On the Fourth of July in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps after over 200 years of existence, our country can start living up to the ideals expressed in that document for all the people who live here.
For the past few years on July Fourth, I have been thinking about the yogic teaching of interdependence. The principle of interdependence reminds us that all beings and all of creation are bound together in a vast web of cause and effect. The truth is that no one and nothing is truly independent. We are always in relationship to other people, to our environment, and to our own past thoughts, words and actions.
We rely on the earth, the rain and the sun for life itself. We rely on other people, whether those are our neighbors, friends and family, the farmers who grow our food, or the workers who make our clothes, our computers and our cars. We are connected, and we need and influence each other.
When we reflect on this truth, we may realize that what we think, say and do effects others. Reflection on this truth may in turn help us build up our habit of virtuous thoughts, words and deeds.
Part of the purpose of yoga practice is to have a daily experience of heightened self-awareness, so we can become more mindful in everyday life. Support your own practice of self-awareness by taking a free yoga class posted on the Green Tara Yoga & Healing Arts YouTube Channel.
As much as we recognize our inexorable link to others, we also long for the experience of freedom. We like having choices, freedom of thought and expression, and the ability to forge our own unique path. These freedoms build up the capacity of each individual to develop their full potential. Yet this philosophy can easily get distorted into thinking we can do everything for ourselves, or that our choices affect only ourselves.
Remembering the truth of interdependence brings a more balanced point of view. We may start to cultivate awareness of how we interact with others and how we can contribute to our communities on all levels – local, national and world.
So as we celebrate the forging of a nation founded on principles of liberty and equality, let us hope that those ideals can truly come to fruition, as we embrace not only our freedom to choose our own path, but also our freedom to consciously connect with each other.