Sri Aurobindo. YOGIC SADHANA
The proper course of the sadhana is just the opposite of the thing most people do and you have also done. People begin with the body and the prana, go on to the chitta and the manas, and finish up with the buddhi and the Will. The real course is to start with the Will and finish with the body. There is no need of asana, pranayama, kumbhaka, chittasuddhi, or anything else preparatory or preliminary if one starts with the Will. That was what Sri Ramakrishna came to show so far as Yoga is concerned. “Do the Shakty upasana first”, he said, “get Shakty and She will give you sat”. Will and Shakty are the first means necessary to the Yogin. That was why he said always, “Remember you are Brahman”, and he gave that as a central message to Swami Vivekananda. You are Ishwara. If you choose, you can be suddha, siddha and everything else, or, if you choose, you can be just the opposite. The first necessity is to believe in yourself, the second in God and the third to believe in Kali; for these things make up the world. Educate the Will first, through the Will educate the jnanam, through the jnanam purify the chitta, control the prana and calm the manas. Through all these instruments immortalize the body. That is the real Yoga, the Mahapantha, that is the true and only Tantra. The Vedanta starts with buddhi, the Tantra with Shakti.
What the Will is you have heard. It is Shakti, it is not vasana, it is not cheshta. Vasana and cheshta are the negation of Will. If you have desire, that means you doubt the power of your Will. Brahman has no desire. He wills and all things happen according to his Will. If you have cheshta, that means you doubt your Will. Only those who feel or think they are not strong, struggle and labour to produce an effect. Brahman has no cheshta. He wills and His Will spontaneously produces its effect. But it produces it in time, space and causality. To demand a result now here and under given conditions is ajnanam. The time, space and causality of every event and its development have been fixed ages ago by yourself and Parameswara, when the kalpa began. It is ignorance to struggle and try to alter what you have yourself decreed. Care not about time, space or conditions, but Will, and leave the result to God who is your omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient self. You are the individual God and He is the universal God. Nothing but God exists – ekam evadwitiam. Therefore Will implies samata, absence of vasana and cheshta. Absence of vasana and cheshta implies knowledge. Until you have knowledge, you can never be safe against the return of vasana and cheshta.
The question is how to start. The Shakti is in you. Let her work and assist her by taking the right attitude. You are the sakshi, anumanta, bhokta, and bharta. As anumanta, give the command, as sakshi watch her work out the result, as bhokta enjoy the result and as bharta help her by maintaining the adhara. Do not ruin it by tamasic udasinata or rajasic revolt. Be sure your Will can never fail to act. You are the jnata: receive all knowledge that presents itself to you. Adopt the attitude I have described here and apply it to every individual act of the sadhana or of life. You have nothing else to do. Kali will do the rest. Be not troubled, be not anxious, be not in haste, you have all eternity before you, why be in haste? Only do not be tamasic or idly waste your time.
I shall speak today of the Shakti or Will, since that is the foundation of Yoga. The Shakti is situated in the sahasradala just above the crown of the head and from that seat of activity it works. Below it at the top of the brain is the higher buddhi and below that, occupying the middle level of the brain, is the reason or lower buddhi, and below that, at the bottom of the brain, is the organ of communication with the manas. We may call this organ the understanding. Knowledge, reason and understanding are the three parts of the brain. These functions are in the subtle body, but they are connected with the corresponding portions of the material brain.
In the chest just above the heart is the manas, that is the organ of sensation with its five subordinate indriyas. Below the manas, from the heart to midway between the heart and the navel, is the chitta. From that point up to the navel and below it is the psychic or sukshma prana. All these are in the sukshma deha but connected at these points with the sthula deha. In the sthula deha itself two functions are situated, the physical prana or the nervous system and the annam or the material body.
Now the Will is the organ of the Ishwara or living master of the body. It works through all these functions, through the buddhi for thought and knowledge, through the manas for sensations, through the chitta for emotions and through the prana for enjoyment. When it functions perfectly, working in each organ according to the capacities of the organ, than the work of the Shakti becomes perfect and infallible. But there are two causes of weakness, error and failure. First, the confusion of the organs. If the prana interferes in sensation, emotion and thought, then a man becomes anisha, the slave of the prana, that is to say, of the desires. If the chitta interferes with sensation and thought, then the sensation and thought are falsified by the emotions and their corresponding wishes. For instance if love interferes with the buddhi, the man becomes blind to the truth about the person he loves, he is unable to distinguish between right and wrong, kartavya and akartavya, where the person is concerned. He becomes to a greater or lesser extent the slave of the emotions, love, anger, hatred, pity, revenge &c. So, if the manas interferes with the reason, the man mistakes his sensations for just ideas or true arguments. He judges by what he sees or hears instead of judging what he sees or hears. If again the reason, imagination, memory and logic interfere with knowledge, the man is debarred from higher knowledge and wanders in the interminable circle of probabilities and possibilities. Finally, if even the buddhi interferes with the Will, then the man is limited by the power of his limited knowledge, instead of moving nearer to Omnipotence. In brief, if a machine or instrument is used for a work for which it is unfit, for which it was not made or originally adapted, then it either cannot do that work at all or it does it badly; dharma-sankara is created. Now what I have described is the ordinary state of men before they gain knowledge. It is all dharma-sankara, confusion of functions, bad administration and incompetent and ignorant government. The Will, the true minister, is rendered a puppet of the lower officials who work each for his own selfish ends, interfering with and hampering each other or dishonestly playing into each other's hands, for their own benefit and to the detriment of the Ishwara, the master. He ceases to be Ishwara, he becomes anisha, the puppet and dupe of his servants.
