Self-study, allowing the lines to triumph

When we deliberate over the word “self-study,” we think about the reflecting of ourselves, who we are and how we behave. Self-study has an even deeper meaning and that is about the study of the true self. What is that self, what does it mean and what does it stand for, more than just the behaviour we can observe?

Imagine that you have a band around your waist. A band which is attached to strings or lines which are connected to other people or things. This way you are connected to your partner, your children, your father and mother, your brothers and sisters, your family, your friends; both the friends you consider close and those that are at a distance. Some friends may be even closer to you than your own family. That way you also have your boss or your colleagues, you have acquaintances at the hobby club or sport club, and these lines constantly change regarding their importance and involvement. But all these lines are stuck to your waist. These are the lines that are related to you as individual in this life and related to this body in this life.

Culturally determined

There are also lines with your culture, these are different than the individual lines; sometimes the band around your waist is replaced by a corset, that is to say, a culture corset with a big influence on with whom and with what you are allowed to involve yourself with. For some people this corset can be suffocating but for others it can provide guidance on how to behave in life. Thus a corset can be experienced in different ways. If it starts to suffocate, it starts to become a burden and the connecting lines are under tension causing the individual to suffocate, resulting in feelings of depression or worse.

The qualities of Purusha

Our lives are constantly subjected to interaction with the world. It is not for nothing that we are subject to Rajas, which is a natural state of being. All lines provide certain expectations and desires of reciprocity and from this frame of reference of associations and emotions behaviour arises; all lines together have an enormous influence on how we behave and how we think about the world. Our band with the world also provides a form of identity, we are someone, we are appreciated, and we are seen. And we want to maintain that. We have a natural tendency to identify with that image. In the yoga philosophy, we are talking about the qualities of purusha. As individuals, we strive for love [Vishnu], for knowledge [Shiva] and for recognition of our power [Durga]. And through the nam [Ganesh] and form [Surya] we can obtain those qualities, or those needs. So we think that through our lines in life we ​​can find satisfaction for our inner needs. This attitude, this way of thinking is constantly moving us towards the external world and so we will do our best to please the world. Our efforts are aimed in particular at increasing the effects [love, knowledge and recognition].

The true inner self

But then who is it that is wearing this band? Who is that “self” that constantly pursues these qualities? Who or what is it that behaves in a way that is ultimately determined by the external world? That allows himself to be determined by the world around him? This study is about the real “Svādhyāya” or the study of the true inner self.

What is it that remains when we go past all these processes and take off the corset, relax the lines and even lay them aside; who or what are you still? This process frightens many people, because we are supposedly no longer anyone. Our dependence on the world is then carefully examined. If the band is removed you may ask yourself the question if you still know who your loved ones from the previous life were. We almost never have an answer to that, and then we don’t know anything about the previous life. So how intensively connected or how in love were you with those people? You then realise that all lines are only related to this life, the current life. Not that the lines are therefore not worth anything or may not be present, but it does put into perspective the value they have, it shows the attachment.

Deep meditation

Only you give value to everything in life, no one else can do that for you. The moment we go into deep meditation we are able to transcend our mind. Transcending means that we can let go of the world for a moment and turn ourselves inwards completely. The moment we focus on it, with the right technique and guidance, we are able to rise above it. In such a moment you realize that the mind / manas is a collection of movement of all thoughts and emotions. This mind is constantly under pressure from a “bombardment” of sensory stimuli that keep moving. If you have ever seen a mass of spawn in a trench in which thousands of tadpoles move back and forth, you know the teeming of movements and life. That is somewhat comparable to the mind that rises above it. It’s like stepping out of a swamp and noticing that moving outside of the swamp is easier than when you are in the swamp. The suction of the swamp keeps you trapped and does not let you go quickly. And the extent of the suction is determined by our attachment to the lines in life.

Hidden knowledge

Once you have risen above the mind you notice the turbulence that is naturally there, but you also notice the peace and tranquility that is outside of it. You experience the ego consciousness so intensely that only then you experience what the study of the self entails. A feeling of being limitless, an I-consciousness that at that moment is not related to your body or any other form whatsoever. Then you will find that the knowledge that is hidden in you is just for the taking. So we need to rise above the mind to be able to get to that overflowing river with knowledge. This universal knowledge is present in all of us. The search for and finding of this knowledge is meant when we talk about “self-study,” the study of the true inner self. The self that has started to identify with all the lines that we have developed in this life with the external world. As a result of which we have often forgotten to silence our inner self and to find the power, love and knowledge in ourselves. Everything is stored there; there it is ready to be used. That is what yoga came into our lives for.


Self-study, Svādhyāya is the most beautiful gift we can give ourselves. The moment we realise all of this, only then can the next subject be fully experienced and not before: Surrender to the universal and the divine. Īśvara-Praṇidhāna.

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