(tr. C. Johnston)
Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali
An Interpretation by William Quan Judge
An Interpretation by
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
Preface to the First Edition
This edition of Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms is not put forth as a new translation, nor as a literal rendering into English of the original.
In the year 1885 an edition was printed at Bombay by Mr. Tookeram Tatya, a Fellow of the Theosophical Society, which has been since widely circulated among its members in all parts of the world. But it has been of use only to those who had enough acquaintance with the Indian system of philosophy to enable them to grasp the real meaning of the Aphorisms notwithstanding the great and peculiar obstacles due to the numberless brackets and interpolated sentences with which not only are the Aphorisms crowded, but the so-called explanatory notes as well. For the greater number of readers these difficulties have been an almost insurmountable barrier; and such is the consideration that has led to the preparation of this edition, which attempts to clear up a work that is thought to be of great value to earnest students.
It may be said by some captious critics that liberties have been taken with the text, and if this were emitted as a textual translation the charge would be true. Instead of this being a translation, it is offered as an interpretation, as the thought of Patanjali clothed in our language. No liberties have been taken with the system of the great Sage, but the endeavor has been faithfully to interpret it to Western minds unfamiliar with the Hindu modes of expression, and equally unaccustomed to their philosophy and logic.
About Patanjali’s life very little, if anything, can be said. In the Rudra Jamala, the Vrihannandikes’waraand the Padma-Purana are some meager statements, more or less legendary, relating to his birth. Ilavrita-Varsha is said to have been his birthplace, his mother being Sati the wife of Angiras. The tradition runs that upon his birth he made known things past, present and future, showing the intellect and penetration of a sage while yet an infant. He is said to have married one Lolupa, whom he found in the hollow of a tree on the north of Sumeru, and thereafter to have lived to a great age. On one occasion, being insulted by the inhabitants of Bhotabhandra while he was engaged in religious austerities, he reduced them to ashes by fire from his mouth.
That these accounts are legendary and symbolical can be easily seen. Ilavrita-Varsha is no part of India, but is some celestial abode. The name of India proper is Bharata Varsha. “In it and nowhere else do the four ages or Yugas — Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kali — exist. Here devotees perform austerities and priests sacrifice. In this respect Bharata is the most excellent division; for this is the land of works, while the others are places of enjoyment.” In the Bhagavat-Purana it is said: “Of the Varshas, Bharata alone is the land of works; the other eight (including Ilavrita-Varsha) are places where the celestials enjoy the remaining rewards of their works.” As Bharata-Varsha is a division of Jambudwipa, and known as India, and the other Varshas are for celestials, it follows that the account of Patanjali’s birthplace cannot be relied upon in a material sense. It may be the ancient method of showing how great sages now and then descend from other spheres to aid and benefit man. But there is also another Patanjali mentioned in the Indian books. He was born in India at Gonarda, in the east, and from there be went to reside temporarily in Kashmir. Prof. Goldstucker has concluded that this later Patanjali wrote about 140 B.C. His writings were commentaries upon the great grammarian Panini, and it is in respect to the Sanskrit language that he is regarded as an authority. He must not be confounded with our Patanjali; of the latter all that we have is the Philosophy set forth in the Aphorisms.
In regard to the systems of Yoga, the following by a writer on the subject will be of interest:
“The Yoga system is divided into two principal parts — Hatha and Raja Yoga. There are many minor divisions which can be brought under either of these heads. Hatha Yoga was promoted and practised by Matsendra Nath and Goraksh Nath and their followers, and by many sects of ascetics in this country (India). This system deals principally with the physiological part of man with a view to establish his health and train his will. The processes prescribed to arrive at this end are so difficult that only a few resolute souls go through all the stages of its practice, while many have failed and died in the attempt. It is therefore strongly denounced by all the philosophers. The most illustrious S’ankaracharya has remarked in his treatise called Aparokshanubhuti that ‘the system of Hatha Yoga was intended for those whose worldly desires are not pacified or uprooted.’ He has strongly spoken elsewhere against this practice.
“On the other hand, the Raja Yogis try to control the mind itself by following the rules laid down by the greatest of adepts.”
Patanjali’s rules compel the student not only to acquire a right knowledge of what is and what is not real, but also to practice all virtues, and while results in the way of psychic development are not so immediately seen as in the case of the successful practitioner of Hatha Yoga, it is infinitely safer and is certainly spiritual, which Hatha Yoga is not. In Patanjali’s Aphorisms there is some slight allusion to the practices of Hatha Yoga, such as “postures,” each of which is more difficult than those preceding, and “retention of the breath,” but he distinctly says that mortification and other practices are either for the purpose of extenuating certain mental afflictions or for the more easy attainment of concentration of mind.
In Hatha Yoga practice, on the contrary, the result is psychic development at the delay or expense of the spiritual nature. These last named practices and results may allure the Western student, but from our knowledge of inherent racial difficulties there is not much fear that many will persist in them.
This book is meant for sincere students, and especially for those who have some glimmering of what Krishna meant, when in Bhagavad-Gita he said, that after a while spiritual knowledge grows up within and illuminates with its rays all subjects and objects. Students of the mere forms of Sanskrit who look for new renderings or laborious attempts at altering the meaning of words and sentences will find nothing between these covers.
It should be ever borne in mind that Patanjali had no need to assert or enforce the doctrine of reincarnation. That is assumed all through the Aphorisms. That it could be doubted, or need any restatement, never occurred to him, and by us it is alluded to, not because we have the smallest doubt of its truth, but only because we see about us those who never heard of such a doctrine, who, educated under the frightful dogmas of Christian priestcraft, imagine that upon quitting this life they will enjoy heaven or be damned eternally, and who not once pause to ask where was their soul before it came into the present body.
Without Reincarnation Patanjali’s Aphorisms are worthless. Take No. 18, Book III, which declares that the ascetic can know what were his previous incarnations with all their circumstances; or No. 13, Book II, that while there is a root of works there is fructification in rank and years and experience. Both of these infer reincarnation. In Aphorism 8, Book IV, reincarnation is a necessity. The manifestation, in any incarnation, of the effects of mental deposits made in previous lives, is declared to ensue upon the obtaining of just the kind of bodily and mental frame, constitution and environment as will bring them out. Where were these deposits received if not in preceding lives on earth — or even if on other planets, it is still reincarnation. And so on all through the Aphorisms this law is tacitly admitted.
In order to understand the system expounded in this book it is also necessary to admit the existence of soul, and the comparative unimportance of the body in which it dwells. For Patanjali holds that Nature exists for the soul’s sake, taking it for granted that the student believes in the existence of soul. Hence he does not go into proof of that which in his day was admitted on every hand. And, as he lays down that the real experiencer and knower is the soul and not the mind, it follows that the Mind, designated either as “internal organ,” or “thinking principle,” while higher and more subtle than the body, is yet only an instrument used by the Soul in gaining experience, just in the same way as an astronomer uses his telescope for acquiring information respecting the heavens. But the Mind is a most important factor in the pursuit of concentration; one indeed without which concentration cannot be obtained, and therefore we see in the first book that to this subject Patanjali devotes attention. He shows that the mind is, as he terms it, “modified” by any object or subject brought before it, or to which it is directed. This may be well illustrated by quoting a passage from the commentator, who says: “The internal organ is there” — in the Vedanta Paribhasha — “compared to water in respect of its readiness to adapt itself to the form of whatever mold it may enter. ‘As the waters of a reservoir, having issued from an aperture, having entered by a channel the basins, become four-cornered or otherwise shaped, just like them; so the manifesting internal organ having gone through the sight, or other channel, to where there is one object, for instance a jar, becomes modified by the form of the jar or other object. It is this altered state of the internal organ — or mind — that is called its modification.'” While the internal organ thus molds itself upon the object it at the same time reflects it and its properties to the soul. The channels by which the mind is held to go out to an object or subject, are the organs of sight, touch, taste, hearing, and so on. Hence by means of hearing it shapes itself into the form of the idea which may be given in speech, or by means of the eye in reading, it is molded into the form of that which is read; again, sensations such as heat and cold modify it directly and indirectly by association and by recollection, and similarly in the ease of all senses and sensations.
It is further held that this internal organ, while having an innate disposition to assume some modification or other depending upon constantly recurring objects — whether directly present or only such as arise from the power of reproducing thoughts, whether by association or otherwise, may be controlled and stilled into a state of absolute calmness. This is what he means by “hindering the modifications.” And just here it is seen that the theory of the soul’s being the real experiencer and knower is necessary. For if we are but mind, or slaves of mind, we never can attain real knowledge because the incessant panorama of objects eternally modifies that mind which is uncontrolled by the soul, always preventing real knowledge from being acquired. But as the Soul is held to be superior to Mind, it has the power to grasp and hold the latter if we but use the will to aid it in the work, and then only the real end and purpose of mind is brought about.
These propositions imply that the will is not wholly dependent on the mind, but is separable from it; and, further, that knowledge exists as an abstraction. The will and mind are only servants for the soul’s use, but so long as we are wrapped up in material life and do not admit that the real knower and only experiencer is the soul, just so long do these servants remain usurpers of the soul’s sovereignty. Hence it is stated in old Hindu works, that “the Soul is the friend of Self and also its enemy; and, that a man should raise the self by the self.”
In other words there is a constant struggle between the lower and the Higher Self, in which the illusions of matter always wage war against the Soul, tending ever to draw downward the inner principles which, lying midway between the upper and the lower, are capable of reaching either salvation or damnation.
There is no reference in the Aphorisms to the will. It seems to be inferred, either as well understood and admitted, or as being one of the powers of soul itself and not to be discussed. Many old Hindu writers hold, and we incline to the same view, that Will is a spiritual power, function or attribute constantly present in every portion of the Universe. It is a colorless power, to which no quality of goodness or badness is to be assigned, but which may be used in whatever way man pleases. When considered as that which in ordinary life is called “will,” we see its operation only in connexion with the material body and mind guided by desire; looked at in respect to the hold by man upon life it is more recondite, because its operation is beyond the ken of the mind; analyzed as connected with reincarnation of man or with the persistence of the manifested universe throughout a Manvantara, it is found to be still more removed from our comprehension and vast in its scope.
In ordinary life it is not man’s servant, but, being then guided solely by desire, it makes man a slave to his desires. Hence the old cabalistic maxim, “Behind Will stands Desire.” The desires always drawing the man hither and thither, cause him to commit such actions and have such thoughts as form the cause and mold for numerous reincarnations, enslaving him to a destiny against which he rebels, and that constantly destroys and re-creates his mortal body. It is an error to say of those who are known as strong-willed men, that their wills are wholly their servants, for they are so bound in desire that it, being strong, moves the will into action for the consummation of wished for ends. Every day we see good and evil men prevailing in their several spheres. To say that in one there is good, and in the other evil will is manifestly erroneous and due to mistaking will, the instrument or force, for desire that sets it in motion toward a good or bad purpose. But Patanjali and his school well knew that the secret of directing the will with ten times the ordinary force might be discovered if they outlined the method, and then bad men whose desires were strong and conscience wanting, would use it with impunity against their fellows; or that even sincere students might be carried away from spirituality when dazzled by the wonderful results flowing from a training of the will alone. Patanjali is silent upon the subject for this reason among others.
The system postulates that I’s’wara, the spirit in man, is untouched by any troubles, works, fruit of works, or desires, and when a firm position is assumed with the end in view of reaching union with spirit through concentration, He comes to the aid of the lower self and raises it gradually to higher planes. In this process the Will by degrees is given a stronger and stronger tendency to act upon a different line from that indicated by passion and desire. Thus it is freed from the domination of desire and at last subdues the mind itself. But before the perfection of the practice is arrived at the will still acts according to desire, only that the desire is for higher things and away from those of the material life. Book III is for the purpose of defining the nature of the perfected state, which is therein denominated Isolation.
Isolation of the Soul in this philosophy does not mean that a man is isolated from his fellows, becoming cold and dead, but only that the Soul is isolated or freed from the bondage of matter and desire, being thereby able to act for the accomplishing of the aim of Nature and Soul, including all souls of all men. Such, in the Aphorisms, is clearly stated to be the purpose. It has become the habit of many superficial readers and thinkers, to say nothing of those who oppose the Hindu philosophy, to assert that Jivanmuktas or Adepts remove themselves from all life of men, from all activity, and any participation in human affairs, isolating themselves on inaccessible mountains where no human cry can reach their ears. Such a charge is directly contrary to the tenets of the philosophy which prescribes the method and means for reaching such a state. These Beings are certainly removed from human observation, but, as the philosophy clearly states, they have the whole of nature for their object, and this will include all living men. They may not appear to take any interest in transitory improvements or ameliorations, but they work behind the scenes of true enlightenment until such times as men shall be able to endure their appearance in mortal guise.
The term “knowledge” as used here has a greater meaning than we are accustomed to giving it. It implies full identification of the mind, for any length of time, with whatever object or subject it is directed to. Modern science and metaphysics do not admit that the mind can cognize outside of certain given methods and distances, and in most quarters the existence of soul is denied or ignored. It is held, for instance, that one cannot know the constituents and properties of a piece of stone without mechanical or chemical aids applied directly to the object; and that nothing can be known of the thoughts or feelings of another person unless they are expressed in words or acts. Where metaphysicians deal with soul they are vague and appear to be afraid of science, because it is not possible to analyse it and weigh its parts in a balance. Soul and Mind are reduced to the condition of limited instruments which take note of certain physical facts spread before them through mechanical aids. Or, in ethnological investigation, it is held that we can know such and such things about classes of men from observations made through sight, touch, sense of smell and hearing, in which case mind and soul are still mere recorders. But this system declares that the practicer who has reached certain stages, can direct his mind to a piece of stone, whether at a distance or near by, or to a man or class of men, and by means of concentration, cognize all the inherent qualities of the objects as well as accidental peculiarities, and know all about the subject. Thus, in the instance of, say, one of the Easter Islanders, the ascetic will cognize not only that which is visible to the senses or to be known from long observation, or that has been recorded, but also deeply seated qualities, and the exact line of descent and evolution of the particular human specimen under examination. Modern science can know nothing of the Easter Islanders and only makes wild guesses as to what they are; nor can it with any certainty tell what is and from what came a nation so long before the eye of science as the Irish. In the ease of the Yoga practitioner he becomes, through the power of concentration, completely identified with the thing considered, and so in fact experiences in himself all the phenomena exhibited by the object as well as all its qualities.
To make it possible to admit all this, it is first required that the existence, use and function of an ethereal medium penetrating everywhere, called Astral Light or A’kas’a by the Hindus, should be admitted. The Universal distribution of this as a fact in nature is metaphysically expressed in the terms “Universal Brotherhood” and “Spiritual Identity.” In it, through its aid, and by its use, the qualities and motions of all objects are universally cognizable. It is the surface, so to say, upon which all human actions and all things, thoughts and circumstances are fixed. The Easter Islander comes of a stock which has left its imprint in this Astral Light, and carries with him in indelible writing the history of his race. The ascetic in concentration fixes his attention upon this, and then reads the record lost to Science. Every thought of Herbert Spencer, Mill, Bain, or Huxley is fastened in the Astral Light together with the respective systems of Philosophy formulated by them, and all that the ascetic has to do is to obtain a single point of departure connected with either of these thinkers, and then to read in the Astral Light all that they have thought out. By Patanjali and his school, such feats as these relate to matter and not to spirit, although to Western ears they will sound either absurd, or if believed in, as relating to spirit.
In the things of the spirit and of the mind, the modern schools seem, to the sincere student of this Philosophy, to be woefully ignorant. What spirit may be is absolutely unknown, and indeed, it cannot yet be stated what it is not. Equally so with mental phenomena. As to the latter there is nothing but a medley of systems. No one knows what mind is. One says it is brain and another denies it; another declares it to be a function, which a fourth refuses to admit. As to memory, its place, nature and essential property, there is nothing offered but empiric deductions. To explain the simple fact of a man remembering a circumstance of his early youth, all that is said is, that it made an impression on his mind or brain, with no reasonable statement of what is the mind nor how or where the brain retains such vast quantities of impressions.
With such a chaos in modern psychological systems, the student of Patanjali feels justified in adopting something which will, at least, explain and embrace the greater number of facts, and it is to be found in the doctrines again brought forward by the Theosophical Society, relating to man as a Spirit; to a Spirit in nature: to the identity of all spiritual beings, and to all phenomena presented for our consideration.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE.
New York, 1889.
Book I: Concentration
1. Assuredly, the exposition of Yoga, or Concentration, is now to be made.
The Sanskrit particle atha, which is translated “assuredly,” intimates to the disciple that a distinct topic is to be expounded, demands his attention, and also serves as a benediction. Monier Williams says it is “an auspicious and inceptive participle often not easily expressed in English.”
2. Concentration, or Yoga, is the hindering of the modifications of the thinking principle.
In other words, the want of concentration of thought is due to the fact that the mind — here called “the thinking principle” — is subject to constant modifications by reason of its being diffused over a multiplicity of subjects. So “concentration” is equivalent to the correction of a tendency top, diffuseness, and to the obtaining of what the Hindus call “one-pointedness,” or the power to apply the mind, at any moment, to the consideration of a single point of thought, to the exclusion of all else.
Upon this Aphorism the method of the system hinges. The reason for the absence of concentration at any time is, that the mind is modified by every subject and object that comes before it; it is, as it were, transformed into that subject or object. The mind, therefore, is not the supreme or highest power; it is only a function, an instrument with which the soul works, feels sublunary things, and experiences. The brain, however, must not be confounded with the mind, for the brain is in its turn but an instrument for the mind. It therefore follows that the mind has a plane of its own, distinct from the soul and the brain, and what is to be learned is, to use the will, which is also a distinct power from the mind and brain, in such a way that instead of permitting the mind to turn from one subject or object to another just as they may move it, we shall apply it as a servant at any time and for as long a period as we wish, to the consideration of whatever we have decided upon.
3. At the time of concentration the soul abides in the state of a spectator without a spectacle.
This has reference to the perfection of concentration, and is that condition in which, by the hindering of the modifications referred to in Aphorism 2, the soul is brought to a state of being wholly devoid of taint of, or impression by, any subject. The “soul” here referred to is not Atma, which is spirit.
4. At other times than that of concentration, the soul is in the same form as the modification of the mind.
This has reference to the condition of the soul in ordinary life, when concentration is not practised, and means that, when the internal organ, the mind, is through the senses affected or modified by the form of some object, the soul also — viewing the object through its organ, the mind — is, as it were, altered into that form; as a marble statue of snowy whiteness, if seen under a crimson light will seem to the beholder crimson and so is, to the visual organs, so long as that colored light shines upon it.
5. The modifications of the mind are of five kinds, and they are either painful or not painful;
6. They are, Correct Cognition, Misconception, Fancy, Sleep, and Memory.
7. Correct Cognition results from Perception, Inference, and Testimony.
8. Misconception is Erroneous Notion arising from lack of Correct Cognition.
9. Fancy is a notion devoid of any real basis and following upon knowledge conveyed by words.
For instance, the terms “a hare’s horns” and “the head of Rahu,” neither of which has anything in nature corresponding to the notion. A person hearing the expression “the head of Rahu” naturally fancies that there is a Rahu who owns the head, whereas Rahu — a mythical monster who is said to cause eclipses by swallowing the sun — is all head and has no body; and, although the expression “a hare’s horns” is frequently used, it is well known that there is no such thing in nature. Much in the same way people continue to speak of the sun’s “rising” and “setting,” although they hold to the opposite theory.
10. Sleep is that modification of the mind which ensues upon the quitting of all objects by the mind, by reason of all the waking senses and faculties sinking into abeyance.
11. Memory is the not letting go of an object that one has been aware of.
12. The hindering of the modifications of the mind already referred to, is to be effected by means of Exercise and Dispassion.
13. Exercise is the uninterrupted, or repeated, effort that the mind shall remain in its unmoved state.
This is to say that in order to acquire concentration we must, again and again, make efforts to obtain such control over the mind that we can, at any time when it seems necessary, so reduce it to an unmoved condition or apply it to any one point to the exclusion of all others.
14. This exercise is a firm position observed out of regard for the end in view, and perseveringly adhered to for a long time without intermission.
The student must not conclude from this that he can never acquire concentration unless he devotes every moment of his life to it, for the words “without intermission” apply but to the length of time that has been set apart for the practice.
15. Dispassion is the having overcome one’s desires.
That is — the attainment of a state of being in which the consciousness is unaffected by passions, desires, and ambitions, which aid in causing modifications of the mind.
16. Dispassion, carried to the utmost, is indifference regarding all else than soul, and this indifference arises from a knowledge of soul as distinguished from all else.
17. There is a meditation of the kind called “that in which there is distinct cognition,” and which is of a four-fold character because of Argumentation, Deliberation, Beatitude, Egoism.
The sort of meditation referred to is a pondering wherein the nature of that which is to be pondered upon is well known, without doubt or error, and it is a distinct cognition which excludes every other modification of the mind than that which is to be pondered upon.
- The Argumentative division of this meditation is a pondering upon a subject with argument as to its nature in comparison with something else; as, for instance, the question whether mind is the product of matter or precedes matter.
- The Deliberative division is a pondering in regard to whence have come, and where is the field of action, of the subtler senses and the mind.
- The Beatific condition is that in which the higher powers of the mind, together with truth in the abstract, are pondered upon.
- The Egoistic division is one in which the meditation has proceeded to such a height that all lower subjects and objects are lost sight of, and nothing remains but the cognition of the self, which then becomes a stepping-stone to higher degrees of meditation.
The result of reaching the fourth degree, called Egoism, is that a distinct recognition of the object or subject with which the meditation began is lost, and self-consciousness alone results; but this self-consciousness does not include the consciousness of the Absolute or Supreme Soul.
18. The meditation just described is preceded by the exercise of thought without argumentation. Another sort of meditation is in the shape of the self-reproduction of thought after the departure of all objects from the field of the mind.
19. The meditative state attained by those whose discrimination does not extend to pure spirit, depends upon the phenomenal world.
20. In the practice of those who are, or may be, able to discriminate as to pure spirit, their meditation is preceded by Faith, Energy, Intentness (upon a single point), and Discernment, or thorough discrimination of that which is to be known.
It is remarked here by the commentator, that “in him who has Faith there arises Energy, or perseverance in meditation, and, thus persevering, the memory of past subjects springs up, and his mind becomes absorbed in Intentness, in consequence of the recollection of the subject, and he whose mind is absorbed in meditation arrives at a thorough discernment of the matter pondered upon.”
21. The attainment of the state of abstract meditation is speedy, in the case of the hotly impetuous.
22. Because of the mild, the medium, and the transcendent nature of the methods adopted, there is a distinction to be made among those who practise Yoga.
23. The state of abstract meditation may be attained by profound devotedness toward the Supreme Spirit considered in its comprehensible manifestation as I’s’wara.
It is said that this profound devotedness is a preeminent means of attaining abstract meditation and its fruits. “I’s’wara” is the Spirit in the body.
24. I’s’wara is a spirit, untouched by troubles, works, fruits of works, or desires.
25. In I’s’wara becomes infinite that omniscience which in man exists but as a germ.
26. I’s’wara is the preceptor of all, even of the earliest of created beings, for He is not limited by time.
27. His name is OM.
28. The repetition of this name should be made with reflection upon its signification.
The utterance of OM involves three sounds, those of long au, short u, and the “stoppage” or labial consonant m. To this tripartiteness is attached deep mystical symbolic meaning. It denotes, as distinct yet in union, Brahma, Vishnu, and S’iva, or Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. As a whole, it implies “the Universe.” In its application to man, au refers to the spark of Divine Spirit that is in humanity; u, to the body through which the Spirit manifests itself; and m, to the death of the body, or its resolvement to its material elements. With regard to the cycles affecting any planetary system, it implies the Spirit, represented by au as the basis of the manifested worlds; the body or manifested matter, represented by u, through which the spirit works; and represented by m, “the stoppage or return of sound to its source,” the Pralaya or Dissolution of the worlds. In practical occultism, through this word reference is made to Sound, or Vibration, in all its properties and effects, this being one of the greatest powers of nature. In the use of this word as a practice, by means of the lungs and throat, a distinct effect is produced upon the human body. In Aphorism 28 the name is used in its highest sense, which will necessarily include all the lower. All utterance of the word OM, as a practice, has a potential reference to the conscious separation of the soul from the body.
29. From this repetition and reflection on its significance, there come a knowledge of the Spirit and the absence of obstacles to the attainment of the end in view.
30. The obstacles in the way of him who desires to attain concentration are Sickness, Languor, Doubt, Carelessness, Laziness, Addiction to objects of sense, Erroneous Perception, Failure to attain any stage of abstraction, and Instability in any stage when attained.
31. These obstacles are accompanied by grief, distress, trembling, and sighing.
32. For the prevention of these, one truth should be dwelt upon.
Any accepted truth which one approves is here meant.
33. Through the practising of Benevolence, Tenderness, Complacency, and Disregard for objects of happiness, grief, virtue, and vice, the mind becomes purified.
The chief occasions for distraction of the mind are Covetousness and Aversion, and what the aphorism means is, not that virtue and vice should be viewed with indifference by the student, but that he should not fix his mind with pleasure upon happiness or virtue, nor with aversion upon grief or vice, in others, but should regard all with an equal mind; and the practice of Benevolence, Tenderness, and Complacency brings about cheerfulness of the mind, which tends to strength and steadiness.
34. Distractions may be combated by a regulated control or management of the breath in inspiration, retention, and exhalation.
35. A means of procurement of steadiness of the mind may be found in an immediate sensuous cognition;
36. Or, an immediate cognition of a spiritual subject being produced, this may also serve to the same end;
37. Or, the thought taking as its object some one devoid of passion — as, for instance, an ideally pure character — may find what will serve as a means;
38. Or, by dwelling on knowledge that presents itself in a dream, steadiness of mind may be procured;
39. Or, it may be effected by pondering upon anything that one approves.
40. The student whose mind is thus steadied obtains a mastery which extends from the Atomic to the Infinite.
41. The mind that has been so trained that the ordinary modifications of its action are not present, but only those which occur upon the conscious taking up of an object for contemplation, is changed into the likeness of that which is pondered upon, and enters into full comprehension of the being thereof.
42. This change of the mind into the likeness of what is pondered upon, is technically called the Argumentative condition, when there is any mixing-up of the title of the thing, the significance and application of that title, and the abstract knowledge of the qualities and elements of the thing per se.
43. On the disappearance, from the plane of contemplation, of the title and significance of the object selected for meditation; when the abstract thing itself, free from distinction by designation, is presented to the mind only as an entity, that is what is called the Non-Argumentative condition of meditation.
These two aphorisms (42-43) describe the first and second stages of meditation, in the mind properly intent upon objects of a gross or material nature. The next aphorism has reference to the state when subtile, or higher, objects are selected for contemplative meditation.
44. The Argumentative and Non-Argumentative conditions of the mind, described in the preceding two aphorisms, also obtain when the object selected for meditation is subtile, or of a higher nature than sensuous objects.
45. That meditation which has a subtile object in view ends with the indissoluble element called primordial matter.
46. The mental changes described in the foregoing, constitute “meditation with its seed.”
“Meditation with its seed” is that kind of meditation in which there is still present before the mind a distinct object to be meditated upon.
47. When Wisdom has been reached, through acquirement of the non-deliberative mental state, there is spiritual clearness.
48. In that case, then, there is that Knowledge which is absolutely free from Error.
49. This kind of knowledge differs from the knowledge due to testimony and inference; because, in the pursuit of knowledge based upon those, the mind has to consider many particulars and is not engaged with the general field of knowledge itself.
50. The train of self-reproductive thought resulting from this puts a stop to all other trains of thought.
It is held that there are two main trains of thought; (a) that which depends upon suggestion made either by the words of another, or by impression upon the senses or mind, or upon association; (b) that which depends altogether upon itself, and reproduces from itself the same thought as before. And when the second sort is attained, its effect is to act as an obstacle to all other trains of thought, for it is of such a nature that it repels or expels from the mind any other kind of thought. As shown in Aphorism 48, the mental state called “non-argumentative” is absolutely free from error, since it has nothing to do with testimony or inference, but is knowledge itself, and therefore from its inherent nature it puts a stop to all other trains of thought.
51. This train of thought itself, with but one object, may also be stopped, in which case “meditation without a seed” is attained.
“Meditation without a seed” is that in which the brooding of the mind has been pushed to such a point that the object selected for meditation has disappeared from the mental plane, and there is no longer any recognition of it, but consequent progressive thought upon a higher plane.
End of the First Book
BOOK II: Means of Concentration
1. The practical part of Concentration is, Mortification, Muttering, and Resignation to the Supreme Soul.
What is here meant by “mortification” is the practice laid down in other books, such as the Dharma S’astra, which includes penances and fastings; “muttering” is the semi-audible repetition of formulae also laid down, preceded by the mystic name of the Supreme Being given in Aphorism 27, Book I; “resignation to the Supreme Soul,” is the consigning to the Divine, or the Supreme Soul, all one’s works, without interest in their results.
2. This practical part of concentration is for the purpose of establishing meditation and eliminating afflictions.
3. The afflictions which arise in the disciple are Ignorance, Egoism, Desire, Aversion, and a tenacious wish for existence upon the earth.
4. Ignorance is the field of origin of the others named, whether they be dormant, extenuated, intercepted, or simple.
5. Ignorance is the notion that the non-eternal, the impure, the evil, and that which is not soul are, severally, eternal, pure, good, and soul.
6. Egoism is the identifying of the power that sees with the power of seeing.
I.e. it is the confounding of the soul, which really sees, with the tool it uses to enable it to see, viz. the mind, or — to a still greater degree of error — with those organs of sense which are in turn the tools of the mind; as, for instance, when an uncultured person thinks that it is his eye which sees, when in fact it is his mind that uses the eye as a tool for seeing.
7. Desire is the dwelling upon pleasure.
8. Aversion is the dwelling upon pain.
9. The tenacious wish for existence upon earth is inherent in all sentient beings, and continues through all incarnations, because it has self-reproductive power. It is felt as well by the wise as the unwise.
There is in the spirit a natural tendency, throughout a Manvantara, to manifestation on the material plane, on and through which only, the spiritual monads can attain their development; and this tendency, acting through the physical basis common to all sentient beings, is extremely powerful and continues through all incarnations, helping to cause them, in fact, and re-producing itself in each incarnation.
10. The foregoing five afflictions, when subtile, are to be evaded by the production of an antagonistic mental state.
11. When these afflictions modify the mind by pressing themselves upon the attention, they are to be got rid of by meditation.
12. Such afflictions are the root of, and produce, results in both physical and mental actions or works, and they, being our merits or demerits, have their fruitage either in the visible state or in that which is unseen.
13. While that root of merit and demerit exists, there is a fructification during each succeeding life upon earth in rank, years, pleasure, or pain.
14. Happiness or suffering results, as the fruit of merit and demerit, accordingly as the cause is virtue or vice.
15. But to that man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation, all mundane things are alike vexatious, since the modifications of the mind due to the natural qualities are adverse to the attainment of the highest condition; because, until that is reached, the occupation of any form of body is a hindrance, and anxiety and impressions of various kinds ceaselessly continue.
16. That which is to be shunned by the disciple is pain not yet come.
The past cannot be changed or amended; that which belongs to the experiences of the present cannot, and should not, be shunned; but alike to be shunned are disturbing anticipations or fears of the future, and every act or impulse that may cause present or future pain to ourselves or others.
17. From the fact that the soul is conjoined in the body with the organ of thought, and thus with the whole of nature, lack of discrimination follows, producing misconceptions of duties and responsibilities. This misconception leads to wrongful acts, which will inevitably bring about pain in the future.
18. The Universe, including the visible and the invisible, the essential nature of which is compounded of purity, action, and rest, and which consists of the elements and the organs of action, exists for the sake of the soul’s experience and emancipation.
19. The divisions of the qualities are the diverse, the non-diverse, those which may be resolved once but no farther, and the irresolvable.
The “diverse ” are such as the gross elements and the organs of sense; the “non-diverse,” the subtile elements and the mind; the “once resolvable,” the intellect, which can be resolved into undifferentiated matter but no farther; and the “irresolvable,” indiscrete matter.
20. The soul is the Perceiver; is assuredly vision itself pure and simple; unmodified; and looks directly upon ideas.
21. For the sake of the soul alone, the Universe exists.
The commentator adds: “Nature in energizing does not do so with a view to any purpose of her own, but with the design, as it were, expressed in the words ‘let me bring about the soul’s experience.’”
22. Although the Universe in its objective state has ceased to be, in respect to that man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation, it has not ceased in respect to all others, because it is common to others besides him.
23. The conjuncture of the soul with the organ of thought, and thus with nature, is the cause of its apprehension of the actual condition of the nature of the Universe and of the soul itself.
24. The cause of this conjuncture is what is to be quitted, and that cause is ignorance.
25. The quitting consists in the ceasing of the conjuncture, upon which ignorance disappears, and this is the Isolation of the soul.
That which is meant in this and in the preceding two aphorisms is that the conjuncture of soul and body, through repeated reincarnations, is due to its absence of discriminative knowledge of the nature of the soul and its environment, and when this discriminative knowledge has been attained, the conjuncture, which was due to the absence of discrimination, ceases of its own accord.
26. The means of quitting the state of bondage to matter is perfect discriminative knowledge, continuously maintained.
The import of this — among other things — is that the man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation maintains his consciousness, alike while in the body, at the moment of quitting it, and when he has passed into higher spheres; and likewise when returning continues it unbroken while quitting higher spheres, when re-entering his body, and in resuming action on the material plane.
27. This perfect discriminative knowledge possessed by the man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation, is of seven kinds, up to the limit of meditation.
28. Until this perfect discriminative knowledge is attained, there results from those practices which are conducive to concentration, an illumination more or less brilliant which is effective for the removal of impurity.
29. The practices which are conducive to concentration are eight in number: Forbearance, Religious Observances, Postures, Suppression of the breath, Restraint, Attention, Contemplation, and Meditation.
30. Forbearance consists in not killing, veracity, not stealing, continence, and not coveting.
31. These, without respect to rank, place, time, or compact, are the universal great duties.
32. Religious Observances are purification of both mind and body, contentment, austerity, inaudible mutterings, and persevering devotion to the Supreme Soul.
33. In order to exclude from the mind questionable things, the mental calling up of those things that are opposite is efficacious for their removal.
34. Questionable things, whether done, caused to be done, or approved of; whether resulting from covetousness, anger, or delusion; whether slight, or of intermediate character, or beyond measure; are productive of very many fruits in the shape of pain and ignorance; hence, the “calling up of those things that are opposite” is in every way advisable.
35. When harmlessness and kindness are fully developed in the Yogi [he who has attained to cultivated enlightenment of the soul], there is a complete absence of enmity, both in men and animals, among all that are near to him.
36. When veracity is complete, the Yogi becomes the focus for the Karma resulting from all works good or bad.
37. When abstinence from theft, in mind and act, is complete in the Yogi, he has the power to obtain all material wealth.
38. When continence is complete, there is a gain of strength, in body and mind.
It is not meant here that a student practising continence solely, and neglecting the other practices enjoined, will gain strength. All parts of the system must be pursued concurrently, on the mental, moral, and physical planes.
39. When covetousness is eliminated, there comes to the Yogi a knowledge of everything relating to, or which has taken place in, former states of existence.
“Covetousness” here applies not only to coveting any object, but also to the desire for enjoyable conditions of mundane existence, or even for mundane existence itself.
40. From purification of the mind and body there arises in the Yogi a thorough discernment of the cause and nature of the body, whereupon he loses that regard which others have for the bodily form; and he also ceases to feel the desire of, or necessity for, association with his fellow-beings that is common among other men.
41. From purification of the mind and body also ensure to the Yogi a complete predominance of the quality of goodness, complacency, intentness, subjugation of the senses, and fitness for contemplation and comprehension of the soul as distinct from nature.
42. From contentment in its perfection the Yogi acquires superlative felicity.
43. When austerity is thoroughly practised by the Yogi, the result thereof is a perfecting and heightening of the bodily senses by the removal of impurity.
44. Through inaudible muttering there is a meeting with one’s favorite Deity.
By properly uttered invocations — here referred to in the significant phrase “inaudible mutterings,” the higher powers in nature, ordinarily unseen by man, are caused to reveal themselves to the sight of the Yogi; and inasmuch as all the powers in nature cannot be evoked at once, the mind must be directed to some particular force, or power in nature — hence the use of the term “with one’s favorite Deity.”
45. Perfection in meditation comes from persevering devotion to the Supreme Soul.
46. A posture assumed by a Yogi must be steady and pleasant.
For the clearing up of the mind of the student it is to be observed that the “postures” laid down in various systems of “Yoga” are not absolutely essential to the successful pursuit of the practice of concentration and attainment of its ultimate fruits. All such “postures,” as prescribed by Hindu writers, are based upon an accurate knowledge of the physiological effects produced by them, but at the present day they are only possible for Hindus, who from their earliest years are accustomed to assuming them.
47. When command over the postures has been thoroughly attained, the effort to assume them is easy; and when the mind has become thoroughly identified with the boundlessness of space, the posture becomes steady and pleasant.
48. When this condition has been attained, the Yogi feels no assaults from the pairs of opposites.
By “pairs of opposites” reference is made to the conjoined classification, all through the Hindu philosophical and metaphysical systems, of the opposed qualities, conditions, and states of being, which are eternal sources of pleasure or pain in mundane existence, such as cold and heat, hunger and satiety, day and night, poverty and riches, liberty and despotism.
49. Also, when this condition has been attained, there should succeed regulation of the breath, in exhalation, inhalation, and retention.
50. This regulation of the breath, which is in exhalation, inhalation, and retention, is further restricted by conditions of time, place, and number, each of which may be long or short.
51. There is a special variety of breath regulation which has reference to both that described in the last preceding aphorism and the inner sphere of breathing.
Aphorisms 49, 50, 51 allude to regulation of the breath as a portion of the physical exercises referred to in the note upon Aphorism 46, acquaintance with the rules and prescriptions for which, on the part of the student, is inferred by Patanjali. Aphorism 50 refers merely to the regulation of the several periods, degrees of force; and number of alternating recurrences of the three divisions of breathing — exhalation, inhalation, and retention of the breath. But Aphorism 51 alludes to another regulation of the breath, which is its governance by the mind so as to control its direction to and consequent influence upon certain centers of nerve perception within the human body for the production of physiological, followed by psychic effects.
52. By means of this regulation of the breath, the obscuration of the mind resulting from the influence of the body is removed.
53. And thus the mind becomes prepared for acts of attention.
54. Restraint is the accommodation of the senses to the nature of the mind, with an absence on the part of the senses of their sensibility to direct impression from objects.
55. Therefrom results a complete subjugation of the senses.
End of the Second Book
1. Fixing the mind on a place, object, or subject is attention.
This is called Dharana.
2. The continuance of this attention is contemplation.
This is called Dhyana.
3. This contemplation, when it is practised only in respect to a material subject or object of sense, is meditation.
This is called Samadhi.
4. When this fixedness of attention, contemplation, and meditation are practised with respect to one object, they together constitute what is called Sanyama.
We have no word in English corresponding to Sanyama. The translators have used the word restraint, but this is inadequate and misleading, although it is a correct translation. When a Hindu says that an ascetic is practising restraint according to this system in respect to any object, he means that he is performing Sanyama, while in English it may indicate that he is restraining himself from some particular thing or act, and this is not the meaning of Sanyama. We have used the language of the text, but the idea may perhaps be better conveyed by “perfect concentration.”
5. By rendering Sanyama — or the operation of fixed attention, contemplation, and meditation — natural and easy, an accurate discerning power is developed.