Why does he allow it? Because of ajnanam. He does not know, he does not realize what the ministers and officials and their million and one hangers-on are doing with him. What is this ajnanam? It is inability to recognize his own true nature, position and authority. He began by being deeply interested in a small portion of his royal activity, the body. He thought “That is my kingdom”. He became the tool of his bodily functions. So with the nervous, the sensational, the emotional and the mental, he identifies himself with each of them. He forgets that he is different from them and much greater and stronger. What he must do is to resume the reins of power, to remember that he is Ishwara, the king, the master and God himself. He must on this understanding remember that he is all-powerful. He has a mighty minister, the Will. Let him support, and direct the Will and the Will will introduce order into the government and compel the officials each to do obediently and perfectly his own duty. Not of course all at once. It will take time. The officials have become so much used to confused work and misgovernment that at first they will not be willing to work properly and, secondly, even when they wish, they will find it difficult. They hardly know even how to begin. For instance, when you begin to use your Will, what is likely to happen? First you will try to use it through the prana, through desire, wish, hope, or you will use it through the chitta, with emotion, eagerness and expectation, or you will use it through the manas using cheshta, struggle, effort, as if you were physically wrestling with the thing you want to control; or you will use it through the buddhi, trying to dominate the subject of your interest by thought, by thinking “Let this be”, “Let that happen” etc. All these methods are used by Yogins to recover the power of the Will. The Hatha-yogin uses the prana and the body, the Raja-yogin the heart, manas and buddhi, but the best method is none of these. Even the last of them is a second-best means and must entail struggle, failure and frequent disappointment. The Will is only perfect in its action when it works apart from all these, straight on the subject from the sahasradala, without effort, without emotion and eagerness and without desire. Each function to itself and Will is its own function. It always obeys the Ishwara but it acts in itself and by itself. It uses the rest, it must not be used by them.
It uses the buddhi for knowledge, not for command; it uses the manas for sensation, not for either command or knowledge; it uses the heart for emotion, not for sensation, knowledge or command; it uses the prana for enjoyment, not for any other function; it uses the body for motion and action, not as a thing that can limit or determine either knowledge, feeling, sensation, power or enjoyment. Therefore it must keep itself apart and command all these things as a thing separate from all of them. These are merely a yantra, a machine, the Purusha is the yantri or master of the machine, the Will is the electricity or motor-power.
This is the right knowledge. How to use it I shall tell you afterwards. That is a matter of practice, not of mere instruction. The man who has dhairyam, calm steadfastness, even in a small degree, can gradually accustom himself to the mastery of his machine by the Will. But he must first know: he must know the machine, he must know the motor-power, he must know himself. The knowledge need not be perfect in order to begin, but the elementary knowledge at least he must have. That is what I am trying to give you. I am explaining to you the different parts of the machine, their nature and functions, the nature of the Will and the nature of the Ishwara.
The Will when it begins to act, will be hampered by the swabhava; therefore until you are able to act on the swabhava, you will not, should not bring your Will to bear upon life. In other words while you are a sadhak of the Shakti marga, be a sadhak only; when you have got siddhi of the Will, then first use the siddhi to get perfection of the adhara, and when you have got perfection of the adhara, then use the siddha adhara for karma, for life.
The swabhava opposes the perfect action of the Will. Why? Because the nature of humanity is imperfect, only partly evolved, asiddha, and being in all its dharmas asiddha, the tamasic force of habit, tamasi dhriti, makes it resist any attempt to make it siddha. Humanity is evolving. Yoga is a means of carrying that evolution forward with great and victorious rapidity. But the imperfect swabhava says, “I do not wish to be perfect, I am accustomed to imperfection and find it easy and comfortable”. First, then, the Will seizes hold of the swabhava and removes the obstacles in the way of its own perfect development and action.
As I have said, it first gets rid of the old samskaras of impossibility, the samskara, the ajnanam that I am man, not God, limited, not illimitable, helpless, not omnipotent. The Will has first to say, “I am omnipotent, that which the Purusha commands, I can act”. For the Will is the Shakti in action, and there is only one Shakti, Kali herself, who is God manifesting as Divine Energy.
Next the Will seizes the adhara and makes it shuddha in order that the Will may itself be shuddha. I have explained that if there is confusion and disorder among the functions, then the Will cannot act omnipotently. Therefore you, must first develop jnanam and by jnanam effect the shuddhi of the adhara. When the adhara becomes shuddha, the Will being entirely free from wrong samskaras and wrong action, is what I call shuddha. It works perfectly. Working perfectly it makes the adhara siddha, that is the adhara rids itself of all doshas, deficiencies and weaknesses and works perfectly. It becomes a perfect instrument for the Purushottama, the Purusha and Shakti to carry on their Lila.
Knowledge, therefore, jnanam is the next stage to be considered. But before I come to that, let me finish about the obstacles in the swabhava. There are not only the wrong samskaras and the ashuddhi of the adhara, but the general nature of things has certain tendencies or laws in it which oppose the development of the Yoga as well as certain tendencies which help the development of the Yoga. There are three laws which oppose – the law of persistence, the law of resistance and the law of recurrence: there are three laws which assist – the law of gradual processes, the law of concentrated processes and the law of involved processes.
The law of persistence is this, that a rule, habit or tendency once established has a right to survive, a natural unwillingness to be changed or annulled. The longer it has been established, the longer it takes to root out. If a man has been yielding to the shad ripus for many lives without any serious effort to dominate them or purify himself, then he cannot by mere wish or a mere rapid effort get rid of them and become pure and calm. They refuse to be so cavalierly treated. They say “You have given us rights in this adhara, and we persist”. Still more hard to deal with are those dharmas of the body which men call the laws of physical nature.
But the Will is omnipotent and if patiently, calmly and heroically exercised, Will prevail. For the Will, I repeat, is – Kali herself. Therefore in the end it establishes by its action new rules, habits or tendencies which fight with and gradually overcome the old. What then happens is that the old, though put down, weakened and no loner a real part of the nature, resist eviction from the adhara. They are supported by an army of forces or spiritual beings who surround you and live upon your experiences and enjoyments. This law of resistance marks the second period of the Yoga and, unless the Will has already become siddha and the adhara shuddha, is very trying and troublesome to the sadhak. For there seems to be no end to the capacity of resistance.
