In spiritual practice there is often so much emphasis on liberation that the world is neglected, forgotten, or even seen as an illusion. But this emphasis is there because attaining the liberated state is the qualification for helping the world. Buddha spent many years seeking for knowledge and meditating before he became enlightened. Then he spent the rest of his life serving others by teaching the path he had discovered. Jesus was preparing for much of his early life before his teaching ministry began. If we want to help sick people and become a doctor then we will have to study for many years to become qualified, then we can help.
“Liberation is the first necessity.”
To discover the transcendent Self beyond the body/ mind complex is the goal that is sought in these spiritual approaches. Only when we are free can we really help others. The Yogi in the Gita is described as a guna-titan, one who has transcended the three gunas (qualities) that constitute material nature.
In various texts the state of a liberated one is described. We then have a benchmark to measure our evolution against and a clear vision of the goal.
In the Yoga Sutras Chapter 2 verse 27, the liberated Yogi is described as a Mukta Kusala. Mukta means liberated and Kusala means proficient. This being has transcended all the normal mental functions of a human being and lives in the constant effulgence of the transcendent spirit, Purusha. They have no need to act, but if they do it is from this state that any action springs forth.
A Mukta Kusula is free from the lower levels of human function with regard to four types of action and three mental states.
The four actions are:
Jijnasa – the desire to know
Jihasa – the desire to avoid pain
Prepsa – the desire to achieve
Cikirsa – the desire for action
The three mind states are:
Soka – depression
Baya – fear
Vikalpa – imagination
The Yogi has no desire to know anything further as his knowledge of the Self means there is nothing further to know. There will be no effort to get rid of anything undesirable as the Self is unaffected by anything that happens in the world. By the attainment of liberation there will be no efforts to achieve anything further. There will be nothing else to perform, no action of any kind will be necessary, including of course Yoga practice. My teacher Srivatsa Ramaswami said that if you say to this person: “There is an amazing Yoga conference happening in the Himalayas. Do you want to come?”, this person would say, “ No thank you”.
As the three gunas are the basis for change and therefore the changing mind states, once they are transcended depression, fear and imagination will not arise.
The mind is full of peace as it has attained liberation and has no further activities to complete. There can be no fear of falling into lower states so no fear can arise. No imagination can arise in the mind of this person who has complete clarity at all times.
This Yogi will be able to help suffering beings without any idea of personal gain.
“Only those who have transcended the world can bring about a better world.”
So the focus on liberation is the first destination and this is why it may appear as the only goal in Yoga teachings. Until you have attained it, I guess it is.
“The transcendence aspect of the spiritual life is indispensable for the freedom of the Spirit.”