Yoga is not about Happiness

I recently read Kalil Gibran's poem On Joy and Sorrow (I've included it below).  It struck a chord in my heart because so many times I have found myself on the defensive side of remarks by people who have put down Yoga and Yogis. Remarks like, "Yogis are too happy and positive and are not in touch with reality... They don't understand what real people go through...

Of all the yogis I have met and have had the privilege of learning about their personal histories, the more I realise that every single yogi I have met has had extremely trying times at some point in their lives. Life is full of highs and lows and life can be really painful for some. Choosing happiness is one approach that many yogis opt for. It's a more fun place to be. After all, one of the greatest teachings of yoga is, "As you think, so you become."

However, I'm fully aware of the counter movement of positive thinking. False positivity is a subtle art of repressing negative emotions. Looking at the bright side of life isn't so bad, as long as you know where you are standing right now. Being positive does not mean denying the stuff in your life that isn't working for you. It's acknowledging it and forging ahead regardless of what life throws at you. It's an attitude rather than empty affirmations.

But none of that matters. It's it's all mind-stuff at the end of the day... the good... the bad... the beautiful and the ugly. We will have wonderful days and we will have shit days. It's all part of life. Which is why the Bhagavad Gita says it so clearly:

"Equanimity of mind is Yoga." 

Which is why Kalil Gibran's poem touched my heart so deeply. Here it is and I hope it feeds you as well.

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. 

Some of you say, "Joy is greater thar sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. 

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.