Here again the Will is bound to triumph, if it is supported by faith or knowledge. Even then the evicted habits and tendencies strive continually to re-enter the system and recover their lost seats of power and enjoyment. This is called recurrence. In proportion as the Will is siddha and the adhara shuddha, the recurrence becomes weaker and less frequent or, when it comes, less prolonged. But in an impure adhara, or with an imperfect Will, the recurrence is often as prolonged and troublesome as the resistance.
On the other hand there are the three favourable laws. When a new habit or tendency is once established, it is the law that it shall develop towards strength and perfection. So long as it is struggling to establish itself, the Yogin may at any time become bhrashta, that is he may from error, weakness or impatience give up the struggle. That is the only fall for the Yogin. Failure, temporary defeat, is not bhramsa, so long as he refuses to give up the struggle. But once the right tendency is established, no man can destroy it, until it has enjoyed supremacy and its bhoga.
Still at first, while the Will is comparatively weak or unpractised, the progress must be slow. In proportion as the perfection of the Will brings purity of the adhara, the progress becomes rapid. Everything in this world is done by a process; a process means a series of actions leading to a particular result by certain recognized stages. These stages may be passed through slowly or swiftly, but so long as the law of gradual processes obtains, all the stages must be successively and consciously passed through. You have so many milestones to pass; but you may pass them walking, in a carriage, in a railway train, but pass them you must. Still by the growing strength of the Will, you can replace slow process by swift process.
Then a time comes when Kali begins to transcend the ordinary human limits and becomes no longer the Shakti of a man, but the Shakti of God in man. It is then that gradual processes are replaced by concentrated processes. It is as if, instead of travelling from milestone to milestone you could leap from the first milestone to the third and so on to your journey's end. In other words the process remains the same but some of the stages seem to be dispensed with. In reality they are passed over so lightly as to escape notice and occupy little time. Therefore it is called a concentrated or contracted process.
Lastly, when the man himself becomes God, either in a part of his actions or in the whole, then the law of concentrated processes gives place to the involved processes, when no process at all seems to be used, when the result follows the action instantaneously, inevitably and miraculously. In reality there is no miracle, the process is used but so rapidly, with such a sovereign ease, that all the stages become involved or hidden in what seems a moment's action.
To most men it is enough, if they can reach the second stage; it is only the Avatara or the great Vibhuti who can reach the third.
Therefore do not be discouraged by any failure or delay. It is purely a question of force and purity of the Will. By purity I mean freedom from desire, from effort, from misplacement. It is best to begin by concentrating effort on the self-purification of the Will, towards which the first necessity is passivity of desire for the fruit, the second the passivity of the chitta and the buddhi, while the Will is being applied; the third the development of self-knowledge in the use of the Will. It will be found that by this process of educating the Will, atmanam atmana, purity of the adhara will also be automatically prepared and knowledge will begin to develop and act.
What is knowledge? In what does it consist? We must distinguish between knowledge in itself and the means of knowledge. Again, among the means we must distinguish between the instruments and the operations performed with the instruments.
By Knowledge we mean awareness, taking a thing into active consciousness, into our chaitanyam. But when we say, taking it into our chaitanyam, what do we imply? Whence do we take it? The European says from outside, we say from inside, from chaitanyam itself. In other words, all knowledge is an act of consciousness operating on something in the consciousness itself. In the first place everything we know exists in Parabrahman, that is, in our indivisible, universal self-existence. It is there, but not yet expressed, not vyakta. Then it exists in pure chit, which is the womb of things as an idea of form, name and quality. It has name, form and quality in the karana or mahat, the causal, typal and ideal state of consciousness. Then it gets the possibility of change, development or modification in the sukshma, the subtle, mental or plastic state of consciousness. Finally it gets the actual change, development, modification or evolution in the sthula, the material or evolutionary state of consciousness. In the karana there is no evolution, nothing ever changes, all is eternal. The karana is satyam. In the sukshma all is preparation of change; it is full of imagination or anritam, therefore it is swapna, not really false, but not immediately applicable to the karana or sthula. In the sthula all evolves. It is partial satyam developing by the turning of old satyam into anritam, which is called destruction, and the turning of new anritam into new satyam, which is called creation. In the karana there is no creation, no birth, no death, all exists for ever – the only change is from type to type, from fulfilment to fulfilment.
Therefore to know is really to be conscious of the thing in any or all of these three states. The knowledge of the sthula is science. The knowledge of the sukshma is philosophy, religion and metaphysics. The knowledge of the karana is Yoga. When a man knows the sthula, he knows it with his senses, that is, with the manas, he knows the sukshma with reason or the inspired intellect, he knows the karana with the jnanam or spiritual realization. Therefore complete knowledge consists of three operations, first, objective upalabdhi or experience, secondly, intellectual statement of your understanding of the thing, thirdly, subjective upalabdhi or spiritual experience. The scientist begins from the bottom and climbs if he can, to the top. The Yogin begins from the top and descends for perfect proof to the bottom. You are not scientists, you are sadhaks. Therefore, when you speak of knowledge you must understand the process; you realize a thing by subjective experience, bhava, then, think about it and formulate your experience in artha and vak, the combination which forms thought; you verify or test your experience by physical or objective experience.
