PATANJALI’S YOGA APHORISMS
CONCENTRATION: ITS SPIRITUAL USES
1. Now concentration is explained.
2. Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms (Vŗttis)
A good deal of explanation is necessary here. We have to understand what Citta is, and what are these Vŗttis. I have this eye. Eyes do not see. Take away the brain centre which is in the head, the eyes will still be there, the retinæ complete, and also the picture, and yet the eyes will not see. So the eyes are only a secondary instrument, not the organ of vision. The organ of vision is in the nerve centre of the brain. The two eyes will not be sufficient alone. Sometimes a man is asleep with his eyes open. The light is there and the picture is there, but a third thing is necessary; mind must be joined to the organ. The eye is the external instrument, we need also the brain centre and the agency of the mind. Carriages roll down a street and you do not hear them. Why? Because your mind has not attached itself to the organ of hearing. First there is the instrument, then there is the organ, and third, the mind attachment to these two. The mind takes the impression farther in, and presents it to the determinative faculty—Buddhi—which reacts. Along with this reaction flashes the idea of egoism. Then this mixture of action and reaction is presented to the Puruşa, the real Soul, who perceives an object in this mixture. The organs (Indriyas), together with the mind (Manas), the determinative faculty (Buddhi) and egoism (Ahamkara), form the group called the Antahkarana (the internal instrument). They are but various processes in the mindstuff, called Citta. The waves of thought in the Citta are called Vŗtti (“the whirlpool” is the literal translation). What is thought? Thought is a force, as is gravitation or repulsion. It is absorbed from the infinite storehouse of force in nature; the instrument called Citta takes hold of that force, and, when it passes out at the other end it is called thought. This force is supplied to us through food, and out of that food the body obtains the power of motion, etc. Others, the finer forces, it throws out in what we call thought. Naturally we see that the mind is not intelligent; yet it appears to be intelligent. Why? Because the intelligent soul is behind it. You are the only sentient being; mind is only the instrument through which you catch the external world. Take this book; as a book it does not exist outside, what exists outside is unknown and unknowable. It is the suggestion that gives a blow to the mind, and the mind gives out the reaction. If a stone is thrown into the water the water is thrown against it in the form of waves. The real universe is the occasion of the reaction of the mind. A book form, or an elephant form, or a man form, is not outside; all that we know is our mental reaction from the outer suggestion. Matter is the “permanent possibility of sensation,” said John Stuart Mill. It is only the suggestion that is outside. Take an oyster for example. You know how pearls are made. A grain of sand or something gets inside and begins to irritate it, and the oyster throws a sort of enamelling around the sand, and this makes the pearl. This whole universe is our own enamel, so to say, and the real universe is the grain of sand. The ordinary man will never understand it, because, when he tries to, he throws out an enamel, and sees only his own enamel. Now we understand what is meant by these Vŗttis. The real man is behind the mind, and the mind is the instrument in his hands, and it is his intelligence that is percolating through it. It is only when you stand behind it that it becomes intelligent. When man gives it up it falls to pieces, and is nothing. So you understand what is meant by Citta. It is the mind-stuff, and Vŗttis are the waves and ripples rising in it when external causes impinge on it. These Vŗttis are our whole universe.
The bottom of the lake we cannot see, because its surface is covered with ripples. It is only possible when the rippled have subsided, and the water is calm, for us to catch a glimpse of the bottom. If the water is muddy, the bottom will not be seen; if the water is agitated all the time, the bottom will not be seen. If the water is clear, and there are no waves, we shall see the bottom. That bottom of the lake is our own true Self; the lake is the Citta, and the waves are the Vŗttis. Again, this mind is in three states; one is darkness, which is called Tamas, just as in brutes and idiots; it only acts to injure others. No other idea comes into that state of mind. Then there is the active state of mind, Rajas, whose chief motives are power and enjoyment. “I will be powerful and rule others.” Then, at last, when the waves cease, and the water of the lake becomes clear, there is the state called Sattva, serenity, calmness. It is not inactive, but rather intensely active. It is the greatest manifestation of power to be calm. It is easy to be active. Let the reins go, and the horses will drag you down. Any one can do that, but he who can stop the plunging horses is the strong man. Which requires the greater strength, letting go, or restraining? The calm man is not the man who is dull. You must not mistake Sattva for dulness, or laziness. The calm man is the one who has restraint of these waves. Activity is the manifestation of the lower strength, calmness of the superior strength.
This Citta is always trying to get back to its natural pure state, but the organs draw it out. To restrain it, and to check this outward tendency, and to start it on the return journey to that essence of intelligence is the first step in Yoga, because only in this way can the Citta get into its proper course.
Although this Citta is in every animal, from the lowest to the highest, it is only in the human form that we find intellect, and until the mind-stuff can take the form of intellect it is not possible for it to return through all these steps, and liberate the soul. Immediate salvation is impossible for the cow and the dog, although they have mind, because their Citta cannot as yet take that form which we call intellect.
Citta manifests itself in all these different forms— scattering, darkening, weakening, and concentrating. These are the four states in which the mind-stuff manifests itself. First a scattered form, is activity. Its tendency is to manifest in the form of pleasure or of pain. Then the dull form is darkness, the only tendency of which is to injure others. The commentator says the first form is natural to the Devas, the angels, and the second is the demoniacal form. The Ekāgra, the concentrated form of the Citta, is what brings us to Samadhi.
3. At that time (the time of concentration) the seer (the Puruşa) rests in his own (unmodified) state.
As soon as the waves have stopped, and the lake has become quiet, we see the ground below the lake. So with the mind; when it is calm, we see what our own nature is; we do not mix ourself but remain our own selves.
4. At other times (other than that of concentration) the seer is identified with the modifications.
For instance, I am in a state of sorrow; some one blames me; this is a modifications, Vŗtti, and I identify myself with it, and the result is misery.
5. There are five classes of modification, painful and not painful.
6. (These are) right knowledge, indiscrimination, verbal delusion, sleep, and memory.
