acceptable. So don't feel badly your clothes are worn, they are well used. Properly used.
Besides, the people you compare yourself to wear clothes bought with borrowed money, driven by the same anxiety you feel. It is not good to compare your best clothes against someone who has no clothes of their own, even if their borrowed clothes are finer.
We are all human. We see only what we lack. And then we desire what we already have. And it is precisely because we and our world are not lacking in goodness that we seldom notice goodness, or enjoy it. Perhaps, though, today we can remember that goodness, and make it conspicuous?
We share an unbreakable bond of kinship. We are all human. We care greatly for each other. Be without regret. Be content, and happy.
Naturally, they asked for help from their friends - some agreed to sound the alarm if they saw an attack coming, and others agreed to even help defend the innocent eggs and chicks. Soon, these friends were attacked, too, for they were aiding an enemy. All the animals grew divided by the river they once shared, turning against their cousins on the other. Now, the snakes on one side attacked the snakes on the other, the rats on one side attacked the rats on another, even the deer and bears and lions - some of whom used to cross the river frequently to enjoy themselves here and there, now crossed the river only to fight. Even the human beings on one side of the river began to attack the human beings on the other side of the river, even though for time immemorial they had been friends, and were even distantly related to one another. Carrying on their flags an owl, or a pigeon, they crossed the river to hurt one another. And then they did not confine their hatred only to people, but harmed every living thing they found on the other side of the river. And all the animals followed this example.
Well, no one knows who first lit the fire, but soon, both banks of the river were torched, and the hungry fire burnt through the nests of both the pigeons and the owls, and the nests of all the other birds, burning alive the snakes and rats, killing even the deer and bears and lions who couldn't outrun the flames. Many human beings died too, some of them babies, and children, separated from their mothers and fathers when the fire tore through their villages.
Like fire, war is cruel. And does not stop until it has burnt through every home. And though when we tell this story to children we are quick to add that in the end, all the good creatures were brought back to life when they finally learned the lessons required to understand the futility of fighting with their neighbors and friends, as adults we should know a great deal better than to believe in such things as that. We should know a great deal better than to light the fires of war, for when we do, they demand such a sacrifice of blood to extinguish them that whatever reason compelled us to this dreadful worship to begin with is rarely worth the price. And we know that the proprietaries of honor and good conscience will compel us - and our enemy - to stubbornly complete the dreadful rite we started.
As adults we know there is pain. There is death. We know, there is suffering enough and life is short. We know we should be good to one another, for we have no one else to comfort us but each other. We know what we fight over is not usually worth the price of our fighting. No, we are not like children, who need stories to remind us of what we know we should and shouldn't do. And we certainly don't need to hear those stories more than once.
Relieving this inner conflict requires understanding neither of these instinctual reactions of empathy or sympathy, nor even the instinctual disgust with which they alternate, are naturally conducive to our duty, our interests, our Dharma. Feeling any of these, we lack compassion - and compassion is what is required. This compassion is developed not by feeling, but by rationality.
By rationality, not instinct, true compassion can be cultivated, and Dharma accomplished. There is danger in the cowardice borne of disgust - quite as much as there is from the pity borne of empathy, or the callousness borne of sympathy. Shame is caused through our pity, disgust and callousness, and we should not have those who suffer addiction, or any other disease or affliction, even poverty, suffer shame additionally - especially since shame is not conducive to their recovery. We should do what is conducive to recovery, not what is unuseful - or even harmful.
Consider, there is an instinct to hope for their recovery - and to despair they will never recover. But instinct is not always wrong: it is rational to hope for their recovery. Though medicine and nursing do not always result in recovery, it is because they sometimes do that they are administered. Hope is not necessary to the administration of medicine: only the rational understanding that there is an opportunity for recovery which should not be ignored.
Similarly, it is not necessary to diminish our capacity for empathy and sympathy, or even disgust, or to do away with them entirely. No sacrifice is required to take hold of rationality. We need not do away with any emotion, or instinct; it is enough to feel their discomfort, and simply be unmoved. Our actions must be governed by reason, and choice - to the extent that they are involuntary, and unuseful, they should be minimized.
