When we die, we do not take anything with us. No cars, houses, money, titles, marriages, girlfriends, boyfriends… nothing. And this life goes by really fast, really quickly. So what is it that is most important? Many wise ones say (and the point of this message is to say): Inner Peace. The experience of our own inner peace is the ultimate spiritual treasure. It does not matter how much material success you have. If you are living a miserable life then so much gets wasted. It is easy for us to actually waste a lot of our life. Yes, our own life. And usually we are not even aware that we are doing that.
There is a story that Swamiji tells. A person is walking along a river bank. This person is lost in an incessant stream of thinking. Thinking about projects, to do lists, people, tomorrow’s meeting, last week’s events at the office etc. And so this person is just strolling along the riverside thinking about things in the past and in the future. And this person is tossing little stones into the river, not even aware that they are tossing anything at all. Then suddenly this person realizes that there was just one precious stone left in the palm of the hand and that the handful of diamonds was pretty much gone. And it was too late to get all those other diamonds back. The river had long since swept them away. What a waste!
And so our lives are often like this. Due to improper mental programming we spent countless hours thinking incessantly about any random thing under the sun. Psychologists say that 85%+ of these thoughts are actually repetitive and serve no practical purpose. From the yoga perspective, we waste enormous amounts of energy (life-force energy known in Sanskrit as “prana”) due to this out-of-control thinking. In addition, when our minds are washed into the river of unstoppable thinking we suffer the consequences of energy loss, fatigue, and reduced capacity of the brain to restore itself and be creative. Oftentimes, the end result is depression, anxiety, fear based compulsive thinking, addictive thinking and behaviors which do not lead to our highest potential of health and happiness.
Yoga wants us all to INCREASE OUR SPIRITUAL BANK ACCOUNT OF INNER PEACE. Yoga says that the practitioner who diligently cultivates the self-discipline of their practice (sadhana) will learn to experience more and more an “infinite ocean of inner peace” (Swamiji). At some point, yoga culminates with the practitioner becoming firmly established in the truth of one’s innermost nature which is nothing but the pure consciousness of love and peace.