Wednesday, October 13, 2010


THERE are many people in America and Europe who want to know what yoga
is, and they say, "Do not tell us about the yoga of one particular
school; we want a concise survey of the whole field."

This need I have tried to fill in the present small volume. In doing
so I have endeavored to preserve the perfect authenticity and
clearness of the original teachings of ten different well-known
Oriental schools of yoga teaching and practice. This I am doing mainly
direct from the original texts and with an extensive knowledge of
their actual operation, acquired largely during my thirty-eight-years
residence in the East.

Then comes the remark: "We want to find out whether there is anything
in these forms of yoga which we can use in our present civilization.
Has it anything for us?"

p. viii

It certainly has. In explanation of this reply, I will first mention
that it will be seen by the reader of this book that reflectiveness
and meditation play a large part in most of the yoga systems, and then

"Half an hour spent in meditation or even in reflection in the morning
is not time wasted. It is not even time spent. It is time gained,
because it will make the rest of the day far more fruitful than it
would otherwise have been."

"How so?"

"It will do this in four ways:

"First, it will co-ordinate the contents of the mind on all aspects of
the matters in which you are currently interested, and ensure that
nothing is missed or overlooked.

"Secondly, it will permit the rising of new ideas, through the
recombinations of old ones, and suggestions arising from them.

"Thirdly, it will exercise the mental faculty, and thus increase both
its grip and its grasp, improving its functionality for the whole day,
just as the muscular development acquired by ten minutes' exercise in
the morning gives the body greater strength for the whole day.

"Fourthly, it will automatically work some of the magic of the mind,
whereby you will be put tele-magnetically into touch with things and
persons you

p. ix

are interested in, and thus it will create opportunities and even
so-called coincidences."

If this is not enough, let us add that it will open new fields of
interest, especially those which are concerned with the understanding
and right use of life itself.

It will also enrich consciousness itself. Inasmuch as we all enjoy
consciousness more than anything else it will be giving us the best of
all benefits. There is a story about two men who were talking about a
little boy who was licking an ice-cream cone. One remarked that the
boy did not like ice-cream. The other, sensing a catch, said he
supposed that what was meant by that remark was that what was liked
was the taste of the ice-cream. But the reply was that what the boy
really liked was only the consciousness of the taste of the ice-cream,
and that applies to everything in our lives.

Why should not our subjective faculties be cultivated? We take care of
our horses and other animals, and give them proper food, exercise and
rest. Why not do the same for our mental faculties—also for our moral
and spiritual ones, too, and that not merely by the way?

But to return to the material practicality of the subject. Thousands
of people are breaking down in modern life because they cannot stand
the pace. Suppose we can teach them how to keep up the pace of

p. x

outward modern life but at the same time have such inner calm and
poise that they can stand it without strain and fatigue. That is
something well worth while, is it not? Well, this is not an idle
promise. It is a fact.

But you must be warned. What you gain in yoga must be accompanied by
goodwill towards others and the wish that they also may benefit in
some way by your increased knowledge and power. Without this there
will be a recoil on your head, just as sure as the magic of the
magnetism of thought operates to benefit you. But that is no hardship,
is it, when we all know full well in these enlightened days that there
is no true pleasure in life when our neighbors or companions are
suffering, and indeed almost the greatest of all pleasures is to see
others happy. This nature of ours is not merely negative and concerned
with sympathy for the suffering. It is also positive—the enjoyment of
the happiness of others. Is that not why people like a peaceful
country scene? As one lady remarked a few days ago: "How much nicer
the meadow is now that the cows are in it!"

In the present world crisis most of us are concerned not so much with
the idea that a bomb may fall on our own heads—we would rather it did
so than on the heads of those near and dear to us, or on any
considerable number of people anywhere. We are very

p. xi

much concerned about the plight of humanity in general. We rejoice
over the prosperity of the average family of today, and we quake to
think that it may be destroyed and an age of torment and slavery may
engulf it. We think of the welfare of the children and the aged, and
most of us would not enjoy a personal prosperity built upon the
sufferings of these.

These are matters which yoga also puts before us, studies and
explains, so that we learn that happiness is a matter not merely of
physical, emotional and mental health and strength, and these in
balance—no small matter—but of social and moral and ethical health and
balance also, and even something more of which we know only the
rudiments now, namely that which we call the spiritual self, from the
consecration by which all the invigoration of our powers proceeds.

Let us be definite and certain about this. If by some personal
suffering or loss you could stop for good and all the sort of war that
took place in Korea—stop the maiming and killing of unbelligerent men,
stop the ruin and slaughter of gentle people, the populations of
admirable lands of ancient culture, such as Korea was—how far would
you go in that loss and suffering? Most people would go to the limit.
Does this not tell us that it is ability we lack, not love of our
fellowmen? We are held back by helplessness, not by selfishness. If
the issue could be squarely put, how many

p. xii

would shrink from the supreme sacrifice? Very few. It is the sort of
thing Tom Paine asked the people of the American Colonies to do when
George Washington was on the wrong side of victory, and most of them
held off through that helpless feeling, but there were enough
responses to turn the tide, and ensure the material establishment of a
grand set of social ideals which are again in danger today.

Washington acted much because he had thought and felt much. We do not
think enough—that is what is the matter. Let us have some practice and
more know-how in thinking—that is what yoga can give to every one. Not
to make the opposite error, to sink ourselves in thought, as some have
done, but to invigorate and rationalize the whole of living by the
awakening of more of man-ness in our minds.

The man-ness of man is constantly being surrendered to externals. This
is one of the warnings of the yoga theoreticians. By a curious paradox
of our life, the very service of mammon, as we may call it, is often
the one thing which calls the man-ness of man into activity. I must
explain. The human body has its more or less permanent set-up, with a
group of pains and pleasures geared to its activities and designed
primarily to warn it against dangers and tempt it into healthful
activities, which have for the most part become automatic. When, for
example, the needs of

p. xiii

the body are satisfied with food, the natural appetite dies away for
the time being, and if it is then stimulated artificially by exciting
spices pain will arise after some time and tend to stop that excess.
To correct this and numerous other troubles the man-ness of the man,
in the shape of his power of thought and affection is aroused. But it
is rather a pitiful situation that the man-ness of the man should be
awakened and operated for such negative reasons, when it is really the
activity of that man-ness which is the chief possibility of enjoyment
in human life.

Thus we have heard recently a story of two boys who now, as men, are
regarded as fine examples of the resolute betterment of human life.
Briefly, they mortgaged everything they had and went into the silver
fox business and made a lot of money. That was the betterment! And
presumably they then settled down to a life of bodily enjoyment or
bodily excitement, the chief feature of which could be described as
the consciousness bathing, as it were, in the body's enjoyment. How
different from the pursuit of knowledge, affection and art—which grow
by exercise, and show us the man enjoying himself, or enjoying, to use
my previous phrase, the man-ness of man, and thereby increasing his

The paradox of the situation is resolved by the knowledge that all
material gains can be used for the

p. xiv

purposes of the real man that we all the time truly are, did we but
observe and remember that important fact. It could be summed up in the
old trinity of truth, goodness and beauty, resulting from the use of
honest thought, affection and the will. And when they are so used
there is more man-ness and in consequence more happiness.

Briefly, then, the great yogīs do not teach abandonment of
circumstances, but triumph over circumstances. The result is that man
being true to himself overcomes all his troubles—of body, emotions and
mind—and there is then harmony between the outer and the inner life.
It could then be said that man does not serve mammon, but mammon
serves him.

Now we must notice a very important principle of yoga, which arises
from this recognition of the true nature of man. It is that in yoga
practice there must be no negativity or passivity of the man. Anything
in the nature of hypnotism, suggestion or auto-suggestion, repetition
of words, sentences or ideas to form habits of thought or feeling is
strictly taboo.

The emotions and the ideas which constantly spring up from past
associations are to be used under the surveillance of the real man in
all circumstances. With his present powers of thought, love and the
will he will either permit them or change them, as the case may be,
just as he permits or orders the body to

p. xv

walk or jump or talk on a given occasion, and does not expect it to
follow old habits of activity but to keep quiet when he does not want
it to do something. The body must be well treated, of course, like a
good horse, but it is not supposed to run around the country-side on
its own account. Similarly, the emotions and the mind should be quiet,
having only that functional flow which in them is analogous to the
movements of breathing, heart action, digestion etc. in the body.

This matter of no passivity appears very clearly in the practice of
concentration, meditation and contemplation. Concentration is
voluntary attentiveness to something. This brings about a contraction
which is at the same time an intensification of consciousness,
somewhat analogous to placing a reflector round a lamp. Meditation,
which proceeds as soon as concentration is established, is an
expansion of attention to the object without loss of this
intensification. It thus consists of a flow or fountain of observation
and thought about the object. When this process is complete it can be
followed by an active poise of the mind, without any passivity, which
is contemplation. At the end of the meditation it will be observed,
the thinking stops. Then the new process—a third process—must go on
without any diminution of the high quality or intensity of
consciousness obtained by the

p. xvi

concentration or voluntary attention. If the reader tries this method
with some perseverance he will soon find the benefit of it, in the
consciousness, in the powers of the mind (will, love and thought) and
in the body and his world of things and events.

It will soon be found that this three-fold meditation, practiced at
first at special times, begins to work with great swiftness even in
the midst of activity, and even amid what were previously regarded as
disturbing circumstances. In this connection one wishes again to issue
the warning that increase of knowledge and power without love will
lead to a point of great recoil. No organism can continue if it
develops one or two of its functions at the expense of the rest—that
is obvious in the body, which to be healthy must have harmoniousness
and balance in all its parts. This is true with regard to the three
parts of the man-ness of us. One cannot know everything, love
everything, do everything, but what one does in the small area of a
human being's life must be positive in thought, love and the will.
There can be no hate and such emotions, no carelessness of judgment,
no surrender of the will, all of which imply negativity and waste of
man-ness. There can and indeed must be relaxation, but this also must
be voluntary. Voluntary relaxation carried on with your approval,
sometimes with your assistance.

p. xvii

Another question is, "What is the relation between mysticism and yoga?"

