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Acting Positively in Challenging Times

by Michael Ketterhagen

Yoga is skillful living, positive living. An ancient story of India may help us understand what yoga means.

There once was a young yogi who was passing a large body of water. He saw a scorpion struggling to get out of the water near the bank. It looked like the scorpion would soon succumb to the water and drown. The yogi felt compassion toward the scorpion and wanted to act non-violently by saving the scorpion. So, he reached into the water to save the scorpion, but the scorpion, following its true nature of fear for survival, stung the yogi. He immediately dropped the scorpion back into the water.

Well, this went on for some time. Each time the yogi grabbed the scorpion, it stung him and again it fell back into the water. Eventually, the yogi was so weakened by the scorpion’s sting that he lay motionless on the side of the river, while the scorpion again floundered in the water.

Along came an older yogi and quickly comprehended what had happened. He found and stick on the side of the water and allowed the scorpion to crawl onto the stick, so he could bring it to safety. The scorpion was safe now, so he tended to the needs of the younger yogi.

The older yogi felt the same compassion for the scorpion but acted skillfully in living out his non-violent desire for life to continue. He protected himself and saved the scorpion.

Yoga says that there are five areas of life in which we need to act skillfully. These areas are eating, sleeping, exercising, engaging with the world, and starting our day. Yoga says that we should act “properly,” which is another way of saying to act skillfully. These actions are called “yuktas,” which means “doing things in a way that help us reconnect with our inner self.”

During these next few blogs, I will be commenting on these five yuktas. They part of a list of what yoga calls the yogic lifestyle, the lifestyle that is positive and loving toward self and which brings us closer and closer to knowing our core self, our source of freedom and fulfillment.

I pray to the divinity in you!

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