Keeping Secrets Or How the Success in Yoga Can Be Destroyed by Oversharing

Nowadays Yoga is becoming more and more popular. There is a huge amount of information on the internet and in books about this ancient teaching. Modern spiritual seekers passionately share their experience or information that is yet to be discovered by practice. It helps to spread spiritual knowledge and increase the welfare of everyone. The greater number of people lead a conscious life the better it will be for all humanity. However, it is not that easy to share knowledge as it may seem at first glance. From this article you will learn about pitfalls and mistakes of sharing knowledge.

Why do we need to be open?

One of the reasons to help others is the social impact on the personal evolution of consciousness. This motivation to help others arises from personal benefit, but it is is also important. This is very helpful at the beginning of our spiritual path. Many systems of self-exploration describe the world as one and highlight that all living beings are interrelated. It is hard to be happy when we witness adverse events or when other living beings are suffering. It is not easy to grow spiritually if we practice in an aggressive social environment. On the contrary, personal evolution accelerates in a highly spiritual society. Each of us can influence others. Society is prone to accepting ideas and copying a certain way of life. 

The second reason is selfless service, compassion and aid to all living beings. This is a motivation of a higher level. It helps to get rid of the false selfishness and ignorance. A person following this way experiences fast spiritual growth for the benefit of all humankind.

There are two main principles in yoga: the principle of kindness and the principle of effectiveness. You can find articles describing these principles in more details. However, there is the third principle in yoga — the principle of eliminating suffering. It will be impossible to follow this principle if we don’t follow the first two. The third principle is for those who make a conscious choice of helping others to eliminate suffering, and thereby stop suffering in their own universe. There is a saying in yoga: 

“Do not keep to yourself anything, which can be useful for others, share your knowledge and experience.” However…

Spreading the knowledge to others is not an easy task!

There are certain recommendations how to share our knowledge and experience. In any society those who always show off their achievements or knowledge are not liked. It often looks unattractive and arrogant. Besides, we all live in our own world. We should not show off anything, but if it can help others, it is necessary to share personal experience and knowledge.

Helping others means sharing knowledge, which was gained either by personal practice, from reliable sources, or from competent people. We can spend a lifetime trying to achieve the ultimate goal in yoga, that is to gain total experience. That is why it is important to share knowledge now, to whatever extent is possible. It is not the same as when the person is showing off; it is hard work and it needs the right attitude.

We need to learn to share knowledge:

  • in an appropriate form, understandable to other people,
  • it should not be intrusive,
  • we should make the information available and clear for the people who are looking for it. 

Helping others should not be a disadvantage to ourselves, otherwise, it’s a matter of time when our resources and energy will end; both personal development and helping others will stop. In order to follow this statement, it is necessary to realize what does the “inappropriate” openness mean.

Principles of Secrecy and Openness in Yoga

There are certain limitations in yoga regarding openness in communicating personal experience. The Principle of Openness, on one hand, means that we should share our knowledge and experience with others, and the Principle of Secrecy, on the other hand, appeals to preserving our personal practice from the influence of someone’s attention.

Any kind of practice is a work with our manifestations: our bodies, emotions and our mind. It’s an individual work of consciousness in order to achieve a certain result. Success in your practice will depend on the pureness of conditions.  Someone’s attention will have an impact on these conditions. Any personal practice will unwillingly change under the influence of interfering observers. It will be harder to achieve the required results, as we have to resist an outside influence. The Second principle of yoga — the Principle of effectiveness will be violated. 

“Sadhana (yoga practice) should be kept in secret for success.” Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Scientific experiments with quantum particles confirm that consciousness can influence the reality of what is happening. These experiments are known as observer effect. Quantum particles behave differently, depending on the presence or the absence of the observer.

Likewise, the fewer people know or watch our personal yoga practice, the better result we will get. Yoga recommends not to expose everything to the world. “Inappropriate” openness is when we show off  our deep personal practice, before we have achieved any result. This is not about demonstrating some exercises when teaching yoga. This is about serious individual practice, which has nothing to do with group classes. 

The gained experience should be confirmed, we should establish its accuracy. If we can repeat the same result, it means that it is stable and our practice is working. In this case we can share this reliable knowledge with others. In any other case the information should be challenged. It could be either wrong or it may require longer and deeper practice.

The Principles of Secrecy and Openness encourage us:

  • To share our experience at the end of practice, when the result has been achieved. In this case our practice will not be influenced by intruders and our knowledge will be used for the benefit of all. 
  • Helping others should not be detrimental to our personal development. This is the right openness. Hatha Yoga Pradipika gives an example with seeds. If you dig them out in order to show them to your friends, they will not grow. However, if you wait until your seeds develop into fruits, it will be useful for everybody. 

The principles of Secrecy and Openness are very important for successful achievement of results in Yoga. Following them means that we should keep our practice in secret until we have received the stable result. After finishing the practice it is necessary to share the knowledge, if it can be useful for other people. We should not show everything we do to the world, but try to help others as much as we can to eliminate suffering and ignorance. 

Look for the balance of secrecy and openness!

Eliminate suffering outside and inside!

Author: Andrey Medin

Editors: Alla Ravi, Maria Gayatri, Olga Belous, Evgenia Agni

Chief editor: Mirra

Project curator: Kerigona

Translators: Tatiana Sugrue, Nat Satcitananda, Alexander Vijaya