On Self-Help

From 2000 to 2004 I worked at a SmithBooks and it was the best job I ever had (I consider teaching Yoga a vocation). It offered me a marvelous chance to observe and further investigate human behaviour. The most popular section in the bookstore was the “Self-Help/Pop-Psychology” section. This was during the glory days of “Oprah’s Book Club” and also saw the introduction of Dr. Phil McGraw. If these books sold so well, why was everyone so unhappy? Clearly, the books weren’t working or at least they weren’t enough. I recently heard “If you want to be happy don’t read a self-help book, get happy friends”.

Like Buddhism, Yoga sees suffering in regular life but Yoga asks “What are you going to do about it?” Patanjali‘s Yogasutras is the authoritative text and offers us many tools to work with. Patanjali describes what suffering (dukha) is and what are its causes (klesas). My favourite sutra is II: 16: “Suffering that has not yet come can be escaped”. It is a bold and powerful statement that fills me with confidence and hope. Patanjali tells us clearly that we can avoid future suffering, the only question is, what are we willing to do about it? It shows that we are indeed powerful beings, masters of our own lives but we must act accordingly. Truly, through our own efforts we can save ourselves from undue pain and suffering but we must have the strength and courage to act. Remember, God helps those who help themselves. Yoga only works if we do it.

Knowing is not enough, you must apply; willing is not enough, you must do.” ~Bruce Lee

I leave with you a marvelous little video narrated by Alan Watts:

What do I desire?

“…if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way…so it’s all retch, and no vomit, it never gets there.”


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nisha
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 08:04:04

    I like this post, Sash! It is very true and I live my live this way. I also believe positive thinking goes a long way toward overall happiness. Take care!


  2. Sri Satchmo
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 22:21:46

    Thanks Nisha. You’re right about a positive attitude. I’ll something about it soon.


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