An Introduction to Yoga
Annie Besant

Part 1 out of 2

This etext was produced by JC Byers.

An Introduction to Yoga

Annie Besant


These lectures[FN#1: Delivered at the 32nd Anniversary of the
Theosophical Society held at Benares, on Dec. 27th, 28th, 29th,
and 30th, 1907.] are intended to give an outline of Yoga, in
order to prepare the student to take up, for practical purposes,
the Yoga sutras of Patanjali, the chief treatise on Yoga. I have
on hand, with my friend Bhagavan Das as collaborateur, a
translation of these Sutras, with Vyasa's commentary, and a
further commentary and elucidation written in the light of
Theosophy.[FN#2: These have never been finished or printed.] To
prepare the student for the mastering of that more difficult
task, these lectures were designed; hence the many references to
Patanjali. They may, however, also serve to give to the ordinary
lay reader some idea of the Science of sciences, and perhaps to
allure a few towards its study.

Annie Besant

Table of Contents

Lecture I. The Nature of Yoga
1. The Meaning of the Universe
2. The Unfolding of Consciousness
3. The Oneness of the Self
4. The Quickening of the Process of Self-Unfoldment
5. Yoga is a Science
6. Man a Duality
7. States of Mind
8. Samadhi
9. The Literature of Yoga
10. Some Definitions
11. God Without and God Within
12. Changes of Consciousness and Vibrations of Matter
13. Mind
14. Stages of Mind
15. Inward and Outward-turned Consciousness
16. The Cloud

Lecture II. Schools of Thought
1. Its Relation to Indian Philosophies
2. Mind
3. The Mental Body
4. Mind and Self

Lecture III. Yoga as Science
1. Methods of Yoga
2. To the Self by the Self
3. To the Self through the Not-Self
4. Yoga and Morality
5. Composition of States of the Mind
6. Pleasure and Pain

Lecture IV. Yoga as Practice
1. Inhibition of States of Mind
2. Meditation with and without Seed
3. The Use of Mantras
4. Attention
5. Obstacles to Yoga
6. Capacities for Yoga
7. Forthgoing and Returning
8. Purification of Bodies
9. Dwellers on the Threshold
10. Preparation for Yoga
11. The End

Lecture I


In this first discourse we shall concern ourselves with the
gaining of a general idea of the subject of Yoga, seeking its
place in nature, its own character, its object in human

The Meaning of the Universe

Let us, first of all, ask ourselves, looking at the world around
us, what it is that the history of the world signifies. When we
read history, what does the history tell us? It seems to be a
moving panorama of people and events, but it is really only a
dance of shadows; the people are shadows, not realities, the
kings and statesmen, the ministers and armies; and the eventsÄ
the battles and revolutions, the rises and falls of states Äare
the most shadowlike dance of all. Even if the historian tries to
go deeper, if he deals with economic conditions, with social
organisations, with the study of the tendencies of the currents
of thought, even then he is in the midst of shadows, the illusory
shadows cast by unseen realities. This world is full of forms
that are illusory, and the values are all wrong, the proportions
are out of focus. The things which a man of the world thinks
valuable, a spiritual man must cast aside as worthless. The
diamonds of the world, with their glare and glitter in the rays
of the outside sun, are mere fragments of broken glass to the man
of knowledge. The crown of the king, the sceptre of the emperor,
the triumph of earthly power, are less than nothing to the man
who has had one glimpse of the majesty of the Self. What is,
then, real? What is truly valuable? Our answer will be very
different from the answer given by the man of the world.

"The universe exists for the sake of the Self." Not for what the
outer world can give, not for control over the objects of desire,
not for the sake even of beauty or pleasure, does the Great
Architect plan and build His worlds. He has filled them with
objects, beautiful and pleasure-giving. The great arch of the sky
above, the mountains with snow-clad peaks, the valleys soft with
verdure and fragrant with blossoms, the oceans with their vast
depths, their surface now calm as a lake, now tossing in
furyÄthey all exist, not for the objects themselves, but for
their value to the Self. Not for themselves because they are
anything in themselves but that the purpose of the Self may be
served, and His manifestations made possible.

The world, with all its beauty, its happiness and suffering, its
joys and pains" is planned with the utmost ingenuity, in order
that the powers of the Self may be shown forth in manifestation.
From the fire-mist to the LOGOS, all exist for the sake of the
Self. The lowest grain of dust, the mightiest deva in his
heavenly regions, the plant that grows out of sight in the nook
of a mountain, the star that shines aloft over us-all these exist
in order that the fragments of the one Self, embodied in
countless forms, may realize their own identity, and manifest the
powers of the Self through the matter that envelops them.

There is but one Self in the lowliest dust and the loftiest deva.
"Mamamsaha"ÄMy portion,Ä" a portion of My Self," says Sri
Krishna, are all these Jivatmas, all these living spirits. For
them the universe exists; for them the sun shines, and the waves
roll, and the winds blow, and the rain falls, that the Self may
know Himself as manifested in matter, as embodied in the

The Unfolding of Consciousness

One of those pregnant and significant ideas which Theosophy
scatters so lavishly around is thisÄthat the same scale is
repeated over and over again, the same succession of events in
larger or smaller cycles. If you understand one cycle, you
understand the whole. The same laws by which a solar system is
builded go to the building up of the system of man. The laws by
which the Self unfolds his powers in the universe, from the
fire-mist up to the LOGOS, are the same laws of consciousness
which repeat themselves in the universe of man. If you understand
them in the one, you can equally understand them in the other.
Grasp them in the small, and the large is revealed to you. Grasp
them in the large, and the small becomes intelligible to you.

The great unfolding from the stone to the God goes on through
millions of years, through aeons of time. But the long unfolding
that takes place in the universe, takes place in a shorter
time-cycle within the limit of humanity, and this in a cycle so
brief that it seems as nothing beside the longer one. Within a
still briefer cycle a similar unfolding takes place in the
individualÄ rapidly, swiftly, with all the force of its past
behind it. These forces that manifest and unveil themselves in
evolution are cumulative in their power. Embodied in the stone,
in the mineral world, they grow and put out a little more of
strength, and in the mineral world accomplish their unfolding.
Then they become too strong for the mineral, and press on into
the vegetable world. There they unfold more and more of their
divinity, until they become too mighty for the vegetable, and
become animal.

Expanding within and gaining experiences from the animal, they
again overflow the limits of the animal, and appear as the human.
In the human being they still grow and accumulate with
ever-increasing force, and exert greater pressure against the
barrier; and then out of the human, they press into the
super-human. This last process of evolution is called "Yoga."

Coming to the individual, the man of our own globe has behind him
his long evolution in other chains than oursÄthis same evolution
through mineral to vegetable, through vegetable to animal,
through animal to man, and then from our last dwelling-place in
the lunar orb on to this terrene globe that we call the earth.
Our evolution here has all the force of the last evolution in it,
and hence, when we come to this shortest cycle of evolution which
is called Yoga, the man has behind him the whole of the forces
accumulated in his human evolution, and it is the accumulation of
these forces which enables him to make the passage so rapidly. We
must connect our Yoga with the evolution of consciousness
everywhere, else we shall not understand it at all; for the laws
of evolution of consciousness in a universe are exactly the same
as the laws of Yoga, and the principles whereby consciousness
unfolds itself in the great evolution of humanity are the same
principles that we take in Yoga and deliberately apply to the
more rapid unfolding of our own consciousness. So that Yoga, when
it is definitely begun, is not a new thing, as some people

The whole evolution is one in its essence. The succession is the
same, the sequences identical. Whether you are thinking of the
unfolding of consciousness in the universe, or in the human race,
or in the individual, you can study the laws of the whole, and in
Yoga you learn to apply those same laws to your own consciousness
rationally and definitely. All the laws are one, however
different in their stage of manifestation.

