By Lynn Fraser, reprinted from Yoga Center of Calgary newsletter

What is a personal philosophy of life? Do I need one?  Why? We need a personal philosophy of life because it helps us to make sense of the world and keep us heading in the right direction. We all have one, whether we have given it conscious thought or let it grow randomly through our experience.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

What does this have to do with yoga?  The following are some of the fundamental beliefs in yoga.  We can use them in developing our own personal philosophy of life.  There are two realities – purusha (cosmic consciousness) and prakriti (elemental matter).  The universe results from matter being permeated by consciousness.  People evolve or manifest from consciousness into matter.  Yoga deals with involution or the return from identification with the manifest body and mind to ultimate consciousness.  The law of karma states that every effect has a cause and a reaction. Yoga philosophy relies on direct experience, on developing our own powers of discrimination. We learn to examine our mind, emotions and body and to gradually refine ourselves.

A philosophy of life involves goals yet is more than just goals.

Who am I? Why am I here? From where have I come?  What happens after death?  Our answers to life’s questions underlie our personal philosophy. Ask first – will this thought, speech or action bring me towards others or isolate me?  Will this lead to the benefit or comfort of the many or is it just for me?

This is the one antidote to suffering, pain, violence. By finding the antidote to the suffering of others, we find the antidote to the suffering we experience.  We have three resources – our body, mind and material possessions.  We can use them for our own pleasure or for a higher purpose.  We can create a balance in our lives that is ultimately satisfying and enriching.

“All we can do is to search our own consciences, and try to relate our motives on any particular occasion to the great central motive of our lives”. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter 2 Verses 2-4.

Questions for developing your personal philosophy of life:

 ·     Who am I? Why am I here? From where have I come?  What happens to me after my body dies?

  • Is my life at this time built around the principle of my own growth, pleasure and fulfillment or is it based on  the benefit of many?
  • What yoga practices could I integrate into my daily life to help me refine myself?
  • How can I improve my awareness and clear honest self-observation?
  • What are my main goals in life?
  • Is my plan for working with myself realistic? Can I let go of judging and work gently with myself where I really am now?

When Mahatma Gandhi would want people to help in his work, he would give his angelic, toothless smile and say, “I can offer you magnificent rewards: two years in prison, confiscation of all your property, work without respite every day of the week, and the increasing joy of knowing that your life really counts.”

Contact: Lynn Fraser   [email protected]