For instance you see a man. You want to know what he is, what he thinks and what he does. How does the scientist or the material man do it? He watches the man, he notes what he says, what are his expressions of speech and face, what are his actions, what sort of people he lives with etc. All this is objective. Then he reasons from his objective experience. He says “The man says this or that, so he must think so and so or he must have such and such a character; his actions show the same, his face shows the same,” and so he goes on reasoning. If he does not get all the necessary facts, he fills them up from his imagination or from his memory, that is his experience of other men, of himself or of human life as read of in books or heard of from other people. He perceives, he observes, contrasts, compares, deduces, infers, imagines, remembers and the composite result he calls reason, knowledge, fact. In reality he has arrived at a probability, for it is impossible for him to be sure that his conclusions are correct or anything indeed correct in his thought, except the actual observation, perceptions of his eye, ear, nose, touch, and taste. Anything beyond this the material man distrusts. Nothing is true to him except what he observes with his senses or what agrees with his sensory perceptions.
Now what does the Yogin do? He simply puts himself into relation with the thing itself. Not with its form, name or quality, but with itself. He may never have seen the form, heard the name or had experience of the quality, but still he can know the thing. Because it is the thing itself and it is in himself and one with himself, that is in the mahakarana in a man. There all meet the Atman and are so entirely one with the Atman that by merely being in contact with it, I can know everything about it. Few Yogins reach that state. But all the same, even in the karana I can put myself in relation with the thing and know it by bhava. I put myself, my soul, into relation with the soul of the man I study or the thing I study; prajna in me becomes one with the prajna in him or it. How do I do this? Simply by becoming passive and facing him or it in my buddhi. If my buddhi is quite pure or fairly purified, if my manas is shanta, then I get the truth about him. I get it by bhava, by spiritual or subjective realization.
Then I have to make the thing I have got clear and precise. To do that I must state it intellectually to my mind, that is, I must think about it. I have these ideas I am telling you in myself as unexpressed knowledge; they shape themselves in words, vak, and take on a precise meaning, artha. That is thought. Most people think vaguely; half expressing the thing in an imperfect vak and a partial artha. The Yogin must not do that. His thoughts must express themselves in clear and perfect sentences. He may know a thing without thinking it out, but if he thinks, he must think clearly and perfectly.
The Yogin reasons when necessary, but not like the man of science. He sees the thing with his prophetic power interpreting the truth into thought; the pratyaksha gives him the artha, the inspiration gives him the vak, the intuition gives him the right conclusion about it, the right siddhanta, the viveka guards him from error. Behold the truth by these four simple operations perfectly thought out. If he has to argue, then the intuitions give him the right arguments. He had not to proceed painfully from one syllogism to another as the logician does.
Finally, he verifies his knowledge by the facts of the objective world. He has seen the truth about the man by merely looking at him or at the idea of him; he has thought it out clearly and now he compares his idea with the man's action, speech etc. Not to test his truth; for he knows that a man's action, speech etc., only partially express the man and mislead the student; but in order to see how the truth he knows from the karana is being worked out in the sthula. He trusts the man's objective life only so far as it is in agreement with the deeper truth he has gained by Yoga.
You see the immense difference. The only difficulty is that you have been accustomed to use the senses and the reason to the subordination and almost to the exclusion of the higher faculties. Therefore you find it difficult to make the higher faculties active.
If only you could start from the beginning, with the bhava, the atmajnana, how easy it would be! That will yet happen. But first, you have to get rid of the lower buddhi, of the indriyas in the manas, and awaken the activity of the higher faculties. They will see for you, hear for you, as well as think for you.
First, then, get your sankaras right. Understand intellectually what I have told you and will yet tell you. Then by use of the Will, keep the reason, imagination, memory, thought, sensations sufficiently quiet for the higher buddhi to know itself as separate and different from these lower qualities. As the higher separates itself and becomes more and more active, the lower, already discouraged, will become less and less active and finally trouble you no more.
Therefore Will first, then by Will, by Shakti, the jnanam. First Kali, then Surya. I shall explain the various faculties when I have finished with the rest of the system.
If men were satisfied with indulging in reason, memory and imagination, the purification of the buddhi and the development of the higher faculties would be an easy matter. But there is another means of thought which they habitually indulge in and that is manas. The manas is a receptive organ; it receives the images expressed on the eye, the ear etc., and turns them into what the Europeans call the percepts, that is, things perceived. Besides, it receives the ideas, images etc., sent down from the vijnana into the chitta and passes them on to the latter organ. In this passage these things become what are called concepts, that is, things conceived or thought of. For instance, when the mind sees the image of a book and says “A book,” it has hold of a percept the name of which it conceives; that is sensational thought. When it says “A book contains language” that is a remoter concept, intellectual thought. One merely puts things sensed into words, the other puts things thought into words. Percept and concept together make what is called understanding. Reason, according to the European idea, merely arranges percepts and concepts and draws from this arrangement fresh and more elaborate concepts. Many believe that concepts are merely percepts put together and converted into what is called thought. According to this idea, all thought is merely the arrangement of sensation in the terms of language. Even when I imagine an angel, I merely put a human figure and the wings of a bird together and give the combination a name, angel. Even when I talk of abstract qualities, for example, virtue, courage etc., I am not thinking of anything beyond sensation, but merely a classification of virtuous and courageous sensations and actions put together and labelled with the name virtue or courage.
All these ideas are correct so far as the manas or understanding is concerned. The manas is an organ of sensation, not of thought. It catches thoughts on their way from the buddhi to the chitta, but in catching them it turns them into the stuff of sensations, as described above.
It regards them from the point of view of sensations. Animals think with their manas and animals are not able to form ideas that do not relate themselves to some image, form, sound, smell, touch, taste etc. They are bound by their sensations. That is why in animals the buddhi is dormant; so far as it acts, it acts behind the veil.
But man can become aware of things which the senses cannot grasp, buddhi-grahyam atindriyam. The proof of that you can get daily, when the Yogic power is developed. This single fact that man can see with his buddhi the truth about a thing he has never seen or known before, is enough to destroy the materialistic idea of thought.