If you look at Yoga in this light, then this Yoga, which seemed
so alien and so far off, will begin to wear a familiar face, and
come to you in a garb not wholly strange. As you study the
unfolding of consciousness, and the corresponding evolution of
form, it will not seem so strange that from man you should pass
on to superman, transcending the barrier of humanity, and finding
yourself in the region where divinity becomes more manifest.

The Oneness of the Self

The Self in you is the same as the Self Universal. Whatever
powers are manifested throughout the world, those powers exist in
germ, in latency, in you. He, the Supreme, does not evolve. In
Him there are no additions or subtractions. His portions, the
Jivatmas, are as Himself, and they only unfold their powers in
matter as conditions around them draw those powers forth. If you
realize the unity of the Self amid the diversities of the
Not-Self, then Yoga will not seem an impossible thing to you.

The Quickening of the Process of Self-unfoldment

Educated and thoughtful men and women you already are; already
you have climbed up that long ladder which separates the present
outer form of the Deity in you from His form in the dust. The
manifest Deity sleeps in the mineral and the stone. He becomes
more and more unfolded in vegetables and animals, and lastly in
man He has reached what appears as His culmination to ordinary
men. Having done so much, shall you not do more ? With the
consciousness so far unfolded, does it seem impossible that it
should unfold in the future into the Divine?

As you realize that the laws of the evolution of form and of the
unfolding of consciousness in the universe and man are the same,
and that it is through these laws that the yogi brings out his
hidden powers, then you will understand also that it is not
necessary to go into the mountain or into the desert, to hide
yourself in a cave or a forest, in order that the union with the
Self may be obtainedÄHe who is within you and without you.
Sometimes for a special purpose seclusion may be useful. It may
be well at times to retire temporarily from the busy haunts of
men. But in the universe planned by Isvara, in order that the
powers of the Self may be brought outÄthere is your best field
for Yoga, planned with Divine wisdom and sagacity. The world is
meant for the unfolding of the Self: why should you then seek to
run away from it? Look at Shri Krishna Himself in that great
Upanishad of yoga, the Bhagavad-Gita. He spoke it out on a
battle-field, and not on a mountain peak. He spoke it to a
Kshattriya ready to fight, and not to a Brahmana quietly retired
from the world. The Kurukshetra of the world is the field of
Yoga. They who cannot face the world have not the strength to
face the difficulties of Yoga practice. If the outer world
out-wearies your powers, how do you expect to conquer the
difficulties of the inner life? If you cannot climb over the
little troubles of the world, how can you hope to climb over the
difficulties that a yogi has to scale? Those men blunder, who
think that running away from the world is the road to victory,
and that peace can be found only in certain localities.

As a matter of fact, you have practised Yoga unconsciously in the
past, even before your self- consciousness had separated itself,
was aware of itself. Sand knew itself to be different, in
temporary matter at least, from all the others that surround it.
And that is the first idea that you should take up and hold
firmly: Yoga is only a quickened process of the ordinary
unfolding of consciousness.

Yoga may then be defined as the "rational application of the laws
of the unfolding of consciousness in an individual case". That is
what is meant by the methods of Yoga. You study the laws' of the
unfolding of consciousness in the universe, you then apply them
to a special caseÄand that case is your own. You cannot apply
them to another. They must be self-applied. That is the definite
principle to grasp. So we must add one more word to our
definition: "Yoga is the rational application of the laws of the
unfolding of consciousness, self-applied in an individual case."

Yoga Is a Science

Next, Yoga is a science. That is the second thing to grasp. Yoga
is a science, and not a vague, dreamy drifting or imagining. It
is an applied science, a systematized collection of laws applied
to bring about a definite end. It takes up the laws of
psychology, applicable to the unfolding of the whole
consciousness of man on every plane, in every world, and applies
those rationally in a particular case. This rational application
of the laws of unfolding consciousness acts exactly on the same
principles that you see applied around you every day in other
departments of science.

You know, by looking at the world around you, how enormously the
intelligence of man, co-operating with nature, may quicken
"natural" processes, and the working of intelligence is as
"natural" as anything else. We make this distinction, and
practically it is a real one, between "rational" and "natural"
growth, because human intelligence can guide the working of
natural laws; and when we come to deal with Yoga, we are in the
same department of applied science as, let us say, is the
scientific farmer or gardener, when he applies the natural laws
of selection to breeding. The farmer or gardener cannot transcend
the laws of nature, nor can he work against them. He has no other
laws of nature to work with save universal laws by which nature
is evolving forms around us, and yet he does in a few years what
nature takes, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of years to do. And
how? By applying human intelligence to choose the laws that serve
him and to neutralize the laws that hinder. He brings the divine
intelligence in man to utilise the divine powers in nature that
are working for general rather than for particular ends.

Take the breeder of pigeons. Out of the blue rock pigeon he
develops the pouter or the fan-tail; he chooses out, generation
after generation, the forms that show most strongly the
peculiarity that he wishes to develop. He mates such birds
together, takes every favouring circumstance into consideration
and selects again and again, and so on and on, till the
peculiarity that he wants to establish has become a well-marked
feature. Remove his controlling intelligence, leave the birds to
themselves, and they revert to the ancestral type.

Or take the case of the gardener. Out of the wild rose of the
hedge has been evolved every rose of the garden. Many-petalled
roses are but the result of the scientific culture of the
five-petalled rose of the hedgerow, the wild product of nature. A
gardener who chooses the pollen from one plant and places it on
the carpers of another is simply doing deliberately what is done
every day by the bee and the fly. But he chooses his plants, and
he chooses those that have the qualities he wants intensified,
and from those again he chooses those that show the desired
qualities still more clearly, until he has produced a flower so
different from the original stock that only by tracing it back
can you tell the stock whence it sprang.

So is it in the application of the laws of psychology that we
call Yoga. Systematized knowledge of the unfolding of
consciousness applied to the individualized Self, that is Yoga.
As I have just said, it is by the world that consciousness has
been unfolded, and the world is admirably planned by the LOGOS
for this unfolding of consciousness; hence the would-be yogi,
choosing out his objects and applying his laws, finds in the
world exactly the things he wants to make his practice of Yoga
real, a vital thing, a quickening process for the knowledge of
the Self. There are many laws. You can choose those which you
require, you can evade those you do not require, you can utilize
those you need, and thus you can bring about the result that
nature, without that application of human intelligence, cannot so
swiftly effect.

Take it, then, that Yoga is within your reach, with your powers,
and that even some of the lower practices of Yoga, some of the
simpler applications of the laws of the unfolding of
consciousness to yourself, will benefit you in this world as well
as in all others. For you are really merely quickening your
growth, your unfolding, taking advantage of the powers nature
puts within your hands, and deliberately eliminating the
conditions which would not help you in your work, but rather
hinder your march forward. If you see it in that light, it seems
to me that Yoga will be to you a far more real, practical thing,
than it is when you merely read some fragments about it taken
from Sanskrit books, and often mistranslated into English, and
you will begin to feel that to be a yogi is not necessarily a
thing for a life far off, an incarnation far removed from the
present one.

