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Paradox of Contentment
The word Hatha is widely known to mean the Sun and the Moon. However, the more literal
meaning of the word in many Indian languages is adamant, obstinate, unyielding or uncompromising.
This attitude required of the yoga practitioner has the danger of making the student dissatisfied,
demanding and competitive. On the other hand the yoga student is also asked to have
What is the nature of contentment with regard to this quality of asana practice? The philosophy of yoga
and the method of asana practice will be addressed to shed light on this paradox; correct understanding
and application of this principle will facilitate a deeper practice without the loss of contentment.
The five levels of santosha.
a. Before considering the different levels of santosha the student is encouraged to make two lists of different types of desires - needs and wants. Needs are those desires without whose fulfillment life would be threatened (or you would consider it not worth living) such as food, water, air, shelter, love. Wants are those other desires generally included in raga-dvesa. The most basic level of santosha is the contentment experienced when a desire is fulfilled. This kind of contentment happens without any deep understanding of the nature of desire and contentment. Prayer is included in such actions where one prays for a desired outcome.
b. Upon careful consideration one learns that to fulfill any desire one takes an action. The result of the action may fulfill the desire. It may give more or less or completely different result tha the desired result. One appreciates that over the result one has no control. The authorship one has is only over the action; that authorship too is limited. One appreciates that laws of nature over which one has no control govern the results. Prayer again forms a part of such actions.
c. There is a deeper appreciation of the fact that the ability to act itself is the result of divine blessing. The prayer begins to take an expression of gratitude rather than asking for something specific.
d. One acts in compliance with dharma as though one is an agent of divine will. The action and the fruit of the action are both "surrendered" to the divine will.
e. All living beings are seen as manifestations of the divine. At a very deep level it is seen that all sense of being separate from other beings is an illusion, Maya.
How these different levels apply in the practice of asana, pranayama as well as relationship to life?
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