That idea is only true of the manas. The manas responds to the senses and is always forming percepts and concepts about the sensations it receives. These ideas it sometimes gets from the outside world, sometimes from the passive memory in the chitta, sometimes from the buddhi. But it tries to impose them all on the buddhi. It tests everything which it does not take for granted by reference to the senses. “I saw that”, “I heard that,” therefore it is true, that is the reasoning of the manas. That is why people who have a poorly developed buddhi, attach so much importance to what they have seen or read. “I have seen it in print” says the just literate man, and he thinks he has closed the argument.
What are we to do with the manas? Get it to be still, says the Yogin. While it is busy, knowledge is impossible. You can get only fragments of knowledge. That is true and the quiet mind is no doubt essential to the Yogin. But what of the senses? Concepts in the manas you may get rid of, but what are you to do with the percepts? You cannot stop seeing, hearing etc., except when you are in samadhi. That is why the vedantin attaches so much importance to samadhi. It is the only condition in which he is safe from the persistent siege of the percepts of the senses.
But if you can only exercise knowledge when you are in samadhi, then you will have to become an ascetic or recluse, a man who gives up life or thought. That is a necessity which cuts the unity of God's world into two and makes an unnatural division in what should be indivisible. The Tantric knows that this is not necessary, that samadhi is a great instrument, but not the only instrument. He so arranges his antahkarana that he can know he is walking, talking, acting, sleeping, whatever he is doing. How? By not only stilling the conceptual activity of the manas but by transferring to the buddhi its perceptual activity.
In other words he sees, hears etc., not with the senses in the manas, but with the indriya in the buddhi. You will find what a difference this makes. Not only do you see much more perfectly, minutely, accurately than before, but you are able to appreciate colours, forms, sounds etc., in a way you never did before. And besides you are able to catch the soul, the guna, the essential quality and emotion of a thing, the moment you are aware of it. This is a part of what the Yoga calls prakamya, the absolute and sovereign activity of the indriya.
Therefore when the Yoga is perfect, you will not be troubled by the manas. It will cease to perceive. It will be merely a passage, a channel for things from the buddhi to the chitta. There are many ways of bringing this about, but most of them suffer from this defect, that you get the thinking part of the manas still, but the perceiving part retains its inferior and hampering activity. The best way is to use the Will simultaneously for awaking the jnanam and for stilling the manas. This method has two advantages. First, you do not, as in the ordinary method, have to make your mind a blank. That is a powerful but very difficult and trying discipline or tapasya. You simply replace by degrees the activity of the lower reason by the activity of the higher thought, the activity of the mind by the activity of the same organ and the sense-perceptions by the activity of the prakamya. This process is less painful and more easy. Secondly, you cannot stop perceiving so long as you are not in sushupti, you only stop thinking. So you cannot make your mind blank. Unless you make the jnanam first, how are you going to get rid of this intrusive element? The prakamya must be there already active before the ordinary perceptions can stop work.
This then is the third operation of the Tantric method. You develop the Will, you use the Will to awaken the jnanam, you use the Will to still the mind and the lower buddhi and you use the jnanam to replace them.
I come next to chitta. There are two layers in the chitta, one for the emotions, the other for passive memory. In the lower layer of the chitta, the impressions of all things seen, thought, sensed, felt are recorded and remain until the jiva leaves this body. Even afterwards all these impressions are taken up with the sukshma body and go with the jiva into the other worlds. When he is born again, they are brought with him as latent samskaras in the muladhara; that is why people do not remember their past births, but can get back the memory by awakening the kundalini in the muladhara. These impressions are latent in the chitta until the active memory in the buddhi calls for them. Those which are continually brought to the buddhi have a habit of recurring even when not wanted, habitual thoughts, ideas, sentiments, opinions etc., which are the Yogin's chief trouble until the manas in which they occur becomes quiet.
The second and the upper layer is that of emotion. The emotions are the acts of Will sent down into the chitta and there assuming the form of impulses. There are three divisions, thought-impulses, impulses of feeling, and impulses of action. The first are called by various names, instincts, inspirations, insights, intuitions etc. They are really messages sent down by the jiva from the sahasradala into the chitta, they pass unobserved through the buddhi, lodge in the chitta and, whenever excited by any contact external or internal, start up suddenly and strike the buddhi with the same force as the real inspirations etc., which come down direct from the vijnana to the buddhi. But they come up colored by emotions, distorted by associations and memories in the chitta, perverted by the imagination which brings them up. Much of what is called faith, bhakti, genius, poetic inspiration etc., come from this source. It is useful to the ordinary man, all important to the animal, but a hindrance to the Yogin.
The impulses of feeling are what are ordinarily called emotions. The emotions are of two kinds, natural or eternal, artificial or vicaras. Love is natural, it proceeds from jnanam and tends to endure in the evolution; hatred is a vikara from love, a distortion or reaction caused by ajnanam. So courage is eternal, fear is vikara; compassion is eternal, ghrina or weak pity, repulsion, disgust etc., are vikaras. Those which are natural and eternal, love, courage, pity, truth, noble aspirations, are dharma; the others are adharama. But this is from the eternal stand point and has nothing to do with samajic or laukic or temporary dharma or adharama. Moreover, adharama is often necessary as a passage or preparation for passing from an undeveloped to developed, a lower to a higher dharma. The Yogin has to get rid of vikaras, but not of sanatan dharmas.
