Philosophy and Aim of Yoga
The aim of Yogai is to intuitively find Truth. The human mind is never satisfied and only finds temporary happiness on external objects. Through the techniques of Yoga one can understand the purpose of life and live in a state of compassion and openness.
Yoga can be pursued using a scientific-like approach. The teachings urge the students to pursue the Truth using empirical evidence, and urge them to transcend the senses, the mind, and the intellect. The teacher is only an instrument that shows the path, but the student itself must walk.
The religions of the world were once based on understanding of the Truth reached by a teacher, who lovingly shared the techniques used to attain such state. Unfortunately, today's religions are focused too much on preaching and rituals, possibly leaving behind the true faith based on self-experience. Yoga is not constrained by the teachings of one guru or teacher, and accepts different religious philosophies. The only requirement to practice Yoga is to be sincere and willing to search for the truth.
Even when one is far from attaining the Truth, Yoga practice can bring with it a surplus of knowledge, strength and inner peace. Ultimately, Yoga will lead man to understand its role in the universe, unaffected by any outside stimuli, and free from suffering, in a permanent state of sat-chid-ananda (existence, knowledge and bliss absolute).
Self as Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence, Knowledge and Bliss Absolute)
The Self is beyond the physical, astral and even the causal bodies. These are just vehicles of the body. The Yogi must realize that the Self is identical with the absolute, and reach self-realization, reaching the ultimate freedom. However, how can one realize this truth? It can be realized through disciplined self-inquiry, and with the guidance of the scriptures and the spiritual teacher. Furthermore, as Sankara stated, this type of knowledge cannot be acquired merely from books, but must come from empirical observation. For this, the mind needs to be purified by service and devotion.
There are numerous paths to realize the ultimate truth. The Yogi inquires within for the changeless, and to discover his true nature. Vedanta states that the core of human desires is the desire to exist, to know, and to be joyous. None of these three qualities is temporary, and they lead to the true self. Any limitation of the Self is self-imposed: nothing can limit the omniscient God. As long as one is attached to the body, or identifies with the modifications of the mind, one cannot realize one’s true nature. Yogic philosophy states that only self-realization can bring about peace, joy and liberation that everyone strives for.
Conquest of Death
Yogic philosophy explains that actions that are done expecting any result, whether good or bad, bring about karma, and bind beings to the wheel of birth and death (samsara). Both heaven and hell are only temporary, and once they are experience, one must come back and continue one’s evolution. True evolution comes when the self is realized, and there is no longer fear of death.
There are three limitations to meditation. First, selfishness (Malai) is found in all beings in varying degrees and can be removed through selfless service (Karma Yoga). Second, tossing of the mind (Vikshepa Shakti), which causes unsteadiness, can be removed through pranayama, devotion and chanting. Finally, the veiling power of the mind (Avarana Shakti) hides the reality of the Self. This last impurity, the subtlest of all, can be removed through meditation and right inquiry into the true nature of the Self.
Death is defined as the bondage of the soul. Thus conquering death is achieved once the soul is liberated. Once the tree limitations to reality are removed, the Yogis can enjoy the peace, joy and liberation that everyone strives for.