The major premise of Paramhansa Yogananda’s first book, The Science of Religion, is that everyone in the world shares the same basic motivation: to be happy and to avoid pain. I’ve been reading a book with a similar theme, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by a psychologist and philosopher, Jordan B. Peterson. His theme is similar to Yogananda’s, but he states it slightly differently: Life is a quest to maintain order and avoid chaos.
He has an interesting explanation of the well-known yin-yang symbol. The white half, he says, represents order, and the black half, chaos. We (and all living things) constantly tread the winding line between the two forces, striving to create and maintain order while challenged by an unstable world that causes chaos. Order allows us to live and prosper, while chaos brings the threat of ruin and death. The small dot of the opposite color in each side represents the potential for transformation.
Most approaches, including Peterson’s 12 rules, are intended to show us how better to navigate our challenges — to be healthier, wealthier, and happier. But as we progress to higher spiritual levels, we begin to tire of this limited reality. We yearn, then, for a guide who can show us the way out, one who has experienced his own consciousness beyond the limitations of the dream. He can teach us how to find the exit and the bliss-filled realms that exist beyond the world of maya.
Yogis must balance these two goals: Our teachings will, indeed, help us live successfully in this world of maya, but, more importantly, they also show us how to achieve unity (moksha) and escape altogether from the dream of duality. Our job, spiritually speaking, is to overcome the chaos caused by ego consciousness.
Master often spoke of this world as being like a dream or movie. Today, he might have used the analogy of a video game. Imagine a complex and incredibly addictive game, called “Life.” If we were thrust into a game with no memory of previous ones, we could be fooled into thinking that the current “incarnation” was all that existed. As long as we stay within the game of duality, we must play by its rules, which are designed to keep the game entertaining by threatening our order with chaos. As long as we are entertained, we will keep hitting the button that says, “Play Again?”
The exit can be found only by detaching ourselves from our identity in the game. This we do by stilling the breath, and withdrawing the mind and heart from outer stimulation, and from their addictions. Finally, in deep meditation, we see and pass through the exit door — the spiritual eye. Then the illusion vanishes, and our soul awakes to the realization that it has been stuck in a dream, a self-enclosed circle of yin and yang. When that deep awakening comes, we are ready to return at last to our true home. Only then will we opt for the button that says, “Game Over.”