7. Direct perception, inference, and competent evidence, are proofs.
When two of our perceptions do not contradict each other we call it proof. I hear something, and, if it contradicts something already perceived, I begin to fight it out, and do not believe it. There are also three kinds of proof. Direct perception, Pratyaksham, whatever we see and feel, is proof, if there has been nothing to delude the senses. I see the world; that is sufficient proof that it exists. Secondly, Anumāna, inference; you see a sign, and from the sign you come to the thing signified. Thirdly, Aptavakyam, the direct perception of the Yogi, of those who have seen the truth. We are all of us struggling towards knowledge, but you and I have to struggle hard, and come to knowledge through a long tedious process of reasoning, but the Yogi, the pure one, has gone beyond all this. Before his mind, the past, the present, and the future, are alike one book for him to read; he does not require to go through all this tedious process, and his words are proofs, because he sees knowledge in himself; he is the Omniscient One. These, for instance, are the authors of the Sacred Scriptures; therefore the Scriptures are proof, and, if any such persons are living now, their words will be proof. Other philosophers go into long discussions about this Apta, and they say, what is the proof that this is truth? The proof is because they see it; because whatever I see is proof, and whatever you see is proof, if it does not contradict any past knowledge. There is knowledge beyond the senses, and whenever it does not contradict reason and past human experience, that knowledge is proof. Any madman may come into this room and say that he sees angels around him, that would not be proof. In the first place it must be true knowledge, and, secondly, it must not contradict knowledge of the past, and thirdly, it must depend upon the character of the man. I hear it said that the character of the man is not of so much importance as what he may say; we must first hear what he says. This may be true in other things; a man may be wicked, and yet make an astronomical discovery, but in religion it is different, because no impure man will ever have the power to reach the truths of religion. Therefore, we have first of all to see that the man who declares himself to be an Apta is a perfectly unselfish and holy person; secondly that he has reached beyond the senses, and thirdly that what he says does not contradict the past knowledge of humanity. Any new discovery of truth does not contradict the past truth, but fits into it. And, fourthly, that truth must have a possibility of verification. If a man says “I have seen a vision,” and tells me that I have no right to see it, I believe him not. Every one must have the power to see it for himself. No one who sells his knowledge is an Apta. All these conditions must be fulfilled; you must first see that the man is pure, and theat he has no selfish motive; that he has no thirst for gain or fame. Secondly, he must show that he is super-conscious. Thirdly, he must given us something that we cannot get from our senses, and which is for benefit of the world. And we must see that it does not contradict other truths; if it contradicts other scientific truths reject it at once. Fourthly, the man should never be singular; he should only represent what all men can attain. The three sorts of proof, are, then, direct sense perception, inference, and the words of an Apta. I cannot translate this word into English. It is not the word inspired, because that comes from outside, while this comes from himself. The literal meaning is “attained.”
8. Indiscrimination is false knowledge not established in real nature.
The next class of Vŗttis that arise is mistaking the one thing for another, as a piece of mother-of-pearl is taken for a piece of silver.
9. Verbal delusion follows from words having no (corresponding) reality.
There is another class of Vŗttis called Vikalpa. A word is uttered, and we do not wait to consider its meaning; we jump to a conclusion immediately. It is the sign of weakness of the Citta. Now you can understand the theory of restraint. The weaker the man the less he has of restraint. Consider yourselves always in that way. When you are going to be angry or miserable, reason it out, how it is that some news that has come to you is throwing your mind into Vŗttis.
10.Sleep is a Vŗtti which embraces the feeling of voidness.
The next class of Vŗttis is called sleep and dream. When we awake we know that we have been sleeping; we can only have memory of perception. That which we do not perceive we never can have any memory of. Every reaction is a wave in the lake. Now, if, during sleep, the mind has no waves, it would have no perceptions, positive or negative, and, therefore, we would not remember them. The very reason of our remembering sleep is that during sleep there was a certain class of waves in the mind. Memory is another class of Vŗttis, which is called Smŗti.
11.Memory is when the (Vŗttis of) perceived subjects do not slip away (and through impressions come back to consciousness).
Memory can be caused by the previous three. For instance, you hear a word. That word is like a stone thrown into the lake of the Citta; it causes a ripple, and that ripple rouses a series of ripples; this is memory. So in sleep. When the peculiar kind of ripple called sleep throws the Citta into a ripple of memory it is called a dream. Dream is another form of the ripple which in the waking state is called memory.
12.Their control is by practice and nonattachment.
The mind, to have this non-attachment, must be clear, good and rational. Why should we practice? Because each action is like the pulsations quivering over the surface of the lake. The vibration dies out, and what is left? The Samskāras, the impressions. When a large number of these impressions is left on the mind they coalesce, and become a habit. It is said “habit is second nature;” it is first nature also, and the whole nature of man; everything that we are is the result of habit. That gives us consolation, because, if it is only habit, we can make and unmake it at any time. The Samskāra is left by these vibrations passing out of our mind, each one of them leaving its result. Our character is the sum-total of these marks, and according as some particular wave prevails one takes that tone. If good prevail one becomes good, if wickedness one wicked, if joyfulness one becomes happy. The only remedy for bad habits is counter habits; all the bad habits that have left their impressions are to be controlled by good habits. Go on doing good, thinking holy thoughts continuously; that is the only way to suppress base impressions. Never say any man is hopeless, because he only represents a character, a bundle of habits, and these can be checked by new and better ones. Character is repeated habits, and repeated habits alone can reform character.
13.Continuous struggle to keep them (the Vŗttis) perfectly restrained is practice.
What is this practice? The attempt to restrain the mind in the Citta form, to prevent its going out into waves.
14.Its ground becomes firm by long, constant efforts with great love (for the end to be attained).
Restraint does not come in one day, but by long continued practice.
15.That effort which comes to those who have given up their thirst after objects either seen or heard, and which wills to control the objects, is non-attachment.