In connection with this we have to think of yoga as goal—not only as
methods or the way to the goal. The goal of yoga is the Beyond. Some
call this God. God is the Beyond. This word Beyond only is used in the
Bhagavad Gītā for what in the West we call the goal or God. To know
the Beyond and to enter the Beyond are familiar expressions. If
someone asks what God is we cannot in these enlightened days say "He
is a big man, an exacting but benevolent old gentleman with a white
beard," nor even, "He is a great mind, a great thinker and lover and
law-giver." We have to admit that God is the Beyond, beyond both world
and mind, beyond object and subject, and therefore a Mystery, except
to those who have experience of the Beyond. The very word mystic means
"with the eyes closed"—in terms of yoga we say with the eyes of the
body and the eyes of the mind—both sets—closed. There are, of course,
mystic eyes belonging to the Beyond. That is another truth. Man has
them, but scarcely knows it, and so has in most cases still to learn
to use them. He is sometimes reminded that he has them by the rare
God-knowers of past or present.

One last question: "Why Oriental yoga? Why not merely yoga? Surely
this yoga cannot be Oriental or

p. xviii

[paragraph continues] Occidental, any more than science or, strictly,
religion, or the good life."

The answer is that many Eastern thinkers and writers have dealt with
this subject, and have left us books explaining it. That is all we
mean by the word Oriental in this matter. Those books have their
individual emphasis on the use and study of thought or of love—the
human feeling—or the will, but all concur in the nature of the goal.
The subject has not been dealt with so extensively in the new
civilizations of Europe and America, which have been mostly engaged in
building a satisfactory material life. Let us therefore blend the
knowledge from the Orient with the culture of body and environment
which we have derived from Greece and the culture of the heart which
has been


THERE is great interest in the Western world at the present time on
the subject of Oriental Occultism, and very rightly so, for the time
has come for it to be blended in with the practical material
civilization which has been so wonderfully developed in the modern
world. There will be two benefits in this blending—more success in the
outer world and more peace in the inner life. The time has gone for
any of us—East or West—to think of Occultism as an escape from
material reality and responsibility into some vague inner condition in
which one retreats from all that material life stands for. Rather it
is concerned in the purpose voiced by Emerson when he wrote: "To make
in matter home for mind." To make of this world a place where
consciousness can enjoy to the full all the powers of its own mind and

p. 4

at the same time discover that there is more to the mind than is
commonly known—that is practical Occultism.

To know how the mind works we cannot do better than turn to the
ancient writers on what is called yoga—looking at all the principal
ancient schools of yoga, not only one or two of them. Of these there
are seven well-known surviving schools in India today, and in addition
to these our survey of Oriental Occultism would be incomplete without
allusion to three others—the Persian Sufis, the Buddhist "Noble Way,"
and the Chinese and Japanese Zen. This makes ten in all.

Many are the modern teachers of practical occultism or yoga, but all
of them can be classed as especially devoted to the methods of one or
other of these modes of practice.

Why have we at the outset associated the word yoga with occultism?
Because yoga is the practice of occult powers—or rather the discovery
and use of those powers residing unseen in the depths of the human
mind. The practice could begin with the formula, "We are only part
alive," and from that standpoint proceed to investigate the
Introspectional Psychology of the ancients, which they said united
them—yoga means union—with the latent possibilities and unseen
actualities of and beyond the mind. The

p. 5

[paragraph continues] Introspectional Psychology, all the ancient
teachers asserted, is justified by its results; it works.

That it should have been developed in elder times, in very peaceful
times, in the Orient, was very natural. In those very settled days
there were whole classes of society who had leisure to give to these
matters. There were not only solitary and silent hermit-investigators,
but also teachers with small schools, and travelling lecturers, and
occasional conferences of teachers organized by the ancient rulers.
But nowadays we have a phase of material activity, most fully
developed in America and now invading the Orient itself, which leaves
people with little energy or time to carry on the studies in
Introspectional Psychology in which many people formerly immersed
themselves—in which they were often at fault when they made the
delights of the mind a substitute for the valuable experience of the
whole estate of man. This modern activity is such that very often
people have nervous breakdowns of various kinds. Many must be the
material achievements left unfulfilled because of the collapse of
those who could originate them but could not bear the strain of
carrying them to their completion.

It is into this field of sorrow, lit up only occasionally by success,
that the Oriental occultism can be brought for the discovery and use
of the inner resources

p. 6

of the mind, increasing the power and improving the machinery of
thought, emotion and the will. That peace and power are two aspects of
one principle is one of the chief discoveries of the Oriental
occultist—a discovery within the reach of all reasonable persons.

It is not to be thought, however, that the ancient teachers alluded to
are proposing some sort of magic as a substitute for our present
method of doing things through the mechanism of a healthy body. That
the magic exists is true, and there is a long list of "psychic powers"
which manifest themselves in various degrees quite naturally as the
process of yoga goes on, but the teachers mostly refer to these as not
of great value, and advise against making the mind a "playground" for
them. In India there are many who can exhibit varieties of
hallucinatory or hypnotic effects, and also telepathy, psychometry,
clairvoyance, clairaudience, levitation, astral travelling,
transportation and apport, and similar occult or magical arts. Indeed,
some people with very little education in other respects have been
specially trained in one or more of these faculties and powers, so
that they are able to astonish the tourist and earn a living by
exhibiting these feats. But the real yogīs are not interested in
these. They are interested in mastering environment and finding the
ethical and spiritual forces and experiences

p. 7

which are not only immature but positively infantile in most people.

It will be asked: "Why do not these more perfect men use both the
higher powers and the magics?" The answer is, "They do. They use these
constantly, but they do not display them, for they know that very many
persons would be tempted out of the regular course of their evolution
by the glamour of these faculties and powers. And many would use them
as only another additional means for exploiting their fellow men." As
to such matters as applying a healing influence for body and
mind—these can be as well used in silence as with any display. I
remember that one very respected Hindu occultist, when questioned on
this point said that if highly successful and convincing
demonstrations of the occult powers were given, most people would be
overcome by modesty and would want to lean upon the demonstrator,
others would be frightened, others would call it the work of the
devil, and some who had not seen for themselves would call it all a
fraud—but on the other hand those who sincerely practice the yoga will
invariably have before long some convincing experiences of their own,
useful for their own private encouragement and essential benefit.

In my book The Occult Training of the Hindus, published some years ago
in Madras, and recently

p. 8

reprinted there, I presented a brief survey of this subject, resulting
from my long residence in India, during which I was chiefly interested
in studying these matters. In that book I have told of my acquaintance
and friendship with many of these exponents of yoga, and how I thus
learned that all over the country there are tens of thousands of
people who give part of their day to the pursuit of the methods of the
ancient occult teachers, although they are engaged in modern
occupations. There is in India, I would say, a vein of practicality in
these matters which most Western persons just do not understand.

In the present small volume, intended to bring these matters more to
the attention of the West, I am making use again of much of the
material in that book, without feeling it necessary to employ
quotation marks. This has been done considerably in Chapters 2 to 6.
Chapters 7 to 9 are entirely newly written.

Let us begin then with the statement that the seven well-known
varieties of yoga practice among the Hindus can be listed as follows:—

1. The Rāja Yoga of Patanjali.

2. The Karma and Buddhi Yoga of Shrī Krishna.

3. The Gnyāna Yoga of Shrī Shankarāchārya.

4. Hatha Yoga.

5. Laya Yoga.

6. Bhakti Yoga.

7. Mantra Yoga.

p. 9

These seven can be classified in two groups—the first three being
called varieties of rāja-yoga and the last four varieties of
hatha-yoga. The adjective rāja means "kingly" because the man becomes
king or master of his own faculties. The last four emphasize the
importance of material aids, by working largely on the outside or on
the "terrestrial man," which is composed of the body along with its
bundle of habitual emotions and memories and knowledge.

The rāja-yogī maintains that the inner powers of the mind can never be
enhanced by any external means, but only by their own exercise.

Here the law of growth from within is paramount. By the use of
thought, thought grows. This is true also of love and the will. There
is no other way in which these growths can be obtained. A realization
of this fact sets the novice on his own feet, and cures him at the
outset of any tendency to lean or depend upon others, even upon
experts and teachers he may admire.

Still, this exercise can be hindered or at least made very difficult
by any bad condition of the body in such matters as nervous disorders,
irregular breathing, bad balance, and undue tension. The hatha-yogīs
of the more intellectual kind accede to the proposition that all
higher growth is from within, but still say "No rāja without hatha"
because they find that

p. 10

bodies generally require some preparation. The thorough-going
rāja-yogīs however, generally reply that there is rāja without hatha,
and in fact that rāja-yoga if properly done will itself put the body
in order, for the mind influences the body even if the body cannot
influence the mind. Still there is no harm, they often add, in just a
little hatha-yoga as well, provided that the aspirant does not fall
into a state of dependence on anything or any person, and does not
seek merely the comforts of the body, emotions and knowledge, or make
his purpose the increase of his power with a view to gain in these
three fields.

The term hatha-yoga, when used strictly, refers specifically only to
the fourth school on our list, for it is specially devoted to
breathing practices, dealing with the incoming and outgoing—or ha and
tha breaths. But the term is quite elastic and portions of the
remaining three groups of teachings are generally included, to
supplement the breathing exercises of the hatha-yoga schools. Inasmuch
as all the four schools operate by external means they are all
classable as in the general field of hatha-yoga, as they all work on
the body and environment.