Consequently, while it is easy enough to contemn those who arrive at work exhausted from a night of drinking, tobacco, marijuana, or video games, or any number of intoxicants, or to feel pity for them when at last their disease matures into incapacity or death, understanding these coworkers do not choose to remain ill, or choose not to recover, illuminates weakness as the cause of their present disease. Willing, but unable, they will not benefit from our condemnation or pity; nor will our own disgust with addiction or illness sufficiently protect us from a similar fate. No one chooses to be sick, and may still become so even after precaution and prudence. Not our coworkers, nor friends, nor family. We ourselves do not choose to be sick.
It is better, should you be overcome with contempt or pity, to consider the strength of will in these athletes as they wrestle themselves daily, and though daily defeated, determine to fight again. Admire this willpower. They lack only strength - and adequate training.
Then consider, do you have strength to lend, can you support them and free them from that oppression? Can you gain the medical skill, the resources, the ability necessary? If you don't and can't, by trying to rescue them you risk merely following them into that hell and becoming captive yourself, and also requiring rescue. Understand that feeling their pain does not take it away from them. Not any more than shaming them and attacking them gives them the strength they lack. If you lack the strength to rescue them and share in their victory, it is all you can do (and enough) to support them with friendship: share in their defeat so they may at least be comforted. Such friendship is in fact the very source of strength which is required, and one which you have in sufficient abundance to safely share.
Consider, you have withstood what overcame them. Do not deprive them of the opportunity to share in your victory.
Consider all those around you, overcome by emotion: anxiety, depression, anger. Consider those overcome by poverty, those overcome by all the many forms of distress. Remember they are also your friends. Once healthy and strong, as you are; now as you may yet become. Understand the injuries that brought them here. It is time to share in their defeat, and to grow stronger together - that they may share in your victory.
And if it is you who is suffering, find your strong friends - do not feel pity for yourself, or disgust for yourself. Do not feel jealous of the victories of others. You may share in the victory. Because we are all fight, opposed to addiction and other disease, and all forms of distress. You are not alone.
This was their first year farming in Grand Junction, and having sold at all the local markets, they plan on expanding next year up the I-70 corridor.
While generosity is important to any business model, and comes instinctually to Ms. Tamayo, it was a combination of her understanding of her importance to her neighbors, and her love for them, which motivated her exemplary actions. This guided her interactions with customers, and others who received her food by gift - some of whom had not tasted fresh foods, or knew what to do with it.
Love of growing, love of cooking, love of eating - enthusiasm encouraged even first-time chefs to eat better, to take better care of themselves, and in turn to take better care of the community they share with Ms. Tamayo.
It was at this moment that Mara (Maya) approached Gotama, and badgering him, asked,
"Why are you laying there in stupor? Or drunk on poetry? Are you goals and ambitions so few you might lie there and rest, alone in private lodgings all day? Do you choose to be alone, or are you neglected? Should you not be at work? Why are you resting? What is with this dreaming, sleepy face? Only your foot is injured."
The Buddha Gotama responded,
"Your assumptions are wrong. I do not lie in a stupor, nor drunk on poetry. I have already achieved all my ambition: I am without regret, or sorrow. What is there left to do that I am not doing? And I am not alone: I lie here in sympathy with all beings. Even those whose chests have been pierced with arrows, even those just struck with an arrow, their heart beating rapidly in fear, so near to death, even they are able to rest, and recover their strength. And need to. Even they are able and need to sleep. So why shouldn't I - I, whose arrow has been removed? I am prepared to live, and prepared to die: so I am not awake with worry, nor afraid to sleep. Neither day nor night oppresses me. I see no threat in my decline, nor in the decline of any being in any world, nor entire worlds at all. Or in their rising. But to answer you simply, this is how I rest: in sympathy for all beings. Even you, Mara."
The apology offered by those proponents of slavery, who fight against Amendment A, may essentially be understood in the context of cruelty, and violence. Those who argue it is necessary to punish criminals don't intend our public safety. Rather, their hatred reflects those dishonorable dogmas which first motivated this bad law in the shadows of the Civil War.
Those who died to defend Freedom in that war, and all those who gave their lives, fortunes and happiness for freedom since then, cannot be allowed to have sacrificed in vain. In voting for Amendment A, we bear the responsibilities of these sacrifices.
To ensure the final defeat of criminality, cruelty and violence, to gain the honor of every criminal's reform, requires no act of punishment, nor indeed any obsolete system of justice. Rather, it requires the new ways of a scientific Criminology. Medicine, economics and psychology - not the gun, chain and whip - are the tools today's crime fighters require of us. Vote, then heed the call of volunteerism and civil leadership. Love, and friendship, are what is required of you. We cannot again permit the domination of our neighbors through futile punishments.
Those who truly love Freedom will never be masters, nor tolerate the mastery of others. Yet while there are many benefits to developing self-restraint, are there benefits in the temporary restraint of others, especially those who are dangerous to themselves, or society? Opponents of Amendment A (who would continue the enslavement of our criminals) confuse the issue upon this question, that we might ignore the fact it wouldn't alter the restraint we place upon our criminals - only require of ourselves greater self-restraint.
From these meanings, it has been applied more broadly: the spouse, parents, and other loved ones of another cannot be known by direct familiarity, but are evident in the people we do know, for they have been shaped by the profound depth of those familiar relationships. It has come to connote the respect you would show someone who is the head of your household, you are their burden, and they are your support; this bond cannot be broken. It is the respect you have for one who has impacted you positively or negatively - they have very much become a part of yourself, and this bond cannot be broken. Guru is a capital city, a capital letter, the longest vowels, a chieftain, the first among equals, great, utmost, superior, large, extensive, that which exemplifies a violent excess, devoid of moderation and mediocrity. It is the meal that is difficult to digest, which sits extensively in the stomach or intestine. And, in more modern times, it has become applied to those who would teach - for by teaching, they actually learn. And with double-meaning, especially to a particular sect of "heads of household" (Swamis).
There are hundreds of kinds of teachers in Yoga, and especially in Sanskrit: far too many to list. There is the Krishti who cultivates knowledge in themselves and others, the Ijya who is the merchant of knowledge, the Karanika who is capable of judging whether something is correct. And so forth. But none of these are, truly, a "Guru." Among the hundreds of kinds of teachers, there is made further differentiation: there are those who teach this or that, who specialize in technical skills, or pure knowledge, or even in particular methodologies - there are even those teachers who have the ability to teach how to teach. There are those who teach by example, those who lecture, those who teach by socratic interrogation, those who teach by attacking and criticizing, those who teach by taking what is improper away, those who teach by giving what is lacking. A teacher can be an enemy, or a friend, or someone who is indifferent. And among so many kinds of teachers, there are instructors, masters, apprentices of greater or lesser degrees, there are those who are practiced, and those who are trained, those who are informed. But none of these are a Guru.
The object of a teacher must necessarily be to cease their teaching. The object of learning must be to learn how to learn. The lessons of Yoga are such that you must necessarily teach yourself to learn. And you learn that only You can teach your Self. It is a fact that by teaching yourself you understand the truest nature of your self. This is why "Guru" is the source and inspiration of the knowledge of the self: the nature of reality is determined by the seeking of one who seeks it. Reality has no innate nature, and cannot be known until knowledge is conceived.
The seeking, the seeker, and that which is sought is co-conditioned: thus, we always will find what we are looking for. It is vitally important to be unbiased and detached in our search for knowledge. In seeking a teacher, you will find what you are looking for. You will find yourself. You will find all your teachers inadequate, and eventually, learning only from yourself, find yourself inadequate as well. You will discover your bias, and come to understand the truest nature of reality - and yourself.
Who do you seek for when you come to doubt yourself? How will you give up your attachments to confidence, and be comfortable with degrees of uncertainty? Western science has already caught up to the eastern in this sense: it is undeniable that perfect certainty is neither possible, nor desirable. The line between fiction and fact must remain blurred. It is a difficulty which must be accepted: we cannot see accurately without a lens obscuring our vision.
Therefore, the sacrifice of a guru is most important to learn: necessarily, you must give up your teacher, as you would turn close the back cover a book. You must excel, and exceed, your teachers. You must exceed your own humanity. The purpose of seeking a teacher is to not require that teacher anymore. Do not lose sight of your goal, but let it guide your studies.
Om! Mahamuni. Svaha. What is "Siddha Artha" but the skillful accomplishment of your own goal. You will know a great teacher when you see one, they embody your Dharma. You will know sufficiency when you see it. You already have the capacity to judge whether something is correct, Karanika. You already have the capacity to obtain knowledge from those merchants who peddle it, Ijya. Or to obtain it directly, by cultivation, Krishti Who will give you a mantra to sing, when you already break into song so freely? What mantra will you sing? And when will you be quiet in it? Who will train your knowledge into skill, Siddhi? What will give you Siddhi, but your Self, through practice and training? For what purpose do you seek Siddhis, except contentment, Riddhi? Are you not capable of self-contentment?
Class ends. Practice ends. Training ends. What is the end, the purpose, of this study? Embody the Dharma, and perform duties of sacrifice. When you have become a better human being, a Brahmin, perform your duty and perform sacrifice. Sacrifice is the using up, the giving, the sharing of something - the exchange for something better. Self-sacrifice, and you will find it is insufficient to merely be a better person. A Guru takes sacrifice to extremes. A guru uses (up), gives (up), shares (into infinitely small parts with everyone). This you can do too, if you truly understand the nature of self and reality. The best teacher does not teach anything which the student does not already know. It is insufficient to study, it is insufficient to teach, it is insufficient to perform the Dharma. The Dharma itself must be given up. The Vedas must fall silent. Sacrificing must be sacrificed. Only in this ending can something truly wonderful be begun.
In response to the sedition of men like Tilak, the British had outlawed assemblies in an effort to curb and then reform British India's political and social organization. No more than 20 people were permitted to gather. When the Muslims threatened to transform their sedition into open rebellion, an exception was made for religious assembly so that the Muslims might gather at their mosques on Fridays and for daily prayers.
Of course, Hindu yogic practices did not mandate daily prayers, or prayers at all. No weekly gatherings, or major festivals were observed. The religious exceptions which permitted Muslim, Christian and Jewish prayers (and allowed the continuation of social and political organization required for the eventual freedom of British India) were no advantage to the Hindus. This, in large part, was by the design of the British - who more greatly feared the sedition of the majority Hindu population.
Talik was a yogi who had carefully studied the Ramayana and Mahabharata, especially the Bhagavad Gita and, considering the situation, came to develop a new system of Yoga: Karma Yoga, a Yoga of Action, and from this developed techniques of Niyuddha Yoga (fighting Yoga) known now as political and social "activism." Armed with activism, he found allies in Adi Shankara and Ramanuja after justifying his interpretation of a term used by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita through arguments developed previously by Jnanadeva.
As Karma Yoga was practiced, first by Talik, then by many more capable yogis, it was observed to be effective and proven. And advanced. From these proofs and advancements, new comprehension of Dharma, Karma, and Yoga were developed and Hinduism progressed: the teachings of Krishna, that rationality and logic were superior to faith, were finally widely understood: sacrifice was to be undertaken purely for God, and holding the sacrifice of sacrificing the object, even God could be given up: theism could be sacrificed for atheism, atheism for nontheism. Castes were broken down, together with the other social and political engineering of the British. In such a state of freedom, there was tantalizing glimpses of something even greater - but for the moment, the present progress was sufficient to organize the first Ganesh Chaturthi.
Talik postulated, "Why shouldn't we convert the large religious festivals into mass political rallies?" The extensive practice of numerous other devotions were inadequate to the present need, and so, exerting the new powers of atheism and non-theism, Ganesh was developed as an excuse for sedition, and ultimately rebellion. Mythology and ritual were developed not only by Talik, but numerous more competent yogis: not only to the present need, but toward the accomplishment of Karma Yoga, guided by and toward yogic principles of rationality and logic. It was an exquisite demonstration.
