What It Means to Live in the Light
By Deepak Chopra, MD
Connecting spirituality with “the light” has a long tradition, which continues for the devout who want to live by the light of faith or in the light of God. But the term is vague and seems to have little relevance to modern secular life, the life that the vast majority of people lead.
In the hope of making the whole question clearer and showing its profound relevance to everyone’s life, I wrote a new book, “Living in the Light,” based on the teachings of Yoga. Stripped of its religious connotations, “the light” refers to consciousness. The more conscious you are, the more you are living in the light. This clear and simple definition takes us to the heart of Yoga, which is an entire philosophy aimed at raising the consciousness of everyone.
As familiar as one branch of Yoga is, namely Hatha Yoga, which describes the various physical postures taught in yoga class, the highest path is known as Raja Yoga, or Royal Yoga. (The new book is divided into two parts, the first written by me on the topic of Royal Yoga, the second, which illustrates the postures of Hatha Yoga, was written by a brilliant yoga teacher, Sarah Platt-Finger.)
I didn’t approach Royal Yoga as a true believer, because the Yoga tradition isn’t a set of beliefs. It is based on experiences that everyone is already having. You already live in the light by fits and starts, you just don’t live there all the time. Many people have experienced happiness, joy, and sometimes even pure bliss, which are qualities of the light. But on the flip side there are dark experiences that bring confusion, pain and suffering. Nonetheless, the light of life is always with you because consciousness is your very nature, your true self.
Royal Yoga is unique in that it seeks to make everyday life ideal. There is infinite bliss available to your true self. Whenever you experience less bliss, no bliss, or actual pain and suffering, only one thing has changed, how close you are to the light. This concept defines the entire Yoga system, no matter how complex its traditions are in India. We can cut through the complexity by focusing on just one goal: living in the light.
It is vital to understand what the ideal life is, according to Royal Yoga. What makes its approach so natural is that nothing achieved through Royal Yoga is mystical or otherworldly. The self you experience today owes its most valued experiences to your true self, which is already whole and perfect.
The Ideal Life — The Gifts of Royal Yoga
1. Existence becomes blissful. You experience a joyful, energetic body, a loving, compassionate heart, an alert, vibrant mind, and lightness of being.
2. You control your mental activity. You can generate thoughts, feelings, and impulses that are evolutionary. You are the one who gives them meaning, and therefore the whole world as you perceive it has meaning.
3. You see everyday life as a lucid dream, incredibly vivid but an illusion. You can improve the dream without getting trapped in it.
4. Joy becomes the only measure of success, because your essential nature is joy. It is the beginning and endpoint of every journey.
5. You understand what it means to thrive. You savor the diversity of life, which brings richness to your unfolding story.
6. You recognize that the point of arrival is always now. You can’t move to where you are already standing — this is the experience of timelessness.
7. You recognize that there is no fixed identity. Your identity is unique but always evolving. It is your karmic story, but you don’t need to be bound by it.
8. You recognize gratitude as the sanest response to existence. It is insanity to believe that existence is a problem.
9. You recognize that existence is lavish and abundant.
10. Grace becomes an everyday experience. It reveals itself by the perfect way that every experience fits together. Instead of brief glimpses of synchronicity, you live in total synchronicity
Next, I’d like you to assess your experiences of the light. Nothing is more important than knowing how much the light has affected your life. There are ten ways to live in the light. Take a moment to ask yourself how well they apply to you.
1. I have experienced bliss. (Examples: a peak experience of a joyful, energetic body, a loving, compassionate heart, an alert vibrant mind, lightness of being.)
2. I feel in control of my mental experience — I can have positive, creative thoughts whenever I want.
3. Life can feel like a dream, with something hidden from sight that is very real and yet mysterious.
4. Much more than material success, I measure my life by my level of happiness and joy.
5. I welcome a wide diversity of experiences — they give my life real richness.
6. I live in the present moment, without reliving the past or anticipating the future.
7. I experience myself in the flow, adapting easily to new situations.
8. I experience gratitude.
9. I look upon life as abundant, offering untold possibilities for fulfillment.
10. I experience meaningful coincidences — they tell me that everything happens for a reason.
This list allows you to see yourself according to the quality of your inner life. In everyone’s life positive experiences come and go at will; a person has little control over them. Fears, regrets, and painful memories seem to have a life of their own. Royal Yoga teaches you how to change the situation in four major steps, which the book unfolds in detail:
You pay more attention to what is going on inside you.
You notice any experience of being in the light.
You value that experience.
You begin to focus more and more on the light, which makes it increase.
I want to underscore that living in the light is the most natural way to live. It is actually easier to live more consciously than to continue experiencing things unconsciously, driven by habit, routine, old conditioning, and denial. The habit of being more conscious will emerge effortlessly and without pain and discomfort if you keep in mind that the best experiences in your life indicate that you have glimpsed the light already without struggling to get there. As your chosen path, living in the light can begin anytime you choose. What I’ve offered here is motivation at the beginning of the path. Once inspired, you’ve taken the most important step in a journey where every step brings you closer to your true self.
DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Living in the Light co-authored with Sarah Platt-Finger. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com