Man a Duality

Some of the terms used in Yoga are necessarily to be known. For
Yoga takes man for a special purpose and studies him for a
special end and, therefore, only troubles itself about two great
facts regarding man, mind and body. First, he is a unit, a unit
of consciousness. That is a point to be definitely grasped. There
is only one of him in each set of envelopes, and sometimes the
Theosophist has to revise his ideas about man when he begins this
practical line. Theosophy quite usefully and rightly, for the
understanding of the human constitution, divides man into many
parts and pieces. We talk of physical, astral, mental, etc. Or we
talk about Sthula-sarira, Sukshma-sarira, Karana-sarira, and so
on. Sometimes we divide man into Anna-maya-kosa, Prana-maya-kosa,
Mano-maya-kosa, etc. We divide man into so many pieces in order
to study him thoroughly, that we can hardly find the man because
of the pieces. This is, so to say, for the study of human anatomy
and physiology.

But Yoga is practical and psychological. I am not complaining of
the various sub-divisions of other systems. They are necessary
for the purpose of those systems. But Yoga, for its practical
purposes, considers man simply as a dualityÄmind and body, a unit
of consciousness in a set of envelopes. This is not the duality
of the Self and the Not-Self. For in Yoga, "Self" includes
consciousness plus such matter as it cannot distinguish from
itself, and Not-Self is only the matter it can put aside.

Man is not pure Self, pure consciousness, Samvid. That is an
abstraction. In the concrete universe there are always the Self
and His sheaths, however tenuous the latter may be, so that a
unit of consciousness is inseparable from matter, and a Jivatma,
or Monad, is invariably consciousness plus matter.

In order that this may come out clearly, two terms are used in
Yoga as constituting manÄPrana and Pradhana, life-breath and
matter. Prana is not only the life-breath of the body, but the
totality of the life forces of the universe or, in other words,
the life-side of the universe.

"I am Prana," says Indra. Prana here means the totality of the
life-forces. They are taken as consciousness, mind. Pradhana is
the term used for matter. Body, or the opposite of mind, means
for the yogi in practice so much of the appropriated matter of
the outer world as he is able to put away from himself, to
distinguish from his own consciousness.

This division is very significant and useful, if you can catch
clearly hold of the root idea. Of course, looking at the thing
from beginning to end, you will see Prana, the great Life, the
great Self, always present in all, and you will see the
envelopes, the bodies, the sheaths, present at the different
stages, taking different forms; but from the standpoint of yogic
practice, that is called Prana, or Self, with which the man
identifies himself for the time, including every sheath of matter
from which the man is unable to separate himself in
consciousness. That unit, to the yogi, is the Self, so that it is
a changing quantity. As he drops off one sheath after another and
says: " That is not myself," he is coming nearer and nearer to
his highest point, to consciousness in a single film, in a single
atom of matter, a Monad. For all practical purposes of Yoga, the
man, the working, conscious man, is so much of him as he cannot
separate from the matter enclosing him, or with which he is
connected. Only that is body which the man is able to put aside
and say: "This is not I, but mine." We find we have a whole
series of terms in Yoga which may be repeated over and over
again. All the states of mind exist on every plane, says Vyasa,
and this way of dealing with man enables the same significant
words, as we shall see in a moment, to be used over and over
again, with an ever subtler connotation; they all become
relative, and are equally true at each stage of evolution.

Now it is quite clear that, so far as many of us are concerned,
the physical body is the only thing of which we can say: " It is
not myself "; so that, in the practice of Yoga at first, for you,
all the words that would be used in it to describe the states of
consciousness, the states of mind, would deal with the waking
consciousness in the body as the lowest state, and, rising up
from that, all the words would be relative terms, implying a
distinct and recognisable state of the mind in relation to that
which is the lowest. In order to know how you shall begin to
apply to yourselves the various terms used to describe the states
of mind, you must carefully analyse your own consciousness, and
find out how much of it is really consciousness, and how much is
matter so closely appropriated that you cannot separate it from

States of Mind

Let us take it in detail. Four states of consciousness are spoken
of amongst us. "Waking" consciousness or Jagrat; the "dream"
consciousness, or Svapna; the "deep sleep" consciousness, or
Sushupti; and the state beyond that, called Turiya[FN#3: It is
impossible to avoid the use of these technical terms, even in an
introduction to Yoga. There are no exact English equivalents, and
they are no more troublesome to learn than any other technical
psychological terms.] How are those related to the body?

Jagrat is the ordinary waking consciousness, that you and I are
using at the present time. If our consciousness works in the
subtle, or astral, body, and is able to impress its experiences
upon the brain, it is called Svapna, or in English, dream
consciousness; it is more vivid and real than the Jagrat state.
When working in the subtler form--the mental body--it is not able
to impress its experiences on the brain, it is called Sushupti or
deep sleep consciousness; then the mind is working on its own
contents, not on outer objects. But if it has so far separated
itself from connection with the brain, that it cannot be readily
recalled by outer means, then it is, called Turiya, a lofty state
of trance. These four states, when correlated to the four planes,
represent a much unfolded consciousness. Jagrat is related to the
physical; Svapna to the astral; Sushupti to the mental; and
Turiya to the buddhic. When passing from one world to another, we
should use these words to designate the consciousness working
under the conditions of each world. But the same words are
repeated in the books of Yoga with a different context. There the
difficulty occurs, if we have not learned their relative nature.
Svapna is not the same for all, nor is Sushupti the same for

Above all, the word samadhi, to be explained in a moment, is used
in different ways and in different senses. How then are we to
find our way in this apparent tangle? By knowing the state which
is the starting-point, and then the sequence will always be the
same. All of you are familiar with the waking consciousness in
the physical body. You can find four states even in that, if you
analyse it, and a similar sequence of the states of the mind is
found on every plane.

How to distinguish them, then ? Let us take the waking
consciousness, and try to see the four states in that. Suppose I
take up a book and read it. I read the words; my eyes arc related
to the outer physical consciousness. That is the Jagrat state. I
go behind the words to the meaning of the words. I have passed
from the waking state of the physical plane into the Svapna state
of waking consciousness, that sees through the outer form,
seeking the inner life. I pass from this to the mind of the
writer; here the mind touches the mind; it is the waking
consciousness in its Sushupti state. If I pass from this contact
and enter the very mind of the writer, and live in that man's
mind, then I have reached the Turiya state of the waking

Take another illustration. I look at any watch; I am in Jagrat. I
close my eyes and make an image of the watch; I am in Svapna. I
call together many ideas of many watches, and reach the ideal
watch; I am in Sushupti. I pass to the ideal of time in the
abstract; I am in Turiya. But all these are stages in the
physical plane consciousness; I have not left the body.

In this way, you can make states of mind intelligible and real,
instead of mere words.


Some other important words, which recur from time to time in the
Yoga-sutras, need to be understood, though there are no exact
English equivalents. As they must be used to avoid clumsy
circumlocutions, it is necessary to explain them. It is said:
"Yoga is Samadhi." Samadhi is a state in which the consciousness
is so dissociated from the body that the latter remains
insensible. It is a state of trance in which the mind is fully
self-conscious, though the body is insensitive, and from which
the mind returns to the body with the experiences it has had in
the superphysical state, remembering them when again immersed in
the physical brain. Samadhi for any one person is relative to his
waking consciousness, but implies insensitiveness of the body. If
an ordinary person throws himself into trance and is active on
the astral plane, his Samadhi is on the astral. If his
consciousness is functioning in the mental plane, Samadhi is
there. The man who can so withdraw from the body as to leave it
insensitive, while his mind is fully self-conscious, can practice

The phrase "Yoga is Samadhi" covers facts of the highest
significance and greatest instruction. Suppose you are only able
to reach the astral world when you are asleep, your consciousness
there is, as we have seen, in the Svapna state. But as you slowly
unfold your powers, the astral forms begin to intrude upon your
waking physical consciousness until they appear as distinctly as
do physical forms, and thus become objects of your waking
consciousness. The astral world then, for you, no longer belongs
to the Svapna consciousness, but to the Jagrat; you have taken
two worlds within the scope of your Jagrat consciousness--the
physical and the astral worlds--and the mental world is in your
Svapna consciousness. "Your body" is then the physical and the
astral bodies taken together. As you go on, the mental plane
begins similarly to intrude itself, and the physical, astral and
mental all come within your waking consciousness; all these are,
then, your Jagrat world. These three worlds form but one world to
you; their three corresponding bodies but one body, that
perceives and acts. The three bodies of the ordinary man have
become one body for the yogi. If under these conditions you want
to see only one world at a time, you must fix your attention on
it, and thus focus it. You can, in that state of enlarged waking,
concentrate your attention on the physical and see it; then the
astral and mental will appear hazy. So you can focus your
attention on the astral and see it; then the physical and the
mental, being out of focus, will appear dim. You will easily
understand this if you remember that, in this hall, I may focus
my sight in the middle of the hall, when the pillars on both
sides will appear indistinctly. Or I may concentrate my attention
on a pillar and see it distinctly, but I then see you only
vaguely at the same time. It is a change of focus, not a change
of body. Remember that all which you can put aside as not
yourself is the body of the yogi, and hence, as you go higher,
the lower bodies form but a single body and the consciousness in
that sheath of matter which it still cannot throw away, that
becomes the man.

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

The Literature of Yoga

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

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

Some Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Without and God Within

That leads us to the next point, the relation of God without to
God within. To the yogi, who is the very type of Hindu thought,
there is no definite proof of God save the witness of the Self
within to His existence, and his idea of finding the proof of God
is that you should strip away from your consciousness all
limitations, and thus reach the stage where you have pure
consciousness--save a veil of the thin nirvanic matter. Then you
know that God is. So you read in the Upanishad: "Whose only proof
is the witness of the Self." This is very different from Western
methods of thought, which try to demonstrate God by a process of
argument. The Hindu will tell you that you cannot demonstrate God
by any argument or reasoning; He is above and beyond reasoning,
and although the reason may guide you on the way, it will not
prove to demonstration that God is. The only way you can know Him
is by diving into yourself. There you will find Him, and know
that He is without as well as within you; and Yoga is a system
that enables you to get rid of everything from consciousness that
is not God, save that one veil of the nirvanic atom, and so to
know that God is, with an unshakable certainty of conviction. To
the Hindu that inner conviction is the only thing worthy to be
called faith, and this gives you the reason why faith is said to
be beyond reason, and so is often confused with credulity. Faith
is beyond reason, because it is the testimony of the Self to
himself, that conviction of existence as Self, of which reason is
only one of the outer manifestations; and the only true faith is
that inner conviction, which no argument can either strengthen or
weaken, of the innermost Self of you, that of which alone you are
entirely sure. It is the aim of Yoga to enable you to reach that
Self constantly not by a sudden glimpse of intuition, but
steadily, unshakably, and unchangeably, and when that Self is
reached, then the question: "Is there a God?" can never again
come into the. human mind.

Changes of Consciousness and Vibrations of Matter

It is necessary to understand something about that consciousness
which is your Self, and about the matter which is the envelope of
consciousness, but which the Self so often identifies with
himself. The great characteristic of consciousness is change,
with a foundation of certainty that it is. The consciousness of
existence never changes, but beyond this all is change, and only
by the changes does consciousness become Self-consciousness.
Consciousness is an everchanging thing, circling round one idea
that never changes--Self-existence. The consciousness itself is
not changed by any change of position or place. It only changes
its states within itself.

In matter, every change of state is brought about by change of
place. A change of consciousness is a change of a state; a change
of matter is a change of place. Moreover, every change of state
in consciousness is related to vibrations of matter in its
vehicle. When matter is examined, we find three fundamental
qualities--rhythm, mobility, stability--sattva, rajas, tamas.
Sattva is rhythm, vibration. It is more than; rajas, or mobility.
It is a regulated movement, a swinging from one side to the other
over a definite distance, a length of wave, a vibration.

The question is often put: "How can things in such different
categories, as matter and Spirit, affect each other? Can we
bridge that great gulf which some say can never be crossed?" Yes,
the Indian has crossed it, or rather, has shown that there is no
gulf. To the Indian, matter and Spirit are not only the two
phases of the One, but, by a subtle analysis of the relation
between consciousness and matter, he sees that in every universe
the LOGOS imposes upon matter a certain definite relation of
rhythms, every vibration of matter corresponding to a change in
consciousness. There is no change in consciousness, however
subtle, that has not appropriated to it a vibration in matter;
there is no vibration in matter, however swift or delicate, which
has not correlated to it a certain change in consciousness. That
is the first great work of the LOGOS, which the Hindu scriptures
trace out in the building of the atom, the Tanmatra, " the
measure of That," the measure of consciousness. He who is
consciousness imposes on his material the answer to every change
in consciousness, and that is an infinite number of vibrations.
So that between the Self and his sheaths there is this invariable
relation: the change in consciousness and the vibration of
matter, and vice versa. That makes it possible for the Self to
know the Not-Self.

These correspondences are utilised in Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga,
the Kingly Yoga and the Yoga of Resolve. The Raja Yoga seeks to
control the changes in consciousness, and by this control to rule
the material vehicles. The Hatha Yoga seeks to control the
vibrations of matter, and by this control to evoke the desired

changes in consciousness. The weak point in Hatha Yoga is that
action on this line cannot reach beyond the astral plane, and the
great strain imposed on the comparatively intractable matter of
the physical plane sometimes leads to atrophy of the very organs,
the activity of which is necessary for effecting the changes in
consciousness that would be useful. The Hatha Yogi gains control
over the bodily organs with which the waking consciousness no
longer concerns itself, having relinquished them to its lower
part, the " subconsciousness', This is often useful as regards
the prevention of disease, but serves no higher purpose. When he
begins to work on the brain centres connected with ordinary
consciousness, and still more when he touches those connected
with the super-consciousness, he enters a dangerous region, and
is more likely to paralyse than to evolve.

That relation alone it is which makes matter cognizable; the
change in the thinker is answered by a change outside, and his
answer to it and the change in it that he makes by his. answer
re-arrange again the matter of the body which is his envelope.
Hence the rhythmic changes in matter are rightly called its
cognizability. Matter may be known by consciousness, because of
this unchanging relation between the two sides of the manifest
LOGOS who is one, and the Self becomes aware of changes within
himself, and thus of those of the external words to which those
changes are related.


What is mind ? From the yogic standpoint it is simply the
individualized consciousness, the whole of it, the whole of your
consciousness including your activities which the Western
psychologist puts outside mind. Only on the basis of Eastern
psychology is Yoga possible. How shall we describe this
individualized consciousness? First, it is aware of things.
Becoming aware of them, it desires them. Desiring them, it tries
to attain them. So we have the three aspects of consciousness--
intelligence, desire, activity. On the physical plane, activity
predominates, although desire and thought are present. On the
astral plane, desire predominates, and thought and activity are
subject to desire. On the mental plane; intelligence is the
dominant note, desire and activity are subject to it. Go to the
buddhic plane, and cognition, as pure reason, predominates, and
so on. Each quality is present all the time, but one
predominates. So with the matter that belongs to them. In your
combinations of matter you get rhythmic, active, or stable ones;
and according to the combinations of matter in your bodies will
be the conditions of the activity of the whole of these in
consciousness. To practice Yoga you must build your bodies of the
rhythmic combinations, with activity and inertia less apparent.
The yogi wants to make his body match his mind.

Stages of Mind

The mind has five stages, Patanjali tells us, and Vyasa comments
that "these stages of mind are on every plane". The first stage
is the stage in which the mind is flung about, the Kshipta stage;
it is the butterfly mind, the early stage of humanity, or, in
man, the mind of the child, darting constantly from one object to
another. It corresponds to activity on the physical plane. The
next is the confused stage, Mudha, equivalent to the stage of the
youth, swayed by emotions, bewildered by them; he begins to feel
he is ignorant--a state beyond the fickleness of the child--a
characteristic state, corresponding to activity in the astral
world. Then comes the state of preoccupation, or infatuation,
Vikshipta, the state of the man possessed by an idea--love,
ambition, or what not. He is no longer a confused youth, but a
man with a clear aim, and an idea possesses him. It may be either
the fixed idea of the madman, or the fixed idea which makes the
hero or the saint; but in any case he is possessed by the idea.
The quality of the idea, its truth or falsehood, makes the
difference between the maniac and the martyr.

Maniac or martyr, he is under the spell of a fixed idea. No
reasoning avails against it. If he has assured himself that he is
made of glass, no amount of argument will convince him to the
contrary. He will always regard himself as being as brittle as
glass. That is a fixed idea which is false. But there is a fixed
idea which makes the hero and the martyr. For some great truth
dearer than life is everything thrown aside. He is possessed by
it, dominated by it, and he goes to death gladly for it. That
state is said to be approaching Yoga, for such a man is becoming
concentrated, even if only possessed by one idea. This stage
corresponds to activity on the lower mental plane. Where the man
possesses the idea, instead of being possessed by it, that
one-pointed state of the mind, called Ekagrata in Sanskrit, is
the fourth stage. He is a mature man, ready for the true life.
When the man has gone through life dominated by one idea, then he
is approaching Yoga; he is getting rid of the grip of the world,
and is beyond its allurements. But when he possesses that which
before possessed him, then he has become fit for Yoga, and begins
the training which makes his progress rapid. This stage
corresponds to activity on the higher mental plane.

Out of this fourth stage or Ekagrata, arises the fifth stage,
Niruddha or Self-controlled. When the man not only possesses one
idea but, rising above all ideas, chooses as he wills, takes or
does not take according to the illumined Will, then he is
Self-controlled and can effectively practice Yoga. This stage
corresponds to activity on the buddhic plane.

In the third stage, Vikshipta, where he is possessed by the idea,
he is learning Viveka or discrimination between the outer and the
inner, the real and the unreal. When he has learned the lesson of
Viveka, then he advances a stage forward; and in Ekagrata he
chooses one idea, the inner life; and as he fixes his mind on
that idea he learns Vairagya or dispassion. He rises above the
desire to possess objects of enjoyment, belonging either to this
or any other world. Then he advances towards the fifth stage--
Self-controlled. In order to reach that he must practice the six
endowments, the Shatsamapatti. These six endowments have to do
with the Will-aspect of consciousness as the other two, Viveka
and Vairagya, have to do with the cognition and activity aspects
of it.

By a study of your own mind, you can find out how far you are
ready to begin the definite practice of Yoga. Examine your mind
in order to recognize these stages in yourself. If you are in
either of the two early stages, you are not ready for Yoga. The
child and the youth are not ready to become yogis, nor is the
preoccupied man. But if you find yourself possessed by a single
thought, you are nearly ready for Yoga; it leads to the next
stage of one-pointedness, where you can choose your idea, and
cling to it of your own will. Short is the step from that to the
complete control, which can inhibit all motions of the mind.
Having reached that stage, it is comparatively easy to pass into

Inward and Outward-Turned Consciousness

Samadhi is of two kinds: one turned outward, one turned inward.
The outward-turned consciousness is always first. You are in the
stage of Samadhi belonging to the outward-turned waking
consciousness, when you can pass beyond the objects to the
principles which those objects manifest, when through the form
you catch a glimpse of the life. Darwin was in this stage when he
glimpsed the truth of evolution. That is the outward-turned
Samadhi of the physical body.

This is technically the Samprajnata Samadhi, the "Samadhi with
consciousness," but to be better regarded, I think, as with
consciousness outward-turned, i.e. conscious of objects. When the
object disappears, that is, when consciousness draws itself away
from the sheath by which those objects are seen, then comes the
Asamprajnata Samadhi; called the "Samadhi without consciousness".
I prefer to call it the inward-turned consciousness, as it is by
turning away from the outer that this stage is reached.

These two stages of Samadhi follow each other on every plane; the
intense concentration on objects in the first stage, and the
piercing thereby through the outer form to the underlying
principle, are followed by the turning away of the consciousness
from the sheath which has served its purpose, and its withdrawal
into itself, i.e., into a sheath not yet recognised as a sheath.
It is then for a while conscious only of itself and not of the
outer world. Then comes the "cloud," the dawning sense again of
an outer, a dim sensing of "something" other than itself; that
again is followed by the functioning of the nigher sheath and the
Recognition of the objects of the next higher plane,
corresponding to that sheath. Hence the complete cycle is:
Samprajnata Samadhi, Asamprajnata Samadhi, Megha (cloud), and
then the Samprajnata Samadhi of the next plane, and so on.

The Cloud

This term--in full, Dharma-megha, cloud of righteousness, or of
religion--is one which is very scantily explained by the
commentators. In fact, the only explanation they give is that all
the man's past karma of good gathers over him, and pours down
upon him a rain of blessing. Let us see if we cannot find
something more than this meagre interpretation.