Two motives of our actions are (1) What we see ourselves;
(2) The experience of others. These two forces are throwing the mind, the lake, into various waves. Renunciation is the power of battling against these, and holding the mind in check. Renunciation of these two motives is what we want. I am passing through a street, and a man comes and takes my watch. That is my own experience. I see it myself, and it immediately throws my Citta into a wave, taking the form of anger. Allow that not to come. If you cannot prevent that, you are nothing; if you can, you have Vairāgyam. Similarly, the experience of the worldly-minded teaches us that sense enjoyments are the highest ideal. These are tremendous temptations. To deny them, and not allow the mind to come into a wave form with regard to them is renunciation; to control the twofold motive powers arising from my own experience, and from the experience of others, and thus prevent the Citta from being governed by them, is Vairāgyam. These should be controlled by me, and not I by them. This sort of mental strength is called renunciation. This Vairāgyam is the only way to freedom.
16.That extreme non-attachment, giving up even the qualities, shows (the real natureof) the Puruşa.
It is the highest manifestation of power when it takes away even our attraction towards the qualities. We have first to understand what the Puruşa, the Self, is, and what are the qualities. According to Yoga philosophy the whole of nature consists of three qualities; one is called Tamas, another Rajas and the third Sattva. These three qualities manifest themselves in the physical world as attraction, repulsion, and control. Everything that is in nature, all these manifestations, are combinations and recombinations of these three forces. This nature has been divided into various categories by the Sāmkhyas; the Self of man is beyond all these, beyond nature, is effulgent by Its very nature. It is pure and perfect. Whatever of intelligence we see in nature is but the reflection from this Self upon nature. Nature itself is insentient. You must remember that the word nature also includes the mind; mind is in nature; thought is in nature; from thought, down to the grossest form of matter, everything is in nature, the manifestation of nature. This nature has covered the Self of man, and when nature takes away the covering the Self becomes unveiled, and appears in Its own glory. This non-attachment, as it is described in Aphorism 15 (as being control of nature) is the greatest help towards manifesting the Self. The next aphorism defines Samādhi, perfect concentration, which is the goal of the Yogi.
17.The concentration called right know-ledge is that which is followed by reasoning, discrimination, bliss, unqualified ego.
This Samādhi is divided into two varieties. One is called the Samprajnāta, and the other the Asamprajnāta. The Samprajnāta is of four varieites. In this Samādhi come all the powers of controlling nature. The first variety is called the Savitarka, when the mind meditates upon an object again and again, by isolating it from other objects. There are two sorts of objects for meditation, the categories of nature, and the Puruşa. Again, the categories are of two varieties; the twenty-four categories are insentient, and the one sentient is the Puruşa. When the mind thinks of the elements of nature by thinking of their beginning and their end, this is one sort of Savitarka. The words require explanation. This part of Yoga is based entirely on Sānkhya Philosophy, about which I have already told you. As you will remember, egoism and will, and mind, have a common basis, and that common basis is called the Citta, the mind-stuff, out of which they are all manufactured. This mind-stuff takes in the forces of nature, and projects them as thought. There must be something, again, where both force and matter are one. This is called Avyaktam, the unmanifested state of nature, before creation, and two which, after the end of a cycle, the whole of nature returns, to again come out after another period. Beyond that is the Puruşa, the essence of intelligence. There is no liberation in getting powers. It is a worldly search after enjoyment in this life; all search for enjoyment is vain; this is the old, old lesson which man finds it so hard to learn. When he does learn it, he gets out of the universe and becomes free. The possession of what are called occult powers is only intensifying the world, and in the end intensifying suffering. Though, as a scientist, Patanjali is bound to point out the possibilities of this science, he never misses an opportunity to warn us against these powers. Knowledge is power, and as soon as we begin to know a thing we get power over it; so also, when the mind begins to meditate on the different elements it gains power over them. That sort of meditation where the external gross elements are the objects is called Savitarka. Tarka means question, Savitarka with-question. Questioning the elements, as it were, that they may give up their truths and their powers to the man who meditates upon them. Again, in the very same meditation, when one struggles to take the elements out of time and space, and think of them as they are, it is called Nirvitarka, without-question. When the meditation goes a step higher, and takes the Tanmātras as its object, and thinks of them as in time and space, it is called Savicāra, withdiscrimination, and when the same meditation gets beyond time and space, and thinks of the fine elements as they ar, it is called Nirvicāra, without-discrimination. The next step is when the elements are given up, either as gross or as fine, and the object of meditation is the interior organ, the thinking organ, and when the thinking organ is thought of as bereft of the qualities of activity, and of dulness, it is then called Sānandam, the blissful Samādhi. In that Samādhi, when we are thinking of the mind as the object of meditation, before we have reached the state which takes us beyond the mind even, when it has become very ripe and concentrated, when all ideas of the gross materials, or fine materials, have been given up, and the only object is the mind as it is, when the Sattva state only of the Ego remains, but differentiated from all other objects, this is called Asmitā Samādhi, and the man who has attained to this has attained to what is called in the Vedas “bereft of body.” He can think of himself as without his gross body; but he will have to think of himself as with a fine body. Those that in this state get merged in nature without attaining the goal are called Prakŗtilayas, but those who do not even stop at any enjoyments, reach the goal, which is freedom.
18.There is another Samādhi which is attained by the constant practice of cessation of all mental activity, in which the Citta retains only the unmanifested impressions.
