Scandals and ashram raids. Sexual predators and charlatans. Grand promises and equally grand course fees. These are the hallmarks of our modern-day spiritual gurus. You just cannot seem to trust them. Their flowing beard, messy hair and floating garb instantly push your buttons. Your inner sceptic awakens. Your trickster alarm starts to beep. Their grandiose words sound empty sometimes and plain crazy at others. The lack of any clearly defined logic angers you.
The stale retelling of ancient texts with a fervor of holiness fails to inspire you. Why now? What’s the lesson in these millennia-old texts you need to know? Why must the overtone of holiness be enough for not only respect but your trust and attention? That, when most of our modern spiritual gurus do not possess decent education, far from any scientifically viable ideas.
Of this abysmal group, a couple of eloquent ones compel you to take notice. Flashes of wisdom come through, with some entertaining philosophizing. Right then, at that moment, it raises you, but then you come away empty again. A moment of clarity, an epiphany which makes you smile; but the instant you leave, or two weeks later, it's gone. A sugar rush and then a crash.
Looking up to them as guides and philosophers who could give meaningful, actionable answers to life’s haunting questions is futile.
Either you hate them passionately, ignore them or come away as confused as before.
Hate them or ignore them, but your problems never really go away
But then, your problems haven’t disappeared, have they? Your heartbreaks and your crushing disappointments. Those addictions to distract from pain. Your failed dreams. The missing passion and drudgery at work. Your busy life which has squeezed away energy not only from your body and mind, but from your soul. The exhaustion you feel not only in your bones, but deep in your cells. The relationships which promise the world but deliver another-worldly suffering. You are hunting for fulfilment high and low, but it always eludes your grasp. All that.
So, you need answers. Some. A hint of clarity. Or else you are desperate for solutions. You turn to motivation gurus, the masterful Tony Robbins and his clones of the world. Urban, sensible, logical. Speaking in a language you understand, about things which you can connect to. Empowering speeches and powerful techniques to deal with your problems. They make you hopeful. You are pumped for a day or a week, or maybe a month. And then it passes. The techniques work but they are piecemeal. A clue to the bigger unsolved puzzle of life. Where’s the solution to other problems? Can there not be a single answer?
One technique. One solution. Permanent. Not fleeting.
Have you ever wondered, like I often have, if there could be such a solution? Why is there no manual for living life? Like there is for setting up an oven or fixing a tyre. Clearly defined rules. Plus, why can’t all the rules be there in just one place? Why must you have to hunt for them all over?
Why can’t it be like a textbook of physics or math?
Life is not like that; it's not scientific, you could say. How can you be sure?
And why not?
Oh, you don’t expect it. You don’t think life is meant to be that way? Life is not scientific, it is merely philosophical; you think?
What if it IS scientific?
What if there are clearly defined processes, a system in place already? So that you put in any question and out pops an answer.
There may be one.
The science of life.
There may be an accurate science for life. One that has a clearly defined end goal. A set of well- defined processes to get there.
End goal of life? What does that mean? Everyone can have different goals, right?
Yes, and no. There is just one singular highest goal. The same for everyone. And why not? After all, we are the same specie with the same mental and physical system, only with slight variations. We are all born the same way, even if one of us is white and the other brown. We may live in distinctly different cultures, yet we all go through puberty, we marry and have kids; we age and die. These life processes are common to us all. It may appear that we are free to do whatever we want with our lives, choose our own goals and life paths but that’s just on the surface. Behind the scenes, at the lowest substratum of life, we are all moving towards one singular goal. All of us, as a species. Whether we are aware of it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not. It's happening, like ageing does, despite you.
And if you were to acknowledge it, there is, a set of well-defined processes in place. Processes that include and target all your pains and sufferings. Your happiness. Processes for a goal that will answer all your burning questions. Will address and take care of your dreams and desires. Your happiness. All of them.
What goal is this? And what science could I be talking about?
This science exists right in your own backyard. This manual for life was found right here, in your own homeland.
Yoga or more accurately ‘Yog’ is this manual for life. The science of Yog.
What? You could be rolling your eyes right now. You think it is not relevant for you.
You don’t have the full picture yet. It is still hidden from view. Hold on.
Why is it relevant today and why is it relevant for you?
Many Indians are not even truly aware of the existence of Yogic science. They have heard of it, in passing mention. Of those that are familiar and claim to practice Yoga, a significant percentage think it is just a physical activity for better health. Then there are academics who proudly quote its complex Sanskrit sutras just as a matter of philosophical musing. Finally, there are those who shun it as old-world dogma.
However, it’s none of them. It is science, like physics or biology. Theoretical and experimental.
Unfortunately, its complete truth is buried under archaic language and poor interpretations. This rigorous science has become lost in translation. Forgotten, misunderstood and misused.
Why is Yogic science so poorly understood?
The foremost problem is that Yogic science has lost all its context and hence seems irrelevant in modern times. It was originally codified at least 6000 years ago and so was naturally written in a language and style prevalent of the times. The original language of its texts stumps most of us.
The second problem is that its direct, linear translations only kill its true meaning. Yog was codified at a time when an oral, mythic, story-telling tradition was the norm. A lot had to be said in few words. Metaphors were used heavily to compress information; so expression was not as linear and direct as today’s. Hence a simple word-for-word translation is foolish and misleading. It ends in up as a strange, regressive mutation of the truth.
So then why is Yogic science relevant today?
Because, as we discussed earlier, irrespective of culture and country, and time even, the human species has a common end goal. Yog reveals that end goal and lays out a well-outlined process for reaching it. Along the way it addresses and solves our pain and sufferings, leading us to the happiness and fulfilment that has forever eluded us.
So then, the science of life sits right here, in our backyard, waiting for us to apply it to our lives, in practice and theory. All it needs is a modern context: familiar language and logical, rational presentation.
That fortunately, can be done.
We could re-create this manual for life. We are trying to @theyogicmutant.com
Give it an honest, curious try.
Shweta Singh is the author of the book "The Grandmaster: Across the Blackhole". She is deeply passionate both about science, and our ancient Vedic and Yogic traditions. You can follow more of her work at www.theyogicmutant.com
(Her facebook page is: stringtheoryoflife, Instagram handle: theyogicmutant. Find her science-fiction book on Yoga: The Grandmaster: Across the Blackhole on Amazon.)