The Fourth of July is generally accompanied by serious BBQ-ing, way too many flyers in the newspaper, sales galore, and extra hours in the mall. Let's face it: it's hard to focus on the historic context of the day. But, if we choose to, we can take a moment to reflect on the meaning of the day a nation stood up for its rights and fought for its freedom.
Yoga presents us with a roadmap that can lead us to our own personal Independence Day: "Kaivalya." The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali speaks of this in the fourth chapter, verse 29, in its teaching about "DharmaMeghahSamadhi."
Far from being a remote or ancient concept that no longer has relevance in our lives, DharmaMeghahSamadhi is most timely. When we walk the yoga path, we fine-tune our discernment. When we do that, we attain freedom from our attachments, illusions, and our endless - and ultimately unfulfilling - yearning for reward. When that happens, we catch a glimpse of our essential, true nature, which is Unity Consciousness, and we are showered with an understanding of the right path that is uniquely ours to tread. We become completely absorbed in Spirit. This is freedom as defined in the Yoga Sutras, yoga's quintessential text.
Note: "Dharma" means a path of righteous living, virtue, ethical behavior, justice, and all that helps us move toward our spiritual best. When we live a yogic life and practice all eight limbs of yoga (not just asana!), we move forward on this journey toward grace, light, and spiritual freedom.
Here's a translation from Mukunda Stiles: "One who is free of self-interest even from the attainment of the highest realizations, who possesses constant discrimination, is showered with virtue from being absorbed in Spirit."
This July 4th, by all means, let's enjoy the day, the official start of the summer season with its vacations, staycations, days at the pool, fireworks, and a lighter way of being. But let's also take time to reflect on the deeper meaning of freedom ... for this country, and for ourselves.