By Yogi Ashwini of Dhyan Ashram

What is yoga? Simply put, it is being in union with something. In that sense, one may choose to be in yoga with fashion, with beauty, or with sport. But none of these make a person a yogi. To embark on the path a yogi travels, you need to go through a certain experience, which will bring you face to face with what is called atma sakshatkar, your true self. Once you come face to face with your true self, you are in yoga, and once you are in yoga with yourself, you are a yogi.

A rakshas (demon) undergoes enormous tapah (penance) to impress God. When God finally appears before him to grant him the desired boon, what does the rakshas ask for? Immortality, riches, pleasures… Why? Kyonki woh apni yoni se bandha hua hai because he is constrained by his karmic protocol of being born into an order of being that is demonic — he cannot understand a world beyond that, so he cannot ask for more than that. He is bound by his desires, he needs certain experiences so he asks for those experiences. It’s wrong to think that the spiritual is divorced from the material. Your senses have bound you to the physical, so you cannot comprehend anything beyond that. Even when you go to God, you ask him for something that has to do with your physical world, your senses, your intellectual life. You cannot ask for something you don’t understand. If you were a practitioner of yoga, your set of questions would have been completely different.

The problem with the majority of the people is that they want to know everything intellectually, but they don’t want to practise it. If you’re bound by your physical and intellectual self, how will you go beyond? Somebody has to take you across. We know the law of karma; but do we practise it? Why not give everything that is there in your pocket to the next beggar you see on the road? We know we will earn good karma. But we won’t do it! So, intellectual understanding is not enough. We need a guru to really explain it. When a guru tells you to do something, you do it because the guru has ensured that you have the know-how, he will ensure that you have gone beyond the five senses. He’s not an empty talker, he has shown you the light, it needn’t be described to you anymore.

The Guru cannot come to you, you have to come to the guru, otherwise the art will lose its efficacy. This is one of the basic principles on which the tradition of guru-sishya works. But in our times, the gurus are seeking out their shishyas in the West, even flying out to them. Are we such blind fools that we should allow this? Can’t we see that these are not gurus; they are clever businessmen selling smart ideas? Moreover, how can you sell something that is not yours to begin with? In Vedic chants, there is a short shloka: “Idam namama”, which means, “It’s not mine”. When it’s not yours, how can you sell it? You can only make an effort to present it at its best. The true yogi would never go to anyone, people come to him.