This “discerning power” is a distinct faculty which this practice alone develops, and is not possessed by ordinary persons who have not pursued concentration.
6. Sanyama is to be used in proceeding step by step in overcoming all modifications of the mind, from the more apparent to those the most subtle.
[See note to Aphorism 2, Book I.] The student is to know that after he has overcome the afflictions and obstructions described in the preceding books, there are other modifications of a recondite character suffered by the mind, which are to be got rid of by means of Sanyama. When he has reached that stage the difficulties will reveal themselves to him.
7. The three practices — attention, contemplation, and meditation — are more efficacious for the attainment of that kind of meditation called, “that in which there is distinct cognition,” than the first five means heretofore described as “not killing, veracity, not stealing, continence, and not coveting.”
See Aphorism 17, Book I.
8. Attention, contemplation, and meditation are anterior to and not immediately productive of that kind of meditation in which the distinct cognition of the object is lost, which is called meditation without a seed.
9. There are two trains of self-reproductive thought, the first of which results from the mind being modified and shifted by the object or subject contemplated; the second, when it is passing from that modification and is becoming engaged only with the truth itself; at the moment when the first is subdued and the mind is just becoming intent, it. is concerned in both of those two trains of self-reproductive thought, and this state is technically called Nirodha.
10. In that state of meditation which has been called Nirodha, the mind has an uniform flow.
11. When the mind has overcome and fully controlled its natural inclination to consider diverse objects, and begins to become intent upon a single one, meditation is said to be reached.
12. When the mind, after becoming fixed upon a single object, has ceased to be concerned in any thought about the condition, qualities, or relations of the thing thought of, but is absolutely fastened upon the object itself, it is then said to be intent upon a single point — a state technically called Ekagrata.
13. The three major classes of perception regarding the characteristic property, distinctive mark or use, and possible changes of use or relation, of any object or organ of the body contemplated by the mind, have been sufficiently explained by the foregoing exposition of the manner in which the mind is modified.
It is very difficult to put this aphorism into English. The three words translated as “characteristic property, distinctive mark or use, and possible change of use” are Dharma, Lakshana, and Avastha, and may be thus illustrated: Dharma, as, say, the clay of which a jar is composed, Lakshana, the idea of a jar thus constituted, and Avastha, the consideration that the jar alters every moment, in that it becomes old, or is otherwise affected.
14. The properties of an object presented to the mind are: first, those which have been considered and dismissed from view; second, those under consideration; and third, that which is incapable of denomination because it is not special, but common to all matter.
The third class above spoken of has reference to a tenet of the philosophy which holds that all objects may and will be finally “resolved into nature” or one basic substance; hence gold may be considered as mere matter, and therefore not different — not to be separately denominated in final analysis — from earth.
15. The alterations in the order of the three-fold mental modifications before described, indicate to the ascetic the variety of changes which a characteristic property is to undergo when contemplated.
16. A knowledge of past and future events comes to an ascetic from his performing Sanyama in respect to the three-fold mental modifications just explained.
See Aphorism 4, where “Sanyama” is explained as the use or operation of attention, contemplation, and meditation in respect to a single object.
I7. In the minds of those who have not attained to concentration, there is a confusion as to uttered sounds, terms, and knowledge, which results from comprehending these three indiscriminately; but when an ascetic views these separately, by performing “Sanyama” respecting them, he attains the power of understanding the meaning of any sound uttered by any sentient being.
18. A knowledge of the occurrences experienced in former incarnations arises in the ascetic from holding before his mind the trains of self-reproductive thought and concentrating himself upon them.
19. The nature of the mind of another person becomes known to the ascetic when he concentrates his own mind upon that other person.
20. Such concentration will not, however, reveal to the ascetic the fundamental basis of the other person’s mind, because he does not “perform Sanyama” with that object before him.
21. By performing concentration in regard to the properties and essential nature of form, especially that of the human body, the ascetic acquires the power of causing the disappearance of his corporeal frame from the sight of others, because thereby its property of being apprehended by the eye is checked, and that property of Sattwa which exhibits itself as luminousness is disconnected from the spectator’s organ of sight.
Another great difference between this philosophy and modern science is here indicated. The schools of today lay down the rule that if there is a healthy eye in line with the rays of light reflected from an object — such as a human body — the latter will be seen, and that no action of the mind of the person looked at can inhibit the functions of the optic nerves and retina of the onlooker. But the ancient Hindus held that all things are seen by reason of that differentiation of Sattwa — one of the three great qualities composing all things — which is manifested as luminousness, operating in conjunction with the eye, which is also a manifestation of Sattwa in another aspect. The two must conjoin; the absence of luminousness or its being disconnected from the seer’s eye will cause a disappearance. And as the quality of luminousness is completely under the control of the ascetic, he can, by the process laid down, check it, and thus cut off from the eye of the other an essential element in the seeing of any object.
22. In the same manner, by performing Sanyama in regard to any particular organ of sense — such as that of hearing, or of feeling, or of tasting, or of smelling — the ascetic acquires the power to cause cessation of the functions of any of the organs of another or of himself, at will.
The ancient commentator differs from others with regard to this aphorism, in that he asserts that it is a portion of the original text, while they affirm that it is not, but an interpolation.
23. Action is of two kinds; first, that accompanied by anticipation of consequences; second, that which is without any anticipation of consequences. By performing concentration with regard to these kinds of action, a knowledge arises in the ascetic as to the time of his death.
Karma, resultant from actions of both kinds in present and in previous incarnations, produces and affects our present bodies, in which we are performing similar actions. The ascetic, by steadfastly contemplating all his actions in this and in previous incarnations (see Aphorism 18), is able to know absolutely the consequences resultant from actions he has performed, and hence has the power to calculate correctly the exact length of his life.
24. By performing concentration in regard to benevolence, tenderness, complacency, and disinterestedness, the ascetic is able to acquire the friendship of whomsoever he may desire.
25. By performing concentration with regard to the powers of the elements, or of the animal kingdom, the ascetic is able to manifest those in himself.
26. By concentrating his mind upon minute, concealed or distant objects, in every department of nature, the ascetic acquires thorough knowledge concerning them.
27. By concentrating his mind upon the sun, a knowledge arises in the ascetic concerning all spheres between the earth and the sun.
28. By concentrating his mind upon the moon, there arises in the ascetic a knowledge of the fixed stars.
29. By concentrating his mind upon the polar star, the ascetic is able to know the fixed time and motion of every star in the Brahmanda of which this earth is a part.
“Brahmanda” here means the great system, called by some “universe,” in which this world is.
30. By concentrating his mind upon the solar plexus, the ascetic acquires a knowledge of the structure of the material body.
31. By concentrating his mind upon the nerve center in the pit of the throat, the ascetic is able to overcome hunger and thirst.
32. By concentrating his mind upon the nerve center below the pit of the throat, the ascetic is able to prevent his body being moved, without any resistant exertion of his muscles.
33. By concentrating his mind upon the light in the head the ascetic acquires the power of seeing divine beings.
There are two inferences here which have nothing to correspond to them in modern thought. One is, that there is a light in the head; and the other, that there are divine beings who may be seen by those who thus concentrate upon the “light in the head.” It is held that a certain nerve, or psychic current, called Brahmarandhra-nadi, passes out through the brain near the top of the head. In this there collects more of the luminous principle in nature than elsewhere in the body and it is called jyotis — the light in the head. And, as every result is to be brought about by the use of appropriate means, the seeing of divine beings can be accomplished by concentration upon that part of the body more nearly connected with them. This point — the end of Brahmarandhra-nadi — is also the place where the connexion is made between man and the solar forces.
34. The ascetic can, after long practice, disregard the various aids to concentration hereinbefore recommended for the easier acquirement of knowledge, and will be able to possess any knowledge simply through the desire therefor.
35. By concentrating his mind upon the Hridaya, the ascetic acquires penetration and knowledge of the mental conditions, purposes, and thoughts of others, as well as an accurate comprehension of his own.
Hridaya is the heart. There is some disagreement among mystics as to whether the muscular heart is meant, or some nervous center to which it leads, as in the case of a similar direction for concentrating on the umbilicus, when, in fact, the field of nerves called the solar plexus is intended.
36. By concentrating his mind upon the true nature of the soul as being entirely distinct from any experiences, and disconnected from all material things, and dissociated from the understanding, a knowledge of the true nature of the soul itself arises in the ascetic.
37. From the particular kind of concentration last described, there arises in the ascetic, and remains with him at all times, a knowledge concerning all things, whether they be those apprehended through the organs of the body or otherwise presented to his contemplation.
38. The powers hereinbefore described are liable to become obstacles in the way of perfect concentration, because of the possibility of wonder and pleasure flowing from their exercise, but are not obstacles for the ascetic who is perfect in the practice enjoined.
“Practice enjoined,” see Aphorisms 36, 37.
39. The inner self of the ascetic may be transferred to any other body and there have complete control, because he has ceased to be mentally attached to objects of sense, and through his acquisition of the knowledge of the manner in and means by which the mind and body are connected.
As this philosophy holds that the mind, not being the result of brain, enters the body by a certain road and is connected with it in a particular manner, this aphorism declares that, when the ascetic acquires a knowledge of the exact process of connecting mind and body, he can connect his mind with any other body, and thus transfer the power to use the organs of the occupied frame in experiencing effects from the operations of the senses.
40. By concentrating his mind upon, and becoming master of, that vital energy called Udana, the ascetic acquires the power of arising from beneath water, earth, or other superincumbent matter.
Udana is the name given to one of the so-called “vital airs.” These, in fact, are certain nervous functions for which our physiology has no name, and each one of which has its own office. It may be said that by knowing them, and how to govern them, one can alter his bodily polarity at will. The same remarks apply to the next aphorism.
41. By concentrating his mind upon the vital energy called Samana, the ascetic acquires the power to appear as if blazing with light.
[This effect has been seen by the interpreter on several occasions when in company with one who had acquired the power. The effect was as if the person had a luminousness under the skin. — W. Q. J.]
42. By concentrating his mind upon the relations between the ear and A’kas’a, the ascetic acquires the power of hearing all sounds, whether upon the earth or in the aether, and whether far or near.
The word A’kas’a has been translated both as “aether” and “astral light.” In this aphorism it is employed in the former sense. Sound, it will remembered, is the distinctive property of this element.
43. By concentrating his mind upon the human body, in its relations to air and space, the ascetic is able to change at will the polarity of his body, and consequently acquires the power of freeing it from the control of the laws of gravitation.
44. When the ascetic has completely mastered all the influences which the body has upon the inner man, and has laid aside all concern in regard to it, and in no respect is affected by it, the consequence is a removal of all obscurations of the intellect.
45. The ascetic acquires complete control over the elements by concentrating his mind upon the five classes of properties in the manifested universe; as, first, those of gross or phenomenal character; second, those of form; third, those of subtle quality; fourth, those susceptible of distinction as to light, action, and inertia; fifth, those having influence in their various degrees for the production of fruits through their effects upon the mind.
46. From the acquirement of such power over the elements there results to the ascetic various perfections, to wit, the power to project his inner-self into the smallest atom, to expand his inner-self to the size of the largest body, to render his material body light or heavy at will, to give indefinite extension to his astral body or its separate members, to exercise an irresistible will upon the minds of others, to obtain the highest excellence of the material body, and the ability to preserve such excellence when obtained.
47. Excellence of the material body consists in color, loveliness of form, strength, and density.
48. The ascetic acquires complete control over the organs of sense from having performed Sanyama (concentration) in regard to perception, the nature of the organs, egoism, the quality of the organs as being in action or at rest, and their power to produce merit or demerit from the connexion of the mind with them.
49. Therefrom spring up in the ascetic the powers; to move his body from one place to another with the quickness of thought, to extend the operations of his senses beyond the trammels of place or the obstructions of matter, and to alter any natural object from one form to another.
50. In the ascetic who has acquired the accurate discriminative knowledge of the truth and of the nature of the soul, there arises a knowledge of all existences in their essential natures and a mastery over them.
51. In the ascetic who acquires an indifference even to the last mentioned perfection, through having destroyed the last germs of desire, there comes a state of the soul that is called Isolation.
[See note on Isolation in Book IV.]
52. The ascetic ought not to form association with celestial beings who may appear before him, nor exhibit wonderment at their appearance, since the result would be a renewal of afflictions of the mind.
53. A great and most subtile knowledge springs from the discrimination that follows upon concentration of the mind performed with regard to the relation between moments and their order.
In this Patanjali speaks of ultimate divisions of time which cannot be further divided, and of the order in which they precede and succeed each other. It is asserted that a perception of these minute periods can be acquired, and the result will be that he who discriminates thus goes on to greater and wider perception of principles in nature which are so recondite that modern philosophy does not even know of their existence. We know that we can all distinguish such periods as days or hours, and there are many persons, born mathematicians, who are able to perceive the succession of minutes and can tell exactly without a watch how many have elapsed between any two given points in time. The minutes, so perceived by these mathematical wonders, are, however, not the ultimate divisions of time referred to in the Aphorism, but are themselves composed of such ultimates. No rules can be given for such concentration as this, as it is so far on the road of progress that the ascetic finds the rules himself, after having mastered all the anterior processes.
54. Therefrom results in the ascetic a power to discern subtile differences impossible to be known by other means.
55. The knowledge that springs from this perfection of discriminative power is called “knowledge that saves from rebirth.” It has all things and the nature of all things for its objects, and perceives all that hath been and that is, without limitations of time, place, or circumstance, as if all were in the present and the presence of the contemplator.
Such an ascetic as is referred to in this and the next aphorism, is a Jivanmukta and is not subject to reincarnation. He, however, may live yet upon earth but is not in any way subject to his body, the soul being perfectly free at every moment. And such is held to be the state of those beings called, in theosophical literature, Adepts, Mahatmas, Masters.
56. When the mind no longer conceives itself to be the knower, or experiencer, and has become one with the soul — the real knower and experiencer — Isolation takes place and the soul is emancipated.
End of the Third Book
BOOK IV: The Essential Nature of Isolation
1. Perfections of body, or superhuman powers are produced by birth, or by powerful herbs, or by incantations, penances, or meditations.
The sole cause of permanent perfections is meditation performed in incarnations prior to that in which the perfection appears, for perfection by birth, such as the power of birds to fly, is impermanent, as also are those following upon incantations, elixirs and the like. But as meditation reaches within, it affects each incarnation. It must also follow that evil meditation will have the result of begetting perfection in evil.
2. The change of a man into another class of being—such as that of a celestial being—is effected by the transfusion of natures.
This alludes to the possibility—admitted by the Hindus—of a man’s being altered into one of the Devas, or celestial beings, through the force of penances and meditation.
3. Certain merits, works, and practices are called “occasional” because they do not produce essential modification of nature; but they are effective for the removal of obstructions in the way of former merit, as in the case of the husbandman who removes impediments in the course of the irrigating stream, which then flows forward.
This is intended to further explain Aphorism 2 by showing, that in any incarnation certain practices [e.g. those previously laid down] will clear away the obscurations of a man’s past Karma, upon which that Karma will manifest itself; whereas, if the practices were not pursued, the result of past meditation might be delayed until yet another life.
4. The minds acting in the various bodies which the ascetic voluntarily assumes are the production of his egoism alone.
5. And for the different activities of those various minds, the ascetic’s mind is the moving cause.
6. Among the minds differently constituted by reason of birth, herbs, incantations, penances, and meditation, that one alone which is due to meditation is destitute of the basis of mental deposits from works.
The aphorism applies to all classes of men, and not to bodies assumed by the ascetic; and there must always be kept in view the doctrine of the philosophy that each life leaves in the Ego mental deposits which form the basis upon which subsequent vicissitudes follow in other lives.
7. The work of the ascetic is neither pure nor dark, but is peculiar to itself, while that of others is of three kinds.
The three kinds of work alluded to are (1) pure in action and motive; (2) dark, such as that of infernal beings; (3) that of the general run of men, pure-dark. The 4th is that of the ascetic.
8. From these works there results, in every incarnation, a manifestation of only those mental deposits which can come to fructification in the environment provided.
9. Although. the manifestation of mental deposits may be intercepted by unsuitable environments, differing as to class, place, and time, there is an immediate relation between them, because the memory and the train of self-reproductive thought are identical.
This is to remove a doubt caused by Aphorism 8, and is intended to show that memory is not due to mere brain matter, but is possessed by the incarnating ego, which holds all the mental deposits in a latent state, each one becoming manifest whenever the suitable bodily constitution and environment are provided for it.
10. The mental deposits are eternal because of the force of the desire which produced them.
In the Indian edition this reads that the deposits remain because of the “benediction.” And as that word is used in a special sense, we do not give it here. All mental deposits result from a desire for enjoyment, whether it be from a wish to avoid in the next life certain pain suffered in this, or from the positive feeling expressed in the desire, “may such and such pleasure always be mine.” This is called a “benediction.” And the word “eternal” has also a special signification, meaning only that period embraced by a “day of Brahma,” which lasts for a thousand ages.
11. As they are collected by cause, effect, substratum, and support, when those are removed, the result is that there is a non-existence of the mental deposits.
This aphorism supplements the preceding one, and intends to show that, although the deposits will remain during “eternity” if left to themselves — being always added to by new experiences and similar desires — yet they may be removed by removing producing causes.
12. That which is past and that which is to come, are not reduced to non-existence, for the relations of the properties differ one from the other.
13. Objects, whether subtile or not, are made up of the three qualities.
The “three qualities” are Sattwa, Rajas, Tamas, or Truth, Activity, and Darkness: Truth corresponding to light and joy; Activity to passion; and Darkness to evil, rest, indifference, sloth, death. All manifested objects are compounded of these three.
14. Unity of things results from unity of modification.
15. Cognition is distinct from the object, for there is diversity of thoughts among observers of one object.
16. An object is cognized or not cognized by the mind accordingly as the mind is or is not tinted or affected by the object.
17. The modifications of the mind are always known to the presiding spirit, because it is not subject to modification.
Hence, through all the changes to which the mind and soul are subject, the spiritual soul, I’s’wara, remains unmoved, “the witness and spectator.”
18. The mind is not self-illuminative, because it is an instrument of the soul, is colored and modified by experiences and objects, and is cognized by the soul.
19. Concentrated attention to two objects cannot take place simultaneously.
20. If one perception be cognizable by another, then there would be the further necessity for cognition of cognition, and from that a confusion of recollection would take place.
21. When the understanding and the soul are united, then self-knowledge results.
The self-knowledge spoken of here is that interior illumination desired by all mystics, and is not merely a knowledge of self in the ordinary sense.
22. The mind, when united with the soul and fully conversant with knowledge, embraces universally all objects.
23. The mind, though assuming various forms by reason of innumerable mental deposits, exists for the purpose of the soul’s emancipation and operates in co-operation therewith.
24. In him who knows the difference between the nature of soul and mind, the false notion regarding the soul comes to an end.
The mind is merely a tool, instrument, or means, by which the soul acquires experiences and knowledge. In each incarnation the mind is, as it were, new. It is a portion of the apparatus furnished to the soul through innumerable lives for obtaining experience and reaping the fruit of works performed. The notion that the mind is either knower or experiencer is a false one, which is to be removed before emancipation can be reached by soul. It was therefore said that the mind operates or exists for the carrying out of the soul’s salvation, and not the soul for the mind’s sake. When this is fully understood, the permanency of soul is seen, and all the evils flowing from false ideas begin to disappear.
25. Then the mind becomes deflected toward discrimination and bowed down before Isolation.
26. But in the intervals of meditation other thoughts arise, in consequence of the continuance of old impressions not yet expunged.
27. The means to be adopted for the avoidance and elimination of these are the same as before given for obviating the afflictions.
28. If the ascetic is not desirous of the fruits, even when perfect knowledge has been attained, and is not inactive, the meditation technically called Dharma Megha — cloud of virtue — takes place from his absolutely perfect discriminative knowledge.
The commentator explains that, when the ascetic has reached the point described in Aphorism 25, if he bends his concentration toward the prevention of all other thoughts, and is not desirous of attaining the powers resulting just at his wish, a further state of meditation is reached which is called “cloud of virtue,” because it is such as will, as it were, furnish the spiritual rain for the bringing about of the chief end of the soul — entire emancipation. And it contains a warning that, until that chief end is obtained, the desire for fruits is an obstacle.
29. Therefrom results the removal of the afflictions and all works.
30. Then, from infinity of knowledge absolutely free from obscuration and impurity, that which is knowable appears small and easy to grasp.
31. Thereupon, the alternation in the modifications of the qualities, having accomplished the soul’s aim—experience and emancipation—comes to an end.
32. It is then perceived that the moments and their order of precedence and succession are the same.
This is a step further than Aphorism 53, Book III, where it is stated that from discrimination of ultimates of time a perception of the very subtle and recondite principles of the universe results. Here, having arrived at Isolation, the ascetic sees beyond even the ultimates, and they, although capable of affecting the man who has not reached this stage, are for the ascetic identical, because he is a master of them. It is extremely difficult to interpret this aphorism; and in the original it reads that “the order is counterpart of the moment.” To express it in another way, it may be said that in the species of meditation adverted to in Aphorism 53, Book III, a calculative cognition goes forward in the mind, during which, the contemplator not yet being thoroughly master of these divisions of time, is compelled to observe them as they pass before him.
33. The reabsorption of the qualities which have consummated the aim of the soul or the abiding of the soul united with understanding in its own nature, is Isolation.
This is a general statement of the nature of Isolation, sometimes called Emancipation. The qualities before spoken of, found in all objects and which had hitherto affected and delayed the soul, have ceased to be mistaken by it for realities, and the consequence is that the soul abides in its own nature unaffected by the great “pairs of opposites” — pleasure and pain, good and evil, cold and heat, and so forth.
Yet it must not be deduced that the philosophy results in a negation, or in a coldness, such as our English word “Isolation” would seem to imply. The contrary is the case. Until this state is reached, the soul, continually affected and deflected by objects, senses, suffering, and pleasure, is unable to consciously partake universally of the great life of the universe. To do so, it must stand firmly “in its own nature”; and then it proceeds further — as is admitted by the philosophy — to bring about the aim of all other souls still struggling on the road. But manifestly further aphorisms upon that would be out of place, as well as being such as could not be understood, to say nothing of the uselessness of giving them.
End of the Fourth Book
May I’s’wara be near and help those who read this book.
Translation and Interpretation by Charles Johnston
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The Book of the Spiritual Man
An Interpretation By
Introduction to Book I
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are in themselves exceedingly brief, less than ten pages of large type in the original. Yet they contain the essence of practical wisdom, set forth in admirable order and detail. The theme, if the present interpreter be right, is the great regeneration, the birth of the spiritual from the psychical man: the same theme which Paul so wisely and eloquently set forth in writing to his disciples in Corinth, the theme of all mystics in all lands.
We think of ourselves as living a purely physical life, in these material bodies of ours. In reality, we have gone far indeed from pure physical life; for ages, our life has been psychical, we have been centerd and immersed in the psychic nature. Some of the schools of India say that the psychic nature is, as it were, a looking-glass, wherein are mirrored the things seen by the physical eyes, and heard by the physical ears. But this is a magic mirror; the images remain, and take a certain life of their own. Thus within the psychic realm of our life there grows up an imaged world wherein we dwell; a world of the images of things seen and heard, and therefore a world of memories; a world also of hopes and desires, of fears and regrets. Mental life grows up among these images, built on a measuring and comparing, on the massing of images together into general ideas; on the abstraction of new notions and images from these; till a new world is built up within, full of desires and hates, ambition, envy, longing, speculation, curiosity, self-will, self-interest.
The teaching of the East is, that all these are true powers overlaid by false desires; that though in manifestation psychical, they are in essence spiritual; that the psychical man is the veil and prophecy of the spiritual man.
The purpose of life, therefore, is the realizing of that prophecy; the unveiling of the immortal man; the birth of the spiritual from the psychical, whereby we enter our divine inheritance and come to inhabit Eternity. This is, indeed, salvation, the purpose of all true religion, in all times.
Patanjali has in mind the spiritual man, to be born from the psychical. His purpose is, to set in order the practical means for the unveiling and regeneration, and to indicate the fruit, the glory and the power, of that new birth.
Through the Sutras of the first book, Patanjali is concerned with the first great problem, the emergence of the spiritual man from the veils and meshes of the psychic nature, the moods and vestures of the mental and emotional man. Later will come the consideration of the nature and powers of the spiritual man, once he stands clear of the psychic veils and trammels, and a view of the realms in which these new spiritual powers are to be revealed.
At this point may come a word of explanation. I have been asked why I use the word Sutras, for these rules of Patanjali’s system, when the word Aphorism has been connected with them in our minds for a generation. The reason is this: the name Aphorism suggests, to me at least, a pithy sentence of very general application; a piece of proverbial wisdom that may be quoted in a good many sets of circumstance, and which will almost bear on its face the evidence of its truth. But with a Sutra the case is different. It comes from the same root as the word “sew,” and means, indeed, a thread, suggesting, therefore, a close knit, consecutive chain of argument. Not only has each Sutra a definite place in the system, but further, taken out of this place, it will be almost meaningless, and will by no means be self-evident. So I have thought best to adhere to the original word. The Sutras of Patanjali are as closely knit together, as dependent on each other, as the propositions of Euclid, and can no more be taken out of their proper setting.
In the second part of the first book, the problem of the emergence of the spiritual man is further dealt with. We are led to the consideration of the barriers to his emergence, of the overcoming of the barriers, and of certain steps and stages in the ascent from the ordinary consciousness of practical life, to the finer, deeper, radiant consciousness of the spiritual man.
1. OM: Here follows Instruction in Union.
Union, here as always in the Scriptures of India, means union of the individual soul with the Oversoul; of the personal consciousness with the Divine Consciousness, whereby the mortal becomes immortal, and enters the Eternal. Therefore, salvation is, first, freedom from sin and the sorrow which comes from sin, and then a divine and eternal well-being, wherein the soul partakes of the being, the wisdom and glory of God.
2. Union, spiritual consciousness, is gained through control of the versatile psychic nature.
The goal is the full consciousness of the spiritual man, illumined by the Divine Light. Nothing except the obdurate resistance of the psychic nature keeps us back from the goal. The psychical powers are spiritual powers run wild, perverted, drawn from their proper channel. Therefore our first task is, to regain control of this perverted nature, to chasten, purify and restore the misplaced powers.
3. Then the Seer comes to consciousness in his proper nature.
Egotism is but the perversion of spiritual being. Ambition is the inversion of spiritual power. Passion is the distortion of love. The mortal is the limitation of the immortal. When these false images give place to true, then the spiritual man stands forth luminous, as the sun, when the clouds disperse.
4. Heretofore the Seer has been enmeshed in the activities of the psychic nature.
The power and life which are the heritage of the spiritual man have been caught and enmeshed in psychical activities. Instead of pure being in the Divine, there has been fretful, combative, egotism, its hand against every man. Instead of the light of pure vision, there have been restless senses and imaginings. Instead of spiritual joy, the undivided joy of pure being, there has been self-indulgence of body and mind. These are all real forces, but distorted from their true nature and goal. They must be extricated, like gems from the matrix, like the pith from the reed, steadily, without destructive violence. Spiritual powers are to be drawn forth from the psychic meshes.
5. The psychic activities are five; they are either subject or not subject to the five hindrances (Book II, 3).
The psychic nature is built up through the image-making power, the power which lies behind and dwells in mind-pictures. These pictures do not remain quiescent in the mind; they are kinetic, restless, stimulating to new acts. Thus the mind-image of an indulgence suggests and invites to a new indulgence; the picture of past joy is framed in regrets or hopes. And there is the ceaseless play of the desire to know, to penetrate to the essence of things, to classify. This, too, busies itself ceaselessly with the mind-images. So that we may classify the activities of the psychic nature thus:
6. These activities are: Sound intellection, unsound intellection, predication, sleep, memory.
We have here a list of mental and emotional powers; of powers that picture and observe, and of powers that picture and feel. But the power to know and feel is spiritual and immortal. What is needed is, not to destroy it, but to raise it from the psychical to the spiritual realm.
7. The elements of sound intellection are: direct observation, inductive reason, and trustworthy testimony.
Each of these is a spiritual power, thinly veiled. Direct observation is the outermost form of the Soul’s pure vision. Inductive reason rests on the great principles of continuity and correspondence; and these, on the supreme truth that all life is of the One. Trustworthy testimony, the sharing of one soul in the wisdom of another, rests on the ultimate oneness of all souls.
8. Unsound intellection is false understanding, not resting on a perception of the true nature of things.
When the object is not truly perceived, when the observation is inaccurate and faulty, thought or reasoning based on that mistaken perception is of necessity false and unsound.
9. Predication is carried on through words or thoughts not resting on an object perceived.
The purpose of this Sutra is, to distinguish between the mental process of predication, and observation, induction or testimony. Predication is the attribution of a quality or action to a subject, by adding to it a predicate. In the sentence, “the man is wise,” “the man” is the subject; “is wise” is the predicate. This may be simply an interplay of thoughts, without the presence of the object thought of; or the things thought of may be imaginary or unreal; while observation, induction and testimony always go back to an object.
10. Sleep is the psychic condition which rests on mind states, all material things being absent.
In waking life, we have two currents of perception; an outer current of physical things seen and heard and perceived; an inner current of mind-images and thoughts. The outer current ceases in sleep; the inner current continues, and watching the mind-images float before the field of consciousness, we “dream.” Even when there are no dreams, there is still a certain consciousness in sleep, so that, on waking, one says, “I have slept well,” or “I have slept badly.”
11. Memory is holding to mind-images of things perceived, without modifying them.
Here, as before, the mental power is explained in terms of mind-images, which are the material of which the psychic world is built, Therefore the sages teach that the world of our perception, which is indeed a world of mind-images, is but the wraith or shadow of the real and everlasting world. In this sense, memory is but the psychical inversion of the spiritual, ever-present vision. That which is ever before the spiritual eye of the Seer needs not to be remembered.
12. The control of these psychic activities comes through the right use of the will, and through ceasing from self-indulgence.
If these psychical powers and energies, even such evil things as passion and hate and fear, are but spiritual powers fallen and perverted, how are we to bring about their release and restoration? Two means are presented to us: the awakening of the spiritual will, and the purification of mind and thought.
13. The right use of the will is the steady effort to stand in spiritual being.
We have thought of ourselves, perhaps, as creatures moving upon this earth, rather helpless, at the mercy of storm and hunger and our enemies. We are to think of ourselves as immortals, dwelling in the Light, encompassed and sustained by spiritual powers. The steady effort to hold this thought will awaken dormant and unrealized powers, which will unveil to us the nearness of the Eternal.
14. This becomes a firm resting-place, when followed long, persistently, with earnestness.
We must seek spiritual life in conformity with the laws of spiritual life, with earnestness, humility, gentle charity, which is an acknowledgment of the One Soul within us all. Only through obedience to that shared Life, through perpetual remembrance of our oneness with all Divine Being, our nothingness apart from Divine Being, can we enter our inheritance.
15. Ceasing from self-indulgence is conscious mastery over the thirst for sensuous pleasure here or hereafter.
Rightly understood, the desire for sensation is the desire of being, the distortion of the soul’s eternal life. The lust of sensual stimulus and excitation rests on the longing to feel one’s life keenly, to gain the sense of being really alive. This sense of true life comes only with the coming of the soul, and the soul comes only in silence, after self-indulgence has been courageously and loyally stilled, through reverence before the coming soul.
16. The consummation of this is freedom from thirst for any mode of psychical activity, through the establishment of the spiritual man.
In order to gain a true understanding of this teaching, study must be supplemented by devoted practice, faith by works. The reading of the words will not avail. There must be a real effort to stand as the Soul, a real ceasing from self-indulgence. With this awakening of the spiritual will, and purification, will come at once the growth of the spiritual man and our awakening consciousness as the spiritual man; and this, attained in even a small degree, will help us notably in our contest. To him that hath, shall be given.
17. Meditation with an object follows these stages: first, exterior examining, then interior judicial action, then joy, then realization of individual being.
In the practice of meditation, a beginning may be made by fixing the attention upon some external object, such as a sacred image or picture, or a part of a book of devotion. In the second stage, one passes from the outer object to an inner pondering upon its lessons. The third stage is the inspiration, the heightening of the spiritual will, which results from this pondering. The fourth stage is the realization of one’s spiritual being, as enkindled by this meditation.
18. After the exercise of the will has stilled the psychic activities, meditation rests only on the fruit of former meditations.
In virtue of continued practice and effort, the need of an external object on which to rest the meditation is outgrown. An interior state of spiritual consciousness is reached, which is called “the cloud of things knowable” (Book IV, 29).
19. Subjective consciousness arising from a natural cause is possessed by those who have laid aside their bodies and been absorbed into subjective nature.
Those who have died, entered the paradise between births, are in a condition resembling meditation without an external object. But in the fullness of time, the seeds of desire in them will spring up, and they will be born again into this world.
20. For the others, there is spiritual consciousness, led up to by faith, valour right mindfulness, one-pointedness, perception.
It is well to keep in mind these steps on the path to illumination: faith, valour, right mindfulness, one-pointedness, perception. Not one can be dispensed with; all must be won. First faith; and then from faith, valour; from valour, right mindfulness; from right mindfulness, a one-pointed aspiration toward the soul; from this, perception; and finally, full vision as the soul.
21. Spiritual consciousness is nearest to those of keen, intense will.
The image used is the swift impetus of the torrent; the kingdom must be taken by force. Firm will comes only through effort; effort is inspired by faith. The great secret is this: it is not enough to have intuitions; we must act on them; we must live them.
22. The will may be weak, or of middle strength, or intense. Therefore there is a spiritual consciousness higher than this.
For those of weak will, there is this counsel: to be faithful in obedience, to live the life, and thus to strengthen the will to more perfect obedience. The will is not ours, but God’s, and we come into it only through obedience. As we enter into the spirit of God, we are permitted to share the power of God.
Higher than the three stages of the way is the goal, the end of the way.
23. Or spiritual consciousness may be gained by ardent service of the Master.
If we think of our lives as tasks laid on us by the Master of Life, if we look on all duties as parts of that Master’s work, entrusted to us, and forming our life-work; then, if we obey, promptly, loyally, sincerely, we shall enter by degrees into the Master’s life and share the Master’s power. Thus we shall be initiated into the spiritual will.
24. The Master is the spiritual man, who is free from hindrances, bondage to works, and the fruition and seed of works.
The Soul of the Master, the Lord, is of the same nature as the soul in us; but we still bear the burden of many evils, we are in bondage through our former works, we are under the dominance of sorrow. The Soul of the Master is free from sin and servitude and sorrow.
25. In the Master is the perfect seed of Omniscience.
The Soul of the Master is in essence one with the Oversoul, and therefore partaker of the Oversoul’s all-wisdom and all-power. All spiritual attainment rests on this, and is possible because the soul and the Oversoul are One.
26. He is the Teacher of all who have gone before, since he is not limited by Time.
From the beginning, the Oversoul has been the Teacher of all souls, which, by their entrance into the Oversoul, by realizing their oneness with the Oversoul, have inherited the kingdom of the Light. For the Oversoul is before Time, and Time, father of all else, is one of His children.
27. His word is OM.
OM: the symbol of the Three in One, the three worlds in the Soul; the three times, past, present, future, in Eternity; the three Divine Powers, Creation, Preservation, Transformation, in the one Being; the three essences, immortality, omniscience, joy, in the one Spirit. This is the Word, the Symbol, of the Master and Lord, the perfected Spiritual Man.
28. Let there be soundless repetition of OM and meditation thereon.
This has many meanings, in ascending degrees. There is, first, the potency of the word itself, as of all words. Then there is the manifold significance of the symbol, as suggested above. Lastly, there is the spiritual realization of the high essences thus symbolized. Thus we rise step by step to the Eternal.
29. Thence come the awakening of interior consciousness, and the removal of barriers.
Here again faith must be supplemented by works, the life must be led as well as studied, before the full meaning can be understood. The awakening of spiritual consciousness can only be understood in measure as it is entered. It can only be entered where the conditions are present: purity of heart, and strong aspiration, and the resolute conquest of each sin.
This, however, may easily be understood: that the recognition of the three worlds as resting in the Soul leads us to realize ourselves and all life as of the Soul; that, as we dwell, not in past, present or future, but in the Eternal, we become more at one with the Eternal; that, as we view all organization, preservation, mutation as the work of the Divine One, we shall come more into harmony with the One, and thus remove the barriers in our path toward the Light.
In the second part of the first book, the problem of the emergence of the spiritual man is further dealt with. We are led to the consideration of the barriers to his emergence, of the overcoming of the barriers, and of certain steps and stages in the ascent from the ordinary consciousness of practical life, to the finer, deeper, radiant consciousness of the spiritual man.
30. The barriers to interior consciousness, which drive the psychic nature this way and that, are these: sickness, inertia, doubt, light-mindedness, laziness, intemperance, false notions, inability to reach a stage of meditation, or to hold it when reached.
We must remember that we are considering the spiritual man as enwrapped and enmeshed by the psychic nature, the emotional and mental powers; and as unable to come to clear consciousness, unable to stand and see clearly, because of the psychic veils of the personality. Nine of these are enumerated, and they go pretty thoroughly into the brute toughness of the psychic nature.
Sickness is included rather for its effect on the emotions and mind, since bodily infirmity, such as blindness or deafness, is no insuperable barrier to spiritual life, and may sometimes be a help, as cutting off distractions. It will be well for us to ponder over each of these nine activities, thinking of each as a psychic state, a barrier to the interior consciousness of the spiritual man.
31. Grieving, despondency, bodily restlessness, the drawing in and sending forth of the life-breath also contribute to drive the psychic nature to and fro.
The first two moods are easily understood. We can well see how a sodden psychic condition, flagrantly opposed to the pure and positive joy of spiritual life, would be a barrier. The next, bodily restlessness, is in a special way the fault of our day and generation. When it is conquered, mental restlessness will be half conquered, too.
The next two terms, concerning the life-breath, offer some difficulty. The surface meaning is harsh and irregular breathing; the deeper meaning is a life of harsh and irregular impulses.
32. Steady application to a principle is the way to put a stop to these.
The will, which, in its pristine state, was full of vigour, has been steadily corrupted by self-indulgence, the seeking of moods and sensations for sensation’s sake. Hence come all the morbid and sickly moods of the mind. The remedy is a return to the pristine state of the will, by vigorous, positive effort; or, as we are here told, by steady application to a principle. The principle to which we should thus steadily apply ourselves should be one arising from the reality of spiritual life; valorous work for the soul, in others as in ourselves.
33. By sympathy with the happy, compassion for the sorrowful, delight in the holy, disregard of the unholy, the psychic nature moves to gracious peace.
When we are wrapped up in ourselves, shrouded with the cloak of our egotism, absorbed in our pains and bitter thoughts, we are not willing to disturb or strain our own sickly mood by giving kindly sympathy to the happy, thus doubling their joy, or by showing compassion for the sad, thus halving their sorrow. We refuse to find delight in holy things, and let the mind brood in sad pessimism on unholy things. All these evil psychic moods must be conquered by strong effort of will. This rending of the veils will reveal to us something of the grace and peace which are of the interior consciousness of the spiritual man.
34. Or peace may be reached by the even sending forth and control of the life-breath.
Here again we may look for a double meaning: first, that even and quiet breathing which is a part of the victory over bodily restlessness; then the even and quiet tenor of life, without harsh or dissonant impulses, which brings stillness to the heart.
35. Faithful, persistent application to any object, if completely attained, will bind the mind to steadiness.
We are still considering how to overcome the wavering and perturbation of the psychic nature, which make it quite unfit to transmit the inward consciousness and stillness. We are once more told to use the will, and to train it by steady and persistent work: by “sitting close” to our work, in the phrase of the original.
