As we approach Independence Day in the Unites States, we here at YogaDownload.com felt it was a great time to explore the concept of what true freedom and independence means to us, in general and also in the yogic sense.
The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate our country’s freedom. We celebrate with vacations to the beach, barbecues with family and friends and fireworks. It’s a time to shake off work, duties and responsibilities and instead embrace joy and light-heartedness.
In yoga philosophy, freedom or liberation translates to the word Moksha. Derived from the Sanskrit word muc (“to free”), the term moksha literally means freedom from samsara or the world. Offered as an ultimate goal of practice, when you embody moksha, you are freed from the worries of the everyday.
Yogarupa Rod Stryker spells it out clearly and beautifully in his book The Four Desires:
Is the longing for true freedom and spiritual awareness. This means being able to live fully, unburdened by your life and the things in it. Moksha is the intrinsic desire to realize a state beyond the confines of the other three desires (kama – pleasure; Artha – material & physical health & security; and Dharma – longing for purpose). It is the longing to move beyond all suffering and fear and realize the highest of all joys. It is the hunger to know and merge with the highest Truth, Essence, or Creator. It is the basis for humanity seeking prayer, meditation, contemplation, self-reflection and deep self-inquiry. ~ Yogarupa Rod Stryker
In addition to this tantric viewpoint, Patanjali’s 8-Limbed Path or Raja Yoga present the journey to Moksha as one of learning to shift your perspective and release the clouds of ignorance veiling your view of the world. Digging deeper into yoga and meditation enables you to release the deep attachment to the material world and seek clarity through conscious awareness. So, Moksha has less to do with the physical world and more to do with your own internal lens.
Other definitions of Moksha become much more esoteric and tied to different religious traditions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. These interpretations link more deeply with the concept that life is bondage and liberation comes through reincarnation. From paths that are laid out concretely to more mystical practices, Moksha at its core explores bondage and liberation. Swami Satchitananda emphasizes that “only your attitude toward them does that.”
Where are you on the path to freedom and liberation? Wherever you are on this journey, take time to celebrate!