Using Joy As A Measure Of Success: Deepak Chopra On The True Meaning Of Yoga
The Yoga part of Royal Yoga needs a little clarification at the outset. The basic Sanskrit word Yoga simply means "to yoke, join, or unite" (the English word yoke can be directly traced back to its ancient roots). In my part of the book (Part I), when I talk about Yoga, I mean the complete system of Yoga, namely, the union of all aspects of life—physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Only one part of the whole Yoga system contains the exercises that people learn in yoga class (I will put the exercise part in lowercase and refer to the system of Yoga with a capital Y). The system is often called "Yoga philosophy," but that phrase sells the whole vision short.
In Royal Yoga, no aspect of existence is left out.
Everyone is used to dividing life into distinct parts: mind, body, emotions, work, family, relationships, and so on. Those are handy divisions, of course. The experience of going to the doctor, the gym, or yoga class can all be put in the compartment labeled "body." Raising a child, going on a family vacation, and planning for retirement can all be placed in the compartment labeled "family."
As natural as it feels to divide life in this way, this kind of compartmentalization creates a problem that cuts to the very heart of existence. Royal Yoga holds that these compartments are false to the wholeness of life.
There are hidden possibilities that you will never reach, an intensity of fulfillment you will never experience when your life is chopped into separate pieces like a loaf of bread cut into neat slices. Imagine yourself going through certain rituals and habits of your day—you get up, eat breakfast, go to work, call friends, do things with your family, and so on.
Take a moment to visualize some specific ways that might make your day more satisfying. Perhaps a friend tells you a piece of good news, you complete a project at work, or you watch your child or spouse smile at you and you feel a rush of love.
If you rewind these experiences and evaluate them through the prism of Yoga, each event might look the same on the surface. But if you practice Royal Yoga, what happens inside is transformed: You find that you are living in the light. The effect is all-embracing because if there is life, there should be light.
What is the light?
For some, this is a vague spiritual term that connotes religion. A Christian might think of the phrase, "Don't hide your light under a bushel basket" or Jesus' declaration to his disciples, "You are the light of the world." In the rabbinical tradition of Judaism, the divine presence is Shechinah, which brings the light of God into the world when it permeates a devout or holy person. In many traditions, angelic beings are creatures of light, and saintly people emanate (physically or symbolically) a pure white light.
Royal Yoga transcends these religious connotations while embracing their deeper meaning. "Light" is pure awareness; it is the cosmic consciousness that creates and maintains the universe and everything in it. In practical terms, living in the light is about living consciously, and the ultimate goal in life is to live only in the light, having cast off every form of ignorance, pain, and suffering.
Where is your light?
Having read this far, you might be either skeptical or inspired. Something as all-embracing as Royal Yoga feels strange, at the very least. I'm not offering these concepts from the viewpoint of a true believer, because the vision of the Yoga tradition isn't a set of beliefs. It is based on experiences that everyone is already having. You already live in the light; you just don't live there all the time. Many people have experienced happiness, joy, and sometimes even pure bliss. But, on the flip side, there are dark experiences that bring confusion, pain, and suffering. Nonetheless, the light of life is always with you because light is your very nature, your true self.
Royal Yoga is unique because it seeks to make everyday life ideal. There is infinite bliss as the starting point, located in your true self. Whenever you experience less bliss, no bliss, or actual pain and suffering, only one thing changes: how close you are to the light. This concept defines the entire Yoga system, no matter how complex its traditions are in India. There are literally thousands of Yoga commentaries, and their intricacy can be mind-bending. But we can cut through the complexity by focusing on just one thing: living in the light.
It is vital to understand what the ideal life is, according to Royal Yoga. What makes its approach so natural is that nothing achieved through Royal Yoga is mystical or otherworldly. The self you experience today owes its most valued experiences to your true self, which is already whole and perfect.
The Ideal Life: The Gifts of Royal Yoga
- Existence becomes blissful. You experience a joyful, energetic body; a loving, compassionate heart; an alert, vibrant mind; and a lightness of being.
- You control your mental activity. You can generate thoughts, feelings, and impulses that are evolutionary. You are the one who gives them meaning, and therefore the whole world as you perceive it has meaning.
- You see everyday life as a lucid dream, incredibly vivid but an illusion. You can improve the dream without getting trapped in it.
- Joy becomes the only measure of success because your essential nature is joy. It is the beginning and endpoint of every journey.
- You understand what it means to thrive. You savor the diversity of life, which brings richness to your unfolding story.
- You recognize that the point of arrival is always now. You can't move to where you are already standing—this is the experience of timelessness.
- You recognize that you have no fixed identity. Your identity is unique but always evolving. It is your karmic story, but you don't need to be bound by it.
- You recognize gratitude as the sanest response to existence. It is insanity to believe that existence is a problem.
- You recognize that existence is lavish and abundant.
- Grace becomes an everyday experience. It reveals itself by the perfect way that every experience fits together. Instead of brief glimpses of synchronicity, you live in total synchronicity.
Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing and Jiyo.com, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. He is board certified in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism, and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and a clinical professor in medicine at the University of California, San Diego. TIME magazine has described Chopra as "one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century."
With over 15 million in his social media community (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and his affiliate websites), he shares his insights to help to create a more peaceful, just, sustainable, happy, and healthy world. The World Post and The Huffington Post's global internet survey ranked him as the 17th most Influential Thinker in the World, and 1st in Medicine.
In conjunction with his medical achievements, Chopra is a prolific author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, with 25 New York Times Bestsellers including You Are the Universe. After collaborating on two major books featured as public broadcast television specials, Super Brain and Super Genes, he and Rudolph Tanzi took a quantum leap in their revolutionary approach to tackling the issue of lifelong health and heightened immunity in their book, The Healing Self.