As we saw when looking at the purpose and meaning of the elements contained in Niyama, the intention is to brighten us up and make us more radiant, so that we shine with an inner light. <:::o:p>
But there’s another thing to consider. Just as there are things that can make us more radiant, so there are things that can make us darker – ‘endarken’ us as one might say. These things stem from appetite. Appetite is a powerful force within us. If it’s too powerful, it can not only dim our light, but it may even put it out altogether, turning us into a kind of ‘black-hole’ absorbing and consuming all that we are. A word used more often, to describe this state, is ‘addiction.
A friend of mine, Khen, who ran the retreat at Tan-y-Garth used to say that when we first meet people we show them our light, so that they can see how bright we are. If they don’t seem very impressed, quite often we say to ourselves, ‘Well, if you’re not impressed by my brightness, wait until you see my darkness.
If we want something very badly – maybe the 50 inch plasma TV in the sales we may rush into the shop and push someone over, causing them to be injured. If we don’t like something – perhaps experiments on animals – we may decide to blow up a laboratory where experiments are undertaken and someone or perhaps even an animal, may be very badly hurt. If we fear for our lives and run for safety, maybe we run out into the road and are badly injured. In all of these instances an injury is caused because we are driven by something. These things that drive us are a kind of darkness. When we are driven, we are not radiant; when we are in the driver’s seat – when we are in control, we can be. In yoga, the term Ahimsa, meaning ‘non-injury, is used in a very broad sense to mean that we should not be violent in feelings, thoughts, words, or actions.
In class, during posture work, we often see students doing the exact opposite; pushing when they should be pulling back; struggling when they need to relax; using intemperate force to get their bodies to do things they are not yet ready to do. When we work in this way, it may be with determination but we are not working with respect for our body or our physical well-being. When we combine our determination with awareness, we use effort appropriately, with respect for our body, and we avoid injury.
Satya means "truth," or "not lying." Practising satya means being truthful in our feelings, thoughts, and words, and deeds. It means being honest with ourselves and with others. <
It is said that’ without truthfulness, worship is futile; without truthfulness the recitation of mantras is pointless; without truthfulness our yoga practice can bear no fruit.
But, there is another aspect to this. In a book I read, one of the characters takes the view that lying is a weakness. Because the character isn’t weak, she will often hurts and offends the people to whom she speaks. This way of being truthful not only huts other people – it also hurts our character as well. She has very few friends and even manages to lose her job. She uses truth in a way that causes injury and so fails the non-injury test! Her desire to be truthful is so strong it blinds her to the damage she is causing.
The upshot of this is that, when we are being truthful, we need to be careful about being hurtful, which most of us do most of the time. But is does mean a little extras effort to find a good way to tell the truth – or maybe just not to say anything at all.
When we work our yoga practice without respect and regard for the state of our mind body and breath, that too is a kind of dishonesty and the results are more likely to be harmful than good, because a part of our body is actually doing the posture incorrectly or not at all. During postures, we need to work at our own level. We don’t look at and try to imitate other students. Instead, we should look at our own posture so that our work becomes a kind of truth about us – a kind of truth that perhaps we’ve never seen before.
Asteya means "not stealing," This is simple, just don’t steal. Or is it? If you have a starving baby whose life can be saved if you steal a little milk for it, but you don’t your ‘not stealing’ causes a terrible injury to your child.<:::o:p>
On the other hand, if you are in the habit of helping yourself to pens, paper, rubber bands and other stationery items from work; or you add five minutes onto your coffee break, is that really stealing? There are a lot of people who don’t think so or who accept that it is but believe their employer is so mean that they deserve it. We all have to decide for ourselves what theft is and what is a justifiable ‘perk’ of the job.<:::o:p>
There are employers who pay less than they ought and make their staff work so hard that they become exhausted and ill. It may be part of the reality of doing business, but it is also a kind of stealing too.
In traditional thinking, sex, except under certain conditions, is seen as a waste of vital energy and life-force. The important thing is this; our energy is not limitless and we shouldn’t waste it. In postures, don’t overwork. Enough is enough. On the other hand, don’t try to hoard energy; there is a lot of truth in the adage ‘use it or lose it.’ <:::o:p>
Aparigraha means not grasping.
There is an idea here in yoga that if we are greedy, we cannot be our true self – greed distorts us and in the end, if we are not careful, it can overwhelm us and make us addicts to thing for which we hunger. One word to illustrate the point perfectly – Gollum<:::o:p>
So, when we have the hang of the Niyamas and the Yamas, Our inner light, our innermost or perhaps transcendent self can shine through. In the words of that fine old pop song:<:::o:p>
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)