This is the perfect superconscious Asamprajnāta Samādhi, the state which gives us freedom. The first state does not give us freedom, does not liberate the soul. A man may attain to all powers, and yet fall again. There is no safeguard until the soul goes beyond nature, and beyond conscious concentration. It is very difficult to attain, although its method seems very easy. Its method is to hold the mind as the object, and whenever through comes, to strike it down, allowing no thought to come into the mind, thus making it an entire vacuum. When we can really do this, in that moment we shall attain liberation. When persons without training and preparation try to make their minds vacant they are likely to succeed only in covering themselves with Tamas, material of ignorance, which makes the mind dull and stupid, and leads them to think that they are making a vacuum of themind. To be able to really do that is a manifestation of the greatest strength, of the highest control. When this state, Asamprajnāta, super-consciousness, is reached, the Samādhi becomes seedless. What is meant by that? In that sort of concentration when there is consciousness, where the mind has succeeded only in quelling the waves in the Citta and holding them down, they are still there in the form of tendencies, and these tendencies (or seeds) will become waves again, when the time comes. But when you have destroyed all these tendencies, almost destroyed the mind, then it has become seedless, there are no more seeds in the mind out of which to manufacture again and again this plant of life, this ceaseless round of birth and death. You may ask, what state would that be, in which we should have no knowledge? What we call knowledge is a lower state than the one beyond knowledge. You must always bear in mind that the extremes look very much the same. The low vibration of light is darkness, and the very high vibration of light is darkness also, but one is real darkness, and the other is really intense light; yet their appearance is the same. So, ignorance is the lowest state, knowledge is the middle state, and beyond knowledge is a still higher state. Knowledge itself is a manufactured something, a combination; it is not reality. What will be the result of constant practice of this higher concentration? All old tendencies of restlessness, and dulness, will be destroyed, as well as the tendencies of goodness too. It is just the same as with the metals that are used with gold to take off the dirt and alloy. When the ore is smelted down, the dross is burnt along with the alloy. So this constant controlling power will stop the previous bad tendencies, and, eventually, the good ones also. Those good and evil tendencies will suppress each other, and there will remain the Soul, in all its glorious splendour, untrammelled by either good or bad, and that Soul is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. By giving up all powers it has become omnipotent, by giving up all life it is beyond mortality; it has become life itself. Then the Soul will know It neither had birth nor death, neither want of heaven nor of earth. It will know that It neither came nor went; it was nature which was moving, and that movement was reflected upon the Soul. The form of the light is moving, it is reflected and cast by the camera upon the wall, and the wall foolishly thinks it is moving. So with all of us: it is the Citta constantly moving, manipulating itself into various forms, and we think that we are these various forms. All these delusions will vanish. When that free Soul will command—not pray or beg, but command—then watever It desires will be immediately fulfilled; whatever It wants It will be able to do. According to the Sānkhya Philosophy there is no God. It says that there cannot be any God of this universe, because if there were He must be a Soul, and a Soul must be one of two things, either bound or free. How can the soul that is bound by nature, or controlled by nature, create? It is itself a slave. On the other hand, what business has the soul that is free to create and manipulate all these things? It has no desires, so cannot have any need to create. Secondly, it says the theory of God is an unnecessary one; nature explains all. What is the use of any God? But Kapila teaches that there are many souls, who, through nearly attaining perfection, fall short because they cannot perfectly renounce all powers. Their minds for a time merge in nature, to re-emerge as its masters. We shall all become such gods, and, according to the Sānkhyas, the God spoken of in the Vedas really means one of these free souls. Beyond them there is not an eternally free and blessed Creator of the universe. On the other hand the Yogis say, “Not so, there is a God; there is one Soul separate from all other souls, and He is the eternal Master of all creation, the Ever Free, the Teacher of all teachers.” The Yogis admit that those the Sānkhyas called “merged in nature” also exist. They are Yogis who have fallen short of perfection, and though, for a time debarred from attaining the goal, remain as rulers of parts of the universe.
19.(This Samādhi, when not followed by extreme non-attachment) becomes the cause of the re-manifestation of the gods and of those that become merged in nature.
The gods in the Indian systems represent certain high offices which are being filled successively by various souls. But none of them is perfect.
20.To others (this Samādhi) comes through faith, energy, memory, concentration, and discrimination of the real.
These are they who do not want the position of gods, or even that of rulers of cycles. They attain to liberation.
21.Success is speeded for the extremely energetic.
22.They again differ according as the means are mild, medium or supreme.
23.Or by devotion to Iśvara.
24.Iśvara (the Supreme Ruler) is a special Puruşa, untouched by misery, the results of actions, or desires.
We must again remember that this Patanjali Yoga Philosophy is based upon that of the Sānkhyas, only that in the latter there is no place for God, while with the Yogis God has a place. The Yogis, however, avoid many ideas about God, such as creating. God as the Creator of the Universe is not meant by the Iśvara of the Yogis, although, according to the Vedas, Iśvara is the Creator of the universe. Seeing that the universe is harmonious, it must be the manifestation of one will. The Yogis and Sānkhyas both avoid the question of creation. The Yogis want to establish a God, but carefully avoid this question, they do not raise it at all. Yet you will find that they arrive at God in a peculiar fashion of their own. They say:
25.In Him becomes infinite that all-knowing-ness which in others is (only) a germ.
The mind must always travel between two extremes. You can think of limited space, but the very idea of that gives you also unlimited space. Close your eyes and think of a little space, and at the same time that you perceive the little circle, you have a circle round it of unlimited dimensions. It is the same with time. Try to think of a second, you will have, with the same act of perception, to think of time which is unlimited. So with knowledge. Knowledge is only a germ in man, but you will have to think of infinite knowledge around it, so that the very nature of your constitution shows us that there is unlimited knowledge, and the Yogis call that unlimited knowledge God.
26.He is the Teacher of even the ancient teachers, being not limited by time.
It is true that all knowledge is within ourselves, but this has to be called forth by another knowledge. Although the capacity to know is inside us, it must be called out, and that calling out of knowledge can only be got, a Yogi maintains, through another knowledge. Dead, insentient matter, never calls out knowledge. It is the action of knowledge that brings out knowledge. Knowing beings must be with us to call forth what is in us, so these teachers were always necessary. The world was never without them, and no knowledge can come without them. God is the Teacher of all teachers, because these teachers, however great they may have been—gods or angels—were all bound and limited by time, and God is not limited by time. These are the two peculiar distinctions of the Yogis. The first is that in thinking of the limited, the mind must think of the unlimited, and that if one part of the perception is true the other must be, for the reason that their value as perceptions of the mind is equal. The very fact that man has a little knowledge, shows that God has unlimited knowledge. If I am to take one, why not the other? Reason forces me to take both or reject both. It I believe that there is a man with a little knowledge, I must also admit that there is someone behind him with unlimited knowledge. The second deduction is that no knowledge can come without a teacher. It is true as the modern philosophers say, that there is something in man which evolves out of him; all knowledge is in man, but certain environments are necessary to call it out. We cannot find any knowledge without teacher, if there are men teachers, god teachers, or angel teachers, they are all limited; who was the teacher before them? We are forced to admit, as a last conclusion, One Teacher, Who is not limited by time, and that One Teacher or infinite knowledge, without beginning or end, is called God.