One of the great gains of modern yoga is that the "hair shirt" has
been entirely given up. The new race is not afraid of the world. It
does not regard it as evil or of the devil. Modern man can trust

p. 11

amidst all the lures. He can handle them and be their master. He knows
his own powers and can very well judge the results of his use of them.
He can envisage a metaphysical goal and also be aware of the
metaphysical in the physical as he goes along. He feels that whatever
he may gain by any exercise or experience in his will, his goodwill
and his intelligence is all to the good, quite apart from any
so-called material gain, and there is no objection to that in
addition. If he is caught up in any interests, enthusiasms or
excitements—as he is—he knows not to go too far, and that he will come
out of them richer in character, even if a bit scarred. He knows that
time will heal all the wounds and ripen the character. So in the field
of yoga today he is not in fear of missing anything, nor dependent
upon a particular guide, but will choose his exercises with all the
natural confidence with which he can choose a good cigar. He asks for
information, not gifts, nor orders, and here the Orient spreads it out
before him for his choice. According to individual temperament each
will choose, and then travel in the way that suits him best.



FOREMOST among the Yoga teachings of India comes that of Patanjali
dating back, according to popular tradition, to at least 300 B.C. His
Yoga Sūtras give definitions and instructions which are accepted by
all teachers, even when they also make additions in minor matters. He
begins with a description of yoga as "Chitta vritti nirodha." 1 Chitta
is the mind, the instrument that stands between the man and the
world. As a gardener uses a spade for digging, so a man uses the mind
for dealing with the world. Acted upon by the things of the outer
world through the senses, it presents to the man within a picture of
those things, as on the plate of a camera. Acted upon by the will of
the man within, it transmits into action in the body the thought-power

p. 16

is its positive characteristic. It thus has two functions—one
receptive or negative, the other active or positive. It transmits from
the world to the man within, and also from the man within to the outer

Vritti means literally a whirlpool, and nirodha signifies restraint or
control. Thus yoga practice is control of the whirlpools or changes of
the mind or, in simple terms, voluntary direction of what is commonly
called thought, or control of the ideas which are in the mind.

The mind of the average man is far from being an instrument within his
control. It is being impressed at all times, even during sleep to some
extent, with the pictures of a thousand objects clamoring for his
attention, through ears, skin, eyes, nose and mouth, and by telepathic
impressions from others. In addition to all that, it is in a state of
agitation on its own account, bubbling in a hundred places with
disturbing visions, excited by uncontrolled emotion or worrying
thoughts. Let him achieve control of all this, says Patanjali, and his
reward will be that he shall stand in his own state. 2

That a man should be in his own true state has two meanings: first,
that in his repose he will be utterly himself, not troubled with the
whirlpools, which, however slight, are in the eyes of the yogi nothing

p. 17

but worry, and secondly, that in his activity as a man, using the
mind, he will be a positive thinker, not merely a receptacle for
impressions from outside and ideas which he has collected in the
course of time.

Ideas in the mind should be material for thought, not merely ideas,
just as the muscles are useful means of action, not mere lumps of
flesh. To be a positive thinker, lover and willer, master in one's own
house, is to be oneself, in one's own true state; all the rest is
slavery or bondage, willing or unwilling. To its master, the man, the
vrittis of chitta are always only objects of knowledge, because of his
not being involved in them, say Aphorisms iv 18-20. 3 These vrittis
are ideas or items in the mind.

The final aim of Patanjali's yoga is to cease this slavery and achieve
freedom. The technical name for this great achievement is kaivalya,
independence. 4 That is really only another name for divinity, for
material things are in bondage, unable to move of themselves, and
always moved by forces from the outside; but the divine is by
definition free, able to move of itself. Every man feels in himself
some spark of that divine freedom, which he then calls the will, and
that is the power with which he can control his mind.

In Patanjali's yoga the aspirant uses his will in

p. 18

self-control. Thought governs things, we know; so much so that every
voluntary movement of the body follows a mental picture; therefore all
work done by us, even with the hands, is done by thought-power. But
will controls thought, concentrates it, expands it, causes its
flow—directs, in fact, its three operations of concentration,
meditation, and contemplation. The perfection of these three is the
aim of the Patanjali yoga exercises.

Before proceeding with the systematic description of the practices of
yoga, which begins in his Book ii, Patanjali mentions two things which
are necessary for success in controlling the vrittis or thoughts,
namely abhyāsa and vairāgya. Abhyāsa means constant practice in the
effort to secure steadiness of mind. 5 Vairāgya is that condition of
the feelings in which they are not colored by outside things, but are
directed only by our own best judgment. 6 This detachment of the
emotions may be "lower" or "higher" according as it is born from
dislike of external conditions, or from a vision of the glorious joy
of the pure free life. 7 The higher uncoloredness leads to the highest
contemplation, and therefore to freedom, the goal of this yoga.

p. 19

Patanjali's systematic instruction for practical training is given in
two portions. The first part, called Kriyā Yoga, 8 is often translated
as preliminary yoga because a person who has not first practiced it is
not likely to succeed in the main portion, the ashtanga, 9 or "eight
limbs" of yoga practice. But it is much more than preliminary. It is
the yoga of action, the yoga which must be practiced all the time in
daily life. Without it, meditation would be useless, for yoga involves
not retirement or retreat but a change in attitude towards the world.
It. is in the midst of life's activities that our freedom must be
realized, for to desire to slip away into some untroubled sphere would
be mere escape, a perpetuation of the dream of the best we have so far
learned to know, a denial of the possibility of our real freedom. A
man must become master of himself, whatever other people and beings,
whose activities constitute the major portion of his world, may do.

The object of the preliminary yoga or yoga of action is to weaken what
are called the five kleshas. A klesha is literally an affliction, just
as one would speak of a crooked spine or blindness as an affliction.
The five afflictions are avidyā, asmitā, rāga, dwesha and abhinivesha,
which may be translated ignorance,

p. 20

egotism, liking and disliking, and possessiveness. One leading ancient
commentator on the Aphorisms, named Vyāsa, states that these, when
active, bring one under the authority of Nature, and produce
instability, a stream of causes and effects in the world, and
dependence upon others. They are faults of the man himself, not
outside causes of trouble; the world can never hurt us, except through
our own faults, and these five reduce us to pitiful slavery. Having
submitted to these, a man is constantly moved from outside, governed
too much by circumstances.

"Ignorance" describes all those activities of the mind which do not
take into account the fact that man is in himself eternal, pure and
painless. 10 The man who does not accept his own true nature as
eternal, pure and painless, will judge and value all objects
improperly. A house, a chair and a pen are something to a man, by
which he can satisfy his body and mind. They could not be the same
things to a cow. But the question now is: what are all these things to
the real man, who is eternal, pure and painless? To look at all things
as for the use of such a being is to begin to see them without error.
It is to have true motives.

"Egotism" is the tendency to think "I am this," 11 and the desire that
other people also should think

p. 21

one to be this or that. Thinking oneself to be a certain object or
mind, or the combination of these even in the form of an excellent and
useful personality, means attachment to things. We are not a
personality, but we possess one, and it is not to be despised if it is
useful to the real man.

The error of Self-personality or egotism leads to the next two
afflictions which are personal liking and disliking. These two are
those unreasoning impulses which lead men to judge and value things by
their influence on the comforts and pleasures and prides of the
personality, not according to their value for an immortal being. 12

The fifth affliction is "possessiveness," beginning with clinging to
the body, which indicates the lack of that insight which causes a man
to regard the body as a mere instrument which he is willing to use,
and wear out in the course of time. 13

In this affliction we have not merely the fear of death, but that of
old age as well, for men forget that the bodily life has its
phases—childhood, youth, manhood and old age—and each of these has its
own perfections, though it has not the perfections of the other
stages. In this course there is constant apparent loss as well as
gain, because no man can pay full attention to all the lessons of life
at once, or exert at the same

p. 22

time all his faculties, any more than a child in school can properly
think of geography, history and mathematics in the period which is
devoted to music.

In Hindu life, before it was disturbed from the West, men were wise
enough in old age to give the family business into the hands of their
mature sons, and devote themselves to the study and contemplation of
life; and just as in the West it is considered the bounden duty of
parents to support their children with every kindness and give them
the opportunities that their stage in life requires, so it was always
considered in the East the duty of the grown up children to support
their old people with every kindness, treat them with honor and
dignity as the source of their own opportunity and power, and give
them every opportunity that their stage of life requires. The material
requirements of these retired people were very small—a corner in the
home, some food and occasional clothes.

It is not presumed that in the preliminary stages the candidate will
completely destroy the five afflictions. His object will be attained
if he succeeds in definitely weakening them. Three kinds of practices
are prescribed for this purpose in the yoga of action. These are
called tapas, swādhyāya and īshwara-pranidhāna. 14

p. 23

It is impossible to translate these terms by a single word each,
without causing serious misunderstanding. The first is often
translated as austerity, and sometimes even as mortification. The word
means literally "heat" and the nearest English equivalent to that when
it is applied to human conduct is "effort." The yogī must definitely
do those things that are good, even when a special effort is necessary
because old habits of the personality stand in the way. Briefly it
means this: "Do for the body what you know to be good for it. Do not
let laziness, selfishness, or thoughtlessness stand in the way of your
doing what you can to make the body and mind healthy and efficient."

Patanjali does not explain the practice of tapas, but Shri Krishna
says, in the seventeenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā "Reverential
action towards the gods, the educated, the teachers and the wise,
purity, straightforwardness, continence, and harmlessness are tapas of
the body; speech not causing excitement, truthful, affectionate and
beneficial, and used in self-study is the tapas of speech; clearness
of thinking, coolness, quietness, self-control, and purity of
subject-matter are the tapas of mind." 15

Shri Krishna here gives a wider range to the meaning of tapas than
does Patanjali, who makes it particularly a matter concerning the

p. 24

How than can any one say that tapas is self-torture? It is true that
there has grown up a system of painful practices, such as that of
holding the arm still until it withers, or sitting in the sun in the
midst of a ring of fires, but these are superstitions which have grown
up round a valuable thing, as they are liable to do everywhere. Those
who follow these methods are few as compared with the true yogī. All
over the country there are Indian gentlemen—many of them Government
servants who have a routine task with short working hours—who every
day spend some time in meditation, deliberately guiding themselves by
the "Yoga Sūtras."

