The Ultimate Goal of Yoga

In some traditional Asian cities, monkey families move in and live in abandoned buildings. When they are hungry they grab some food from your hand or from someone’s kitchen if a window is left open, or that lovely fruit tree just when the fruit was ever so luscious. The Discovery channel has done an interesting series on these monkeys called the monkey thieves, for that is what these monkeys are, thieves. However, you cannot really present the poor lot to a judge for these folks did not go to school or church. No one taught them a lesson in morality and ethics. They were simply satisfying their basic need or self interest – hunger.

Humans have evolved out of creatures similar to monkeys and although humans consider themselves as way superior, in truth they are not really much removed from monkeys and Chimpanzees. The full story of human evolution is in a companion blog at . We have descended from chimp like creatures and on a planetary time scale measured in billions of years that is not very far removed; 99 percent of our genetic code is identical. Do not be surprised if they look very different. Even amongst humans, looks can vary vastly with a much smaller difference in genes; in fact I have met a few in my travels across the world that look and even behave like various animals that inhabit our planet. The use of violence to achieve human aims or to express human emotions for any purpose except self defense is an animal thing that many humans still resort to even though the closer a human to a lower animal the smarter he thinks himself to be just as all pigs do and as King Solomon too noticed remarking that,

A fool is to the extent wise that he knows that he is a fool, but one who does not is indeed a fool

According to Patanjali, the father of yoga, discarding the use of violence is the very first tiny baby step into yoga (the first of the five yamas in the first of the eight steps of yoga). The fact that many humans have not done that yet is a sign that humans have not evolved much out of their animal origin. There has not been enough time for it on a universal time scale. It is because of this that exceptional yogic abilities as described by Patanjali are still rare amongst humans on earth just as they are absent in animals. This point has been elaborated in my book - The Babaji Affair.  The chimps are our close cousins in the vast spectrum of life that spans the universe.

It is therefore not surprising then that there are very many humans too that will base their actions just simply on self interest without questioning the morality of it all. Thus when a pissing (is the spelling OK?) scammer sends out millions of spam emails declaring that he knows of an unclaimed secret inheritance and that he could get you a share too, seeking your collaboration, something that most long time email users would be familiar with by now, the hope is that some rare naive soul would believe that lie and fall in his net. He does not question that even if someone did believe in that lie, it would be against their moral principles to usurp an inheritance illegally. You see the pissing scammer has not yet evolved to that level. He is closer to the Chimp who lives merely on the principle of self interest.

The principle of working for self interest is not limited to individuals. Collectively it applies to organizations and nations too. Thus it is in the self interest of many corporations- the interest of maximizing profits – to pollute human foods with genetically modified strains that may cause cancer just long as it makes that lovely pile of dollars. Many politicians that rule us will cheer them on just as long as they give him a campaign contribution or a cut, because it is in his self interest to get power and perhaps even that lovely mansion by the ocean. It is only a very small handful of corporations that have evolved to put customer satisfaction as their prime goal within not just the constraint of making some profit that they have to for surviving and growing but also the constraint of not causing harm out of their sense of ethics and not just because of the law.

The same applies to nations. When President George Bush invaded Iraq, he said forcefully that he is doing so because it is in their self interest to do so. That went down well with the public. It is a different matter that things did not turn out so well later and he was blamed. Had they turned out fine he would have been heralded as a hero in the pages of history. However, to be fair to Bush, even morality appeared to be on his side at that time, not just mere self interest because a picture of Saddam as a brutal dictator, who was no good for his people, had been pre-painted in the media.

Of humans, who have attempted to evolve to the point that their actions are based on morality and ethics and not just self interest, the path is not an easy one too. Whenever a course of action is followed one does not know how the future will emerge and if the future turns out to be bad there is a feeling of guilt. In my own life there have been many occasions like that, a few tragic as must be in the life of all. A human may never know fully how the results of any decision may turn out to be in future. While acting on the basis of morality and ethics rather than just self interest is a superior path in that it at least brings the satisfaction or consolation of doing the right thing, the advanced yogis of Himalayas have gone further. In their view even though a human may neither understand morality rightly nor know how the future will unfold, there is someone who does – God or the Universal Consciousness who is beyond the confines of space and time. Yoga is an attempt to unite the individual consciousness with the universal one and then to do in all things not as the individual consciousness ascertains but what the universal one dictates. True the Universal consciousness has given individual ones the freedom to choose but it has also given it the freedom to surrender that will to Universal will, the ultimate goal of yogis.

There is much more to yoga than the physical poses currently popular and there is far more than mere morality. Patanjali the father of yoga has described yoga as consisting of eight parts. Physical poses are just one of the eight and morality too is just an eighth part. Morality is the first of the eight parts, the second part consists of attitude that include upholding cleanliness, contentment, self study and more. The third part is to do with physical exercises and the fourth are to do with breathing exercises. The remaining more advanced parts are concerned with advanced forms of concentration and meditation. Several translations of the very brief text on yoga written in Sanskrit are available with most online retailers for an interested reader but it is a difficult text, made more difficult by its brevity, and most of it is not easily understood without long years of study and practice.

The text on yoga by Patanjali is not a religious text. There is no mention of any religious sect, ritual, tradition or practice and even God is not named by any of the names used by various religions of his time but described briefly as the ultimate and infinite power and consciousness of the universe. He lived in a spiritually vibrant period of human history where debates and arguments between various religious schools and sects of his time as also between theist and atheists were common butit seems he kept himself aloof from such debates.

Evolving as a life form and eventually uniting one's limited individual consciousness with the highest, the Universal consciousness is the ultimate goal of yoga, something that beings advance towards through the experience of several life times. Yoga speeds the process of evolution. According to Patanjali, this speed is directly dependent on the intensity of  practice.  Although ultimate unity is rare, as long as one continues to evolve one is on a worthy track towards more meaningful, peaceful and happier lives. Thus the ultimate goal of yoga is not just to improve mind and body but it is to assist us in meeting the very purpose of life. The purpose of life is described in this blog  here

Note: For those interested in learning more about yoga, while it is good to know what the ultimate goal is, it has to proceed step by step from simpler things like 1. Entropy Yoga 2. Kriya yoga as taught by Baba Haidakhan 3. Sun Inspired yoga. You may search for those through Google or in this blog if you are interested by typing the search term yoga in the left side bar search tool or check out this:


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