“It is quite possible that India is the real world, and that the white man lives in a madhouse of abstractions.”
Carl Jung (after a visit to India in 1938)
As our study and practice of the Yogic sciences and philosophies deepen, it becomes increasingly important to understand their origin. The discipline we now broadly call Yoga was revealed to the Rishis (the pure Seers who could perceive Reality) 5000 years ago during Vedic times. The word Vedic, in fact, means “body of knowledge” in Sanskrit, the oldest language. If we wish to embrace the ancient practices to uplift our lives in this antiseptic and chaotic modern day, we would do well to familiarize ourselves with the culture from which they come. Do we need to chart a new path or borrow from the proven wisdom tradition of the past? To answer this question let us ponder the Vedic world view.
In the Vedic framework, science and philosophy are linked together, not at odds with one another. Mankind is unified with Nature, which is explained in metaphors and is known to be circular. Nature is relied upon, not controlled. The Divine is understood as the receptive feminine, shown in many forms, and intuition is honored. Time is fathomed by virtue of the precise movements of the planets in our solar system. Community is essential and actions are taken only if they support the greater good of all. As such, women are protected and the elderly are regarded. Over-indulgence is considered a crime against wisdom. Most importantly, from the Vedic point of view, the real enemy to vanquish is fear.
The modern world view finds allegiance with the individual and with profit. The results have been the creation of nearly unsolvable global problems. Many of us wonder what we can do to be part of a solution. On and off the mat, and to the extent that we are able, might we embolden ourselves to consider, adopt and carry some of the ancient world view.