Life these days has become very complex.
There is such an enormous input of information that our heads begin to whirl—we don’t know what to do with it all. So first, we need to take a good look at ourselves and ask, “How do I experience life?”
You can find out where you are by taking one step at a time in a process of clarification. What does “mind” mean to you? What does “consciousness” mean? And how would you combine and interweave these two ideas into living and making your living a true art? Can you put yourself on a course of evolution and cooperate with it, not leaving it to chance—wondering whether it will work or not work? Can you take matters into your own hands and direct your life so that you can say, “Living is a particular art and I have made the best of it”?
The mind has many powers and when you train your mind, you will see that you can attain some remarkable achievements. What the mind creates, the mind can create again anytime. That which radiates from another source, however, which can be called “consciousness,” cannot be attained at will. When we tap into that source, our life becomes so different, so enriched that we feel we have truly just begun to live.
Nourishing ourselves on the inside of our very being helps us to cope with the complexities and uncertainties of life, the helplessness we feel when we can’t control world events. There are too many power structures. We cannot fight them all at once. They have been on Earth since humans started walking around trying to expand their territory, conquering other countries. It has always been the same. Perhaps the methods of war, politics and economics have changed, but the basic elements have always been there. People have wondered what they can do about their helplessness, and how they will survive, and where they will go from here. But often it is not until we are so hurt or feel such a sense of helplessness or emptiness that we begin to think.
Does it have to be that way? Do we have to be clobbered by all these dramas that many of us have already experienced? Some generations lived through the time of the Depression. Others have been through world wars and know a different kind of life. But there is little we can do outside ourselves to address these global issues, unless people group together and start a revolution.
Sometimes we can also have silent revolutions. The silent revolution is when you change on the inside, taking a new look at life and who you are. You may decide that life has to change, but you can’t change the world. So what can you change? Only yourself, and you might be able to help change others—awakening them to the need for greater awareness. You can sharpen your intelligence. You can even cooperate with your own destiny. You don’t have to wait until life breaks you down in pain. Pain is a great teacher and for some, it is the only teacher. But life doesn’t have to be that way.
When you recognize and accept the gift of consciousness, you realize it’s time to do something with it. That’s when you get control over your life. You don’t feel helpless, no matter what is going on in the world around you. And the inner security that so many people try to find through higher education, more money, greater social status, now comes through your own efforts.
The only question is: when are you going to start? Or for those of you who have started some time ago but haven’t done much, hoping everything would develop effortlessly by itself…I’m afraid it won’t.
All truly great artists have done a lot of work and practice, not just keeping up their skills at a constant level, but continually trying to increase them. Be an artist in your life. Increase the skills that you have. Discover new ones, and don’t think for a minute that the limitations you have accepted to this point need to be accepted. Don’t wait ’til destiny hits, and then you have to do something. Don’t wait until the dramas come down and make you wake up. Look for the treasure in your own backyard. Expand your mind slowly into a region where you become aware of how great and vast your consciousness can really be.
Swami Sivananda Radha (1911-1995) was a pioneering force in bringing the ancient wisdom of yoga to the West. Initiated in 1956 by her guru, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India, she went on to establish Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada, and author classic books on yoga including Kundalini Yoga for the West and Hatha Yoga: The Hidden Language.
Swami Radha was among the first Westerners and first women to bring yoga to the West. In 1955 after having a powerful visionary experience of her guru, she left everything and traveled to India to meet Swami Sivananda.
In February 1956, she was initiated into sanyas, a commitment to a life of selfless service and renunciation, and was asked to return to Canada to start an ashram and many centers of Light.
Swami Radha was 44 when she went to India, and spent the remaining forty years of her life passionately committed to the teachings. During this time she founded Yasodhara Ashram and the Radha Yoga Centers, as well as timeless, which has published her ten books on yoga. In 1969 she founded ascent magazine, which has blossomed into an international yoga magazine. The Ashram and the Radha Yoga Centers continue to present her work in the spirit in which it was given, maintaining the quality and integrity that were the essence of Swami Radha’s life.