The term "cloud" is very often used in mystic literature of the
West; the "Cloud on the Mount," the "Cloud on the Sanctuary," the
"Cloud on the Mercy-Seat," are expressions familiar to the
student. And the experience which they indicate is familiar to
all mystics in its lower phases, and to some in its fullness. In
its lower phases, it is the experience just noted, where the
withdrawal of the consciousness into a sheath not yet recognised
as a sheath is followed by the beginning of the functioning of
that sheath, the first indication of which is the dim sensing of
an outer. You feel as though surrounded by a dense mist,
conscious that you are not alone but unable to see. Be still; be
patient; wait. Let your consciousness be in the attitude of
suspense. Presently the cloud will thin, and first in glimpses,
then in its full beauty, the vision of a higher plane will dawn
on your entranced sight. This entrance into a higher plane will
repeat itself again and again, until your consciousness, centred
on the buddhic plane and its splendouis having disappeared as
your consciousness withdraws even from that exquisite sheath, you
find yourself in the true cloud, the cloud on the sanctuary, the
cloud that veils the Holiest, that hides the vision of the Self.
Then comes what seems to be the draining away of the very life,
the letting go of the last hold on the tangible, the hanging in a
void, the horror of great darkness, loneliness unspeakable.
Endure, endure. Everything must go. "Nothing out of the Eternal
can help you." God only shines out in the stillness; as says the
Hebrew: "Be still, and know that I am God." In that silence a
Voice shall be heard, the voice of the Self, In that stillness a
Life shall be felt, the life of the Self. In that void a Fullness
shall be revealed, the fullness of the Self. In that darkness a
Light shall be seen, the glory of the Self. The cloud shall
vanish, and the shining of the Self shall be made manifest. That
which was a glimpse of a far-off majesty shall become a perpetual
realisation and, knowing the Self and your unity with it, you
shall enter into the Peace that belongs to the Self alone.

Lecture II


In studying psychology anyone who is acquainted with the Sanskrit
tongue must know how valuable that language is for precise and
scientific dealing with the subject. The Sanskrit, or the
well-made, the constructed, the built-together, tongue, is one
that lends itself better than any other to the elucidation of
psychological difficulties. Over and over again, by the mere form
of a word, a hint is given, an explanation or relation is
suggested. The language is constructed in a fashion which enables
a large number of meanings to be connoted by a single word, so
that you may trace all allied ideas, ,or truths, or facts, by
this verbal connection, when you are speaking or using Sanskrit.
It has a limited number of important roots, and then an immense
number of words constructed on those roots.

Now the root of the word yoga is a word that means " to join,"
yuj, and that root appears in many languages, such as the
English--of course, through the Latin, wherein you get jugare,
jungere, "to join"--and out of that a number of English words are
derived and will at once suggest themselves to you: junction,
conjunction, disjunction, and so on. The English word "yoke"
again, is derived from this same Sanskrit root so that all
through the various words, or thoughts, or facts connected with
this one root, you are able to gather the meaning of the word
yoga and to see how much that word covers in the ordinary
processes of the mind and how suggestive many of the words
connected with it are, acting, so to speak, as sign-posts to
direct you along the road to the meaning. In other tongues, as in
French, we have a word like rapport, used constantly in English;
" being en rapport," a French expression, but so Anglicized that
it is continually heard amongst ourselves. And that term, in some
ways, is the closest to the meaning of the Sanskrit word yoga;
"to be in relation to"; "to be connected with"; "to enter into";
"to merge in"; and so on: all these ideas are classified together
under the one head of "Yoga". When you find Sri Krishna saying
that "Yoga is equilibrium," in the Sanskrit He is saying a
perfectly obvious thing, because Yoga implies balance, yoking and
the Sanskrit of equilibrium is "samvata--togetherness"; so that
it is a perfectly simple, straightforward statement, not
connoting anything very deep, but merely expressing one of the
fundamental meanings of the word He is using. And so with another
word, a word used in the commentary on the Sutra I quoted before,
which conveys to the Hindu a perfectly straightforward meaning:
"Yoga is Samadhi." To an only English-knowing person that does
not convey any very definite idea; each word needs explanation.
To a Sanskrit-knowing man the two words are obviously related to
one another. For the word yoga, we have seen, means "yoked
together," and Samadhi derived from the root dha, "to place,"
with the prepositions sam and a, meaning "completely together".
Samadhi, therefore, literally means " fully placing together,"
and its etymological equivalent in English would be " to compose
" (com=sam; posita= place). Samadhi therefore means "composing
the mind," collecting it together, checking all distractions.
Thus by philological, as well as by practical, investigation the
two words yoga and samadhi are inseparably linked together. And
when Vyasa, the commentator, says: "Yoga is the composed mind,"
he is conveying a clear and significant idea as to what is
implied in Yoga. Although Samadhi has come to mean, by a natural
sequence of ideas, the trance-state which results from perfect
composure, its original meaning should not be lost sight of.

Thus, in explaining Yoga, one is often at a loss for the English
equivalent of the manifold meanings of the Sanskrit tongue, and I
earnestly advise those of you who can do so, at least to acquaint
yourselves sufficiently with this admirable language, to make the
literature of Yoga more intelligible to you than it can be to a
person who is completely ignorant of Sanskrit.

Its Relation to Indian Philosophies

Let me ask you to think for a while on the place of Yoga in its
relation to two of the great Hindu schools of philosophical
thought, for neither the Westerner nor the non-Sanskrit-knowing
Indian can ever really understand the translations of the chief
Indian books, now current here and in the West, and the force of
all the allusions they make, unless they acquaint themselves in
some degree with the outlines of these great schools of
philosophy, they being the very foundation on which these books
are built up. Take the Bhagavad-Gita. Probably there are many who
know that book fairly well, who use it as the book to help in the
spiritual life, who are not familiar with most of its precepts.
But you must always be more or less in a fog in reading it,
unless you realise the fact that it is founded on a particular
Indian philosophy and that the meaning of nearly all the
technical words in it is practically limited by their meaning in
philosophy known as the Samkhya. There are certain phrases
belonging rather to the Vedanta, but the great majority are
Samkhyan, and it is taken for granted that the people reading or
using the book are familiar with the outline of the Samkhyan
philosophy. I do not want to take you into details, but I must
give you the leading ideas of the philosophy. For if you grasp
these, you will not only read your Bhagavad-Gita with much more
intelligence than before, but you will be able to use it
practically for yogic purposes in a way that, without this
knowledge, is almost impossible.

Alike in the Bhagavad-Gita and in the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali
the terms are Samkhyan, and historically Yoga is based on the
Samkhya, so far as its philosophy is concerned. Samkhya does not
concern itself with, the existence of Deity, but only with the
becoming of a universe, the order of evolution. Hence it is often
called Nir-isvara Samkhya, the Samkhya without God. But so
closely is it bound up with the Yoga system, that the latter is
called Sesvara Samkhya, with God. For its understanding,
therefore, I must outline part of the Samkhya philosophy, that
part which deals with the relation of Spirit and matter; note the
difference from this of the Vedantic conception of Self and
Not-Self, and then find the reconciliation in the Theosophic
statement of the facts in nature. The directions which fall from
the lips of the Lord of Yoga in the Gita may sometimes seem to
you opposed to each other and contradictory, because they
sometimes are phrased in the Samkhyan and sometimes in the
Vedantic terms, starting from different standpoints, one looking
at the world from the standpoint of matter, the other from the
standpoint of Spirit. If you are a student of Theosophy, then the
knowledge of the facts will enable you to translate the different
phrases. That reconciliation and understanding of these
apparently contradictory phrases is the object to which I would
ask your attention now.

