The Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
Patanjali was a great sage who set the very foundation of Yoga in his famous Yoga Sutras. In these sacred texts, he provided a complete guide for self-elevation, from the first steps of the average human experience to the highest enlightened states.
He wrote those teachings over 2000 years ago. However, they are still fully applicable in the current day.
The guide contains eight principal limbs of Yoga:
Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dhrana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
The first step: Yama.
Yama is the initiation for those who approach Yoga and spiritual development for the first time. It represents the initial challenges that the devotee has to face.
It contains five parts:
Ahimsa: No violence.
Asteya: Do not steal.
Brahmacharya: Connect to your essence.
Aparigraha: Go beyond attachment.
In the coming paragraphs, I will talk just about Ahimsa, the initial requirement you have to face when you enter spirituality according to Patanjali’s teachings.
The first lesson of Yama: Ahimsa.
No violence. Easy, no? Maybe you are a nice guy, who works, takes care of your neighbours, pays taxes, looks after your friends and relatives, protects nature and does not eat animals. All this is great; I wish more people were like you. The world would likely become a better place. But I have to tell you; this has nothing to do with Ahimsa.
Ahimsa refers to inner violence, meaning internal conflict. So, the very core question here is, how is your relationship with yourself?
The main goal of the Ahimsa stage is to make you understand that you need to get rid of any inner conflicts to move forward on the spiritual path.
Look around; you will find thousands of people living a seemingly peaceful life. But if you pay careful attention to them, you will begin to notice tons of internal fighting within them. That is the violence Ahimsa refers to.
What is the source of the inner conflict?
In short, the origin of this pattern is the divided state of the human mind.
Your mental system splits into many different personalities and tendencies. Most of the time, these parts are not pointing in the same direction. Therefore, they compete and fight with each other.
For example, let’s say you would like to develop your physical body. So, you decided to wake up to exercise before work. But when the alarm rings in the morning, you feel tired and very comfortable in the bed, and you don’t wake up. For this reason, you feel bad, guilty and lazy. In other words, you fight with yourself because you couldn’t meet your plan.
The exact mechanism applies in all cases; behind every inner conflict, two parts of your personality fight for opposite objectives.
Consequences of the inner conflict
Internal battles are a subtle but direct form of self-destruction. One side of your psyche is attacking and opposing the other side. Consequently, your body and mind lose energy and integrity.
Aged people usually face an extreme weakening of brain performance. One of the primary causes of this degradation is how they used their minds during their lifetime.
Do you think that spending your life fighting with yourself has no consequences? Of course, it has! The internal battle is wasting your energy and weakening your psyche.
Why ending inner conflicts is crucial for spiritual development?
Spiritual development is about getting your power back. It will bring to your life wisdom, peace, harmony, health and many other good qualities. In short, it will bring energy in many different forms.
Now I ask you, what would happen if you attract power, but you still have internal conflicts? Simple, you would use this energy to destroy yourself.
I’m sure you’ve heard about people who won the lottery, and they spent all the money in a short time. In general, they end up with debts and problems. They weren’t ready to manage such an amount of power.
Likewise, you have to remove any self-rejection before gaining more power. That’s why Yama, and specifically the Ahimsa step, is the first condition in the Patanjali system. It aims to prevent you from self-destruction!
The end of the inner conflict
Of course, it is not a simple task. Nowadays, a considerable percentage of humanity lives with endless internal conflict. It’s a systemic disease, and to get rid of it, you have to change your perception of reality altogether.
Either way, the very first step is to be aware of your inner conflicts and begin to work with them.
The statement here is straightforward: In any conflict, the problem is the conflict itself. It is the main obstacle, and it has to be terminated as soon as possible.
There is no fight between a good guy and a bad one or between good and bad choices. The bad guy is the battle itself. Avoid getting involved, identifying yourself or even taking any part in it.
In other words, you can wake up early and work out a lot. Or you can stay in bed and take some extra rest. Both options are excellent! Blaming and dismissing yourself because of what you have chosen: This is the only option you must avoid.
The first obstacle in the personal development path is the internal fighting habit. It may seem harmless, but it is not! All of the external conflicts we face are the consequences of those internal battles. Be aware of that!
Ahimsa is the first step of Patanjali Yoga. It will train you to be prepared to reclaim your power and not let it destroy you.
Whether the goal is spiritual or personal, if you want to build a business or improve your relationship with the family, the first point to consider is quitting the internal struggle to free your mind and relax your psyche.
In this more elevated and creative state, you will be able to find the right solutions to your challenges, no doubt!