The Eternal Lenten Season of Yoga

by Aranyakananda

Since I am on the theme of my former Catholicism, I would like to say a few things about what I used to call the “40 Day Festival of Avoidance” called Lent. It is kicked off by Ash Wednesday, and is actually heralded by Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).

Lent, or Lenten, is a time when for 40 days, adherents to its spirit pick something to give up during that time. Many will not eat meat at all except for fish on Fridays.

Yoga, as taught in the Bhagavad-Gita teaches us not to give up or avoid anything, but to simply live detachedly, as aversion can be just as much of a trap as attachment.

This is the way to live all of life, not 1.33 months each spring. Before this begins to sound like a sermon, let me explain why. Not only is detachment a more effective mode of karma cleansing, it is much easier to make this a way of life than it is to make abrupt changes to one’s behavior pattern each spring. See “Failed New Year’s Resolutions” please.

So I smile when I hear this exchange:

“What are you giving up for Lent?”
“Lent.”

I know that what I’ve just heard could indicate that the second speaker was not ready to give up anything. But I also know that the Gita says that it is better to live in your own mode of life truthfully than to try to be something you are not (severe paraphrasing going on here).

If you want to get psychological about it, I say this unto thee: Dropping adverse behaviors for a given period of time can lead to the behavior coming back stronger than ever when the ban is lifted. And it can lead to one giving up the behavior in action, but in the mind dwelling on it more than ever, which is not really giving it up at all, going back to the Gita.

So I say live detached. Enjoy your vices if you must, but not to the point that you cannot live without them either in practice or in thought.

This is my Lenten advice.

Hari, OM!

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