In connection to the International Yoga day, some students asked my about the deeper meaning of Yoga. They especially wanted to know how yoga or meditation can bring inner peace and balance in our daily life. "As a monk, you must always be very relaxed, very balanced, aren`t you?" was one of their questions. „Well, certainly not always..!“ did I answer and added: „I’m still working on it!“
I had to be honest, especially the last couple of weeks were super intense for me. At the moment I can’t really claim to feel very balanced. A lot of stress, a lot pressure and a lot of important decisions to make. It’s not always easy to maintain a balanced state of consciousness. I try to get strength from my daily sadhana, my daily spiritual practice. And for sure a certain inner strength is built up through the daily meditation. But to bring this inner strength, this meditative experience back into everyday life is easier said than done. To find peace and harmony while sitting on a meditation cushion is one thing, although even that requires a lot of practice. But to actually remain balanced in the midst of the toughest everyday situations is something else. That’s the true touchstone that shows us how advanced we really are. It can be a sobering experience!
In Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna emphazises again and again the importance of not to being too much disturbed by the unstable appearance of happiness and suffering, which is similar to the coming and going of summer and winter. The mind of the transcendentalist always remains focused on the object of meditation. Even in difficult situations he remains calm just like a lamp that does not waver in a windless place. How precious such inner balance is, was also expressed by St. Francis of Assis in the following way:
„True joy or success does not lie in the fact that all the bishops, the king of France and England, join us or that we convert all unbelievers (not in the outer missionary zeal). But what is true joy?“ After raising this question, Francis establishes what real success, real joy means by describing the following scenario: “I have come from a long journey, in the winter, frozen, exhausted and with a bleeding tibia at home. But only after a long knock comes a brother and opens up, just to send me away and tell me that I'm not wanted. I say to you, says Francis, if I do not lose my patience and do not become aggressive, there is true joy, true virtue and the salvation of the soul!” What a powerful statement! 1
But how can one develop such a balance and tolerance? It's like with the trees: Who wants to wear a big crown must also take deep roots. Only in the deep relationship with God do I develop an inner strength that allows me to survive the turbulence in this world well. Inner balance is something that evolves over a lifelong practice. The Bhagavatam expresses this having a deep connection with the Lord as follows:
„Engaged constantly in chanting and hearing about Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sadhus do not suffer from material miseries because they are always filled with thoughts of My pastimes and activities.“ 2
This being absorbed in meditation of the Lord is actually the ultimate goal of yoga (Samadhi). Absorbed not only while meditating but throughout our daily life. Still a long way to go, but yes, I’m working on it!
1 - From the Book `Franziskus - Rebell und Heiliger` by Niklaus Kuster
2 - Srimad Bhgavatam 3.25.23