The third kind of impulse is the impulse to action. Its presence in the chitta is a temporary arrangement due to the rajasic development of the human being. The asuddha rajasic man cannot easily be stirred into action, except through two forces, desire or emotion. Love, hatred, ambition, rage etc., must stir in him or he cannot act, or acts feebly. He cannot understand shuddha pravritti, action without desire and independent of emotion. Emotion should only give a colour to the man's swabhava or temperament. He should be habitually full of feelings of love, courage, honour, true ambition, self-reliance etc., but he should not act from any individual impulse of however noble a character. He should act in obedience to the impulse from the Will in direct communication with Purusha in the vijnana, understanding with the buddhi why the Will acts in that particular way and colouring the act with the emotion appropriate to his swabhava. But neither the buddhi nor the emotion should directly interfere with or try to determine his action. The buddhi is for thought and the chitta for emotion. Neither of them have anything to do with action in the shuddha state. The intellectual asura determines his actions by his reason or his ideal, the emotional asura by his feelings. But the shuddha determines them by the higher inspiration proceeding from the divine existence in the vijnana. That is what people often call the adesha. Only the shuddha can safely rely on having this kind of adesha, the asuddha Yogin often mistakes his own ideas, imaginations, emotions or even desires for the adesha.
Therefore what the Yogin must aim at, is to get rid of the activity of his lower chitta or the old impressions by stilling the manas as described in my last lecture; get rid of his instinctive thought or thought-impulses by the same means; get rid of the habit of acting on his emotions by allowing the Will to silence his impulses and purify his emotions. He should prohibit and inhibit by the Will all action or speech that starts blindly from the passions or emotions surging in his heart. The emotion, will then become quiet and must be habituated to come as a sort of wave falling into a sea, instead of surging furiously into action. These quiet waves which are satisfied with existing and do not demand satisfaction in action or seek to dominate the life or the ideas, are the purified emotions. Those which rise upward into the buddhi and try to sharp the thought or opinion, those which move outward into speech or action, are asuddha motions in the chitta are for enjoyment only; the action must be dominated by a higher principle.
There again it is the Will that must purify, govern and renew the heart. Only, it has the best chance of doing it if the knowledge has first become active and the mind is still. A still mind means a heart easily purified.
I come next to prana, the nervous or vital element in man which is centralized below the manas and ñhitta in the subtle body and connected with the navel in the sthula deha. There I must distinguish between the sukshma prana and the sthula prana, the former moving in the nervous system of the subtle body as prescribed in the Yogic books, the latter in the nervous system of the gross body. The two are closely connected and almost always act upon each other. The prana forms the link between the physical and the mental man. I must here warn you against stumbling into the error of those who try to harmonize Yogic Science with the physical science of the Europeans and search for the Yogic nadis and chakras in the physical body. You will not find them there. There are certain centres in the physical nervous system with which the chakras correspond, otherwise Hatha-yoga would be impossible. But the chakras are not these centres. The Europeans are masters in their own province of knowledge and there you need not hesitate to team from them, but for God's sake do not subject your higher knowledge to their power; you will only create a most horrible confusion. Develop your higher knowledge first, then study their sciences and the latter will at once fall into their place.
It is with the sukshma prana that I am principally concerned; for the sthula prana belongs to the annam rather than to the antahkarana and I will speak of it in connection with the annam. The sukshma prana is the seat of desire and its purification is of the utmost importance to the Yogin. Until you have got rid of desire, you have accomplished nothing permanent. When you have got rid of desire, you are sure of everything else. That is why the Gita says “Get rid of desire first”. Only until you have got knowledge and can learn to use your Will to still the mind and purify the emotions, you cannot utterly get rid of desire. You may drive it out by samyama, you may hold it down by nigraha but eventually it is of no use, for it will return. “Prakritim yanti bhutani nigrahah kim kari-shyati”. Creatures follow after nature; what is the use of coercion? That is to say, it has a temporary result and the coerced desires come back revenging and more furious than before. That was what Christ meant by the parable of the devil, the unclean spirit, who is driven out of a man, only to return with seven spirits worse than himself. For it is the nature of things, the unalterable nature of things, that unpurified emotion must clamour after desire, an unstilled manas give it harbourage whenever it returns, an unilluminated buddhi contain the seed of it ready to sprout up at the first opportunity. Therefore unless the whole antah-karana is purified, unless you get a new heart and a new mind, desire cannot be got rid of; it returns or it remains. When however an illuminated understanding lighting up the action of a strengthened Will and supported by a pure heart, casts desire into the sukshma prana and attacks it there in its native place, it can be utterly destroyed. When you have a visuddha buddhi you will be able to distinguish these various organs and locate all your mental activities. Desire can then be isolated in the prana and the heart and mind kept pure of its insistent inroads. For desire is only effective when it can get hold of the chitta and buddhi, generating vikaras of emotions and perversions of knowledge which give it strength to impose itself on the Will and so influence internal and external action. It is most powerful in the higher kind of human being when it masks itself as a principle or ideal or as a justifiable emotion.
Remember moreover that all desires have to be got rid of, those which are called good, as well as those which are called bad. Some people will tell you, keep the good desires and drive out the bad. Do not listen to that specious piece of ignorance. You can use the good desires to drive out the bad on condition that immediately after you drive out the good also by the one desire of mumukshutwa, liberation and union with God. And even that last desire finally you must renounce and give yourself up wholly to God's Will, even in that last and greatest matter, becoming utterly desireless, nishkama nishpriha. Otherwise you will find yourself travelling in a vicious circle. For if you keep desire at all, he is such a born traitor that he will eventually open the door to your enemies. When the unclean spirit returned to his house, he found it swept and garnished, that is, purified of bad thoughts and adorned with good desires, and immediately he got in and made the last state of that man worse than his first. So get rid of all desires utterly, good, bad and in different. Get beyond virtue as well as beyond vice. Be satisfied with no bondage even though the fetters be of pure gold. Admit no guide or master but God, even though they be gods or angels who claim your homage.
