Some good yogis feel ‘yoga’ is being manipulated. They want to protect the lineage of ‘authentic yoga’. They insist that yoga belongs to India, or Indians, or Hinduism. I respect what they think and believe – according to history the practice of ‘yoga’ did start in India, and was rooted in Hinduism.
But even though the practice of yoga originated in India that doesn’t mean that yoga only belongs to India, or Indians, or Hindus. Yoga is for all of humanity. It exists in the universe for all beings to transform spiritually, to be liberated from suffering.
Being in India, or being an Indian, or being a Hindu doesn’t guarantee us peace and compassion or enlightenment. If it did then every Indian, or Hindu or anyone in India would know yoga and have attained self-realization, there wouldn’t be any ignorant beings, and suffering would not exist in India, or for Indians, or for Hindus.
If yoga belongs to India and Hinduism, then no one else but only Indian and Hindus can be ‘allowed’ or ‘qualified’ or ‘authorized’ to realize yoga of selflessness, or compassion and unconditional peace, to be free from suffering, while all the others who are not Indian or Hindu will never realize yoga, or be selfless, compassionate and peaceful, or be free from suffering. But, yoga doesn’t belong to anyone with a particular quality of name and form. All and everyone are subject to the suffering of impermanence and selflessness, and anyone also can realize selflessness and be free from suffering upon liberation from ignorance. Just like if ‘God’ exist, ‘God’ doesn’t belong to anyone.
Although we all live in different regions in the world, have different nationalities or skin colour, features, or cultures, or language, or beliefs and religious influences, we all come from the same source.
How can we limit and condition yoga to a certain region and religion when the basic teaching of yoga is oneness or non-separateness? What is the difference between this religion and that religion, or being religion-less? What is the difference between this nationality and that nationality on this tiny little earth compared to all the other planets in the universe? Even though we all have different beliefs, religions (or not), characteristics, personalities and appearances we are all living beings sharing the same space in the universe, dependent on the elements of fire, wind, water, earth and space to exist. Beyond names and forms our true nature is the same. We are not different nor separated from one another.
Yoga exists in all beings regardless of where we are, who we are, what we are or how we are.
The teachings of yoga and Buddhism are all about selflessness, non-dualism, oneness, attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness. Even though the practice might be different, the end of the practice is not different from each other. If this is not what yoga is – oneness or non-separateness, then I don’t want to practice ‘yoga’ nor share ‘yoga’ with other beings. Those who think ‘yoga’ belongs to them can keep their ‘yoga’ for themselves.
When the Buddha attained enlightenment he never claimed that he founded Buddhism, nor do the teachings and practice of Buddhism belong to any race, sect or caste, nationality, or religion, or being. It always existed in all beings regardless of the differences of names and forms, or whether beings are separated by time, space and causation, and whether we realize Dhamma or not. The Dhamma of Buddhism existed before Buddha realized the truth and became enlightened. Buddha didn’t own the teachings of Buddhism or Dhamma. Dhamma doesn’t belong to anyone or any place. Anyone and everyone, even the most ignorant beings, or the most evil beings in the universe, can realize Dhamma and attain enlightenment. It is within every being and beyond time, space and causation. Other beings in other regions of the world attained enlightenment before and after Buddha.
Even though the Buddha came from India, attained enlightenment in India, and taught Buddhism in India, dhamma didn’t originate in India. Dhamma does not come from a geographical region or era – it is beyond time and space. Dhamma does not belong to anyone.