A great example of tapas is that of the modern women. Their will-power
in the government of their bodies and in overcoming bodily
self-indulgence excites the greatest admiration. And their results are
entirely in line with Patanjali's aphorism iii 45 in which he approves
of "excellence of body" and refers to it as consisting of correct
form, charm, strength and very firm well-knitness, all of which is the
very reverse of mortification or self-castigation, which some have
erroneously attributed to yoga, because of superstition.

These delightful beings are not even willing to leave Nature just as
she is, but consider in many ways how to bring lightness and freedom
from earthiness

p. 25

or grossness or clumsiness into bodily living and bodily appearance.
Even the artificialities of high heels and very slender figures have
the same "spiritual" background, and where excess or unbalance occurs
it can at least be credited to good intentions, carried out with great
will-power or tapas. The proportion of tapas is on the increase all
the time as seen by the exercises and dietary courses which are
extensively advertised and the thoroughness and continuity with which
they are carried out.

Man himself, too, it must be said, shares a little in this sort of
effort, shaving or at least trimming his beard and whiskers, and
padding his shoulders to ridiculous excess, as he used to do his
calves in the old days when trousers were worn short and stockings
were the vogue.

In all these matters there has been plenty of effort, in the main
tending away from uncouth and un-mastered living. I know some of both
sexes who assiduously perform what our yogīs call uddiyāna, the
exercises of the abdominal muscles, with the effect of correct posture
and adequate strength, thus attaining the "natural corset," as it has
been called, essential to health and good appearance. There is no
doubt that such exercises are necessary for those who do not do work
involving bending, and it is not a bad thing that this undertaking
calls for considerable will-power

p. 26

which then becomes useful also for other purposes as well, and also
contributes to the enjoyment of consciousness.

The second practice, swādhyāya, means the study of books that really
concern yourself as an immortal being. Psychology, philosophy and
ethics come in here. Give up indiscriminate reading, and study what
bears upon your progress, is the advice.

The third practice, īshwara-pranidhāna, means devotion to God, but God
as understood by the Hindu, as the perfect Being pervading all things,
the life of the world, the inner impulse of which each one of us is a
share. The aspirant must habituate himself to see that Principle in
everything, to accept all as from that hand. "Everything that is
received is a gift," says a Hindu proverb; more than that, it is a
gift from God, presented with perfect wisdom, to be accepted,
therefore, with cheerfulness and joy. Behind the eyes of every person
he meets, the aspirant must also see the Divine. The common salutation
of the Hindu, with the palms together, looks curious to the Westerner,
as resembling prayer. It is prayer—the recognition of God within our
fellow-man. It is appreciation, the opposite of depreciation.
Ishwara-pranidhāna is in effect the full appreciation of everything.
It makes for maximum attentiveness and thus maximum living.

This practice develops right feeling towards everything;

p. 27

the previous one right thought, and the first right use of the will,
and the three together, pursued diligently for even a short time, play
havoc with the five afflictions.

When the candidate has weakened the afflictions to some extent, he is
ready for Patanjali's regular course, the eight "limbs" of yoga. These
may be divided into three sets: two moral, three external, and three
internal, as shown in the following list:—



Five abstentions.




Five observances.



Balanced posture.




Regularity of breath.



Withdrawal of senses.











The two ethical or moral "limbs" of yoga contain five rules each,
which the man must practice in his daily life. Put together, they make
what we may call "the ten commandments." The first five are; "Thou
shalt not (a) injure, (b) lie, (c) steal, (d) be sensual and (e) be
greedy." 16

Explaining this aphorism, Vyāsa says that ahimsā or non-injury is
placed first because it is the source of the following nine. Thus the
brotherhood principle

p. 28

is considered as fundamental. Truth, for example, can hardly arise
unless there is a motive beyond selfish desires. Vyāsa explains that
this means word and thought being in accordance with facts to the best
of our knowledge. Only if speech is not deceptive, confused or empty
of knowledge, he says, is it truth, because speech is uttered for the
purpose of transferring one's knowledge to another.

Vāchaspati's glossary interprets truth as word and thought in
accordance with facts, and fact as what is really believed or
understood by us on account of our own direct experience, our best
judgment or the accepted testimony of reliable witnesses. So yoga is
rooted in virtue, and that in brotherhood, or a feeling for others.
Without at least the desire for these five, though perfection in them
may not be attained, contemplation cannot yield its richest fruits. We
are to be at peace with the world, even if the world is not at peace
with us. In this case there is no desire to injure, lie, steal etc.
Such activities are not sources of pleasure, in any circumstances.

The second five are: "Thou shalt be (a) clean, (b) content, (c)
self-controlled, (d) studious, and (e) devoted." 17 Few comments are
needed on these. Contentment does not mean satisfaction, but
willingness to accept things as they are and to make the most of

p. 29

them. Without dissatisfaction one would not take to yoga. It implies a
desire to improve one's life. The remaining three are tapas, swādhyāya
and īshwara-pranidhāna, the preliminary yoga or yoga of daily
life—apart from any private exercises—still carried on.

By the attainment of these five a man can be at peace with the world.
It is the end of antagonism from his side.

Incidentally, Patanjali mentions that when the ten virtues are firmly
established in a person's character definite effects will begin to
appear, such as absence of danger, effectiveness of speech, the
arrival of unsought wealth, vigor of body and mind, understanding of
life's events, clarity of thought, steadiness of attention, control of
the senses, great happiness, perfection of body and senses, intuition
and realization of one's true self. 18 These can come only after the
cessation of all antagonisms to anybody or anything in the world.

Now we come to what some will regard as the more practical steps,
though to the understanding yogī nothing can be more practical than
the ten commandments. Of these the three external steps are āsanā,
prānāyāma and pratyāhāra. The first is right posture, the second right
breathing and the third control of

p. 30

the senses. They mean the training of the outer instrument or body so
that it will offer no impediment to the serious practices of
meditation which are to be taken up.

First, one must learn to sit quite still in a chosen healthy position.
"The posture must be steady and pleasant," 19 says Patanjali—that is
all. There is no recommendation of any particular posture, least of
all any distorted, painful, or unhealthy position. Posture is achieved
when it becomes effortless and the mind easily forgets the body. It is
chiefly a matter of balance. Some practice of balanced sitting,
whether on the ground or on a chair is necessary until balanced
musculature is attained. Very often there is fatigue because some of
the muscles are weak, yet to sit unbalanced for long is almost

Next, regulation of breath is necessary. 20 During meditation, people
often forget to breathe normally; sometimes they breathe out and
forget to breathe in again, and so are suddenly recalled to earth by a
choking at the throat. Many people never breathe well and regularly at
all; let them practice simple natural exercises, such as those
recommended by teachers of singing, and take care that the body is
breathing regularly and quietly before they enter their meditation.

p. 31

Sometimes numbers or proportionate times are prescribed, and one of
the most authoritative in India is that in which one breathes in with
the number 1, holds the breath with the number 4, breathes out with
the number 2, and immediately begins again; but it is impossible to
prescribe the perfect numbers, because they must differ with different
people. The question really is: how long must your breath be so as to
provide for enough oxidation? Science will some day say. But one must
not hold it in longer than that, for to do so is to deprive the whole
system of oxygen. Your body has to carry on all its ordinary
sub-conscious activities while meditation is going on.

The only general practical advice one can give is that the breathing
should be regular and a little slow, and there should be enough pause
between inbreathing and outbreathing. It should also be calm, as may
be judged by its not causing much disturbance in the outside air. The
student will soon find out what suits him. Stunts such as breathing up
one nostril and down the other, or holding the breath for a long time,
are not mentioned by Patanjali and should be generally avoided as

Pratyāhāra is the holding back of the senses from the objects of
sense. 21 One must practice paying no attention to sounds or sights or
skin sensations, quietening

p. 32

the senses so that they will create no disturbance during meditation.

Think of what happens when you are reading an interesting book.
Someone may come into the room where you are, may walk past you to get
something, and go out again; but perhaps you heard and saw nothing at
all. You were in what is sometimes called a brown study. The ears were
open and the waves of sound in the air were no doubt agitating the
tympanum, from which the nerves were carrying their message to the
brain. The eyes were open, and the light waves were painting their
pictures on the retina—but you saw and heard nothing, because your
attention was turned away from those sensations.

The yogī must try to withdraw attention at will, so that in his
meditation no sight or sound will distract him. This is helped by an
absence of curiosity about anything external during the time set apart
for meditation. One way of practicing this is to sit and listen for a
while to the various sounds of nature; then listen to the delicate
sound in the ear and so forget the former (though you cannot watch
yourself forgetting it); then listen to a mere mental sound conjured
up by the imagination, and so forget even the music in the ear.

Then come the three internal steps, to which everything else has been
leading up, called dhūranā, dhyāna

p. 33

and samādhi. They are concentration, meditation, and contemplation.

Concentration is really voluntary attentiveness, but this involves
narrowing the field of view, focusing the mental eye upon a chosen
object. 22

When you practice concentration or meditation, always choose the
object before you begin. Sometimes people sit down and then try to
decide what to concentrate upon, and come to no settled decision
before their time is all gone. Then, do not try to hold the object in
position by your thought. It is not the object that is going to run
away; it is the mind that wanders. Let the object be thought of as in
a natural position—if it is a pen it may be lying on the table; if it
is a picture it may be hanging on the wall. Then narrow the field of
attention down to it, and look at it with perfect calmness, and
without any tension or sensation in the body or head.

