"The philosophy of yoga so eloquently written in these sutras is truly universal and nonsectarian. Principles such as nonviolence, truthfulness, and nonstealing are common among many religions and philosophies of the world. There is only one word in this text that can be translated as 'lord,' and that is isvara, which can be interpreted simply as something greater than ourselves.
"The golden rule, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' is another way of expressing the law of karma and the inner meaning of namaste, or 'I bow to the divine within you.' A focus on self-development and clarification of the heart-mind makes the application and pursuit of yoga good for all people and for society as a whole.
"The worldview of ancient India, and, therefore, of yoga, is fundamentally different than ours. We have separated ourselves from nature and attached ourselves to material possessions, most of which are man-made syntheses of elements and chemicals extracted from nature herself. Ours is a world focused on outer pursuits and wealth, often demanding hard evidence before believing something is true. People with an ambition to acquire external possessions are rewarded, while a quieter, more contemplative person is considered boring and unappealing to be around.
"Yoga is concerned primarily with turning our attention inward in order to understand who we are. Intellectual knowledge is considered a bridge to the goal, not the goal in itself. Wisdom comes from direct experience with both outer events and inner contemplation. Stillness is priceless, carrying much more value than the temporary pleasures and pains of the outside world. The divine is always inside and part of us, not outside looking down on us. All outer things are impermanent, unconscious entities, while our inner light of awareness is permanent and conscious.
"This difference in worldview may be what attracts us to yoga. We are longing to connect to our inner being, longing to experience that simple inner happiness that does not depend on outer, changing circumstances. Cultivating an inner orientation and discovering who we really are will energetically transform our attitudes and encourage kindness and compassion."