The answer to this might be more gray than black and white. What is “the means”? What is “the end”? Are we ending world hunger? Creating world peace? How does this apply in your relationships, to your career, or to your yoga practice?
This saying can be traced back to Demosthenes (384 – 322 BC) when he said, “Every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue.”
A similar quote by Saint Jerome around 394 A.D states… “The line, often adopted by strong men in controversy, of justifying the means by the end.”
And we see it again from Ovid, the Roman poet, in his saying, “The result justifies the deed.”
What is the reality?
Can we throw moral caution to the wind and justify any means by the end? Anything to get the win, reach the goal, make it to the top, and don’t stop until you drop?
Karma, Karma, Karma – do you love me? (reminds me of a 60’s song)
Here’s the thing…We don’t get to escape Karma…the energy with which we use to get what we want in life is the energy that lights our way to our destiny.
Who can forget the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan drama of the 1994 Winter Ice Skating Olympics…or the scandalous doping of Lance Armstrong as a Professional Cyclist? Classic examples of justifying the means to get the desired end.
Our energy has a ripple effect on ourselves and the people around us.
In this light, it is the underlying intention of the heart that justifies the end.
In the early years of my yoga practice it really mattered that I strike the RIGHT pose and that it LOOK a certain way and that I HOLD it for an unreasonable amount of time… usually longer than the person next to me. Bigger, better, longer, stronger. Apparently the end result mattered…to me. I was comparing rather than connecting, forcing rather than yielding, and caring about what others thought rather than how I felt.
After many injuries (wrists, ACL tear, hamstring issues, rotator cuff issues, etc.) I began to LISTEN, WATCH, and LEARN. Over time I sought a different means to the end. Instead of forcing I dropped into a more child-like curiosity. Learning to feel into a posture with more skillful alignment and tuning in with how my mind and body was responding. Was there a buildup of resentment, forcefulness, or harsh undertones? OR did my practice include respect, love, compassion, and care? When I let go of grasping for “perfection” what came naturally was a perfect pose. I don’t mean the magazine kind of perfect pose…I mean the pose that feels right, supported but not overly tense, extended but not overly stretched, strong but not overly rigid. The result for me has been a quicker route to what I wanted in the first place…a real purposeful yoga practice. One that cultivates peace, strength, and honesty within me.
What is your weigh in on this thought?
Maybe in the end it’s the means that really matters.
Leave a comment below about where/when you find the end justifying the means or the other way around… the means justifying the end. I’d love to hear from you!