Do not be surprised or annoyed if other thoughts intrude on your
concentration. Be satisfied if you do not lose sight of your chosen
object, if it remains the central thing before your attention. Take no
notice of the intruding thoughts. Say "I do not care whether they are
there or not." Keep the emotions calm in this manner, and the
intruders will disappear when you are not looking. Calmness—no
physical strain—is

p. 34

necessary for successful concentration, and, given this, it is not at
all the difficult thing that it is sometimes supposed to be. Detailed
methods for practicing concentration are given in my book
Concentration," 23 and regarding that and the other seven steps as
well in my Practical Yoga: Ancient and Modern, which contains my
translation and explanation of all the Patanjali Yoga aphorisms. 24

Meditation is a continuous flow or fountain of thought with regard to
the object of your concentration. 25 It involves the realization of
that object as fully as possible. You must not let the string of
thought go so far away on any line that the central object is in any
way dimmed. On the contrary, every new idea that you bring forward
must be fully thought of only with reference to it and should make it
clearer and stronger than before. Thus for practice you might meditate
on a cat. You would consider it in every detail; think of all its
parts and qualities, physical, emotional, mental, moral and spiritual;
think of its relation to other animals and of particular cats that you
have known. When this is done you should

p. 35

know what a cat is much better than you did before. You will have
brought into agreement and union all your knowledge or information on
the subject. In this meditation there is no clutching, no anxiety,
only calm mental reviewing and thinking.

The same method applies to virtues such as truth, kindness and
courage. Many people have the most imperfect ideas as to what these
are. Make concrete pictures in the imagination of acts of kindness,
courage, truth. Then try to realize the states of emotion and mind,
and the moral condition involved, and in doing so keep up the
vividness of consciousness that has already been attained in the
beginning of the practice on account of concentration on the concrete

In meditation you take something up, but it is the opposite of going
to sleep, because you retain the vivid qualities of reality which
belong to the concentrated waking state. Yet it should always be done
with perfect calm, and no tension or excitement. It widens, includes
and integrates without loss of the quality gained by concentration or
specific attentiveness.

Contemplation is another kind of concentration; this time a poise of
the mind at the top end of your line of thought. 26 When in meditation
you have reached the highest and fullest thought you can about

p. 36

the chosen object, and your mind begins to waver, do not try to go
forward, but do not fall back. Hold what you have attained, and poise
calmly on it for a little time.

You will find that by contemplation you have created a platform. You
have been making a new effort and so have developed or discovered some
hitherto latent possibilities. There may be something in the nature of
illumination. You must see what comes; never try to predetermine it.
Then contemplation opens the door of the mind to intuitive knowledge,
and many powers.

The student is told always to begin with concentration, then proceed
to meditation. The triple process is a mind-poise called sanyama. 27

If the candidate wants to have what are commonly called psychic
faculties and powers, Patanjali explains how he may obtain them—by
sanyama on various objects having corresponding qualities. He mentions
knowledge of past and future, memory of past lives, reading of others’
minds, perception of those who have reached perfection, and other
powers and knowledge connected with "higher hearing, touch, sight,
taste and smell" 28 but remarks that, though these are accomplishments
of the out-going

p. 37

mind, they are obstacles to the full or higher samādhi. 29 Vāchaspati
comments on this that sometimes the mind is captivated by these
psychic powers, just as a beggar may think of the possession of a
little wealth as abundant riches, but the real yogī will reject them
all. How can the real man, he asks, who has determined to remove all
pain—including psychological or emotional pains—take pleasure in such
accomplishments, which are opposed to his true state of being? Only by
non-attachment to all such things, however great, may the seeds of
bondage be destroyed, and independence or freedom be attained. 30

True contemplation, poised on higher matters, Patanjali teaches, leads
to the complete dispersal of the afflictions, and on to great clarity
and insight, culminating in the cessation of the junction of the seer
and the sight, the absence of all pain and the uncovering of the inner



WE HAVE used the new term Gītā-Yoga here because it sums up the titles
of all the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gītā, each of which is
called a yoga, such as "The Yoga of Knowledge," "The Yoga of Action,"

Gītā means song, and the whole title means the song of Shrī Krishna,
who is referred to as the Bhagavān—the most illustrious being. Shrī
Krishna is regarded as the most perfect of all Teachers—so much so
that he could speak about everything from the divine standpoint and
with divine knowledge of the reality beyond mind, so that when saying
"I" he spoke as an incarnation of the Divine Being. He is considered
to have lived about 5050 years ago, and the Bhagavad Gītā is regarded
as a record of what he said or sang to his devoted friend and disciple
Arjuna, who was in

p. 42

a state of despondency because he could not solve a problem of "right
or wrong" in which his emotions were very much involved. The problem
was whether to fight or not in a certain battle which was about to
begin. Arjuna's particular problem does not concern us now. The
yoga-teaching it called forth from Shrī Krishna is read and meditated
upon by millions of people every day.

Shrī Krishna's teaching is more a yoga for the emotions than the mind,
although he does explain the necessity for mind-control and uses the
same two words—practice (abhyāsa) and uncoloredness (vairāgya) for
describing the means to its attainment as Patanjali does when starting
his teaching. Shrī Krishna tells Arjuna that though his heart is in
the right place his unhappy emotional state is due to ignorance. The
first point of the Teacher's instruction is—do not judge right and
wrong from the standpoint of bodily appearances, but only from what is
of value to the immortal soul, taking into account that actions,
emotions, thoughts and decisions all have some effect, some tending
downwards or away from self-realization and others tending upwards or
toward self-realization. Downwards there is bondage and sorrow;
upwards there is joy and freedom or the divine state of being, so let
this first point be firmly understood at the beginning. Shrī Krishna
said: "You have sorrowed for

p. 43

those who need no sorrow, yet you speak words of wisdom. Those who
know do not grieve for the living, nor for the dead. Certainly never
at any time was I not, nor you, nor these lords of men, nor shall we
ever cease to be hereafter. As there is for the owner of the body
childhood, youth and old age in this body, so there comes another
body; the intelligent man is not confused by that. Just as a man,
having cast off his worn-out clothes, obtains others which are new, so
the owner of the body, having thrown away old bodies goes to new ones.
Weapons do not cut him; fire does not burn him; waters do not wet him;
the wind does not dry him away . . ." 1

This point being clear the Teacher goes on to the next. He says in
verse ii 39 that what he has given is knowledge, based upon his own
supersensuous experience as well as that of ancient Teachers, but now
he wants Arjuna to take up something more than mere knowledge-yoga—he
wants him to take up buddhi-yoga. Buddhi is wisdom, which comes from
doing all things for the benefit of souls, not bodies primarily. It is
buddhi or wisdom to revalue everything from that standpoint.

It is easy to see that the heart of wisdom is love for the co-souls,
which Krishna calls indestructible jīvabhūtas, that is, living beings,
as distinguished from

p. 44

temporary states and conditions, which are called bhāvas. Thus the
human personalities, in all their varieties are bhāvas, or existent
conditions, but the real men who are owners of the personalities are
immortal beings. The lesson that the heart of wisdom is love—goodwill,
brotherhood—is driven home by Shrī Krishna in his third discourse or
chapter, in which he states that the interdependence of all the living
beings in the world is universal, and as this is so one should
co-operate heartily, not merely mentally but with love, for the very
simple reason that the man who loves cannot abstain from activity. He
is in a vigorous state, for love is the great energy of the soul. He
is like the typical gentleman of Confucius, who was defined as never
neutral, but always impartial.

The man of love looks out upon the world, and feels that he must do
what he can, however small the opportunity, for the welfare of
mankind. This important fact was also soon placed before Arjuna by his
Teacher. After pointing out how all the living beings in the world are
related to one another in service, how everywhere there is
interdependence, he then declared that the man who on earth does not
follow the wheel thus revolving lives in vain. Said Shrī Krishna: "The
man who performs actions without personal attachment reaches the
'beyond'; therefore always do work which ought to be done, without

p. 45

personal attachment. Janaka and others attained perfection through
work, so, having regard to the welfare of the world, it is proper for
you to work." 2 There is great significance in the words which have
been translated "the welfare of the world." They are loka-sangraha,
loka means the inhabitants; sangraha means their holding or combining
together, their living in harmony. This means love, and if there must
be fighting, it is a regrettable necessity, and is to be done still
with love in the heart.

It is in this activity that work and love are brought together. What
is called karma-yoga thus comes into being. Mere work or karma is not
yoga, but when that work is energized by love for mankind, it becomes
a yoga, that is, a method for the realization of the unity of life. So
karma-yoga is one branch of Krishna's great teaching of love. The
karma-yogī "goes about doing good."

And yet that karma-yoga is also devotion to God. Among Krishna's
devotees, as among those of Christ, there are two distinct kinds.
There are those who admire the teacher because he was the great lover
of mankind; and there are those who fall down in admiration and
devotion before the greatness and goodness of the teacher, and then
learn from his example and precept to spread some of his love around

p. 46

among their fellow-men. Some love man first and God afterwards; others
love God first and man afterwards. The first are the karma-yogīs; the
second the bhakti-yogīs.

