I was doing my yoga self-practice this morning in my teacher’s yoga hall – there were about 20 of us there today. There is always someone who needs assistance and our teacher is always available, even if it takes time away from her own practice. She adjusted the person in need and gave some props, as is the custom in Iyengar yoga. The girl asked her how the props would help her and my teacher answered, ‘ Find out for yourself. And don’t always use the props. Find out how they can help you and then, work in a way where you don’t need them anymore. Don’t become dependent on the props and don’t trust them.’ This is what she said Guruji had always told her. I agree. One shouldn’t depend on anything or anybody, really.
(A few minutes earlier we had been talking about religion and philosophy and most of the people in the class believe in some religion or philosophy or another. Some have or are looking for gurus or some kind of answer from above or beyond. I no longer follow any religion, although at the core most of them are quite beautiful. Philosophy, too, can be very interesting, even fun at times, although in truth, it never goes anywhere. Just words going around and around in circles.
I suppose if I believe in anything it is in total freedom. Freedom from social, cultural, political, and religious influences. I am a rebel.)
So while everyone was nodding in agreement to Usha’s statement about not clinging to the props, not using them like crutches and, above all, not to trust them, I said that it is the same thing with religion and philosophy. Don’t trust everything you hear, find out for yourself, don’t cling to words. Words are like props. They must be dropped and one must find out for one’s self. Words are attached to second-hand knowledge so they will never be real. To know is to experience and no one can do that for you.
Words can chime like a bell that awakens you or they can be a crutch that you lean on or a safe haven in which to hide when the fear of living the life experience overtakes you. Second hand knowledge that only sounds true, yet has no depth because the experience does not support it.
Leave the props, don’t trust words. Find out for yourself or as my mother used to tell me, ‘Use your (own) head.’ The day I was able to transform those words into reality was the day that I took my first step towards freedom.