The Samkhyan School starts with the statement that the universe
consists of two factors, the first pair of opposites, Spirit and
Matter, or more accurately Spirits and Matter. The Spirit is
called Purusha--the Man; and each Spirit is an individual.
Purusha is a unit, a unit of consciousness; they are all of the
same nature, but distinct everlastingly the one from the other.
Of these units there are many; countless Purushas are to be found
in the world of men. But while they are countless in number they
are identical in nature, they are homogeneous. Every Purusha has
three characteristics, and these three are alike in all. One
characteristic is awareness; it will become cognition. The second
of the characteristics is life or prana; it will become activity.
The third characteristic is immutability, the essence of
eternity; it will become will. Eternity is not, as some
mistakenly think, everlasting time. Everlasting time has nothing
to do with eternity. Time and eternity are two altogether
different things. Eternity is changeless, immutable,
simultaneous. No succession in time, albeit everlasting--if such
could be--could give eternity. The fact that Purusha has this
attribute of immutability tells us that He is eternal; for
changelessness is a mark of the eternal.

Such are the three attributes of Purusha, according to the
Samkhya. Though these are not the same in nomenclature as the
Vedantic Sat, Chit, Ananda, yet they are practically identical.
Awareness or cognition is Chit; life or force is Sat; and
immutability, the essence of eternity, is Ananda.

Over against these Purushas, homogeneous units, countless in
number, stands Prakriti, Matter, the second in the Samkhyan
duality. Prakriti is one; Purushas are many. Prakriti is a
continuum; Purushas are discontinuous, being innumerable,
homogeneous units. Continuity is the mark of Prakriti. Pause for
a moment on the name Prakriti. Let us investigate its root
meaning. The name indicates its essence. Pra means "forth," and
kri is the root "make". Prakriti thus means "forth-making ".
Matter is that which enables the essence of Being to become. That
which is Being--is-tence, becomes ex-is-tence--outbeing, by
Matter, and to describe Matter as "forth-making" is to give its
essence in a single word. Only by Prakriti can Spirit, or
Purusha, "forth-make" or "manifest" himself. Without the presence
of Prakriti, Purusha is helpless, a mere abstraction. Only by the
presence of, and in Prakriti, can Purusha make manifest his
powers. Prakriti has also three characteristics, the well-known
gunas--attributes or qualities. These are rhythm, mobility and
inertia. Rhythm enables awareness to become cognition. Mobility
enables life to become activity. Inertia enables immutability to
become will.

Now the conception as to the relation of Spirit to Matter is a
very peculiar one, and confused ideas about it give rise to many
misconceptions. If you grasp it, the Bhagavad-Gita becomes
illuminated, and all the phrases about action and actor, and the
mistake of saying "I act," become easy to understand, as implying
technical Samkhyan ideas.

The three qualities of Prakriti, when Prakriti is thought of as
away from Purusha, are in equilibrium, motionless, poised the one
against the other, counter-balancing and neutralizing each other,
so that Matter is called jada, unconscious, "dead". But in the
presence of Purusha all is changed. When Purusha is in
propinquity to Matter, then there is a change in Matter--not
outside, but in it.

Purusha acts on Prakriti by propinquity, says Vyasa. It comes
near Prakriti, and Prakriti begins to live. The "coming near" is
a figure of speech, an adaptation to our ideas of time and space,
for we cannot posit "nearness" of that which is timeless and
spaceless--Spirit. By the word propinquity is indicated an
influence exerted by Purusha on Prakriti, and this, where
material objects are concerned, would be brought about by their
propinquity. If a magnet be brought near to a piece of soft iron
or an electrified body be brought near to a neutral one, certain
changes are wrought in the soft iron or in the neutral body by
that bringing near. The propinquity of the magnet makes the soft
iron a magnet; the qualities of the magnet are produced in it, it
manifests poles, it attracts steel, it attracts or repels the end
of an electric needle. In the presence of a postively electrified
body the electricity in a neutral body is re-arranged, and the
positive retreats while the negative gathers near the electrified
body. An internal change has occurred in both cases from the
propinquity of another object. So with Purusha and Prakriti.
Purusha does nothing, but from Purusha there comes out an
influence, as in the case of the magnetic influence. The three
gunas, under this influence of Purusha, undergo a marvellous
change. I do not know what words to use, in order not to make a
mistake in putting it. You cannot say that Prakriti absorbs the
influence. You can hardly say that it reflects the Purusha. But
the presence of Purusha brings about certain internal changes,
causes a difference in the equilibrium of the three gunas in
Prakriti. The three gunas were in a state of equilibrium. No guna
was manifest. One guna was balanced against another. What happens
when Purusha influences Prakriti? The quality of awareness in
Purusha is taken up by, or reflected in, the guna called Sattva--
rhythm, and it becomes cognition in Prakriti. The quality that we
call life in Purusha is taken up by, or reflected, in the guna
called Rajas--mobility, and it becomes force, energy, activity,
in Prakriti. The quality that we call immutability in Purusha is
taken up by, or reflected, in the guna called Tamas--inertia, and
shows itself out as will or desire in Prakriti. So that, in that
balanced equilibrium of Prakriti, a change has taken place by the
mere propinquity of, or presence of, the Purusha. The Purusha has
lost nothing, but at the same time a change has taken place in
matter. Cognition has appeared in it. Activity, force, has
appeared in it. Will or desire has appeared in it. With this
change in Prakriti another change occurs. The three attributes of
Purusha cannot be separated from each other, nor can the three
attributes of Prakriti be separated each from each. Hence rhythm,
while appropriating awareness, is under the influence of the
whole three-in-one Purusha and cannot but also take up
subordinately life and immutability as activity and will. And so
with mobility and inertia. In combinations one quality or another
may predominate, and we may have combinations which show
preponderantly awareness-rhythm, or life- mobility, or
immutability-inertia. The combinations in which awareness-rhythm
or cognition predominates become "mind in nature," the subject or
subjective half of nature. Combinations in which either of the
other two predominates become the object or objective half of
nature, the " force and matter " of the western scientist.[FN#7:
A friend notes that the first is the Suddha Sattva of the
Ramanuja School, and the second and third the Prakriti, or
spirit-matter, in the lower sense of the same.]

We have thus nature divided into two, the subject and the object.
We have now in nature everything that is wanted for the
manifestation of activity, for the production of forms and for
the expression of consciousness. We have mind, and we have force
and matter. Purusha has nothing more to do, for he has infused
all powers into Prakriti and sits apart, contemplating their
interplay, himself remaining unchanged. The drama of existence is
played out within Matter, and all that Spirit does is to look at
it. Purusha is the spectator before whom the drama is played. He
is not the actor, but only a spectator. The actor is the
subjective part of nature, the mind, which is the reflection of
awareness in rhythmic matter. That with which it works--objective
nature, is the reflection of the other qualities of Purusha--life
and immutability--in the gunas, Rajas and Tamas. Thus we have in
nature everything that is wanted for the production of the
universe. The Putusha only looks on when the drama is played
before him. He is spectator, not actor. This is the predominant
note of the Bhagavad-Gita. Nature does everything. The gunas
bring about the universe. The man who says: "I act," is mistaken
and confused; the gunas act, not he. He is only the spectator and
looks on. Most of the Gita teaching is built upon this conception
of the Samkhya, and unless that is clear in our minds we can
never discriminate the meaning under the phrases of a particular