God himself is depicted in the Gītā as the greatest karma yogī, the
pattern for all who would follow that path. He says: "There is nothing
in the three worlds, O Pārtha, that I ought to do, and nothing
attainable unattained, yet I engage in work. Certainly if I did not
always engage in work without laziness, people on all sides would
follow my path. These worlds would become lost if I did not work; I
would be the maker of confusion, and would ruin these creatures." 3 No
reason can be given why he should thus work, except that he loves the

But let no man be discouraged in this work because he himself is
small. Let not his vision of great things and devotion to great beings
cause him to sink down disconsolate, thinking, "There is nothing that
I can do that is big enough to be worth the doing." Let him remember
that spiritual things are not measured by quantity but their greatness
consists in the purity of their motive. It is the love that counts—not
the action. It is one of the greatest glories of this universe that
the common and inconspicuous life of ordinary men contains a thousand
daily opportunities of spiritual

p. 47

splendor. Says Shrī Krishna: "Men reach perfection, each being engaged
in his own karma. Better is one's own dharma though inglorious, than
the well-performed dharma of another. He who does the duty determined
by his own state incurs no fault. By worshipping in his own karma
(work) him from whom all beings come, him by whom all this is spread
out, a man attains perfection." 4

The words dharma and karma here require explanation. Dharma means
where you stand. Each man has to some extent unfolded the flower of
his possibility. He stands in a definite position, or holds definite
powers of character. It is better that he should recognize his
position and be content with it, true to the best he knows, than that
he should try to stand in the position of another, or waste his powers
in mere envious admiration. To use his powers in the kind of work he
can do, upon and with the material that his past karma has provided
for him in the present is not only the height of practical wisdom—it
is worship of God as well. All life lived in this way is worship;
ploughing and reaping, selling and buying—whatever it may be.
Conventional forms of kneeling and prostration are not the sole or
even the necessary constituents of worship, but every act of the
karma-yogī and of the bhakti-yogī is that. The word bhakti does in

p. 48

fact contain more of the meaning of service than of feeling.

The Lord does not ask from his devotees great gifts. Says Shrī
Krishna: "When anyone offers to me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a
fruit or a little water, I accept that, which is brought with devotion
by the striving soul. When you do anything, eat anything, sacrifice
anything, give anything or make an effort, do it as an offering to me.
Thus shall you be released from the bonds of karma, having their good
and bad results, and being free and united through sannyāsa
(renunciation) you will come to me. I am alike to all beings; none is
disliked by me, and none is favorite; but those who worship me with
devotion are in me and I also am in them. Even if a great evildoer
worships me, not devoted to anything else, he must be considered good,
for he has determined well. Quickly he becomes a man of dharma and
attains constant peace." 5 It is clear, then, that this yoga is a way
of thinking, and acting, inspired by love, which releases a man from
bondage to his own personality.

As there is community of work between God and man, so is there
community of interest, and indeed, community of feeling. "All this is
threaded on me," says the Divine, "like a collection of pearls on a

p. 49

string." 6 And the reward of the path of yoga is the full realization
of this unity: "At the end of many lives the man having wisdom
approaches me. By devotion he understands me, according to what I
really am; then, having truly known me, he enters that (state)
immediately. Although always doing work, having me for goal, through
my grace he obtains the eternal indestructible goal." 7

The love of man for God is more than reciprocated; "He who has no
dislike for any being, but is friendly and kind, without greed or
egotism, the same in pleasure and pain, forgiving, always content,
harmonious, self-controlled and resolute, with thought and affection
intent upon me, he, my devotee, is dear to me. He from whom people are
not repelled, and who does not avoid the world, free from the
agitations of delight, impatience and fear, is dear to me. Those
devotees who are intent upon this deathless way of life, thus
declared, full of faith, with me as (their) supreme—they are above all
dear to me." 8

Some of the devotional verses suggest a great absence of self-reliance
if they are taken out of their general context, as, for instance:
"Giving up all dharmas come only to me as your refuge. Do not sorrow;

p. 50

[paragraph continues] I will release you from all sins." This "I" to
whom reference is so often made, is the one Self, the one life, and
therefore it advocates the giving up of selfishness and taking
interest in the welfare of all. There is in all this no suggestion
anywhere that man should lean upon an external God, an entity. This
devotion is required to the "me" which is all life, and not a portion
of life in some external form, however grand. Shrī Krishna speaks for
that one life "equally present in all." 9

The objective side of this is by no means ignored in this teaching of
the importance of the soul, indeed, of all souls. While the souls
bring themselves more and more into harmony through the power of love
or wisdom or buddhi, certain material standards are recognized. The
material side, consisting of all the bhāvas or conditions, must be
brought into a state of orderliness and appropriateness called sattwa.
In the teaching of this part of the subject Shrī Krishna says that
everything in Nature can be classed under one of three heads—it is
tāmasic, that is, material and sluggish, or rājasic, that is, active
and restless, or sāttwic, orderly and harmonious. This is in agreement
with both ancient and modern thought.

Modern science recognizes three properties in Nature, or three
essential constituents in the objectivity

p. 51

of the external world. One of these is materiality, or the ability of
something to occupy space and resist the intrusion of another body
into the same space. The second is natural energy or force, and the
third is natural law and order. There is no object to be found
anywhere, be it large or small, which does not show something of all
these three, as it occupies space, shows internal or external energy,
and "obeys" (or operates) at least some of Nature's laws. These three
qualities of Nature were also well known to the ancient Hindus under
the names of tamas, rajas and sattwa, and they held that things
differed from one another according to the varied proportions of these
three ultimate ingredients. Thus an object in which materiality
predominated would be described as tāmasic, and one in which energy
was most prominent would be spoken of as rājasic.

The same adjectives are applied very fully in the Gītā to the
personalities of men. 10 In the early stages of human awakening we
have the very material or tāmasic man, who is sluggish and scarcely
cares to move, unless he is stirred by a strong stimulus from the
outside. Next comes the man in whom rajas has developed, who is now
eager for excitement and full of energy. Perhaps the bulk of people in
the modern world are in this condition, or beginning to come into

p. 52

it. Rajas sends them forth into great activity with every kind of
greed, from the lowest lust of the body to the highest forms of
ambition for wealth and fame and power. Men of this kind cannot
restrain themselves—to want is to act.

Thirdly come the people who recognize that there is such a thing as
natural law, who realize, for example, that it does not pay to eat and
drink just what they like and as much as they like, but that there are
certain regulations, about kind and quantity and time, which pertain
to eating and drinking, and that violation of these regulations leads
to pain. In time that pain draws attention to what is wrong and the
man begins to use his intelligence, first to try to thwart the pain
and avert the law, but later on to understand the law, and obey. And
then, in that obedience he learns that life is far richer than ever he
thought it to be before, that there is in it a sweet strong rhythm
unknown to the man of passion, and that alliance with the law can
strengthen and enhance human life beyond all the hopes of the
impassioned imagination. All good, thoughtful people are in this third
stage, obedient and orderly, and they deserve the name of sāttwic

The disciple has to see that his material and personal life or bhāva
is kept in the sāttwic condition, as regards body, emotions and
thoughts. This is a great

p. 53

yoga undertaking. In this there is plenty to do resembling Patanjali's
first five steps. At the same time the disciple must go further than
the ordinary good man; he must hold himself above all the qualities of
Nature (tamas, rajas and sattwa), using the bhāva, not being immersed
and lost in it. "Be thou above the three attributes of Nature, O
Arjuna," says the Teacher, "without the pairs of opposites (such as
heat and cold, praise and blame, riches and poverty), always steadfast
in sattwa, careless of possessions, having the (real) self." 11

These laws work out in a multitude of ways in life, but there are
three main principles behind them all—principles of the evolution of
consciousness. They express themselves in the powers of will, love and
thought, creative in the world, and self-creative in the man. There
are only three things that the man must now not do. He must never
cease to use his will in work. In that work he must never break the
law of love. And in that work of love he must never act; without using
his intelligence. These are principles—greater than all rules and
regulations, because they are the living law of the true self; and not
much consideration is required to see that he who follows this law
must necessarily show in his practical life all the virtues that are
admired by good men of every

p. 54

religion. Indeed, we can adopt from the Greeks the three eternal
valuables—goodness, truth and beauty—and say that a man is truly a man
only when he is operating these.

These teachings condense down to three practical exercises, which
convert experience into soul-knowledge. Shrī Krishna does not value
life for its own sake, or even brotherhood for its own sake, or even
love for its own sake. All actions are valuable only because they lead
to knowledge of realities of the soul and the ultimate self. Regarding
the aspirant's work or living in the world as stimulating a hunger for
something better, which, did he but know it, causes the awakening in
himself of a deeper knowledge, and regarding all buddhi-yoga and
karma-yoga as an offering on the altar of world-welfare, valuable also
because they are a means of true self-education, useful to everybody,
Shrī Krishna says: "Better than the offering of any material object is
the offering of knowledge, for all work culminates in knowledge. You
should learn this by reverence, enquiry and service, and those who
know and see the truth will teach you the knowledge. By this you will
see all beings without exception in the self, and thus in me. Even if
you were the most wicked of evildoers, you would cross over all sin by
the raft of (this) knowledge. As fire reduces fuel to ashes, so does
the fire of

p. 55

knowledge reduce all karmas to ashes. There is indeed no purifier in
the world like knowledge. He who is accomplished finds the same in the
self in course of time. Having attained (this) knowledge he very soon
goes to the peace of the Beyond." 12 The word "knowledge" (jnāna) in
the Gītā means always something known—high or low. "Wisdom" is buddhi,
meaning the faculty of understanding the life side of the world.

This passage introduces us to a portion of the definite path of
training—the equivalent of Patanjali's practical yoga. It was not
sufficient for Arjuna to have great love. If he would tread the path,
he must express it in work in the form of service, and must also have
an enquiring mind, so as to gain some understanding. The unbalanced
character is unfit for the higher path, no matter how great the
progress it may have made along one line. Three practices are
prescribed; reverence, enquiry and service—in the original, pranipāta,
pariprashna and sevā. 13 The first means bowing, or respect for the
Divine in all beings and events, which is the same thing as
Patanjali's īshwara-pranidhāna. The second is enquiry or questioning,
resembling Patanjali's swādhyāya. The third is service, another form
of practical effort, the equivalent

p. 56

on this path of Patanjali's tapas. The requirements are thus the same
in each school, but the order and emphasis varies.