36. As also will a joyful, radiant spirit.
There is no such illusion as gloomy pessimism, and it has been truly said that a man’s cheerfulness is the measure of his faith. Gloom, despondency, the pale cast of thought, are very amenable to the will. Sturdy and courageous effort will bring a clear and valorous mind. But it must always be remembered that this is not for solace to the personal man, but is rather an offering to the ideal of spiritual life, a contribution to the universal and universally shared treasure in heaven.
37. Or the purging of self-indulgence from the psychic nature.
We must recognize that the fall of man is a reality, exemplified in our own persons. We have quite other sins than the animals, and far more deleterious; and they have all come through self-indulgence, with which our psychic natures are soaked through and through. As we climbed down hill for our pleasure, so must we climb up again for our purification and restoration to our former high estate. The process is painful, perhaps, yet indispensable.
38. Or a pondering on the perceptions gained in dreams and dreamless sleep.
For the Eastern sages, dreams are, it is true, made up of images of waking life, reflections of what the eyes have seen and the ears heard. But dreams are something more, for the images are in a sense real, objective on their own plane; and the knowledge that there is another world, even a dream-world, lightens the tyranny of material life. Much of poetry and art is such a solace from dreamland. But there is more in dream, for it may image what is above, as well as what is below; not only the children of men, but also the children by the shore of the immortal sea that brought us hither, may throw their images on this magic mirror: so, too, of the secrets of dreamless sleep with its pure vision, in even greater degree.
39. Or meditative brooding on what is dearest to the heart.
Here is a thought which our own day is beginning to grasp: that love is a form of knowledge; that we truly know any thing or any person, by becoming one therewith, in love. Thus love has a wisdom that the mind cannot claim, and by this hearty love, this becoming one with what is beyond our personal borders, we may take a long step toward freedom. Two directions for this may be suggested: the pure love of the artist for his work, and the earnest, compassionate search into the hearts of others.
40. Thus he masters all, from the atom to the Infinite.
Newton was asked how he made his discoveries. By intending my mind on them, he replied. This steady pressure, this becoming one with what we seek to understand, whether it be atom or soul, is the one means to know. When we become a thing, we really know it, not otherwise. Therefore live the life, to know the doctrine; do the will of the Father, if you would know the Father.
41. When the perturbations of the psychic nature have all been stilled, then the consciousness, like a pure crystal, takes the colour of what it rests on, whether that be the perceiver, perceiving, or the thing perceived.
This is a fuller expression of the last Sutra, and is so lucid that comment can hardly add to it. Everything is either perceiver, perceiving, or the thing perceived; or, as we might say, consciousness, force, or matter. The sage tells us that the one key will unlock the secrets of all three, the secrets of consciousness, force and matter alike. The thought is, that the cordial sympathy of a gentle heart, intuitively understanding the hearts of others, is really a manifestation of the same power as that penetrating perception whereby one divines the secrets of planetary motions or atomic structure.
42. When the consciousness, poised in perceiving, blends together the name, the object dwelt on and the idea, this is perception with exterior consideration.
In the first stage of the consideration of an external object, the perceiving mind comes to it, preoccupied by the name and idea conventionally associated with that object. For example, in coming to the study of a book, we think of the author, his period, the school to which he belongs. The second stage, set forth in the next Sutra, goes directly to the spiritual meaning of the book, setting its traditional trappings aside and finding its application to our own experience and problems.
The commentator takes a very simple illustration: a cow, where one considers, in the first stage, the name of the cow, the animal itself and the idea of a cow in the mind. In the second stage, one pushes these trappings aside and, entering into the inmost being of the cow, shares its consciousness, as do some of the artists who paint cows. They get at the very life of what they study and paint.
43. When the object dwells in the mind, clear of memory-pictures, uncoloured by the mind, as a pure luminous idea, this is perception without exterior or consideration.
We are still considering external, visible objects. Such perception as is here described is of the nature of that penetrating vision whereby Newton, intending his mind on things, made his discoveries, or that whereby a really great portrait painter pierces to the soul of him whom he paints, and makes that soul live on canvas. These stages of perception are described in this way, to lead the mind up to an understanding of the piercing soul-vision of the spiritual man, the immortal.
44. The same two steps, when referring to things of finer substance, are said to be with, or without, judicial action of the mind.
We now come to mental or psychical objects: to images in the mind. It is precisely by comparing, arranging and superposing these mind-images that we get our general notions or concepts. This process of analysis and synthesis, whereby we select certain qualities in a group of mind-images, and then range together those of like quality, is the judicial action of the mind spoken of. But when we exercise swift divination upon the mind images, as does a poet or a man of genius, then we use a power higher than the judicial, and one nearer to the keen vision of the spiritual man.
45. Subtle substance rises in ascending degrees, to that pure nature which has no distinguishing mark.
As we ascend from outer material things which are permeated by separateness, and whose chief characteristic is to be separate, just as so many pebbles are separate from each other; as we ascend, first, to mind-images, which overlap and coalesce in both space and time, and then to ideas and principles, we finally come to purer essences, drawing ever nearer and nearer to unity.
Or we may illustrate this principle thus. Our bodily, external selves are quite distinct and separate, in form, name, place, substance; our mental selves, of finer substance, meet and part, meet and part again, in perpetual concussion and interchange; our spiritual selves attain true consciousness through unity, where the partition wall between us and the Highest, between us and others, is broken down and we are all made perfect in the One. The highest riches are possessed by all pure souls, only when united. Thus we rise from separation to true individuality in unity.
46. The above are the degrees of limited and conditioned spiritual consciousness, still containing the seed of separateness.
In the four stages of perception above described, the spiritual vision is still working through the mental and psychical, the inner genius is still expressed through the outer, personal man. The spiritual man has yet to come completely to consciousness as himself, in his own realm, the psychical veils laid aside.
47. When pure perception without judicial action of the mind is reached, there follows the gracious peace of the inner self.
We have instanced certain types of this pure perception: the poet’s divination, whereby he sees the spirit within the symbol, likeness in things unlike, and beauty in all things; the pure insight of the true philosopher, whose vision rests not on the appearances of life, but on its realities; or the saint’s firm perception of spiritual life and being. All these are far advanced on the way; they have drawn near to the secret dwelling of peace.
48. In that peace, perception is unfailingly true.
The poet, the wise philosopher and the saint not only reach a wide and luminous consciousness, but they gain certain knowledge of substantial reality. When we know, we know that we know. For we have come to the stage where we know things by being them, and nothing can be more true than being. We rest on the rock, and know it to be rock, rooted in the very heart of the world.
49. The object of this perception is other than what is learned from the sacred books, or by sound inference, since this perception is particular.
The distinction is a luminous and inspiring one. The Scriptures teach general truths, concerning universal spiritual life and broad laws, and inference from their teaching is not less general. But the spiritual perception of the awakened Seer brings particular truth concerning his own particular life and needs, whether these be for himself or others. He receives defined, precise knowledge, exactly applying to what he has at heart.
50. The impress on the consciousness springing from this perception supersedes all previous impressions.
Each state or field of the mind, each field of knowledge, so to speak, which is reached by mental and emotional energies, is a psychical state, just as the mind picture of a stage with the actors on it, is a psychical state or field. When the pure vision, as of the poet, the philosopher, the saint, fills the whole field, all lesser views and visions are crowded out. This high consciousness displaces all lesser consciousness. Yet, in a certain sense, that which is viewed as part, even by the vision of a sage, has still an element of illusion, a thin psychical veil, however pure and luminous that veil may be. It is the last and highest psychic state.
51. When this impression ceases, then, since all impressions have ceased, there arises pure spiritual consciousness, with no seed of separateness left.
The last psychic veil is drawn aside, and the spiritual man stands with unveiled vision, pure serene.
End of Book I
Introduction to Book II
The first book of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is called the Book of Spiritual Consciousness. The second book, which we now begin, is the Book of the Means of Soul Growth. And we must remember that soul growth here means the growth of the realization of the spiritual man, or, to put the matter more briefly, the growth of the spiritual man, and the disentangling of the spiritual man from the wrappings, the veils, the disguises laid upon him by the mind and the psychical nature, wherein he is enmeshed, like a bird caught in a net.
The question arises: By what means may the spiritual man be freed from these psychical meshes and disguises, so that he may stand forth above death, in his radiant eternalness and divine power? And the second book sets itself to answer this very question, and to detail the means in a way entirely practical and very lucid, so that he who runs may read, and he who reads may understand and practise.
The second part of the second book is concerned with practical spiritual training, that is, with the earlier practical training of the spiritual man.
The most striking thing in it is the emphasis laid on the Commandments, which are precisely those of the latter part of the Decalogue, together with obedience to the Master. Our day and generation is far too prone to fancy that there can be mystical life and growth on some other foundation, on the foundation, for example, of intellectual curiosity or psychical selfishness. In reality, on this latter foundation the life of the spiritual man can never be built; nor, indeed, anything but a psychic counterfeit, a dangerous delusion.
Therefore Patanjali, like every great spiritual teacher, meets the question: What must I do to be saved? with the age-old answer: Keep the Commandments. Only after the disciple can say, These have I kept, can there be the further and finer teaching of the spiritual Rules.
It is, therefore, vital for us to realize that the Yoga system, like every true system of spiritual teaching, rests on this broad and firm foundation of honesty, truth, cleanness, obedience. Without these, there is no salvation; and he who practices these, even though ignorant of spiritual things, is laying up treasure against the time to come.
1. The practices which make for union with the Soul are: fervent aspiration, spiritual reading, and complete obedience to the Master.
The word which I have rendered “fervent aspiration” means primarily “fire”; and, in the Eastern teaching, it means the fire which gives life and light, and at the same time the fire which purifies. We have, therefore, as our first practice, as the first of the means of spiritual growth, that fiery quality of the will which enkindles and illumines, and, at the same time, the steady practice of purification, the burning away of all known impurities. Spiritual reading is so universally accepted and understood, that it needs no comment. The very study of Patanjali’s Sutras is an exercise in spiritual reading, and a very effective one. And so with all other books of the Soul. Obedience to the Master means, that we shall make the will of the Master our will, and shall confirm in all ways to the will of the Divine, setting aside the wills of self, which are but psychic distortions of the one Divine Will. The constant effort to obey in all the ways we know and understand, will reveal new ways and new tasks, the evidence of new growth of the Soul. Nothing will do more for the spiritual man in us than this, for there is no such regenerating power as the awakening spiritual will.
2. Their aim is, to bring soul-vision, and to wear away hindrances.
The aim of fervour, spiritual reading and obedience to the Master, is, to bring soul-vision, and to wear away hindrances. Or, to use the phrase we have already adopted, the aim of these practices is, to help the spiritual man to open his eyes; to help him also to throw aside the veils and disguises, the enmeshing psychic nets which surround him, tying his hands, as it were, and bandaging his eyes. And this, as all teachers testify, is a long and arduous task, a steady up-hill fight, demanding fine courage and persistent toil. Fervour, the fire of the spiritual will, is, as we said, two-fold: it illumines, and so helps the spiritual man to see; and it also burns up the nets and meshes which ensnare the spiritual man. So with the other means, spiritual reading and obedience. Each, in its action, is two-fold, wearing away the psychical, and upbuilding the spiritual man.
3. These are the hindrances: the darkness of unwisdom, self-assertion, lust, hate, attachment.
Let us try to translate this into terms of the psychical and spiritual man. The darkness of unwisdom is, primarily, the self-absorption of the psychical man, his complete preoccupation with his own hopes and fears, plans and purposes, sensations and desires; so that he fails to see, or refuses to see, that there is a spiritual man; and so doggedly resists all efforts of the spiritual man to cast off his psychic tyrant and set himself free. This is the real darkness; and all those who deny the immortality of the soul, or deny the soul’s existence, and so lay out their lives wholly for the psychical, mortal man and his ambitions, are under this power of darkness. Born of this darkness, this psychic self-absorption, is the dogged conviction that the psychic, personal man has separate, exclusive interests, which he can follow for himself alone; and this conviction, when put into practice in our life, leads to contest with other personalities, and so to hate. This hate, again, makes against the spiritual man, since it hinders the revelation of the high harmony between the spiritual man and his other selves, a harmony to be revealed only through the practice of love, that perfect love which casts out fear.
In like manner, lust is the psychic man’s craving for the stimulus of sensation, the din of which smothers the voice of the spiritual man, as, in Shakespeare’s phrase, the cackling geese would drown the song of the nightingale. And this craving for stimulus is the fruit of weakness, coming from the failure to find strength in the primal life of the spiritual man.
Attachment is but another name for psychic self-absorption; for we are absorbed, not in outward things, but rather in their images within our minds; our inner eyes are fixed on them; our inner desires brood over them; and em we blind ourselves to the presence of the prisoner, the enmeshed and fettered spiritual man.
4. The darkness of unwisdom is the field of the others. These hindrances may be dormant, or worn thin, or suspended, or expanded.
Here we have really two Sutras in one. The first has been explained already: in the darkness of unwisdom grow the parasites, hate, lust, attachment. They are all outgrowths of the self-absorption of the psychical self.
Next, we are told that these barriers may be either dormant, or suspended, or expanded, or worn thin. Faults which are dormant will be brought out through the pressure of life, or through the pressure of strong aspiration. Thus expanded, they must be fought and conquered, or, as Patanjali quaintly says, they must be worn thin,—as a veil might, or the links of manacles.
5. The darkness of ignorance is: holding that which is unenduring, impure, full of pain, not the Soul, to be eternal, pure, full of joy, the Soul.
This we have really considered already. The psychic man is unenduring, impure, full of pain, not the Soul, not the real Self. The spiritual man is enduring, pure, full of joy, the real Self. The darkness of unwisdom is, therefore, the self-absorption of the psychical, personal man, to the exclusion of the spiritual man. It is the belief, carried into action, that the personal man is the real man, the man for whom we should toil, for whom we should build, for whom we should live. This is that psychical man of whom it is said: he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption.
6. Self-assertion comes from thinking of the Seer and the instrument of vision as forming one self.
This is the fundamental idea of the Sankhya philosophy, of which the Yoga is avowedly the practical side. To translate this into our terms, we may say that the Seer is the spiritual man; the instrument of vision is the psychical man, through which the spiritual man gains experience of the outer world. But we turn the servant into the master. We attribute to the psychical man, the personal self, a reality which really belongs to the spiritual man alone; and so, thinking of the quality of the spiritual man as belonging to the psychical, we merge the spiritual man in the psychical; or, as the text says, we think of the two as forming one self.
7. Lust is the resting in the sense of enjoyment.
This has been explained again and again. Sensation, as, for example, the sense of taste, is meant to be the guide to action; in this case, the choice of wholesome food, and the avoidance of poisonous and hurtful things. But if we rest in the sense of taste, as a pleasure in itself; rest, that is, in the psychical side of taste, we fall into gluttony, and live to eat, instead of eating to live. So with the other great organic power, the power of reproduction. This lust comes into being, through resting in the sensation, and looking for pleasure from that.
8. Hate is the resting in the sense of pain.
Pain comes, for the most part, from the strife of personalities, the jarring discords between psychic selves, each of which deems itself supreme. A dwelling on this pain breeds hate, which tears the warring selves yet further asunder, and puts new enmity between them, thus hindering the harmony of the Real, the reconciliation through the Soul.
9. Attachment is the desire toward life, even in the wise, carried forward by its own energy.
The life here desired is the psychic life, the intensely vibrating life of the psychical self. This prevails even in those who have attained much wisdom, so long as it falls short of the wisdom of complete renunciation, complete obedience to each least behest of the spiritual man, and of the Master who guards and aids the spiritual man.
The desire of sensation, the desire of psychic life, reproduces itself, carried on by its own energy and momentum; and hence comes the circle of death and rebirth, death and rebirth, instead of the liberation of the spiritual man.
10. These hindrances, when they have become subtle, are to be removed by a counter-current.
The darkness of unwisdom is to be removed by the light of wisdom, pursued through fervour, spiritual reading of holy teachings and of life itself, and by obedience to the Master.
Lust is to be removed by pure aspiration of spiritual life, which, bringing true strength and stability, takes away the void of weakness which we try to fill by the stimulus of sensations.
Hate is to be overcome by love. The fear that arises through the sense of separate, warring selves is to be stilled by the realization of the One Self, the one soul in all. This realization is the perfect love that casts out fear.
The hindrances are said to have become subtle when, by initial efforts, they have been located and recognized in the psychic nature.
11. Their active turnings are to be removed by meditation.
Here is, in truth, the whole secret of Yoga, the science of the soul. The active turnings, the strident vibrations, of selfishness, lust and hate are to be stilled by meditation, by letting heart and mind dwell in spiritual life, by lifting up the heart to the strong, silent life above, which rests in the stillness of eternal love, and needs no harsh vibration to convince it of true being.
12. The burden of bondage to sorrow has its root in these hindrances. It will be felt in this life, or in a life not yet manifested.
The burden of bondage to sorrow has its root in the darkness of unwisdom, in selfishness, in lust, in hate, in attachment to sensation. All these are, in the last analysis, absorption in the psychical self; and this means sorrow, because it means the sense of separateness, and this means jarring discord and inevitable death. But the psychical self will breed a new psychical self, in a new birth, and so new sorrows in a life not yet manifest.
13. From this root there grow and ripen the fruits of birth, of the life-span, of all that is tasted in life.
Fully to comment on this, would be to write a treatise on Karma and its practical working in detail, whereby the place and time of the next birth, its content and duration, are determined; and to do this the present commentator is in no wise fitted. But this much is clearly understood: that, through a kind of spiritual gravitation, the incarnating self is drawn to a home and life-circle which will give it scope and discipline; and its need of discipline is clearly conditioned by its character, its standing, its accomplishment.
14. These bear fruits of rejoicing, or of affliction, as they are sprung from holy or unholy works.
Since holiness is obedience to divine law, to the law of divine harmony, and obedience to harmony strengthens that harmony in the soul, which is the one true joy, therefore joy comes of holiness: comes, indeed, in no other way. And as unholiness is disobedience, and therefore discord, therefore unholiness makes for pain; and this two-fold law is true, whether the cause take effect in this, or in a yet unmanifested birth.
15. To him who possesses discernment, all personal life is misery, because it ever waxes and wanes, is ever afflicted with restlessness, makes ever new dynamic impresses in the mind; and because all its activities war with each other.
The whole life of the psychic self is misery, because it ever waxes and wanes; because birth brings inevitable death; because there is no expectation without its shadow, fear. The life of the psychic self is misery, because it is afflicted with restlessness; so that he who has much, finds not satisfaction, but rather the whetted hunger for more. The fire is not quenched by pouring oil on it; so desire is not quenched by the satisfaction of desire. Again, the life of the psychic self is misery, because it makes ever new dynamic impresses in the mind; because a desire satisfied is but the seed from which springs the desire to find like satisfaction again. The appetite comes in eating, as the proverb says, and grows by what it feeds on. And the psychic self, torn with conflicting desires, is ever the house divided against itself, which must surely fall.
16. This pain is to be warded off, before it has come.
In other words, we cannot cure the pains of life by laying on them any balm. We must cut the root, absorption in the psychical self. So it is said, there is no cure for the misery of longing, but to fix the heart upon the eternal.
17. The cause of what is to be warded off, is the absorption of the Seer in things seen.
Here again we have the fundamental idea of the Sankhya, which is the intellectual counterpart of the Yoga system. The cause of what is to be warded off, the root of misery, is the absorption of consciousness in the psychical man and the things which beguile the psychical man. The cure is liberation.
18. Things seen have as their property manifestation, action, inertia. They form the basis of the elements and the sense-powers. They make for experience and for liberation.
Here is a whole philosophy of life. Things seen, the total of the phenomena, possess as their property, manifestation, action, inertia: the qualities of force and matter in combination. These, in their grosser form, make the material world; in their finer, more subjective form, they make the psychical world, the world of sense-impressions and mind-images. And through this totality of the phenomenal, the soul gains experience, and is prepared for liberation. In other words, the whole outer world exists for the purposes of the soul, and finds in this its true reason for being.
19. The grades or layers of the Three Potencies are the defined, the undefined, that with distinctive mark, that without distinctive mark.
Or, as we might say, there are two strata of the physical, and two strata of the psychical realms. In each, there is the side of form, and the side of force. The form side of the physical is here called the defined. The force side of the physical is the undefined, that which has no boundaries. So in the psychical; there is the form side; that with distinctive marks, such as the characteristic features of mind-images; and there is the force side, without distinctive marks, such as the forces of desire or fear, which may flow now to this mind-image, now to that.
20. The Seer is pure vision. Though pure, he looks out through the vesture of the mind.
The Seer, as always, is the spiritual man whose deepest consciousness is pure vision, the pure life of the eternal. But the spiritual man, as yet unseeing in his proper person, looks out on the world through the eyes of the psychical man, by whom he is enfolded and enmeshed. The task is, to set this prisoner free, to clear the dust of ages from this buried temple.
21. The very essence of things seen is, that they exist for the Seer.
The things of outer life, not only material things, but the psychic man also, exist in very deed for the purposes of the Seer, the Soul, the spiritual man. Disaster comes, when the psychical man sets up, so to speak, on his own account, trying to live for himself alone, and taking material things to solace his loneliness.
22. Though fallen away from him who has reached the goal, things seen have not altogether fallen away, since they still exist for others.
When one of us conquers hate, hate does not thereby cease out of the world, since others still hate and suffer hatred. So with other delusions, which hold us in bondage to material things, and through which we look at all material things. When the coloured veil of illusion is gone, the world which we saw through it is also gone, for now we see life as it is, in the white radiance of eternity. But for others the coloured veil remains, and therefore the world thus coloured by it remains for them, and will remain till they, too, conquer delusion.
23. The association of the Seer with things seen is the cause of the realizing of the nature of things seen, and also of the realizing of the nature of the Seer.
Life is educative. All life’s infinite variety is for discipline, for the development of the soul. So passing through many lives, the Soul learns the secrets of the world, the august laws that are written in the form of the snow-crystal or the majestic order of the stars. Yet all these laws are but reflections, but projections outward, of the laws of the soul; therefore in learning these, the soul learns to know itself. All life is but the mirror wherein the Soul learns to know its own face.
24. The cause of this association is the darkness of unwisdom.
The darkness of unwisdom is the absorption of consciousness in the personal life, and in the things seen by the personal life. This is the fall, through which comes experience, the learning of the lessons of life. When they are learned, the day of redemption is at hand.
25. The bringing of this association to an end, by bringing the darkness of unwisdom to an end, is the great liberation; this is the Seer’s attainment of his own pure being.
When the spiritual man has, through the psychical, learned all life’s lessons, the time has come for him to put off the veil and disguise of the psychical and to stand revealed a King, in the house of the Father. So shall he enter into his kingdom, and go no more out.
26. A discerning which is carried on without wavering is the means of liberation.
Here we come close to the pure Vedanta, with its discernment between the eternal and the temporal. St. Paul, following after Philo and Plato, lays down the same fundamental principle: the things seen are temporal, the things unseen are eternal.
Patanjali means something more than an intellectual assent, though this too is vital. He has in view a constant discriminating in act as well as thought; of the two ways which present themselves for every deed or choice, always to choose the higher way, that which makes for the things eternal: honesty rather than roguery, courage and not cowardice, the things of another rather than one’s own, sacrifice and not indulgence. This true discernment, carried out constantly, makes for liberation.
27. His illumination is seven-fold, rising in successive stages.
Patanjali’s text does not tell us what the seven stages of this illumination are. The commentator thus describes them:
“First, the danger to be escaped is recognized; it need not be recognized a second time. Second, the causes of the danger to be escaped are worn away; they need not be worn away a second time. Third, the way of escape is clearly perceived, by the contemplation which checks psychic perturbation. Fourth, the means of escape, clear discernment, has been developed. This is the fourfold release belonging to insight. The final release from the psychic is three-fold: As fifth of the seven degrees, the dominance of its thinking is ended; as sixth, its potencies, like rocks from a precipice, fall of themselves; once dissolved, they do not grow again. Then, as seventh, freed from these potencies, the spiritual man stands forth in his own nature as purity and light. Happy is the spiritual man who beholds this seven-fold illumination in its ascending stages.”
28. From steadfastly following after the means of Yoga, until impurity is worn away, there comes the illumination of thought up to full discernment.
Here, we enter on the more detailed practical teaching of Patanjali, with its sound and luminous good sense. And when we come to detail the means of Yoga, we may well be astonished at their simplicity. There is little in them that is mysterious. They are very familiar. The essence of the matter lies in carrying them out.
29. The eight means of Yoga are: the Commandments, the Rules, right Poise, right Control of the life-force, Withdrawal, Attention, Meditation, Contemplation.
These eight means are to be followed in their order, in the sense which will immediately be made clear. We can get a ready understanding of the first two by comparing them with the Commandments which must be obeyed by all good citizens, and the Rules which are laid on the members of religious orders. Until one has fulfilled the first, it is futile to concern oneself with the second. And so with all the means of Yoga. They must be taken in their order.
30. The Commandments are these: non-injury, truthfulness, abstaining from stealing, from impurity, from covetousness.
These five precepts are almost exactly the same as the Buddhist Commandments: not to kill, not to steal, not to be guilty of incontinence, not to drink intoxicants, to speak the truth. Almost identical is St. Paul’s list: Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet. And in the same spirit is the answer made to the young man having great possessions, who asked, “What shall I do to be saved?” and received the reply: “Keep the Commandments.”
This broad, general training, which forms and develops human character, must be accomplished to a very considerable degree, before there can be much hope of success in the further stages of spiritual life. First the psychical, and then the spiritual. First the man, then the angel.
On this broad, humane and wise foundation does the system of Patanjali rest.
31. The Commandments, not limited to any race, place, time or occasion, universal, are the great obligation.
The Commandments form the broad general training of humanity. Each one of them rests on a universal, spiritual law. Each one of them expresses an attribute or aspect of the Self, the Eternal; when we violate one of the Commandments, we set ourselves against the law and being of the Eternal, thereby bringing ourselves to inevitable confusion. So the first steps in spiritual life must be taken by bringing ourselves into voluntary obedience to these spiritual laws and thus making ourselves partakers of the spiritual powers, the being of the Eternal. Like the law of gravity, the need of air to breathe, these great laws know no exceptions They are in force in all lands, throughout all times, for all mankind.
32. The Rules are these: purity, serenity, fervent aspiration, spiritual reading, and perfect obedience to the Master.
Here we have a finer law, one which humanity as a whole is less ready for, less fit to obey. Yet we can see that these Rules are the same in essence as the Commandments, but on a higher, more spiritual plane. The Commandments may be obeyed in outer acts and abstinences; the Rules demand obedience of the heart and spirit, a far more awakened and more positive consciousness. The Rules are the spiritual counterpart of the Commandments, and they have finer degrees, for more advanced spiritual growth.
33. When transgressions hinder, the weight of the imagination should be thrown on the opposite side.
Let us take a simple case, that of a thief, a habitual criminal, who has drifted into stealing in childhood, before the moral consciousness has awakened. We may imprison such a thief, and deprive him of all possibility of further theft, or of using the divine gift of will. Or we may recognize his disadvantages, and help him gradually to build up possessions which express his will, and draw forth his self-respect. If we imagine that, after he has built well, and his possessions have become dear to him, he himself is robbed, then we can see how he would come vividly to realize the essence of theft and of honesty, and would cleave to honest dealings with firm conviction. In some such way does the great Law teach us. Our sorrows and losses teach us the pain of the sorrow and loss we inflict on others, and so we cease to inflict them.
Now as to the more direct application. To conquer a sin, let heart and mind rest, not on the sin, but on the contrary virtue. Let the sin be forced out by positive growth in the true direction, not by direct opposition. Turn away from the sin and go forward courageously, constructively, creatively, in well-doing. In this way the whole nature will gradually be drawn up to the higher level, on which the sin does not even exist. The conquest of a sin is a matter of growth and evolution, rather than of opposition.
34. Transgressions are injury, falsehood, theft, incontinence, envy; whether committed, or caused, or assented to, through greed, wrath, or infatuation; whether faint, or middling, or excessive; bearing endless fruit of ignorance and pain. Therefore must the weight be cast on the other side.
Here are the causes of sin: greed, wrath, infatuation, with their effects, ignorance and pain. The causes are to be cured by better wisdom, by a truer understanding of the Self, of Life. For greed cannot endure before the realization that the whole world belongs to the Self, which Self we are; nor can we hold wrath against one who is one with the Self, and therefore with ourselves; nor can infatuation, which is the seeking for the happiness of the All in some limited part of it, survive the knowledge that we are heirs of the All. Therefore let thought and imagination, mind and heart, throw their weight on the other side; the side, not of the world, but of the Self.
35. Where non-injury is perfected, all enmity ceases in the presence of him who possesses it.
We come now to the spiritual powers which result from keeping the Commandments; from the obedience to spiritual law which is the keeping of the Commandments. Where the heart is full of kindness which seeks no injury to another, either in act or thought or wish, this full love creates an atmosphere of harmony, whose benign power touches with healing all who come within its influence. Peace in the heart radiates peace to other hearts, even more surely than contention breeds contention.
36. When he is perfected in truth, all acts and their fruits depend on him.
The commentator thus explains: “If he who has attained should say to a man, Become righteous! the man becomes righteous. If he should say, Gain heaven! the man gains heaven. His word is not in vain.”
Exactly the same doctrine was taught by the Master who said to his disciples: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
37. Where cessation from theft is perfected, all treasures present themselves to him who possesses it.
Here is a sentence which may warn us that, beside the outer and apparent meaning, there is in many of these sentences a second and finer significance. The obvious meaning is, that he who has wholly ceased from theft, in act, thought and wish, finds buried treasures in his path, treasures of jewels and gold and pearls. The deeper truth is, that he who in every least thing is wholly honest with the spirit of Life, finds Life supporting him in all things, and gains admittance to the treasure house of Life, the spiritual universe.
38. For him who is perfect in continence, the reward is valour and virility.
The creative power, strong and full of vigour, is no longer dissipated, but turned to spiritual uses. It upholds and endows the spiritual man, conferring on him the creative will, the power to engender spiritual children instead of bodily progeny. An epoch of life, that of man the animal, has come to an end; a new epoch, that of the spiritual man, is opened. The old creative power is superseded and transcended; a new creative power, that of the spiritual man, takes its place, carrying with it the power to work creatively in others for righteousness and eternal life.
One of the commentaries says that he who has attained is able to transfer to the minds of his disciples what he knows concerning divine union, and the means of gaining it. This is one of the powers of purity.
39. Where there is firm conquest of covetousness, he who has conquered it awakes to the how and why of life.
So it is said that, before we can understand the laws of Karma, we must free ourselves from Karma. The conquest of covetousness brings this rich fruit, because the root of covetousness is the desire of the individual soul, the will toward manifested life. And where the desire of the individual soul is overcome by the superb, still life of the universal Soul welling up in the heart within, the great secret is discerned, the secret that the individual soul is not an isolated reality, but the ray, the manifest instrument of the Life, which turns it this way and that until the great work is accomplished, the age-long lesson learned. Thus is the how and why of life disclosed by ceasing from covetousness. The Commentator says that this includes a knowledge of one’s former births.
40. Through purity comes a withdrawal from one’s own bodily life, a ceasing from infatuation with the bodily life of others.
As the spiritual light grows in the heart within, as the taste for pure Life grows stronger, the consciousness opens toward the great, secret places within, where all life is one, where all lives are one. Thereafter, this outer, manifested, fugitive life, whether of ourselves or of others, loses something of its charm and glamour, and we seek rather the deep infinitudes. Instead of the outer form and surroundings of our lives, we long for their inner and everlasting essence. We desire not so much outer converse and closeness to our friends, but rather that quiet communion with them in the inner chamber of the soul, where spirit speaks to spirit, and spirit answers; where alienation and separation never enter; where sickness and sorrow and death cannot come.
41. To the pure of heart come also a quiet spirit, one-pointed thought, the victory over sensuality, and fitness to behold the Soul.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, who is the supreme Soul; the ultimate Self of all beings. In the deepest sense, purity means fitness for this vision, and also a heart cleansed from all disquiet, from all wandering and unbridled thought, from the torment of sensuous imaginings; and when the spirit is thus cleansed and pure, it becomes at one in essence with its source, the great Spirit, the primal Life. One consciousness now thrills through both, for the psychic partition wall is broken down. Then shall the pure in heart see God, because they become God.
42. From acceptance, the disciple gains happiness supreme.
One of the wise has said: accept conditions, accept others, accept yourself. This is the true acceptance, for all these things are what they are through the will of the higher Self, except their deficiencies, which come through thwarting the will of the higher Self, and can be conquered only through compliance with that will. By the true acceptance, the disciple comes into oneness of spirit with the overruling Soul; and, since the own nature of the Soul is being, happiness, bliss, he comes thereby into happiness supreme.
43. The perfection of the powers of the bodily vesture comes through the wearing away of impurities, and through fervent aspiration.
This is true of the physical powers, and of those which dwell in the higher vestures. There must be, first, purity; as the blood must be pure, before one can attain to physical health. But absence of impurity is not in itself enough, else would many nerveless ascetics of the cloisters rank as high saints. There is needed, further, a positive fire of the will; a keen vital vigour for the physical powers, and something finer, purer, stronger, but of kindred essence, for the higher powers. The fire of genius is something more than a phrase, for there can be no genius without the celestial fire of the awakened spiritual will.
44. Through spiritual reading, the disciple gains communion with the divine Power on which his heart is set.
Spiritual reading meant, for ancient India, something more than it does with us. It meant, first, the recital of sacred texts, which, in their very sounds, had mystical potencies; and it meant a recital of texts which were divinely emanated, and held in themselves the living, potent essence of the divine.
For us, spiritual reading means a communing with the recorded teachings of the Masters of wisdom, whereby we read ourselves into the Master’s mind, just as through his music one can enter into the mind and soul of the master musician. It has been well said that all true art is contagion of feeling; so that through the true reading of true books we do indeed read ourselves into the spirit of the Masters, share in the atmosphere of their wisdom and power, and come at last into their very presence.
45. Soul-vision is perfected through perfect obedience to the Master.
The sorrow and darkness of life come of the erring personal will which sets itself against the will of the Soul, the one great Life. The error of the personal will is inevitable, since each will must be free to choose, to try and fail, and so to find the path. And sorrow and darkness are inevitable, until the path be found, and the personal will made once more one with the greater Will, wherein it finds rest and power, without losing freedom. In His will is our peace. And with that peace comes light. Soul-vision is perfected through obedience.
46. Right poise must be firm and without strain.
Here we approach a section of the teaching which has manifestly a two-fold meaning. The first is physical, and concerns the bodily position of the student, and the regulation of breathing. These things have their direct influence upon soul-life, the life of the spiritual man, since it is always and everywhere true that our study demands a sound mind in a sound body. The present sentence declares that, for work and for meditation, the position of the body must be steady and without strain, in order that the finer currents of life may run their course.
It applies further to the poise of the soul, that fine balance and stability which nothing can shake, where the consciousness rests on the firm foundation of spiritual being. This is indeed the house set upon a rock, which the winds and waves beat upon in vain.
47. Right poise is to be gained by steady and temperate effort, and by setting the heart upon the everlasting.
Here again, there is the two-fold meaning, for physical poise is to be gained by steady effort of the muscles, by gradual and wise training, linked with a right understanding of, and relation with, the universal force of gravity. Uprightness of body demands that both these conditions shall be fulfilled.
In like manner the firm and upright poise of the spiritual man is to be gained by steady and continued effort, always guided by wisdom, and by setting the heart on the Eternal, filling the soul with the atmosphere of the spiritual world. Neither is effective without the other. Aspiration without effort brings weakness; effort without aspiration brings a false strength, not resting on enduring things. The two together make for the right poise which sets the spiritual man firmly and steadfastly on his feet.
48. The fruit of right poise is the strength to resist the shocks of infatuation or sorrow.
In the simpler physical sense, which is also coveted by the wording of the original, this sentence means that wise effort establishes such bodily poise that the accidents of life cannot disturb it, as the captain remains steady, though disaster overtake his ship.
But the deeper sense is far more important. The spiritual man, too, must learn to withstand all shocks, to remain steadfast through the perturbations of external things and the storms and whirlwinds of the psychical world. This is the power which is gained by wise, continuous effort, and by filling the spirit with the atmosphere of the Eternal.
49. When this is gained, there follows the right guidance of the life-currents, the control of the incoming and outgoing breath.
It is well understood today that most of our maladies come from impure conditions of the blood. It is coming to be understood that right breathing, right oxygenation, will do very much to keep the blood clean and pure. Therefore a right knowledge of breathing is a part of the science of life.
But the deeper meaning is, that the spiritual man, when he has gained poise through right effort and aspiration, can stand firm, and guide the currents of his life, both the incoming current of events, and the outgoing current of his acts.
Exactly the same symbolism is used in the saying: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. . . . Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart . . . out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, uncleanness, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. Therefore the first step in purification is to keep the Commandments.
50. The life-current is either outward, or inward, or balanced; it is regulated according to place, time, number; it is prolonged and subtle.
The technical, physical side of this has its value. In the breath, there should be right inbreathing, followed by the period of pause, when the air comes into contact with the blood, and this again followed by right outbreathing, even, steady, silent. Further, the lungs should be evenly filled; many maladies may arise from the neglect and consequent weakening of some region of the lungs. And the number of breaths is so important, so closely related to health, that every nurse’s chart records it.
But the deeper meaning is concerned with the currents of life; with that which goeth into and cometh out of the heart.
51. The fourth degree transcends external and internal objects.
The inner meaning seems to be that, in addition to the three degrees of control already described, control, that is, over the incoming current of life, over the outgoing current, and over the condition of pause or quiesence, there is a fourth degree of control, which holds in complete mastery both the outer passage of events and the inner currents of thoughts and emotions; a condition of perfect poise and stability in the midst of the flux of things outward and inward.
52. Thereby is worn away the veil which covers up the light.
The veil is the psychic nature, the web of emotions, desires, argumentative trains of thought, which cover up and obscure the truth by absorbing the entire attention and keeping the consciousness in the psychic realm. When hopes and fears are reckoned at their true worth, in comparison with lasting possessions of the Soul; when the outer reflections of things have ceased to distract us from inner realities; when argumentative thought no longer entangles us, but yields its place to flashing intuition, the certainty which springs from within; then is the veil worn away, the consciousness is drawn from the psychical to the spiritual, from the temporal to the Eternal. Then is the light unveiled.
53. Thence comes the mind’s power to hold itself in the light.
It has been well said, that what we most need is the faculty of spiritual attention; and in the same direction of thought it has been eloquently declared that prayer does not consist in our catching God’s attention, but rather in our allowing God to hold our attention.
The vital matter is, that we need to disentangle our consciousness from the noisy and perturbed thraldom of the psychical, and to come to consciousness as the spiritual man. This we must do, first, by purification, through the Commandments and the Rules; and, second, through the faculty of spiritual attention, by steadily heeding endless fine intimations of the spiritual power within us, and by intending our consciousness thereto; thus by degrees transferring the center of consciousness from the psychical to the spiritual. It is a question, first, of love, and then of attention.
54. The right Withdrawal is the disengaging of the powers from entanglement in outer things, as the psychic nature has been withdrawn and stilled.
To understand this, let us reverse the process, and think of the one consciousness, centerd in the Soul, gradually expanding and taking on the form of the different perceptive powers; the one will, at the same time, differentiating itself into the varied powers of action.
Now let us imagine this to be reversed, so that the spiritual force, which has gone into the differentiated powers, is once more gathered together into the inner power of intuition and spiritual will, taking on that unity which is the hall-mark of spiritual things, as diversity is the seal of material things.
