Published: 10 January 2023 | Written by Swami Rama
You have to light your own lamp. No one will give you salvation. I am talking of enlightenment. All individuals have the responsibility to enlighten themselves. Do not think you cannot do it. You have that spark. You are fully equipped. You simply need to discipline yourself. Discipline is not a prison. It simply means practice.
Patanjali says that you have the capacity to unfold yourself and lead yourself to a state of tranquillity. Then you will understand things as they are. Otherwise, you create darkness for yourself and you are not able to see things clearly. The human mind remains clouded because the external world does not provide correct data. In the external world everything is fleeting. The moment you want to study something in the external world, that thing changes its name and form and you cannot study it. First, you will have to remove the clouds of ignorance from your mind. When you have clarity of mind, then you can study things as they are, and there will be no confusion.
Thus, when Patanjali says, Atha yoganush-asanam, he means that if you really want to unfold yourself, you first should learn to discipline yourself. People are afraid of the word discipline. Discipline is not a punishment. You will enjoy it once you know it. Discipline means self-commitment. When you commit yourself to your progress, then slowly you will find that the light is within you. These external lights—the sun, moon, stars, and electric lights—are superficial lights. The Upanishads say again and again, hiran-mayenapatrena satyasyapihitam mukham, tat tvam pushann apavrinu satya dharmaya drishtaye. (Isho-panishad15). “The face of Truth is hidden by the golden disc. Oh Lord, help me so that I can see the Truth within.” You keep trying to find Truth in the external world, but it is not there. Those who have found Truth within themselves can express that same Truth in the external world, and they are considered to be great people.
The discipline you need to learn this science, to follow the path for the inward journey, is not the discipline that you already have. You have to understand this subtle point. You had to have discipline in the colleges and universities to study things in the external world and to verify things in the external world. Learning in the external world is entirely different from yoga discipline. In the external world you move. However, when you want to go to the deeper levels of your being, stillness is important. In all other journeys you have to move. In this journey you do not have to move at all. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” It is a simple formula, but very difficult to apply. From your childhood onward you are taught to move. Nobody teaches you how to be still. You have to learn not to move. Anushasanam, the discipline that you have to follow, you have not yet learned. Since it is a completely new undertaking, it seems difficult. To learn yoga science, which leads you to the highest rungs of life, which takes you to the summum bonum of life, which leads you to the kingdom of wisdom, peace, and bliss, and which leads you to freedom from all pains and miseries, you first have to discipline yourself. In modern education there is enough knowledge, enough books, and enough freedom, but there is no training program for discipline. No one tells you how to study yourself or how to practice. Patanjali says this is not the way. That knowledge which you consider to be knowledge is not fruitful or helpful. First, learn to discipline yourself.
This is an excerpt from the chapter “Discipline Means Self-Commitment” in the book Samadhi the Highest State of Wisdom: Yoga the Sacred Science by Swami Rama, Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, 2002, pp 18– 20.