Yoga is a term that most of us in the modern world are familiar with. It is a general term used for a variety of exercises and procedures used for self-development or spiritual development. The precise meaning of the term is union. It is held in eastern philosophy that the individual consciousness, intelligence and soul has arisen from a unified Infinite Source (God) and continues to remain a part of it. We do not see this unity because of our own individual desires, ego and the exercise of our free will (along with the consequences it brings in the shape of retribution or karma).
However if we reduce the very things that cause us to perceive ourselves as separate we come closer to the universal spirit that pervades the universe and thus also become more evolved. In the ultimate state, which though rare yet feasible, an individual soul looses its identity and merges in the infinite. Yoga means this union and a yogic practice is one that brings one closer to this reunion of the finite consciousness with the infinite consciousness. Yoga may also be regarded as a practice that speeds up our evolution to superior states.
The various yoga practices as propagated in eastern philosophy are numerous. Some involve physical exercises. Many are connected with breathing methodologies (Pranayam). The more advanced are connected with thought control through concentration, chanting or prayer. Some forms of yoga are concerned with lifestyle disciplines. Presently we shall discuss a yoga that can be understood by engineers but it may be practiced by anyone. It has been termed entropy yoga here.
Thermodynamics is a fundamental science that engineers study. Classical thermodynamics deals with the laws of thermodynamics along with its implications and applications. Many modern machines such as the automobile and thermal plants are designed with the help of principles of thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics deals with the principle of entropy. According to this law every process that takes place in the universe serves to increase the entropy of the universe. In general when entropy increase is large, mechanical devices such as the automobile engine are less efficient as compared to the situation when entropy increase is small.
Every thing that has happened in the physical universe ever since it began has increased its entropy. Entropy is also a measure of disorder. Higher entropies imply a higher degree of disorder. One may ask what would happen to the universe if the entropy increases to beyond sustainable levels. It would lead to the destruction of the universe, as we know it.
Only a being that is beyond the laws of the physical universe can reverse this change. By definition God is one such being. The process of creating something out of nothing itself implies a process where entropy can be reduced. If all of us have a component of this Infinite power in ourselves then we too have the capacity to decrease the entropy of the universe. Any systematic habit or practice that we adopt to increase order and reduce disorder leads to a reduction of entropy and in that sense is a form of yoga. Let us call this entropy yoga.
If you go around arranging the things in your room in any orderly fashion then you will be practicing entropy yoga. If you do that all around your home than entropy reduces further and if it is done on a larger scale around the city or country then one becomes the agent of substantial change and possibly substantial spiritual evolution. From this point of view cities and countries that are more orderly are more spiritually evolved as compared to others that are disorderly.
Entropy yoga can be practiced with all our activities. If one walks on predefined paths and routes then one is practicing this yoga. If one wanders about wherever it pleases him or her then this yoga is not being practiced. In driving if one drives strictly in one’s lane keeping prescribed distances from the vehicle ahead one is practicing entropy yoga. In brief disciplined behavior that helps maintain order is entropy yoga whereas undisciplined behavior is not.
A person who carries out fundamental things like eating and sleeping according to pre decided time schedules is practicing entropy yoga as well. If you set aside scheduled weekly times to organize your personal belongings and other activities then a more powerful form of entropy yoga is being practiced where order is being affected in both space and time.
When we speak truthfully and thoughtfully we practice an advanced form of entropy yoga as connected to our speech because truthful and thoughtful speech is a high degree of order as compared to loose talk or lying. In every situation there can be a million lies but only one true statement.
Intelligent beings like humans can practice entropy yoga consciously whereas animals cannot. Entropy yoga leads to spiritual evolution and increases abilities to achieve goals. However, even though individuals can play their role in reducing entropy not all processes in the world are in their control. Overall the entropy of the universe is constantly increasing. There is only one other quantity that moves in a single direction like that and it is time. To carry out a process where entropy does not increase is to hold time still and to carry out another that slows down the increase of entropy is to reduce the flow of time for the individual who does it. Thus individuals who act in an orderly disciplined manner will achieve more than others who behave in a disorderly fashion even though they may spend a lot of time and energy in their endeavors. The practice of punctuality combines introducing order in time, space and thought. Individuals who are intentionally and habitually unpunctual in that sense practice the reverse of yoga or play the role of the devil in a manner of speaking.
The greatest amount of disorder that humans create is perhaps at the level of thought. They are generally turbulent. The more emotional we are the more disorderly the thoughts. Spiritualists have recommended stilling thoughts through constant repetition of a name. That is called Jap yoga or chanting. However if we focus on any activity that we are doing at any time with full concentration, preventing our thoughts from wandering we may achieve the same effect.
A person who is well ordered and disciplined in his thoughts, actions and deeds and promotes order in the world and conserves his energies. When his motivations are simultaneously to evolve or achieve greater unity with the Infinite consciousness of the universe rather than personal gain then it can be a far more effective way of spiritual evolution than prayer or meditation at a few fixed times during the day. A person can feel the spiritual gain immediately by the feeling of joy and happiness that emerges from such near isentropic actions (where entropy does not increase) as compared to selfish or disorderly actions which produce tiredness, unhappiness or disgust and possibly even depression combined with sinking into lower levels of evolution.
Note: The concept of entropy yoga emerges as a result of discussions between the author and an engineering colleague – KHC Prabhu.