It is all a matter of love for the quality of spiritual consciousness, as against psychical consciousness, of love and attention. For where the heart is, there will the treasure be also; where the consciousness is, there will the vesture with its powers be developed.
55. Thereupon follows perfect mastery over the powers.
When the spiritual condition which we have described is reached, with its purity, poise, and illuminated vision, the spiritual man is coming into his inheritance, and gaining complete mastery of his powers.
Indeed, much of the struggle to keep the Commandments and the Rules has been paving the way for this mastery; through this very struggle and sacrifice the mastery has become possible; just as, to use St. Paul’s simile, the athlete gains the mastery in the contest and the race through the sacrifice of his long and arduous training. Thus he gains the crown.
End of Book II
Introduction to Book III
The third book of the Sutras is the Book of Spiritual Powers. In considering these spiritual powers, two things must be understood and kept in memory. The first of these is this: These spiritual powers can only be gained when the development described in the first and second books has been measurably attained; when the Commandments have been kept, the Rules faithfully followed, and the experiences which are described have been passed through. For only after this is the spiritual man so far grown, so far disentangled from the psychical bandages and veils which have confined and blinded him, that he can use his proper powers and faculties. For this is the secret of all spiritual powers: they are in no sense an abnormal or supernatural overgrowth upon the material man, but are rather the powers and faculties inherent in the spiritual man, entirely natural to him, and coming naturally into activity, as the spiritual man is disentangled and liberated from psychical bondage, through keeping the Commandments and Rules already set forth.
As the personal man is the limitation and inversion of the spiritual man, all his faculties and powers are inversions of the powers of the spiritual man. In a single phrase, his self seeking is the inversion of the Self-seeking which is the very being of the spiritual man: the ceaseless search after the divine and august Self of all beings. This inversion is corrected by keeping the Commandments and Rules, and gradually, as the inversion is overcome, the spiritual man is extricated, and comes into possession and free exercise of his powers. The spiritual powers, therefore, are the powers of the grown and liberated spiritual man. They can only be developed and used as the spiritual man grows and attains liberation through obedience. This is the first thing to be kept in mind, in all that is said of spiritual powers in the third and fourth books of the Sutras. The second thing to be understood and kept in mind is this:
Just as our modern sages have discerned and taught that all matter is ultimately one and eternal, definitely related throughout the whole wide universe; just as they have discerned and taught that all force is one and eternal, so coordinated throughout the whole universe that whatever affects any atom measurably affects the whole boundless realm of matter and force, to the most distant star or nebula on the dim confines of space; so the ancient sages had discerned and taught that all consciousness is one, immortal, indivisible, infinite; so finely correlated and continuous that whatever is perceived by any consciousness is, whether actually or potentially, within the reach of all consciousness, and therefore within the reach of any consciousness. This has been well expressed by saying that all souls are fundamentally one with the Oversoul; that the Son of God, and all Sons of God, are fundamentally one with the Father. When the consciousness is cleared of psychic bonds and veils, when the spiritual man is able to stand, to see, then this superb law comes into effect: whatever is within the knowledge of any consciousness, and this includes the whole infinite universe, is within his reach, and may, if he wills, be made a part of his consciousness. This he may attain through his fundamental unity with the Oversoul, by raising himself toward the consciousness above him, and drawing on its resources. The Son, if he would work miracles, whether of perception or of action, must come often into the presence of the Father. This is the birthright of the spiritual man; through it he comes into possession of his splendid and immortal powers. Let it be clearly kept in mind that what is here to be related of the spiritual man, and his exalted powers, must in no wise be detached from what has gone before. The being, the very inception, of the spiritual man depends on the purification and moral attainment already detailed, and can in no wise dispense with these or curtail them.
Let no one imagine that the true life, the true powers of the spiritual man, can be attained by any way except the hard way of sacrifice, of trial, of renunciation, of selfless self-conquest and genuine devotion to the weal of all others. Only thus can the golden gates be reached and entered. Only thus can we attain to that pure world wherein the spiritual man lives, and moves, and has his being. Nothing impure, nothing unholy can ever cross that threshold, least of all impure motives or self seeking desires. These must be burnt away before an entrance to that world can be gained.
But where there is light, there is shadow; and the lofty light of the soul casts upon the clouds of the mid-world the shadow of the spiritual man and of his powers; the bastard vesture and the bastard powers of psychism are easily attained; yet, even when attained, they are a delusion, the very essence of unreality.
Therefore ponder well the earlier rules, and lay a firm foundation of courage, sacrifice, selflessness, holiness.
1. The binding of the perceiving consciousness to a certain region is attention (dharana).
Emerson quotes Sir Isaac Newton as saying that he made his great discoveries by intending his mind on them. That is what is meant here. I read the page of a book while thinking of something else. At the end of he page, I have no idea of what it is about, and read it again, still thinking of something else, with the same result. Then I wake up, so to speak, make an effort of attention, fix my thought on what I am reading, and easily take in its meaning. The act of will, the effort of attention, the intending of the mind on each word and line of the page, just as the eyes are focused on each word and line, is the power here contemplated. It is the power to focus the consciousness on a given spot, and hold it there. Attention is the first and indispensable step in all knowledge. Attention to spiritual things is the first step to spiritual knowledge.
2. A prolonged holding of the perceiving consciousness in that region is meditation (dhyana).
This will apply equally to outer and inner things. I may for a moment fix my attention on some visible object, in a single penetrating glance, or I may hold the attention fixedly on it until it reveals far more of its nature than a single glance could perceive. The first is the focusing of the searchlight of consciousness upon the object. The other is the holding of the white beam of light steadily and persistently on the object, until it yields up the secret of its details. So for things within; one may fix the inner glance for a moment on spiritual things, or one may hold the consciousness steadily upon them, until what was in the dark slowly comes forth into the light, and yields up its immortal secret. But this is possible only for the spiritual man, after the Commandments and the Rules have been kept; for until this is done, the thronging storms of psychical thoughts dissipate and distract the attention, so that it will not remain fixed on spiritual things. The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word of the spiritual message.
3. When the perceiving consciousness in this meditation is wholly given to illuminating the essential meaning of the object contemplated, and is freed from the sense of separateness and personality, this is contemplation (samadhi).
Let us review the steps so far taken. First, the beam of perceiving consciousness is focused on a certain region or subject, through the effort of attention. Then this attending consciousness is held on its object. Third, there is the ardent will to know its meaning, to illumine it with comprehending thought. Fourth, all personal bias, all desire merely to indorse a previous opinion and so prove oneself right, and all desire for personal profit or gratification must be quite put away. There must be a purely disinterested love of truth for its own sake. Thus is the perceiving consciousness made void, as it were, of all personality or sense of separateness. The personal limitation stands aside and lets the All-consciousness come to bear upon the problem. The Oversoul bends its ray upon the object, and illumines it with pure light.
4. When these three, Attention, Meditation Contemplation, are exercised at once, this is perfectly concentrated Meditation (sanyama).
When the personal limitation of the perceiving consciousness stands aside, and allows the All-conscious to come to bear upon the problem, then arises that real knowledge which is called a flash of genius; that real knowledge which makes discoveries, and without which no discovery can be made, however painstaking the effort. For genius is the vision of the spiritual man, and that vision is a question of growth rather than present effort; though right effort, rightly continued, will in time infallibly lead to growth and vision. Through the power thus to set aside personal limitation, to push aside petty concerns and cares, and steady the whole nature and will in an ardent love of truth and desire to know it; through the power thus to make way for the All-consciousness, all great men make their discoveries. Newton, watching the apple fall to the earth, was able to look beyond, to see the subtle waves of force pulsating through apples and worlds and suns and galaxies, and thus to perceive universal gravitation. The Oversoul, looking through his eyes, recognized the universal force, one of its own children. Darwin, watching the forms and motions of plants and animals, let the same august consciousness come to bear on them, and saw infinite growth perfected through ceaseless struggle. He perceived the superb process of evolution, the Oversoul once more recognizing its own. Fraunhofer, noting the dark lines in the band of sunlight in his spectroscope, divined their identity with the bright lines in the spectra of incandescent iron, sodium and the rest, and so saw the oneness of substance in the worlds and suns, the unity of the materials of the universe. Once again the Oversoul, looking with his eyes, recognized its own. So it is with all true knowledge. But the mind must transcend its limitations, its idiosyncrasies; there must be purity, for to the pure in heart is the promise, that they shall see God.
5. By mastering this perfectly concentrated Meditation, there comes the illumination of perception.
The meaning of this is illustrated by what has been said before. When the spiritual man is able to throw aside the trammels of emotional and mental limitation, and to open his eyes, he sees clearly, he attains to illuminated perception. A poet once said that Occultism is the conscious cultivation of genius; and it is certain that the awakened spiritual man attains to the perceptions of genius. Genius is the vision, the power, of the spiritual man, whether its possessor recognizes this or not. All true knowledge is of the spiritual man. The greatest in all ages have recognized this and put their testimony on record. The great in wisdom who have not consciously recognized it, have ever been full of the spirit of reverence, of selfless devotion to truth, of humility, as was Darwin; and reverence and humility are the unconscious recognition of the nearness of the Spirit, that Divinity which broods over us, a Master o’er a slave.
6. This power is distributed in ascending degrees.
It is to be attained step by step. It is a question, not of miracle, but of evolution, of growth. Newton had to master the multiplication table, then the four rules of arithmetic, then the rudiments of algebra, before he came to the binomial theorem. At each point, there was attention, concentration, insight; until these were attained, no progress to the next point was possible. So with Darwin. He had to learn the form and use of leaf and flower, of bone and muscle; the characteristics of genera and species; the distribution of plants and animals, before he had in mind that nexus of knowledge on which the light of his great idea was at last able to shine. So is it with all knowledge. So is it with spiritual knowledge. Take the matter this way: The first subject for the exercise of my spiritual insight is my day, with its circumstances, its hindrances, its opportunities, its duties. I do what I can to solve it, to fulfill its duties, to learn its lessons. I try to live my day with aspiration and faith. That is the first step. By doing this, I gather a harvest for the evening, I gain a deeper insight into life, in virtue of which I begin the next day with a certain advantage, a certain spiritual advance and attainment. So with all successive days. In faith and aspiration, we pass from day to day, in growing knowledge and power, with never more than one day to solve at a time, until all life becomes radiant and transparent.
7. This threefold power, of Attention, Meditation, Contemplation, is more interior than the means of growth previously described.
Very naturally so; because the means of growth previously described were concerned with the extrication of the spiritual man from psychic bondages and veils; while this threefold power is to be exercised by the spiritual man thus extricated and standing on his feet, viewing life with open eyes.
8. But this triad is still exterior to the soul vision which is unconditioned, free from the seed of mental analysis.
The reason is this: The threefold power we have been considering, the triad of Attention, Contemplation, Meditation is, so far as we have yet considered it, the focusing of the beam of perceiving consciousness upon some form of manifesting being, with a view of understanding it completely. There is a higher stage, where the beam of consciousness is turned back upon itself, and the individual consciousness enters into, and knows, the All consciousness. This is a being, a being in immortality, rather than a knowing; it is free from mental analysis or mental forms. It is not an activity of the higher mind, even the mind of the spiritual man. It is an activity of the soul. Had Newton risen to this higher stage, he would have known, not the laws of motion, but that high Being, from whose Life comes eternal motion. Had Darwin risen to this, he would have seen the Soul, whose graduated thought and being all evolution expresses. There are, therefore, these two perceptions: that of living things, and that of the Life; that of the Soul’s works, and that of the Soul itself.
9. One of the ascending degrees is the development of Control. First there is the overcoming of the mind-impress of excitation. Then comes the manifestation of the mind-impress of Control. Then the perceiving consciousness follows after the moment of Control. This is the development of Control.
The meaning seems to be this: Some object enters the field of observation, and at first violently excites the mind, stirring up curiosity, fear, wonder; then the consciousness returns upon itself, as it were, and takes the perception firmly in hand, steadying itself, and viewing the matter calmly from above. This steadying effort of the will upon the perceiving consciousness is Control, and immediately upon it follows perception, understanding, insight.
Take a trite example. Supposing one is walking in an Indian forest. A charging elephant suddenly appears. The man is excited by astonishment, and, perhaps, terror. But he exercises an effort of will, perceives the situation in its true bearings, and recognizes that a certain thing must be done; in this case, probably, that he must get out of the way as quickly as possible.
Or a comet, unheralded, appears in the sky like a flaming sword. The beholder is at first astonished, perhaps terror-stricken; but he takes himself in hand, controls his thoughts, views the apparition calmly, and finally calculates its orbit and its relation to meteor showers.
These are extreme illustrations; but with all knowledge the order of perception is the same: first, the excitation of the mind by the new object impressed on it; then the control of the mind from within; upon which follows the perception of the nature of the object. Where the eyes of the spiritual man are open, this will be a true and penetrating spiritual perception. In some such way do our living experiences come to us; first, with a shock of pain; then the Soul steadies itself and controls the pain; then the spirit perceives the lesson of the event, and its bearing upon the progressive revelation of life.
10. Through frequent repetition of this process, the mind becomes habituated to it, and there arises an equable flow of perceiving consciousness.
Control of the mind by the Soul, like control of the muscles by the mind, comes by practice, and constant voluntary repetition.
As an example of control of the muscles by the mind, take the ceaseless practice by which a musician gains mastery over his instrument, or a fencer gains skill with a rapier. Innumerable small efforts of attention will make a result which seems well-nigh miraculous; which, for the novice, is really miraculous. Then consider that far more wonderful instrument, the perceiving mind, played on by that fine musician, the Soul. Here again, innumerable small efforts of attention will accumulate into mastery, and a mastery worth winning. For a concrete example, take the gradual conquest of each day, the effort to live that day for the Soul. To him that is faithful unto death, the Master gives the crown of life.
11. The gradual conquest of the mind’s tendency to flit from one object to another, and the power of one-pointedness, make the development of Contemplation.
As an illustration of the mind’s tendency to flit from one object to another, take a small boy, learning arithmetic. He begins: two ones are two; three ones are three—and then he thinks of three coins in his pocket, which will purchase so much candy, in the store down the street, next to the toy-shop, where are base-balls, marbles and so on,—and then he comes back with a jerk, to four ones are four. So with us also. We are seeking the meaning of our task, but the mind takes advantage of a moment of slackened attention, and flits off from one frivolous detail to another, till we suddenly come back to consciousness after traversing leagues of space. We must learn to conquer this, and to go back within ourselves into the beam of perceiving consciousness itself, which is a beam of the Oversoul. This is the true one-pointedness, the bringing of our consciousness to a focus in the Soul.
12. When, following this, the controlled manifold tendency and the aroused one-pointedness are equally balanced parts of the perceiving consciousness, this is the development of one-pointedness.
This would seem to mean that the insight which is called one-pointedness has two sides, equally balanced. There is, first, the manifold aspect of any object, the sum of all its characteristics and properties. This is to be held firmly in the mind. Then there is the perception of the object as a unity, as a whole, the perception of its essence. First, the details must be clearly perceived; then the essence must be comprehended. When the two processes are equally balanced, the true one-pointedness is attained. Everything has these two sides, the side of difference and the side of unity; there is the individual and there is the genus; the pole of matter and diversity, and the pole of oneness and spirit. To see the object truly, we must see both.
13. Through this, the inherent character, distinctive marks and conditions of being and powers, according to their development, are made clear.
By the power defined in the preceding sutra, the inherent character, distinctive marks and conditions of beings and powers are made clear. For through this power, as defined, we get a twofold view of each object, seeing at once all its individual characteristics and its essential character, species and genus; we see it in relation to itself, and in relation to the Eternal. Thus we see a rose as that particular flower, with its colour and scent, its peculiar fold of each petal; but we also see in it the species, the family to which it belongs, with its relation to all plants, to all life, to Life itself. So in any day, we see events and circumstances; we also see in it the lesson set for the soul by the Eternal.
14. Every object has its characteristics which are already quiescent, those which are active, and those which are not yet definable.
Every object has characteristics belonging to its past, its present and its future. In a fir tree, for example, there are the stumps or scars of dead branches, which once represented its foremost growth; there are the branches with their needles spread out to the air; there are the buds at the end of each branch and twig, which carry the still closely packed needles which are the promise of the future. In like manner, the chrysalis has, as its past, the caterpillar; as its future, the butterfly. The man has, in his past, the animal; in his future, the angel. Both are visible even now in his face. So with all things, for all things change and grow.
15. Difference in stage is the cause of difference in development.
This but amplifies what has just been said. The first stage is the sapling, the caterpillar, the animal. The second stage is the growing tree, the chrysalis, the man. The third is the splendid pine, the butterfly, the angel. Difference of stage is the cause of difference of development. So it is among men, and among the races of men.
16. Through perfectly concentrated Meditation on the three stages of development comes a knowledge of past and future.
We have taken our illustrations from natural science, because, since every true discovery in natural science is a divination of a law in nature, attained through a flash of genius, such discoveries really represent acts of spiritual perception, acts of perception by the spiritual man, even though they are generally not so recognized.
So we may once more use the same illustration. Perfectly concentrated Meditation, perfect insight into the chrysalis, reveals the caterpillar that it has been, the butterfly that it is destined to be. He who knows the seed, knows the seed-pod or ear it has come from, and the plant that is to come from it.
So in like manner he who really knows today, and the heart of today, knows its parent yesterday and its child tomorrow. Past, present and future are all in the Eternal. He who dwells in the Eternal knows all three.
17. The sound and the object and the thought called up by a word are confounded because they are all blurred together in the mind. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the distinction between them, there comes an understanding of the sounds uttered by all beings.
It must be remembered that we are speaking of perception by the spiritual man.
Sound, like every force, is the expression of a power of the Eternal. Infinite shades of this power are expressed in the infinitely varied tones of sound. He who, having entry to the consciousness of the Eternal knows the essence of this power, can divine the meanings of all sounds, from the voice of the insect to the music of the spheres.
In like manner, he who has attained to spiritual vision can perceive the mind-images in the thoughts of others, with the shade of feeling which goes with them, thus reading their thoughts as easily as he hears their words. Every one has the germ of this power, since difference of tone will give widely differing meanings to the same words, meanings which are intuitively perceived by everyone.
18. When the mind-impressions become visible, there comes an understanding of previous births.
This is simple enough if we grasp the truth of rebirth. The fine harvest of past experiences is drawn into the spiritual nature, forming, indeed, the basis of its development. When the consciousness has been raised to a point above these fine subjective impressions, and can look down upon them from above, this will in itself be a remembering of past births.
19. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on mind-images is gained the understanding of the thoughts of others.
Here, for those who can profit by it, is the secret of thought-reading. Take the simplest case of intentional thought transference. It is the testimony of those who have done this, that the perceiving mind must be stilled, before the mind-image projected by the other mind can be seen. With it comes a sense of the feeling and temper of the other mind and so on, in higher degrees.
20. But since that on which the thought in the mind of another rests is not objective to the thought-reader’s consciousness, he perceives the thought only, and not also that on which the thought rests.
The meaning appears to be simple: One may be able to perceive the thoughts of some one at a distance; one cannot, by that means alone, also perceive the external surroundings of that person, which arouse these thoughts.
21. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the form of the body, by arresting the body’s perceptibility, and by inhibiting the eye’s power of sight, there comes the power to make the body invisible.
There are many instances of the exercise of this power, by mesmerists, hypnotists and the like; and we may simply call it an instance of the power of suggestion. Shankara tells us that by this power the popular magicians of the East perform their wonders, working on the mind-images of others, while remaining invisible themselves. It is all a question of being able to see and control the mind-images.
22. The works which fill out the life-span may be either immediately or gradually operative. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on these comes a knowledge of the time of the end, as also through signs.
A garment which is wet, says the commentator, may be hung up to dry, and so dry rapidly, or it may be rolled in a ball and dry slowly; so a fire may blaze or smoulder. Thus it is with Karma, the works that fill out the life-span. By an insight into the mental forms and forces which make up Karma, there comes a knowledge of the rapidity or slowness of their development, and of the time when the debt will be paid.
23. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on sympathy, compassion and kindness, is gained the power of interior union with others.
Unity is the reality; separateness the illusion. The nearer we come to reality, the nearer we come to unity of heart. Sympathy, compassion, kindness are modes of this unity of heart, whereby we rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. These things are learned by desiring to learn them.
24. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on power, even such power as that of the elephant may be gained.
This is a pretty image. Elephants possess not only force, but poise and fineness of control. They can lift a straw, a child, a tree with perfectly judged control and effort. So the simile is a good one. By detachment, by withdrawing into the soul’s reservoir of power, we can gain all these, force and fineness and poise; the ability to handle with equal mastery things small and great, concrete and abstract alike.
25. By bending upon them the awakened inner light, there comes a knowledge of things subtle, or concealed, or obscure.
As was said at the outset, each consciousness is related to all consciousness; and, through it, has a potential consciousness of all things; whether subtle or concealed or obscure. An understanding of this great truth will come with practice. As one of the wise has said, we have no conception of the power of Meditation.
26. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the sun comes a knowledge of the worlds.
This has several meanings: First, by a knowledge of the constitution of the sun, astronomers can understand the kindred nature of the stars. And it is said that there is a finer astronomy, where the spiritual man is the astronomer. But the sun also means the Soul, and through knowledge of the Soul comes a knowledge of the realms of life.
27. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the moon comes a knowledge of the lunar mansions.
Here again are different meanings. The moon is, first, the companion planet, which, each day, passes backward through one mansion of the stars. By watching the moon, the boundaries of the mansion are learned, with their succession in the great time-dial of the sky. But the moon also symbolizes the analytic mind, with its divided realms; and these, too, may be understood through perfectly concentrated Meditation.
28. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the fixed pole-star comes a knowledge of the motions of the stars.
Addressing Duty, stern daughter of the Voice of God, Wordsworth finely said:
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong,
And the most ancient heavens through thee
are fresh and strong—
thus suggesting a profound relation between the moral powers and the powers that rule the worlds. So in this Sutra the fixed polestar is the eternal spirit about which all things move, as well as the star toward which points the axis of the earth. Deep mysteries attend both, and the veil of mystery is only to be raised by Meditation, by open-eyed vision of the awakened spiritual man.
29. Perfectly concentrated Meditation on the center of force in the lower trunk brings an understanding of the order of the bodily powers.
We are coming to a vitally important part of the teaching of Yoga: namely, the spiritual man’s attainment of full self-consciousness, the awakening of the spiritual man as a self-conscious individual, behind and above the natural man. In this awakening, and in the process of gestation which precedes it, there is a close relation with the powers of the natural man, which are, in a certain sense, the projection, outward and downward, of the powers of the spiritual man. This is notably true of that creative power of the spiritual man which, when embodied in the natural man, becomes the power of generation. Not only is this power the cause of the continuance of the bodily race of mankind, but further, in the individual, it is the key to the dominance of the personal life. Rising, as it were, through the life-channels of the body, it flushes the personality with physical force, and maintains and colours the illusion that the physical life is the dominant and all-important expression of life. In due time, when the spiritual man has begun to take form, the creative force will be drawn off, and become operative in building the body of the spiritual man, just as it has been operative in the building of physical bodies, through generation in the natural world.
Perfectly concentrated Meditation on the nature of this force means, first, that rising of the consciousness into the spiritual world, already described, which gives the one sure foothold for Meditation; and then, from that spiritual point of vantage, not only an insight into the creative force, in its spiritual and physical aspects, but also a gradually attained control of this wonderful force, which will mean its direction to the body of the spiritual man, and its gradual withdrawal from the body of the natural man, until the over-pressure, so general and such a fruitful source of misery in our day, is abated, and purity takes the place of passion. This over-pressure, which is the cause of so many evils and so much of human shame, is an abnormal, not a natural, condition. It is primarily due to spiritual blindness, to blindness regarding the spiritual man, and ignorance even of his existence; for by this blind ignorance are closed the channels through which, were they open, the creative force could flow into the body of the spiritual man, there building up an immortal vesture. There is no cure for blindness, with its consequent over-pressure and attendant misery and shame, but spiritual vision, spiritual aspiration, sacrifice, the new birth from above. There is no other way to lighten the burden, to lift the misery and shame from human life. Therefore, let us follow after sacrifice and aspiration, let us seek the light. In this way only shall we gain that insight into the order of the bodily powers, and that mastery of them, which this Sutra implies.
30. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the center of force in the well of the throat, there comes the cessation of hunger and thirst.
We are continuing the study of the bodily powers and centers of force in their relation to the powers and forces of the spiritual man. We have already considered the dominant power of physical life, the creative power which secures the continuance of physical life; and, further, the manner in which, through aspiration and sacrifice, it is gradually raised and set to the work of upbuilding the body of the spiritual man. We come now to the dominant psychic force, the power which manifests itself in speech, and in virtue of which the voice may carry so much of the personal magnetism, endowing the orator with a tongue of fire, magical in its power to arouse and rule the emotions of his hearers. This emotional power, this distinctively psychical force, is the cause of “hunger and thirst,” the psychical hunger and thirst for sensations, which is the source of our two-sided life of emotionalism, with its hopes and fears, its expectations and memories, its desires and hates. The source of this psychical power, or, perhaps we should say, its center of activity in the physical body is said to be in the cavity of the throat. Thus, in the Taittiriya Upanishad it is written:
“There is this shining ether in the inner being. Therein is the spiritual man, formed through thought, immortal, golden. Inward, in the palate, the organ that hangs down like a nipple,—this is the womb of Indra. And there, where the dividing of the hair turns, extending upward to the crown of the head.”
Indra is the name given to the creative power of which we have spoken, and which, we are told, resides in “the organ which hangs down like a nipple, inward, in the palate.”
31. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the center of force in the channel called the “tortoise-formed,” comes steadfastness.
We are concerned now with the center of nervous or psychical force below the cavity of the throat, in the chest, in which is felt the sensation of fear; the center, the disturbance of which sets the heart beating miserably with dread, or which produces that sense of terror through which the heart is said to stand still.
When the truth concerning fear is thoroughly mastered, through spiritual insight into the immortal, fearless life, then this force is perfectly controlled; there is no more fear, just as, through the control of the psychic power which works through the nerve-center in the throat, there comes a cessation of “hunger and thirst.” Thereafter, these forces, or their spiritual prototypes, are turned to the building of the spiritual man.
Always, it must be remembered, the victory is first a spiritual one; only later does it bring control of the bodily powers.
32. Through perfectly concentrated Meditation on the light in the head comes the vision of the Masters who have attained.
The tradition is, that there is a certain center of force in the head, perhaps the “pineal gland,” which some of our Western philosophers have supposed to be the dwelling of the soul,—a center which is, as it were, the doorway between the natural and the spiritual man. It is the seat of that better and wiser consciousness behind the outward looking consciousness in the forward part of the head; that better and wiser consciousness of “the back of the mind,” which views spiritual things, and seeks to impress the spiritual view on the outward looking consciousness in the forward part of the head. It is the spiritual man seeking to guide the natural man, seeking to bring the natural man to concern himself with the things of his immortality. This is suggested in the words of the Upanishad already quoted: “There, where the dividing of the hair turns, extending upward to the crown of the head”; all of which may sound very fantastical, until one comes to understand it.
It is said that when this power is fully awakened, it brings a vision of the great Companions of the spiritual man, those who have already attained, crossing over to the further shore of the sea of death and rebirth. Perhaps it is to this divine sight that the Master alluded, who is reported to have said: “I counsel you to buy of me eye-salve, that you may see.” It is of this same vision of the great Companions, the children of light, that a seer wrote:
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
33. Or through the divining power of intuition he knows all things.
This is really the supplement, the spiritual side, of the Sutra just translated. Step by step, as the better consciousness, the spiritual view, gains force in the back of the mind, so, in the same measure, the spiritual man is gaining the power to see: learning to open the spiritual eyes. When the eyes are fully opened, the spiritual man beholds the great Companions standing about him; he has begun to “know all things.”
This divining power of intuition is the power which lies above and behind the so-called rational mind; the rational mind formulates a question and lays it before the intuition, which gives a real answer, often immediately distorted by the rational mind, yet always embodying a kernel of truth. It is by this process, through which the rational mind brings questions to the intuition for solution, that the truths of science are reached, the flashes of discovery and genius. But this higher power need not work in subordination to the so-called rational mind, it may act directly, as full illumination, “the vision and the faculty divine.”
34. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the heart, the interior being, comes the knowledge of consciousness.
The heart here seems to mean, as it so often does in the Upanishads, the interior, spiritual nature, the consciousness of the spiritual man, which is related to the heart, and to the wisdom of the heart. By steadily seeking after, and finding, the consciousness of the spiritual man, by coming to consciousness as the spiritual man, a perfect knowledge of consciousness will be attained. For the consciousness of the spiritual man has this divine quality: while being and remaining a truly individual consciousness, it at the same time flows over, as it were, and blends with the Divine Consciousness above and about it, the consciousness of the great Companions; and by showing itself to be one with the Divine Consciousness, it reveals the nature of all consciousness, the secret that all consciousness is One and Divine.
35. The personal self seeks to feast on life, through a failure to perceive the distinction between the personal self and the spiritual man. All personal experience really exists for the sake of another: namely, the spiritual man.
By perfectly concentrated Meditation on experience for the sake of the Self, comes a knowledge of the spiritual man.
The divine ray of the Higher Self, which is eternal, impersonal and abstract, descends into life, and forms a personality, which, through the stress and storm of life, is hammered into a definite and concrete self-conscious individuality. The problem is, to blend these two powers, taking the eternal and spiritual being of the first, and blending with it, transferring into it, the self-conscious individuality of the second; and thus bringing to life a third being, the spiritual man, who is heir to the immortality of his father, the Higher Self, and yet has the self-conscious, concrete individuality of his other parent, the personal self. This is the true immaculate conception, the new birth from above, “conceived of the Holy Spirit.” Of this new birth it is said: “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit: ye must be born again.”
Rightly understood, therefore, the whole life of the personal man is for another, not for himself. He exists only to render his very life and all his experience for the building up of the spiritual man. Only through failure to see this, does he seek enjoyment for himself, seek to secure the feasts of life for himself; not understanding that he must live for the other, live sacrificially, offering both feasts and his very being on the altar; giving himself as a contribution for the building of the spiritual man. When he does understand this, and lives for the Higher Self, setting his heart and thought on the Higher Self, then his sacrifice bears divine fruit, the spiritual man is built up, consciousness awakes in him, and he comes fully into being as a divine and immortal individuality.
36. Thereupon are born the divine power of intuition, and the hearing, the touch, the vision, the taste and the power of smell of the spiritual man.
When, in virtue of the perpetual sacrifice of the personal man, daily and hourly giving his life for his divine brother the spiritual man, and through the radiance ever pouring down from the Higher Self, eternal in the Heavens, the spiritual man comes to birth,—there awake in him those powers whose physical counterparts we know in the personal man. The spiritual man begins to see, to hear, to touch, to taste. And, besides the senses of the spiritual man, there awakes his mind, that divine counterpart of the mind of the physical man, the power of direct and immediate knowledge, the power of spiritual intuition, of divination. This power, as we have seen, owes its virtue to the unity, the continuity, of consciousness, whereby whatever is known to any consciousness, is knowable by any other consciousness. Thus the consciousness of the spiritual man, who lives above our narrow barriers of separateness, is in intimate touch with the consciousness of the great Companions, and can draw on that vast reservoir for all real needs. Thus arises within the spiritual man that certain knowledge which is called intuition, divination, illumination.
37. These powers stand in contradistinction to the highest spiritual vision. In manifestation they are called magical powers.
The divine man is destined to supersede the spiritual man, as the spiritual man supersedes the natural man. Then the disciple becomes a Master. The opened powers of the spiritual man, spiritual vision, hearing, and touch, stand, therefore, in contradistinction to the higher divine power above them, and must in no wise be regarded as the end of the way, for the path has no end, but rises ever to higher and higher glories; the soul’s growth and splendour have no limit. So that, if the spiritual powers we have been considering are regarded as in any sense final, they are a hindrance, a barrier to the far higher powers of the divine man. But viewed from below, from the standpoint of normal physical experience, they are powers truly magical; as the powers natural to a four-dimensional being will appear magical to a three-dimensional being.
38. Through the weakening of the causes of bondage, and by learning the method of passing, the consciousness is transferred to the other body.
In due time, after the spiritual man has been formed and grown stable through the forces and virtues already enumerated, and after the senses of the spiritual man have awaked, there comes the transfer of the dominant consciousness, the sense of individuality, from the physical to the spiritual man. Thereafter the physical man is felt to be a secondary, a subordinate, an instrument through whom the spiritual man works; and the spiritual man is felt to be the real individuality. This is, in a sense, the attainment to full salvation and immortal life; yet it is not the final goal or resting place, but only the beginning of the greater way.
The means for this transfer are described as the weakening of the causes of bondage, and an understanding of the method of passing from the one consciousness to the other. The first may also be described as detachment, and comes from the conquest of the delusion that the personal self is the real man. When that delusion abates and is held in check, the finer consciousness of the spiritual man begins to shine in the background of the mind. The transfer of the sense of individuality to this finer consciousness, and thus to the spiritual man, then becomes a matter of recollection, of attention; primarily, a matter of taking a deeper interest in the life and doings of the spiritual man, than in the pleasures or occupations of the personality. Therefore it is said:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
39. Through mastery of the upward-life comes freedom from the dangers of water, morass, and thorny places, and the power of ascension is gained.
Here is one of the sentences, so characteristic of this author, and, indeed, of the Eastern spirit, in which there is an obvious exterior meaning, and, within this, a clear interior meaning, not quite so obvious, but far more vital.
The surface meaning is, that by mastery of a certain power, called here the upward-life, and akin to levitation, there comes the ability to walk on water, or to pass over thorny places without wounding the feet.
But there is a deeper meaning. When we speak of the disciple’s path as a path of thorns, we use a symbol; and the same symbol is used here. The upward-life means something more than the power, often manifested in abnormal psychical experiences, of levitating the physical body, or near-by physical objects. It means the strong power of aspiration, of upward will, which first builds, and then awakes the spiritual man, and finally transfers the conscious individuality to him; for it is he who passes safely over the waters of death and rebirth, and is not pierced by the thorns in the path. Therefore it is said that he who would tread the path of power must look for a home in the air, and afterwards in the ether.
Of the upward-life, this is written in the Katha Upanishad:
“A hundred and one are the heart’s channels; of these one passes to the crown. Going up this, he comes to the immortal.”
This is the power of ascension spoken of in the Sutra.
40. By mastery of the binding-life comes radiance.
In the Upanishads, it is said that this binding-life unites the upward-life to the downward-life, and these lives have their analogies in the “vital breaths” in the body. The thought in the text seems to be, that, when the personality is brought thoroughly under control of the spiritual man, through the life-currents which bind them together, the personality is endowed with a new force, a strong personal magnetism, one might call it, such as is often an appanage of genius.
But the text seems to mean more than this and to have in view the “vesture of the colour of the sun” attributed by the Upanishads to the spiritual man; that vesture which a disciple has thus described: “The Lord shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body”; perhaps “body of radiance” would better translate the Greek.
In both these passages, the teaching seems to be, that the body of the full-grown spiritual man is radiant or luminous,-for those at least, who have anointed their eyes wit! eye-salve, so that they see.
41. From perfectly concentrated Meditation on the correlation of hearing and the ether, comes the power of spiritual hearing.
Physical sound, we are told, is carried by the air, or by water, iron, or some medium on the same plane of substance. But there is a finer hearing, whose medium of transmission would seem to be the ether; perhaps not that ether which carries light, heat and magnetic waves, but, it may be, the far finer ether through which the power of gravity works. For, while light or heat or magnetic waves, travelling from the sun to the earth, take eight minutes for the journey, it is mathematically certain that the pull of gravitation does not take as much as eight seconds, or even the eighth of a second. The pull of gravitation travels, it would seem “as quick as thought”; so it may well be that, in thought transference or telepathy, the thoughts travel by the same way, carried by the same “thought-swift” medium.
The transfer of a word by telepathy is the simplest and earliest form of the “divine hearing” of the spiritual man; as that power grows, and as, through perfectly concentrated Meditation, the spiritual man comes into more complete mastery of it, he grows able to hear and clearly distinguish the speech of the great Companions, who counsel and comfort him on his way. They may speak to him either in wordless thoughts, or in perfectly definite words and sentences.
42. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the correlation of the body with the ether, and by thinking of it as light as thistle-down, will come the power to traverse the ether.
It has been said that he who would tread the path of power must look for a home in the air, and afterwards in the ether. This would seem to mean, besides the constant injunction to detachment, that he must be prepared to inhabit first a psychic, and then an etheric body; the former being the body of dreams; the latter, the body of the spiritual man, when he wakes up on the other side of dreamland. The gradual accustoming of the consciousness to its new etheric vesture, its gradual acclimatization, so to speak, in the etheric body of the spiritual man, is what our text seems to contemplate.
43. When that condition of consciousness is reached, which is far-reaching and not confined to the body, which is outside the body and not conditioned by it, then the veil which conceals the light is worn away.
Perhaps the best comment on this is afforded by the words of Paul:
“I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable [or, unspoken] words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”
The condition is, briefly, that of the awakened spiritual man, who sees and hears beyond the veil.
44. Mastery of the elements comes from perfectly concentrated Meditation on their five forms: the gross, the elemental, the subtle, the inherent, the purposive.
These five forms are analogous to those recognized by modern physics: solid, liquid, gaseous, radiant and ionic. When the piercing vision of the awakened spiritual man is directed to the forms of matter, from within, as it were, from behind the scenes, then perfect mastery over the “beggarly elements”is attained. This is, perhaps, equivalent to the injunction: “Inquire of the earth, the air, and the water, of the secrets they hold for you. The development of your inner senses will enable you to do this.”
45. Thereupon will come the manifestation of the atomic and other powers, which are the endowment of the body, together with its unassailable force.
The body in question is, of course, the etheric body of the spiritual man. He is said to possess eight powers: the atomic, the power of assimilating himself with the nature of the atom, which will, perhaps, involve the power to disintegrate material forms; the power of levitation; the power of limitless extension; the power of boundless reach, so that, as the commentator says, “he can touch the moon with the tip of his finger”; the power to accomplish his will; the power of gravitation, the correlative of levitation; the power of command; the power of creative will. These are the endowments of the spiritual man. Further, the spiritual body is unassailable. Fire burns it not, water wets it not, the sword cleaves it not, dry winds parch it not. And, it is said, the spiritual man can impart something of this quality and temper to his bodily vesture.
46. Shapeliness, beauty, force, the temper of the diamond: these are the endowments of that body.
The spiritual man is shapely, beautiful strong, firm as the diamond. Therefore it is written: “These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass: He that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and I will give him the morning star.”
47. Mastery over the powers of perception and action comes through perfectly concentrated Meditation on their fivefold forms; namely, their power to grasp their distinctive nature, the element of self-consciousness in them, their inherence, and their purposiveness.
Take, for example, sight. This possesses, first, the power to grasp, apprehend, perceive; second, it has its distinctive form of perception; that is, visual perception; third, it always carries with its operations self-consciousness, the thought: “I perceive”; fourth sight has the power of extension through the whole field of vision, even to the utmost star; fifth, it is used for the purposes of the Seer. So with the other senses. Perfectly concentrated Meditation on each sense, a viewing it from behind and within, as is possible for the spiritual man, brings a mastery of the scope and true character of each sense, and of the world on which they report collectively.
48. Thence comes the power swift as thought, independent of instruments, and the mastery over matter.
We are further enumerating the endowments of the spiritual man. Among these is the power to traverse space with the swiftness of thought, so that whatever place the spiritual man thinks of, to that he goes, in that place he already is. Thought has now become his means of locomotion. He is, therefore, independent of instruments, and can bring his force to bear directly, wherever he wills.