But the new atheism and non-theism of the Hindus, however, alienated their theist neighbors and friends, especially the Muslims, who all began to ally with the British - with whom at least they shared the philosophy of a deity. Interreligious violence ensued, and the British under Lord Harris took the sides of the Muslims. By 1893, Talik passionately committed himself to the "god" of his own making, preferring it to any god of the British. The sedition had turned into open rebellion, and the rebellion into revolution: it became believed and known government, religion and society itself should serve the needs of the people, and not only should, but could be shaped to the needs of the people.
Some localities had practiced a minor processional in celebration of Ganesh as early as the 18th century, now Talik proclaimed these as a preferred ritual: Ganesh Chaturthi processionals became marches. Some localities had practiced other minor celebrations of Ganesh: these were transformed into the means for political activism, intellectual exchange, cultural recitals and development, and folk events. These efforts by Talik built on the previous efforts of others: during the Goal Inquisition when yogic rituals were banned and conversion was forced, the rituals of Ganesha were easily adapted to be practiced in secret. When a devotee of Ganesh is able to merely use a small leaf, any picture on any paper, miniature tiny easily destroyed idols hidden away (not put on display), offered even a single grain of rice, etc., rebellion and disobedience becomes easily practiced, and habitual. Law is given up (together with other false gods) for Liberty.
It should be said that Ganesh was not wholly borne of the 18th and 19th centuries, but this is when he was raised up. His truest, oldest origin is in the Rigveda (2.23.1, and 10.112.9), but merely as an indirect reference: the guardian of the multitudes, a seer, abounding in food, presiding over the elders (as in many democratic governments there is a President of the Elders, or Senators), the master of invocation. In fact, these were, until those recent days, sometimes understood to mean Indra. It was only during the Muslim domination that Ganesh began to literally take the form we know today, as traders from across the world met and mingled through Dharmic Asia. Taking this, and that, from here, and there, Ganesh was made to suit the needs of these multicultural Dharmic travellers. This reflects how Gauri took mud from here and there. The replacement of his head with Indra's (vahana - elephant head), the ultimate destruction of the material form of the idols of Ganesha so painstakingly made, the numerous other mythological and ritualistic traditions reflected the gradual quickening of Ganesha. But born hapless as he was, as all humans are, he was raised by humans into a most powerful expression of Yoga. Born as one thing, he became another - as caste and other oppression is cast off by all people, sooner or later.
Today, consider your own power - not only over society and government, but over yourself. It is not how you were born, but how you were raised up, how you yourself raise yourself up, that matters most. Raise yourself up, and discover freedom in rationality and logic! This is the truest spirit of activism.
Even a criminal may have their share of honor, if they are loyal and true. For as often as a person must violate one or another principles they hold, so that they might adopt newer, better ones, so too must we all be willing to progress our laws and society - gradually shaping them toward the form of our good conscience, and heart, so that we never again be forced to break laws and principles. Law and principles must not chafe our heart. Indeed, law and principles are precious, and good, to the extent that they permit the freedom of love.
However, until then it is necessary to temporarily tolerate your own faults: this tolerance is Ahimsa, the promise of non-harm, of safe passage, given to even such a constant enemy as our Self. Learning to tolerate our faults helps us become more tolerant of others who are not always our reliable friends, and our world, which is frequently a hard place. Eventually we come to see that the world is exactly as it should be right now, and though others may present to us adversity, they are not our antagonists. We learn to even withstand our own distress. This is Shanti, the peace of invulnerability, of invincibility. It is possible to learn this invincibility and be victorious - and you will succeed, if you persist a little longer.
Have you yet learned persistence? Then persist. Do not feel distressed by your present inability. You are doing enough to eventually succeed. You struggle honorably, intent on success. You have always honored your limits in the past by exceeding them when it was possible to do so. However, now it is not possible - and that is acceptable. You will grow stronger if you do not waste your strength on senseless fighting. Patience is the means to your victory in this challenge - and in many others you must soon meet. You have learned persistence. Now it is time to learn patience by practicing tolerance.
