"This human hour, this earthly hour is the most
beautiful of all the hours."--The Mother
This column focuses on the day-to-day practice of Integral Yoga: what
it looks and feels like, its stumblings and gropings, its progress and
aspirations. The following selection is taken from a journal of yoga.
22 June 1988
here are four stages
in moving toward the transformation.
1) When you start the yoga: the first many years. You're visionary,
enthusiastic, and have no doubt that (although everyone has failed before
you) you will succeed, you'll do the transformation. You absolutely
believe this, are certain.
2) Then, after a long long time, you start looking around and realize
no one around you in the yoga is having much luck; they're just as human
as they always were, for the most part, nothing much has changed--except
they're all getting older, their skin is weathered, their hair is turning
And you look at yourself--you, the hope of tomorrow, the great plum
pudding, the would-be capturer of the Holy Grail-and you realize that
you're just as much of an ordinary, unchanged, totally human-in-all-your-parts
person as all the rest of them. You haven't transformed one iota of
ll those long ascetic
periods didn't do a bit of good. You're still drinking coffee and eating
hot dogs from Seven Eleven; you're twenty-five pounds overweight again.
Isn't this where you started?
You have no control over your vital, no equanimity, you're not doing
karma yoga, and in your day-to-day, moment-to-moment existence, there's
nothing yogic about your life at all. All you think about is yourself,
not the Divine. In fact, you don't even think about the Divine that
much at all, except for exceptional moments and spiritual experiences.
3) Then you read someone like Ken Wilbur, who says it's just baby-boomer
narcissism to think that some major global transformative change, the
biggest in history, will happen in your life and you will be part of
it (you of course are one of the elect)--that obviously something's
happening, but it's an information revolution and globalization happening,
which is quite different from spiritualization. The real New Age will
come all right, probably, but not for hundreds of years.
And you talk to someone in the yoga whom you love and respect, like
X, who says, "There's a lot of denial in Auroville, people are
oblivious to the ordinary crude stuff they're caught in. They say, 'Oh,
I'll be transformed-' when the fact is that emotional and psychological
nonsense of the most obvious sort is going on, some inexcusable things.
They think they're not accountable because they're 'doing yoga'--but
really they're just living ordinary human lives, raising families and
so forth, and not acknowledging the fact.
"Well I for one," X concludes, "don't expect to be transformed
in this life."
And with that, your whole belief structure, all your hopes and dreams,
the purpose of your life, break into tiny crumbling pieces and the whole
edifice falls down. And you think: Now, at last, you're realistic; now
you know it's impossible. What an egotist! What a conceited, self-inflated,
deluded dreamer you've been. You can't make it. It's absurd to imagine.
Mother didn't make it. Sri Aurobindo either.
Yes, it will be a matter of hundreds of years. Maybe a thousand.
And a little bird rises out of you like a sigh, the bird of your youthful
idealism, the bird of your exaggerated yogic hopes, and flies away.
You feel sad. The clouds are gray, it's raining.
ut there's relief
too: now you don't have to struggle anymore. You can do the best you
can, of course, but you don't have to be crazed, you don't have to be
madly passionate, you don't have to fight so hard--it's so difficult
fighting. You don't have to be nagged by your conscience that you're
doing a lousy job; you're free of the onus of achievement.
It's OK. You can be at peace, you can relax. And a soothing voice says,
"There, there, it's all right, you're all right now, everything's
going to be all right, the war's over. The landscape's not so pretty,
you'll have to live in ruins, but it will be quiet--go and live a good
life. You don't have to worry now that you won't make it--you know you
And that brings a certain comfort.
4) The fourth stage: Screw it all, you'll do it anyway.
And since it hasn't worked yet, you will be consumed by it, you will
put all you have into it, you will make it your one abiding, visualized,
expected, activized, real-time, real-life manifested goal.
And if you don't make it, OK, but you're sure as hell not going to go
around, at forty years old (X is only thirty-four) saying you expect
not to. What a way to give up four decades in advance!
* * *
So that's my new plan: to be totally immodest, to set out to actually
accomplish the transformation--aggressively, willfully, purposefully,
to really do it--to believe I will, to work in an utterly concentrated
way toward it--to work toward the transformation with all the passion
and fire, the endurance, the hard work, the attention I've put into
This last just occurred to me today.
I think I like the idea.
Now I've got to think about doing it.
It will mean giving up hot dogs at Seven Eleven.
Lynda Lester is a technical writer/editor in Boulder, Colorado. She
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.