Finding Inspiration in Ancient Texts

It’s been a while, and I’m sorry. Sometimes inspiration hits and its wonderful, sometimes it is more “forced.” Lately, for me, the inspiration to write has been fleeting at best. Although it’s been a relatively mild winter here in Southern New England, it’s been a grey one. Not very good for your psyche or inspiration. I have, however, been back to the books – both reading and writing them.

Many of you know that I have been taking a deep dive into Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: first exploring the Yamas & Niyamas, and now looking at the expansiveness of the Sutras as a whole. I am discovering that it is a fantastic roadmap for living life, a spiritual life specifically, and awakening to our highest potential.

I feel that our collective society is seeking more meaning from their lives right now. In these post-COVID times (though honestly, we really aren’t done with COVID), I find many have this sense of “what now?” People have become disenchanted with their lives: work, school, society, relationships. It reminds me of a mid-life crisis, except people at every age are feeling some of it.

It is times like these that many turn to their spiritual practices to refocus and reset. Many, however, have turned away from their religious teachings as they no longer find a connection with them. Whether its the position of their religious affiliation on social matters, that the texts seem outdated or unapplicable to their lives, or whatever; people have turned away from the guidance of their religion, and as a consequence don’t know where to go for guidance. They have lost connection with the spiritual roots of their religion.

All religions point back to the same universal truths. They just use stories that are relevant to their audience to portray those truths. Whether it’s the Bible, Quaran, Bhagavad Gita or what have you; they each use the stories of their cultural history to pass down spiritual knowledge. As one of my teachers said, religion is the wrapping paper, the truth revealed by each is the gift. Let’s say I give you a gift wrapped in fine silk; you would expect it to be a fine gift indeed. But what if I wrapped that same gift in yesterday’s newspaper, would that gift be any less valuable? Religion is the wrapping paper: Catholicism, Hinduism, Muslim, Jainism, Buddhism, Episcopal, Baptist, Wiccan, etc. The truth that each of them point to is the gift.

I think what I like about the Yoga Sutras is that, even though they hail from the land of Hinduism, the teaching isn’t blatantly Hindu. I am finding that when studied with an open and curious mind, the Yoga Sutras can be used to help point out truth in any spiritual or religious tradition. As I continue my personal study of these texts, I find it brings me a bit of peace and understanding in these post-COVID, gloomy-warm, can’t-wait-for-sunshine days.

So, if you are struggling to make sense of life and your purpose right now, know that you are not alone. Perhaps revisiting a text (whether religious teachings, or a fictional story that once inspired you) may help? Read it with new eyes, with a deep curiosity for the underlying (maybe not immediately clear) meanings. And allow it to inspire you anew. With much love, Namaste.

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