Pointing to the moon

A Buddhist analogy came to my mind recently. It goes something like this: The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon itself.

Yoga practices and teachings are like fingers pointing to the moon. The moon here represents the Truth – or our True Self. But sometimes we become so fixated on the finger, that we forget about the moon.

It is actually quite easy to forget about the moon. It’s easy to forget that our yoga practice is not the end goal, but a means to an end. But the practice is tangible, concrete, something easy for us to hold on to, to work with – so we focus on refining our yoga postures, or learning breathing exercises, or completing x repetitions of a mantra with perfect concentration, or whatever. But let’s remember that these are tools, these are pointers – they are not the moon. So yes, look at the finger (engage in the practices), but also look past the finger and see what it’s pointing to.

How? At the moment, the best advice I can offer is this: Do your practice (postures, breathing, meditation, etc.), and as you do, or after you do, make a point of noticing what you feel in your body and mind. What effect does the practice have on your body/mind? What does your practice teach you about yourself? Do insights arise in the course of your practice, or perhaps after your practice? Simply asking these kinds of questions will invite insights to arise! I also recommend talking about this kind of thing with a yoga teacher or fellow yoga practitioners. There is much to learn from sharing ideas with open hearts and open minds.

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