After a certain point in time, many of us begin asking the big questions. We have a big or little existential crises of sorts, after the many disappointments of life have taken their toll. For some of us, we start asking these questions in those angst-ridden teenage years. For others, it’s after we experience a great loss or death of a loved one. What’s this life all about?
Sometime we ask the question after we’ve reached a goal that we’ve put so much emphasis on for so long. For example, I thought I simply had to write a book, and that if I published a book, the act of creation would fulfill something deep within me. So I wrote a book, and I self-published it, and while I can’t say it has brought me much material success, I enjoyed the process of writing it very, very much. There were times here and there when I felt really excited as the book neared its date of publication. But then the goal was fulfilled and, to be honest, it wasn’t that big of a deal. It didn’t change my life in any major way. Perhaps it showed me that with discipline I can indeed write a book, but the satisfaction of it all was quite fleeting and rather disappointing.
That’s just one example, but there are so many more. You can probably think of instances in your own life when your desires or goals were reached and then it was like, “Okay, so now what?” Or perhaps you did everything you were “supposed” to do. You got the high-paying job, you got the car, you got the house, you got the wardrobe, you got the 401k, you got married and had kids – you did everything society tells you to do in order to be happy. But, “Is there something I’m missing? Is there more to this?”
(Maybe that's why you should Forget Happy, 'Be Content' Instead.)
According to the great wisdom tradition of yoga, there is indeed more, but in order to really experience it, we have to un-learn a heck of a lot of conditioning. We’re taught our whole lives to rely upon our heads and not our hearts. We’re taught our whole life – especially by the media – that we’re not perfect. We’re not intrinsically whole. Which is why we need to buy the latest smart phone, the latest HD television, the latest "fill in the blank."
The Western culture puts so much emphasis on the material world, but it’s sorely lacking in the spiritual one. This is why yoga is becoming more and more widespread. There comes a point when we all start asking the question, “Is there more to this? ‘Cause something just ain’t right." Some of us experience deep depression because we’ve followed a path that is ultimately unfulfilling. But how were we to know? We simply did the best we could with the experience and knowledge we had. But then you get a glimpse of insight – perhaps in your meditation practice – and you realize that, "Yes, there is more to this, and I’m going to seek it out."
And so we follow the path of yoga. We study the texts. We do our sadhana, or daily practice. And we meditate. Once we cross over into the world of meditation, everything shifts. For some, it’s a gradual process and for others it’s a big "Ah ha" moment. But eventually, we get glimpses of deep peace – like the way we sometimes feel after a great yoga class, as we lie there in savasana. We may tap into our essential nature of unconditional love as we go deep into a Buddhist loving-kindness meditation. We can also experience an awakening in relation to a loved one, perhaps in the throes of ecstasy.
However, the best way to answer the question, “Is there more to this?,” is through a disciplined meditation practice. We have to do it every day, to counterbalance the spiritually lacking ways of modern-day life. Through meditation, we can open ourselves to our true nature – our bliss Consciousness, our innate Godhead. But it takes a deep commitment and regular practice.
(This is the Number One 'Rule' of Meditation.)
Transformation is an inside job and the more we go inward, the better we get at answering the big questions from the core of our beings – from our intelligent heart space. Eventually we realize what The Yoga Sutras are teaching us. That as embodied souls, we suffer because we become too attached to the external world. We come to understand that everything is impermanent. Everything is created, sustained for an indefinite period of time, and then dissolves into the great Consciousness, from which something else will arise.
It’s all a big play and if we can watch it and witness it without becoming too attached to it, then we can find peace. And, eventually, we’ll be able to answer with great inner confidence that, “Yes, there is more to this. And it’s all inside of me, just waiting to reveal itself.”
(You may want to try this Guided Meditation for Finding Your Life's Purpose.)