There is much talk these days of influence. It runs a wide berth and exists on many levels. Were we influenced by the Russians in determining the election outcome? Do commercials and advertising really influencing our buying choices? Something as innocuous as a font on a menu has been shown to influence what we order to eat. And what of friends and family and coworkers and all those we align with, their subtle and persistent impact has its effect.
Indeed this is nothing new, the ancients wondered and worried at influence. They looked up at the stars and pondered the influence of the planet formations and the tides of the oceans on human behavior.
Thomas Aquinas acknowledged the impact of influence but chaffed at its predetermination; after all, we have free will do we not?
Free will. How is it displayed in life? Choice. But choice is more than picking one thing over another from an intellectual or even emotional stance. Choice is the sum total of prior knowledge and experience making itself known in the present moment.
Knowledge and experience, in Sanskrit jñāna-vijñāna. One feeds the other in a mutual feedback loop of growth. Both are necessary, intellectual knowledge and an experience of what that knowledge means.
We like to think we are not that easily influenced, that we have a strong sense of who we are at heart; that our actions reflect our values and beliefs. Yoga asks the big questions, at the pinnacle: how do we define the self?
Knowledge, from the yoga perspective, is overcoming ignorance. Ignorance as to the truth of who we are at source, our whole fullest self.
Experience points to the immersion of that knowing first in states of deep meditative realization and then over time, bit by bit, the bringing of this knowing out into life. We bring the light of this introversive, meditative knowing out, and it shines naturally everywhere and anywhere our awareness rests permitting the light of everyone and everything to show itself. Light seeks light, even as it pervades the darkness.
Unless and until we are stabilized in this knowing of the Self writ large, in the source of our light, we will always be held sway under the influence of whatever bright shinny crazy loud beautiful terrible thing captures our attention. Attention will be grasped and held, even when we wish it to release.
Yes we take on many roles sister, wife, daughter, friend, teacher. As beautiful and satisfying as these may be they do not tell the full story. Fortunately so, for they are all transitory, impermanent; children grow up, jobs end, the body ages and people depart in all manner of leaving. What are we left with if this is the sole understanding of who we are?
Know and experience your truest Self says yoga, then all the roles we enact will be served.
We have more significance and weight than we know.
Influence the trajectory of the growth of your life and leverage your influence in service of life. Meditate.