Your Questions Answered
by Swami Krishnananda

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Chapter 50: What is Yoga?

Visitor: Swamiji, what is your definition of Yoga?

SWAMIJI: Yoga, finally, means meditation; it is an exercise of the mind. It is also an exercise of the body, but it is basically an exercise of the mind. It is more a system of thinking, than a method of physically doing something. Yoga is not doing something, but thinking something, which incidentally means being something in yourself, because what you are is mainly what you think. Your being and your thought cannot be separated. Whatever you are, that starts operating through the mind as a thinking process. Your mind and you are inseparable things; you yourself are the mind.

What happens to your body is not so important as what happens to your mind. Your happiness and unhappiness depend more on the condition of your mind than on the condition of your body. Even if your body is robust and very healthy, you can become unhappy in one second by a different kind of thinking entering into your mind. So physical health alone does not mean happiness. To make you unhappy, one disturbing thought is sufficient. It will shake up all the balance of things.

Your basic root being the thought process, more importance has to be given to the art of thinking than just to physical exercise. I don't say physical exercise is unnecessary. It is necessary, but that is not the whole of it. You are more than the body, as you know very well. Your feelings and emotions, your understandings and your thoughts are the vital issues in your life much more than your physical appearance.

I am coming to the point that Yoga is the art of channeling the mind in a particular given direction. The difficulty is that you must know what that direction is. The mind has to be established and made to operate in a given direction. What is that direction? Here is the main question. Yoga starts with the answer to this question: What am I to think?

It is not easy to understand what life is. It is not merely what you are; it is also what relationships obtain between you and other people. That also is a part of your life. Your life is not only inside the body; it is connected with outside people also, which have an impact upon you. That also is you only. Any kind of thing which can have an impact upon you is you, so social relation is yourself only. So, you are not merely an individual mental and physical personality, you are also a social personality. Society can make you or unmake you sometimes, apart from what happens to the body and mind. It is not merely that. There is something more about you.

A wind that blows strongly, a torrent of flood from the skies, tremendous heat or cold, also can affect you. That is another kind of relationship you have got with physical nature, so just imagine how complicated your personality is. You are not just one person like that. It is a wrong notion.

Firstly, I told you that you are a body doing exercises. Then, I am telling you that you are also a mind, emotion, understanding, etc. Then, I said that also is not complete – you have a social relation and entire humanity can affect you. Now I am telling you that furthermore, the whole nature can affect you. Even the sun shining in the sky has something to tell you; it can do or undo anything – such is the power of the sun. Finally, last but not least, God has something to tell you. He is the Creator of the universe.

So in an adjustment of your personality in this variegated direction (physical, mental, emotional, social, cosmological, natural and divine), all these are brought together into a systematic arrangement of organic completeness, so that you feel that you are a huge cosmic individual.

This idea that you are a person has to go away. You are something larger than what you think you are. If you appreciate that, it is a great advance that you have made in correcting your life. It is the first step in Yoga and if it continues, your happiness will be untold. You will feel everybody protects you. Society, God, your mind, and nature will all be your friends. You will be living in a world of friends. This is the way you can be happy.