“In India, the candidates for initiation into the science of ‘Raja Yoga,’ when they apply to the Yogi Masters for instruction, are given a series of lessons designed to enlighten them regarding the nature of the real self, and to instruct them in the secret knowledge whereby they may develop the consciousness and realization of the real ‘I’ within them. They are shown that they must cast aside the erroneous or imperfect knowledge regarding their real identity.
“Until the candidate masters this instruction, or at least until the truth becomes fixed in his consciousness, further instruction is denied him, for it is held that until he has awakened to a conscious realization of his actual identity, he is not able to understand the source of his power, …” ~Yogi Ramacharaka
The first thing you may notice about this statement is that there is no mention of the stretching and bending exercises that have become the staple of modern Yoga in the western world. Real yoga is a school of spiritual discipline and enlightenment of which those exercises are just a small part, and not a particularly important part. You might also notice that this Yoga Master doesn’t talk about students or customers, but “candidates for initiation”. That is because he is not selling something, or offering it to anyone who walks in off the street and asks for it.
This is not unique to Yoga or to India. All ancient schools of mystics or spiritual adepts required those who came to them to pass through a period of initiation before the more advanced teaching could be revealed, and that remain true today. This was true in Egypt, in ancient Greece, in Rome, and everywhere else. The Essenes took in students on a two or three year trial basis, The Pythagorean and Platonian schools did as well. Continue reading “Real Yoga is More Than Exercise”