49. When the spiritual man is perfectly disentangled from the psychic body, he attains to mastery over all things and to a knowledge of all.
The spiritual man is enmeshed in the web of the emotions; desire, fear, ambition, passion; and impeded by the mental forms of separateness and materialism. When these meshes are sundered, these obstacles completely overcome, then the spiritual man stands forth in his own wide world, strong, mighty, wise. He uses divine powers, with a divine scope and energy, working together with divine Companions. To such a one it is said: “Thou art now a disciple, able to stand, able to hear, able to see, able to speak, thou hast conquered desire and attained to self-knowledge, thou hast seen thy soul in its bloom and recognized it, and heard the voice of the silence.”
50. By absence of all self-indulgence at this point, when the seeds of bondage to sorrow are destroyed, pure spiritual being is attained.
The seeking of indulgence for the personal self, whether through passion or ambition, sows the seed of future sorrow. For this self indulgence of the personality is a double sin against the real; a sin against the cleanness of life, and a sin against the universal being, which permits no exclusive particular good, since, in the real, all spiritual possessions are held in common. This twofold sin brings its reacting punishment, its confining bondage to sorrow. But ceasing from self-indulgence brings purity, liberation, spiritual life.
51. There should be complete overcoming of allurement or pride in the invitations of the different realms of life, lest attachment to things evil arise once more.
The commentator tells us that disciples, seekers for union, are of four degrees: first, those who are entering the path; second, those who are in the realm of allurements; third, those who have won the victory over matter and the senses; fourth, those who stand firm in pure spiritual life. To the second, especially, the caution in the text is addressed. More modern teachers would express the same truth by a warning against the delusions and fascinations of the psychic realm, which open around the disciple, as he breaks through into the unseen worlds. These are the dangers of the anteroom. Safety lies in passing on swiftly into the inner chamber. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out.”
52. From perfectly concentrated Meditation on the divisions of time and their succession comes that wisdom which is born of discernment.
The Upanishads say of the liberated that “he has passed beyond the triad of time”; he no longer sees life as projected into past, present and future, since these are forms of the mind; but beholds all things spread out in the quiet light of the Eternal. This would seem to be the same thought, and to point to that clear-eyed spiritual perception which is above time; that wisdom born of the unveiling of Time’s delusion. Then shall the disciple live neither in the present nor the future, but in the Eternal.
53. Hence comes discernment between things which are of like nature, not distinguished by difference of kind, character or position.
Here, as also in the preceding Sutra, we are close to the doctrine that distinctions of order, time and space are creations of the mind; the threefold prism through which the real object appears to us distorted and refracted. When the prism is withdrawn, the object returns to its primal unity, no longer distinguishable by the mind, yet clearly knowable by that high power of spiritual discernment, of illumination, which is above the mind.
54. The wisdom which is born of discernment is starlike; it discerns all things, and all conditions of things, it discerns without succession: simultaneously.
That wisdom, that intuitive, divining power is starlike, says the commentator, because it shines with its own light, because it rises on high, and illumines all things. Nought is hid from it, whether things past, things present, or things to come; for it is beyond the threefold form of time, so that all things are spread before it together, in the single light of the divine. This power has been beautifully described by Columba:
“Some there are, though very few, to whom Divine grace has granted this: that they can clearly and most distinctly see, at one and the same moment, as though under one ray of the sun, even the entire circuit of the whole world with its surroundings of ocean and sky, the inmost part of their mind being marvellously enlarged.”
55. When the vesture and the spiritual man are alike pure, then perfect spiritual life is attained.
The vesture, says the commentator, must first be washed pure of all stains of passion and darkness, and the seeds of future sorrow must be burned up utterly. Then, both the vesture and the wearer of the vesture being alike pure, the spiritual man enters into perfect spiritual life.
End of Book III
Introduction to Book IV
The third book of the Sutras has fairly completed the history of the birth and growth of the spiritual man, and the enumeration of his powers; at least so far as concerns that first epoch in his immortal life, which immediately succeeds, and supersedes, the life of the natural man.
In the fourth book, we are to consider what one might call the mechanism of salvation, the ideally simple working of cosmic law which brings the spiritual man to birth, growth, and fulness of power, and prepares him for the splendid, toilsome further stages of his great journey home.
The Sutras are here brief to obscurity; only a few words, for example, are given to the great triune mystery and illusion of Time; a phrase or two indicates the sweep of some universal law. Yet it is hoped that, by keeping our eyes fixed on the spiritual man, remembering that he is the hero of the story, and that all that is written concerns him and his adventures, we may be able to find our way through this thicket of tangled words, and keep in our hands the clue to the mystery.
The last part of the last book needs little introduction. In a sense, it is the most important part of the whole treatise, since it unmasks the nature of the personality, that psychical “mind,” which is the wakeful enemy of all who seek to tread the path. Even now, we can hear it whispering the doubt whether that can be a good path, which thus sets “mind” at defiance.
If this, then, be the most vital and fundamental part of the teaching, should it not stand at the very beginning? It may seem so at first; but had it stood there, we should not have comprehended it. For he who would know the doctrine must lead the life, doing the will of his Father which is in Heaven.
1. Psychic and spiritual powers may be inborn, or they may be gained by the use of drugs, or by incantations, or by fervour, or by Meditation.
Spiritual powers have been enumerated and described in the preceding sections. They are the normal powers of the spiritual man, the antetype, the divine edition, of the powers of the natural man. Through these powers, the spiritual man stands, sees, hears, speaks, in the spiritual world, as the physical man stands, sees, hears, speaks in the natural world.
There is a counterfeit presentment of the spiritual man, in the world of dreams, a shadow lord of shadows, who has his own dreamy powers of vision, of hearing, of movement; he has left the natural without reaching the spiritual. He has set forth from the shore, but has not gained the further verge of the river. He is borne along by the stream, with no foothold on either shore. Leaving the actual, he has fallen short of the real, caught in the limbo of vanities and delusions. The cause of this aberrant phantasm is always the worship of a false, vain self, the lord of dreams, within one’s own breast. This is the psychic man, lord of delusive and bewildering psychic powers.
Spiritual powers, like intellectual or artistic gifts, may be inborn: the fruit, that is, of seeds planted and reared with toil in a former birth. So also the powers of the psychic man may be inborn, a delusive harvest from seeds of delusion.
Psychical powers may be gained by drugs, as poverty, shame, debasement may be gained by the self-same drugs. In their action, they are baneful, cutting the man off from consciousness of the restraining power of his divine nature, so that his forces break forth exuberant, like the laughter of drunkards, and he sees and hears things delusive. While sinking, he believes that he has risen; growing weaker, he thinks himself full of strength; beholding illusions, he takes them to be true. Such are the powers gained by drugs; they are wholly psychic, since the real powers, the spiritual, can never be so gained.
Incantations are affirmations of half-truths concerning spirit and matter, what is and what is not, which work upon the mind and slowly build up a wraith of powers and a delusive well-being. These, too, are of the psychic realm of dreams.
Lastly, there are the true powers of the spiritual man, built up and realized in Meditation, through reverent obedience to spiritual law, to the pure conditions of being, in the divine realm.
2. The transfer of powers from one vesture to another comes through the flow of the natural creative forces.
Here, if we can perceive it, is the whole secret of spiritual birth, growth and life Spiritual being, like all being, is but an expression of the Self, of the inherent power and being of Atma. Inherent in the Self are consciousness and will, which have, as their lordly heritage, the wide sweep of the universe throughout eternity, for the Self is one with the Eternal. And the consciousness of the Self may make itself manifest as seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, or whatsoever perceptive powers there may be, just as the white sunlight may divide into many-coloured rays. So may the will of the Self manifest itself in the uttering of words, or in handling, or in moving, and whatever powers of action there are throughout the seven worlds. Where the Self is, there will its powers be. It is but a question of the vesture through which these powers shall shine forth. And wherever the consciousness and desire of the ever-creative Self are fixed, there will a vesture be built up; where the heart is, there will the treasure be also.
Since through ages the desire of the Self has been toward the natural world, wherein the Self sought to mirror himself that he might know himself, therefore a vesture of natural elements came into being, through which blossomed forth the Self’s powers of perceiving and of will: the power to see, to hear, to speak, to walk, to handle; and when the Self, thus come to self-consciousness, and, with it, to a knowledge of his imprisonment, shall set his desire on the divine and real world, and raise his consciousness thereto, the spiritual vesture shall be built up for him there, with its expression of his inherent powers. Nor will migration thither be difficult for the Self, since the divine is no strange or foreign land for him, but the house of his home, where he dwells from everlasting.
3. The apparent, immediate cause is not the true cause of the creative nature-powers; but, like the husbandman in his field, it takes obstacles away.
The husbandman tills his field, breaking up the clods of earth into fine mould, penetrable to air and rain; he sows his seed, carefully covering it, for fear of birds and the wind; he waters the seed-laden earth, turning the little rills from the irrigation tank now this way and that, removing obstacles from the channels, until the even flow of water vitalizes the whole field. And so the plants germinate and grow, first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. But it is not the husbandman who makes them grow. It is, first, the miraculous plasmic power in the grain of seed, which brings forth after its kind; then the alchemy of sunlight which, in presence of the green colouring matter of the leaves, gathers hydrogen from the water and carbon from the gases in the air, and mingles them in the hydro-carbons of plant growth; and, finally, the wholly occult vital powers of the plant itself, stored up through ages, and flowing down from the primal sources of life. The husbandman but removes the obstacles. He plants and waters, but God gives the increase.
So with the finer husbandman of diviner fields. He tills and sows, but the growth of the spiritual man comes through the surge and flow of divine, creative forces and powers. Here, again, God gives the increase. The divine Self puts forth, for the manifestation of its powers, a new and finer vesture, the body of the spiritual man.
4. Vestures of consciousness are built up in conformity with the position of the feeling of selfhood.
The Self, says a great Teacher, in turn attaches itself to three vestures: first, to the physical body, then to the finer body, and thirdly to the causal body. Finally it stands forth radiant, luminous, joyous, as the Self.
When the Self attributes itself to the physical body, there arise the states of bodily consciousness, built up about the physical self.
When the Self, breaking through this first illusion, begins to see and feel itself in the finer body, to find selfhood there, then the states of consciousness of the finer body come into being; or, to speak exactly, the finer body and its states of consciousness arise and grow together.
But the Self must not dwell permanently there. It must learn to find itself in the causal body, to build up the wide and luminous fields of consciousness that belong to that.
Nor must it dwell forever there, for there remains the fourth state, the divine, with its own splendour and everlastingness.
It is all a question of the states of consciousness; all a question of raising the sense of selfhood, until it dwells forever in the Eternal.
5. In the different fields of manifestation, the Consciousness, though one, is the effective cause of many states of consciousness.
Here is the splendid teaching of oneness that lies at the heart of the Eastern wisdom. Consciousness is ultimately One, everywhere and forever. The Eternal, the Father, is the One Self of All Beings. And so, in each individual who is but a facet of that Self, Consciousness is One. Whether it breaks through as the dull fire of physical life, or the murky flame of the psychic and passional, or the radiance of the spiritual man, or the full glory of the Divine, it is ever the Light, naught but the Light. The one Consciousness is the effective cause of all states of consciousness, on every plane.
6. Among states of consciousness, that which is born of Contemplation is free from the seed of future sorrow.
Where the consciousness breaks forth in the physical body, and the full play of bodily life begins, its progression carries with it inevitable limitations. Birth involves death. Meetings have their partings. Hunger alternates with satiety. Age follows on the heels of youth. So do the states of consciousness run along the circle of birth and death.
With the psychic, the alternation between prize and penalty is swifter. Hope has its shadow of fear, or it is no hope. Exclusive love is tortured by jealousy. Pleasure passes through deadness into pain. Pain’s surcease brings pleasure back again. So here, too, the states of consciousness run their circle. In all psychic states there is egotism, which, indeed, is the very essence of the psychic; and where there is egotism there is ever the seed of future sorrow. Desire carries bondage in its womb.
But where the pure spiritual consciousness begins, free from self and stain, the ancient law of retaliation ceases; the penalty of sorrow lapses and is no more imposed. The soul now passes, no longer from sorrow to sorrow, but from glory to glory. Its growth and splendour have no limit. The good passes to better, best.
7. The works of followers after Union make neither for bright pleasure nor for dark pain. The works of others make for pleasure or pain, or a mingling of these.
The man of desire wins from his works the reward of pleasure, or incurs the penalty of pain; or, as so often happens in life, his guerdon, like the passionate mood of the lover, is part pleasure and part pain. Works done with self-seeking bear within them the seeds of future sorrow; conversely, according to the proverb, present pain is future gain.
But, for him who has gone beyond desire, whose desire is set on the Eternal, neither pain to be avoided nor pleasure to be gained inspires his work. He fears no hell and desires no heaven. His one desire is, to know the will of the Father and finish His work. He comes directly in line with the divine Will, and works cleanly and immediately, without longing or fear. His heart dwells in the Eternal; all his desires are set on the Eternal.
8. From the force inherent in works comes the manifestation of those dynamic mind-images which are conformable to the ripening out of each of these works.
We are now to consider the general mechanism of Karma, in order that we may pass on to the consideration of him who is free from Karma. Karma, indeed, is the concern of the personal man, of his bondage or freedom. It is the succession of the forces which built up the personal man, reproducing themselves in one personality after another.
Now let us take an imaginary case, to see how these forces may work out. Let us think of a man, with murderous intent in his heart, striking with a dagger at his enemy. He makes a red wound in his victim’s breast; at the same instant he paints, in his own mind, a picture of that wound: a picture dynamic with all the fierce will-power he has put into his murderous blow. In other words he has made a deep wound in his own psychic body; and, when he comes to be born again, that body will become his outermost vesture, upon which, with its wound still there, bodily tissue will be built up. So the man will be born maimed, or with the predisposition to some mortal injury; he is unguarded at that point, and any trifling accidental blow will pierce the broken joints of his psychic armour. Thus do the dynamic mind-images manifest themselves, coming to the surface, so that works done in the past may ripen and come to fruition.
9. Works separated by different nature, or place, or time, are brought together by the correspondence between memory and dynamic impression.
Just as, in the ripening out of mind-images into bodily conditions, the effect is brought about by the ray of creative force sent down by the Self, somewhat as the light of the magic lantern projects the details of a picture on the screen, revealing the hidden, and making secret things palpable and visible, so does this divine ray exercise a selective power on the dynamic mind-images, bringing together into one day of life the seeds gathered from many days. The memory constantly exemplifies this power; a passage of poetry will call up in the mind like passages of many poets, read at different times. So a prayer may call up many prayers.
In like manner, the same over-ruling selective power, which is a ray of the Higher Self, gathers together from different births and times and places those mind-images which are conformable, and may be grouped in the frame of a single life or a single event. Through this grouping, visible bodily conditions or outward circumstances are brought about, and by these the soul is taught and trained.
Just as the dynamic mind-images of desire ripen out in bodily conditions and circumstances, so the far more dynamic powers of aspiration, wherein the soul reaches toward the Eternal, have their fruition in a finer world, building the vesture of the spiritual man.
10. The series of dynamic mind-images is beginningless, because Desire is everlasting.
The whole series of dynamic mind-images, which make up the entire history of the personal man, is a part of the mechanism which the Self employs, to mirror itself in a reflection, to embody its powers in an outward form, to the end of self-expression, self-realization, self-knowledge. Therefore the initial impulse behind these dynamic mind-images comes from the Self and is the descending ray of the Self; so that it cannot be said that there is any first member of the series of images, from which the rest arose. The impulse is beginningless, since it comes from the Self, which is from everlasting. Desire is not to cease; it is to turn to the Eternal, and so become aspiration.
11. Since the dynamic mind-images are held together by impulses of desire, by the wish for personal reward, by the substratum of mental habit, by the support of outer things desired; therefore, when these cease, the self-reproduction of dynamic mind-images ceases.
We are still concerned with the personal life in its bodily vesture, and with the process whereby the forces which have upheld it are gradually transferred to the life of the spiritual man, and build up for him his finer vesture in a finer world.
How is the current to be changed? How is the flow of self-reproductive mind-images, which have built the conditions of life after life in this world of bondage, to be checked, that the time of imprisonment may come to an end, the day of liberation dawn?
The answer is given in the Sutra just translated. The driving-force is withdrawn and directed to the upbuilding of the spiritual body.
When the building impulses and forces are withdrawn, the tendency to manifest a new psychical body, a new body of bondage, ceases with them.
12. The difference between that which is past and that which is not yet come, according to their natures, depends on the difference of phase of their properties.
Here we come to a high and difficult matter, which has always been held to be of great moment in the Eastern wisdom: the thought that the division of time into past, present and future is, in great measure, an illusion; that past, present, future all dwell together in the eternal Now.
The discernment of this truth has been held to be so necessarily a part of wisdom, that one of the names of the Enlightened is: “he who has passed beyond the three times: past, present, future.”
So the Western Master said: “Before Abraham was, I am”; and again, “I am with you always, unto the end of the world”; using the eternal present for past and future alike. With the same purpose, the Master speaks of himself as “the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
And a Master of our own days writes:
“I feel even irritated at having to use these three clumsy words—past, present, and future. Miserable concepts of the objective phases of the subjective whole, they are about as ill adapted for the purpose, as an axe for fine carving.”
In the eternal Now, both past and future are consummated.
Björklund, the Swedish philosopher, has well stated the same truth:
“Neither past nor future can exist to God; He lives undividedly, without limitations, and needs not, as man, to plot out his existence in a series of moments. Eternity then is not identical with unending time; it is a different form of existence, related to time as the perfect to the imperfect . . . Man as an entity for himself must have the natural limitations for the part. Conceived by God, man is eternal in the divine sense, but conceived by himself, man’s eternal life is clothed in the limitations we call time. The eternal is a constant present without beginning or end, without past or future.”
13. These properties, whether manifest or latent, are of the nature of the Three Potencies.
The Three Potencies are the three manifested modifications of the one primal material, which stands opposite to perceiving consciousness. These Three Potencies are called Substance, Force, Darkness; or viewed rather for their moral colouring, Goodness, Passion, Inertness. Every material manifestation is a projection of substance into the empty space of darkness. Every mental state is either good, or passional, or inert. So, whether subjective or objective, latent or manifest, all things that present themselves to the perceiving consciousness are compounded of these three. This is a fundamental doctrine of the Sankhya system.
14. The external manifestation of an object takes place when the transformations are in the same phase.
We should be inclined to express the same law by saying, for example, that a sound is audible, when it consists of vibrations within the compass of the auditory nerve; that an object is visible, when either directly or by reflection, it sends forth luminiferous vibrations within the compass of the retina and the optic nerve. Vibrations below or above that compass make no impression at all, and the object remains invisible; as, for example, a kettle of boiling water in a dark room, though the kettle is sending forth heat vibrations closely akin to light.
So, when the vibrations of the object and those of the perceptive power are in the same phase, the external manifestation of the object takes place.
There seems to be a further suggestion that the appearance of an object in the “present,” or its remaining hid in the “past,” or “future,” is likewise a question of phase, and, just as the range of vibrations perceived might be increased by the development of finer senses, so the perception of things past, and things to come, may be easy from a higher point of view.
15. The paths of material things and of states of consciousness are distinct, as is manifest from the fact that the same object may produce different impressions in different minds.
Having shown that our bodily condition and circumstances depend on Karma, while Karma depends on perception and will, the sage recognizes the fact that from this may be drawn the false deduction that material things are in no wise different from states of mind. The same thought has occurred, and still occurs, to all philosophers; and, by various reasonings, they all come to the same wise conclusion; that the material world is not made by the mood of any human mind, but is rather the manifestation of the totality of invisible Being, whether we call this Mahat, with the ancients, or Ether, with the moderns.
16. Nor do material objects depend upon a single mind, for how could they remain objective to others, if that mind ceased to think of them?
This is but a further development of the thought of the preceding Sutra, carrying on the thought that, while the universe is spiritual, yet its material expression is ordered, consistent, ruled by law, not subject to the whims or affirmations of a single mind. Unwelcome material things may be escaped by spiritual growth, by rising to a realm above them, and not by denying their existence on their own plane. So that our system is neither materialistic, nor idealistic in the extreme sense, but rather intuitional and spiritual, holding that matter is the manifestation of spirit as a whole, a reflection or externalization of spirit, and, like spirit, everywhere obedient to law. The path of liberation is not through denial of matter but through denial of the wills of self, through obedience, and that aspiration which builds the vesture of the spiritual man.
17. An object is perceived, or not perceived, according as the mind is, or is not, tinged with the colour of the object.
The simplest manifestation of this is the matter of attention. Our minds apprehend what they wish to apprehend; all else passes unnoticed, or, on the other hand, we perceive what we resent, as, for example, the noise of a passing train; while others, used to the sound, do not notice it at all.
But the deeper meaning is, that out of the vast totality of objects ever present in the universe, the mind perceives only those which conform to the hue of its Karma. The rest remain unseen, even though close at hand.
This spiritual law has been well expressed by Emerson:
“Through solidest eternal things the man finds his road as if they did not subsist, and does not once suspect their being. As soon as he needs a new object, suddenly he beholds it, and no longer attempts to pass through it, but takes another way. When he has exhausted for the time the nourishment to be drawn from any one person or thing, that object is withdrawn from his observation, and though still in his immediate neighbourhood, he does not suspect its presence. Nothing is dead. Men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some new and strange disguise. Jesus is not dead, he is very well alive: nor John, nor Paul, nor Mahomet, nor Aristotle; at times we believe we have seen them all, and could easily tell the names under which they go.”
18. The movements of the psychic nature are perpetually objects of perception, since the Spiritual Man, who is the lord of them, remains unchanging.
Here is teaching of the utmost import, both for understanding and for practice.
To the psychic nature belong all the ebb and flow of emotion, all hoping and fearing, desire and hate: the things that make the multitude of men and women deem themselves happy or miserable. To it also belong the measuring and comparing, the doubt and questioning, which, for the same multitude, make up mental life. So that there results the emotion-soaked personality, with its dark and narrow view of life: the shivering, terror driven personality that is life itself for all but all of mankind.
Yet the personality is not the true man, not the living soul at all, but only a spectacle which the true man observes. Let us understand this, therefore, and draw ourselves up inwardly to the height of the Spiritual Man, who, standing in the quiet light of the Eternal, looks down serene upon this turmoil of the outer life.
One first masters the personality, the “mind,” by thus looking down on it from above, from within; by steadily watching its ebb and flow, as objective, outward, and therefore not the real Self. This standing back is the first step, detachment. The second, to maintain the vantage-ground thus gained, is recollection.
19. The Mind is not self-luminous, since it can be seen as an object.
This is a further step toward overthrowing the tyranny of the “mind”: the psychic nature of emotion and mental measuring. This psychic self, the personality, claims to be absolute, asserting that life is for it and through it; it seeks to impose on the whole being of man its narrow, materialistic, faithless view of life and the universe; it would clip the wings of the soaring Soul. But the Soul dethrones the tyrant, by perceiving and steadily affirming that the psychic self is no true self at all, not self-luminous, but only an object of observation, watched by the serene eyes of the Spiritual Man.
20. Nor could the Mind at the same time know itself and things external to it.
The truth is that the “mind” knows neither external things nor itself. Its measuring and analyzing, its hoping and fearing, hating and desiring, never give it a true measure of life, nor any sense of real values. Ceaselessly active, it never really attains to knowledge; or, if we admit its knowledge, it ever falls short of wisdom, which comes only through intuition, the vision of the Spiritual Man.
Life cannot be known by the “mind,” its secrets cannot be learned through the “mind.” The proof is, the ceaseless strife and contradiction of opinion among those who trust in the mind. Much less can the “mind” know itself, the more so, because it is pervaded by the illusion that it truly knows, truly is.
True knowledge of the “mind” comes, first, when the Spiritual Man, arising, stands detached, regarding the “mind” from above, with quiet eyes, and seeing it for the tangled web of psychic forces that it truly is. But the truth is divined long before it is clearly seen, and then begins the long battle of the “mind,” against the Real, the “mind” fighting doggedly, craftily, for its supremacy.
21. If the Mind be thought of as seen by another more inward Mind, then there would be an endless series of perceiving Minds, and a confusion of memories.
One of the expedients by which the “mind” seeks to deny and thwart the Soul, when it feels that it is beginning to be circumvented and seen through, is to assert that this seeing is the work of a part of itself, one part observing the other, and thus leaving no need nor place for the Spiritual Man.
To this strategy the argument is opposed by our philosopher, that this would be no true solution, but only a postponement of the solution. For we should have to find yet another part of the mind to view the first observing part, and then another to observe this, and so on, endlessly.
The true solution is, that the Spiritual Man looks down upon the psychic nature, and observes it; when he views the psychic pictures gallery, this is “memory,” which would be a hopeless, inextricable confusion, if we thought of one part of the “mind,” with its memories, viewing another part, with memories of its own.
The solution of the mystery lies not in the “mind” but beyond it, in the luminous life of the risen Lord, the Spiritual Man.
22. When the psychical nature takes on the form of the spiritual intelligence, by reflecting it, then the Self becomes conscious of its own spiritual intelligence.
We are considering a stage of spiritual life at which the psychical nature has been cleansed and purified. Formerly, it reflected in its plastic substance the images of the earthy; purified now, it reflects the image of the heavenly, giving the spiritual intelligence a visible form. The Self, beholding that visible form, in which its spiritual intelligence has, as it were, taken palpable shape, thereby reaches self-recognition, self-comprehension. The Self sees itself in this mirror, and thus becomes not only conscious, but self-conscious. This is, from one point of view, the purpose of the whole evolutionary process.
23. The psychic nature, taking on the colour of the Seer and of things seen, leads to the perception of all objects.
In the unregenerate man, the psychic nature is saturated with images of material things, of things seen, or heard, or tasted, or felt; and this web of dynamic images forms the ordinary material and driving power of life. The sensation of sweet things tasted clamours to be renewed, and drives the man into effort to obtain its renewal; so he adds image to image, each dynamic and importunate, piling up sin’s intolerable burden.
Then comes regeneration, and the washing away of sin, through the fiery, creative power of the Soul, which burns out the stains of the psychic vesture, purifying it as gold is refined in the furnace. The suffering of regeneration springs from this indispensable purifying.
Then the psychic vesture begins to take on the colour of the Soul, no longer stained, but suffused with golden light; and the man regenerate gleams with the radiance of eternity. Thus the Spiritual Man puts on fair raiment; for of this cleansing it is said: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be as crimson, they shall be as wool.
24. The psychic nature, which has been printed with mind-images of innumerable material things, exists now for the Spiritual Man, building for him.
The “mind,” once the tyrant, is now the slave, recognized as outward, separate, not Self, a well-trained instrument of the Spiritual Man.
For it is not ordained for the Spiritual Man that, finding his high realm, he shall enter altogether there, and pass out of the vision of mankind. It is true that he dwells in heaven, but he also dwells on earth. He has angels and archangels, the hosts of the just made perfect, for his familiar friends, but he has at the same time found a new kinship with the prone children of men, who stumble and sin in the dark. Finding sinlessness, he finds also that the world’s sin and shame are his, not to share, but to atone; finding kinship with angels, he likewise finds his part in the toil of angels, the toil for the redemption of the world.
For this work, he, who now stands in the heavenly realm, needs his instrument on earth; and this instrument he finds, ready to his hand, and fitted and perfected by the very struggles he has waged against it, in the personality, the “mind,” of the personal man. This once tyrant is now his servant and perfect ambassador, bearing witness, before men, of heavenly things and even in this present world doing the will and working the works of the Father.
25. For him who discerns between the Mind and the Spiritual Man, there comes perfect fruition of the longing after the real being of the Self.
How many times in the long struggle have the Soul’s aspirations seemed but a hopeless, impossible dream, a madman’s counsel of perfection. Yet every finest, most impossible aspiration shall be realized, and ten times more than realized, once the long, arduous fight against the “mind,” and the mind’s worldview is won. And then it will be seen that unfaith and despair were but weapons of the “mind,” to daunt the Soul, and put off the day when the neck of the “mind” shall be put under the foot of the Soul.
Have you aspired, well-nigh hopeless, after immortality? You shall be paid by entering the immortality of God.
Have you aspired, in misery and pain, after consoling, healing love? You shall be made a dispenser of the divine love of God Himself to weary souls.
Have you sought ardently, in your day of feebleness, after power? You shall wield power immortal, infinite, with God working the works of God.
Have you, in lonely darkness, longed for companionship and consolation? You shall have angels and archangels for your friends, and all the immortal hosts of the Dawn.
These are the fruits of victory. Therefore overcome. These are the prizes of regeneration. Therefore die to self, that you may rise again to God.
26. Thereafter, the whole personal being bends toward illumination, toward Eternal Life.
This is part of the secret of the Soul, that salvation means, not merely that a soul shall be cleansed and raised to heaven, but that the whole realm of the natural powers shall be redeemed, building up, even in this present world, the kingly figure of the Spiritual Man.
The traditions of the ages are full of his footsteps; majestic, uncomprehended shadows, myths, demi-gods, fill the memories of all the nobler peoples. But the time cometh, when he shall be known, no longer demi-god, nor myth, nor shadow, but the ever-present Redeemer, working amid men for the life and cleansing of all souls.
27. In the internals of the battle, other thoughts will arise, through the impressions of the dynamic mind-images.
The battle is long and arduous. Let there be no mistake as to that. Go not forth to this battle without counting the cost. Ages have gone to the strengthening of the foe. Ages of conflict must be spent, ere the foe, wholly conquered, becomes the servant, the Soul’s minister to mankind.
And from these long past ages, in hours when the contest flags, will come new foes, mind-born children springing up to fight for mind, reinforcements coming from forgotten years, forgotten lives. For once this conflict is begun, it can be ended only by sweeping victory, and unconditional, unreserved surrender of the vanquished.
28. These are to be overcome as it was taught that hindrances should be overcome.
These new enemies and fears are to be overcome by ceaselessly renewing the fight, by a steadfast, dogged persistence, whether in victory or defeat, which shall put the stubbornness of the rocks to shame. For the Soul is older than all things, and invincible; it is of the very nature of the Soul to be unconquerable.
Therefore fight on, undaunted; knowing that the spiritual will, once awakened, shall, through the effort of the contest, come to its full strength; that ground gained can be held permanently; that great as is the dead-weight of the adversary, it is yet measurable, while the Warrior who fights for you, for whom you fight, is, in might, immeasurable, invincible, everlasting.
29. He who, after he has attained, is wholly free from self, reaches the essence of all that can be known, gathered together like a cloud. This is the true spiritual consciousness.
It has been said that, at the beginning of the way, we must kill out ambition, the great curse, the giant weed which grows as strongly in the heart of the devoted disciple as in the man of desire. The remedy is sacrifice of self, obedience, humility; that purity of heart which gives the vision of God. Thereafter, he who has attained is wrapt about with the essence of all that can be known, as with a cloud; he has that perfect illumination which is the true spiritual consciousness. Through obedience to the will of God, he comes into oneness of being with God; he is initiated into God’s view of the universe, seeing all life as God sees it.
30. Thereon comes surcease from sorrow and the burden of toil.
Such a one, it is said, is free from the bond of Karma, from the burden of toil, from that debt to works which comes from works done in self-love and desire. Free from self-will, he is free from sorrow, too, for sorrow comes from the fight of self-will against the divine will, through the correcting stress of the divine will, which seeks to counteract the evil wrought by disobedience. When the conflict with the divine will ceases, then sorrow ceases, and he who has grown into obedience, thereby enters into joy.
31. When all veils are rent, all stains washed away, his knowledge becomes infinite; little remains for him to know.
The first veil is the delusion that thy soul is in some permanent way separate from the great Soul, the divine Eternal. When that veil is rent, thou shalt discern thy oneness with everlasting Life. The second veil is the delusion of enduring separateness from thy other selves, whereas in truth the soul that is in them is one with the soul that is in thee. The world’s sin and shame are thy sin and shame: its joy also.
These veils rent, thou shalt enter into knowledge of divine things and human things. Little will remain unknown to thee.
32. Thereafter comes the completion of the series of transformations of the three nature-potencies, since their purpose is attained.
It is a part of the beauty and wisdom of the great Indian teachings, the Vedanta and the Yoga alike, to hold that all life exists for the purposes of Soul, for the making of the spiritual man. They teach that all nature is an orderly process of evolution, leading up to this, designed for this end, existing only for this: to bring forth and perfect the Spiritual Man. He is the crown of evolution: at his coming, the goal of all development is attained.
33. The series of transformations is divided into moments. When the series is completed, time gives place to duration.
There are two kinds of eternity, says the commentary: the eternity of immortal life, which belongs to the Spirit, and the eternity of change, which inheres in Nature, in all that is not Spirit. While we are content to live in and for Nature, in the Circle of Necessity, Sansara, we doom ourselves to perpetual change. That which is born must die, and that which dies must be reborn. It is change evermore, a ceaseless series of transformations.
But the Spiritual Man enters a new order; for him, there is no longer eternal change, but eternal Being. He has entered into the joy of his Lord. This spiritual birth, which makes him heir of the Everlasting, sets a term to change; it is the culmination, the crowning transformation, of the whole realm of change.
34. Pure spiritual life is, therefore, the inverse resolution of the potencies of Nature, which have emptied themselves of their value for the Spiritual man; or it is the return of the power of pure Consciousness to its essential form.
Here we have a splendid generalization, in which our wise philosopher finally reconciles the naturalists and the idealists, expressing the crown and end of his teaching, first in the terms of the naturalist, and then in the terms of the idealist.
The birth and growth of the Spiritual Man, and his entry into his immortal heritage, may be regarded, says our philosopher, either as the culmination of the whole process of natural evolution and involution, where “that which flowed from out the boundless deep, turns again home”; or it may be looked at, as the Vedantins look at it, as the restoration of pure spiritual Consciousness to its pristine and essential form. There is no discrepancy or conflict between these two views, which are but two accounts of the same thing. Therefore those who study the wise philosopher, be they naturalist or idealist, have no excuse to linger over dialectic subtleties or disputes. These things are lifted from their path, lest they should be tempted to delay over them, and they are left facing the path itself, stretching upward and onward from their feet to the everlasting hills, radiant with infinite Light.
End of Book IV
Here ends the Yoga Sutras
Translation and Commentary by Swami Vivekananda
Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms
Translation and Commentary by Swami Vivekananda
Chapter I — Concentration: Its Spiritual Uses
1. Now concentration is explained.
2. Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrittis).
A good deal of explanation is necessary here. We have to understand what Chitta is, and what the Vrittis are. I have eyes. Eyes do not see. Take away the brain centre which is in the head, the eyes will still be there, the retinae complete, as also the pictures of objects on them and yet the eyes will not see. So the eyes are only a secondary instrument, not the organ of vision. The organ of vision is in a nerve centre of the brain. The two eyes will not be sufficient. Sometimes a man is asleep with his eyes open. The light is there and the picture is there, but a third thing is necessary — the mind must be joined to the organ. The eye is the external instrument; we need also the brain centre and the agency of the mind. Carriages roll down a street, and you do not hear them. Why? Because your mind has not attached itself to the organ of hearing. First, there is the instrument, then there is the organ, and third, the mind attached to these two. The mind takes the impression farther in, and presents it to the determinative faculty — Buddhi — which reacts. Along with this reaction flashes the idea of egoism. Then this mixture of action and reaction is presented to the Purusha, the real Soul, who perceives an object in this mixture. The organs (Indriyas), together with the mind (Manas), the determinative faculty (Buddhi), and egoism (Ahamkāra), form the group called the Antahkarana (the internal instrument). They are but various processes in the mind-stuff, called Chitta. The waves of thought in the Chitta are called Vrittis (literally “whirlpool”). What is thought? Thought is a force, as is gravitation or repulsion. From the infinite storehouse of force in nature, the instrument called Chitta takes hold of some, absorbs it and sends it out as thought. Force is supplied to us through food, and out of that food the body obtains the power of motion etc. Others, the finer forces, it throws out in what we call thought. So we see that the mind is not intelligent; yet it appears to be intelligent. Why? Because the intelligent soul is behind it. You are the only sentient being; mind is only the instrument through which you catch the external world. Take this book; as a book it does not exist outside, what exists outside is unknown and unknowable. The unknowable furnishes the suggestion that gives a blow to the mind, and the mind gives out the reaction in the form of a book, in the same manner as when a stone is thrown into the water, the water is thrown against it in the form of waves. The real universe is the occasion of the reaction of the mind. A book form, or an elephant form, or a man form, is not outside; all that we know is our mental reaction from the outer suggestion. “Matter is the permanent possibility of sensations,” said John Stuart Mill. It is only the suggestion that is outside. Take an oyster for example. You know how pearls are made. A parasite gets inside the shell and causes irritation, and the oyster throws a sort of enamelling round it, and this makes the pearl. The universe of experience is our own enamel, so to say, and the real universe is the parasite serving as nucleus. The ordinary man will never understand it, because when he tries to do so, he throws out an enamel, and sees only his own enamel. Now we understand what is meant by these Vrittis. The real man is behind the mind; the mind is the instrument in his hands; it is his intelligence that is percolating through the mind. It is only when you stand behind the mind that it becomes intelligent. When man gives it up, it falls to pieces and is nothing. Thus you understand what is meant by Chitta. It is the mind-stuff, and Vrittis are the waves and ripples rising in it when external causes impinge on it. These Vrittis are our universe.
The bottom of a lake we cannot see, because its surface is covered with ripples. It is only possible for us to catch a glimpse of the bottom, when the ripples have subsided, and the water is calm. If the water is muddy or is agitated all the time, the bottom will not be seen. If it is clear, and there are no waves, we shall see the bottom. The bottom of the lake is our own true Self; the lake is the Chitta and the waves the Vrittis. Again, the mind is in three states, one of which is darkness, called Tamas, found in brutes and idiots; it only acts to injure. No other idea comes into that state of mind. Then there is the active state of mind, Rajas, whose chief motives are power and enjoyment. “I will be powerful and rule others.” Then there is the state called Sattva, serenity, calmness, in which the waves cease, and the water of the mind-lake becomes clear. It is not inactive, but rather intensely active. It is the greatest manifestation of power to be calm. It is easy to be active. Let the reins go, and the horses will run away with you. Anyone can do that, but he who can stop the plunging horses is the strong man. Which requires the greater strength, letting go or restraining? The calm man is not the man who is dull. You must not mistake Sattva for dullness or laziness. The calm man is the one who has control over the mind waves. Activity is the manifestation of inferior strength, calmness, of the superior.
The Chitta is always trying to get back to its natural pure state, but the organs draw it out. To restrain it, to check this outward tendency, and to start it on the return journey to the essence of intelligence is the first step in Yoga, because only in this way can the Chitta get into its proper course.
Although the Chitta is in every animal, from the lowest to the highest, it is only in the human form that we find it as the intellect. Until the mind-stuff can take the form of intellect it is not possible for it to return through all these steps, and liberate the soul. Immediate salvation is impossible for the cow or the dog, although they have mind, because their Chitta cannot as yet take that form which we call intellect.
The Chitta manifests itself in the following forms — scattering, darkening, gathering, one-pointed, and concentrated. The scattering form is activity. Its tendency is to manifest in the form of pleasure or of pain. The darkening form is dullness which tends to injury. The commentator says, the third form is natural to the Devas, the angels, and the first and second to the demons. The gathering form is when it struggles to centre itself. The one-pointed form is when it tries to concentrate, and the concentrated form is what brings us to Samādhi.
3. At that time (After all waves have finished. This is nothing to take with concentration)the seer (Purusha) rests in his own (unmodified) state.
