Yoga: Letter to an atheist from a yogi on knowledge and the meaning of life


The atheist: “I am reading Schopenhauer’s, “The art of knowing yourself”

The yogi: “Books are ok but why limit yourself to knowledge? Knowledge is merely a story narrated by the mind of a man so surely to know yourself or attempt to know yourself within such parameters can only mean weaving yet another story on top of a story?

Truth seekers look not for knowledge, not for knowing but for their nature. When they look deeply enough they find their eternal, shining loving essence reflected in the opening of a flower, the kiss of the wind on skin, the melting burnished gold of the sun setting… It’s in a mother’s look at her newborn baby, a child’s excitement at learning to ride a bike, a father’s tender touch against his sick daughter’s cheek and the tears of a wife who watches her husband for the last time, go to sleep. It cannot be found in a book, magazine, encyclopaedia or tv screen. It can only be felt and to feel it we must go beneath the layers of our conditioning and the egoic world that surrounds us.

Having spent my childhood buried in books where I was able to lose myself in a narrator who drew pictures of adventures with horses, pony picnics, midnight rides. I found a place where I always knew the characters would be there, reliable and safe. This was always preferable to looking up to see my stepmother’s changeable mood, my father pretending we were not there or the concrete environment of our housing estate.

I am well aware of the endless possibilities there appear to be in between the inky lines on a page. I am also aware that it can be a dangerous place and the internet can be equally alluring. In fact, we can attach a story; an escape, to almost anything and this is something I’m still learning. Through countless means we can escape from the present – what’s right here under our noses because it’s easier than facing discomfort, responsibility and any discrepancy between our dreams and our reality. In short, it’s easier than facing our fears. Those things that the Buddha spent many hours trying to teach – the infinite wonder of life as nature determines; connection heart to heart between our fellow humans and across the species. The meaning of life cannot be found in a book.

Only another story. Life takes on the meaning to which we attribute it. It is our responsibility to endow it with something worthwhile. Be free. Step outside. Trust in your heart’s wisdom and allow it to open wide. What I know is that when you were here before me a week ago, with no screen, no veil and nothing between us, I saw something in your eyes and felt something in your heart reflecting me…

… love.

But it takes great bravery to move out of conformity. To put the book down, push the rules aside and listen to what you hear inside. The call of the universe.

Namaste. So much love.”