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Is it Okay to Have STUFF on the Path of Yoga?
Truly, one of the most interesting conundrums to practitioners of yoga is the relationship to stuff. We are an abundant society, and there is as much stuff to be had as any individual could possibly want. Is that a good thing? Is the pursuit of wealth in all its forms something to stay away from? If the goal of yoga is peace of mind and a life free from attachments, then is it wrong to want things?
No. Human beings are driven by desire. Even if there is a desire to have no desire … the desire needs to be there, to set the direction of our path. Samkalpa is our intention, or will and motivation. The mind is constantly in the pursuit of our intentions, making samkalpa the most important and time-consuming activity in our mind. Our thoughts are consistently centered on the things that we desire — whether it’s our morning cup of coffee, the next thing on our to-do list, or a long-term goal. We create ourselves and our karma through these intentions, and samkalpa is the primary cause of our deeply held patterns of thought, word, or deed.
Samkalpa is like a plan or strategy. We do something in a certain way to arrive at a certain goal. The result that we gain tells us the nature and the value of our action. No action is done without seeking some sort of result. This result depends upon the intention behind the action, not simply the externalities of what we do. Higher or spiritual actions seek a result that is not ego-bound, like the development of consciousness and the alleviation of suffering for all beings. Lower actions reflect ego desires — to get what we want; to accomplish, achieve or gain for ourselves in some way or another. Spiritual samkalpas direct us within and help liberate the soul. Ego-based samkalpas direct us without and bind us further to the external world.
The path of yoga is not a path of destitution and limitation, as demonstrated through the four goals of yoga:
- Dharma: Divine purpose, which we can think of as vocation. This refers to our status in life, our self-expression, and self-realization in preparation to be in service to others.
- Artha: Prosperity, right possessions in life.
- Kama: Enjoyment, including the joy or beauty of sensory experience.
- Moksha: Liberation, freedom for full expression in life that comes through knowledge and experience.
We need to have things in order to maintain ourselves, to not be a burden to society, and to be in a place where we can be in service to others. So, create what you want your life to be. Be comfortable and fulfilled and well taken care of. And then, give all that you can to help others achieve what will satiate them.
Yoga is the science of spirituality. Moreover, there is compelling work in the greater field of scientific exploration that goes a long way in proving the philosophical concepts that constitute yoga.
Excerpted with permission from Vibe-a-Thon, creating your life from the inside out, now available on Amazon.com.
Jeanmarie Paolillo is a teacher, teacher trainer and mentor at Yoga Works in New York City. She leads trainings and workshops on asana, the philosophy of yoga, meditation and mindfulness, and the energetic body internationally. Jeanmarie has been featured in Natural Health Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and Yoga Journal and has appeared on Weddings.com and the CBS Morning Show. She is part of the Expert Network for Greatest.com and a featured contributor to The Daily Love. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University and has completed studies toward a Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology (May, 2013). Vibe-a-Thon is her first book.