As soon as the waves have stopped, and the lake has become quiet, we see its bottom. So with the mind; when it is calm, we see what our own nature is; we do not mix ourselves but remain our own selves.
4. At other times (other than that of concentration) the seer is identified with the modifications.
For instance, someone blames me; this produces a modification, Vritti, in my mind, and I identify myself with it, and the result is misery.
5. There are five classes of modifications, (some) painful and (others) not painful.
6. (These are) right knowledge, indiscrimination, verbal delusion, sleep, and memory.
7. Direct perception, inference, and competent evidence are proofs.
When two of our perceptions do not contradict each other, we call it proof. I hear something, and if it contradicts something already perceived, I begin to fight it out, and do not believe it. There are also three kinds of proof. Pratyaksha, direct perception; whatever we see and feel, is proof, if there has been nothing to delude the senses. I see the world; that is sufficient proof that it exists. Secondly, Anumāna, inference; you see a sign, and from the sign you come to the thing signified. Thirdly, Āptavākya, the direct evidence of the Yogis, of those who have seen the truth. We are all of us struggling towards knowledge. But you and I have to struggle hard, and come to knowledge through a long tedious process of reasoning, but the Yogi, the pure one, has gone beyond all this. Before his mind, the past, the present, and the future are alike, one book for him to read; he does not require to go through the tedious processes for knowledge we have to; his words are proof, because he sees knowledge in himself. These, for instance, are the authors of the sacred scriptures; therefore the scriptures are proof. If any such persons are living now their words will be proof. Other philosophers go into long discussions about Aptavakya and they say, “What is the proof of their words?” The proof is their direct perception. Because whatever I see is proof, and whatever you see is proof, if it does not contradict any past knowledge. There is knowledge beyond the senses, and whenever it does not contradict reason and past human experience, that knowledge is proof. Any madman may come into this room and say he sees angels around him; that would not be proof. In the first place, it must be true knowledge, and secondly, it must not contradict past knowledge, and thirdly, it must depend upon the character of the man who gives it out. I hear it said that the character of the man is not of so much importance as what he may say; we must first hear what he says. This may be true in other things. A man may be wicked, and yet make an astronomical discovery, but in religion it is different, because no impure man will ever have the power to reach the truths of religion. Therefore we have first of all to see that the man who declares himself to be an Āpta is a perfectly unselfish and holy person; secondly, that he has reached beyond the senses; and thirdly, that what he says does not contradict the past knowledge of humanity. Any new discovery of truth does not contradict the past truth, but fits into it. And fourthly, that truth must have a possibility of verification. If a man says, “I have seen a vision,” and tells me that I have no right to see it, I believe him not. Everyone must have the power to see it for himself. No one who sells his knowledge is an Apta. All these conditions must be fulfilled; you must first see that the man is pure, and that he has no selfish motive; that he has no thirst for gain or fame. Secondly, he must show that he is superconscious. He must give us something that we cannot get from our senses, and which is for the benefit of the world. Thirdly, we must see that it does not contradict other truths; if it contradicts other scientific truths reject it at once. Fourthly, the man should never be singular; he should only represent what all men can attain. The three sorts of proof are, then, direct sense-perception, inference, and the words of an Apta. I cannot translate this word into English. It is not the word “inspired”, because inspiration is believed to come from outside, while this knowledge comes from the man himself. The literal meaning is “attained.”
8. Indiscrimination is false knowledge not established in real nature.
The next class of Vrittis that arises is mistaking one thing for another, as a piece of mother-of-pearl is taken for a piece of silver.
9. Verbal delusion follows from words having no (corresponding) reality.
There is another class of Vrittis called Vikalpa. A word is uttered, and we do not wait to consider its meaning; we jump to a conclusion immediately. It is the sign of weakness of the Chitta. Now you can understand the theory of restraint. The weaker the man, the less he has of restraint. Examine yourselves always by that test. When you are going to be angry or miserable, reason it out how it is that some news that has come to you is throwing your mind into Vrittis.
10. Sleep is a Vritti which embraces the feeling of voidness.
The next class of Vrittis is called sleep and dream. When we awake, we know that we have been sleeping; we can only have memory of perception. That which we do not perceive we never can have any memory of. Every reaction is a wave in the lake. Now, if, during sleep, the mind had no waves, it would have no perceptions, positive or negative, and, therefore, we would not remember them. The very reason of our remembering sleep is that during sleep there was a certain class of waves in the mind. Memory is another class of Vrittis which is called Smriti.
11. Memory is when the (Vrittis of) perceived subjects do not slip away (and through impressions come back to consciousness).
Memory can come from direct perception, false knowledge, verbal delusion, and sleep. For instance, you hear a word. That word is like a stone thrown into the lake of the Chitta; it causes a ripple, and that ripple rouses a series of ripples; this is memory. So in sleep. When the peculiar kind of ripple called sleep throws the Chitta into a ripple of memory, it is called a dream. Dream is another form of the ripple which in the waking state is called memory.
12. Their control is by practice and non-attachment.
The mind, to have non-attachment, must be clear, good, and rational. Why should we practise? Because each action is like the pulsations quivering over the surface of the lake. The vibration dies out, and what is left? The Samskāras, the impressions. When a large number of these impressions are left on the mind, they coalesce and become a habit. It is said, “Habit is second nature”, it is first nature also, and the whole nature of man; everything that we are is the result of habit. That gives us consolation, because, if it is only habit, we can make and unmake it at any time. The Samskaras are left by these vibrations passing out of our mind, each one of them leaving its result. Our character is the sum-total of these marks, and according as some particular wave prevails one takes that tone. If good prevails, one becomes good; if wickedness, one becomes wicked; if joyfulness, one becomes happy. The only remedy for bad habits is counter habits; all the bad habits that have left their impressions are to be controlled by good habits. Go on doing good, thinking holy thoughts continuously; that is the only way to suppress base impressions. Never say any man is hopeless, because he only represents a character, a bundle of habits, which can be checked by new and better ones. Character is repeated habits, and repeated habits alone can reform character.
13. Continuous struggle to keep them (the Vrittis) perfectly restrained is practice.
What is practice? The attempt to restrain the mind in Chitta form, to prevent its going out into waves.
14. It becomes firmly grounded by long constant efforts with great love (for the end to be attained).
Restraint does not come in one day, but by long continued practice.
15. That effect which comes to those who have given up their thirst after objects, either seen or heard, and which wills to control the objects, is non-attachment.
The two motive powers of our actions are (1) what we see ourselves, (2) the experience of others. These two forces throw the mind, the lake, into various waves. Renunciation is the power of battling against these forces and holding the mind in check. Their renunciation is what we want. I am passing through a street, and a man comes and takes away my watch. That is my own experience. I see it myself, and it immediately throws my Chitta into a wave, taking the form of anger. Allow not that to come. If you cannot prevent that, you are nothing; if you can, you have Vairāgya. Again, the experience of the worldly-minded teaches us that sense-enjoyments are the highest ideal. These are tremendous temptations. To deny them, and not allow the mind to come to a wave form with regard to them, is renunciation; to control the twofold motive powers arising from my own experience and from the experience of others, and thus prevent the Chitta from being governed by them, is Vairāgya. These should be controlled by me, and not I by them. This sort of mental strength is called renunciation. Vairāgya is the only way to freedom.
16. That is extreme non-attachment which gives up even the qualities, and comes from the knowledge of (the real nature of) the Purusha.
It is the highest manifestation of the power of Vairagya when it takes away even our attraction towards the qualities. We have first to understand what the Purusha, the Self, is and what the qualities are. According to Yoga philosophy, the whole of nature consists of three qualities or forces; one is called Tamas, another Rajas, and the third Sattva. These three qualities manifest themselves in the physical world as darkness or inactivity, attraction or repulsion, and equilibrium of the two. Everything that is in nature, all manifestations, are combinations and recombinations of these three forces. Nature has been divided into various categories by the Sānkhyas; the Self of man is beyond all these, beyond nature. It is effulgent, pure, and perfect. Whatever of intelligence we see in nature is but the reflection of this Self upon nature. Nature itself is insentient. You must remember that the word nature also includes the mind; mind is in nature; thought is in nature; from thought, down to the grossest form of matter, everything is in nature, the manifestation of nature. This nature has covered the Self of man, and when nature takes away the covering, the self appears in Its own glory. The non-attachment, as described in aphorism 15 (as being control of objects or nature) is the greatest help towards manifesting the Self. The next aphorism defines Samadhi, perfect concentration, which is the goal of the Yogi.
17. The concentration called right knowledge is that which is followed by reasoning, discrimination, bliss, unqualified egoism.
Samadhi is divided into two varieties. One is called the Samprajnāta, and the other the Asamprajnāta. In the Samprajnata Samadhi come all the powers of controlling nature. It is of four varieties. The first variety is called the Savitarka, when the mind meditates upon an object again and again, by isolating it from other objects. There are two sorts of objects for meditation in the twenty-five categories of the Sankhyas, (1) the twenty-four insentient categories of nature, and (2) the one sentient Purusha. This part of Yoga is based entirely on Sankhya philosophy, about which I have already told you. As you will remember, egoism and will and mind have a common basis, the Chitta or the mind-stuff, out of which they are all manufactured. The mind-stuff takes in the forces of nature, and projects them as thought. There must be something, again, where both force and matter are one. This is called Avyakta, the unmanifested state of nature before creation, and to which, after the end of a cycle, the whole of nature returns, to come out again after another period. Beyond that is the Purusha, the essence of intelligence. Knowledge is power, and as soon as we begin to know a thing, we get power over it; so also when the mind begins to meditate on the different elements, it gains power over them. That sort of meditation where the external gross elements are the objects is called Savitarka. Vitarka means question; Savitarka, with question, questioning the elements, as it were, that they may give their truths and their powers to the man who meditates upon them. There is no liberation in getting powers. It is a worldly search after enjoyments, and there is no enjoyment in this life; all search for enjoyment is vain; this is the old, old lesson which man finds so hard to learn. When he does learn it, he gets out of the universe and becomes free. The possession of what are called occult powers is only intensifying the world, and in the end, intensifying suffering. Though as a scientist Patanjali is bound to point out the possibilities of this science, he never misses an opportunity to warn us against these powers.
Again, in the very same meditation, when one struggles to take the elements out of time and space, and think of them as they are, it is called Nirvitarka, without question. When the meditation goes a step higher, and takes the Tanmātras as its object, and thinks of them as in time and space, it is called Savichāra, with discrimination; and when in the same meditation one eliminates time and space, and thinks of the fine elements as they are, it is called Nirvichāra, without discrimination. The next step is when the elements are given up, both gross and fine, and the object of meditation is the interior organ, the thinking organ. When the thinking organ is thought of as bereft of the qualities of activity and dullness, it is then called Sānanda, the blissful Samadhi. When the mind itself is the object of meditation, when meditation becomes very ripe and concentrated, when all ideas of the gross and fine materials are given up, when the Sattva state only of the Ego remains, but differentiated from all other objects, it is called Sāsmitā Samadhi. The man who has attained to this has attained to what is called in the Vedas “bereft of body”. He can think of himself as without his gross body; but he will have to think of himself as with a fine body. Those that in this state get merged in nature without attaining the goal are called Prakritilayas, but those who do not stop even there reach the goal, which is freedom.
18. There is another Samadhi which is attained by the constant practice of cessation of all mental activity, in which the Chitta retains only the unmanifested impressions.
This is the perfect superconscious Asamprajnata Samadhi, the state which gives us freedom. The first state does not give us freedom, does not liberate the soul. A man may attain to all powers, and yet fall again. There is no safeguard until the soul goes beyond nature. It is very difficult to do so, although the method seems easy. The method is to meditate on the mind itself, and whenever thought comes, to strike it down, allowing no thought to come into the mind, thus making it an entire vacuum. When we can really do this, that very moment we shall attain liberation. When persons without training and preparation try to make their minds vacant, they are likely to succeed only in covering themselves with Tamas, the material of ignorance, which make the mind dull and stupid, and leads them to think that they are making a vacuum of the mind. To be able to really do that is to manifest the greatest strength, the highest control. When this state, Asamprajnata, superconsciousness, is reached, the Samadhi becomes seedless. What is meant by that? In a concentration where there is consciousness, where the mind succeeds only in quelling the waves in the Chitta and holding them down, the waves remain in the form of tendencies. These tendencies (or seeds) become waves again, when the time comes. But when you have destroyed all these tendencies, almost destroyed the mind, then the Samadhi becomes seedless; there are no more seeds in the mind out of which to manufacture again and again this plant of life, this ceaseless round of birth and death.
You may ask, what state would that be in which there is no mind, there is no knowledge? What we call knowledge is a lower state than the one beyond knowledge. You must always bear in mind that the extremes look very much alike. If a very low vibration of ether is taken as darkness, an intermediate state as light, very high vibration will be darkness again. Similarly, ignorance is the lowest state, knowledge is the middle state, and beyond knowledge is the highest state, the two extremes of which seem the same. Knowledge itself is a manufactured something, a combination; it is not reality.
What is the result of constant practice of this higher concentration? All old tendencies of restlessness and dullness will be destroyed, as well as the tendencies of goodness too. The case is similar to that of the chemicals used to take the dirt and alloy off gold. When the ore is smelted down, the dross is burnt along with the chemicals. So this constant controlling power will stop the previous bad tendencies, and eventually, the good ones also. Those good and evil tendencies will suppress each other, leaving alone the Soul, in its own splendour untrammelled by either good or bad, the omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. Then the man will know that he had neither birth nor death, nor need for heaven or earth. He will know that he neither came nor went, it was nature which was moving, and that movement was reflected upon the soul. The form of the light reflected by the glass upon the wall moves, and the wall foolishly thinks it is moving. So with all of us; it is the Chitta constantly moving making itself into various forms, and we think that we are these various forms. All these delusions will vanish. When that free Soul will command — not pray or beg, but command — then whatever It desires will be immediately fulfilled; whatever It wants It will be able to do. According to the Sankhya philosophy, there is no God. It says that there can be no God of this universe, because if there were one, He must be a soul, and a soul must be either bound or free. How can the soul that is bound by nature, or controlled by nature, create? It is itself a slave. On the other hand, why should the Soul that is free create and manipulate all these things? It has no desires, so it cannot have any need to create. Secondly, it says the theory of God is an unnecessary one; nature explains all. What is the use of any God? But Kapila teaches that there are many souls, who, though nearly attaining perfection, fall short because they cannot perfectly renounce all powers. Their minds for a time merge in nature, to re-emerge as its masters. Such gods there are. We shall all become such gods, and, according to the Sankhyas, the God spoken of in the Vedas really means one of these free souls. Beyond them there is not an eternally free and blessed Creator of the universe. On the other hand, the Yogis say, “Not so, there is a God; there is one Soul separate from all other souls, and He is the eternal Master of all creation, the ever free, the Teacher of all teachers.” The Yogis admit that those whom the Sankhyas call “the merged in nature” also exist. They are Yogis who have fallen short of perfection, and though, for a time, debarred from attaining the goal, remain as rulers of parts of the universe.
19. (This Samadhi when not followed by extreme non-attachment) becomes the cause of the re-manifestation of the gods and of those that become merged in nature.
The gods in the Indian systems of philosophy represent certain high offices which are filled successively by various souls. But none of them is perfect.
20. To others (this Samadhi) comes through faith, energy, memory, concentration, and discrimination of the real.
These are they who do not want the position of gods or even that of rulers of cycles. They attain to liberation.
21. Success is speedy for the extremely energetic.
22. The success of Yogis differs according as the means they adopt are mild, medium, or intense.
23. Or by devotion to Ishvara.
24. Ishvara (the Supreme Ruler) is a special Purusha, untouched by misery, actions, their results, and desires.
We must again remember that the Pātanjala Yoga philosophy is based upon the Sankhya philosophy; only in the latter there is no place for God, while with the Yogis God has a place. The Yogis, however, do not mention many ideas about God, such as creating. God as the Creator of the universe is not meant by the Ishvara of the Yogis. According to the Vedas, Ishvara is the Creator of the universe; because it is harmonious, it must be the manifestation of one will. The Yogis want to establish a God, but they arrive at Him in a peculiar fashion of their own. They say:
25. In Him becomes infinite that all-knowingness which in others is (only) a germ.
The mind must always travel between two extremes. You can think of limited space, but that very idea gives you also unlimited space. Close your eyes and think of a little space; at the same time that you perceive the little circle, you have a circle round it of unlimited dimensions. It is the same with time. Try to think of a second; you will have, with the same act of perception, to think of time which is unlimited. So with knowledge. Knowledge is only a germ in man, but you will have to think of infinite knowledge around it, so that the very constitution of our mind shows us that there is unlimited knowledge, and the Yogis call that unlimited knowledge God.
26. He is the Teacher of even the ancient teachers, being to limited by time.
It is true that all knowledge is within ourselves, but this has to be called forth by another knowledge. Although the capacity to know is inside us, it must be called out, and that calling out of knowledge can only be done, a Yogi maintains, through another knowledge. Dead, insentient matter never calls out knowledge, it is the action of knowledge that brings out knowledge. Knowing beings must be with us to call forth what is in us, so these teachers were always necessary. The world was never without them, and no knowledge can come without them. God is the Teacher of all teachers, because these teachers, however great they may have been — gods or angels — were all bound and limited by time, while God is not. There are two peculiar deductions of the Yogis. The first is that in thinking of the limited, the mind must think of the unlimited; and that if one part of that perception is true, so also must the other be, for the reason that their value as perceptions of the mind is equal. The very fact that man has a little knowledge shows that God has unlimited knowledge. If I am to take one, why not the other? Reason forces me to take both or reject both. If I believe that there is a man with a little knowledge, I must also admit that there is someone behind him with unlimited knowledge. The second deduction is that no knowledge can come without a teacher. It is true, as the modern philosophers say, that there is something in man which evolves out of him; all knowledge is in man, but certain environments are necessary to call it out. We cannot find any knowledge without teachers. If there are men teachers, god teachers, or angel teachers, they are all limited; who was the teacher before them. We are forced to admit, as a last conclusion, one teacher who is not limited by time; and that One Teacher of infinite knowledge, without beginning or end, is called God.
27. His manifesting word is Om.
Every idea that you have in the mind has a counterpart in a word; the word and the thought are inseparable. The external part of one and the same thing is what we call word, and the internal part is what we call thought. No man can, by analysis, separate thought from word. The idea that language was created by men — certain men sitting together and deciding upon words, has been proved to be wrong. So long as man has existed there have been words and language. What is the connection between an idea and a word? Although we see that there must always be a word with a thought, it is not necessary that the same thought requires the same word. The thought may be the same in twenty different countries, yet the language is different. We must have a word to express each thought, but these words need not necessarily have the same sound. Sounds will vary in different nations. Our commentator says, “Although the relation between thought and word is perfectly natural, yet it does not mean a rigid connection between one sound and one idea.” These sounds vary, yet the relation between the sounds and the thoughts is a natural one. The connection between thoughts and sounds is good only if there be a real connection between the thing signified and the symbol; until then that symbol will never come into general use. A symbol is the manifester of the thing signified, and if the thing signified has already an existence, and if, by experience, we know that the symbol has expressed that thing many times, then we are sure that there is a real relation between them. Even if the things are not present, there will be thousands who will know them by their symbols. There must be a natural connection between the symbol and the thing signified; then, when that symbol is pronounced, it recalls the thing signified. The commentator says the manifesting word of God is Om. Why does he emphasise this word? There are hundreds of words for God. One thought is connected with a thousand words; the idea “God” is connected with hundreds of words, and each one stands as a symbol for God. Very good. But there must be a generalisation among all these words, some substratum, some common ground of all these symbols, and that which is the common symbol will be the best, and will really represent them all. In making a sound we use the larynx and the palate as a sounding board. Is there any material sound of which all other sounds must be manifestations, one which is the most natural sound? Om (Aum) is such a sound, the basis of all sounds. The first letter, A, is the root sound, the key, pronounced without touching any part of the tongue or palate; M represents the last sound in the series, being produced by the closed lips, and the U rolls from the very root to the end of the sounding board of the mouth. Thus, Om represents the whole phenomena of sound-producing. As such, it must be the natural symbol, the matrix of all the various sounds. It denotes the whole range and possibility of all the words that can be made. Apart from these speculations, we see that around this word Om are centred all the different religious ideas in India; all the various religious ideas of the Vedas have gathered themselves round this word Om. What has that to do with America and England, or any other country? Simply this, that the word has been retained at every stage of religious growth in India, and it has been manipulated to mean all the various ideas about God. Monists, dualists, mono-dualists, separatists, and even atheists took up this Om. Om has become the one symbol for the religious aspiration of the vast majority of human beings. Take, for instance, the English word God. It covers only a limited function, and if you go beyond it, you have to add adjectives, to make it Personal, or Impersonal, or Absolute God. So with the words for God in every other language; their signification is very small. This word Om, however, has around it all the various significances. As such it should be accepted by everyone.
28. The repetition of this (Om) and meditating on its meaning (is the way).
Why should there be repetition? We have not forgotten the theory of Samskaras, that the sum-total of impressions lives in the mind. They become more and more latent but remain there, and as soon as they get the right stimulus, they come out. Molecular vibration never ceases. When this universe is destroyed, all the massive vibrations disappear; the sun, moon, stars, and earth, melt down; but the vibrations remain in the atoms. Each atom performs the same function as the big worlds do. So even when the vibrations of the Chitta subside, its molecular vibrations go on, and when they get the impulse, come out again. We can now understand what is meant by repetition. It is the greatest stimulus that can be given to the spiritual Samskaras. “One moment of company with the holy makes a ship to cross this ocean of life.” Such is the power of association. So this repetition of Om, and thinking of its meaning, is keeping good company in your own mind. Study, and then meditate on what you have studied. Thus light will come to you, the Self will become manifest.
But one must think of Om, and of its meaning too. Avoid evil company, because the scars of old wounds are in you, and evil company is just the thing that is necessary to call them out. In the same way we are told that good company will call out the good impressions that are in us, but which have become latent. There is nothing holier in the world than to keep good company, because the good impressions will then tend to come to the surface.
29. From that is gained (the knowledge of) introspection, and the destruction of obstacles.
The first manifestation of the repetition and thinking of Om is that the introspective power will manifest more and more, all the mental and physical obstacles will begin to vanish. What are the obstacles to the Yogi?
30. Disease, mental laziness, doubt, lack of enthusiasm, lethargy, clinging to sense-enjoyments, false perception, non-attaining concentration, and falling away from the state when obtained, are the obstructing distractions.
Disease. This body is the boat which will carry us to the other shore of the ocean of life. It must be taken care of. Unhealthy persons cannot be Yogis. Mental laziness makes us lose all lively interest in the subject, without which there will neither be the will nor the energy to practise. Doubts will arise in the mind about the truth of the science, however strong one’s intellectual conviction may be, until certain peculiar psychic experiences come, as hearing or seeing at a distance, etc. These glimpses strengthen the mind and make the student persevere. Falling away … when obtained. Some days or weeks when you are practising, the mind will be calm and easily concentrated, and you will find yourself progressing fast. All of a sudden the progress will stop one day, and you will find yourself, as it were, stranded. Persevere. All progress proceeds by such rise and fall.
31. Grief, mental distress, tremor of the body, irregular breathing, accompany non-retention of concentration.
Concentration will bring perfect repose to mind and body every time it is practised. When the practice has been misdirected, or not enough controlled, these disturbances come. Repetition of Om and self-surrender to the Lord will strengthen the mind, and bring fresh energy. The nervous shakings will come to almost everyone. Do not mind them at all, but keep on practising. Practice will cure them, and make the seat firm.
32. To remedy this, the practice of one subject (should be made).
Making the mind take the form of one object for some time will destroy these obstacles. This is general advice. In the following aphorisms it will be expanded and particularised. As one practice cannot suit everyone, various methods will be advanced, and everyone by actual experience will find out that which helps him most.
33. Friendship, mercy, gladness, and indifference, being thought of in regard to subjects, happy, unhappy, good, and evil respectively, pacify the Chitta.
We must have these four sorts of ideas. We must have friendship for all; we must be merciful towards those that are in misery; when people are happy, we ought to be happy; and to the wicked we must be indifferent. So with all subjects that come before us. If the subject is a good one, we shall feel friendly towards it; if the subject of thought is one that is miserable, we must be merciful towards it. If it is good, we must be glad; if it is evil, we must be indifferent. These attitudes of the mind towards the different subjects that come before it will make the mind peaceful. Most of our difficulties in our daily lives come from being unable to hold our minds in this way. For instance, if a man does evil to us, instantly we want to react evil, and every reaction of evil shows that we are not able to hold the Chitta down; it comes out in waves towards the object, and we lose our power. Every reaction in the form of hatred or evil is so much loss to the mind; and every evil thought or deed of hatred, or any thought of reaction, if it is controlled, will be laid in our favour. It is not that we lose by thus restraining ourselves; we are gaining infinitely more than we suspect. Each time we suppress hatred, or a feeling of anger, it is so much good energy stored up in our favour; that piece of energy will be converted into the higher powers.
34. By throwing out and restraining the Breath.
The word used is Prāna. Prana is not exactly breath. It is the name for the energy that is in the universe. Whatever you see in the universe, whatever moves or works, or has life, is a manifestation of this Prana. The sum-total of the energy displayed in the universe is called Prana. This Prana, before a cycle begins, remains in an almost motionless state; and when the cycle begins, this Prana begins to manifest itself. It is this Prana that is manifested as motion — as the nervous motion in human beings or animals; and the same Prana is manifesting as thought, and so on. The whole universe is a combination of Prana and Ākāsha; so is the human body. Out of Akasha you get the different materials that you feel and see, and out of Prana all the various forces. Now this throwing out and restraining the Prana is what is called Prānāyāma. Patanjali, the father of the Yoga philosophy, does not give very many particular directions about Pranayama, but later on other Yogis found out various things about this Pranayama, and made of it a great science. With Patanjali it is one of the many ways, but he does not lay much stress on it. He means that you simply throw the air out, and draw it in, and hold it for some time, that is all, and by that, the mind will become a little calmer. But, later on, you will find that out of this is evolved a particular science called Pranayama. We shall hear a little of what these later Yogis have to say.
Some of this I have told you before, but a little repetition will serve to fix it in your minds. First, you must remember that this Prana is not the breath; but that which causes the motion of the breath, that which is the vitality of the breath, is the Prana. Again, the word Prana is used for all the senses; they are all called Pranas, the mind is called Prana; and so we see that Prana is force. And yet we cannot call it force, because force is only the manifestation of it. It is that which manifests itself as force and everything else in the way of motion. The Chitta, the mind-stuff, is the engine which draws in the Prana from the surroundings, and manufactures out of Prana the various vital forces — those that keep the body in preservation — and thought, will, and all other powers. By the above mentioned process of breathing we can control all the various motions in the body, and the various nerve currents that are running through the body. First we begin to recognise them, and then we slowly get control over them.
Now, these later Yogis consider that there are three main currents of this Prana in the human body. One they call Idā, another Pingalā, and the third Sushumnā. Pingala, according to them, is on the right side of the spinal column, and the Ida on the left, and in the middle of the spinal column is the Sushumna, an empty channel. Ida and Pingala, according to them, are the currents working in every man, and through these currents, we are performing all the functions of life. Sushumna is present in all, as a possibility; but it works only in the Yogi. You must remember that Yoga changes the body. As you go on practising, your body changes; it is not the same body that you had before the practice. That is very rational, and can be explained, because every new thought that we have must make, as it were, a new channel through the brain, and that explains the tremendous conservatism of human nature. Human nature likes to run through the ruts that are already there, because it is easy. If we think, just for example’s sake, that the mind is like a needle, and the brain substance a soft lump before it, then each thought that we have makes a street, as it were, in the brain, and this street would close up, but for the grey matter which comes and makes a lining to keep it separate. If there were no grey matter, there would be no memory, because memory means going over these old streets, retracing a thought as it were. Now perhaps you have marked that when one talks on subjects in which one takes a few ideas that are familiar to everyone, and combines and recombines them, it is easy to follow because these channels are present in everyone’s brain, and it is only necessary to recur them. But whenever a new subject comes, new channels have to be made, so it is not understood readily. And that is why the brain (it is the brain, and not the people themselves) refuses unconsciously to be acted upon by new ideas. It resists. The Prana is trying to make new channels, and the brain will not allow it. This is the secret of conservatism. The fewer channels there have been in the brain, and the less the needle of the Prana has made these passages, the more conservative will be the brain, the more it will struggle against new thoughts. The more thoughtful the man, the more complicated will be the streets in his brain, and the more easily he will take to new ideas, and understand them. So with every fresh idea, we make a new impression in the brain, cut new channels through the brain-stuff, and that is why we find that in the practice of Yoga (it being an entirely new set of thoughts and motives) there is so much physical resistance at first. That is why we find that the part of religion which deals with the world-side of nature is so widely accepted, while the other part, the philosophy, or the psychology, which deals with the inner nature of man, is so frequently neglected.
We must remember the definition of this world of ours; it is only the Infinite Existence projected into the plane of consciousness. A little of the Infinite is projected into consciousness, and that we call our world. So there is an Infinite beyond; and religion has to deal with both — with the little lump we call our world, and with the Infinite beyond. Any religion which deals with one only of these two will be defective. It must deal with both. The part of religion which deals with the part of the Infinite which has come into the plane of consciousness, got itself caught, as it were, in the plane of consciousness, in the cage of time, space, and causation, is quite familiar to us, because we are in that already, and ideas about this world have been with us almost from time immemorial. The part of religion which deals with the Infinite beyond comes entirely new to us, and getting ideas about it produces new channels in the brain, disturbing the whole system, and that is why you find in the practice of Yoga ordinary people are at first turned out of their grooves. In order to lessen these disturbances as much as possible, all these methods are devised by Patanjali, that we may practise any one of them best suited to us.
35. Those forms of concentration that bring extraordinary sense-perceptions cause perseverance of the mind.
This naturally comes with Dhāranā, concentration; the Yogis say, if the mind becomes concentrated on the tip of the nose, one begins to smell, after a few days, wonderful perfumes. If it becomes concentrated at the root of the tongue, one begins to hear sounds; if on the tip of the tongue, one begins to taste wonderful flavours; if on the middle of the tongue, one feels as if one were coming in contact with something. If one concentrates one’s mind on the palate, one begins to see peculiar things. If a man whose mind is disturbed wants to take up some of these practices of Yoga, yet doubts the truth of them, he will have his doubts set at rest when, after a little practice, these things come to him, and he will persevere.
36. Or (by the meditation on) the Effulgent Light, which is beyond all sorrow.
This is another sort of concentration. Think of the lotus of the heart, with petals downwards, and running through it, the Sushumna; take in the breath, and while throwing the breath out imagine that the lotus is turned with the petals upwards, and inside that lotus is an effulgent light. Meditate on that.
37. Or (by meditation on) the heart that has given up all attachment to sense-objects.
Take some holy person, some great person whom you revere, some saint whom you know to be perfectly non-attached, and think of his heart. That heart has become non-attached, and meditate on that heart; it will calm the mind. If you cannot do that, there is the next way:
38. Or by meditating on the knowledge that comes in sleep.
Sometimes a man dreams that he has seen angels coming to him and talking to him, that he is in an ecstatic condition, that he has heard music floating through the air. He is in a blissful condition in that dream, and when he wakes, it makes a deep impression on him. Think of that dream as real, and meditate upon it. If you cannot do that, meditate on any holy thing that pleases you.
39. Or by the meditation on anything that appeals to one as good.
This does not mean any wicked subject, but anything good that you like, any place that you like best, any scenery that you like best, any idea that you like best, anything that will concentrate the mind.
40. The Yogi’s mind thus meditating, becomes unobstructed from the atomic to the infinite.
The mind, by this practice, easily contemplates the most minute, as well as the biggest thing. Thus the mind-waves become fainter.
41. The Yogi whose Vrittis have thus become powerless (controlled) obtains in the receiver, (the instrument of) receiving, and the received (the Self, the mind, and external objects), concentratedness and sameness like the crystal (before different coloured objects).
What results from this constant meditation? We must remember how in a previous aphorism Patanjali went into the various states of meditation, how the first would be the gross, the second the fine, and from them the advance was to still finer objects. The result of these meditations is that we can meditate as easily on the fine as on the gross objects. Here the Yogi sees the three things, the receiver, the received, and the receiving instrument, corresponding to the Soul, external objects, and the mind. There are three objects of meditation given us. First, the gross things, as bodies, or material objects; second, fine things, as the mind, the Chitta; and third, the Purusha qualified, not the Purusha itself, but the Egoism. By practice, the Yogi gets established in all these meditations. Whenever he meditates he can keep out all other thoughts, he becomes identified with that on which he meditates. When he meditates, he is like a piece of crystal. Before flowers the crystal becomes almost identified with the flowers. If the flower is red, the crystal looks red, or if the flower is blue, the crystal looks blue.
42. Sound, meaning, and resulting knowledge, being mixed up, is (called) Samadhi with question.
Sound here means vibration, meaning the nerve currents which conduct it; and knowledge, reaction. All the various meditations we have had so far, Patanjali calls Savitarka (meditation with question). Later on he gives us higher and higher Dhyānas. In these that are called “with question,” we keep the duality of subject and object, which results from the mixture of word, meaning, and knowledge. There is first the external vibration, the word. This, carried inward by the sense currents, is the meaning. After that there comes a reactionary wave in the Chitta, which is knowledge, but the mixture of these three makes up what we call knowledge. In all the meditations up to this we get this mixture as objects of meditation. The next Samadhi is higher.
43. The Samadhi called “without question” (comes) when the memory is purified, or devoid of qualities, expressing only the meaning (of the meditated object).
It is by the practice of meditation of these three that we come to the state where these three do not mix. We can get rid of them. We will first try to understand what these three are. Here is the Chitta; you will always remember the simile of the mind-stuff to a lake, and the vibration, the word, the sound, like a pulsation coming over it. You have that calm lake in you, and I pronounce a word, “Cow”. As soon as it enters through your ears there is a wave produced in your Chitta along with it. So that wave represents the idea of the cow, the form or the meaning as we call it. The apparent cow that you know is really the wave in the mind-stuff that comes as a reaction to the internal and external sound vibrations. With the sound, the wave dies away; it can never exist without a word. You may ask how it is, when we only think of the cow, and do not hear a sound. You make that sound yourself. You are saying “cow” faintly in your mind, and with that comes a wave. There cannot be any wave without this impulse of sound; and when it is not from outside, it is from inside, and when the sound dies, the wave dies. What remains? The result of the reaction, and that is knowledge. These three are so closely combined in our mind that we cannot separate them. When the sound comes, the senses vibrate, and the wave rises in reaction; they follow so closely upon one another that there is no discerning one from the other. When this meditation has been practised for a long time, memory, the receptacle of all impressions, becomes purified, and we are able clearly to distinguish them from one another. This is called Nirvitarka, concentration without question.
44. By this process, (the concentrations) with discrimination and without discrimination, whose objects are finer, are (also) explained.
A process similar to the preceding is applied again; only, the objects to be taken up in the former meditations are gross; in this they are fine.
45. The finer objects end with the Pradhāna.
The gross objects are only the elements and everything manufactured out of them. The fine objects begin with the Tanmatras or fine particles. The organs, the mind,1 egoism, the mind-stuff (the cause of all manifestation), the equilibrium state of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas materials — called Pradhāna (chief), Prakriti (nature), or Avyakta (unmanifest) — are all included within the category of fine objects, the Purusha (the Soul) along being excepted.
46. These concentrations are with seed.
These do not destroy the seeds of past actions, and thus cannot give liberation, but what they bring to the Yogi is stated in the following aphorism.
47. The concentration “without discrimination” being purified, the Chitta becomes firmly fixed.
48. The knowledge in that is called “filled with Truth”.
The next aphorism will explain this.
49. The knowledge that is gained from testimony and inference is about common objects. That from the Samadhi just mentioned is of a much higher order, being able to penetrate where inference and testimony cannot go.
The idea is that we have to get our knowledge or ordinary objects by direct perception, and by inference therefrom, and from testimony of people who are competent. By “people who are competent”, the Yogis always mean the Rishis, or the Seers of the thoughts recorded in the scriptures — the Vedas. According to them, the only proof of the scriptures is that they were the testimony of competent persons, yet they say the scriptures cannot take us to realisation. We can read all the Vedas, and yet will not realise anything, but when we practise their teachings, then we attain to that state which realises what the scriptures say, which penetrates where neither reason nor perception nor inference can go, and where the testimony of others cannot avail. This is what is meant by the aphorism.
Realisation is real religion, all the rest is only preparation — hearing lectures, or reading books, or reasoning is merely preparing the ground; it is not religion. Intellectual assent and intellectual dissent are not religion. The central idea of the Yogis is that just as we come in direct contact with objects of the senses, so religion even can be directly perceived in a far more intense sense. The truths of religion, as God and Soul, cannot be perceived by the external senses. I cannot see God with my eyes, nor can I touch Him with my hands, and we also know that neither can we reason beyond the senses. Reason leaves us at a point quite indecisive; we may reason all our lives, as the world has been doing for thousands of years, and the result is that we find we are incompetent to prove or disprove the facts of religion. What we perceive directly we take as the basis, and upon that basis we reason. So it is obvious that reasoning has to run within these bounds of perception. It can never go beyond. The whole scope of realisation, therefore, is beyond sense-perception. The Yogis say that man can go beyond his direct sense-perception, and beyond his reason also. Man has in him the faculty, the power, of transcending his intellect even, a power which is in every being, every creature. by the practice of Yoga that power is aroused, and then man transcends the ordinary limits of reason, and directly perceives things which are beyond all reason.
50. The resulting impression from this Samadhi obstructs all other impressions.
We have seen in the foregoing aphorism that the only way of attaining to that superconsciousness is by concentration, and we have also seen that what hinders the mind from concentration are the past Samskaras, impressions. All of you have observed that, when you are trying to concentrate your mind, your thoughts wander. When you are trying to think of God, that is the very time these Samskaras appear. At other times they are not so active; but when you want them not, they are sure to be there, trying their best to crowd in your mind. Why should that be so? Why should they be much more potent at the time of concentration? It is because you are repressing them, and they react with all their force. At other times they do not react. How countless these old past impressions must be, all lodged somewhere in the Chitta, ready, waiting like tigers, to jump up! These have to be suppressed that the one idea which we want may arise, to the exclusion of the others. Instead they are all struggling to come up at the same time. These are the various powers of the Samskaras in hindering concentration of the mind. So this Samadhi which has just been given is the best to be practised, on account of its power of suppressing the Samskaras. The Samskara which will be raised by this sort of concentration will be so powerful that it will hinder the action of the others, and hold them in check.
51. By the restraint of even this (impression, which obstructs all other impressions), all being restrained, comes the “seedless” Samadhi.
You remember that our goal is to perceive the Soul itself. We cannot perceive the Soul, because it has got mingled up with nature, with the mind, with the body. The ignorant man thinks his body is the Soul. The learned man thinks his mind is the Soul. But both of them are mistaken. What makes the Soul get mingled up with all this? Different waves in the Chitta rise and cover the Soul; we only see a little reflection of the Soul through these waves; so, if the wave is one of anger, we see the Soul as angry; “I am angry,” one says. If it is one of love, we see ourselves reflected in that wave, and say we are loving. If that wave is one of weakness, and the Soul is reflected in it, we think we are weak. These various ideas come from these impressions, these Samskaras covering the Soul. The real nature of the Soul is not perceived as long as there is one single wave in the lake of the Chitta; this real nature will never be perceived until all the waves have subsided. So, first, Patanjali teaches us the meaning of these waves; secondly, the best way to repress them; and thirdly, how to make one wave so strong as to suppress all other waves, fire eating fire as it were. When only one remains, it will be easy to suppress that also, and when that is gone, this Samadhi or concentration is called seedless. It leaves nothing, and the Soul is manifested just as It is, in Its own glory. Then alone we know that the Soul is not a compound; It is the only eternal simple in the universe, and as such, It cannot be born, It cannot die; It is immortal, indestructible, the ever-living essence of intelligence.
