An Interview with Jeff Bailey
What do The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and A Course in Miracles have in common? According to Jeff Bailey and Gene Langlois everything! Their new book, The Yoga Mind, interprets the Yoga Sutras utilizing the principles found in A Course in Miracles. The authors say that both texts speak of the inner peace and joy that lies within, and both teach that the most infallible way to access this experience is to remove the barriers to it. The result is an automatic awareness that joins self with true Self, the higher goal of all Yoga.
Integral Yoga Magazine (IYM): How did your journey with A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and this book project begin?
Jeff Bailey (JB): My wife and I began studying ACIM in 1992. It has been foundational in the blossoming of our relationship. According to ACIM, all thoughts express either love or fear. The power and ability to choose love over fear is what ACIM refers to as the miracle. It teaches us how to recognize this choice, which is the key to inner joy and peace and ultimately to our awakening.
Rev. Gene Langlois, the co-author of our new book, became a significant figure for me and for my wife. He performed our wedding in 1993 and we also studied ACIM with him. About three years ago, Gene and I started writing what we now call The Gift, an online self-study delivered through daily lessons and an interactive map that illustrates one’s progress. That’s where we honed our writing skills and our understanding of ACIM. This led to the inspiration to write The Yoga Mind.
IYM: What led to this integration of Yoga and ACIM?
JB: I’ve been studying Yoga since 1987. I was first introduced to Yoga through the Iyengar method and from there I branched out. A couple years ago, I was reading the Yoga Sutras and realized they were basically saying the same thing as ACIM. The Yoga Sutras are often difficult to understand because we assume they speak to us as individual bodies. Like ACIM, the Yoga Sutras speak to us as minds (functioning through bodies). Learning to read them from this perspective is key to their understanding and application. When I was able to apply that perspective to The Yoga Sutras, they began to take on incredible meaning. It was at that point I knew I wanted to write a book that integrated these two thought systems.
I first encountered Integral Yoga when I was leading bike tours in Virginia. I was scoping out a particular area for my next tour when I drove past the sign on the road that said “Yogaville.” I turned around and ended up spending a few days there. My experience at the ashram quickly transformed my idea of Yoga. I began to understand that Yoga is really a process that takes us inside. It teaches us that the world is designed to pull us apart to promote separation. Yoga, at its highest teaching, is the process of reversing that—going inward and joining or uniting. Yoga asana is a tool to experience the oneness of the body, which in turn becomes a physical practice that ultimately teaches to join in the reality of our oneness as mind or spirit. This is a heartfelt experience where you realize you are not a body. You are a mind that can choose. In Book 1 of the Yoga Sutras, there’s really no mention of anything physical. Throughout our book, Gene and I reference asana practice not so much in a physical way, but in a manner that includes the deeper metaphysics of the practice—our Yoga of mind.
IYM: Why did you decide to utilize Swami Satchidananda’s translation of the Yoga Sutras in your book?
JB: It’s one of the clearest, most loving translations we’ve read. We really didn’t consider using any others. And Swami Satchidananda was Gene’s original Yoga teacher, so it was full circle from our study of Yoga to ACIM and back to Yoga!
I found it interesting that there were so many interpretations of the Yoga Sutras. What we all tend to do with spiritual disciplines is interpret them to reflect our own understanding of truth and modify them to fit our needs. Truth is truth. It’s our responsibility to bring the illusion of separation and fear to truth, because truth cannot be brought into the illusion.
IYM: Is that why you decided to bring the Yoga Sutras and ACIM together?
JB: I’d answer that by quoting Swami Satchidananda: “Truth is one, paths are many”! ACIM is very similar to the Yoga Sutras as a thought system. Of course, ACIM was developed in more recent times so, in a sense, it presents a more modern, psychological interpretation and approach. It takes a full understanding of one or the other to realize the similarities of both.
ACIM is so clear. While it is uncompromising in its approach, it tells us that “You will take quantitative steps until you obtain a qualitative shift.” It is a direct path to a purpose-filled life of deep peace and joy. Once you grok what it’s saying, you apply its truth to everything. The Course introduction says: “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” In a way, it’s a world-class koan. . .
Read the rest of this article in the Winter 2014 of Integral Yoga Magazine.