With the upcoming elections, we wanted to share Swami Satchidananda’s views on Yoga and political involvement. Even from the earliest days of his arrival in America, he encouraged his students to be responsible citizens and to vote. For example, one new student asked him, “How should Yoga practice relate to political actions?” He answered, “You know, in the name of spirituality, we need not ignore the world or run away from the world. But on the other hand, with the real knowledge of the Self, we understand the world better and we handle the world much more easily, in a safe way without getting entangled in that. Such a person can deal with everything in the world in a better way.
On Social Change
In 1977, he was asked about effecting social change. His response was: “We have to educate the people, work towards changing the law. That’s how a yogi should deal with politics. Because a yogi is the one who sees things clearly with neutral mind. He would not take sides. He would not simply cast a vote because he is a Democratic or a Republican. Instead of the party, see the person. Who is behind? What is his caliber? It is the person who makes the party, not the party that makes the person.
On a Neutral, Clean Heart
In 1983, Swami Satchidananda was asked, “Should I vote for Clinton or Dole? Can Integral Yoga help me make up my mind?” He replied, “Well you have the answer. Integral Yoga will help you. Integral Yoga practice will make you neutral. You will see Clinton and Dole with a neutral vision. Not because you belong to one party or other party, no. Stay neutral, analyze both of them. What they did, what they didn’t do it. With a clean, neutral heart you will know whom to vote for.”
About Good and Bad Candidates
And in 1989, when asked about why we should vote if one candidate is as bad as the next, he advised: “One candidate may be 50% bad, 50% good. The other one is 40% bad, 60% good, something like that. So select the lesser evil. By not voting, you encourage the undesirable person to come. So choose the lesser evil, that’s all. There’s no other way.
From His Book: Peace is Within Our Reach
“We call our country a democracy, but it is not truly a democracy unless our elected representatives represent all of the people. We have to carefully consider and cast our vote for the right person.”