27.His manifesting word is Om.
Every idea that you have in the mind has a counterpart in a word; the word and the thought are inseparable. The external part of the thought is what we call word, and the internal part is what we call thought. No man can, by analysis, separate thought from word. The idea that language was created by men—certain men sitting together and deciding on words, has been proved to be wrong. So long as things have existed there have been words and language. What is the connection between an idea and a word? Although we see that there must always be a word with a thought, it is not necessary that the same thought requires the same word. The thought may be the same in twenty different countries, yet the language is different. We must have a word to express each thought, but these words need not necessarily have the same sound. Sounds will vary in different nations. Our commentator says “Although the relation between thought and word is perfectly natural, yet it does not mean a rigid connection between one sound and one idea.” These sounds vary, yet the relation between the sounds and the thoughts is a natural one. The connection between thoughts and sounds is good only if there be a real connection between the thing signified and the symbol, and until then that symbol will never come into general use. Symbol is the manifestor of the thing signified, and if the thing signified has already existence, and if, by experience, we know that the symbol has expresssed that thing many times, then we are sure that there is the real relation between them. Even if the things are not present, there will be thousands who will know them by their symbols. There must be a natural connection between the symbol and the thing signified; then, when that symbol is pronounced, it recalled the thing signified. The commentator says the manifesting word of God is Om. Why does he emphasise this? There are hundreds of words for God. One thought is connected with a thousand words; the idea, God, is connected with hundreds of words, and each one stands as a symbol for God. Very good. But there must be a generalisation among all these words, some substratum, some common ground of all these symbols, and that symbol which is the common symbol will be the best, and will really be the symbol of all. In making a sound we use the larynx, and the palate as a sounding board. Is there any material sound of which all other sounds must be manifestations, one which is the most natural sound? Om (Aum) is such a sound, the basis of all sounds. The first letter, A, is the root sound, the key, pronounced without touching any part of the tongue or palate; M represents the last sound in the series, being produced by the closed lip, and the U rolls from the very root to the end of the sounding board of the mouth. Thus, Om represents the whole phenomena of sound producing. As such, it must be the natural symbol, the matrix of all the variant sounds. It denotes the whole range and possibility of all the words that can be made. Apart from these speculations we see that around this word Om are centred all the different religious ideas in India; all the various religious ideas of the Vedas have gathered themselves round this word Om. What has that to do with America and England, or any other country? Simply that the word has been retained at every stage of religious growth in India, and it has been manipulated to mean all the various ideas about God. Monists, Dualists, Mono-Dualists, Separatists, and even Atheists, took up this Om. Om has become the one symbol for the religious aspiration of the vast majority of human beings. Take, for instance, the English word God. It conveys only a limited function, and if you go beyond it, you have to add adjectives, to make it Personal, or Impersonal, or Absolute God. So with the words for God in every other language; their signification is very small. This word Om, however, has around it all the various significances. As such it should be accepted by everyone.
28.The repetition of this (Om) and meditating on its meaning (is the way).
Why should there be repetition? We have not forgotten that theory of Samskāras, that the sum-total of impressions lives in the mind. Impressions live in the mind, the sum-total of impressions, and they become more and more latent, but remain there, and as soon as they get the right stimulus they come out. Molecular vibration will never cease. When this universe is destroyed all the massive vibrations disappear, the sun, moon, stars, and earth, will melt down, but the vibrations must remain in the atoms. Each atom will perform the same function as the big worlds do. So the vibrations of this Citta will subside, but will go on like molecular vibrations, and when they get the impulse will come out again. We can now understand what is meant by repetition. It is the greatest stimulus that can be given to the spiritual Samskāras. “One moment of company with the Holy makes a ship to cross this ocean of life.” Such is the power of association. So this repetition of Om, and thinking of its meaning, is keeping good company in your own mind. Study, and then meditate and meditate, when you have studied. The light will come to you, the Self will become manifest.
But one must think of this Om, and of its meaning too. Avoid evil company, because the scars of old wounds are in you, and this evil company is just the heat that is necessary ot call them out. In the same way we are told that good company will call out the good impressions that are in us, but which have become latent. There is nothing holier in this world than to keep good company, because the good impressions will have this same tendency to come to the surface.
29.From that is gain (the knowledge of) introspection, and the destruction of obstacles.
The first manifestation of this repetition and thinking of Om will be that the introspective power will be manifested more and more, and all the mental and physical obstacles will begin to vanish. What are the obstacles to the Yogi?
30.Disease, mental laziness, doubt, calmness, cessation, false perception, non-attaining concentration, and falling away from the state when obtained, are the obstructing distractions.
Disease. This body is the boat which will carry us to the other shore of the ocean of life. It must be taken care of. Unhealthy persons cannot be Yogis. Mental laziness makes us lose all lively interest in the subject, without which there will neither be the will nor the energy to practice. Doubts will arise in the mind about the truth of the science, however strong one’s intellectual conviction may be, until certain peculiar psychic experiences come, as hearing, or seeing, at a distance, etc. These glimpses strengthen the mind and make the student persevere. Falling away when attained. Some says or weeks when you are practising the mind will be calm and easily concentrated, and you will find yourself progressing fast. All of a sudden the progress will stop one day, and you will find yourself, as it were, stranded. Persevere. All progress proceeds by rise and fall.
