Becoming Whole


Dear friends,

The purpose of yoga is integration, starting with the integration of body, mind, and soul. So I have been reflecting on the Integration Quotient devised by Dr. Ichak Adizes, a leading management expert, to see how it applies to us as individuals. His quotient looks like this:

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Our success as individuals is reflected in our ability to be integrated, whole. This manifests as things like peace of mind, happiness, balance and moderation, career growth, integrity, etc. What holds us back is internal disintegration, and this is reflected in inner turmoil, self-doubt, mistrust, and destructive tendencies.

As a rule, energy is first directed toward resolving internal disintegration (the denominator), and only after that does leftover energy flow toward external integration (the numerator). For example, when we are ill or emotionally disturbed, we have little energy for innovation and creativity. When we reduce internal disintegration, energy is available for integration and success. Generally, the greater the value of the quotient, the better chance we have of being happy and healthy, while the smaller the value of the quotient, the greater the internal disintegration and the more disturbance there is.

Character, behavior, and tendencies

How can we better understand this from a behavioral perspective? The first two limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are Yama and Niyama. Yama means to remove unwanted character traits and tendencies, while Niyama means to cultivate noble character traits and tendencies.

The five Yamas are:

Ahimsa - the removal of violence, forceful tendencies and imposition, so that love remains.

Satya - the removal of distortion so that truth and authenticity remain.

Asteya - the removal of the habit of stealing from others so that a giving nature remains.

Brahmacharya - the removal of sensory imbalances and excesses so that moderation remains.

Aparigraha - the removal of possessiveness so that generosity remains.

By developing these Yamas, we reduce internal disintegration and the energy needed to maintain it. In fact, the adoption of the Yamas will naturally bring the denominator toward zero, meaning that just through this one limb our ability to become whole is limitless. While this is an astounding achievement, it is not all.

We can also work on the numerator, by adopting the five Niyamas of:

Shaucha - the cultivation of purity of body and mind.

Santosha - the cultivation of contentment and inner happiness.

Tapas - the cultivation of shining simplicity through self-discipline.

Swadhyaya - the cultivation of self-awareness and continuous improvement through self-study.

Ishwara Pranidhana - the cultivation of surrender to God.

These Yamas and Niyamas can only really be practiced in our relationships with others in everyday life. They are not for ascetics who renounce society and worldly life.

When we look at the Adizes Quotient in this light, we can replace the Niyamas in the numerator and the Yamas in the denominator. In other words, to reduce the denominator and increase the numerator for maximum integration, we can say:

Success = ƒ { Saucha + Santosha + Tapas + Swadhyaya + Ishwara Pranidhana
                       Ahimsa + Satya + Asteya + Brahmacharya + Aparigraha

How to cultivate the Yamas and Niyamas?

But then comes the challenging part. How to cultivate these Yamas and Niyamas? Let’s take the first Yama, non-violence. Is it easy to remove violence from every situation? It doesn’t just mean killing, it also means getting irritated by another person and snapping at them, or passively-aggressively ignoring a person when you don’t like them or they disagree with you. As we start to work on our behavior, we become skilled at subtler forms of violence, thinking that we have overcome it when really we are just more potent antagonists!

The second Yama, truthfulness, is a tricky one, because there are as many universes as there are people - we all have our own perception and awareness of truth. We don’t actually reach a stage of Absolute Truth until far along the spiritual journey, when all the colorings or layers are removed from view. This Yama is totally dependent on spiritual practice and the resulting expansion of awareness.

With the third Yama, non-stealing, most of us would say, “I don’t steal,” but when we reflect we realize that it impacts many aspects of our lives. For example, our current environmental crisis, climate change, and the mass extinction of species, are a result of our stealing from Mother Earth without restraint.

Osho challenges us by saying that most of us are stealing most of the time. It may not be money, land, or possessions - we steal other people’s thoughts and words. He says that most of our knowledge and opinions are stolen.

The first Guide of Heartfulness, Lalaji, says, “Taking more than what is rightful is also stealing. If we hoard something that is not useful in the present, but we keep it for the future, that is also stealing, because it may be useful and necessary to someone else when it is useless to us. Collecting for the future more than is necessary for the present is also stealing.”

And Swami Vivekananda writes, “Receiving is just as bad as stealing, because when receiving gifts the mind is acted upon by the giver, destroying the independence of the mind of the receiver.”