Desire is composed of three elements, attachment or asakti, longing or kamana, and preference or ragadwesha. Get rid of attachment first. Use your Will and purified antahkarana to throw out that clinging and insistence on things, which says “I must have that, I cannot do without that,” and returns on the idea of it, even when it is persistently denied. When the emotions are quiet, this asakti will of itself die away, but for a time it will rage a great deal and try to get the emotions active again. Apply the Will steadily and patiently and do not get disturbed by failure; for desire is a terrible thing, as difficult to get rid of as a leech. It is indeed the daughter of the horse-leech crying “Give, give”. Do not violently silence the cry; ignore it and use your Will to get rid of the clamourer. When asakti becomes weak, kamana loses nine-tenths of its force and you can easily throw it off. Still for some time, out of sheer habit, the longing for certain things will come, not in the heart or buddhi, but in the prana; only if asakti is gone, the refusal of the thing craved will not leave behind it a permanent grief or continual hunger. There will only be temporary disturbance of the peace of the heart. When you have got rid of the kamana, even then raga may remain, and if raga is there, dwesha is sure to come in. You will not ask or crave for anything; for kamana is gone; but when some things come, you will not like them; when some things come, you will feel glad and exultant. You will not rebel or cling to what you have, but you will not like the coming of the evil, you will not like the loss of your joy, even though you say “Very good” and submit. Get rid of that raga and dwesha and have perfect samata.
When you have perfect samata, then either you will have perfect shanti, divine peace, or else perfect or shuddha bhoga, divine enjoyment. Shanti is the negative ananda and those have it who rest in the nirguna Brahman. Shuddha bhoga is the positive ananda and those have it who rest in the trigunatita ananta Brahman. You can have both and it is best to have both. God enjoys the world with shuddha bhoga based on the perfect shanti. Most people cannot imagine bhoga without kama, enjoyment without desire. It is a foolish notion, none the less foolish because it is natural and almost universal. It is ajnanam, a fundamental part of ignorance. Enjoyment does not really begin until you get rid of desire. That which you get as the result of satisfied desire is troubled, unsafe, feverish, or limited, but shuddha bhoga is calm, self-possessed, victorious, unlimited, with out satiety and vairagya, immortally blissful. It is in a word, not harsha, not sukha, but ananda. It is amrita, it is divinity and immortality, it is becoming of one nature with God. It has been no kama but pure lipsa, an infinite readiness to take and enjoy whatever God gives it. Grief, pain, disgrace, everything that is to rajasic men a torture, changes then to bliss. Even if such a soul were to be cast into hell, it would not feel hell, but heaven. It would not only say with the bhakta “This is from the beloved” but with the perfect jnani “This is the Beloved; this is the anandam Brahman: this is the kantam, the shivam, shubham, sundaram”.
I need not repeat the process by which this purification is effected. I have indicated it sufficiently. This Tantric process is the same throughout, the reliance on the Shakti, the divine Will working in the adhara, without any effort on the part of the Purusha, who remains akarta throughout the sadhana, but still Ishwara, the source of the command and the sanction, the ruler dispossessed by his subjects and gradually recovering control of his rebellious and disordered kingdom.
There remains the sthula, the gross part of man which is composed of the sthula pana or physical nervous system and the annam or body in which the prana operates.
The prana is the principle of life, – death is brought about by the dissolution of the tie between the sukshma deha and the sthula deha. That tie is the prana. The sukshma deha takes the prana into itself and departs; the little that is left in the gross body is of the nature of apana with a tendency to that species of dissolution which we call corruption. The prana part of it, which can alone hold the body together, evaporates and the apana leads to swift disintegration. In some animals, however, the prana is so abundant that the body shows signs of life even after the sukshma deha has departed.
I have been dealing throughout with the purification of the sukshma part of man, the antahkarana or mind, – the subject of the body is a little foreign to my purpose. Nevertheless a few words are necessary. The principle upon which this Yoga I am explaining to you stands, is that the gross body is merely the shadow or creation of the subtle. Body is a mould into which mind pours itself, but the mould itself has been prepared by the mind and can be changed by the mind. A mind purified, liberated and perfected (siddha) can do whatever it likes with the body. It may leave it as it is, allowing the past karma to do its will with the physical part in the form of disease, suffering, misfortune and death, without the mind being in the least affected. All that is impurity and bondage, which is the physical translation and result of mental impurity and bondage. With the cessation of the cause, the effect ceases; but not at once. It is again like the steam and the locomotive. The habits, the results created by past lives, are expelled from the mind and precipitated entirely into the body. You may allow them to work themselves out there, many do that. On the other hand, you may pursue them into the body and drive them out from there as well. In that case you get the kayasuddhi and the kayasiddhi. They are usually sought after by the Hathayogic or Rajayogic processes, but these are not necessary. It is even better and certainly much easier and surer to follow the process I have been indicating.
The very fact of having a purified mind makes for purity of the body, a liberated mind for liberation of the body, a perfected mind for perfection of the body, and to a certain extent as you go on with the yoga in the antahkarana, the body will automatically begin to respond to the new influences. But you should not consciously meddle with the body until you have finished with the mind. Let nature do its work. Detach yourself as much as possible from the body, think of it as a mere case, leave it to the care of God and His Shakti. Many sadhaks are frightened by illness in the course of the Yoga. You need not be frightened, for you have put yourself in God's hands and He will see to it. It will come to you only as a part of the necessary process for purification of the body, work itself out, fade and return no more. Other disturbances of the body will come which are incidental to the turning of an unfit physical adhara into a fit one. Profound alterations are necessary in your brain-cells, your nervous system, your digestive and secretive processes and they cannot be effected without some physical disturbance, but it will never be more than is necessary for the process. Do no violence of any kind to the body; if you use physical remedies, let them be of the simplest and purest kind; above all dismiss anxiety and fear. You cannot care more for yourself than God cares for you. Only your care is likely to be ignorant and unwise; His is with knowledge and uses the right means to the right end.
