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- An Introduction to Yoga - 4/18 -


Svapna consciousness. "Your body" is then the physical and the astral bodies taken together. As you go on, the mental plane begins similarly to intrude itself, and the physical, astral and mental all come within your waking consciousness; all these are, then, your Jagrat world. These three worlds form but one world to you; their three corresponding bodies but one body, that perceives and acts. The three bodies of the ordinary man have become one body for the yogi. If under these conditions you want to see only one world at a time, you must fix your attention on it, and thus focus it. You can, in that state of enlarged waking, concentrate your attention on the physical and see it; then the astral and mental will appear hazy. So you can focus your attention on the astral and see it; then the physical and the mental, being out of focus, will appear dim. You will easily understand this if you remember that, in this hall, I may focus my sight in the middle of the hall, when the pillars on both sides will appear indistinctly. Or I may concentrate my attention on a pillar and see it distinctly, but I then see you only vaguely at the same time. It is a change of focus, not a change of body. Remember that all which you can put aside as not yourself is the body of the yogi, and hence, as you go higher, the lower bodies form but a single body and the consciousness in that sheath of matter which it still cannot throw away, that becomes the man.

"Yoga is Samadhi." It is the power to withdraw from all that you know as body, and to concentrate yourself within. That is Samadhi. No ordinary means will then call you back to the world that you have left.[FN#4: An Indian yogi in Samadhi, discovered in a forest by some ignorant and brutal Englishmen, was so violently ill used that he returned to his tortured body, only to leave it again at once by death.] This will also explain to you the phrase in The Secret Doctrine that the Adept " begins his Samadhi on the atmic plane " When a Jivan-mukta enters into Samadhi, he begins it on the atmic plane. All planes below the atmic are one plane for him. He begins his Samadhi on a plane to which the mere man cannot rise. He begins it on the atmic plane, and thence rises stage by stage to the higher cosmic planes. The same word, samadhi, is used to describe the states of the consciousness, whether it rises above the physical into the astral, as in self-induced trance of an ordinary man, or as in the case of a Jivan-mukta when, the consciousness being already centred in the fifth, or atmic plane, it rises to the higher planes of a larger world.

The Literature of Yoga

Unfortunately for non-Sanskrit-knowing people, the literature of Yoga is not largely available in English. The general teachings of Yoga are to be found in the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad-Gita; those, in many translations, are within your reach, but they are general, not special; they give you the main principles, but do not tell you about the methods in any detailed way. Even in the Bhagavad-Gita, while you are told to make sacrifices, to become indifferent, and so on, it is all of the nature of moral precept, absolutely necessary indeed, but still not telling you how to reach the conditions put before you. The special literature of Yoga is, first of all, many of the minor Upanishads, "the hundred-and-eight" as they are called. Then comes the enormous mass of literature called the Tantras. These books have an evil significance in the ordinary English ear, but not quite rightly. The Tantras are very useful books, very valuable and instructive; all occult science is to be found in them. But they are divisible into three classes: those that deal with white magic, those that deal with black magic, and those that deal with what we may call grey magic, a mixture of the two. Now magic is the word which covers the methods of deliberately bringing about super-normal physical states by the action of the will.

