Throughout the ages yogis were often seen as a threat towards society. People who practice yoga take confidence in themselves and practice to be happy no matter what outer circumstances they encounter. These kind of people are difficult to control as they come from a loving and happy place, so they cannot be subjected to manipulation. They can also be tough but this is a “tough love” just as parents would not allow their child everything because they love it so much.
However, this is only part of the story. Yoga teaches in the Bhagavad Gita, that freedom comes from within, but it contains a price: the yogi should take an active role in society and fulfill his duties. Today the yogi is seen as someone, who engages in worldly activities and contributes to the well-being of all. The Bhagavad Gita declares, that the yogi should listen to his inner voice, follow the steps and offer the outcome of his action to the Divine. In other words, the yogi acts with the intention that the best outcome for everyone involved will occur. He still acts but the action is coming from a different place, from a place within that is calm.
It is a customary view that freedom exists in two different forms: first, it can be understood as a freedom from something. Usually it is the antidote of something that people do not want anymore, so they seek freedom from that very thing. The other meaning of freedom is the freedom to do specific things. The freedom to live your life as you would have it, the freedom to pursue the career of your dreams for instance. In yoga there is a third meaning of freedom: the freedom of choice.
Everything in life can be seen through two different lenses: you can either complain about something, seeing the matter as the negative ego would see it, or you can choose to see the beauty in everything that happens in life. Yoga can be seen as a practice to come back again and again to that positive outview. If something happens in your life it is easy to go outwards with your mind and judge it or blame other people or situations. But if you practice to become still first and listen within another perspective will be revealed. As yoga emphasizes unity in diversity, everything that happens will lead to the evolution of the bigger picture. Mistakes that we make become lessons and we become more evolved persons in future. Things that happen “to us” might be blessings in disguise. Things we do not understand will reveal their meaning over time and it is our job to remain patient and in a state of wonder, watching the miracles to unfold.
As yoga is defined in the Bhagavad Gita we are constantly choosing and acting. Deciding not to take action is an active choice and has consequences. If you follow your duty, your dharma, and offer the outcome to the Divine, everything will unfold more smoothly and directly. The freedom lies in following your inner voice, which will lead you step by step. Dharma (duty) can be seen as an outer duty to adhere to, or the “duty” to listen within and follow your inner voice. Often we do not see the whole picture. Following your inner intuitive voice, using your mind to determine if the choice is ethical and appreciating the material world will surely bring you the experience of freedom.
Follow Divine Dharma and be Free
To be free is your birthright, not to be bound. It is only when you guide your steps along the Path illumined by the Universal Dharma that you are really free; if you stray away from the light, you get bound and you are caught. Some might raise a doubt; how Dharma sets limits on thoughts and words, which regulates and controls, can make a person free. ‘Freedom’ is the name that you give to a certain kind of bondage; genuine freedom is obtained only when delusion is absent, when there is no identification with the body and senses, no servitude to the objective world. People who have escaped from this servitude and achieved freedom in the genuine sense are very few in number. Bondage lies in every act done with the consciousness of the body as the Self, for one is then the plaything of the senses. Only those who have escaped this fate are free; this “freedom” is the ideal stage to which dharma leads. With this stage constantly in mind, one who engages in the activity of living can become a liberated person (muktha-purusha).
From “Dharma Vahini” by Sathya Sai Baba