THE UN declaration of June 21 as International Yoga Day comes at a crucial moment in human history. The science of yoga is more significant today than ever before.
For the first time in the history of humanity, we have the necessary capability to address every issue on the planet-of nourishment, health, education, you name it. We have tremendous tools of science and technology at our disposal-powerful enough to make or break the world several times over. However, if the ability to wield such powerful instruments is not accompanied by a sense of inner inclusiveness, balance and maturity, we could be on the brink of a global disaster. Our relentless pursuit of external well-being is already on the verge of annihilating the planet.
Never before has a generation of people known the comforts and conveniences we have today. And yet, we cannot claim to be the most joyful or loving generation in history. A vast number of people live in states of constant anxiety and depression. Some are suffering their failure but, ironically, many are suffering the consequences of their success. Some are suffering their limitations, but many are suffering their freedom.
What is missing is human consciousness. Everything else is in place, but the human being is not in place. If human beings stopped obstructing the path to their own happiness, every other solution is at hand.
This is where yoga can play a vital role. For many, the word ‘yoga’ conjures images of body-bending contortionism. But that is not what we mean when we talk of the science of yoga. Yoga is not a practice, an exercise or a technique. The word ‘yoga’ literally means union. It means that, in one’s experience, everything has become one. The science of yoga is a profound science of human interiority that enables one to be in perfect alignment and absolute harmony with existence. As a system of raising consciousness, and empowering humanity to live in a state of abiding wellbeing and freedom, there is no system more comprehensive than this one.
Yoga predates religion. It reminds us that if we look within and keep beliefs and conclusions at bay, truth will definitely dawn. Truth is not a destination. It is like our experience of night: the sun has not gone; it is just that the planet is looking the other way. Most of the time, people are too busy looking the other way! They haven’t paid enough attention to know what the self really is Yoga offers not a conclusion, but a turnaround.
Thousands of years ago, a yogi appeared in the upper reaches of the Himalaya. He came to be known as Adiyogi, the first yogi. And it was he who bequeathed the science of yoga to seven disciples, who later carried it around the world. This science was based on the revolutionary premise that it is possible for every human being to evolve consciously. All it takes is a willingness to look inward. The essence of his wisdom can be summed up in a single line: ‘The only way out is in.’
It happened. Someone came looking for the Isha Yoga Centre in southern India. They came to a nearby village and asked a local boy, “How far is the Isha Yoga Centre?”
The boy scratched his head and said, “24, 996 miles.”
The man was aghast. “What? That far?”
The boy said, “Yes, the way you’re going. If you turn around, it’s just four miles.”
If you go outward, it is an endless journey. If you turn inward, it is just one moment!
If a certain percentage of the human population turns inward, definitely the quality of life in the world will change. Particularly if this shift happens to a segment of the world leadership, there will be a dramatic change. Inward is not a direction. It is a dimension. International Yoga Day could mark the beginning of a profound dimensional shift for humanity.
Sadhguru, a yogi, is a visionary, humanitarian and a prominent spiritual leader (www.ishafoundation.org)