Sometimes I wonder how life would look like if I had been born 50 years ago. Life was much more complicated, less easy and possibilities were few. It seems that the boundaries and the rules were very clear and there was more meaning for respect and attribution: God forbid if you preferred the same gender instead of opposite sex. It would be a crisis for the family if you born outside of wedlock. It seems like people who preferred to follow their own rules, rather than those of the time were very brave or very crazy. Or maybe they were just loyal and truthful to themselves.
As it were, it seems like a lot has changed in this half century. The limits have been broken, rules are less strict and individuality won over uniformity. Mixed couples get married, couples from the same sex could get married, the possibilities seem endless and in a blink we can be anywhere we want to be in the world. We can have almost anything. The principles of freedom and free will were never so widely accepted. Despite the openness and freedom this day in age, the changes and possibilities it seems like we are still there. It is a different guise.
I don’t know whether it is that I am coming from a small place but one of themain differences that I find between living here (Israel) and a bigger place is the crowdedness. Not just the size of the country, but mostly the feeling that the living space is smaller. People are very involved in each other lives and many times it feels like you need to explain and justify live the way you live and do the things you do. The two most common questions that I hear are: What about university? and Is there a boyfriend? My point is to say that there is no right or wrong, good or bad, one size fits all. There is something suitable for each individual person. For everyone that means something different; for some it is hi-tech; for others, psychology. I would like to believe that by the end of 2012, the limits will be fewer and the options will be greater, and we will be privileged to walk our own paths.
There is one question that I often use in order to make my decisions and I will share it to you: If you had one more year to live, how would you live your life? The common answer: Different from the way I am living now. I am aware of the fact that not everything is possible, some dreams may require lots of money to be actualized. Clearly, it is just a hypothetical question, yet it can greatly help us to prioritize. What do I really want to do? How do I want to live my life if time was limited? Where would I live and what would I do? I am not encouraging you to eat junk food all day and party hard, it’s a possibility, but it’s not the point. The point is to find your way, to get out of what expectations, away from values imposed from the outside and find the way according to your truth.
In the Yoga Sutra, one of the most important books, the base for most yoga practice in the world. Patanjali, the sage who is attributed with compiling the sutras (aphorism) mentioned long time before his time, descriptively divides yoga into eight limbs (ashtanga: ashtau= 8, anga=limb).
The first two limbs, yama and yama, are morals, rules/principles for the relationships between the person with his environment and between the person and himself. The third limb is asana (postures, physical practice). The forth is pranayama (breathing teqniques). The fifth is pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses); the sixth is dharna (concentration); the seventh, dhyana (meditation) and last one, samdhi (enlightenment). The Yama are divided also into 5 principles in which truth is the second one- Satya in sanskrit. It is defined as a human moral imperative: Live the truth, say the truth an express it via thoughts, speech and actions.
The sutras speak about the existence of different truths in our lives. These truths stem from our thoughts about certain things around us and from a certain code of ethics (personal, environmental, social and familial) which governs our outlook, from the truths we accept, we divide the world in one way or another: this is good, this is bad, this is right this is wrong etc. These thoughts and truths are the source from where our actions stem.
When we believe in something as true, the focus of our consciousness is locked and our openness to the journey is closed. It’s possible to use the metaphor of being on automatic pilot, approaching life from a place of familiar patterns and habits. The sutras offer us to differentiate between opinion and truth. To be in a endless search for truth. How could we do it? First, to be aware of the fact that there is an opinion and there is a truth. Second, to explore where this opinion arise from? Is it from something which we read? Heard? Something someone told us?
This exploration places us, the seekers, face to face with ourselves, with our minds. That can be frightening and threatening to discover that that which we grasp and know as truth is no more than an opinion, a personal memory or a past experience. That means that Satya is not just the truth, but the search itself for the truth, peeling away the many layers of previous impressions which we carry around with us and the vulnerability to recognize and commit to the inner truth. Since the inner truth exists within us, we can recognize it and distinguish between an opinion and truth. The tool for this discovery is meditation.
How is all of this is related to us?
According to my point of view, truth refers to some aspects: thought, speech and action. Truth in our intentions and in our choices. Truth to follow our way, according to belief, with the knowledge that this is what will make you happy, inspire you and make you smile J even if it does not match the norms of your surroundings, looks crazy or irresponsible. Even if no one around you is accepting.
I see great importance for this principle because eventually via our thoughts and actions, we create echoes, we change the vibes and energy around us so if we feel good, we make these echoes bigger and bigger (consciously or unconsciously). We affect our surroundings and that’s the importance of living as close as we can to the way we wish to live. Following this principle even if we have more then one year to live…