In The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Swami Satchidananda says, “The entire world is your own projection.” What a powerful idea. What does he mean? We choose to give meaning to things, to people, to places and we choose what particular meaning to give them. We then react in response to those meanings. I lost an inexpensive ring I had bought for myself – I had given the ring the power of being a reminder to me of the spiritual path. I loved to look at the ring and remember where I was and how I felt when I bought it. Then I lost it. I was upset, it was meaningful to me and irreplaceable.
But, did I lose the spiritual path? Was that reminder in a physical object more powerful than the practice itself? No. I had given that little piece of metal power but it in itself was just a little piece of metal. I let it go and the upset followed.
Being able to control how the world affects you is the key to peace. Knowing the difference between your true self and your affected self is yoga.
“Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah – The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” Practicing yoga is practicing letting go. Our minds jump around and react constantly – stilling, restraining the mind, letting go of the reactions, the attachments, and just being brings peace.
How we react to the world around us is what creates the world around us. But it is such a difficult practice to become aware of our reactions, to control them, and to let them go. Peace is not easy to achieve.
My two-year old son seems to have mastered letting go in mid cry and turning his frown upside down and laughing at it all. He sang to me: “Row, row, row your boat gently on the lake. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life’s a piece of cake.” Life’s a piece of cake mommy, why are you making it so hard?
Then he changed it up to: “Row, row, row your boat on a on a mouth. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life’s a piece of mouth.” He thought that was supremely hilarious and laughed heartily. I have to give it to him for being creative and trying to make a joke – but mostly I admire his ability to laugh. He reminds me every day to laugh. Life really can be laughable if you let yourself see it that way.
Row gently and know none of it is real. It’s amazing how hard it can be to laugh, to let go of attachments, to believe it is all just a dream. It’s all a creation of our minds. Everything we hold onto is ultimately unimportant. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have people or things in our lives but we should try to be in control of how our mind reacts, how we attach, how we project meaning and expectations onto them. It must be easier if you become a monk…
But I will row on and practice.
Quotes from Satchidananda, Swami, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali/translation and commentary by Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga Publications, Yogaville, 1990.