I’m Smart Enough, I’m Good Enough . . .
. . . And gosh darn it, people like me! For several years, this self-affirmation was a popular catch-phrase in the U.S., poking fun at the social insecurities that almost everyone suffers from time to time. It came from a sketch on the long-running TV show, Saturday Night Live, in which the comedian who voiced it –Al Franken—repeats this phrase with feeling to his own image in the mirror. Franken went on to become a United States Senator (still serving at this writing). Judging by both his life in the show business spotlight and his life in the public eye, Franken clearly overcame any lack of self-confidence he may have been parodying in his famous comedy bit!
A Seemingly Unbelievable Truth
While it can have a silly side, positive self-talk can also have a serious purpose. Often, in pursuit of our spiritual ideal, we can become overwhelmed by the apparent distance between our current state and the imagined state of perfection we’re seeking. We may become discouraged if our efforts to meditate or our heartfelt prayers are seemingly met without progress or reply, mistaking the slow course of inner change for proof of our unworthiness. This self-created and illusory roadblock can be dismantled, not by force of will, but by gentle and persistent repetition of what may seem an unbelievable truth.
The word “yoga” means union and it’s logical–but erroneous—to conclude that the purpose of yoga is to join what is separated. The great message and mission of yoga philosophy is: Awaken to the Real. The science of yoga—training the body with asanas to allow longer meditation, training the mind to focus one-pointedly to enable deeper meditation, and meditation itself—has but one aim and that is to commune with the unadulterated, pure Being that has always been present within.
Yoga’s Rock of Ages
Just as some of Shakespeare’s sagest advice on living comes in the lines spoken by Polonius to his son in the play Hamlet, the ancient Vedas– Hindu scriptures—convey the crown jewel of spiritual wisdom in the words of a father, the sage Aruni, to his son Shvetaketu: tat tvam asi – thou art that. When we plumb the quiet inner sanctum of our wiser self, our outer insecurities are answered with finality by this amazingly simple and profound fact: what we are seeking, we already are – we have simply to grow in awareness.
Paramahansa Yogananda, a pioneer in bringing yoga to the west and author of Autobiography of a Yogi, founded Self-Realization Fellowship (known as the Yogoda-Satsanga Society in India) with nearly a dozen “aims and ideals”. Yet his organization, and indeed his life, were founded on just three words, yoga’s rock of ages, tat tvam asi:
“Self-realization is the knowing – in body, mind, and soul – that we are one with the omnipresence of God; that we do not have to pray that it come to us, that we are not merely near it at all times, but that God’s omnipresence is our omnipresence; and that we are just as much a part of Him now as we ever will be. All we have to do is improve our knowing.”[