- The mind, or common sensorium, the aggregate of all the senses.
Chapter II — Concentration: Its Practice
1. Mortification, study, and surrendering fruits of work to God are called Kriyā-Yoga.
Those Samādhis with which we ended our last chapter are very difficult to attain; so we must take them up slowly. The first step, the preliminary step, is called Kriya-yoga. Literally this means work, working towards Yoga. The organs are the horses, the mind is the rein, the intellect is the charioteer, the soul is the rider, and the body is the chariot. The master of the household, the King, the Self of man, is sitting in this chariot. If the horses are very strong and do not obey the rein, if the charioteer, the intellect, does not know how to control the horses, then the chariot will come to grief. But if the organs, the horses, are well controlled, and if the rein, the mind, is well held in the hands of the charioteer, the intellect, the chariot reaches the goal. What is meant, therefore, by this mortification? Holding the rein firmly while guiding the body and the organs; not letting them do anything they like, but keeping them both under proper control. Study. What is meant by study in this case? No study of novels or story books, but study of those works which teach the liberation of the Soul. Then again this study does not mean controversial studies at all. The Yogi is supposed to have finished his period of controversy. He has had enough of that, and has become satisfied. He only studies to intensify his convictions. Vāda and Siddhānta — these are the two sorts of scriptural knowledge — Vada (the argumentative) and Siddhanta (the decisive). When a man is entirely ignorant he takes up the first of these, the argumentative fighting, and reasoning pro and con; and when he has finished that he takes up the Siddhanta, the decisive, arriving at a conclusion. Simply arriving at this conclusion will not do. It must be intensified. Books are infinite in number, and time is short; therefore the secret of knowledge is to take what is essential. Take that and try to live up to it. There is an old Indian legend that if you place a cup of milk and water before a Rāja Hamsa (swan), he will take all the milk and leave the water. In that way we should take what is of value in knowledge, and leave the dross. Intellectual gymnastics are necessary at first. We must not go blindly into anything. The Yogi has passed the argumentative state, and has come to a conclusion, which is, like the rock, immovable. The only thing he now seeks to do is to intensify that conclusion. Do not argue, he says; if one forces arguments upon you, be silent. Do not answer any argument, but go away calmly, because arguments only disturb the mind. The only thing necessary is to train the intellect, what is the use of disturbing it for nothing? The intellect is but a weak instrument, and can give us only knowledge limited by the senses. The Yogi wants to go beyond the senses, therefore intellect is of no use to him. He is certain of this and, therefore, is silent, and does not argue. Every argument throws his mind out of balance, creates a disturbance in the Chitta, and a disturbance is a drawback. Argumentations and searchings of the reason are only by the way. There are much higher things beyond them. The whole of life is not for school boy fights and debating societies. “Surrendering the fruits of work to God” is to take to ourselves neither credit nor blame, but to give up both to the Lord and be at peace.
2. (It is for) the practice of Samadhi and minimising the pain-bearing obstructions.
Most of us make our minds like spoilt children, allowing them to do whatever they want. Therefore it is necessary that Kriya-yoga should be constantly practised, in order to gain control of the mind, and bring it into subjection. The obstructions to Yoga arise from lack of control, and cause us pain. They can only be removed by denying the mind, and holding it in check, through the means of Kriya-yoga.
3. The pain-bearing obstructions are — ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life.
These are the five pains, the fivefold tie that binds us down, of which ignorance is the cause and the other four its effects. It is the only cause of all our misery. What else can make us miserable? The nature of the Soul is eternal bliss. What can make it sorrowful except ignorance, hallucination, delusion? All pain of the Soul is simply delusion.
4. Ignorance is the productive field of all these that follow, whether they are dormant, attenuated, overpowered, or expanded.
Ignorance is the cause of egoism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life. These impressions exist in different states. They are sometimes dormant. You often hear the expression “innocent as a baby,” yet in the baby may be the state of a demon or of a god, which will come out by degrees. In the Yogi, these impressions, the Samskaras left by past actions, are attenuated, that is, exist in a very fine state, and he can control them, and not allow them to become manifest. “Overpowered” means that sometimes one set of impressions is held down for a while by those that are stronger, but they come out when that repressing cause is removed. The last state is the “expanded,” when the Samskāras, having helpful surroundings, attain to a great activity, either as good or evil.
5. Ignorance is taking the non-eternal, the impure, the painful, and the non-Self for the eternal, the pure, the happy, and the Atman or Self (respectively).
All the different sorts of impressions have one source, ignorance. We have first to learn what ignorance is. All of us think, “I am the body, and not the Self, the pure, the effulgent, the ever blissful,” and that is ignorance. We think of man, and see man as body. This is the great delusion.
6. Egoism is the identification of the seer with the instrument of seeing.
The seer is really the Self, the pure one, the ever holy, the infinite, the immortal. This is the Self of man. And what are the instruments? The Chitta or mind-stuff, the Buddhi or determinative faculty, the Manas or mind, and the Indriyas or sense-organs. These are the instruments for him to see the external world, and the identification of the Self with the instruments is what is called the ignorance of egoism. We say, “I am the mind,” “I am thought,” “I am angry,” or “I am happy”. How can we be angry and how can we hate? We should identify ourselves with the Self that cannot change. If It is unchangeable, how can It be one moment happy, and one moment unhappy? It is formless, infinite, omnipresent. What can change It? It is beyond all law. What can affect It? Nothing in the universe can produce an effect on It. Yet through ignorance, we identify ourselves with the mind-stuff, and think we feel pleasure or pain.
7. Attachment is that which dwells on pleasure.
We find pleasure in certain things, and the mind like a current flows towards them; and this following the pleasure centre, as it were, is what is called attachment. We are never attached where we do not find pleasure. We find pleasure in very queer things sometimes, but the principle remains: wherever we find pleasure, there we are attached.
8. Aversion is that which dwells on pain.
That which gives us pain we immediately seek to get away from.
9. Flowing through its own nature, and established even in the learned, is the clinging to life.
This clinging to life you see manifested in every animal. Upon it many attempts have been made to build the theory of a future life, because men are so fond of life that they desire a future life also. Of course it goes without saying that this argument is without much value, but the most curious part of it is, that, in Western countries, the idea that this clinging to life indicates a possibility of future life applies only to men, but does not include animals. In India this clinging to life has been one of the arguments to prove past experience and existence. For instance, if it be true that all our knowledge has come from experience, then it is sure that that which we never experienced we cannot imagine or understand. As soon as chickens are hatched they begin to pick up food. Many times it has been seen, where ducks have been hatched by hens, that, as soon as they came out of the eggs they flew to water, and the mother thought they would be drowned. If experience be the only source of knowledge, where did these chickens learn to pick up food, or the ducklings that the water was their natural element? If you say it is instinct, it means nothing — it is simply giving a word, but is no explanation. What is this instinct? We have many instincts in ourselves. For instance, most of you ladies play the piano, and remember, when you first learned, how carefully you had to put your fingers on the black and white keys, one after the other, but now, after long years of practice, you can talk with your friends while your fingers play mechanically. It has become instinct. So with every work we do; by practice it becomes instinct, it becomes automatic; but so far as we know, all the cases which we now regard as automatic are degenerated reason. In the language of the Yogi, instinct is involved reason. Discrimination becomes involved, and gets to be automatic Samskaras. Therefore it is perfectly logical to think that all we call instinct in this world is simply involved reason. As reason cannot come without experience, all instinct is, therefore, the result of past experience. Chickens fear the hawk, and ducklings love the water; these are both the results of past experience. Then the question is whether that experience belongs to a particular soul, or to the body simply, whether this experience which comes to the duck is the duck’s forefathers’ experience, or the duck’s own experience. Modern scientific men hold that it belongs to the body, but the Yogis hold that it is the experience of the mind, transmitted through the body. This is called the theory of reincarnation.
We have seen that all our knowledge, whether we call it perception, or reason, or instinct, must come through that one channel called experience, and all that we now call instinct is the result of past experience, degenerated into instinct and that instinct regenerates into reason again. So on throughout the universe, and upon this has been built one of the chief arguments for reincarnation in India. The recurring experiences of various fears, in course of time, produce this clinging to life. That is why the child is instinctively afraid, because the past experience of pain is there in it. Even in the most learned men, who know that this body will go, and who say “never mind, we have had hundreds of bodies, the soul cannot die” — even in them, with all their intellectual convictions, we still find this clinging on to life. Why is this clinging to life? We have seen that it has become instinctive. In the psychological language of the Yogis it has become a Samskara. The Samskaras, fine and hidden, are sleeping in the Chitta. All this past experience of death, all that which we call instinct, is experience become subconscious. It lives in the Chitta, and is not inactive, but is working underneath.
The Chitta-Vrittis, the mind-waves, which are gross, we can appreciate and feel; they can be more easily controlled, but what about the finer instincts? How can they be controlled? When I am angry, my whole mind becomes a huge wave of anger. I feel it, see it, handle it, can easily manipulate it, can fight with it; but I shall not succeed perfectly in the fight until I can get down below to its causes. A man says something very harsh to me, and I begin to feel that I am getting heated, and he goes on till I am perfectly angry and forget myself, identify myself with anger. When he first began to abuse me, I thought, “I am going to be angry”. Anger was one thing, and I was another; but when I became angry, I was anger. These feelings have to be controlled in the germ, the root, in their fine forms, before even we have become conscious that they are acting on us. With the vast majority of mankind the fine states of these passions are not even known — the states in which they emerge from subconsciousness. When a bubble is rising from the bottom of the lake, we do not see it, nor even when it is nearly come to the surface; it is only when it bursts and makes a ripple that we know it is there. We shall only be successful in grappling with the waves when we can get hold of them in their fine causes, and until you can get hold of them, and subdue them before they become gross, there is no hope of conquering any passion perfectly. To control our passions we have to control them at their very roots; then alone shall we be able to burn out their very seeds. As fried seeds thrown into the ground will never come up, so these passions will never arise.
10. The fine Samskaras are to be conquered by resolving them into their causal state.
Samskaras are the subtle impressions that manifest themselves into gross forms later on. How are these fine Samskaras to be controlled? By resolving the effect into its cause. When the Chitta, which is an effect, is resolved into its cause, Asmita or Egoism, then only, the fine impressions die along with it. Meditation cannot destroy these.
11. By meditation, their (gross) modifications are to be rejected.
Meditation is one of the great means of controlling the rising of these waves. By meditation you can make the mind subdue these waves, and if you go on practising meditation for days, and months, and years, until it has become a habit, until it will come in spite of yourself, anger and hatred will be controlled and checked.
12. The “receptacle of works” has its root in these pain-bearing obstructions, and their experience is in this visible life, or in the unseen life.
By the “receptacle of works” is meant the sum-total of Samskaras. Whatever work we do, the mind is thrown into a wave, and after the work is finished, we think the wave is gone. No. It has only become fine, but it is still there. When we try to remember the work, it comes up again and becomes a wave. So it was there; if not, there would not have been memory. Thus every action, every thought, good or bad, just goes down and becomes fine, and is there stored up. Both happy and unhappy thoughts are called pain-bearing obstructions, because according to the Yogis, they, in the long run, bring pain. All happiness which comes from the senses will, eventually, bring pain. All enjoyment will make us thirst for more, and that brings pain as its result. There is no limit to man’s desires; he goes on desiring, and when he comes to a point where desire cannot be fulfilled, the result is pain. Therefore the Yogis regard the sum-total of the impressions, good or evil, as pain-bearing obstructions; they obstruct the way to freedom of the Soul.
It is the same with the Samskaras, the fine roots of all our works; they are the causes which will again bring effects, either in this life, or in the lives to come. In exceptional cases when these Samskaras are very strong, they bear fruit quickly; exceptional acts of wickedness, or of goodness, bring their fruits even in this life. The Yogis hold that men who are able to acquire a tremendous power of good Samskaras do not have to die, but, even in this life, can change their bodies into god-bodies. There are several such cases mentioned by the Yogis in their books. These men change the very material of their bodies; they re-arrange the molecules in such fashion that they have no more sickness, and what we call death does not come to them. Why should not this be? The physiological meaning of food is assimilation of energy from the sun. The energy has reached the plant, the plant is eaten by an animal, and the animal by man. The science of it is that we take so much energy from the sun, and make it part of ourselves. That being the case, why should there be only one way of assimilating energy? The plant’s way is not the same as ours; the earth’s process of assimilating energy differs from our own. But all assimilate energy in some form or other. The Yogis say that they are able to assimilate energy by the power of the mind alone, that they can draw in as much of it as they desire without recourse to the ordinary methods. As a spider makes its web out of its own substance, and becomes bound in it, and cannot go anywhere except along the lines of that web, so we have projected out of our own substance this network called the nerves, and we cannot work except through the channels of those nerves. The Yogi says we need not be bound by that.
Similarly, we can send electricity to any part of the world, but we have to send it by means of wires. Nature can send a vast mass of electricity without any wires at all. Why cannot we do the same? We can send mental electricity. What we call mind is very much the same as electricity. It is clear that this nerve fluid has some amount of electricity, because it is polarised, and it answers all electrical directions. We can only send our electricity through these nerve channels. Why not send the mental electricity without this aid? The Yogis say it is perfectly possible and practicable, and that when you can do that, you will work all over the universe. You will be able to work with any body anywhere, without the help of the nervous system. When the soul is acting through these channels, we say a man is living, and when these cease to work, a man is said to be dead. But when a man is able to act either with or without these channels, birth and death will have no meaning for him. All the bodies in the universe are made up of Tanmātras, their difference lies in the arrangement of the latter. If you are the arranger, you can arrange a body in one way or another. Who makes up this body but you? Who eats the food? If another ate the food for you, you would not live long. Who makes the blood out of food? You, certainly. Who purifies the blood, and sends it through the veins? You. We are the masters of the body, and we live in it. Only we have lost the knowledge of how to rejuvenate it. We have become automatic, degenerate. We have forgotten the process of arranging its molecules. So, what we do automatically has to be done knowingly. We are the masters and we have to regulate that arrangement; and as soon as we can do that, we shall be able to rejuvenate just as we like, and then we shall have neither birth nor disease nor death.
13. The root being there, the fruition comes (in the form of) species, life, and experience of pleasure and pain.
The roots, the causes, the Samskaras being there, they manifest and form the effects. The cause dying down becomes the effect; the effect getting subtler becomes the cause of the next effect. A tree bears a seed, which becomes the cause of another tree, and so on. All our works now are the effects of past Samskaras; again, these works becoming Samskaras will be the causes of future actions, and thus we go on. So this aphorism says that the cause being there, the fruit must come, in the form of species of beings: one will be a man, another an angel, another an animal, another a demon. Then there are different effects of Karma in life. One man lives fifty years, another a hundred, another dies in two years, and never attains maturity; all these differences in life are regulated by past Karma. One man is born, as it were, for pleasure; if he buries himself in a forest, pleasure will follow him there. Another man, wherever he goes, is followed by pain; everything becomes painful for him. It is the result of their own past. According to the philosophy of the Yogis, all virtuous actions bring pleasure, and all vicious actions bring pain. Any man who does wicked deeds is sure to reap their fruit in the form of pain.
14. They bear fruit as pleasure or pain, caused by virtue or vice.
15. To the discriminating, all is, as it were, painful on account of everything bringing pain either as consequence, or as anticipation of loss of happiness, or as fresh craving arising from impressions of happiness, and also as counteraction of qualities.
The Yogis say that the man who has discriminating powers, the man of good sense, sees through all that are called pleasure and pain, and knows that they come to all, and that one follows and melts into the other; he sees that men follow an ignis fatuus all their lives, and never succeed in fulfilling their desires. The great king Yudhishthira once said that the most wonderful thing in life is that every moment we see people dying around us, and yet we think we shall never die. Surrounded by fools on every side, we think we are the only exceptions, the only learned men. Surrounded by all sorts of experiences of fickleness, we think our love is the only lasting love. How can that be? Even love is selfish, and the Yogi says that in the end we shall find that even the love of husbands and wives, and children and friends, slowly decays. Decadence seizes everything in this life. It is only when everything, even love, fails, that, with a flash, man finds out how vain, how dream-like is this world. Then he catches a glimpse of Vairāgya (renunciation), catches a glimpse of the Beyond. It is only by giving up this world that the other comes; never through holding on to this one. Never yet was there a great soul who had not to reject sense-pleasures and enjoyments to acquire his greatness. The cause of misery is the clash between the different forces of nature, one dragging one way, and another dragging another, rendering permanent happiness impossible.
16. The misery which is not yet come is to be avoided.
Some Karma we have worked out already, some we are working out now in the present, and some are waiting to bear fruit in the future. The first kind is past and gone. The second we will have to work out, and it is only that which is waiting to bear fruit in the future that we can conquer and control, towards which end all our forces should be directed. This is what Patanjali means when he says that Samskaras are to be controlled by resolving them into their causal state.
17. The cause of that which is to be avoided is the junction of the seer and the seen.
Who is the seer? The Self of man, the Purusha. What is the seen? The whole of nature beginning with the mind, down to gross matter. All pleasure and pain arise from the junction between this Purusha and the mind. The Purusha, you must remember, according to this philosophy, is pure; when joined to nature, it appears to feel pleasure or pain by reflection.
18. The experienced is composed of elements and organs, is of the nature of illumination, action, and inertia, and is for the purpose of experience and release (of the experiencer).
The experienced, that is nature, is composed of elements and organs — the elements, gross and fine, which compose the whole of nature, and the organs of the senses, mind, etc. — and is of the nature of illumination (Sattva), action (Rajas), and inertia (Tamas). What is the purpose of the whole of nature? That the Purusha may gain experience. The Purusha has, as it were, forgotten its mighty, godly nature. There is a story that the king of the gods, Indra, once became a pig, wallowing in mire; he had a she-pig and a lot of baby pigs, and was very happy. Then some gods saw his plight, and came to him, and told him, “You are the king of the gods, you have all the gods under your command. Why are you here?” But Indra said, “Never mind; I am all right here; I do not care for heaven, while I have this sow and these little pigs.” The poor gods were at their wits’ end. After a time they decided to to slay all the pigs one after another. When all were dead, Indra began to weep and mourn. Then the gods ripped his pig-body open and he came out of it, and began to laugh, when he realised what a hideous dream he had had — he, the king of the gods, to have become a pig, and to think that that pig-life was the only life! Not only so, but to have wanted the whole universe to come into the pig-life! The Purusha, when it identifies itself with nature, forgets that it is pure and infinite. The Purusha does not love, it is love itself. It does not exist, it is existence itself. The Soul does not know, It is knowledge itself. It is a mistake to say the Soul loves, exists, or knows. Love, existence, and knowledge are not the qualities of the Purusha, but its essence. When they get reflected upon something, you may call them the qualities of that something. They are not the qualities but the essence of the Purusha, the great Ātman, the Infinite Being, without birth or death, established in its own glory. It appears to have become so degenerate that if you approach to tell it, “You are not a pig,” it begins to squeal and bite.
Thus is it with us all in this Māyā, this dream world, where it is all misery, weeping and crying, where a few golden balls are rolled, and the world scrambles after them. You were never bound by laws, nature never had a bond for you. That is what the Yogi tells you. Have patience to learn it. And the Yogi shows how, by junction with nature, and identifying itself with the mind and the world, the Purusha thinks itself miserable. Then the Yogi goes on to show you that the way out is through experience. You have to get all this experience, but finish it quickly. We have placed ourselves in this net, and will have to get out. We have got ourselves caught in the trap, and we will have to work out our freedom. So get this experience of husbands, and wives, and friends, and little loves; you will get through them safely if you never forget what you really are. Never forget this is only a momentary state, and that we have to pass through it. Experience is the one great teacher — experience of pleasure and pain — but know it is only experience. It leads, step by step, to that state where all things become small, and the Purusha so great that the whole universe seems as a drop in the ocean and falls off by its own nothingness. We have to go through different experiences, but let us never forget the ideal.
19. The states of the qualities are the defined, the undefined, the indicated only, and the signless.
The system of Yoga is built entirely on the philosophy of the Sānkhyas, as I told you before, and here again I shall remind you of the cosmology of the Sankhya philosophy. According to the Sankhyas, nature is both the material and the efficient cause of the universe. In nature there are three sorts of materials, the Sattva, the Rajas, and the Tamas. The Tamas material is all that is dark, all that is ignorant and heavy. The Rajas is activity. The Sattva is calmness, light. Nature, before creation, is called by them Avyakta, undefined, or indiscrete; that is, in which there is no distinction of form or name, a state in which these three materials are held in perfect balance. Then the balance is disturbed, the three materials begin to mingle in various fashions, and the result is the universe. In every man, also, these three materials exist. When the Sattva material prevails, knowledge comes; when Rajas, activity; and when Tamas, darkness, lassitude, idleness, and ignorance. According to the Sankhya theory, the highest manifestation of nature, consisting of the three materials, is what they call Mahat or intelligence, universal intelligence, of which each human intellect is a part. In the Sankhya psychology there is a sharp distinction between Manas, the mind function, and the function of the Buddhi, intellect. The mind function is simply to collect and carry impressions and present them to the Buddhi, the individual Mahat, which determines upon it. Out of Mahat comes egoism, out of which again come the fine materials. The fine materials combine and become the gross materials outside — the external universe. The claim of the Sankhya philosophy is that beginning with the intellect down to a block of stone, all is the product of one substance, different only as finer to grosser states of existence. The finer is the cause, and the grosser is the effect. According to the Sankhya philosophy, beyond the whole of nature is the Purusha, which is not material at all. Purusha is not at all similar to anything else, either Buddhi, or mind, or the Tanmatras, or the gross materials. It is not akin to any one of these, it is entirely separate, entirely different in its nature, and from this they argue that the Purusha must be immortal, because it is not the result of combination. That which is not the result of combination cannot die. The Purushas or souls are infinite in number.
Now we shall understand the aphorism that the states of the qualities are defined, undefined, indicated only, and signless. By the “defined” are meant the gross elements, which we can sense. By the “undefined” are meant the very fine materials, the Tanmatras, which cannot be sensed by ordinary men. If you practise Yoga, however, says Patanjali, after a while your perceptions will become so fine that you will actually see the Tanmatras. For instance, you have heard how every man has a certain light about him; every living being emits a certain light, and this, he says, can be seen by the Yogi. We do not all see it, but we all throw out these Tanmatras, just as a flower continuously sends out fine particles which enable us to smell it. Every day of our lives we throw out a mass of good or evil, and everywhere we go the atmosphere is full of these materials. That is how there came to the human mind, unconsciously, the idea of building temples and churches. Why should man build churches in which to worship God? Why not worship Him anywhere? Even if he did not know the reason, man found that the place where people worshipped God became full of good Tanmatras. Every day people go there, and the more they go the holier they get, and the holier that place becomes. If any man who has not much Sattva in him goes there, the place will influence him and arouse his Sattva quality. Here, therefore, is the significance of all temples and holy places, but you must remember that their holiness depends on holy people congregating there. The difficulty with man is that he forgets the original meaning, and puts the cart before the horse. It was men who made these places holy, and then the effect became the cause and made men holy. If the wicked only were to go there, it would become as bad as any other place. It is not the building, but the people that make a church, and that is what we always forget. That is why sages and holy persons, who have much of this Sattva quality, can send it out and exert a tremendous influence day and night on their surroundings. A man may become so pure that his purity will become tangible. Whosoever comes in contact with him becomes pure.
Next “the indicated only” means the Buddhi, the intellect. “The indicated only” is the first manifestation of nature; from it all other manifestations proceed. The last is “the signless”. There seems to be a great difference between modern science and all religions at this point. Every religion has the idea that the universe comes out of intelligence. The theory of God, taking it in its psychological significance, apart from all ideas of personality, is that intelligence is first in the order of creation, and that out of intelligence comes what we call gross matter. Modern philosophers say that intelligence is the last to come. They say that unintelligent things slowly evolve into animals, and from animals into men. They claim that instead of everything coming out of intelligence, intelligence itself is the last to come. Both the religious and the scientific statements, though seeming directly opposed to each other are true. Take an infinite series, A—B—A—B—A—B, etc. The question is — which is first, A or B? If you take the series as A—B, you will say that A is first, but if you take it as B—A, you will say that B is first. It depends upon the way we look at it. Intelligence undergoes modification and becomes the gross matter, this again merges into intelligence, and thus the process goes on. The Sankhyas, and other religionists, put intelligence first, and the series becomes intelligence, then matter. The scientific man puts his finger on matter, and says matter, then intelligence. They both indicate the same chain. Indian philosophy, however, goes beyond both intelligence and matter, and finds a Purusha, or Self, which is beyond intelligence, of which intelligence is but the borrowed light.
20. The seer is intelligence only, and though pure, sees through the colouring of the intellect.
This is, again, Sankhya philosophy. We have seen from the same philosophy that from the lowest form up to intelligence all is nature; beyond nature are Purushas (souls), which have no qualities. Then how does the soul appear to be happy or unhappy? By reflection. If a red flower is put near a piece of pure crystal, the crystal appears to be red, similarly the appearances of happiness or unhappiness of the soul are but reflections. The soul itself has no colouring. The soul is separate from nature. Nature is one thing, soul another, eternally separate. The Sankhyas say that intelligence is a compound, that it grows and wanes, that it changes, just as the body changes, and that its nature is nearly the same as that of the body. As a finger-nail is to the body, so is body to intelligence. The nail is a part of the body, but it can be pared off hundreds of times, and the body will still last. Similarly, the intelligence lasts aeons, while this body can be “pared off,” thrown off. Yet intelligence cannot be immortal because it changes — growing and waning. Anything that changes cannot be immortal. Certainly intelligence is manufactured, and that very fact shows us that there must be something beyond that. It cannot be free, everything connected with matter is in nature, and, therefore, bound for ever. Who is free? The free must certainly be beyond cause and effect. If you say that the idea of freedom is a delusion, I shall say that the idea of bondage is also a delusion. Two facts come into our consciousness, and stand or fall with each other. These are our notions of bondage and freedom. If we want to go through a wall, and our head bumps against that wall, we see we are limited by that wall. At the same time we find a will power, and think we can direct our will everywhere. At every step these contradictory ideas come to us. We have to believe that we are free, yet at every moment we find we are not free. If one idea is a delusion, the other is also a delusion, and if one is true, the other also is true, because both stand upon the same basis — consciousness. The Yogi says, both are true; that we are bound so far as intelligence goes, that we are free so far as the soul is concerned. It is the real nature of man, the soul, the Purusha, which is beyond all law of causation. Its freedom is percolating through layers of matter in various forms, intelligence, mind, etc. It is its light which is shining through all. Intelligence has no light of its own. Each organ has a particular centre in the brain; it is not that all the organs have one centre; each organ is separate. Why do all perceptions harmonise? Where do they get their unity? If it were in the brain, it would be necessary for all the organs, the eyes, the nose, the ears, etc., to have one centre only, while we know for certain that there are different centres for each. Both a man can see and hear at the same time, so a unity must be there at the back of intelligence. Intelligence is connected with the brain, but behind intelligence even stands the Purusha, the unit, where all different sensations and perceptions join and become one. The soul itself is the centre where all the different perceptions converge and become unified. That soul is free, and it is its freedom that tells you every moment that you are free. But you mistake, and mingle that freedom every moment with intelligence and mind. You try to attribute that freedom to the intelligence, and immediately find that intelligence is not free; you attribute that freedom to the body, and immediately nature tells you that you are again mistaken. That is why there is this mingled sense of freedom and bondage at the same time. The Yogi analyses both what is free and what is bound, and his ignorance vanishes. He finds that the Purusha is free, is the essence of that knowledge which, coming through the Buddhi, becomes intelligence, and, as such, is bound.
21. The nature of the experienced is for him.
Nature has no light of its own. As long as the Purusha is present in it, it appears as light. But the light is borrowed; just as the moon’s light is reflected. According to the Yogis, all the manifestations of nature are caused by nature itself, but nature has no purpose in view, except to free the Purusha.
22. Though destroyed for him whose goal has been gained, yet it is not destroyed, being common to others.
The whole activity of nature is to make the soul know that it is entirely separate from nature. When the soul knows this, nature has no more attractions for it. But the whole of nature vanishes only for that man who has become free. There will always remain an infinite number of others, for whom nature will go on working.
23. Junction is the cause of the realisation of the nature of both the powers, the experienced and its Lord.
According to this aphorism, both the powers of soul and nature become manifest when they are in conjunction. Then all manifestations are thrown out. Ignorance is the cause of this conjunction. We see every day that the cause of our pain or pleasure is always our joining ourselves with the body. If I were perfectly certain that I am not this body, I should take no notice of heat and cold, or anything of the kind. This body is a combination. It is only a fiction to say that I have one body, you another, and the sun another. The whole universe is one ocean of matter, and you are the name of a little particle, and I of another, and the sun of another. We know that this matter is continuously changing. What is forming the sun one day, the next day may form the matter of our bodies.
24. Ignorance is its cause.
Through ignorance we have joined ourselves with a particular body, and thus opened ourselves to misery. This idea of body is a simple superstition. It is superstition that makes us happy or unhappy. It is superstition caused by ignorance that makes us feel heat and cold, pain and pleasure. It is our business to rise above this superstition, and the Yogi shows us how we can do this. It has been demonstrated that, under certain mental conditions, a man may be burned, yet he will feel no pain. The difficulty is that this sudden upheaval of the mind comes like a whirlwind one minute, and goes away the next. If, however, we gain it through Yoga, we shall permanently attain to the separation of Self from the body.
25. There being absence of that (ignorance) there is absence of junction, which is the thing-to-be-avoided; that is the independence of the seer.
According to yoga philosophy, it is through ignorance that the soul has been joined with nature. The aim is to get rid of nature’s control over us. That is the goal of all religions. Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy — by one or more or all of these — and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details. The Yogi tries to reach this goal through psychic control. Until we can free ourselves from nature, we are slaves; as she dictates so we must go. The Yogi claims that he who controls mind controls matter also. The internal nature is much higher than the external and much more difficult to grapple with, much more difficult to control. Therefore he who has conquered the internal nature controls the whole universe; it becomes his servant. Raja-yoga propounds the methods of gaining this control. Forces higher than we know in physical nature will have to be subdued. This body is just the external crust of the mind. They are not two different things; they are just as the oyster and its shell. They are but two aspects of one thing; the internal substance of the oyster takes up matter from outside, and manufactures the shell. In the same way the internal fine forces which are called mind take up gross matter from outside, and from that manufacture this external shell, the body. If, then, we have control of the internal, it is very easy to have control of the external. Then again, these forces are not different. It is not that some forces are physical, and some mental; the physical forces are but the gross manifestations of the fine forces, just as the physical world is but the gross manifestation of the fine world.
26. The means of destruction of ignorance is unbroken practice of discrimination.
This is the real goal of practice — discrimination between the real and the unreal, knowing that the Purusha is not nature, that it is neither matter nor mind, and that because it is not nature, it cannot possibly change. It is only nature which changes, combining and re-combining, dissolving continually. When through constant practice we begin to discriminate, ignorance will vanish, and the Purusha will begin to shine in its real nature — omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent.
27. His knowledge is of the sevenfold highest ground.
When this knowledge comes, it will come, as it were, in seven grades, one after the other; and when one of these begins, we know that we are getting knowledge. The first to appear will be that we have known what is to be known. The mind will cease to be dissatisfied. While we are aware of thirsting after knowledge, we begin to seek here and there, wherever we think we can get some truth, and failing to find it we become dissatisfied and seek in a fresh direction. All search is vain, until we begin to perceive that knowledge is within ourselves, that no one can help us, that we must help ourselves. When we begin to practise the power of discrimination, the first sign that we are getting near truth will be that that dissatisfied state will vanish. We shall feel quite sure that we have found the truth, and that it cannot be anything else but the truth. Then we may know that the sun is rising, that the morning is breaking for us, and taking courage, we must persevere until the goal is reached. The second grade will be the absence of all pains. It will be impossible for anything in the universe, external or internal, to give us pain. The third will be the attainment of full knowledge. Omniscience will be ours. The fourth will be the attainment of the end of all duty through discrimination. Next will come what is called freedom of the Chitta. We shall realise that all difficulties and struggles, all vacillations of the mind, have fallen down, just as a stone rolls from the mountain top into the valley and never comes up again. The next will be that the Chitta itself will realise that it melts away into its causes whenever we so desire. Lastly we shall find that we are established in our Self, that we have been alone throughout the universe, neither body nor mind was ever related, much less joined, to us. They were working their own way, and we, through ignorance, joined ourselves to them. But we have been alone, omnipotent, omnipresent, ever blessed; our own Self was so pure and perfect that we required none else. We required none else to make us happy, for we are happiness itself. We shall find that this knowledge does not depend on anything else; throughout the universe there can be nothing that will not become effulgent before our knowledge. This will be the last state, and the Yogi will become peaceful and calm, never to feel any more pain, never to be again deluded, never to be touched by misery. He will know he is ever blessed, ever perfect, almighty.
28. By the practice of the different parts of Yogas the impurities being destroyed, knowledge becomes effulgent up to discrimination.
Now comes the practical knowledge. What we have just been speaking about is much higher. It is away above our heads, but it is the ideal. It is first necessary to obtain physical and mental control. Then the realisation will become steady in that ideal. The ideal being known, what remains is to practise the method of reaching it.
29. Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prānāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāranā, Dhyāna, and Samādhi are the eight limbs of Yoga.
30. Non-killing, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-receiving are called Yamas.
A man who wants to be a perfect Yogi must give up the sex idea. The soul has no sex; why should it degrade itself with sex ideas? Later on we shall understand better why these ideas must be given up. The mind of the man who receives gifts is acted on by the mind of the giver, so the receiver is likely to become degenerated. Receiving gifts is prone to destroy the independence of the mind, and make us slavish. Therefore, receive no gifts.
31. These, unbroken by time, place, purpose, and caste – rules, are (universal) great vows.
These practices — non-killing, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity, and non-receiving — are to be practised by every man, woman, and child; by every soul, irrespective of nation, country, or position.
32. Internal and external purification, contentment, mortification, study, and worship of God are the Niyamas.
External purification is keeping the body pure; a dirty man will never be a Yogi. There must be internal purification also. That is obtained by the virtues named in I.33. Of course, internal purity is of greater value than external, but both are necessary, and external purity, without internal, is of no good.
33. To obstruct thoughts which are inimical to Yoga, contrary thoughts should be brought.
That is the way to practise the virtues that have been stated. For instance, when a big wave of anger has come into the mind, how are we to control that? Just by raising an opposing wave. Think of love. Sometimes a mother is very angry with her husband, and while in that state, the baby comes in, and she kisses the baby; the old wave dies out and a new wave arises, love for the child. That suppresses the other one. Love is opposite to anger. Similarly, when the idea of stealing comes, non-stealing should be thought of; when the idea of receiving gifts comes, replace it by a contrary thought.
34. The obstructions to Yoga are killing, falsehood, etc., whether committed, caused, or approved; either through avarice, or anger, or ignorance; whether slight, middling, or great; and they result in infinite ignorance and misery. This is (the method of) thinking the contrary.
If I tell a lie, or cause another to tell one, or approve of another doing so, it is equally sinful. If it is a very mild lie, still it is a lie. Every vicious thought will rebound, every thought of hatred which you may have thought, in a cave even, is stored up, and will one day come back to you with tremendous power in the form of some misery here. If you project hatred and jealousy, they will rebound on you with compound interest. No power can avert them; when once you have put them in motion, you will have to bear them. Remembering this will prevent you from doing wicked things.
35. Non-killing being established, in his presence all enmities cease (in others).
If a man gets the ideal of non-injuring others, before him even animals which are by their nature ferocious will become peaceful. The tiger and the lamb will play together before that Yogi. When you have come to that state, then alone you will understand that you have become firmly established in non-injuring.
36. By the establishment of truthfulness the Yogi gets the power of attaining for himself and others the fruits of work without the works.
When this power of truth will be established with you, then even in dream you will never tell an untruth. You will be true in thought, word, and deed. Whatever you say will be truth. You may say to a man, “Be blessed,” and that man will be blessed. If a man is diseased, and you say to him, “Be thou cured,” he will be cured immediately.
37. By the establishment of non-stealing all wealth comes to the Yogi.
The more you fly from nature, the more she follows you; and if you do not care for her at all, she becomes your slave.
38. By the establishment of continence energy is gained.
The chaste brain has tremendous energy and gigantic will-power. Without chastity there can be no spiritual strength. Continence gives wonderful control over mankind. The spiritual leaders of men have been very continent, and this is what gave them power. Therefore the Yogi must be continent.
39. When he is fixed in non-receiving, he gets the memory of past life.
When a man does not receive presents, he does not become beholden to others, but remains independent and free. His mind becomes pure. With every gift, he is likely to receive the evils of the giver. If he does not receive, the mind is purified, and the first power it gets is memory of past life. Then alone the Yogi becomes perfectly fixed in his ideal. He sees that he has been coming and going many times, so he becomes determined that this time he will be free, that he will no more come and go, and be the slave of Nature.
40. Internal and external cleanliness being established, there arises disgust for one’s own body, and non-intercourse with others.
When there is real purification of the body, external and internal, there arises neglect of the body, and the idea of keeping it nice vanishes. A face which others call most beautiful will appear to the Yogi as merely animal, if there is not intelligence behind it. What the world calls a very common face he regards as heavenly, if the spirit shines behind it. This thirst after body is the great bane of human life. So the first sign of the establishment of purity is that you do not care to think you are a body. It is only when purity comes that we get rid of the body idea.
41. There also arises purification of the Sattva, cheerfulness of the mind, concentration, conquest of the organs, and fitness for the realisation of the Self.
By the practice of cleanliness, the Sattva material prevails, and the mind becomes concentrated and cheerful. The first sign that you are becoming religious is that you are becoming cheerful. When a man is gloomy, that may be dyspepsia, but it is not religion. A pleasurable feeling is the nature of the Sattva. Everything is pleasurable to the Sattvika man, and when this comes, know that you are progressing in Yoga. All pain is caused by Tamas, so you must get rid of that; moroseness is one of the results of Tamas. The strong, the well-knit, the young, the healthy, the daring alone are fit to be Yogis. To the Yogi everything is bliss, every human face that he sees brings cheerfulness to him. That is the sign of a virtuous man. Misery is caused by sin, and by no other cause. What business have you with clouded faces? It is terrible. If you have a clouded face, do not go out that day, shut yourself up in your room. What right have you to carry this disease out into the world? When your mind has become controlled, you have control over the whole body; instead of being a slave to this machine, the machine is your slave. Instead of this machine being able to drag the soul down, it becomes it greatest helpmate.
42. From contentment comes superlative happiness.
43. The result of mortification is bringing powers to the organs and body, by destroying the impurity.
The results of mortification are seen immediately, sometimes by heightened powers of vision, hearing things at a distance, and so on.
44. By repetition of the Mantra comes the realisation of the intended deity.
The higher the beings that you want to get the harder is the practice.
45. By sacrificing all the Ishvara comes Samadhi.
By resignation to the Lord, Samadhi becomes perfect.
