Updated: Jul 9, 2021
The below adaptation is from a Buddhist text called The Words of My Perfect Teacher. I have switched the word Dharma for the word Yoga. When you read the word Yoga, please think in terms of what Yoga means in the larger context of the word: To end Suffering, to Gain Equanimity, to Control Our Attention, to Be Free from False Thinking, to Be Boundless & Infinite in Nature. In short the goal of Yoga is the same as that in Buddhism. Only some small semantic differences are there, but this has mostly to do with the way these two traditions use certain words. For the most part, we have much more to gain by assuming their similarities, and virtually nothing to gain by assuming their differences.
Nāgārjuna is a South Indian who revitalized Buddhism about 500 years after the passing of Gautama the Buddha or Śākyamuni Buddha, to form what is now known as Mahāyāna Buddhism and is what is practiced in both China & Tibet.
Pattabhi Jois was very keen on making sure we knew the rarity & the value of a human birth. Buddhists articulate the reasons for this at length. The below adaptation provides four more advantages that must be present for one to access the divine potential of being human which is the larger meaning & aspiration of Yoga – or the Dharma as they say in Buddhism.
THE FIVE BLESSINGS SUPPORTIVE OF YOGA (2.1)
Nāgārjuna lists them as follows:
Being in a Central Place
Possessing all of One’s Faculties
Free of Conflicting Lifestyles
Faith in Yoga
Without a human life, it would not be possible to study, practice nor understand Yoga. So being human is of primary importance.
If we live in a remote place where Yoga is unheard of, we would never have even come across it. But the region we live in is central in the sense that the teachings of Yoga exist here.
Not having all of our sense faculties is a hindrance to the practice, study & comprehension of Yoga. If we are free of such disabilities, then we are blessed.
If we have conflicting lifestyles, we will be swayed by negative actions and at variance with the depth of Yoga. Since we have the wish to cultivate positiveness & to increase our humanity, we have a blessed intention.
If we have no faith in Yoga, we would never even practice or study it. Having the inclination to turn our minds to Yoga – as we are doing now – is the blessing of faith.
To have all five of these blessings is extremely rare & precious. We should be forever grateful and take full advantage of it since our life is actually very brief.
A person who lacks any of the five sense faculties, who is unable to see spiritual images that inspire devotion, or unable to read or to hear spiritual teachings for study and contemplation, will have a limited capacity to practice, study & realize Yoga.
“Conflicting lifestyle” means that we feel inclined towards actions that cause dramas, conflicts & obstacles in our life and that consequently require much of our time, attention & resources. Thus our minds are not able to focus on cultivating positivity. Be vigilant about every thought, word & act – whether it is contrary or harmonious with Yoga. It is a great blessing to be raised with lifestyles that promote Yogic progress.
If we have limited or no faith in Yogic teachings. Instead we place our faith in money, power, fame, etc., then, nothing can protect us from suffering in life. But if we develop faith based in logical examination & faith based on the experience from practice, then we are undoubtedly on the trajectory towards Yoga. This is the greatest of the five supportive blessings.