Though yoga has taken root and flourished outside of its native India, there is little discussion of it ancient beginnings or purpose. From what can be gathered by comparing archaeological evidence to current practices that retain some of their archaic rudiments it seems safe to say that yoga is essentially a shamanic practice developed long before it was codified in the Vedas or by Patanjali around the beginning of the Common Era.
Shamanism as defined by religion historian Mircea Eliade is a technique of religious ecstasy in which the shaman enters the spirit realm and returns with knowledge that can be of benefit to us in the physical world. Archeologists recognize shamanism as the primary universal practice of Paleolithic times that pre-dates organized religion. Thus, the shaman/yogi is one who seeks union with the Universal Force or Mystery. The yogi, through practice then becomes a nexus or connecting point for the unfathomable energies of the universe.
One of the most ancient, and no doubt shamanic yogic practices, is the yajna or fire ceremony which represents the process of creation. According to the Vedas, or early Indian codification of yoga, yajna is a healing ritual. It’s purpose, says yogi David Frawley, is “aimed at restoring to wholeness the divine consciousness that has entered into us and become fragmented through the mind, body and senses. The purpose of the Vedic yajna is to heal or put back together the purusha or cosmic being that has sacrificed itself to become the world. The reintegration of the Creator and creation, or God and the soul, is the foundation of yoga as well.” Yoga, simply translated, means “union.”
Atheists or agnostics may substitute the term energy for the word god.
For me, the idea that the central purpose of being human is to restore the cosmic balance is sobering, joyful and all-encompassing. It calls to us to use our access to the boundless universal energy source to reach our personal potential while we heal a fragmented creation. It calls us to our finest expression of what it is to be human.
This present moment in our collective history presents us with perhaps the most critical and most perfect opportunity to reach our potential and heal creation.
Current trends of great concern are now converging to get our attention. One of these trends is the rapid acidification of the ocean. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) measures our oceans as 30 percent more acidic now than before the Industrial Revolution that began in the 18th century. Oceanic acidification is a result of the ocean absorbing the excess carbon released from fossil fuel combustion. If present trends continue NOAA predicts a 150% increase in ocean acidity by the end of this century. This is a dead ocean that supports no life, including ours.
There is abundant evidence that this is already happening. Depending on which source you quote, Antarctic krill, the foundation of the ocean’s food chain, has decreased by 50-80. On the PacificCoast of the U.S. populations of scallops, oysters, starfish, sardines and sea lion pups are crashing. These same types of population decreases are also occurring globally. The ocean ph or measurement of acidity off the coast of British Columbia has dropped from 8.2 to 7.2. It may not sound like much of a change until you consider this. Normal human blood ph is between 7.35 and 7.45. A .1 variation can produce seizures, heart arrhythmia, or even coma. Shell fish cannot make shells under this acidosis disease condition now prevailing in our oceans.
In the past few years as the realization of our desperate plight has dawned on me, I’ve experienced grief, depression and despair nearly to the point of death. Thankfully, my yoga/meditation practice has healed me so that I am motivated to try to live a life of hope and activism.
As yogis we are called at this great moment to devote ourselves to use every science, art, and creative impulse to heal ourselves and creation. This is our mission. In the very near future, as the consequences of these trends begin to affect our food supply and our ability to survive, there will be a full-scale mobilization of our resources. The very bedrock of this effort will be initiated by the spiritual aspirants, the yogis of all nations, by all those who seek to weave the fabric of the cosmos back together again. As we perfect the knowledge of ourselves and our world through spiritual practice we will simultaneously inhabit the spirit realm and the earth plane and heal the dis-ease we have created. As we master human psychological and emotional technology, we will bend creativity into the arc of healing, equality, respect and love. This is why we are here now. This is our destiny. So, practice yogis and heal creation.
 Frawley, David Yoga and Ayurveda: Self Healing and Realization Lotus Press 1999
Well-written and well-said, Tim! I have much enjoyed reading these blog entries. I would like to contribute to this by saying that to serve creation is to heal creation! I think by becoming teachers and delving into the realm of truth and service of this truth, we can spread this wealth of knowledge available to us so that all have the opportunity to prosper!! Great blog, great teacher– sat nam
Greetings, and thank you Saranpreet. Yes, service is integral to healing. Thank you!!!