31.Grief, mental distress, tremor of the body, irregular breathing, accompany nonretention of concentration.
Concentration will bring perfect repose to mind and body every time it is practised. When the practice has been misdirected, or not enough controlled, these disturbances come. Repetition of Om and self-surrender to the Lord will strengthen the mind, and bring fresh energy. The nervous shakings will come to almost everyone. Do not mind them at all, but keep on practising. Practice will cure them, and make the seat firm.
32.To remedy this practice of one subject (should be made).
Making the mind take the form of one object for some time will destroy these obstacles. This is general advice. In the following aphorisms it will be expanded and particularised. As one practice cannot suit everyone, various methods will be advanced, and everyone by actual experience will find out that which helps him most.
33.Friendship, mercy, gladness, indifference, being thought of in regard to subjects, happy, unhappy, good and evil respectively, pacify the citta.
We must have these four sorts of ideas. We must have friendship for all; we must be merciful towards those that are in misery; when people are happy we ought to be happy, and to the wicked we must be indifferent. So with all subjects that come before us. If the subject is a good one, we shall feel friendly towards it; if the subject of thought is one that is miserable we must be merciful towards the subject. If it is good we must be glad, if it is evil we must be indifferent. These attitudes of the mind towards the different subjects that come before it will make the mind peaceful. Most of our difficulties in our daily lives come from being unable to hold our minds in this way. For instance, if a man does evil to us, instantly we want to react evil, and every reaction of evil shows that we are not able to hold the Citta down; it comes out in waves towards the object, and we lose our power. Every reaction in the form of hatred or evil is so much loss to the mind, and every evil thought or deed of hatred, or any thought of reaction, if it is controlled, will be laid in our favour. It is not that we lose by thus restraining ourselves; we are gaining infinitely more than we suspect. Each time we suppress hatred, or a feeling of anger, it is so much good energy stored up in our favour; that piece of energy will be converting into the higher powers.
34.By throwing out and restraining the Breath.
The word used in Prāņa. Prāņa is not exactly breath. It is the name for the energy that is in the universe. Whatever you see in the universe, whatever moves or works, or has life, is a manifestation of this Prāņa. the sum-total of the energy displayed in the universe is called Prāņa. This Prāņa, before a cycle begins, remains in an almost motionless state, and when the cycle begins this Prāņa begins to manifest itself. It is this Prāņa that is manifested as motion, as the nervous motion in human beings or animals, and the same Prāņa is manifesting as thought, and so on. The whole universe is a combination of Prāņa and ākāśa; so is the human body. Out of ākāśa you get the different materials that you feel, and see, and out of Prana all the various forces. Now this throwing out and restraining the Prāņa is what is called Prāņayāma. Patanjali, the father of the Yoga Philosophy, does not give many particular directions about Prāņayāma, but later on other Yogis found out various things about this Prāņayāma, and made of it a great science. With Patanjali ist is one of the many ways, but he does not lay much stress on it. He means that you simply throw the air out, and draw it in, and hold it for some time, that is all, and by that, the mind will become a little calmner. But, later on, you will find that out of this is evolved a particular science called Prāņayāma. We will hear a little of what thoese later Yogis have to say. Some of this I have told you before, but a little repetition will serve to fix it in your minds. First, you must remember that this Prāņa is not the breath. But that which causes the motion of the breath, that which is the vitality of the breath is the Prāņa. Again, the word Prāņa is used of all the senses; they are all called Prāņa, the mind is called Prāņa; and so we see that Prāņa is the name of a certain force. And yet we cannot call it force, because force is only the manifestation of it. It is that which manifests itself as force and everything else in the way of motion. The Citta, the mind-stuff, is the engine which draws in the Prāņa from the surroundings, and manufactures out of this Prāņa the various vital forces. First of all the forces that keep the body in preservation, and lastly thought, will, and all other powers. By this process of breathing we can control all the various motions in the body, and the various nerve currents that are running through the body. First we begin to recognise them, and then we slowly get control over them. Now these later Yogis consider that there are three main currents of this Prāņa in the human body. One they call Idā, another Pingalā, and the third Suşumnā. Pingalā, according to them, is on the right side of the spinal column, and the Idā is on the left side, and in the middle of this spinal column is the Suşumnā, a vacant channel. Idā and Pingalā, according to them, are the currents working in every man, and through these currents, we are performing all the functions of life. Suşumnāa is present in all, as a possibility; but it works only in the Yogi. You must remember that the Yogi changes his body; as you go on practising your body changes; it is not the same body that you had before the practice. That is very rational, and can be explained, because every new thought that we have must make, as it were, a new channel through the brain, and that explains the tremendous conservatism of human nature. Human nature likes to run through the ruts that are already there, because it is easy. If we think, just for example’s sake, that the mind is like a needle, and the brain substance a soft lump before it, then each thought that we have makes a street, as it were, in the brain, and this street would close up, but that the grey matter comes and makes a lining to keep it separate. If there were no grey matter there would be no memory, because memory means going over these old streets, retracing a thought as it were. Now perhaps you have remarked that when I talk on subjects that in which I take a few ideas that are familiar to everyone, and combine, and recombine them, it is easy to follow, because these channels are present in everyone’s brain, and it is only necessary to recur to them. But whenever a new subject comes new channels have to be made, so it is not understood so readily. And that is why the brain (it is the brain, and not the people themselves) refuses unconsciously to be acted upon by new ideas. It resists. The Prāņa is trying to make new channels, and the brain will not allow it. This is the secret of conservatism. The less channels there have been in the brain, and the less the needle of the Prāņa has made these passages, the more conservative will be the brain, the more it will struggle against new thoughts. The more thoughtful the mane, the more complicated will be the streets in his brain, and the more easily he will take to new ideas, and understand them. So with every fresh idea; we make a new impression in the brain, cut new channels though the brain-stuff, and that is why we find that in the practice of Yoga (it being an entirely new set of thoughts and motives) there is so much physical resistance at first. That is why we find that the part of religion which deals with the world side of nature can be so widely accpeted, while the other part, the Philosophy, or the Psychology, which deals with the inner nature of man, is so frequently neglected. We must remember the definition of this world of ours; it is only the Infinite Existence projected into the plane of consciousness. A little of the Infinite is projected into consciousness, and that we call our world. So there is an Infinite beyond, and religion has to deal with both, with th elittle lump we call our world, and with the Infinite beyond. Any religion which deals alone with either one of these two will be defective. It must deal with both. That part of religion which deals with this part of the Infinite which has come into this plane of consciousness, got itself caught, as it were, in the plane of consciousness, in the case of time, space, and causation, is quite familiar to us, because we are in that already, and ideas about this world have been with us almost from time immemorial. The part of religion which deals with the Infinite beyond comes entirely new to us, and getting ideas about it produces new channels in the brain, disturbing the whole system, and that is why you find in the practice of Yoga ordinary people are at first turned out of their groove. In order to lesson these disturbances as much as possible all these methods are devised by Patanjali, that we may practice any one of them best suited to us.