46. Posture is that which is firm and pleasant.
Now comes Asana, posture. Until you can get a firm seat you cannot practise the breathing and other exercises. Firmness of seat means that you do not feel the body at all. In the ordinary way, you will find that as soon as you sit for a few minutes all sorts of disturbances come into the body; but when you have got beyond the idea of a concrete body, you will lose all sense of the body. You will feel neither pleasure nor pain. And when you take your body up again, it will feel so rested. It is the only perfect rest that you can give to the body. When you have succeeded in conquering the body and keeping it firm, your practice will remain firm, but while you are disturbed by the body, your nerves become disturbed, and you cannot concentrate the mind.
47. By lessening the natural tendency (for restlessness) and meditating on the unlimited, posture becomes firm and pleasant.
We can make the seat firm by thinking of the infinite. We cannot think of the Absolute Infinite, but we can think of the infinite sky.
48. Seat being conquered, the dualities do not obstruct.
The dualities, good and bad, heat and cold, and all the pairs of opposites, will not then disturb you.
49. Controlling the motion of the exhalation and the inhalation follows after this.
When posture has been conquered, then the motion of the Prana is to be broken and controlled. Thus we come to Pranayama, the controlling of the vital forces of the body. Prana is not breath, though it is usually so translated. It is the sum total of the cosmic energy. It is the energy that is in each body, and its most apparent manifestation is the motion of the lungs. This motion is caused by Prana drawing in the breath, and it is what we seek to control in Pranayama. We begin by controlling the breath, as the easiest way of getting control of the Prana.
50. Its modifications are either external or internal, or motionless, regulated by place, time, and number, either long or short.
The three sorts of motion of Pranayama are, one by which we draw the breath in, another by which we throw it out, and the third action is when the breath is held in the lungs, or stopped from entering the lungs. These, again, are varied by place and time. By place is meant that the Prana is held to some particular part of the body. By time is meant how long the Prana should be confined to a certain place, and so we are told how many seconds to keep one motion, and how many seconds to keep another. The result of this Pranayama is Udghāta, awakening the Kundalini.
51. The fourth is restraining the Prana by reflecting on external or internal object.
This is the fourth sort of Pranayama, in which the Kumbhaka is brought about by long practice attended with reflection, which is absent in the other three.
52. From that, the covering to the light of the Chitta is attenuated.
The Chitta has, by its own nature, all knowledge. It is made of Sattva particles, but is covered by Rajas and Tamas particles, and by Pranayama this covering is removed.
53. The mind becomes fit for Dharana.
After this covering has been removed, we are able to concentrate the mind.
54. The drawing in of the organs is by their giving up their own objects and taking the form of the mind-stuff, as it were.
The organs are separate states of the mind-stuff. I see a book; the form is not in the book, it is in the mind. Something is outside which calls that form up. The real form is in the Chitta. The organs identify themselves with, and take the form of, whatever comes to them. If you can restrain the mind-stuff from taking these forms, the mind will remain calm. This is called Pratyahara.
55. Thence arises supreme control of the organs.
When the Yogi has succeeded in preventing the organs from taking the forms of external objects, and in making them remain one with the mind-stuff, then comes perfect control of the organs. When the organs are perfectly under control, every muscle and nerve will be under control, because the organs are the centres of all the sensations, and of all actions. These organs are divided into organs of work and organs of sensation. When the organs are controlled, the Yogi can control all feeling and doing; the whole of the body comes under his control. Then alone one begins to feel joy in being born; then one can truthfully say, “Blessed am I that I was born.” When that control of the organs is obtained, we feel how wonderful this body really is.
Chapter III — Powers
We have now come to the chapter in which the Yoga powers are described.
1. Dhāranā is holding the mind on to some particular object.
Dharana (concentration) is when the mind holds on to some object, either in the body, or outside the body, and keeps itself in that state.
2. An unbroken flow of knowledge in that object is Dhyāna.
The mind tries to think of one object, to hold itself to one particular spot, as the top of the head, the heart, etc., and if the mind succeeds in receiving the sensations only through that part of the body, and through no other part, that would be Dharana, and when the mind succeeds in keeping itself in that state for some time, it is called Dhyana (meditation).
3. When that, giving up all forms, reflects only the meaning, it is Samādhi.
That comes when in meditation the form or the external part is given up. Suppose I were meditating on a book, and that I have gradually succeeded in concentrating the mind on it, and perceiving only the internal sensations, the meaning, unexpressed in any form — that state of Dhyana is called Samadhi.
4. (These) three (when practised) in regard to one object is Samyama.
When a man can direct his mind to any particular object and fix it there, and then keep it there for a long time, separating the object from the internal part, this is Samyama; or Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, one following the other, and making one. The form of the thing has vanished, and only its meaning remains in the mind.
5. By the conquest of that comes light of knowledge.
When one has succeeded in making this Samyama, all powers come under his control. This is the great instrument of the Yogi. The objects of knowledge are infinite, and they are divided into the gross, grosser, grossest and the fine, finer, finest and so on. This Samyama should be first applied to gross things, and when you begin to get knowledge of this gross, slowly, by stages, it should be brought to finer things.
6. That should be employed in stages.
This is a note of warning not to attempt to go too fast.
7. These three are more internal than those that precede.
Before these we had the Pratyāhāra, the Prānāyāma, the Āsana, the Yama and Niyama; they are external parts of the three — Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. When a man has attained to them, he may attain to omniscience and omnipotence, but that would not be salvation. These three would not make the mind Nirvikalpa, changeless, but would leave the seeds for getting bodies again. Only when the seeds are, as the Yogi says, “fried,” do they lose the possibility of producing further plants. These powers cannot fry the seed.
8. But even they are external to the seedless (Samadhi).
Compared with that seedless Samadhi, therefore, even these are external. We have not yet reached the real Samadhi, the highest, but a lower stage, in which this universe still exists as we see it, and in which are all these powers.
9. By the suppression of the disturbed impressions of the mind, and by the rise of impressions of control, the mind, which persists in that moment of control, is said to attain the controlling modifications.
That is to say, in this first state of Samadhi the modifications of the mind have been controlled, but not perfectly, because if they were, there would be no modifications. If there is a modification which impels the mind to rush out through the senses, and the Yogi tries to control it, that very control itself will be a modification. One wave will be checked by another wave, so it will not be real Samadhi in which all the waves subside, as control itself will be a wave. Yet this lower Samadhi is very much nearer to the higher Samadhi than when the mind comes bubbling out.
10. Its flow becomes steady by habit.
The flow of this continuous control of the mind becomes steady when practised day after day, and the mind obtains the faculty of constant concentration.
11. Taking in all sorts of objects, and concentrating upon one object, these two powers being destroyed and manifested respectively, the Chitta gets the modification called Samadhi.
The mind takes up various objects, runs into all sorts of things. That is the lower state. There is a higher state of the mind, when it takes up one object and excludes all others, of which Samadhi is the result.
12. The one-pointedness of the Chitta is when the impression that is past and that which is present are similar.
How are we to know that the mind has become concentrated? Because the idea of time will vanish. The more time passes unnoticed the more concentrated we are. In common life we see that when we are interested in a book we do not note the time at all; and when we leave the book, we are often surprised to find how many hours have passed. All time will have the tendency to come and stand in the one present. So the definition is given: When the past and present come and stand in one, the mind is said to be concentrated.1
13. By this is explained the threefold transformation of form, time and state, in fine or gross matter and in the organs.
By the threefold changes in the mind-stuff as to form, time and state are explained the corresponding changes in gross and subtle matter and in the organs. Suppose there is a lump of gold. It is transformed into a bracelet and again into an earring. These are changes as to form. The same phenomena looked at from the standpoint of time give us change as to time. Again, the bracelet or the earring may be bright or dull, thick or thin, and so on. This is change as to state. Now referring to the aphorisms 9, 11 and 12, the mind-stuff is changing into Vrittis — this is change as to form. That it passes through past, present and future moments of time is change as to time. That the impressions vary as to intensity within one particular period, say, present, is change as to state. The concentrations taught in the preceding aphorisms were to give the Yogi a voluntary control over the transformations of his mind-stuff, which alone will enable him to make the Samyama named in III.4.
14. That which is acted upon by transformation, either past, present, or yet to be manifested is the qualified.
That is to say, the qualified is the substance which is being acted upon by time and by the Samskāras, and getting changed and being manifested always.
15. The succession of changes is the cause of manifold evolution.
16. By making Samyama on the three sorts of changes comes the knowledge of past and future.
We must not lose sight of the first definition of Samyama. When the mind has attained to that state when it identifies itself with the internal impression of the object, leaving the external, and when, by long practice, that is retained by the mind and the mind can get into that state in a moment, that is Samyama. If a man in that state wants to know the past and future, he has to make a Samyama on the changes in the Samskaras (III.13). Some are working now at present, some have worked out, and some are waiting to work. So by making a Samyama on these he knows the past and future.
17. By making Samyama on word, meaning and knowledge, which are ordinarily confused, comes the knowledge of all animal sounds.
The word represents the external cause, the meaning represents the internal vibration that travels to the brain through the channels of the Indriyas, conveying the external impression to the mind, and knowledge represents the reaction of the mind, with which comes perception. These three, confused, make our sense-objects. Suppose I hear a word; there is first the external vibration, next the internal sensation carried to the mind by the organ of hearing, then the mind reacts, and I know the word. The word I know is a mixture of the three — vibration, sensation, and reaction. Ordinarily these three are inseparable; but by practice the Yogi can separate them. When a man has attained to this, if he makes a Samyama on any sound, he understands the meaning which that sound was intended to express, whether it was made by man or by any other animal.
18. By perceiving the impressions, (comes) the knowledge of past life.
Each experience that we have, comes in the form of a wave in the Chitta, and this subsides and becomes finer and finer, but is never lost. It remains there in minute form, and if we can bring this wave up again, it becomes memory. So, if the Yogi can make a Samyama on these past impressions in the mind, he will begin to remember all his past lives.
19. By making Samyama on the signs in another’s body, knowledge of his mind comes.
Each man has particular signs on his body, which differentiate him from others; when the Yogi makes a Samyama on these signs he knows the nature of the mind of that person.
20. But not its contents, that not being the object of the Samyama.
He would not know the contents of the mind by making a Samyama on the body. There would be required a twofold Samyama, first on the signs in the body, and then on the mind itself. The Yogi would then know everything that is in that mind.
21. By making Samyama on the form of the body, the perceptibility of the form being obstructed and the power of manifestation in the eye being separated, the Yogi’s body becomes unseen.
A Yogi standing in the midst of this room can apparently vanish. He does not really vanish, but he will not be seen by anyone. The form and the body are, as it were, separated. You must remember that this can only be done when the Yogi has attained to that power of concentration when form and the thing formed have been separated. Then he makes a Samyama on that, and the power to perceive forms is obstructed, because the power of perceiving forms comes from the junction of form and the thing formed.
22. By this the disappearance or concealment of words which are being spoken and such other things are also explained.
23. Karma is of two kinds — soon to be fructified and late to be fructified. By making Samyama on these, or by the signs called Arishta, portents, the Yogis know the exact time of separation from their bodies.
When a Yogi makes a Samyama on his own Karma, upon those impressions in his mind which are now working, and those which are just waiting to work, he knows exactly by those that are waiting when his body will fall. He knows when he will die, at what hour, even at what minute. The Hindus think very much of that knowledge or consciousness of the nearness of death, because it is taught in the Gita that the thoughts at the moment of departure are great powers in determining the next life.
24. By making Samyama on friendship, mercy, etc. (I.33), the Yogi excels in the respective qualities.
25. By making Samyama on the strength of the elephant and others, their respective strength comes to the Yogi.
When a Yogi has attained to this Samyama and wants strength, he makes a Samyama on the strength of the elephant and gets it. Infinite energy is at the disposal of everyone if he only knows how to get it. The Yogi has discovered the science of getting it.
26. By making Samyama on the Effulgent Light (I.36), comes the knowledge of the fine, the obstructed, and the remote.
When the Yogi makes Samyama on that Effulgent Light in the heart, he sees things which are very remote, things, for instance, that are happening in a distant place, and which are obstructed by mountain barriers, and also things which are very fine.
27. By making Samyama on the sun, (comes) the knowledge of the world.
28. On the moon, (comes) the knowledge of the cluster of stars.
29. On the pole-star, (comes) the knowledge of the motions of the stars.
30. On the navel circle, (comes) the knowledge of the constitution of the body.
31. On the hollow of the throat, (comes) cessation of hunger.
When a man is very hungry, if he can make Samyama on the hollow of the throat, hunger ceases.
32. On the nerve called Kurma, (comes) fixity of the body.
When he is practising, the body is not disturbed.
33. On the light emanating from the top of the head, sight of the Siddhas.
The Siddhas are beings who are a little above ghosts. When the Yogi concentrates his mind on the top of his head, he will see these Siddhas. The word Siddha does not refer to those men who have become free — a sense in which it is often used.
34. Or by the power of Prātibha, all knowledge.
All these can come without any Samyama to the man who has the power of Pratibha (spontaneous enlightenment from purity). When a man has risen to a high state of Pratibha, he has that great light. All things are apparent to him. Everything comes to him naturally without making Samyama.
35. In the heart, knowledge of minds.
36. Enjoyment comes from the non-discrimination of the soul and Sattva which are totally different because the latter’s actions are for another. Samyama on the self-centred one gives knowledge of the Purusha.
All action of Sattva, a modification of Prakriti characterised by light and happiness, is for the soul. When Sattva is free from egoism and illuminated with the pure intelligence of Purusha, it is called the self-centred one, because in that state it becomes independent of all relations.
37. From that arises the knowledge belonging to Pratibha and (supernatural) hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling.
38. These are obstacles to Samadhi; but they are powers in the worldly state.
To the Yogi knowledge of the enjoyments of the world comes by the junction of the Purusha and the mind. If he wants to make Samyama on the knowledge that they are two different things, nature and soul, he gets knowledge of the Purusha. From that arises discrimination. When he has got that discrimination, he gets the Pratibha, the light of supreme genius. These powers, however, are obstructions to the attainment of the highest goal, the knowledge of the pure Self, and freedom. These are, as it were, to be met in the way; and if the Yogi rejects them, he attains the highest. If he is tempted to acquire these, his further progress is barred.
39. When the cause of bondage of the Chitta has become loosened, the Yogi, by his knowledge of its channels of activity (the nerves), enters another’s body.
The Yogi can enter a dead body and make it get up and move, even while he himself is working in another body. Or he can enter a living body and hold that man’s mind and organs in check, and for the time being act through the body of that man. That is done by the Yogi coming to this discrimination of Purusha and nature. If he wants to enter another’s body, he makes a Samyama on that body and enters it, because, not only is his soul omnipresent, but his mind also, as the Yogi teaches. It is one bit of the universal mind. Now, however, it can only work through the nerve currents in this body, but when the Yogi has loosened himself from these nerve currents, he can work through other things.
40. By conquering the current called Udāna the Yogi does not sink in water or in swamps, he can walk on thorns etc., and can die at will.
Udana is the name of the nerve current that governs the lungs and all the upper parts of the body, and when he is master of it, he becomes light in weight. He does not sink in water; he can walk on thorns and sword blades, and stand in fire, and can depart this life whenever he likes.
41. By the conquest of the current Samāna he is surrounded by a blaze of light.
Whenever he likes, light flashes from his body.
42. By making Samyama on the relation between the ear and the Akasha comes divine hearing.
There is the Akasha, the ether, and the instrument, the ear. By making Samyama on them the Yogi gets supernormal hearing; he hears everything. Anything spoken or sounded miles away he can hear.
43. By making Samyama on the relation between the Akasha and the body and becoming light as cotton-wool etc., through meditation on them, the Yogi goes through the skies.
This Akasha is the material of this body; it is only Akasha in a certain form that has become the body. If the Yogi makes a Samyama on this Akasha material of his body, it acquires the lightness of Akasha, and he can go anywhere through the air. So in the other case also.
44. By making Samyama on the “real modifications” of the mind, outside of the body, called great disembodiedness, comes disappearance of the covering to light.
The mind in its foolishness thinks that it is working in this body. Why should I be bound by one system of nerves, and put the Ego only in one body, if the mind is omnipresent? There is no reason why I should. The Yogi wants to feel the Ego wherever he likes. The mental waves which arise in the absence of egoism in the body are called “real modifications” or “great disembodiedness”. When he has succeeded in making Samyama on these modifications, all covering to light goes away, and all darkness and ignorance vanish. Everything appears to him to be full of knowledge.
45. By making Samyama on the gross and fine forms of the elements, their essential traits, the inherence of the Gunas in them and on their contributing to the experience of the soul, comes mastery of the elements.
The Yogi makes Samyama on the elements, first on the gross, and then on the finer states. This Samyama is taken up more by a sect of the Buddhists. They take a lump of clay and make Samyama on that, and gradually they begin to see the fine materials of which it is composed, and when they have known all the fine materials in it, they get power over that element. So with all the elements. The Yogi can conquer them all.
46. From that comes minuteness and the rest of the powers, “glorification of the body,” and indestructibleness of the bodily qualities.
This means that the Yogi has attained the eight powers. He can make himself as minute as a particle, or as huge as a mountain, as heavy as the earth, or as light as the air; he can reach anything he likes, he can rule everything he wants, he can conquer everything he wants, and so on. A lion will sit at his feet like a lamb, and all his desires will be fulfilled at will.
47. The “glorification of the body” is beauty, complexion, strength, adamantine hardness.
The body becomes indestructible. Nothing can injure it. Nothing can destroy it until the Yogi wishes. “Breaking the rod of time he lives in this universe with his body.” In the Vedas it is written that for that man there is no more disease, death or pain.
48. By making Samyama on the objectivity and power of illumination of the organs, on egoism, the inherence of the Gunas in them and on their contributing to the experience of the soul, comes the conquest of the organs.
In the perception of external objects the organs leave their place in the mind and go towards the object; this is followed by knowledge. Egoism also is present in the act. When the Yogi makes Samyama on these and the other two by gradation, he conquers the organs. Take up anything that you see or feel, a book for instance; first concentrate the mind on it, then on the knowledge that is in the form of a book, and then on the Ego that sees the book, and so on. By that practice all the organs will be conquered.
49. From that comes to the body the power of rapid movement like the mind, power of the organs independently of the body, and conquest of nature.
Just as by the conquest of the elements comes glorified body, so from the conquest of the organs will come the above-mentioned powers.
50. By making Samyama on the discrimination between the Sattva and the Purusha come omnipotence and omniscience.
When nature has been conquered, and the difference between the Purusha and nature realised — that the Purusha is indestructible, pure and perfect — then come omnipotence and omniscience.
51. By giving up even these powers comes the destruction of the very seed of evil, which leads to Kaivalya.
He attains aloneness, independence, and becomes free. When one gives up even the ideas of omnipotence and omniscience, there comes entire rejection of enjoyment, of the temptations from celestial beings. When the Yogi has seen all these wonderful powers, and rejected them, he reaches the goal. What are all these powers? Simply manifestations. They are no better than dreams. Even omnipotence is a dream. It depends on the mind. So long as there is a mind it can be understood, but the goal is beyond even the mind.
52. The Yogi should not feel allured or flattered by the overtures of celestial beings for fear of evil again.
There are other dangers too; gods and other beings come to tempt the Yogi. They do not want anyone to be perfectly free. They are jealous, just as we are, and worse than us sometimes. They are very much afraid of losing their places. Those Yogis who do not reach perfection die and become gods; leaving the direct road they go into one of the side streets, and get these powers. Then, again, they have to be born. But he who is strong enough to withstand these temptations and go straight to the goal, becomes free.
53. By making Samyama on a particle of time and its precession and succession comes discrimination.
How are we to avoid all these things, these Devas, and heavens, and powers? By discrimination, by knowing good from evil. Therefore a Samyama is given by which the power of discrimination can be strengthened. This is by making a Samyama on a particle of time, and the time preceding and following it.
54. Those things which cannot be differentiated by species, sign, and place, even they will be discriminated by the above Samyama.
The misery that we suffer comes from ignorance, from non-discrimination between the real and the unreal. We all take the bad for the good, the dream for the reality. Soul is the only reality, and we have forgotten it. Body is an unreal dream, and we think we are all bodies. This non-discrimination is the cause of misery. It is caused by ignorance. When discrimination comes, it brings strength, and then alone can we avoid all these various ideas of body, heavens, and gods. This ignorance arises through differentiating by species, sign, and place. For instance, take a cow. The cow is differentiated from the dog by species. Even with the cows alone how do we make the distinction between one cow and another? By signs. If two objects are exactly similar, they can be distinguished if they are in different places. When objects are so mixed up that even these differentiae will not help us, the power of discrimination acquired by the above-mentioned practice will give us the ability to distinguish them. The highest philosophy of the Yogi is based upon this fact, that the Purusha is pure and perfect, and is the only “simple” that exists in this universe. The body and mind are compounds, and yet we are ever identifying ourselves with them. This is the great mistake that the distinction has been lost. When this power of discrimination has been attained, man sees that everything in this world, mental and physical, is a compound, and, as such, cannot be the Purusha.
55. The saving knowledge is that knowledge of discrimination which simultaneously covers all objects, in all their variations.
Saving, because the knowledge takes the Yogi across the ocean of birth and death. The whole of Prakriti in all its states, subtle and gross, is within the grasp of this knowledge. There is no succession in perception by this knowledge; it takes in all things simultaneously, at a glance.
56. By the similarity of purity between the Sattva and the Purusha comes Kaivalya.
When the soul realises that it depends on nothing in the universe, from gods to the lowest atom, that is called Kaivalya (isolation) and perfection. It is attained when this mixture of purity and impurity called Sattva (intellect) has been made as pure as the Purusha itself; then the Sattva reflects only the unqualified essence of purity, which is the Purusha.
- The distinction among the three kinds of concentration mentioned in aphorisms 9, 11 and 12 is as follows: In the first, the disturbed impressions are merely held back, but not altogether obliterated by the impressions of control which just come in; in the second, the former are completely suppressed by the latter which stand in bold relief; while in the third, which is the highest, there is no question of suppressing, but only similar impressions succeed each other in a stream. —Ed.
Chapter IV — Independence
1. The Siddhis (powers) are attained by birth, chemical means, power of words, mortification, or concentration.
Sometimes a man is born with the Siddhis, powers, of course, those he had earned in his previous incarnation. This time he is born, as it were, to enjoy the fruits of them. It is said of Kapila, the great father of the Sankhya philosophy, that he was a born Siddha, which means literally a man who has attained to success.
The Yogis claim that these powers can be gained by chemical means. All of you know that chemistry originally began as alchemy; men went in search of the philosopher’s stone and elixirs of life, and so forth. In India there was a sect called the Rāsāyanas. Their idea was that ideality, knowledge, spirituality, and religion were all very right, but that the body was the only instrument by which to attain to all these. If the body came to an end every now and again, it would take so much more time to attain to the goal. For instance, a man wants to practise Yoga, or wants to become spiritual. Before he has advanced very far he dies. Then he takes another body and begins again, then dies, and so on. In this way much time will be lost in dying and being born again. If the body could be made strong and perfect, so that it would get rid of birth and death, we should have so much more time to become spiritual. So these Rasayanas say, first make the body very strong. They claim that this body can be made immortal. Their idea is that if the mind manufactures the body, and if it be true that each mind is only one outlet to the infinite energy, there should be no limit to each outlet getting any amount of power from outside. Why is it impossible to keep our bodies all the time? We have to manufacture all the bodies that we ever have. As soon as this body dies, we shall have to manufacture another. If we can do that, why cannot we do it just here and now, without getting out of the present body? The theory is perfectly correct. If it is possible that we live after death, and make other bodies, why is it impossible that we should have the power of making bodies here, without entirely dissolving this body, simply changing it continually? They also thought that in mercury and in sulphur was hidden the most wonderful power, and that by certain preparations of these a man could keep the body as long as he liked. Others believed that certain drugs could bring powers, such as flying through the air. Many of the most wonderful medicines of the present day we owe to the Rasayanas, notably the use of metals in medicine. Certain sects of Yogis claim that many of their principal teachers are still living in their old bodies. Patanjali, the great authority on Yoga, does not deny this.
The power of words. There are certain sacred words called Mantras, which have power, when repeated under proper conditions, to produce these extraordinary powers. We are living in the midst of such a mass of miracles, day and night, that we do not think anything of them. There is no limit to man’s power, the power of words and the power of mind.
Mortification. You find that in every religion mortifications and asceticisms have been practised. In these religious conceptions the Hindus always go to the extremes. You will find men with their hands up all their lives, until their hands wither and die. Men keep standing, day and night, until their feet swell, and if they live, the legs become so stiff in this position that they can no more bend them, but have to stand all their lives. I once saw a man who had kept his hands raised in this way, and I asked him how it felt when he did it first. He said it was awful torture. It was such torture that he had to go to a river and put himself in water, and that allayed the pain for a little while. After a month he did not suffer much. Through such practices powers (Siddhis) can be attained.
Concentration. Concentration is Samādhi, and that is Yoga proper; that is the principal theme of this science, and it is the highest means. The preceding ones are only secondary, and we cannot attain to the highest through them. Samadhi is the means through which we can gain anything and everything, mental, moral, or spiritual.
2. The change into another species is by the filling in of nature.
Patanjali has advanced the proposition that these powers come by birth, sometimes by chemical means, or through mortification. He also admits that this body can be kept for any length of time. Now he goes on to state what is the cause of the change of the body into another species. He says this is done by the filling in of nature, which he explains in the next aphorism.
3. Good and bad deeds are not the direct causes in the transformations of nature, but they act as breakers of obstacles to the evolutions of nature: as a farmer breaks the obstacles to the course of water, which then runs down by its own nature.
The water for irrigation of fields is already in the canal, only shut in by gates. The farmer opens these gates, and the water flows in by itself, by the law of gravitation. So all progress and power are already in every man; perfection is man’s nature, only it is barred in and prevented from taking its proper course. If anyone can take the bar off, in rushes nature. Then the man attains the powers which are his already. Those we call wicked become saints, as soon as the bar is broken and nature rushes in. It is nature that is driving us towards perfection, and eventually she will bring everyone there. All these practices and struggles to become religious are only negative work, to take off the bars, and open the doors to that perfection which is our birthright, our nature.
Today the evolution theory of the ancient Yogis will be better understood in the light of modern research. And yet the theory of the Yogis is a better explanation. The two causes of evolution advanced by the moderns, viz. sexual selection and survival of the fittest, are inadequate. Suppose human knowledge to have advanced so much as to eliminate competition, both from the function of acquiring physical sustenance and of acquiring a mate. Then, according to the moderns, human progress will stop and the race will die. The result of this theory is to furnish every oppressor with an argument to calm the qualms of conscience. Men are not lacking, who, posing as philosophers, want to kill out all wicked and incompetent persons (they are, of course, the only judges of competency) and thus preserve the human race! But the great ancient evolutionist, Patanjali, declares that the true secret of evolution is the manifestation of the perfection which is already in every being; that this perfection has been barred and the infinite tide behind is struggling to express itself. These struggles and competitions are but the results of our ignorance, because we do not know the proper way to unlock the gate and let the water in. This infinite tide behind must express itself; it is the cause of all manifestation.
Competitions for life or sex-gratification are only momentary, unnecessary, extraneous effects, caused by ignorance. Even when all competition has ceased, this perfect nature behind will make us go forward until everyone has become perfect. Therefore there is no reason to believe that competition is necessary to progress. In the animal the man was suppressed, but as soon as the door was opened, out rushed man. So in man there is the potential god, kept in by the locks and bars of ignorance. When knowledge breaks these bars, the god becomes manifest.
4. From egoism alone proceed the created minds.
The theory of Karma is that we suffer for our good or bad deeds, and the whole scope of philosophy is to reach the glory of man. All the scriptures sing the glory of man, of the soul, and then, in the same breath, they preach Karma. A good deed brings such a result, and a bad deed such another, but if the soul can be acted upon by a good or a bad deed, the soul amounts to nothing. Bad deeds put a bar to the manifestation of the nature of the Purusha; good deeds take the obstacles off, and the glory of the Purusha becomes manifest. The Purusha itself is never changed. Whatever you do never destroys your own glory, your own nature, because the soul cannot be acted upon by anything, only a veil is spread before it, hiding its perfection.
With a view to exhausting their Karma quickly, Yogis create Kāya-vyuha, or groups of bodies, in which to work it out. For all these bodies they create minds from egoism. These are called “created minds”, in contradistinction to their original minds.
5. Though the activities of the different created minds are various, the one original mind is the controller of them all.
These different minds, which act in these different bodies are called made-minds, and the bodies, made-bodies; that is, manufactured bodies and minds. Matter and mind are like two inexhaustible storehouses. When you become a Yogi, you learn the secret of their control. It was yours all the time, but you had forgotten it. When you become a Yogi, you recollect it. Then you can do anything with it, manipulate it in every way you like. The material out of which a manufactured mind is created is the very same material which is used for the macrocosm. It is not that mind is one thing and matter another, they are different aspects of the same thing. Asmitā, egoism, is the material, the fine state of existence out of which these made-minds and made-bodies of the Yogi are manufactured. Therefore, when the Yogi has found the secret of these energies of nature, he can manufacture any number of bodies or minds out of the substance known as egoism.
6. Among the various Chittas, that which is attained by Samadhi is desireless.
Among all the various minds that we see in various men, only that mind which has attained to Samadhi, perfect concentration, is the highest. A man who has attained certain powers through medicines, or through words, or through mortifications, still has desires, but that man who has attained to Samadhi through concentration is alone free from all desires.
7. Works are neither black nor white for the Yogis; for others they are threefold — black, white, and mixed.
When the Yogi has attained perfection, his actions, and the Karma produced by those actions, do not bind him, because he did not desire them. He just works on; he works to do good, and he does good, but does not care for the result, and it will not come to him. But, for ordinary men, who have not attained to the highest state, works are of three kinds, black (evil actions), white (good actions), and mixed.
8. From these threefold works are manifested in each state only those desires (which are) fitting to that state alone. (The others are held in abeyance for the time being.)
Suppose I have made the three kinds of Karma, good, bad, and mixed, and suppose I die and become a god in heaven. The desires in a god body are not the same as the desires in a human body; the god body neither eats nor drinks. What becomes of my past unworked Karmas which produce as their effect the desire to eat and drink? Where would these Karmas go when I become a god? The answer is that desires can only manifest themselves in proper environments. Only those desires will come out for which the environment is fitted; the rest will remain stored up. In this life we have many godly desires, many human desires, many animal desires. If I take a god body, only the good desires will come up, because for them the environments are suitable. And if I take an animal body, only the animal desires will come up, and the good desires will wait. What does this show? That by means of environment we can check these desires. Only that Karma which is suited to and fitted for the environments will come out. This shows that the power of environment is the great check to control even Karma itself.
9. There is consecutiveness in desires, even though separated by species, space, and time, there being identification of memory and impressions.
Experiences becoming fine become impressions; impressions revivified become memory. The word memory here includes unconscious co-ordination of past experiences, reduced to impressions, with present conscious action. In each body, the group of impressions acquired in a similar body only becomes the cause of action in that body. The experiences of a dissimilar body are held in abeyance. Each body acts as if it were a descendant of a series of bodies of that species only; thus, consecutiveness of desires is not to be broken.
10. Thirst for happiness being eternal, desires are without beginning.
All experience is preceded by desire for happiness. There was no beginning of experience, as each fresh experience is built upon the tendency generated by past experience; therefore desire is without beginning.
11. Being held together by cause, effect, support, and objects, in the absence of these is its absence.
Desires are held together by cause and effect;1 if a desire has been raised, it does not die without producing its effect. Then, again, the mind-stuff is the great storehouse, the support of all past desires reduced to Samskāra form; until they have worked themselves out, they will not die. Moreover, so long as the senses receive the external objects, fresh desires will arise. If it be possible to get rid of the cause, effect, support, and objects of desire, then alone it will vanish.
12. The past and future exist in their own nature, qualities having different ways.
The idea is that existence never comes out of non-existence. The past and future, though not existing in a manifested form, yet exist in a fine form.
13. They are manifested or fine, being of the nature of the Gunas.
The Gunas are the three substances, Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, whose gross state is the sensible universe. Past and future arise from the different modes of manifestation of these Gunas.
14. The unity in things is from the unity in changes.
Though there are three substances, their changes being co-ordinated, all objects have their unity.
15. Since perception and desire vary with regard to the same object, mind and object are of different nature.
That is, there is an objective world independent of our minds. This is a refutation of Buddhistic Idealism. Since different people look at the same thing differently, it cannot be a mere imagination of any particular individual.2
16. Things are known or unknown to the mind, being dependent on the colouring which they give to the mind.
17. The states of the mind are always known, because the lord of the mind, the Purusha, is unchangeable.
The whole gist of this theory is that the universe is both mental and material. Both of these are in a continuous state of flux. What is this book? It is a combination of molecules in constant change. One lot is going out, and another coming in; it is a whirlpool, but what makes the unity? What makes it the same book? The changes are rhythmical; in harmonious order they are sending impressions to my mind, and these pieced together make a continuous picture, although the parts are continuously changing. Mind itself is continuously changing. The mind and body are like two layers in the same substance, moving at different rates of speed. Relatively, one being slower and the other quicker, we can distinguish between the two motions. For instance, a train is in motion, and a carriage is moving alongside it. It is possible to find the motion of both these to a certain extent. But still something else is necessary. Motion can only be perceived when there is something else which is not moving. But when two or three things are relatively moving, we first perceive the motion of the faster one, and then that of the slower ones. How is the mind to perceive? It is also in a flux. Therefore another thing is necessary which moves more slowly, then you must get to something in which the motion is still slower, and so on, and you will find no end. Therefore logic compels you to stop somewhere. You must complete the series by knowing something which never changes. Behind this never-ending chain of motion is the Purusha, the changeless, the colourless, the pure. All these impressions are merely reflected upon it, as a magic lantern throws images upon a screen, without in any way tarnishing it.
18. The mind is not self-luminous, being an object.
Tremendous power is manifested everywhere in nature, but it is not self-luminous, not essentially intelligent. The Purusha alone is self-luminous, and gives its light to everything. It is the power of the Purusha that is percolating through all matter and force.
19. From its being unable to cognise both at the same time.
If the mind were self-luminous it would be able to cognise itself and its objects at the same time, which it cannot. When it cognises the object, it cannot reflect on itself. Therefore the Purusha is self-luminous, and the mind is not.
20. Another cognising mind being assumed, there will be no end to such assumptions, and confusion of memory will be the result.
Let us suppose there is another mind which cognises the ordinary mind, then there will have to be still another to cognise the former, and so there will be no end to it. It will result in confusion of memory, there will be no storehouse of memory.
21. The essence of knowledge (the Purusha) being unchangeable, when the mind takes its form, it becomes conscious.
Patanjali says this to make it more clear that knowledge is not a quality of the Purusha. When the mind comes near the Purusha it is reflected, as it were, upon the mind, and the mind, for the time being, becomes knowing and seems as if it were itself the Purusha.
22. Coloured by the seer and the seen the mind is able to understand everything.
On one side of the mind the external world, the seen, is being reflected, and on the other, the seer is being reflected. Thus comes the power of all knowledge to the mind.
23. The mind, though variegated by innumerable desires, acts for another (the Purusha), because it acts in combination.
The mind is a compound of various things and therefore it cannot work for itself. Everything that is a combination in this world has some object for that combination, some third thing for which this combination is going on. So this combination of the mind is for the Purusha.
24. For the discriminating, the perception of the mind as Atman ceases.
Through discrimination the Yogi knows that the Purusha is not mind.
25. Then, bent on discriminating, the mind attains the previous state of Kaivalya (isolation). 3
Thus the practice of Yoga leads to discriminating power, to clearness of vision. The veil drops from the eyes, and we see things as they are. We find that nature is a compound, and is showing the panorama for the Purusha, who is the witness; that nature is not the Lord, that all the combinations of nature are simply for the sake of showing these phenomena to the Purusha, the enthroned king within. When discrimination comes by long practice, fear ceases, and the mind attains isolation.
26. The thoughts that arise as obstructions to that are from impressions.
All the various ideas that arise, making us believe that we require something external to make us happy, are obstructions to that perfection. The Purusha is happiness and blessedness by its own nature. But that knowledge is covered over by past impressions. These impressions have to work themselves out.
27. Their destruction is in the same manner as of ignorance, egoism, etc., as said before (II.10).
28. Even when arriving at the right discriminating knowledge of the essences, he who gives up the fruits, unto him comes, as the result of perfect discrimination, the Samadhi called the cloud of virtue.
When the Yogi has attained to this discrimination, all the powers mentioned in the last chapter come to him, but the true Yogi rejects them all. Unto him comes a peculiar knowledge, a particular light, called the Dharma-megha, the cloud of virtue. All the great prophets of the world whom history has recorded had this. They had found the whole foundation of knowledge within themselves. Truth to them had become real. Peace and calmness, and perfect purity became their own nature, after they had given up the vanities of powers.
29. From that comes cessation of pain and works.
When that cloud of virtue has come, then no more is there fear of falling, nothing can drag the Yogi down. No more will there be evils for him. No more pains.
30. The knowledge, bereft of covering and impurities, becoming infinite, the knowable becomes small.
Knowledge itself is there; its covering is gone. One of the Buddhistic scriptures defines what is meant by the Buddha (which is the name of a state) as infinite knowledge, infinite as the sky. Jesus attained to that and became the Christ. All of you will attain to that state. Knowledge becoming infinite, the knowable becomes small. The whole universe, with all its objects of knowledge, becomes as nothing before the Purusha. The ordinary man thinks himself very small, because to him the knowable seems to be infinite.
31. Then are finished the successive transformations of the qualities, they having attained the end.
Then all these various transformations of the qualities, which change from species to species, cease for ever.
32. The changes that exist in relation to moments and which are perceived at the other end (at the end of a series) are succession.
Patanjali here defines the word succession, the changes that exist in relation to moments. While I think, many moments pass, and with each moment there is a change of idea, but I only perceive these changes at the end of a series. This is called succession, but for the mind that has realised omnipresence there is no succession. Everything has become present for it; to it the present alone exists, the past and future are lost. Time stands controlled, all knowledge is there in one second. Everything is known like a flash.
33. The resolution in the inverse order of the qualities, bereft of any motive of action for the Purusha, is Kaivalya, or it is the establishment of the power of knowledge in its own nature.
Nature’s task is done, this unselfish task which our sweet nurse, nature, had imposed upon herself. She gently took the self-forgetting soul by the hand, as it were, and showed him all the experiences in the universe, all manifestations, bringing him higher and higher through various bodies, till his lost glory came back, and he remembered his own nature. Then the kind mother went back the same way she came, for others who also have lost their way in the trackless desert of life. And thus is she working, without beginning and without end. And thus through pleasure and pain, through good and evil, the infinite river of souls is flowing into the ocean of perfection, of self-realisation.
Glory unto those who have realised their own nature. May their blessing be on us all!
- The causes are the “pain-bearing obstructions” (II.3) and actions (IV.7), and the effects are “species, life, and experience of pleasure and pain” (II.13). —Ed.
- There is an additional aphorism here in some editions:
“The object cannot be said to be dependent on a single mind. There being no proof of its existence, it would then become nonexistent.”
If the perception of an object were the only criterion of its existence, then when the mind is absorbed in anything or is in Samadhi, it would not be perceived by anybody and might as well be said to be non-existent. This is an undesirable conclusion. —Ed.
- There is another reading — The meaning then would be: “Then the mind becomes deep in discrimination and gravitates towards Kaivalya.” —Ed.
The Sutras of Patañjali with the Bhāṣya of Vyasa, tr. Gangânâtha Jhâ
The Yoga Darśana
The Sutras of Patañjali with the Bhāṣya of Vyasa
Translated into English, with notes, by
Listen to the Yoga Sutras (sung in Sanskrit)
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