Impurities in the body show themselves chiefly as disease, as pain, as the discomfort of heat and cold, as the necessity of the excretive processes. The first sign of kayasuddhi is the disappearance of all tendency to disease; the second is liberation from dwandwa of heat and cold, which will either go altogether or change to pleasurable sensations often marked by electrical phenomena; and the third, the diminution or disappearance of excretive activity. Pain also can be entirely eliminated from the body, but even before the reaction called pain is got rid of, or even without its being got rid of, the discomfort of pain can be removed and replaced by a sort of bodily ananda. Finally, the craving of hunger and thirst disappears from the prana to which it belongs and the dependence on food diminishes or ceases. The perfection of all this is the basis of kayasuddhi. But perfect kayasuddhi includes other developments such as the siddhis of mahima, laghima, anima and the invulnerability and incorruptibility of the body, – powers hitherto attained in the kaliyuga only by very advanced siddhas. They depend primarily on the replacement of the ordinary fivefold processes of prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana by the single simplified action of the original or elemental force of prana, the infinite vital energy surcharged with electricity, vaidyutam.
All these are important elements to Tantric Yoga, but I have mentioned them only cursorily because they are foreign to my purpose. They can all be developed if the mental siddhi is perfected and it is on this perfection that I wish you to concentrate your energy and attention. When you get that, you get everything. The centre of man's activity, at present, are the buddhi, the heart and the manas, and the body, though extremely important, is a dependent and subordinate function. It has not to be despised on that account, but most people give it an undue importance. When the jiva is Ishwara of his mind, his body falls into its proper place and instead of interfering and often domineering over the mind and Will, it obeys and takes its stamp from them. The Europeans are obsessed with the idea of the physical as the master of the mental. I would have you hold fast to the opposite standpoint and always remember that for the body to impose its conditions on the mind is an abnormal state of man's being, which has to be got rid of; it is the mind that must command, condition and modify the body.
I have finished what I had to say. I will only add a word in conclusion. You must not think that what I have given you, is all the knowledge you need about yourself or about the Yoga. On the contrary, these are only certain indications necessary at a particular stage; they are chiefly important for purification which is the first part of the Yoga. After the shuddhi is complete one has to perfect the mukti, to get liberation, a thing easy after shuddhi, impossible before it. By mukti I do not mean laya, which is a thing not to be pursued or desired, but waited for whenever God wills, but liberation from ignorance, ahankara and all dualities. With the progress of the purification, there will be a natural tendency towards liberation and the farther stages of Yoga, bhukti and siddhi, liberated enjoyment and perfection. As you go forward you will have to change your attitude, not radically but in certain important points. That, however, I will not meddle with. It is well to do one thing at a time.
In all that I have written, I have taken one standpoint to which many of you have not been accustomed. If you regard vairagyam as the beginning of all wisdom, you will not be satisfied with me. Vairagyam is to me merely a useful temporary state of mind which God uses to enforce rejection of that to which the old samskaras cling too obstinately to be unseated from it by mere abhyasa. Jnanam is essential to shuddhi and mukti; but Jnanam must be assisted either by abhyasa or by vairagya until the mind is still and lets knowledge do its own work. As soon as the mind is still and not susceptible to resuscitation of its old energies from outside, the jnanam develops, the Shakti pursues its task unhampered; there is then no sadhan for you, only a progressive siddhi without any deliberately adopted method, increasing by the mere easy and natural process of Nature as a man breathes or walks. All necessity for either abhyasa or vairagya ceases. Attachment to vairagya is as harmful as attachment to lobha itself.
Again if you think with the buddhists that all life is a misery and extinction of some kind the highest good, or if you think with the mayavadin that we came into this world with no other object but to get out of it again as soon as possible, like the famous general whose greatest military exploit was to march up a hill in order to march back again, you had better pass me by. I am a Tantric. I regard the world as born of ananda and living by ananda, wheeling from ananda to ananda. Ananda and Shakti, these are the two real terms of existence. Sorrow and weakness are vikaras born of ajnanam, of the forgetfulness of the high and true self. These are not universal or eternal things, but local and temporary, local mainly of this earth, temporary in the brief periods of the kaliyuga. Our business is to bring down heaven on earth for ourselves and mankind, to eliminate sorrow and weakness from the little corners of existence and time, where they are allowed to exist. I do not give any assent to the gloomy doctrine which preaches a world of sorrow and inaction and withdrawal from it as the sole condition of bliss and freedom, which thinks, contrary to all reason and knowledge, that God in himself is blessed, but God in manifestation accursed. I will not admit that the Brahman is a fool or a drunkard dreaming bad dreams, selfhypnotized into miserable illusions. I do not find that teaching in the Veda; it does not agree with my realisations which are of the actuality of unalterable bliss and knowledge in the midst of desireless phenomenal action. I am of the mind of Sri Krishna in the Mahabharata when he says, “Some preach action in this world and some preach inaction; but as for those who preach inaction, I am not of the opinion of those weaklings”. Na me matam tasya durbalasya.
But the action he holds up as an example, is the action of the great Gods, even as Goethe speaks of the action of the great natural forces, disinterested, unwearying, self-poised in bliss, not limited even by the sattwic ahankara action, made one in difference with the Purushottama, my being in His being, my shakti only a particular action of His infinite shakti, of Kali. I am not ignorant, I am not bound, I am not sorrowful: I only play at being ignorant, I only pretend to be bound; like an actor or like an audience I only take the rasa of sorrow. I can throw it off when I please. Who calls me degraded and sinful, a worm crawling upon the earth among other worms? I am Brahman, I am He, sin cannot touch me. Who calls me weak? I am one with the Omnipotent. He, being One, has chosen to be Many. He, being infinite, localizes himself in many centres and in each centre He is still infinite. That is the mystery of existence, the uttamam rahasyam, God's great, wonderful and blissful secret, a secret logic rejects, but knowledge grasps at, a knowledge not to be argued out but realized, but proved by experience, by the purified, liberated, all enjoying, all-perfect soul.
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