35.Those forms of concentration that bring extraordinary sense perceptions cause perseverance of the mind.
This naturally comes with Dhāraņā, concentration; the Yogis say, if the mind becomes concentrated on the tip of the nose one begins to smell, after a few days, wonderful perfumes. If it becomes concentrated at the root of the tongue one begins to here sounds; if on the tip of the tongue one begins to taste wonderful flavours; if on the middle of the tongue, one feels as if he were coming in contact with something. If one concentrates his mind on the palate he begins to see peculiar things. If a man whose mind is disturbed wants to take up some of these practices of Yoga, yet doubts the truth of them, he will have his doubts set at rest, when, after a little practice, these things come to him, and he will persevere.
36.Or (by the meditation on) the Effulgent One which is beyond all sorrow.
This is another sort of concentration. Think of the lotus of the heart, with petals downwards, and ruunning through it the Sucumna; take in the breath, and while throwing the breat out imagine that the lotus is turned with the petals upwards, and inside that lotus is an effulgent light. Meditate on that.
37.Or (by meditation on) the heart that has given up all attachment to sense objects.
Take some holy person, some great person whom you revere, some saint whom you know to be perfectly nonattached, and think of his heart. That heart has become nonattached, and meditate on that heart; it will calm the mind. If you cannot do that, there is the next way.
38.Or by meditating on the knowledge that comes in sleep.
Sometimes a man dreams that he has seen angels coming to him and talking to him, that he is in an ecstatic condition, that he has heard music floating through the air. He is in a blissful condition in that dream, and when he awakes it makes a deep impression on him. Think of that dream as real, and meditate upon it. If you cannot do that, meditate on any holy thing that pleases you.
39.Or by meditation on anything that appeals to one as good.
This does not mean any wicked subject, but anything good that you like, any place that you like best, any scenery that you like best, any idea that you like best, anything that will concentrate the mind.
40.The Yogi’s mind thus meditating, becomes un-obstructed from te atomic to the Infinite.
The mind, by this practice, easily contemplates the most minute thing, as well as the biggest thing. Thus the mind waves become fainter.
41.The Yogi whose Vŗttis have thus become powerless (controlled) obtains in the receiver, receiving, and received (the self, the mind and external objects), concentratedness and sameness, like the crystal (before different coloured objects.)
What results from this constant meditation? We must remember how in a previous aphorism Patanjali went into the various states of meditation, and how the first will be the gross, and the second the fine objects, and from them the advance is to still finer objects of meditation, and how, in all these meditations, which are only of the first degree, not very high ones, we get as a result that we can meditate as easily on the fine as on the grosser objects. Here the Yogi sees the three things, the receiver, the received, and the receiving, corresponding to the Soul, the object, and the mind. There are three objects of meditation given us. Firs the gross things, as bodies, or material objects, second fine things, as the mind, the Citta, and third the Puruşa qualified, not the Puruşa itself, but the egoism. By practice, the Yogi gets established in all these meditations. Whenever he meditates he can keep out all other thought; he becomes identified with that on which he mediates; when he meditates he is like a piece of crystal; before flowers the crystal becomes almost identified with flowers. If the flower is red, the crystal looks red, or if the flower is blue, the crystal looks blue.
42.Sound, meaning, and resulting knowledge, being mixed up, is (called Samādhi) with reasoning.
Sound here means vibration; meaning, the nerve currents which conduct it; and knowledge, reaction. All the various meditations we have had so far, Patanjali calls Savitarka (meditations with reasoning). Later on he will give us higher and higher Dhyānas. In these that are called “with reasoning,” we keep the duality of subject and object, which results from the mixture of word, meaning, and knowledge. There is first the external vibration, the word; this, carried inward by the sense currents, is the meaning. After that there comes a reactionary wave in the Citta, which is knowledge, but the mixture of these three makeup what we call knowledge. In all the meditations up to this we get this mixture as object of meditation. The next Samādhi is higher.
43.The Samādhi called without reasoning (comes) when the memory is purified, or devoid of qualities, expressing only the meaning (of the meditated object).
It is by practice of meditation of these three that we come to the state where these three do not mix. We can get rid of them. We will first try to understand what these three are. Here is the Citta; you will always remember the simile of the lake, the mind-stuff, and the vibration, the word, the sound, like a pulsation coming over it. You have that calm lake in you, and I pronounce a word, “cow.” As soon as it enters through your ears there is a wave produced in your Citta along with it. So that wave represents the idea of the cow, the form or the meaning as we call it. That apparent cow that you know is really that wave in the mind-stuff, and that comes as a reaction to the internal and external soundvibrations, and with the sound, the wave dies away; that wave can never exist without a word. You may ask how it is when we only think of the cow, and do not hear a sound. You make that sound yourself. You are saying “cow” faintly in your mind, and with that comes a wave. There cannot be any wave without this impulse of sound, and when it is not from outside it is from inside, and when the sound dies, the wave dies. What remains? The result of the reaction, and that is knowledge. These three are so closely combined in our mind that we cannot separate them. When the sound comes, the senses vibrate, and the wave rises in reaction; they follow so closely upon one another that there is no discerning one from the other; when this meditation has been practiced for a long time, memory, the receptacle of all impressions, becomes purified, and wwe are able clearly to distinguish them from one another. This is called “Nirvitarka,” concentration without reasoning.
