By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Having grown up in America, freedom was an ideal that inspired me.  As a kindergartener, I made pilgrim hats out of black construction paper, representing the Pilgrims who were seeking religious freedom.  I was heartened by the preamble to the Constitution which I learned in third grade.  It cites goals of union, justice, liberty and peace.  Thus I was ready when I found yoga and learned that the goal is freedom.  I felt an immediate resonance with it. 

I didn’t understand what freedom was.  As a teenager, I wanted a superficial freedom:  an escape from my parents (seemingly) unreasonable demands and expectations.  Once I started managing my own life, I wanted freedom to do what I wanted, as well as the freedom to do nothing at all if I chose.  None of these are the freedom that yoga promises. 

As important as freedom and social justice are, neither of these is yoga’s focus. Individual yogis may choose to focus there, as did Mahatma Gandhi in India 100 years ago.  He successfully used yogic ideals as a launching pad for political goals.  His work also inspired Rev. Martin Luther King in his world-changing mission.

Yogic freedom is an inner experience, not something you project into the world or ask of it.  It is also called liberation.  Consider this:  if the goal is liberation, it means you are currently in bondage.

Your bondage is internal.  It’s about who you think you are compared to who you really are.  These two fundamental principles of yoga are clearly summarized in the primary text of Kashmiri Shaivism.


Consciousness-Itself is your own Self.

J~naanam bandha.h

The not-knowing (of your Self) is bondage.

— Shiva Sutras 1.1-2

translation by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

These sutras define the mystical quest.  Sutra 1 divulges the secret of your inherent Divinity.  Sutra 2 explains that you don’t know your inherent Divinity.  It’s a conundrum.  It’s the cosmic game of hide and seek: you are hiding while you are also the one seeking your own Self.  Like a dog chasing its tail, you go round and round for lifetimes.

This text guides you through a process that begins with Shaktipat, the initiation that activates the arising of Consciousness within you.  After that, how long it takes for you to get enlightened is up to you.  Your own blossoming forth is assured, just like daffodils that will bloom in the spring, but you don’t know when spring will come.  The text gives you ways to push it along.

This entry was posted in About Gurudevi, Ashram News on by .

About Swami Nirmalananda

Serving as the Master Teacher, Swamiji is a teacher of the highest integrity for over 35 years. Formerly known as Rama Berch, she is the originator of Svaroopa® yoga as well as the Founder of Master Yoga and of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. In 2009 she was honored with initiation into the ancient order of Saraswati monks. Now wearing the traditional orange, she has openly dedicated her life to serving others. Usually called Swamiji, she makes the highest teachings easily accessible, guiding seekers to the knowledge and experience of their own Divine Essence.

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