Today’s full moon is traditionally dedicated to the Buddha’s birthday and is known as Buddha Purnima (the full moon of the Buddha). Historians can’t agree when he was born exactly, but it was certainly over 2500 years ago.
His teachings are unparalleled for their understanding of human nature and psychology. If people could get beyond the mistaken notion that Buddhism is a religion (although through local adaptations in some cultures it has effectively become one), it would be clear that what the Buddha taught is of universal benefit and far from exclusive or dogmatic.
Some yoga practitioners, including many yoga teachers, are not sure why the Buddha so often shows up in yoga studios and alongside yoga teachings. But his yogic presence in whatever form should be considered far more than just symbolic.
From the point of view of modern yogis, the Buddha’s teachings complement the philosophy of yoga to a large extent. But even more importantly, yogic scholars recognise that these teachings (along with Jain scriptures and Vedanta texts like the Katha Upanishad) provide the very foundation for the Yoga Sutras, which are one of the most widely-cited source texts for yoga as we understand it today.
So, if you are also a student of yoga and of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, I hope you can join me in the warm glow of immense gratitude for the Buddha as an important part of our yogic family tree, and for these profound teachings that have been transmitted to us through so many generations of devoted students and teachers of yogic wisdom.
Oṃ muni muni mahāmuni śākyamuni svāhā
Salutations to the great sage Śākyamuni (the historical Buddha)
With much love and light,