by Michael Ketterhagen
“Ishvara Pranidhana, the jewel of surrender, presupposes that there is a divine force at work in our lives. Ultimately, this guideline invites us to surrender our egos, open our hearts and accept the higher purpose of our being.” --Deborah Adele, The Yamas and Niyamas
Ishvara pranidhana means “surrendering to the Source of Life,” “surrendering to God,” or “surrendering to our highest goal.”
Most of us, in this time of cultural diversity, political confusion and moral division, are having a hard time figuring out what we are supposed to do in life. We, as my son Zachary often says, are even uncertain about our core values. Or if we know them, we have a hard time not getting distracted from living them.
For instance, a lot of people would say having a good relationship with our family is a core value or a goal that is important but spend most of their day working and not spending enough quality time with their families.
Others say that being happy is their highest goal and find out that doing all the things that they thought would bring happiness, like accumulating great wealth and security, being honored for being the best at their career, or experiencing fame, or rejoicing over sensual pleasure, end up causing pain and much unhappiness.
Others say that serving others is their highest goal, yet get resentful that others aren’t appreciative of all their service.
Catholic Christianity says that our highest goal, our purpose in life, is to “love and serve God in this world and to be with him in the next.” Yoga’s understanding of Ishvara pranidhana, the highest goal for humans, is to surrender to God’s will and experiencing unity with God/the Source of Life.
My yoga experience has taught me that fulfilling God’s will is always having the goal of fulfilling my greatest dreams and ambitions in life. It means to know my greatest desires and imaginations and the surrender the outcomes of my effort in gratitude to the Divine Source of Life. It means travelling deep within myself through meditation practices to touch that Source of Life. In doing this I touch the Source of Divine power within me. I surrender to it and that Source gives me the courage and energy to fulfill my life purpose.
Yoga can help us truly do what Catholic Christianity says is our highest good.
I pray to the divinity in you!