A high tension of the nerves, brought on by anxiety or disease, leads to ordinary hysteria, emotional and foolish. A similarly high tension, brought about by the will, renders a man sensitive to super-physical vibrations Going to sleep has no significance, but going into Samadhi is a priceless power. The process is largely the same, but one is due to ordinary conditions, the other to the action of the trained will. The Yogi is the man who has learned the power of the will, and knows how to use it to bring about foreseen and foredetermined results. This knowledge has ever been called magic; it is the name of the Great Science of the past, the one Science, to which only the word " great " was given in the past. The Tantras contain the whole of that; the occult side of man and nature, the means whereby discoveries may be made, the principles whereby the man may re-create himself, all these are in the Tantras. The difficulty is that without a teacher they are very dangerous, and again and again a man trying to practice the Tantric methods without a teacher makes himself very ill. So the Tantras have got a bad name both in the West and here in India. A good many of the American " occult " books now sold are scraps of the Tantras which have been translated. One difficulty is that these Tantric works often use the name of a bodily organ to represent an astral or mental centre. There is some reason in that because all the centres are connected with each other from body to body; but no reliable teacher would set his pupil to work on the bodily organs until he had some control over the higher centres, and had carefully purified the physical body. Knowing the one helps you to know the other, and the teacher who has been through it all can place his pupil on the right path; but it you take up these words, which are all physical, and do not know to what the physical word is applied, then you will only become very confused, and may injure yourself. For instance, in one of the Sutras it is said that if you meditate on a certain part of the tongue you will obtain astral sight. That means that if you meditate on the pituitary body, just over this part of the tongue, astral sight will be opened. The particular word used to refer to a centre has a correspondence in the physical body, and the word is often applied to the physical organs when the other is meant. This is what is called a " blind," and it is intended to keep the people away from dangerous practices in the books that are published; people may meditate on that part of their tongues all their lives without anything coming of it; but if they think upon the corresponding centre in the body, a good dealÄmuch harmÄmay come of it. " Meditate on the navel," it is also said. This means the solar plexus, for there is a close connection between the two. But to meditate on that is to incur the danger of a serious nervous disorder, almost impossible to cure. All who know how many people in India suffer through these practices, ill-understood, recognize that it is not wise to plunge into them without some one to tell you what they mean, and what may be safely practiced and what not. The other part of the Yoga literature is a small book called the sutras of Patanjali. That is available, but I am afraid that few are able to make much of it by themselves. In the first place, to elucidate the Sutras, which are simply headings, there is a great deal of commentary in Sanskrit, only partially translated. And even the commentaries have this peculiarity, that all the most difficult words are merely repeated, not explained, so that the student is not much enlightened.

Some Definitions

There are a few words, constantly recurring, which need brief definitions, in order to avoid confusion; they are: Unfolding, Evolution, Spirituality, Psychism, Yoga and Mysticism.

"Unfolding" always refers to consciousness, "evolution" to forms. Evolution is the homogeneous becoming the heterogeneous, the simple becoming complex. But there is no growth and no perfectioning for Spirit, for consciousness; it is all there and always, and all that can happen to it is to turn itself outwards instead of remaining turned inwards. The God in you cannot evolve, but He may show forth His powers through matter that He has appropriated for the purpose, and the matter evolves to serve Him. He Himself only manifests what He is. And on that, many a saying of the great mystics may come to your mind: "Become," says St. Ambrose, "what you are"--a paradoxical phrase; but one that sums up a great truth: become in outer manifestation that which you are in inner reality. That is the object of the whole process of Yoga.

"Spirituality" is the realisation of the One. "Psychism" is the manifestation of intelligence through any material vehicle.[FN#5: See London Lectures of 1907, "Spirituality and Psychism".]

"Yoga" is the seeking of union by the intellect, a science; "Mysticism" is the seeking of the same union by emotion.[FN#6: The word yoga may, of course, be rightly used of all union with the self, whatever the road taken. I am using it here in the narrower sense, as peculiarly connected with the intelligence, as a Science, herein following Patanjali.]

See the mystic. He fixes his mind on the object of devotion; he loses self-consciousness, and passes into a rapture of love and adoration, leaving all external ideas, wrapped in the object of his love, and a great surge of emotion sweeps him up to God. He does not know how he has reached that lofty state. He is conscious only of God and his love for Him. Here is the rapture of the mystic, the triumph of the saint.

The yogi does not work like that. Step after step, he realises what he is doing. He works by science and not by emotion, so that any who do not care for science, finding it dull and dry, are not at present unfolding that part of their nature which will find its best help in the practice of Yoga. The yogi may use devotion as a means. This comes out very plainly in Patanjali. He has given many means whereby Yoga may be followed, and curiously, "devotion to Isvara'' is one of several means. There comes out the spirit of the scientific thinker. Devotion to Isvara is not for him an end in itself, but means to an endÄthe concentration of the mind. You see there at once the difference of spirit. Devotion to Isvara is the path of the mystic. He attains communion by that. Devotion to Isvara as a means of concentrating the mind is the scientific way in which the yogi regards devotion. No number of words would have brought out the difference of spirit between Yoga and Mysticism as well as this. The one looks upon devotion to Isvara as a way of reaching the Beloved; the other looks upon it as a means of reaching concentration. To the mystic, God, in Himself is the object of search, delight in Him is the reason for approaching Him, union with Him in consciousness is his goal; but to the yogi, fixing


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