It is not what you do that is so important. What is more important, is why you are doing anything. We must ask ourselves, What is there to gain by doing something? Remember, you are God’s image. So, you must have all the qualities of God, such as purity, love, and happiness, because you are divine. So, in you—as you—is nothing less than all those qualities. But some sort of ignorance has created a veil and made us feel that we are limited, little, or finite. We have forgotten our true nature. Many of us will ask, “How am I to know that I am God, that I am divine? Seeing is believing. I must see to believe.”

Well, there is a way to see yourself as God. It is similar to how you see your face. You need a mirror to see your own face and you need a mirror to see yourself as God. The mirror that can show you as God is your own mind. Your mind is the mirror. But, to reflect your face, the mirror should be clean. A dirty mirror, or a distorted mirror, will not reflect your face clearly. In the same way, a restless mind or a disturbed mind can never show you to be the image of God. To see yourself as God, you must have a peaceful, clean mind.

That is the essence of all the Yoga teachings: keep your mind calm and clean, then you will  know yourself as God. Then you will realize, or recognize, your essence-nature. That means all your spiritual practices should have this goal: to keep the mind calm and clean and to not to allow it to become disturbed or cloudy. It is for this reason that we selflessly serve and devote our lives for the benefit of others. That is Yoga. It doesn’t matter which practices you do. All the practices should be done as a meditation. Whatever you do, ultimately your mind should be clean; it should not be affected by anything.

So in simple language, do not do anything that would disturb your mind. That’s all. Then you are in Yoga. In that calm mind, you can see yourself as God. I often quote what the Bible has to say on this very idea: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” If you keep your heart pure, you see God. That means you see yourself as God. In the Yoga Sutras, the same idea is stated as: Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah, which means that the mind kept calm is Yoga.

This is the message behind all spiritual paths and wisdom traditions. Labels vary, approaches may vary, and languages may vary, but the essential teaching is the same. That is the reason why, in the name  of Yoga, you come across all different types of people who use the practices to calm their minds—regardless of their religion, creed, country, or language. All are coming together because the message of Yoga is universal. You can apply the yogic teachings any way you want and under any label you want. Whether you are Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Jew, you can also be a yogi, because the messages of all the religions are the same as the messages of Yoga.

There are three important things in each and everybody’s life. The first one is a human body. But the body alone is not enough. How many people in the human body are inhumane? Don’t think that the body alone will make someone human. The second important thing is the urge or longing to know the Truth. And the third one is to have somebody or some teaching to show you the way. When you have all of these you are most fortunate.

May each and every one of you who has this good fortune make use of this well. It may be a little selfish to find your peace and joy first, but that doesn’t matter. Be that selfish in the sense that you are seeking it to be of benefit to yourself and to others. First, find your own peace and joy because then, wherever you go, that peace and joy comes with you.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda