are hindrances. Why not? If the senses are obstacles in their finer forms, they are also obstacles in their grosser manifestations. To the man who would find the Self by the Self, every sense is a hindrance and an obstacle, and there is no logic, no reason, in denouncing the subtler senses only, while forgetting the temptations of the physical senses, impediments as much as the other. No such division exists for the man who tries to understand the universe in which he is. In the search for the Self by the Self, all that is not Self is an obstacle. Your eyes, your ears, everything that puts you into contact with the outer world, is just as much an obstacle as the subtler forms of the same senses which put you into touch with the subtler worlds of matter, which you call astral and mental. This exaggerated fear of the Siddhis is only a passing reaction, not based on understanding but on lack of understanding; and those who denounce the Siddhis should rise to the logical position of the Hindu Yogi, or of the Roman Catholic recluse, who denounces all the senses, and all the objects of the senses, as obstacles in the way. Many Theosophists here, and more in the West, think that much is gained by acuteness of the physical senses, and of the other faculties in the physical brain; but the moment the senses are acute enough to be astral, or the faculties begin to work in astral matter, they treat them as objects of denunciation. That is not rational. It is not logical. Obstacles, then, are all the senses, whether you call them Siddhis or not, in the search for the Self by turning away from the Not-Self.
It is necessary for the man who seeks the Self by the Self to have the quality which is called “faith,” in the sense in which I defined it before–the profound, intense conviction, that nothing can shake, of the reality of the Self within you. That is the one thing that is worthy to be dignified by the name of faith. Truly it is beyond reason, for not by reason may the Self be known as real. Truly it is not based on argument, for not by reasoning may the Self be discovered. It is the witness of the Self within you to his own supreme reality, and that unshakable conviction, which is shraddha, is necessary for the treading of this path. It is necessary, because without it the human mind would fail, the human courage would be daunted, the human perseverance would break, with the difficulties of the seeking for the Self. Only that imperious conviction that the Self is, only that can cheer the pilgrim in the darkness that comes down upon him, in the void that he must cross before–the life of the lower being thrown away–the life of the higher is realised. This imperious faith is to the Yogi on this path what experience and knowledge are to the Yogi on the other.
To the Self Through the Not-self
Turn from him to the seeker for the Self through the Not- Self. This is the way of the scientist, of the man who uses the concrete, active Manas, in order scientifically to understand the universe; he has to find the real among the unreal, the eternal among the changing, the Self amid the diversity of forms. How is he to do it? By a close and rigorous study of every changing form in which the Self has veiled himself. By studying the Not-Self around him and in him, by understanding his own nature, by analysing in order to understand, by studying nature in others as well as in himself, by learning to know himself and to gain knowledge of others; slowly, gradually, step by step, plane after plane, he has to climb upwards, rejecting one form of matter after another, finding not in these the Self he seeks. As he learns to conquer the physical plane, he uses the keenest senses in order to understand, and finally to reject. He says: “This is not my Self. This changing panorama, these obscurities, these continual transformations, these are obviously the antithesis of the eternity, the lucidity, the stability of the Self. These cannot be my Self.” And thus he constantly rejects them. He climbs on to the astral plane and, using there the finer astral senses, he studies the astral world, only to find that that also is changing and manifests not the changelessness of the Self. After the astral world is conquered and rejected, he climbs on into the mental plane, and there still studies the ever-changing forms of that Manasic world, only once more to reject them: “These are not the Self.” Climbing still higher, ever following the track of forms, he goes from the mental to the Buddhic plane, where the Self begins to show his radiance and beauty in manifested union. Thus by studying diversity he reaches the conception of unity, and is led into the understanding of the One. To him the realisation of the Self comes through the study of the Not-Self, by the separation of the Not-Self from the Self. Thus he does by knowledge and experience what the other does by pure thinking and by faith. In this path of finding the Self through the Not-Self, the so-called Siddhis are necessary. Just as you cannot study the physical world without the physical senses, so you cannot study the astral world without the astral senses, nor the mental world without the mental senses. Therefore, calmly choose your ends, and then think out your means, and you will not ‘be in any difficulty about the method you should employ, the path you should tread.
Thus we see that there are two methods, and these must be kept separate in your thought. Along the line of pure thinking–the metaphysical line–you may reach the Self. So also along the line of scientific observation and experiment–the physical line, in the widest sense of the term physical–you may reach the Self. Both are ways of Yoga. Both are included in the directions that you may read in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Those directions will cease to be self-contradictory, if you will only separate in your thought the two methods. Patanjali has given, in the later part of his Sutras, some hints as to the way in which the Siddhis may be developed. Thus you may find your way to the Supreme.
Yoga and Morality
The next point that I would pause upon, and ask you to realise, is the fact that Yoga is a science of psychology. I want further to point out to you that it is not a science of ethic, though ethic is certainly the foundation of it. Psychology and ethic are not the same. The science of psychology is the result of the study of mind. The science of ethic is the result of the study of conduct, so as to bring about the harmonious relation of one to another. Ethic is a science of life, and not an investigation into the nature of mind and the methods by which the powers of the mind may be developed and evolved. I pause on this because of the confusion that exists in many people as regards this point. If you understand the scope of Yoga aright, such a confusion ought not to arise. The confused idea makes people think that in Yoga they ought to find necessarily what are called precepts of morality, ethic. Though Patanjali gives the universal precepts of morality and right conduct in the first two angas of Yoga, called yama and niyama, yet they are subsidiary to the main topic, are the foundation of it, as just said. No practice of Yoga is possible unless you possess the ordinary moral attributes summed up in yama and niyama; that goes without saying. But you should not expect to find moral precepts in a scientific text book of psychology, like Yoga. A man studying the science of electricity is not shocked if he does not find in it moral precepts; why then should one studying Yoga, as a science of psychology, expect to find moral precepts in it? I do not say that morality is unimportant for the Yogi. On the contrary, it is all-important. It is absolutely necessary in the first stages of Yoga for everyone. But to a Yogi who has mastered these, it is not necessary, if he wants to follow the left-hand path. For you must remember that there is a Yoga of the left-hand path, as well as a Yoga of the right-hand path. Yoga is there also followed, and though asceticism is always found in the early stages, and sometimes in the later, true morality is absent. The black magician is often as rigid in his morality as any Brother of the White Lodge.[FN#8: Terms while and black as used here have no relation to race or colour.] Of the disciples of the black and white magicians, the disciple of the black magician is often the more ascetic. His object is not the purification of life for the sake of humanity, but the purification of the vehicle, that he may be better able to acquire power. The difference between the white and the black magician lies in the motive. You might have a white magician, a follower of the right-hand path, rejecting meat because the way of obtaining it is against the law of compassion. The follower of the left-hand path may also reject meat, but for the reason that be would not be able to work so well with his vehicle if it were full of the rajasic elements of meat. The difference is in the motive. The outer action is the same. Both men may be called moral, if judged by the outer action alone. The motive marks the path, while the outer actions are often identical.
It is a moral thing to abstain from meat, because thereby you are lessening the infliction of suffering; it is not a moral act to abstain from meat from the yogic standpoint, but only a means to an end. Some of the greatest yogis in Hindu literature were, and are, men whom you would rightly call black magicians. But still they are yogis. One of the greatest yogis of all was Ravana, the anti-Christ, the Avatara of evil, who summed up all the evil of the world in his own person in order to oppose the Avatara of good. He was a great, a marvellous yogi, and by Yoga he gained his power. Ravana was a typical yogi of the left-hand path, a great destroyer, and he practiced Yoga to obtain the power of destruction, in order to force from the hands of the Planetary Logos the boon that no man should be able to kill him. You may say: “What a strange thing that a man can force from God such a power.” The laws of Nature are the expression of Divinity, and if a man follows a law of Nature, he reaps the result which that law inevitably brings; the question whether he is good or bad to his fellow men does not touch this matter at all. Whether some other law is or is not obeyed, is entirely outside the question. It is a matter of dry fact that the scientific man may be moral or immoral, provided that his immorality does not upset his eyesight or nervous system. It is the same with Yoga. Morality matters profoundly, but it does not affect these particular things, and if you think it does, you are always getting into bogs and changing your moral standpoint, either lowering or making it absurd. Try to understand; that is what the Theosophist should do; and when you understand, you will not fall into the blunders nor suffer the bewilderment many do, when you expect laws belonging to one region of the universe to bring about results in another. The scientific man understands that. He knows that a discovery in chemistry does not depend upon his morality, and he would not think of doing an act of charity with a view to finding out a new element. He will not fail in a well-wrought experiment, however vicious his private life may be. The things are in different regions, and he does not confuse the laws of the two. As Ishvara is absolutely just, the man who obeys a law reaps the fruit of that law, whether his actions, in any other fields, are beneficial to man or not. If you sow rice, you will reap rice; if you sow weeds, you will reap weeds; rice for rice, and weed for weed. The harvest is according to the sowing. For this is a universe of law. By law we conquer, by law we succeed. Where does morality come in, then? When you are dealing with a magician of the right-hand path, the servant of the White Lodge, there morality is an all-important factor. Inasmuch as he is learning to be a servant of humanity, he must observe the highest morality, not merely the morality of the world, for the white magician has to deal with helping on harmonious relations between man and man. The white magician must be patient. The black magician may quite well be harsh. The white magician must be compassionate; compassion widens out his nature, and he is trying to make his consciousness include the whole of humanity. But not so the black magician. He can afford to ignore compassion.
A white magician may strive for power. But when he is striving for power, he seeks it that he may serve humanity and become more useful to mankind, a more effective servant in the helping of the world. But not so the brother of the dark side. When he strives for power, he seeks if for himself, so that he may use it against the whole world. He may be harsh and cruel. He wants to be isolated; and harshness and cruelty tend to isolate him. He wants power; and holding that power for himself, he can put himself temporarily, as it were, against the Divine Will in evolution.
The end of the one is Nirvana, where all separation has ceased. The end of the other is Avichi–the uttermost isolation–the kaivalya of the black magician. Both are yogis, both follow the science of yoga, and each gets the result of the law he has followed: one the kaivalya of Nirvana, the other the kaivalya of Avichi.
Composition of States of the Mind
Let us pass now to the “states of the mind” as they are called. The word which is used for the states of the mind by Patanjali is Vritti. This admirably constructed language Sanskrit gives you in that very word its own meaning. Vrittis means the “being” of the mind; the ways in which mind can exist; the modes of the mind; the modes of mental existence; the ways of existing. That is the literal meaning of this word. A subsidiary meaning is a “turning around,” a “moving in a circle”. You have to stop, in Yoga, every mode of existing in which the mind manifests itself. In order to guide you towards the power of stopping them–for you cannot stop them till you understand them–you are told that these modes of mind are fivefold in their nature. They are pentads. The Sutra, as usually translated, says ” the Vrittis are fivefold (panchatayyah),” but pentad is a more accurate rendering of the word pancha-tayyah, in the original, than fivefold. The word pentad at once recalls to you the way in which the chemist speaks of a monad, triad, heptad, when he deals with elements. The elements with which the chemist is dealing are related to the unit-element in different ways. Some elements are related to it in one way only, and are called monads; others are related in two ways, and are called duads, and so on.
Is this applicable to the states of mind also? Recall the shloka of the Bhagavad-Gita in which it is said that the Jiva goes out into the world, drawing round him the five senses and mind as sixth. That may throw a little light on the subject. You have five senses, the five ways of knowing, the five jnanendriyas or organs of knowing. Only by these five senses can you know the outer world. Western psychology says that nothing exists in thought that does not exist in sensation. That is not true universally; it is not true of the abstract mind, nor wholly of the concrete. But there is a great deal of truth in it. Every idea is a pentad. It is made up of five elements. Each element making up the idea comes from one of the senses, and of these there are at present five. Later on every idea will be a heptad, made up of seven elements. For the present, each has five qualities, which build up the idea. The mind unites the whole together into a single thought, synthesises the five sensations. If you think of an orange and analyse your thought of an orange, you will find in it: colour, which comes through the eye; fragrance, which comes through the nose; taste, which comes through the tongue; roughness or smoothness, which comes through the sense of touch; and you would hear musical notes made by the vibrations of the molecules, coming through the sense of hearing, were it keener. If you had a perfect sense of hearing. you would hear the sound of the orange also, for wherever there is vibration there is sound. All this, synthesised by the mind into one idea, is an orange. That is the root reason for the “association of ideas”. It is not only that a fragrance recalls the scene and the circumstances under which the fragrance was observed, but because every impression is made through all the five senses and, therefore, when one is stimulated, the others are recalled. The mind is like a prism. If you put a prism in the path of a ray of white light, it will break it up into its seven constituent rays and seven colours will appear. Put another prism in the path of these seven rays, and as they pass through the prism, the process is reversed and the seven become one white light. The mind is like the second prism. It takes in the five sensations that enter through the senses, and combines them into a single precept. As at the present stage of evolution the senses are five only, it unites the five sensations into one idea. What the white ray is to the seven- coloured light, that a thought or idea is to the fivefold sensation. That is the meaning of the much controverted Sutra: “Vrittayah panchatayych,” “the vrittis, or modes of the mind, are pentads.” If you look at it in that way, the later teachings will be more clearly understood.
As I have already said, that sentence, that nothing exists in thought which is not in sensation, is not the whole truth. Manas, the sixth sense, adds to the sensations its own pure elemental nature. What is that nature that you find thus added? It is the establishment of a relation, that is really what the mind adds. All thinking is the “establishment of relations,” and the more closely you look into that phrase, the more you will realise how it covers all the varied processes of the mind. The very first process of the mind is to become aware of an outside world. However dimly at first, we become aware of something outside ourselves–a process generally called perception. I use the more general term “establishing a relation,” because that runs through the whole of the mental processes, whereas perception is only a single thing. To use a well-known simile, when a little baby feels a pin pricking it, it is conscious of pain, but not at first conscious of the pin, nor yet conscious of where exactly the pin is. It does not recognise the part of the body in which the pin is. There is no perception, for perception is defined as relating a sensation to the object which causes the sensation. You only, technically speaking, “perceive” when you make a relation between the object and yourself. That is the very first of these mental processes, following on the heels of sensation. Of course, from the Eastern standpoint, sensation is a mental function also, for the senses are part of the cognitive faculty, but they are unfortunately classed with feelings in Western psychology. Now having established that relation between yourself and objects outside, what is the next process of the mind? Reasoning: that is, the establishing of relations between different objects, as perception is the establishment of your relation with a single object. When you have perceived many objects, then you begin to reason in order to establish relations between them. Reasoning is the establishment of a new relation, which comes out from the comparison of the different objects that by perception you have established in relation with yourself, and the result is a concept. This one phrase, “establishment of relations,” is true all round. The whole process of thinking is the establishment of relations, and it is natural that it should be so, because the Supreme Thinker, by establishing a relation, brought matter into existence. Just as He, by establishing that primary relation between Himself and the Not-Self, makes a universe possible, so do we reflect His powers in ourselves, thinking by the same method, establishing relations, and thus carrying out every intellectual process.
Pleasure and Pain
Let us pass again from that to another statement made by this great teacher of Yoga: “Pentads are of two kinds, painful and non-painful.” Why did he not say: “painful and pleasant”? Because he was an accurate thinker, a logical thinker, and he uses the logical division that includes the whole universe of discourse, A and Not-A, painful and non-painful. There has been much controversy among psychologists as to a third kind –indifferent. Some psychologists divide all feelings into three: painful, pleasant and indifferent. Feelings cannot be divided merely into pain and pleasure, there is a third class, called indifference, which is neither painful nor pleasant. Other psychologists say that indifference is merely pain or pleasure that is not marked enough to be called the one or the other. Now this controversy and tangle into which psychologists have fallen might be avoided if the primary division of feelings were a logical division. A and Not-A–that is the only true and logical division. Patanjali is absolutely logical and right. In order to avoid the quicksand into which the modern psychologists have fallen, he divides all vrittis, modes of mind, into painful and nonpainful.
There is, however, a psychological reason why we should say “pleasure and pain,” although it is not a logical division. The reason why there should be that classification is that the word pleasure and the word pain express two fundamental states of difference, not in the Self, but in the vehicles in which that Self dwells. The Self, being by nature unlimited, is ever pressing, so to say, against any boundaries which seek to limit him. When these limitations give way a little before the constant pressure of the Self, we feel “pleasure,” and when they resist or contract, we feel “pain”. They are not states of the Self so much as states of the vehicles, and states of certain changes in consciousness. Pleasure and pain belong to the Self as a whole, and not to any aspect of the Self separately taken. When pleasure and pain are marked off as belonging only to the desire nature, the objection arises: “Well, but in the exercise of the cognitive faculty there is an intense pleasure. When you use the creative faculty of the mind you are conscious of a profound joy in its exercise, and yet that creative faculty can by no means be classed with desire.” The answer is: “Pleasure belongs to the Self as a whole. Where the vehicles yield themselves to the Self, and permit it to ‘expand’ as is its eternal nature, then what is called pleasure is felt.” It has been rightly said: “Pleasure is a sense of moreness.” Every time you feel pleasure, you will find the word “moreness” covers the case. It will cover the lowest condition of pleasure, the pleasure of eating. You are becoming more by appropriating to yourself a part of the Not-Self, food. You will find it true of the highest condition of bliss, union with the Supreme. You become more by expanding yourself to His infinity. When you have a phrase that can be applied to the lowest and highest with which you are dealing, you may be fairly sure it is all-inclusive, and that, therefore, “pleasure is moreness” is a true statement. Similarly, pain is “lessness”.
If you understand these things your philosophy of life will become more practical, and you will be able to help more effectively people who fall into evil ways. Take drink. The real attraction of drinking lies in the fact that, in the first stages of it, a more keen and vivid life is felt. That stage is overstepped in the case of the man who gets drunk, and then the attraction ceases. The attraction lies in the first stages, and many people have experienced that, who would never dream of becoming drunk. Watch people who are taking wine and see how much more lively and talkative they become. There lies the attraction, the danger.
The real attraction in most coarse forms of excess is that they give an added sense of life, and you will never be able to redeem a man from his excess unless you know why he does it. Understanding the attractiveness of the first step, the increase of life, then you will be able to put your finger on the point of temptation, and meet that in your argument with him. So that this sort of mental analysis is not only interesting, but practically useful to every helper of mankind. The more you know, the greater is your power to help.
The next question that arises is: “Why does he not divide all feelings into pleasurable and not-pleasurable, rather than into ‘painful and not-painful’?” A Westerner will not be at a loss to answer that: “Oh, the Hindu is naturally so very pessimistic, that he naturally ignores pleasure and speaks of painful and not-painful. The universe is full of pain.” But that would not be a true answer. In the first place the Hindu is not pessimistic. He is the most optimistic of men. He has not got one solitary school of philosophy that does not put in its foreground that the object of all philosophy is to put an end to pain. But he is profoundly reasonable. He knows that we need not go about seeking happiness. It is already ours, for it is the essence of our own nature. Do not the Upanishads say: “The Self is bliss”? Happiness exists perennially within you. It is your normal state. You have not to seek it. You will necessarily be happy if you get rid of the obstacles called pain, which are in the modes of mind. Happiness is not a secondary thing, but pain is, and these painful things are obstacles to be got rid of. When they are stopped, you must be happy. Therefore Patanjali says: “The vrittis are painful and non-painful.” Pain is an excrescence. It is a transitory thing. The Self, who is bliss, being the all-permeating life of the universe, pain has no permanent place in it. Such is the Hindu position, the most optimistic in the world.
Let us pause for a moment to ask: “Why should there be pain at all if the Self is bliss?” Just because the nature of the Self is bliss. It would be impossible to make the Self turn outward, come into manifestation, if only streams of bliss flowed in on him. He would have remained unconscious of the streams. To the infinity of bliss nothing could be added. If you had a stream of water flowing unimpeded in its course, pouring more water into it would cause no ruffling, the stream would go on heedless of the addition. But put an obstacle in the way, so that the free flow is checked, and the stream will struggle and fume against the obstacle, and make every endeavour to sweep it away. That which is contrary to it, that which will check its current’s smooth flow, that alone will cause effort. That is the first function of pain. It is the only thing that can rouse the Self. It is the only thing that can awaken his attention. When that peaceful, happy, dreaming, inturned Self finds the surge of pain beating against him, he awakens: “What is this, contrary to my nature, antagonistic and repulsive, what is this?” It arouses him to the fact of a surrounding universe, an outer world. Hence in psychology, in yoga, always basing itself on the ultimate analysis of the fact of nature, pain is the thing that asserts itself as the most important factor in Self-realisation; that which is other than the Self will best spur the Self into activity. Therefore we find our commentator, when dealing with pain, declares that the karmic receptacle the causal body, that in which all the seeds of karma are gathered Up, has for its builder all painful experiences; and along that line of thought we come to the great generalisation: the first function of pain in the universe is to arouse the Self to turn himself to the outer world, to evoke his aspect of activity.
The next function of pain is the organisation of the vehicles. Pain makes the man exert himself, and by that exertion the matter of his vehicles gradually becomes organised. If you want to develop and organise your muscles, you make efforts, you exercise them, and thus more life flows into them and they become strong. Pain is necessary that the Self may force his vehicles into making efforts which develop and organise them. Thus pain not only awakens awareness, it also organises the vehicles.
It has a third function also. Pain purifies. We try to get rid of that which causes us pain. It is contrary to our nature, and we endeavour to throw it away. All that is against the blissful nature of the Self is shaken by pain out of the vehicles; slowly they become purified by suffering, and in that way become ready for the handling of the Self.
It has a fourth function. Pain teaches. All the best lessons of life come from pain rather than from joy. When one is becoming old, as I am and I look on the long life behind me, a life of storm and stress, of difficulties and efforts, I see something of the great lessons pain can teach. Out of my life story could efface without regret everything that it has had of joy and happiness, but not one pain would I let go, for pain is the teacher of wisdom.
It has a fifth function. Pain gives power. Edward Carpenter said, in his splendid poem of “Time and Satan,” after he had described the wrestlings and the overthrows: ‘Every pain that I suffered in one body became a power which I wielded in the next.” Power is pain transmuted.
Hence the wise man, knowing these things, does not shrink from pain; it means purification, wisdom, power.
It is true that a man may suffer so much pain that for this incarnation he may be numbed by it, rendered wholly or partially useless. Especially is this the case when the pain has deluged in childhood. But even then, he shall reap his harvest of good later. By his past, he may have rendered present pain inevitable, but none the less can he turn it into a golden opportunity by knowing and utilising its functions.
You may say: “What use then of pleasure, if pain is so splendid a thing?” From pleasure comes illumination. Pleasure enables the Self to manifest. In pleasure all the vehicles of the Self are made harrnonious; they all vibrate together; the vibrations are rhythmical, not jangled as they are in pain, and those rhythmical vibrations permit that expansion of the Self of which I spoke, and thus lead up to illumination, the knowledge of the Self. And if that be true, as it is true, you will see that pleasure plays an immense part in nature, being of the nature of the Self, belonging to him. When it harmonises the vehicles of the Self from outside, it enables the Self more readily to manifest himself through the lower selves within us. Hence happiness is a condition of illumination. That is the explanation of the value of the rapture of the mystic; it is an intense joy. A tremendous wave of bliss, born of love triumphant, sweeps over the whole of his being, and when that great wave of bliss sweeps over him, it harmonises the whole of his vehicles, subtle and gross alike, and the glory of the Self is made manifest and he sees the face of his God. Then comes the wonderful illumination, which for the time makes him unconscious of all the lower worlds. It is because for a moment the Self is realising himself as divine, that it is possible for him to see that divinity which is cognate to himself. So you should not fear joy any more than you fear pain, as some unwise people do, dwarfed by a mistaken religionism. That foolish thought which you often find in an ignorant religion, that pleasure is rather to be dreaded, as though God grudged joy to His children, is one of the nightmares born of ignorance and terror. The Father of life is bliss. He who is joy cannot grudge Himself to His children, and every reflection of joy in the world is a reflection of the Divine Life, and a manifestation of the Self in the midst of matter. Hence pleasure has its function as well as pain and that also is welcome to the wise, for he understands and utilises it. You can easily see how along this line pleasure and pain become equally welcome. Identified with neither, the wise man takes either as it comes, knowing its purpose. When we understand the places of joy and of pain, then both lose their power to bind or to upset us. If pain comes, we take it and utilise it. If joy comes, we take it and utilise it. So we may pass through life, welcoming both pleasure and pain, content whichever may come to us, and not wishing for that which is for the moment absent. We use both as means to a desired end; and thus we may rise to a higher indifference than that of the stoic, to the true vairagya; both pleasure and pain are transcended, and the Self remains, who is bliss.
YOGA AS PRACTICE
In dealing with the third section of the subject, I drew your attention to the states of mind, and pointed out to you that, according to the Samskrit word vritti, those states of mind should be regarded as ways m which the mind exists, or, to use the philosophical phrase of the West, they are modes of mind, modes of mental existence. These are the states which are to be inhibited, put an end to, abolished, reduced into absolute quiescence. The reason for this inhibition is the production of a state which allows the higher mind to pour itself into the lower. To put it in another way: the lower mind, unruffled, waveless, reflects the higher, as a waveless lake reflects the stars. You will remember the phrase used in the Upanishad, which puts it less technically and scientifically, but more beautifully, and declares that in the quietude of the mind and the tranquility of the senses, a man may behold the majesty of the Self. The method of producing this quietude is what we have now to consider.
Inhibition of States of Mind
Two ways, and two ways only, there are of inhibiting these modes, these ways of existence, of the mind. They were given by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, when Arjuna complained that the mind was impetuous, strong, difficult to bend, hard to curb as the wind. His answer was definite: ” Without doubt, O mighty-armed, the mind is hard to curb and restless; but it may be curbed by constant practice (abhyasa) and by dispassion (vai-ragya).”[FN#9: loc. cit., VI. 35, 35]
These are the two methods, the only two methods, by which this restless, storm-tossed mind can be reduced to peace and quietude. Vai-ragya and abhyasa, they are the only two methods, but when steadily practiced they inevitably bring about the result.
Let us consider what these two familiar words imply. Vai-ragya, or dispassion, has as its main idea the clearing away of all passion for, attraction to, the objects of the senses, the bonds which are made by desire between man and the objects around him. Raga is “passion, addiction,” that which binds a man to things. The prefix “vi”–changing to “vai” by a grammatical rule –means “without,” or “in opposition to”. Hence vai-ragya is “non-passion, absence of passion,” not bound, tied or related to any of these outside objects. Remembering that thinking is the establishing of relations, we see that the getting rid of relations will impose on the mind the stillness that is Yoga. All raga must be entirely put aside. We must separate ourselves from it. We must acquire the opposite condition, where every passion is stilled, where no attraction for the objects of desire remains, where all the bonds that unite the man to surrounding objects are broken. “When the bonds of the heart are broken, then the man becomes immortal.”
How shall this dispassion be brought about? There is only one right way of doing it. By slowly and gradually drawing ourselves away from outer objects through the more potent attraction of the Self. The Self is ever attracted to the Self. That attraction alone can turn these vehicles away from the alluring and repulsive objects that surround them; free from all raga, no more establishing relations with objects, the separated Self finds himself liberated and free, and union with the one Self becomes the sole object of desire. But not instantly, by one supreme effort, by one endeavour, can this great quality of dispassion become the characteristic of the man bent on Yoga. He must practice dispassion constantly and steadfastly. That is implied in the word joined with dispassion, abhyasa or practice. The practice must be constant, continual and unbroken. “Practice” does not mean only meditation, though this is the sense in which the word is generally used; it means the deliberate, unbroken carrying out of dispassion in the very midst of the objects that attract.
In order that you may acquire dispassion, you must practice it in the everyday things of life. I have said that many confine abhyasa to meditation. That is why so few people attain to Yoga. Another error is to wait for some big opportunity. People prepare themselves for some tremendous sacrifice and forget the little things of everyday life, in which the mind is knitted to objects by a myriad tiny threads. These things, by their pettiness, fail to attract attention, and in waiting for the large thing, which does not come, people lose the daily practice of dispassion towards the little things that are around them. By curbing desire at every moment, we become indifferent to all the objects that surround us. Then, when the great opportunity comes, we seize it while scarce aware that it is upon us. Every day, all day long, practice–that is what is demanded from the aspirant to Yoga, for only on that line can success come; and it is the wearisomeness of this strenuous, continued endeavour that tires out the majority of aspirants.
I must here warn you of a danger. There is a rough-and- ready way of quickly bringing about dispassion. Some say to you: “Kill out all love and affection; harden your hearts; become cold to all around you; desert your wife and children, your father and mother, and fly to the desert or the jungle; put a wall between youself and all objects of desire; then dispassion will be yours.” It is true that it is comparatively easy to acquire dispassion in that way. But by that you kill more than desire. You put round the Self, who is love, a barrier through which he is unable to pierce. You cramp yourself by encircling yourself with a thick shell, and you cannot break through it. You harden yourself where you ought to be softened; you isolate yourself where you ought to be embracing others; you kill love and not only desire, forgetting that love clings to the Self and seeks the Self, while desire clings to the sheaths of the Self, the bodies in which the Self is clothed. Love is the desire of the separated Self for union with all other separated Selves. Dispassion is the non-attraction to matter–a very different thing. You must guard love–for it is the very Self of the Self. In your anxiety to acquire dispassion do not kill out love. Love is the life in everyone of us, separated Selves. It draws every separated Self to the other Self. Each one of us is a part of one mighty whole. Efface desire as regards the vehicles that clothe the Self, but do not efface love as regards the Self, that never-dying force which draws Self to Self. In this great up-climbing, it is far better to suffer from love rather than to reject it, and to harden your hearts against all ties and claims of affection. Suffer for love, even though the suffering be bitter. Love, even though the love be an avenue of pain. The pain shall pass away, but the love shall continue to grow, and in the unity of the Self you shall finally discover that love is the great attracting force which makes all things one.
Many people, in trying to kill out love, only throw themselves back, becoming less human, not superhuman; by their mistaken attempts. It is by and through human ties of love and sympathy that the Self unfolds. It is said of the Masters that They love all humanity as a mother loves her firstborn son. Their love is not love watered down to coolness, but love for all raised to the heat of the highest particular loves of smaller souls. Always mistrust the teacher who tells you to kill out love, to be indifferent to human affections. That is the way which leads to the left-hand path.
Meditation With and Without Seed
The next step is our method of meditation. What do we mean by meditation? Meditation cannot be the same for every man. Though the same in principle, namely, the steadying of the mind, the method must vary with the temperament of the practitioner. Suppose that you are a strong-minded and intelligent man, fond of reasoning. Suppose that connected links of thought and argument have been to you the only exorcise of the mind. Utilise that past training. Do not imagine that you can make your mind still by a single effort. Follow a logical chain of reasoning, step by step, link after link; do not allow the mind to swerve a hair’s breadth from it. Do not allow the mind to go aside to other lines of thought. Keep it rigidly along a single line, and steadiness will gradually result. Then, when you have worked up to your highest point of reasoning and reached the last link of your chain of argument, and your mind will carry you no further, and beyond that you can see nothing, then stop. At that highest point of thinking, cling desperately to the last link of the chain, and there keep the mind poised, in steadiness and strenuous quiet, waiting for what may come. After a while, you will be able to maintain this attitude for a considerable time.
For one in whom imagination is stronger than the reasoning faculty, the method by devotion, rather than by reasoning, is the method. Let him call imagination to his help. He should picture some scene, in which the object of his devotion forms the central figure, building it up, bit by bit, as a painter paints a picture, putting in it gradually all the elements of the scene He must work at it as a painter works on his canvas, line by line, his brush the brush of imagination. At first the work will be very slow, but the picture soon begins to present itself at call. Over and over he should picture the scene, dwelling less and less on the surrounding objects and more and more on the central figure which is the object of his heart’s devotion. The drawing of the mind to a point, in this way, brings it under control and steadies it, and thus gradually, by this use of the imagination. he brings the mind under command. The object of devotion will be according to the man’s religion. Suppose–as is the case with many of you–that his object of devotion is Sri Krishna; picture Him in any scene of His earthly life, as in the battle of Kurukshetra. Imagine the armies arrayed for battle on both sides; imagine Arjuna on the floor of the chariot, despondent, despairing; then come to Sri Krishna, the Charioteer, the Friend and Teacher. Then, fixing your mind on the central figure, let your heart go out to Him with onepointed devotion. Resting on Him, poise yourself in silence and, as before, wait for what may come.
This is what is called “meditation with seed”. The central figure, or the last link in reasoning, that is “the seed”. You have gradually made the vagrant mind steady by this process of slow and gradual curbing, and at last you are fixed on the central thought, or the central figure, and there you are poised. Now let even that go. Drop the central thought, the idea, the seed of meditation. Let everything go. But keep the mind in the position gained, the highest point reached, vigorous and alert. This is meditation without a seed. Remain poised, and wait in the silence and the void. You are in the “cloud,” before described, and pass through the condition before sketched. Suddenly there will be a change, a change unmistakable, stupendous, incredible. In that silence, as said, a Voice shall be heard. In that void, a Form shall reveal itself. In that empty sky, a Sun shall rise, and in the light of that Sun you shall realise your own identity with it, and know that that which is empty to the eye of sense is full to the eye of Spirit, that that which is silence to the ear of sense is full of music to the ear of Spirit.
Along such lines you can learn to bring into control your mind, to discipline your vagrant thought, and thus to reach illumination. One word of warning. You cannot do this, while you are trying meditation with a seed. until you are able to cling to your seed definitely for a considerable time, and maintain throughout an alert attention. It is the emptiness of alert expectation. not the emptiness of impending sleep. If your mind be not in that condition, its mere emptiness is dangerous. It leads to mediumship, to possession, to obsession. You can wisely aim at emptiness, only when you have so disciplined the mind that it can hold for a considerable time to a single point and remain alert when that point is dropped.
The question is sometimes asked: “Suppose that I do this and succeed in becoming unconscious of the body; suppose that I do rise into a higher region; is it quite sure that I shall come back again to the body? Having left the body, shall I be certain to return?” The idea of non-return makes a man nervous. Even if he says that matter is nothing and Spirit is everything, he yet does not like to lose touch with his body and, losing that touch, by sheer fear, he drops back to the earth after having taken so much trouble to leave it. You should, however, have no such fear. That which will draw you back again is the trace of your past, which remains under all these conditions.
The question is of the same kind as: “Why should a state of Pralaya ever come to an end, and a new state of Manvantara begin?” And the answer is the same from the Hindu psychological standpoint; because, although you have dropped the very seed of thought, you cannot destroy the traces which that thought has left, and that trace is a germ, and it tends to draw again to itself matter, that it may express itself once more. This trace is what is called the privation of matter– samskara. Far as you may soar beyond the concrete mind, that trace, left in the thinking principle, of what you have thought and have known, that remains and will inevitably draw you back. You cannot escape your past and, until your life-period is over, that samskara will bring you back. It is this also which, at the close of the heavenly life, brings a man back to rebirth. It is the expression of the law of rhythm. In Light on the Path, that wonderful occult treatise, this state is spoken of and the disciple is pictured as in the silence. The writer goes on to say: “Out of the silence that is peace a resonant voice shall arise. And this voice will say: ‘It is not well; thou hast reaped, now thou must sow.’ And knowing this voice to be the silence itself, thou wilt obey.”
What is the meaning of that phrase: “Thou hast reaped, now thou must sow?” It refers to the great law of rhythm which rules even the Logoi, the Ishvaras –the law of the Mighty Breath, the out-breathing and the in-breathing, which compels every fragment which is separated for a time. A Logos may leave His universe, and it may drop away when He turns His gaze inward, for it was He who gave reality to it.
He may plunge into the infinite depths of being, but even then there is the samskara of the past universe, the shadowy latent memory, the germ of maya from which He cannot escape. To escape from it would be to cease to be Ishvara, and to become Brahma Nirguna. There is no Ishvara without maya, there is no maya without Ishvara. Even in pralaya, a time comes when the rest is over and the inner life again demands manifestation; then the outward turning begins and a new universe comes forth. Such is the law of rest and activity: activity followed by rest; rest followed again by the desire for activity; and so the ceaseless wheel of the universe, as well as of human lives, goes on. For in the eternal, both rest and activity are ever present, and in that which we call Time, they follow each other, although in eternity they be simultaneous and ever-existing.
The Use of Mantras
Let us see how far we can help ourselves in this difficult work. I will draw your attention to one fact which is of enormous help to the beginner.
Your vehicles are ever restless. Every vibration in the vehicle produces a corresponding change in consciousness. Is there any way to check these vibrations, to steady the vehicle, so that consciousness may be still? One method is the repeating of a mantra. A mantra is a mechanical way of checking vibration. Instead of using the powers of the will and of imagination, you save these for other purposes, and use the mechanical resource of a mantra. A mantra is a definite succession of sounds. Those sounds, repeated rhythmically over and over again in succession, synchronise the vibrations of the vehicles into unity with themselves. Hence a mantra cannot be translated; translation alters the sounds. Not only in Hinduism, but in Buddhism, in Roman Catholicism, in Islam, and among the Parsis, mantras are found, and they are never translated, for when you have changed the succession and order of the sounds, the mantra ceases to be a mantra. If you translate the words, you may have a very beautiful prayer, but not a mantra. Your translation may be beautiful inspired poetry, but it is not a living mantra. It will no longer harmonise the vibrations of the surrounding sheaths, and thus enable the consciousness to become still. The poetry, the inspired prayer, these are mentally translatable. But a mantra is unique and untranslatable. Poetry is a great thing: it is often an inspirer of the soul, it gives gratification to the ear, and it may be sublime and beautiful, but it is not a mantra.
Let us consider concentration. You ask a man if he can concentrate. He at once says: “Oh! it is very difficult. I have often tried and failed.” But put the same question in a different way, and ask him: “Can you pay attention to a thing?” He will at once say: “Yes, I can do that.”
Concentration is attention. The fixed attitude of attention, that is concentration. If you pay attention to what you do, your mind will be concentrated. Many sit down for meditation and wonder why they do not succeed. How can you suppose that half an hour of meditation and twenty- three and a half hours of scattering of thought throughout the day and night, will enable you to concentrate during the half hour? You have undone during the day and night what you did in the morning, as Penelope unravelled the web she wove. To become a Yogi, you must be attentive all the time. You must practice concentration every hour of your active life. Now you scatter your thoughts for many hours, and you wonder that you do not succeed. The wonder would be if you did. You must pay attention every day to everything you do. That is, no doubt, hard to do, and you may make it easier in the first stages by choosing out of your day’s work a portion only, and doing that portion with perfect, unflagging attention. Do not let your mind wander from the thing before you. It does not matter what the thing is. It may be the adding up of a column of figures, or the reading of a book. Anything will do. It is the attitude of the mind that is important and not the object before it. This is the only way of learning concentration. Fix your mind rigidly on the work before you for the time being, and when you have done with it, drop it. Practise steadily in this way for a few months, and you will be surprised to find how easy it becomes to concentrate the mind. Moreover, the body will soon learn to do many things automatically. If you force it to do a thing regularly, it will begin to do it, after a time, of its own accord, and then you find that you can manage to do two or three things at the same time. In England, for instance, women are very fond of knitting. When a girl first learns to knit, she is obliged to be very intent on her fingers. Her attention must not wander from her fingers for a moment, or she will make a mistake. She goes on doing that day after day, and presently her fingers have learnt to pay attention to the work without her supervision, and they may be left to do the knitting while she employs the conscious mind on something else. It is further possible to train your mind as the girl has trained her fingers. The mind also, the mental body, can be so trained as to do a thing automatically. At last, your highest consciousness can always remain fixed on the Supreme, while the lower consciousness in the body will do the things of the body, and do them perfectly, because perfectly trained. These are practical lessons of Yoga.
Practice of this sort builds up the qualities you want, and you become stronger and better, and fit to go on to the definite study of Yoga.
Obstacles to Yoga
Before considering the capacities needed for this definite practice, let us run over the obstacles to Yoga as laid down by Patanjali.
The obstacles to Yoga are very inclusive. First, disease: if you are diseased you cannot practice Yoga; it demands sound health, for the physical strain entailed by it is great. Then languor of mind: you must be alert, energetic, in your thought. Then doubt: you must have decision of will, must be able to make up your mind. Then carelessness: this is one of the greatest difficulties with beginners; they read a thing carelessly, they are inaccurate. Sloth: a lazy man cannot be a Yogi; one who is inert, who lacks the power and the will to exert himself; how shall he make the desperate exertions wanted along this line? The next, worldly-mindedness, is obviously an obstacle. Mistaken ideas is another great obstacle, thinking wrongly about things. One of the great qualifications for Yoga is “right notion” “Right notion” means that the thought shall correspond with the outside truth; that a man shall he fundamentally true, so that his thought corresponds to fact; unless there is truth in a man, Yoga is for him impossible. Missing the point, illogical, stupid, making the important, unimportant and vice versa. Lastly, instability: which makes Yoga impossible, and even a small amount of which makes Yoga futile; the unstable man cannot be a yogi.
Capacities of Yoga
Can everybody practise Yoga? No. But every well-educated person can prepare for its future practice. For rapid progress you must have special capacities, as for anything else. In any of the sciences a man may study without being the possessor of very special capacity, although he cannot attain eminence therein; and so it is with Yoga. Anybody with a fair intelligence may learn something from Yoga which he may advantageously practice, but he cannot hope unless he starts with certain capacities, to be a success in Yoga in this life. It is only right to say that; for if any special science needs particular capacities in order to attain eminence therein, the science of sciences certainly cannot fall behind the ordinary sciences in the demands that it makes on its students.
Suppose I am asked: “Can I become a great mathematician?” What must be my answer? “You must have a natural aptitude and capacity for mathematics to be a great mathematician. If you have not that capacity, you cannot be a great mathematician in this life.” But this does not mean that you cannot learn any mathematics. To be a great mathematician you must be born with a special capacity for mathematics. To be born with such a special capacity means that you have practiced it in very many lives and now you are born with it ready-made. It is the same with Yoga. Every man can learn a little of it. But to be a great Yogi means lives of practice. If these are behind you, you will have been born with the necessary faculties in the present birth.
There are three faculties which one must have to obtain success in Yoga. The first is a strong desire. “Desire ardently.” Such a desire is needed to break the strong links of desire which knit you to the outer world. Moreover, without that strong desire you will never go through all the difficulties that bat your way. You must have the conviction that you will ultimately succeed, and the resolution to go on until you do succeed. It must be a desire so ardent and so firmly rooted, that obstacles only make it more keen. To such a man an obstacle is like fuel that you throw on a fire. It burns but the more strongly as it catches hold of it and finds it fuel for the burning. So difficulties and obstacles are but fuel to feed the fire of the yogi’s resolute desire. He only becomes the more firmly fixed, because he finds the difficulties.
If you have not this strong desire, its absence shows that you are new to the work, but you can begin to prepare for it in this life. You can create desire by thought; you cannot create desire by desire. Out of the desire nature, the training of the desire nature cannot come.
What is it in us that calls out desire? Look into your own mind, and you will find that memory and imagination are the two things that evoke desire most strongly. Hence thought is the means whereby all the changes in desire can be brought about. Thought, imagination, is the only creative power in you, and by imagination your powers are to be unfolded. The more you think of a desirable object, the stronger becomes the desire for it. Then think of Yoga as desirable, if you want to desire Yoga. Think about the results of Yoga and what it means for the world when you have become a yogi, and you will find your desire becoming stronger and stronger. For it is only by thought that you can manage desire. You can do nothing with it by itself. You want the thing, or you do not want it, and within the limits of the desire nature you are helpless in its grasp. As just said, you cannot change desire by desire. You must go into another region of your being, the region of thought, and by thought you can make yourself desire or not desire, exactly as you like, if only you will use the right means, and those means, after all, are fairly simple. Why is it you desire to possess a thing? Because you think it will make you happier. But suppose you know by past experience that in the long run it does not make you happier, but brings you sorrow, trouble, distress. You have at once, ready to your hands, the way to get rid of that desire. Think of the ultimate results. Let your mind dwell carefully on all the painful things. Jump over the momentary pleasure, and fix your thought steadily on the pain which follows the gratification of that desire. And when you have done that for a month or so, the very sight of those objects of desire will repel you. You will have associated it in your mind with suffering, and will recoil from it instinctively. You will not want it. You have changed the want, and have changed it by your power of imagination. There is no more effective way of destroying a vice than by deliberately picturing the ultimate results of its indulgence. Persuade a young man who is inclined to be profligate to keep in his mind the image of an old profligate; show him the profligate worn out, desiring without the power to gratify; and if you can get him to think in that way, unconsciously he will begin to shrink from that which before attracted him; the very hideousness of the results frightens away the man from clinging to the object of desire. And the would-be yogi has to use his thought to mark out the desires he will permit, and the desires that he is determined to slay.
The next thing after a strong desire is a strong will. Will is desire. transmuted, its directing is changed from without to within. If your will is weak, you must strengthen it. Deal with it as you do with other weak things: strengthen it by practice. If a boy knows that he has weak arms, he says: “My arms are weak, but I shall practice gymnastics, work on the parallel bars: thus my arms. will grow strong.” It is the same with the will. Practice will make strong the little, weak will that you have at present.
Resolve, for example, saying: “I will do such and such thing every morning,” and do it. One thing at a time is enough for a feeble will. Make yourself a promise to do such and such a thing at such a time, and you will soon find that you will be ashamed to break your promise. When you have kept such a promise to yourself for a day, make it for a week, then for a fortnight. Having succeeded, you can choose a harder thing to do, and so on. By this forcing of action, you strengthen the will. Day after day it grows greater in power, and you find your inner strength increases. First have a strong desire. Then transmute it into a strong will.
The third requisite for Yoga is a keen and broad intelligence. You cannot control your mind, unless you have a mind to control. Therefore you must develop your mind. You must study. By study, I do not mean the reading of books. I mean thinking. You may read a dozen books and your mind may be as feeble as in the beginning. But if you have read one serious book properly, then, by slow reading and much thinking, your intelligence will be nurtured and your; mind grow strong.
These are the things you want–a strong desire, an indomitable will, a keen. intelligence. Those are the capacities that you must unfold in order that the practice of Yoga may be possible to you. If your mind is very unsteady, if it is a butterfly mind like a child’s, you must make it steady. That comes by close study and thinking. You must unfold the mind by which you are to work.
Forthgoing and Returning
It will help you, in doing this and in changing your desire, if you realise that the great evolution of humanity goes on along two paths–the Path of Forthgoing, and the Path of Return.
On the Path, or marga, of Pravritti–forthgoing on which are the vast majority of human beings, desires are necessary and useful. On that path, the more desire a man has, the better for his evolution. They are the motives that prompt to activity. Without these the stagnates, he is inert. Why should Isvara have filled the worlds with desirable objects if He did not intend that desire should be an ingredient in evolution? He deals with humanity as a sensible mother deals -with her child. She does not give lectures to the child on the advantages of walking nor explain to it learnedly the mechanism of the muscles of the leg. She holds a bright glittering toy before the child, and says: “Come and get it.” Desire awakens, and the child begins to crawl, and so it learns to walk. So Isvara has put toys around us, but always just out of our reach, and He says: “Come, children, take these. Here are love, money, fame, social consideration; come and get them. Walk, make efforts for them.” And we, like children, make great efforts and struggle along to snatch these toys. When we seize the toy, it breaks into pieces and is of no use. People fight and struggle and toil for wealth, and, when they become multi-millionaires, they ask: “How shall we spend this wealth?” I read of a millionaire in America, who was walking on foot from city to city, in order to distribute the vast wealth which he accumulated. He learned his lesson. Never in another life will that man be induced to put forth efforts for the toy of wealth. Love of fame, love of power, stimulate men to most strenuous effort. But when they are grasped and held in the hand, weariness is the result. The mighty statesman, the leader of the nation, the man idolised by millions–follow him home, and there you will see the weariness of power, the satiety that cloys passion. Does then God mock us with all the objects? No. The object has been to bring out the power of the Self to develop the capacity latent in man, and in the development of human faculty, the result of the great lila may be seen. That is the way in which we learn to unfold the God within us; that is the result of the play of the divine Father with His children.
But sometimes the desire for objects is lost too early, and the lesson is but half learned. That is one of the difficulties in the India of today. You have a mighty spiritual philosophy, which was the natural expression for the souls who were born centuries ago. They were ready to throw away the fruit of action and to work for the Supreme to carry out His Will.
But the lesson for India at the present time is to wake up the desire. It may look like going back, but it is really a going forward. The philosophy is true, but it belonged to those older souls who were ready for it, and the younger souls now being born into the people are not ready for that philosophy. They repeat it by rote, they are hypnotised by it, and they sink down into inertia, because there is nothing they desire enough to force them to exertion. The consequence is that the nation as a whole is going downhill. The old lesson of putting different objects before souls of different ages, is forgotten, and every one is now nominally aiming at ideal perfection, which can only be reached when the preliminary steps have been successfully mounted. It is the same as with the “Sermon on the Mount” in Christian countries, but there the practical common sense of the people bows to it and–ignores it. No nation tries to live by the “Sermon on the Mount ” It is not meant for ordinary men and women, but for the saint. For all those who are on the Path of Forthgoing, desire is necessary for progress.
What is the Path of Nivritti? It is the Path of Return. There desire must cease; and the Self-determined will must take its place. The last object of desire in a person commencing the Path of Return is the desire to work with the Will of the Supreme; he harmonises his will with the Supreme Will, renounces all separate desires, and thus works to turn the wheel of life as long as such turning is needed by the law of Life. Desire on the Path of Forthgoing becomes will on the Path of Return; the soul, in harmony with the Divine, works with the law. Thought on the Path of Forthgoing is ever alert, flighty and changing; it becomes reason on the Path of Return; the yoke of reason is placed on the neck of the lower mind, and reason guides the bull. Work, activity, on the Path of Forthgoing, is restless action by which the ordinary man is bound; on the Path of Return work becomes sacrifice, and thus its binding force is broken. These are, then, the manifestations of three aspects, as shown on the Paths of Forthgoing and Return.
Bliss manifested as desire is changed into will Wisdom manifested as thought is changed into reason. Activity manifested as work is changed into sacrifice.
People very often ask with regard to this: “Why is will placed in the human being as the correspondence of bliss in the Divine?” The three great Divine qualities are: chit or consciousness; ananda or bliss; sat or existence. Now it is quite clear that the consciousness is reflected in intelligence in man–the same quality, only in miniature. It is equally clear that existence and activity belong to each other. You can only exist as you act outwards. The very form of the word shows It –“ex, out of”; it is manifested life. That leaves the third, bliss, to correspond with will, and some people are rather puzzled with that, and they ask: “What is the correspondence between bliss and will?” But if you come down to desire, and the objects of desire, you will be able to solve the riddle. The nature of the Self is bliss. Throw that nature down into matter and what will be the expression of the bliss nature? Desire for happiness, the seeking after desirable objects, which it imagines will give it the happiness which is of its own essential nature, and which it is continually seeking to realise amid the obstacles of the world. Its nature being bliss, it seeks for happiness and that desire for happiness is to be transmuted into will. All these correspondences have a profound meaning if you will only look into them, and that universal “will-to-live” translates itself as the “desire for happiness” that you find in every man and woman, in every sentient creature. Has it ever struck you how surely you are justifying that analysis of your own nature by the way you accept happiness as your right, and resent misery, and ask what you have done to deserve it? You do not ask the same about happiness, which is the natural result of your own nature. The thing that has to be explained is not happiness but pain, the things that are against the nature of the Self that is bliss. And so, looking into this, we see how desire and will are both the determination to be happy. But the one is ignorant, drawn out by outer objects; the other is self-conscious, initiated and ruled from within. Desire is evoked and directed from outside; and when the same aspect rules from within, it is will. There is no difference in their nature. Hence desire on the Path of Forthgoing becomes will on the Path of Return.
When desire, thought and work are changed into will, reason and sacrifice, then the man is turning homewards, then he lives by renunciation.
When a man has really renounced, a strange change takes place. On the Path of Forthgoing, you must fight for everything you want to get; on the Path of Return, nature pours her treasures at your feet. When a man has ceased to desire them, then all treasures pour down upon him, for he has become a channel through which all good gifts flow to those around him. Seek the good, give up grasping, and then everything will be yours. Cease to ask that your own little water tank may be filled, and you will become a pipe, joined to the living source of all waters, the source which never runs dry, the waters which spring up unfailingly. Renunciation means the power of unceasing work for the good of all, work which cannot fail, because wrought by the Supreme Worker through His servant.
If you are engaged in any true work of charity, and your means are limited and the wealth does not flow into your hands, what does it mean? It means that you have not yet learnt the true renunciation. You are clinging to the visible, to the fruit of action, and so the wealth does not pour through your hands.
Purification of Bodies
The unfolding of powers belongs to the side of consciousness; purification of bodies belongs to the side of matter. You must purify each of your three working bodies–mental, astral and physical. Without that purification you had better leave yoga alone. First of all, how shall you purify the thought body? By right thinking. Then you must use imagination, your great creative tool, once more. Imagine things, and, imagining them, you will form your thought-body into the organisation that you desire. Imagine something strongly, as the painter imagines when he is going to paint. Visualise an object if you have the power of visualisation at all: if you have not, try to make it. It is an artistic faculty, of course, hut most people have it more or less. See how far you can reproduce perfectly a face you see daily. By such practice you will be strengthening your imagination, and by strengthening your imagination you will be making the great tool with which you have to practice in Yoga.
There is another use of the imagination which is very valuable. If you will imagine in your thought-body the presence of the qualities that you desire to have, and the absence of those which you desire not to have, you are half-way to having and not having them. Also, many of the troubles of your life might be weakened if you would imagine them on right lines before you have to go through them. Why do you wait helplessly until you meet them in the physical world. If you thought of your coming trouble in the morning, and thought of yourself as acting perfectly in the midst of it (you should never scruple to imagine yourself perfect), when the thing turned up in the day, it would have lost its power, and you would no longer feel the sting to the same extent. Now each of you must have in your life something that troubles you. Think of yourself as facing that trouble and not minding it, and when it comes, you will be what you have been thinking. You might get rid of half your troubles and your faults, if you would deal with them through your imagination.
As the thought body, becomes purified in this way, you must turn to the astral body. The astral body is purified by right desire. Desire nobly, and the astral body will evolve the organs of good desires instead of the organs of evil ones. The secret of all progress is to think and desire the highest, never dwelling on the fault, the weakness, the error, but always on the perfected power, and slowly in that way you will be able to build up perfection in yourself. Think and desire, then, in order to purify the thought body and the astral body.
And how shall you purify the physical body? You must regulate it in all its activities–in sleep, in food, in exercise, in everything. You cannot have a pure physical body with impure mental and astral bodies so that the work of imagination helps also in the purification of the physical. But you must also regulate the physical body in all its activities. Take for instance, food. The Indian says truly that every sort of food has a dominant quality in it, either rhythm, or activity, or inertia, and that all foods fall under one of these heads. Now the man who is to be a yogi must not touch any food which is on the way to decay. Those things belong to the tamasic foods–all foods, for instance, of the nature of game, of venison, all food which is showing signs of decay (all alcohol is a product of decay), are to be avoided. Flesh foods come under the quality of activity. All flesh foods are really stimulants. All forms in the animal kingdom are built up to express animal desires and animal activities. The yogi cannot afford to use these in a body meant for the higher processes of thought. Vitality, yes, they will give that; strength, which does not last, they will give that; a sudden spurs of energy, yes, meat will give that; but those are not the things which the yogi wants; so he puts aside all those foods as not available for the work he desires, and chooses his food out of the most highly vitalised products. All the foods which tend to growth, those are the most highly vitalised, grain, out of which the new plant will grow, is packed full of the most nutritious substances; fruits; all those things which have growth as their next stage in the life cycle, those are the rhythmic foods, full of life, and building up a body sensitive and strong at the same time.
Dwellers on the Threshold
Of these there are many kinds. First, elementals. They try to bar the astral plane against man. And naturally so, because they are concerned with the building up of the lower kingdoms, these elementals of form, the Rupa Devas; and to them man is a really hateful creature, because of his destructive properties. That is why they dislike him so much. He spoils their work wherever he goes, tramples down vegetable things, and kills animals, so that the whole of that great kingdom of nature hates the name of man. They band themselves together to stop the one who is just taking his first conscious steps on the astral plane, and try to frighten him, for they fear that he is bringing destructiveness into the new world. They cannot do anything, if you do not mind them. When that rush of elemental force comes against the man entering on the astral plane, he must remain quiet, indifferent, taking up the position: “I am a higher product of evolution than you are; you can do nothing to me. I am your friend, not your enemy, Peace!” If he be strong enough to take up that position, the great wave of elemental force will roll aside and let him through. The seemingly causeless fears which some feel at night are largely due to this hostility. You are, at night, more sensitive to the astral plane than during the day, and the dislike of the beings on the plane for man is felt more strongly. But when the elementals find you are not destructive, not an embodiment of ruin, they become as friendly to you as they were before hostile. That is the first form of the dweller on the threshold. Here again the importance of pure and rhythmic food comes in; because if you use meat and alcohol, you attract the lower elementals of the plane, those that take pleasure in the scent of blood and spirits, and they will inevitably prevent your seeing and understanding things clearly. They will surge round you, impress their thoughts upon you, force their impressions on your astral body, so that you may have a kind of shell of objectionable hangers-on to your aura, who will much obstruct you in your efforts to see and hear correctly. That is the chief reason why every one who is teaching Yoga on the right-hand path absolutely forbids indulgence in meat and alcohol.
The second form of the dweller on the threshold is the thought forms of our own past. Those forms, growing out of the evil of lives that lie behind us, thought forms of wickedness of all kinds, those face us when we first come into touch with the astral plane, really belonging to us, but appearing as outside forms, as objects; and they try to scare back their creator. You can only conquer them by sternly repudiating them: “You are no longer mine; you belong to my past, and not to my present. I will give you none of my life.” Thus you will gradually exhaust and finally annihilate them. This is perhaps one of the most painful difficulties that one has to face in treading the astral plane in consciousness for the first time. Of course, where a person has in any way been mixed up with objectionable thought forms of the stronger kind, such as those brought about by practicing black magic, there this particular form of the dweller will be much stronger and more dangerous, and often desperate is the struggle between the neophyte and these dwellers from his past backed up by the masters of the black side.
Now we come to one of the most terrible forms of the dwellers on the threshold. Suppose a case in which a man during the past has steadily identified himself with the lower part of his nature and has gone against the higher, paralysing himself, using higher powers for lower purposes, degrading his mind to be the mere slave of his lower desires. A curious change takes place in him. The life which belongs to the Ego in him is taken up by the physical body, and assimilated with the lower lives of which the body is composed. Instead of serving the purposes of the Spirit, it is dragged away for tile purposes of the lower, and becomes part of the animal life belonging to the lower bodies, so that the Ego and his higher bodies are weakened, and the animal life of the lower is strengthened. Now under those conditions, the Ego will sometimes become so disgusted with his vehicles that when death relieves him of the physical body he will cast the others quite aside. And even sometimes during physical life he will leave the desecrated temple. Now after death, in these cases, the man generally reincarnates very quickly; for, having torn himself away from his astral and mental bodies, he has no bodies with which to live in the astral and mental worlds, and he must quickly form new ones and come again to rebirth here. Under these conditions the old astral and mental bodies are not disintegrated when the new mental and astral bodies are formed and born into the world, and the affinity between the old and new, both having had the same owner, the same tenant, asserts itself, and the highly vitalised old astral and mental bodies will attach themselves to the new astral and mental bodies, and become the most terrible form of the dweller on the threshold.
These are the various forms which the dweller may assume, and all are spoken of in books dealing with these particular subjects, though I do not know that you will find anywhere in a single book a definite classification like the above. In addition to these there are, of course, the direct attacks of the Dark Brothers, taking up various forms and aspects, and the most common form they will take is the form of some virtue which is a little bit in excess in the yogi. The yogi is not attacked through his vices, but through his virtues; for a virtue in excess becomes a vice. It is the extremes which are ever the vices; the golden mean is the virtue. And thus, virtues become tempters in the difficult regions of the astral and mental worlds, and are utilised by the Brothers of the Shadow in order to entrap the unwary.
I am not here speaking of the four ordinary ordeals of the astral plane: the ordeals by earth, water, fire and air. Those are mere trifles, hardly worth considering when speaking of these more serious difficulties. Of course, you have to learn that you are entirely master of astral matter, that earth cannot crush you, nor water drown you, etc. Those are, so to speak, very easy lessons. Those who belong to a Masonic body will recognise these ordeals as parts of the language they are familiar with in their Masonic ritual.
There is one other danger also. You may injure yourself by repercussion. If on the astral plane you are threatened with danger which belongs to the physical, but are unwise enough to think it can injure you, it will injure your physical body. You may get a wound, or a bruise, and so on, out of astral experiences. I once made a fool of myself in this way. I was in a ship going down and, as I was busy there, I saw that the mast of the ship was going to fall and, in a moment’s forgetfulness, thought: “That mast will fall on me” that momentary thought had its result, for when I came back to the body in the morning, I had a large physical bruise where the mast fell. That is a frequent phenomenon until you have corrected the fault of the mind, which thinks instinctively the things which it is accustomed to think down here.
One protection you can make for yourself as you become more sensitive. Be rigorously truthful in thought, in word, in deed. Every thought, every desire, takes form in the higher world. If you are careless of truth here, you are creating a whole host of terrifying and deluding forms. Think truth, speak truth, live truth, and then you shall be free from the illusions of the astral world.
Preparation for Yoga
People say that I put the ideal of discipleship so very high that nobody can hope to become a disciple. But I have not said that no one can become a disciple who does not reproduce the description that is given of the perfect disciple. One may. But we do it at our own peril. A man may be thoroughly capable along one line, but have a serious fault along another. The serious fault will not prevent him from becoming a disciple, but he must suffer for it. The initiate pays for his faults ten times the price he would have had to pay for them as a man of the world. That is why I have put the ideal so high. I have never said that a person must come utterly up to the ideal before becoming a disciple, but I have said that the risks of becoming a disciple without these qualifications are enormous. It is the duty of those who have seen the results of going through the gateway with faults in character, to point out that it is well to get rid of these faults first. Every fault you carry through the gateway with you becomes a dagger to stab you on the other side. Therefore it is well to purify yourself as much as you can, before you are sufficiently evolved on any line to have the right to say: “I will pass through that gateway.” That is what I intended to be understood when I spoke of qualifications for discipleship. I have followed along the ancient road which lays down these qualifications which the disciple should bring with him; and if he comes without them, then the word of Jesus is true, that he will be beaten with many stripes; for a man can afford to do in the outer world with small result what will bring terrible results upon him when once he is treading the Path.
What is to be the end of this long struggle? What is the goal of the upward climbing, the prize of the great battle? What does the yogi reach at last? He reaches unity. Sometimes I am not sure that large numbers of people, if they realised what unity means, would really desire to reach it. There are many “virtues” of your ordinary life which will drop entirely away from you when you reach unity. Many things you admire will be no longer helps but hindrances, when the sense of unity begins to dawn. All those qualities so useful in ordinary life–such as moral indignation, repulsion from evil, judgment of others–have no room where unity is realised. When you feel repulsion from evil, it is a sign that your Higher Self is beginning to awaken, is seeing the dangers of evil: he drags the body forcibly away from it. That is the beginning of the conscious moral life. Hatred of evil is better at that stage than indifference to evil. It is a necessary stage. But repulsion cannot be felt when a man has realised unity, when he sees God made manifest in man. A man who knows unity cannot judge another. “I judge no man,” said the Christ. He cannot be repelled by anyone. The sinner is himself, and how shall he be repelled from himself? For him there is no “I” or “Thee,” for we are one.
This is not a thing that many honestly wish for. It is not a thing that many honestly desire. The man who has realised unity knows no difference between himself and the vilest wretch that walks the earth. He sees only the God that walks in the sinner, and knows that the sin is not in the God but in the sheath. The difference is only there. He who has realised the inner greatness of the Self never pronounces judgment upon another, knows that other as himself, and he himself as that other–that is unity. We talk brotherhood, but how many of us really practice it? And even that is not the thing the yogi aims at. Greater than brotherhood are identity and realisation of the Self as one. The Sixth Root Race will carry brotherhood to the highest point. The Seventh Root Race will know identity, will realise the unity of the human race. To catch a glimpse of the beauty of that high conception, the greatness of the unity in which “I” and “mine,” “you” and “yours” have vanished, in which we are all one life, even to do that lifts the whole nature towards divinity, and those who can even see that unity is fair; they are the nearer to the realisation of the Beauty that is God.