When speaking of service, it is necessary to emphasize broad
conceptions. Some would narrow it down to personal service to a
particular teacher, but the whole Gītā points to that brotherhood
which is the doing of one's best duty to all around, in one's own
limited sphere of circumstances and ability. The aspirant should
desire the welfare of the world. This does not imply that we should
merely engage ourselves with those who are in need, who are weak or
poor or ignorant, and bestow our assistance upon them. That is a
dangerous pastime, as it tends to a habit of superiority, and often
ends in the production of a missionary spirit which is fatal to occult
progress. Right association with those who are approximately one's
equals is, on the whole, the best means for rendering the greatest
help to others and oneself. Life does not flow harmoniously across big
gaps. The beginner does not become an expert tennis player by playing
against great experts, but with those just a little better than
himself, and it is not the business of the greatest expert to teach
the mere beginner, just as it is not the business of the chief
professor of a college to teach the infant class. A good, sensible,
brotherly life, in which one does not embarrass others

p. 57

by making conspicuous sacrifices on their behalf, is always the best.
The teaching does not ask for rājasic efforts, but a sāttwic fitting
in of oneself into the social welfare.

We may see all mankind in process of evolution or self-unfoldment in
seven degrees or stages, according to Shrī Krishna's teaching. In the
first three stages the man's life is energized from the personality;
in the last three, from the real self. In the middle stage there is a
conflict between the two, while the man is beginning to work at the
three practices mentioned above.

There is one term which Shrī Krishna applies to all those who are
renouncing allegiance to mere pleasures and self-satisfactions and
personal attachment to the objects of the world. He calls them
sannyāsīs. In the final discourse of the Gītā, the eighteenth chapter,
there is a long explanation of the meaning of the term sannyāsa. It is
compared with another—tyāga. Tyāga means abandoning, giving up,
leaving behind, and a tyāgī is therefore one who has renounced the
world, given up all possessions, and taken to the uncertain life of a
religious mendicant, except perhaps that the term mendicant is not
quite appropriate, since this man does not positively beg. Sannyāsa is
the same thing in spirit. The sannyāsī does not necessarily give up
the material things, but he gives up personal attachment to them.

p. 58

There is still plenty to do for the man who is becoming more and more
conscious of the life around him, and therefore less liable to merely
personal interests and motives. The things that he must do are
described by Shrī Krishna as follows: "Acts of yajna, dāna and tapas
should not be given up, but should be done without personal attachment
or desire for results." 14 These three kinds of action which alone the
sannyāsī is permitted to do, and which in fact he must do, are
sacrifice, gift and effort.

It is always unsatisfactory to try to translate these technical
Sanskrit words into one-word equivalents in English. Sacrifice (yajna)
does not mean the mere surrender of things, but it really means to
make all things holy. This occurs when they are offerings. Any action
done with an unselfish motive is thus holy. The sannyāsī does not,
however, need to make any ceremonial offerings, because he sees the
one life everywhere, and all his actions are direct service of that
life. In the West it is significant that "holy" is connected with
"whole," and so what is done not for selfish gain but in the interests
of all is holy. Sacrifice is thus a law by which living beings are
related into one great brotherhood. A very important part of the
teaching of the Gītā is that one should recognize, accept and like the
great fact of the mutual support of

p. 59

all living beings, and act or live accordingly. This is called the law
of sacrifice.

The sannyāsī gives freely; leaving it to the law to repay. He also
consents to receive only freely, and should any one offer food or
anything else for his use, he declines it if the gift is not sincere
and free from any suggestion of obligation. His life is one of giving
(dāna). All his powers are completely at the service of mankind. And
he must strive also, by tapas, to increase those powers. There is
plenty to do for the man whose life is only sacrifice, gift and
effort, whether he be a wandering monk in India or a railroad magnate
in the United States.

This yoga does not exclude meditation. On the contrary it recommends
it, but we need not study that here as it has been so fully dealt with
in our previous chapters.

In all this teaching one seems to hear the echo of the words of all
the spiritual guides of mankind: "We are not interested in the outer
man, but in the real man in you. Cling to the real man. That is union
with yoga. Let this be a matter for frequent reflection and all else
will be purified." The practice of this meditation is essential, but
only brings its effect in combination with the practice of true
valuation of things in our material living—which is estimation of
their value by love, their value for somebody.

p. 60

[paragraph continues] This love leads on to spiritual insight which,
as it combines knowing and being, can be called unification—through
purification—with the ever present Divine reality.



THIS Teacher, who founded monasteries in India for the study of
Vedānta philosophy, is believed by many of his followers to have lived
several centuries before Christ, though other scholars place him much
later. The date does not matter to us today, but his philosophy does,
for it is regarded by some millions of people, and especially by the
intellectuals, as the very pinnacle of Aryan thought. It was not that
he originated a new philosophy, though he did propound a self-culture
or discipline necessary to the understanding of it.

Shankarāchārya expounded with great clarity and completeness the
already existing philosophy of the Upanishads—a section of the Vedas
often called the Vedānta, or end of the Veda, containing the "last
word" or highest teaching about the nature of Brahman (God),

p. 64

man and the world. This teaching summed up its conclusions in a number
of Great Sayings, including "There is one reality, but the
intellectual persons speak of it variously," "All this certainly is
Brahman," "That is the reality," "That, thou art" and other similar
sentences to be (r) listened to, (2) thought about and (3) meditated
upon, for the attainment of knowledge of the deepest truth, the very
secret of life, the discovery which reveals the unalloyed freedom and
happiness of our true self, when false ideas are put aside.

Gnyāna or Jnāna is knowledge. The central doctrine of this philosophy
is that everything is one, and it can be known. But that knowing is
only by being. We know ourselves not by words but by being ourselves,
do we not? And this is happiness, for it seems that though this
consciousness of self that we find ourselves to be is troubled, we
always ascribe that trouble to something else—something outside—which
restricts or annoys us. Who is there who blames himself for his
sorrow? Even the thoughtful person who calls himself imperfect
ascribes his troubles and sorrows to the imperfections, and says that
if he could be without them he would be happy. Generally he tries to
get rid of them. So it is by the study of the self that this
philosophy proceeds to disclose the occult or secret truth which
removes the imperfections and leaves the self free and joyous.

p. 65

Shankarāchārya says in one word what all these imperfections are, what
it is that we suffer from—it is ignorance, avidyā. It will be, then,
the very height of practical occultism to dispel that ignorance.
Because of wrong assumptions we make mistakes, even with the best of
intentions—even the intentions are imperfect because of ignorance. So
thoughts, intentions and actions are all clouded by ignorance.
Finally, even actions are tremendously confused, and without power,
because of ignorance.

This is true occultism, then—the dissolution of ignorance at its
source, not any small potterings for the gaining of petty pleasures or
for the removal of petty pains, but to look behind the veil and find
the pure self and no longer play about in the fields of ignorance.
This is the real business of life, the Upanishads assert, which can be
done, and has been done by successful human beings, who have seen the
error and mastered it. At the very least it is better not to walk into
new trouble than to busy oneself merely with removing the old.

First of all, Shankarāchārya makes a distinction between people who
want to have and those who want to know. To have is connected with
external things. The whole world consists of things to have. Shankara
does not deny the infinity of worlds or the existence of "higher
planes," containing lofty and glorious beings or gods, or that by
desiring things

p. 66

of higher planes or heavens and by worshipping the gods people may
obtain centuries and even millennia of delight in various lofty
heavens; but he affirms that all those things are the playthings of
children or the tinsel of fools, who are making them all for
themselves because they have not thought about the eternal realities.

He therefore draws a decided distinction between dharma-jignāsa (the
desire to know what should be done in order to obtain better
conditions on earth and in heaven) and Brahma-jignāsa (the desire to
know that which is eternal). This is discussed very decisively in
Shankara's commentary on the first of the Brahma-Sūtras or aphorisms.
The desire for the "heavens" must be preceded by sense-experience, and
confidence in the Vedas, which declare that the heavens exist; but the
desire for Brahman must be preceded by thought, thought and more
thought (vichāra), especially with reference to an understanding of
the distinction (viveka) between the eternal (nitya) and temporary
(anitya) realities. In emphasizing thought, however, Shankara does not
leave out study of the Vedānta, which contains much information and
advice about seeking the eternal. Shankara's emphasis on thinking is
very clear in his Aparokshānubhūti: "Thinking should be done for the
sake of attaining knowledge of the Self. Knowledge

p. 67

is not attained by any means other than thinking, just as objects are
never seen without light. 'Who am I?' 'How is this world produced?'
'Who made it?' and 'What is the material?'—such is the enquiry." 1

It is well known that we do not see things as they really are, because
of our limited point of view, and yet there is in us the craving for
greater understanding, because the human soul is one with the divine
or universal soul. Each one of us reflects that, just as the disc of
the sun may be reflected in many little pools of water. We have thus a
dual nature, and though the lower may be satisfied, still the higher
makes its claim in a ceaseless desire to understand. If human power
and love were to grow so great, as to make our life on earth a perfect
paradise of peace and plenty for all, still men would say, "Now, we
want to know why all this is so." There are the needs of the
personality—food, clothing and shelter, amusement and education,
exercise and rest—but beyond these there are spiritual needs, and
among them is the real hunger for understanding.

It is not supposed by Shankara that the average or ordinary man can
think straight in these matters. He prescribes a course of what may be
called purification as a preparation. This is called the
sādhanachatushtayam, the "group of four accomplishments."

p. 68

[paragraph continues] They present three departments of self-training,
and a concluding condition of mind, as will be seen in the following



In Sanskrit

In English

1. Viveka



2. Vairāgya



3. Shatsampatti

6 Successes

The Will

4. Mumukshatwa

The State of Longing for Liberation

Viveka is the practice of discrimination between the fleeting and the
permanent. This is the first of three preliminary yogas in this
school. It is here that the thinking, thinking, thinking, begins. It
is to be applied to oneself, to others and to the whole business of
life. It is an inspection of the contents of one's ordinary self, to
discriminate between the relatively temporary and permanent. First one
may dwell upon the body and realize that it is only an instrument for
the conscious self to play upon. Then, one may dwell on the habits of
feeling and emotion which have been accumulated during the present
lifetime (or, strictly, bodytime), and realize these also to be part
of the instrument—"I am surely not my feelings and emotions towards
things and people." Thirdly, one must meditate upon the fact that the
lower mind, the collection of information, ideas and opinions that one

p. 69

has acquired up to this period, is also not the self, but merely an
internal library more or less imperfectly indexed, in which the books
have a tendency to open at certain places because they have been
opened there many times before.

