The Fourth of July is our nation’s birthday, our Independence Day from the oppression of colonization. In 1776, this was the day in which the original 13 United States freed themselves from the tyranny of English rule and declared its freedom from that oppressive situation.
Today, U.S. citizens celebrate July 4th as a day of freedom. People don’t usually recall the pain of being a colony of another nation. Generally, people celebrate the freedom that is associated with independence.
In today’s perspective then, what is freedom? What is independence? Does freedom mean to be liberated from oppressive situations? Or does freedom mean being able to live a worry-free life with little concerns about food, shelter, clothing or money? Or does freedom/independence mean being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want to? Or is freedom the ability to run my business exactly the way I want with little concern for my employees or the people who buy my products or services? Or does freedom mean living a pain-free life or fulfilling my desires for happiness? Or does freedom mean privacy for me and my personal, spiritual, or religious beliefs?
Each of us has a different response to the question of the meaning of freedom or independence.
For yoga, independence from oppression or freedom is called vairagya, which means “detachment” from all the afflictions of life. Yoga lists those afflictions as well. For yogis and yoginis The Fourth of July is freedom from ignorance (avidya), freedom from a false sense of who we are (asmita), freedom from all to which we are averse (dvesha), freedom from all to which we are attracted (raga) and freedom from the fear of death (abhiniveshaha). When we are finally aware that our true nature is pure consciousness (brahman) and that we have everything we need, even eternal life, we are truly free.
This is Yoga’s way of celebrating Independence Day, of celebrating the Fourth of July.
But how do we do we free ourselves from those afflictions that plague us as individuals and as a nation?
We begin by taking time to still ourselves from the “fireworks” of life. We begin by sitting calmly and peacefully, allowing our wandering, “monkey-mind”, to rest in the sound of love and peace—the sound of our breath. We let our mind become absorbed in the sound of our inhale (“so”) and the sound of our exhale (“hum”) and release all attachment to our likes and dislikes, our worries and our fears, knowing that we are totally dependent on the Source of our Life (God), knowing that we are one with that Source (Sound).
So, interestingly enough, our independence is really our dependence on our core holy self, deep within the stillness of our being. Independence means Dependence on the Source of Life within.
I encourage all of us to celebrate the Fourth of July in the Yogic Way, maybe just for 10 minutes. Let the sound of our breath ring through the sky of our mind this Fourth of July.
Happy Independence/Dependence Day!