The Yoga Of Getting? Or The Yoga of Giving Up?

How many of us -me included- go to India knowing or unknowingly because we want recognition, the stamp of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, the authorization, the certification, the experience, the photos, the friendships, the chai, the dosa, the clothes, the rickshaws, the "getting"?

And what does it take to eventually either go or not go but with the yoga of "giving up"? With the knowing that life happens and it might or might not take us there. That life unfolds and all we can really do is act in the moment coming from the wisdom of being fully present. All other ideas are just words in our minds, thoughts, non-reality.

Consider a question posed to Maharaj by one of his students:

     Q: "I came to India in search of a Yoga teacher." 

     M: "What kind of Yoga do you want to practise, the Yoga of getting, or the Yoga of giving up?

     Q: "Don't they come to the same end"?

     M: "How can they? One enslaves, the other liberates. The motive matters supremely. Freedom comes through renunciation. All possession is bondage."

The one responding, Sri Nisagadatta Maharaj,  is the author of "I Am That" and current destroyer of my mental words.

Reading his lectures has put me in a state of constant questioning, not just of the intentions behind every action which is what I thought I learned from Sivananda and disciples, but even further, the actual validity of every thought, the actual existence.

Who is it indeed that is thinking/writing this post?  Is it coming from a place of wisdom? or is it coming from the yoga of getting? and who is it that crafts it, who if not the mind? the tricky mind that sent me unconscious in New York City a couple of weeks ago, the untrustworthy mind that leads me to believe in things that are just not real.

And even though I mentally understand his second answer: "freedom comes from renunciation..." and all that jazz,  I could very well follow up with a question of my own, how do I give up desires? I feel them! I want them, I like going to India, I enjoy it, how do I give it up? Lucky for me another student says:

     Q: "How am I to practice desirelessness?"

     M: "No need to practice. No need of any acts of renunciation, Just turn your mind away that is all. Desire is merely the fixation of the mind on an idea. Get it out of its groove by denying it attention. That is all."

And then, if it really is that simple, why is it that so many lineage-backed, serious yoga traditions have so many complicated, elaborated practices, so much to learn.  I am lucky again, someone else asks:

     Q: "Yet I do not understand why the various Gurus insist on prescribing complicated and difficult sadhanas (practices). Don't they know better?"

     M: "It is not what you do, but what you stop doing that matters. The people who begin their sadhana are so feverish and restless that they have to be very busy to keep themselves on the track. An absorbing routine is good for them.
    After some time they quieten down and turn away from effort. In peace and silence the skin of the "I" dissolves and the inner and the outer become one. The real sadhana is effortless."

The best analogy I have read in the book has to do with how all that we think as real happens in a screen. This screen is about a mile away, in front of us, the screen includes our bodies and desires and "needs, demands, to get this and that".  

The further away from the screen, the closer to the silent witness that watches things arise and die, without any reaction, the closer to peace, and the happier we are. The closer to truth. The closer to the real Self.


  1. Claudia

    I knew before itself that the book "I am That" ,a collections of talks with Nisarga Datta Maharaj will create lot of Bomb shell in you .It is a healthy bombshell and I am sure it will help you develop more clarity in due course . The problem is not in any yoga practice but "in our motives" for practice .

  2. you knew it! and yes totally, it is the motive that gets you... and even further who is having the motive anyway? Good to hear from you Krishna

  3. i read this book years ago. maharaj's approach is an interesting one.

    1. hi anon, yes I only got to it these days, and it is proving very effective in getting me to see things differently :-)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.