Beyond the Game of Life
by Kino MacGregor
When we begin practicing yoga the deepest part of our consciousness asks for clarity, awakening and truth. What is sometimes the first step in taking positive steps towards the peace that we all yearn for is a recognition of exactly how deeply we are entrenched within our ways of warfare. Yoga for example can sometimes be riddled with fierce competition. You might find yourself competing with a new yoga practitioner in your daily class who is naturally very flexible. Or you might find yourself competing with yourself and comparing your body in a negative light with the way it was last year, last week or yesterday. Yet still you might be competing with your friends and peers. All of this is totally normal because it is totally and completely part of being human.
Ashtanga Yoga you could even say creates a fertile ground for the competitor’s mind because the postures are taught sequentially based on proficiency. It is even tempting to judge a person’s spiritual development by the amount of postures they’re doing. Yet the real yoga happens within. It really does not matter how good your lotus position is, how many handstands you can do or how deep your backbends are if you’re unconscious about the way you treat other people, beings and yourself. Similarly it is often the insurmountable challenge of the six series of Ashtanga Yoga that teaches the most competitive practitioners a very deep and hard lesson–humility. There will always be someone stronger, more flexible, younger and more knowledgeable than you. There will always be someone doing more yoga postures than you. You will never get it done and you will never be the best forever if at all. And that is a good thing because it teaches you to learn that although you bring great gifts to the yoga practice and to life, you are not entitled to set yourself on a pedestal high above, away and apart from your fellow human beings. Paradoxically we are all both absolutely unique and totally equal on some level.
The learning that happens within the field of yoga asks you to embrace both the part of yourself that has a vital contribution to the flow of life and the part of you that is connected to all sentient beings. If you think you’re going to beat one of your fellow teammate at the game of life, think again because life is not an Olympic sport with gold, silver and bronze metals. There is no judge waiting at the finish line to rate your performance, except maybe yourself. The reason why there can be no competition in the deepest sense of life is because the parameters by which life is truly measured are infinite.
The questions most often asked by people who survive a near death experience at the moment of their passing is whether they had loved enough, whether they had been truly happy, whether they had been able to forgive, whether they shared their true beauty with others and whether they had known real peace. While career, politics, success, money, shopping, drama, fame and fortune are aspects of life that cannot be avoided and can even be fun and entertaining, they are not the parameter for measuring the deepest experience of life. Instead forgiveness, acceptance, peace, beauty, freedom, joy, happiness and love are the highest truths of life.
Yoga teaches you to ask whether each and every one of your actions answers to highest truths of life. There can be no real competition because time has no real meaning in the field of learning in which yoga takes place. Yoga itself is eternal and universal.