When you begin to examine what prevents you from actually accomplishing Yoga, you will see that the wider environment cannot be kept wholly out. There is pain, there is weakness, there is death. And these are here, in your place of rest, too. Like a cow is prepared for slaughter with a safe pen and grain, we have chosen to not ignore the consequences of our Karma: there is an urgent necessity to practice Karma Yoga, and taking control of this destiny requires self-sacrifice, the sacrifice of "self", the sacrifice of identity. This requires skill in the four Jnanas: self-control begins with the body, the mind's thoughts and feelings, the consciousness and ultimately with the identity. Perfecting this skill (Siddhi) toward your contentment requires understanding sufficiency (Svaha), and this requires a mastery of Hatha Yoga. Ashrams are comfortable, and easy - and are frequently necessary. But an island in a flooding river is no place to stay very long. We have chosen to not be afraid of the water - we want to cross entirely over, and see what lies beyond. It is necessary to journey on from each Ashrama, from Brahmacharya to Grihastha, to Vanaprastha, to Sannyasa.
A house provides shelter and safety. But a Yogi cannot stay at home all day.
It is by the requisite skills and strength of Karma Yoga that sacrifice becomes possible: training and practice in the sacrifice of self (becoming selfless) is foundational to training and practice in any form of sacrifice. A sacrifice of Time, by sitting and doing nothing, is difficult to accomplish.
There are many other benefits to this Asana: sitting and doing nothing is one of the most expedient means toward recovering strength of mind and body, and naturally results in awareness of Time, especially its effects of impermanence - and its nature of destruction, which is not unlike sacrificial fire. An understanding of Time permits a better understanding of Dharma. One who frequently sits and does nothing finds awareness of their Self, and their Dharma, easy. Their desire, ignorance and hatred are easily observed - as are the effects of these. All of their Karma can be understood - and as one might discover their body, and is subsequently able to learn self-control of their body, and mind, and consciousness, and self, merely developing awareness of Dharma founds the development of many other profound skills.
For example, it is possible when sitting and doing nothing to become acutely aware of all your other pressing duties, or to become aware of your own thoughts and feelings, your own inclination toward action. Understanding these as your own, you are able to see your Self.
Food burnt at the altar is not wasted, nor is a proper gift of food well given and refused wasted. Time spent in Yoga, even if it is only by sitting and doing nothing, is not wasted: rather, when it is understood You are part of this world, it is easy to see that doing nothing improves the entire world. As beings perform the sacrifice of food to sustain the Yogi's effort, Time may be sacrificed by the Yogi to bring an end to their Self, to being, to beings, to entire worlds, to all of Karma, even to the Dharma itself. Even to Time itself. For this is the meaning, the purpose, the use, the nature of Time.
Some things are impossible to accomplish. But the victory of success is never one of them. The warrior who falls in battle may die, but remains unconquered. The captive is defeated, but rebelling, disobedient and defiant remains unconquered. The land and people who lose a war to be occupied are not necessarily conquered. But a hero, the one with sufficient honor, will conquer, and sit (Asana) in this victory. And would be worthy of their subjects. Thus the victory blow, the strike which ends a enmity and fulfills the vow for which fighting was begun, is made not by destroying the opponent, but by winning their friendship. Thus, the Yogi seeks to earn their own self-respect, and honor.
The Buddha said, there are three types of sick people: there is the one who will recover from their illness only if they receive medicine, nursing, proper food, and other care - and will not recover if they do not receive these things. There is also the one who will not recover from their illness, even if they were to receive all the proper care. And there is the one who will recover whether or not they receive care.
Though it is unknown whether a sick person will benefit from care, care is nevertheless given to the sick. Though it is just as reasonable to fear that a sick person will not benefit from care as it is to hope that a sick person will benefit from care, it is not the hope that guides the provision of care: there are many reasons care is not withheld from the sick: if one seeks health, the unnecessary withholding of care is less reasonable than the unnecessary provision of it. It is because there are some who do benefit from care that care is given to all sick people.
In the same way there are those who will benefit from seeing the Tathagata, from hearing the Dharma instructed, from training, and other guidance. And there are those who will not - some people will develop sufficient understanding on their own, or fail to do so. But it is because there are those who do benefit from guidance that guidance is provided.