44.By this process (the concentrations) with discrim-ination and without discrimination, whose objects are finer, are (also) explained.
A process similar to the preceding is applied again, only, the objects to be taken up in the former meditations are gross; in this they are fine.
45.The finer objects end with the Pradhāna.
The gross objects are only the elements, and everything manufactured out of them. The fine objects begin with the Tanmatras or fine particles. The organs, the mind, [The mind, or commony sensory, the aggregate of all senses] egoism, the mind-stuff (the cause of all manifestion) the equilibrium state of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas materials—called Pradhāna (chief), Prakŗti (nature), or Avyakta (unmanifest), are all included within the category of fine objects. The Puruşa (the Soul) alone is excepted from this definition.
46.These concentrations are with seed.
These do not destroy the seeds of past actions, thus cannot give liberation, but what they bring to the Yogi is stated in the following aphorisms.
47.The concentration “without reasoning” being purified, the Chitta becomes firmly fixed.
48.The knowledge in that is called “filled with Truth.”
The next aphorism will explain this.
49.The knowledge that is gained from testimony and inference is about common objects. That from the Samādhi just mentioned is of a much higher order, being able to penetrate where inference and testimony cannot go.
The idea is that we have to get our knowledge of ordinary objects by direct perception, and by inference therefrom, and from testimony of people who are competent. By “people who are competent,” the Yogis always mean the Rishis, or the Seers of the thoughts recorded in the Scriptures—the Vedas. According to them, the only proof of the Scriptures is that they were the testimony of competent persons, yet they say the Scriptures cannot take us to realisation. We can read all the Vedas, and yet will not realise anything, but when we practise their teachings, then we attain to that state which realises what the Scriptures say, which penetrates where reason cannot go, and where the testimony of others cannot avail. This is what is meant by this aphorism, that realisation is real religion, and all the rest is only preparation—hearing lectures, or reading books, or reasoning, is merely preparing the ground; it is not religion. Intellectual assent, and intellectual dissent are not religion. The central idea of the Yogis is that just as we come in direct contact with the objects of the senses, so religion can be directly perceived in a far more intense sense. The truths of religion, as God and Soul, cannot be perceived by the external senses. I cannot see God with my eyes, nor can I touch Him with my hands, and we also know that neither can we reason beyond the senses. Reason leaves us at a point quite indecisive; we may reason all our lives, as the world has been doing for thousands of years, and the result is that we find we are incompetent to prove or disprove the facts of religion. What we perceive directly we take as the basis, and upon that basis we reason. So it is obvious that reasoning has to run within these bounds of perception. It can never go beyond: the whole scope of realisation, therefore, is beyond sense perception. The Yogis say that man can go beyond his direct sense perception, and beyond his reason also. Man has in him the faculty, the power, of transcending his intellect even, and that power is in every being, every creature. By the practice of Yoga that power is aroused, and then man transcends the ordinary limits of reason, and directly perceives things which are beyond all reason.
50.The resulting impression from this Samādhi obstructs all other impressions.
We have seen in the foregoing aphorism that the only way of attaining to that super-consciousness is by concentration, and we have also seen that what hinder the mind from concentration are the past Samskāras, impressions. All of you have observed that when you are trying to concentrate your mind, your thoughts wander. When you are trying to think of God, that is the very time which all these Samskāras take to appear. At other times they are not so active, but when you want them not to be they are sure to be there, trying their best to crowd inside your mind. Why should that be so? Why should they be much more potent at the time of concentration? It is because you are repressing them and they react with all their force. At other times they do not react. How countless these old past impressions must be, all lodge somewhere in the Citta, ready, waiting like tigers to jump up. These have to be suppressed that the one idea which we like may arise, to the exclusion of the others. Instead, they are all struggling to come up at the same time. These are the various powers of the Samskāras in hindering concentration of the mind, so this Samādhi which has just been given is the best to be practised, on account of its power of suppressing the Samskāras. The Samskāra which will be raised by this sort of concentration will be so powerful that it will hinder the action of the others, and hold them in check.
51.By the restraint of even this (impression, which obstructs all other impressions), all being restrained, comes the “seedless” Samādhi.
You remember that our goal is to perceive the Soul iself. We cannot perceive the Soul because it has got mingled up with nature, with the mind, with the body. The most ignorant man thinks his body is the Soul. The more learned man thinks his mind is the Soul, but both of these are mistaken. What makes the Soul get mingled up with all this, these different waves in the Citta rise and cover the Soul, and we only are a little reflection of the Soul through these waves, so, if the wave be one of anger, we see the Soul as angry: “I am angry,” we say. If the wave is a wave of love we see ourselves reflected in that wave, and say we are loving. If that wave is one of weakness, and the Soul is reflected in it, we think we are weak. These various ideas come from these impressions, these Samskāras covering the Soul. The real nature of the Soul is not perceived until all the waves have subsided; so, first, Patanjali teaches us the meaning of these waves; secondly, the best way to repress them; and thirdly, how to make one wave so strong as to suppress all other waves, fire eating fire as it were. When only one remains, it will be easy to suppress that also, and when that is gone, this Samādhi of concentration is called seedless; it leaves nothing, and the Soul is manifested just as It is, in Its own glory. Then alone we know that the Soul is not a compound, It is the only eternal simple in the universe, and, as such, It cannot be born, It cannot die, It is immortal, indestructible, the Ever-living Essence of intelligence.
CHAPTER II: CONCENTRATION: ITS PRACTICE
CHAPTER III: THE CHAPTER OF POWERS
CHAPTER IV: INDEPENDENCE