Major industries rely on this stealing mentality, for example the world of fashion relies on us wanting to look like someone else by wearing the same clothes or having the same hairstyle.

But non-stealing is only the beginning. We can also move to the next level of this principle - generosity and a giving nature. For example, when we are empathetic, compassionate, loving, and when we give more than we receive, we will also be more helpful.

The fourth Yama is moderation of the senses and sensual tendencies. Given that we interact with the world through our senses, it is involved in everything that we think, feel, and do. Brahmacharya is about purity of intention and conservation of energy. And sensuality is not only associated with sex. Our senses can be stimulated by food, clothes, drugs, digital technology, or any other pursuit that leads to desire-based indulgence. It refers to moderation in all areas of life.

With spiritual practice, we may reach a stage where there is no longer any pull of the senses, and this is known as Uparati. As with everything in yoga, there is a stepwise progression, beginning with restraint and self-discipline and arriving at the effortless and joyful freedom of Uparati.

Moderation has a direct effect on our level of happiness, because the spectrum of Happiness to sadness is within the sensory realm. Happiness is indirectly proportionate to the number of desires we have, and the intensity of those desires. Desires are created by the pull of the senses, and by how much we allow sensuality to remain unchecked. Yet, through Brahmacharya, the senses can become an ally instead of a hindrance.

A person who has reached a high level of moderation has an extremely light footprint on the Earth, and does not disturb anything or anyone unnecessarily. Their tone of speech becomes moderate, as do their moods, relationships, way of eating, sleeping, walking, working, and playing. There is no need to talk about work-life balance or go on diets to promote healthy eating, and there is no addiction. Everything takes its rightful place.

The fifth Yama is non-possessiveness, the principle of taking and using only what is needed. It involves self-restraint, and avoiding overindulgence, covetousness, and greed. Another definition is to give more than you receive. It is to live in the consciousness of abundance instead of scarcity. It means to be content with whatever the universe provides.

These five Yamas are designed to remove internal disintegration, bringing the denominator of the Integration Quotient close to zero. For this, a regular spiritual practice is vital, and in particular the practice of Cleaning, which purifies the mind of all the subconscious programs that lead to internal disintegration.

Turning to the numerator of the Integration Quotient, we come to the Niyamas. The first is cleanliness and purity. Purity is the essence of inner transformation. Inner purity leads to happiness, concentration, and mastery of the senses.

The second Niyama is contentment and inner happiness. Contentment is complete and natural acceptance of whatever is happening. It is a first step to creating a neutral starting point in any situation from which to move forward, even when change is required.

The remaining three Niyamas - refinement through self-discipline, self-study, and surrender to God - are known as Kriya Yoga or yoga in action. Having worked to change our thought patterns, the results now start to express in action.

Self-discipline is the process of continuously refining ourselves to become the best we can be. It is our trajectory toward a simple life, an uncomplicated life, wrapped in love, starting with self-love and culminating in becoming love itself.

Self-study is the cornerstone of psychology. It is based on the wonder of exploring the inner universe. It is also the way to reach the Divine, implying that the Divine is within us. When we witness all the dimensions of our being, the work of the Yamas and Niyamas becomes effortless, because we see what needs to be removed and what needs to be cultivated. Our habits are gradually exposed, even those that are programmed deep within the subconscious. In self-study, we shine the light from our Center outward, illuminating every aspect of our character.

With the last Niyama, surrender to God, we remain in constant osmosis with God. Whether we are awake or asleep, aware or unaware, active or passive, we remain in this state. In yoga the concept of surrender is very positive - we are held, protected, and supported like a newborn babe in her mother’s arms. It is a liberating, carefree state. When we offer all the fruits of our work to God, we are at peace. We take neither credit nor blame onto ourselves, as both are surrendered to God.

When we have studied ourselves, purified ourselves, and refined ourselves, surrender is very simple. It is the ultimate quality, the culmination of the other qualities. The roots of enlightenment arise in absolute surrender.

The development of all these qualities is possible through Heartfulness meditative practices. You may even say it happens automatically when yogic Transmission is present, although efforts and interest are required. I hope you will try it for yourself and experience what unfolds. It is a sure method for individual and communal integration and evolution, bringing joy and purpose to life.

With love and respect,

**Reprinted with permission from