This meditation may then be applied to other people, so that one comes
to think of them as the consciousness beyond the personality, and in
dealing with them to assist and further the higher purposes of the
Self within them rather than the desires rising from the personality.
Being a material thing, even up to the mental plane, that personality
has its own quality of inertia, and dislikes the discomfort involved
in new thinking and willing and feeling, until it is well trained and
learns to rejoice in the sharing of a life more than its own. But we
must also help to bring the day of triumph nearer for all whom we
contact, as Shrī Shankarāchārya did, for he was one of the world's
busiest men.

This meditation must be extended still further to all the business of
life, to the family, the shop, the field, the office, society. All
these things must be considered as of importance not as they minister
to the laziness, selfishness or thoughtlessness of the personality,
but as they bear on the advancement in power of will, love and thought
of the evolving consciousness in all concerned. It will be seen that
works and

p. 70

their objects pass away, but the faculty and ability gained by them
remains in the man.

Fifteen to thirty minutes of this kind of meditation each day is
sufficient to establish very soon an entirely new outlook in the
personality. Emerson speaks of something of the same kind in his essay
on "Inspiration," as the way to an altogether richer life than any of
us can possibly reach without it. It can often be practiced to some
extent under unfavorable conditions, as for example in the railway
train, if one makes up one's mind to take the various disturbances of
it with a sweet temper, and lend oneself to the rhythm of its noise.

The second requirement is vairāgya, an emotional condition in which
one does not respond at once to impressions coming from the outer
world, but first submits the matter to the discriminative power rising
from viveka. If you strike an ordinary man, he will get hot and strike
back, or run away, or do something else spontaneous and scarcely
rational; but a man having vairāgya would use his spiritual
intelligence before responding. The literal meaning of the word
vairāgya is "absence of color," and in this connection it means
absence of passion. Rāga is coloring, especially redness. People
everywhere take their emotional coloring from their environment,
according to well known psychological laws; like pieces of glass
placed on blue or red or green paper, they change

p. 71

their color. Likes and dislikes rise up in them without reason, at the
mere sight of various objects, and the appearance of different persons
calls up pride, anger, fear and other personal emotions.

They are constantly judging things not with their intelligence but by
their feelings and emotional habits. "This is good, that is bad,"
means generally nothing more than, "I like this; I do not like that."
A man dislikes a thing because it disturbs his physical or emotional
convenience or his comfortable convictions, "I thought I had done with
thinking about that—take it away, confound you," grumbles the man
comfortably settled in his opinions, as in a big armchair.

Vairāgya is the absence of agitation due to things outside. A mistaken
idea which is sometimes associated with this word is that it implies
absence of emotion. That is not so. The purified personality responds
to the higher emotions, the love emotions that belong to the real
self. Those emotions come from that aspect of the indwelling
consciousness which feels other lives to be as interesting as one's
own. This is the root of all the love emotions—admiration, kindness,
friendship, devotion and others—which must not be confused with any
sort of passion, which is personal or bodily desire. If a man has
vairāgya and he is still at all emotional, his emotion must express
some form of love.

p. 72

Vairāgya may be developed by a form of meditation in which the
aspirant should picture and turn over in mind the various things that
have been causing him agitation, or the disturbing emotions of pride,
anger and fear. Having made a picture of the cat spilling the ink on
the best tablecloth, or of your enemy putting in a bad word for you
with your employer or superior behind your back, you calmly look at
it, meditate on it, and the light of your own intelligence will see
the real value of the experience and this removal of ignorance will
also remove the agitating emotion. This is a question of feeling, not
of action. Do not here substitute the deadly coldness that some people
sometimes feel instead of anger, and imagine that to be the calm

The calmness obtained in this way will soon make all the other
meditation far more effective than before, because meditation best
opens the door to the inner world and all its inspiration when the
body is quiet, the emotions are calm, and the attention is turned to
the subject of thought without any muscular or nervous strain or
physical sensation whatever. Incidentally it should be said that
meditation with physical sensation or strain may prove injurious to
health, but meditation rightly done in this way can never do the least

The third requirement is called shatsampatti,

p. 73

which may be translated "the six forms of success." The will is now
used to make all conditions favorable for the further development of
viveka. To understand the function of the will, it is necessary to
realize that it is the faculty with which we change ourselves. Thought
is kriyashakti, the power of mind that acts upon matter; but it is the
will with which we change our thoughts and other inward conditions.
Now will-power is to be used to bring the whole life of the man within
the purpose of jnāna-yoga. This work is the equivalent of the tapas of
Patanjali and the sevā of Shrī Krishna.

The six forms of success are: (1) shama, control of mind, (2) dama,
control of body; (3) uparati, which means cessation from eagerness to
have certain persons and things around one, and therefore a willing
acceptance of what the world offers—contentment with regard to things
and tolerance with regard to persons, a glad acceptance of the
material available for a life's work. The fourth is titikshā,
patience, the cheerful endurance of trying conditions and the sequence
of karma. The fifth is shraddhā, fidelity and sincerity, and therefore
confidence in oneself and others. The sixth is samādhāna, steadiness,
with all the forces gathered together and turned to the definite
purpose in hand.

Every one of these six practices shows the will at

p. 74

work producing that calm strength which is its own special
characteristic. This is necessary for yoga, and anything in the nature
of fuss or push, or excitement is against it. In no case does this
calmness mean the reduction of activity or work, but always that the
work is done with greater strength but less noise. Success is marked
by quietness, the best indication of power. Thus the mind and body
will be active but calm; and there will be contentment, patience,
sincerity and steadiness.

The three branches of training already mentioned make the entire
personality exceedingly sensitive to the higher self, so that a great
longing arises for a fuller measure of realization. This is called
mumukshatwa, eagerness for liberation.

To complete this occult knowledge one must combine the māyā doctrine
with the self-realization doctrine. It is, of course, the
self-realization of itself that is the full achievement. And since
māyā does not mean something unreal but something outside the
categories of both the real and unreal, and is in fact nothing but
error, we shall have to say that the power of māyā is a power of the
self itself, and that all that is not unreal in the māyā is beyond
time and space, a part of the self itself, whatever "parts" may
mean-in the indivisible. The general dictum of all the yogas is
fulfilled here—that never will the yogī find something that could be
anticipated, but only something

p. 75

unknown before, which, however, by universal testimony, is true being,
pure consciousness and incredible joy. All the explanations given in
this chapter and much more will be found in my book on Vedānta
entitled The Glorious Presence. 2

It will be useful now to see that the same three means of
self-guidance are employed in all the three schools we have studied so
far—of Patanjali, of Shrī Krishna and of Shankarāchārya. It becomes
obvious when we thus compare them that all are aiming at maturity of
mind, the ripening of the three functions of will, love and thought.
They put these three in different order, however, indicating the
different temperaments of those who take to the different schools of
occult practice and thought. The following table will make the
comparison clear.




1. Tapas

1. Pranipāta

1. Viveka

2. Swādhyāya

2. Pariprashna

2. Vairāgya

3. Ishwara-pranidhāna

3. Sevā

3. Shatsampatti

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When the student has followed this preliminary training with some
success he will be ready for two things (1) the understanding of the
doctrine of māyā, and (2) the direct visioning of the Self.

Māyā has often been translated "illusion," whence it has been thought
that Shankara teaches that all this world does not exist, and people
only imagine that it does so—that there is nothing there. That is not
so. He does not deny the existence of objects, but affirms that we see
them wrongly—just as a man may see a piece of rope on the ground and
mistake it for a snake, or as he may see a post in the distance and
think it to be a man.

It is necessary to know that māyā has two functions: "covering-up"
(āvarana) and "throwing-out" (vikshepa). 3 The first is declared to be
the effect of tamas, which hides or obstructs the life, and the second
the result of rajas, or energy. 4 "Covering-up" implies that although
we are—every one—universal in our essential nature, our attention is
now given to less than the whole. Most of the reality is covered up,
and since we see only the remainder, it must necessarily become
unsatisfying and stupid and even painful, when we have played with it
long enough to exhaust its lessons for us. When we have read a book

p. 77

and absorbed the ideas in it, we do not want to read it again. If it
is forced upon us, the experience will be painful. We may laugh at a
good joke told by a friend to-day, but if he persists in telling us
the same story again and again it will be far from a joke. Our life
must be moving on, and overcoming the āvarana; there is no
long-lasting pleasure or gain in standing still on any platform of
knowledge that we may have gained at any time or stage.

"Covering-up" does not mean that objects of experience lack reality.
The māyā or illusion is that we do not see their full reality; we see
too little, not too much. So far as they go they have an excellent
flavor of reality, but their incompleteness is unsatisfying.

The second function of māyā, "throwing-out" (vikshepa), means that we
put forth our thought and energy in reference to that part of reality
which for us individually has not been covered up, and thereby we
produce the world of māyā or created things, which are only temporary

The power of "throwing-out" is not merely of the mind, but is actually
creative, and this it is which produces all the forms around us, the
world of manifestation. The objects therein are very much like
pictures painted by an artist. They represent his expression of such
part of the reality as is not covered up. As he looks at the picture
and realizes how defective

p. 78

and even nonsensical it is, the hunger arises in him for something
more satisfying, which then works at removing the "covering-up."
Thereby arises what is called intuition, which always comes as the
result of a complete study of any fact or group of facts in the world
of experience. It is in this manner that experience is educative. It
gives us nothing from th...

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