Introduction

The source from which the world and the mind rise and into which they set is termed Reality, which does not rise nor does it subside.

—Ramana Maharishi

I am not in the world; the world is in me." This daring declaration of ancient yogis gave expression to the perennial truth that the material universe, our physical bodies, and the thoughts that occupy our minds are expressions of an underlying unbounded field of consciousness. The "I" in the bold statement reflects a transformation in the internal reference of the seeker from skin-encapsulated ego to expanded spirit. These original explorers of consciousness charted a course for us to follow — the path of yoga. This is the path we follow.

We are deeply gratified by the expanding acceptance in the West of the philosophy and practices usually attributed to the East. Through our books, lectures, and workshops, we have been sharing our understanding and experience of the Vedic and Yogic wisdom traditions because we believe that this knowledge has universal value. Just as no one would argue that gravity applies only to England because Sir Isaac Newton was British or that Einstein's theory of relativity was relevant only in Germany, we suggest that the profound insights gained through yoga are valuable for every person living on this planet, regardless of age, gender, or cultural inheritance. The principles of yoga are not limited by time or space.

As the human inhabitants of our world increasingly recognize themselves as members of a global village, ideas that were rejected by all but a few wild inner-space explorers thirty years ago are now resonating in our collective awareness. Just a few heartbeats back, the mention of yoga and meditation as essential components of a healthy lifestyle led to skepticism and even ridicule. But concepts that add genuine value to life eventually find their way into the light of human consciousness. Paraphrasing the great German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, every great idea goes through three phases before it is accepted. In the first it is rejected, in the second it is ridiculed, and in the third it is held to be self-evident. The value that yoga brings to body, mind, and spirit is becoming increasingly obvious to a critical mass of people in North America and around the world.

Our relationship with yoga spans more than three decades. We learned early in our spiritual journey the value of alternating asanas (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation to stabilize aware ness while spending extended time in silence. In Seduction of Spirit, our intensive meditation course held twice yearly at the Chopra Center, we repeatedly see the benefits that conscious movement brings to our guests, when their attention is directed inward for hours each day. As a result of our personal experience and that of thousands of course participants, this book emerged.

The information and practices presented in this book provide you with a path to expand your awareness of the relationship between your individuality and your world. Our planet is in need of healing and transformation. With exploding population growth, the human footprint on earth looms larger each day. People who understand the relationship between individual and collective choices cannot ignore the issues of social justice, economic disparities, ecological disruption, and cultural conflicts. At times, the challenges of our age can seem overwhelming and beyond the influence of individual intention. We believe, however, that each of us has an opportunity to contribute to a better world through the very personal choices we make on daily basis. Through the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga program, you will enhance the integration between your body and mind and develop the practice of maintaining balance and flexibility in the midst of challenge. You will gain increased access to your creativity and intuition and become aware of how your individual thoughts, words, and actions influence and are influenced by your environment. As a result of this awareness, you will contribute to the collective awakening of world consciousness.

All of our work through the Chopra Center has been based upon the core principle that consciousness is the primary force in the universe. Consciousness gives rise to thought; thought gives rise to action. All change begins with awareness—awareness of the current situation, awareness of the potential for something greater, and awareness of the unlimited creativity that exists within each of us to catalyze the transformation we want to see for ourselves and for generations to follow.

Not long ago it seemed fanciful that public smoking would be restricted and tobacco companies would sponsor public service ads that discourage smoking, but this shift in awareness occurred when a critical mass of people decided they would no longer tolerate a behavior that harmed many while benefiting a few. In a similar way, we anticipate that as more people shift their inner attitude from What's in it for me? to How can I help? we will see an expanding sense of both individual and collective responsibility for the choices that are guiding the future of our planet. We are hopeful that as a result of the changes you experience through the practice of the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga program, you will be unable to resist the urge to contribute to the healing and transformation of humanity and the world.

The initial response to the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga program has been so enthusiastic that we have developed a yoga training program for those interested in bringing this knowledge and practice to their communities. From novices to experienced yoga teachers, people around the world are learning to teach others the principles and technology that enable them to apply the deep wisdom of yoga to daily life. If, after experiencing for yourself the transformational power of this program, you have the desire to share this knowledge with others, we welcome your participation. Together, we can remind the members of our global family that each of us has the ability to contribute to peace and harmony in the world by awakening these qualities within.

With love, Deepak and David

Part I

The Philosophy of Yoga

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