Let us now turn to the Vedantic idea. According to the Vedantic
view the Self is one, omnipresent, all-permeating, the one
reality. Nothing exists except the Self--that is the
starting-point in Vedanta. All permeating, all-controlling, all-
inspiring, the Self is everywhere present. As the ether permeates
all matter, so does the One Self permeate, restrain, support,
vivify all. It is written in the Gita that as the air goes
everywhere, so is the Self everywhere in the infinite diversity
of objects. As we try to follow the outline of Vedantic thought,
as we try to grasp this idea of the one universal Self, who is
existence, consciousness, bliss, Sat-Chit-Ananda, we find that we
are carried into a loftier region of philosophy than that
occupied by the Samkhya. The Self is One. The Self is everywhere
conscious, the Self is everywhere existent, the Self is
everywhere blissful. There is no division between these qualities
of the Self. Everywhere, all-embracing, these qualities are found
at every point, in every place. There is no spot on which you can
put your finger and say "The Self is not here." Where the Self
is--and He is everywhere--there is existence, there is
consciousness, and there is bliss. The Self, being consciousness,
imagines limitation, division. From that imagination of
limitation arises form, diversity, manyness. From that thought of
the Self, from that thought of limitation, all diversity of the
many is born. Matter is the limitation imposed upon the Self by
His own will to limit Himself. "Eko'ham, bahu syam," "I am one; I
will to he many"; "let me be many," is the thought of the One;
and in that thought, the manifold universe comes into existence.
In that limitation, Self-created, He exists, He is conscious, He
is happy. In Him arises the thought that He is Self-existence,
and behold! all existence becomes possible. Because in Him is the
will to manifest, all manifestation at once comes into existence.
Because in Him is all bliss, therefore is the law of life the
seeking for happiness, the essential characteristic of every
sentient creature. The universe appears by the Self-limitation in
thought of the Self. The moment the Self ceases to think it, the
universe is not, it vanishes as a dream. That is the fundamental
idea of the Vedanta. Then it accepts the spirits of the Samkhya--
the Purushas; but it says that these spirits are only reflections
of the one Self, emanated by the activity of the Self and that
they all reproduce Him in miniature, with the limitations which
the universal Self has imposed upon them, which are apparently
portions of the universe, but are really identical with Him. It
is the play of the Supreme Self that makes the limitations, and
thus reproduces within limitations the qualities of the Self; the
consciousness of the Self, of the Supreme Self; becomes, in the
particularised Self, cognition, the power to know; and the
existence of the Self becomes activity, the power to manifest;
and the bliss of the Self becomes will, the deepest part of all,
the longing for happiness, for bliss; the resolve to obtain it is
what we call will. And so in the limited, the power to know, and
the power to act, and the power to will, these are the
reflections in the particular Self of the essential qualities of
the universal Self. Otherwise put: that which was universal
awareness becomes now cognition in the separated Self; that which
in the universal Self was awareness of itself becomes in the
limited Self awareness of others; the awareness of the whole
becomes the cognition of the individual. So with the existence of
the Self: the Self-existence of the universal Self becomes, in
the limited Self, activity, preservation of existence. So does
the bliss of the universal Self, in the limited expression of the
individual Self, become the will that seeks for happiness, the
Self-determination of the Self, the seeking for Self-realisation,
that deepest essence of human life.

The difference comes with limitation, with the narrowing of the
universal qualities into the specific qualities of the limited
Self; both are the same in essence, though seeming different in
manifestation. We have the power to know, the power to will, and
the power to act. These are the three great powers of the Self
that show themselves in the separated Self in every diversity of
forms, from the minutes" organism to the loftiest Logos.

Then just as in the Samkhya, if the Purusha, the particular Self,
should identify himself with the matter in which he is reflected,
then there is delusion and bondage, so in the Vedanta, if the
Self, eternally free, imagines himself to be bound by matter,
identifying himself with his limitations, he is deluded, he is
under the domain of Maya; for Maya is the self-identification of
the Self with his limitations. The eternally free can never be
bound by matter; the eternally pure can never be tainted by
matter; the eternally knowing can never be deluded by matter; the
eternally Self-determined can never be ruled by matter, save by
his own ignorance. His own foolish fancy limits his inherent
powers; he is bound, because he imagines himself bound; he is
impure, because he imagines himself impure; he is ignorant,
because he imagines himself ignorant. With the vanishing of
delusion he finds that he is eternally pure, eternally wise.

Here is the great difference between the Samkhya and the Vedanta.
According to the Samkhya, Purusha is the spectator and never the
actor. According to Vedanta the Self is the only actor, all else
is maya: there is no one else who acts but the Self, according to
the Vedanta teaching. As says the Upanishad: the Self willed to
see, and there were eyes; the Self willed to hear, and there were
ears; the Self willed to think, and there was mind. The eyes, the
ears, the mind exist, because the Self has willed them into
existence. The Self appropriates matter, in order that He may
manifest His powers through it. There is the distinction between
the Samkhya and the Vedanta: in the Samkhya the propinquity of
the Purusha brings out in matter or Prakriti all these
characteristics, the Prakriti acts and not the Purusha; in the
Vedanta, Self alone exists and Self alone acts; He imagines
limitation and matter appears; He appropriates that matter in
order that He may manifest His own capacity.

The Samkhya is the view of the universe of the scientist: the
Vedanta is the view of the universe of the metaphysician. Haeckel
unconsciously expounded the Samkhyan philosophy almost perfectly.
So close to the Samkhyan is his exposition, that another idea
would make it purely Samkhyan; he has not yet supplied that
propinquity of consciousness which the Samkhya postulates in its
ultimate duality. He has Force and Matter, he has Mind in Matter,
but he has no Purusha. His last book, criticised by Sir Oliver
Lodge, is thoroughly intelligible from the Hindu standpoint as an
almost accurate representation of Samkhyan philosophy. It is the
view of the scientist, indifferent to the "why" of the facts
which he records. The Vedanta, as I said, is the view of the
metaphysician he seeks the unity in which all diversities are
rooted and into which they are resolved.

Now, what light does Theosophy throw on both these systems?
Theosophy enables every thinker to reconcile the partial
statements which are apparently so contradictory. Theosophy, with
the Vedanta, proclaims the universal Self. All that the Vedanta
says of the universal Self and the Self- limitation, Theosophy
repeats. We call these Self-limited selves Monads, and we say, as
the Vedantin says, that these Monads reproduce the nature of the
universal Self whose portions they are. And hence you find in
them the three qualities which you find in the Supreme. They are
units' and these represent the Purushas of the Samkhya; but with
a very great difference, for they are not passive watchers, but
active agents in the drama of the universe, although, being above
the fivefold universe, they are as spectators who pull the
strings of the players of the stage. The Monad takes to himself
from the universe of matter atoms which show out the qualities
corresponding to his three qualities, and in these he thinks, and
wills and acts. He takes to himself rhythmic combinations, and
shows his quality of cognition. He takes to himself combinations
that are mobile; through those he shows out his activity. He
takes the combinations that are inert, and shows out his quality
of bliss, as the will to be happy. Now notice the difference of
phrase and thought. In the Samkhya, Matter changed to reflect the
Spirit; in fact, the Spirit appropriates portions of Matter, and
through those expresses his own characteristics--an enormous
difference. He creates an actor for Self-expression, and this
actor is the "spiritual man" of the Theosophical teaching, the
spiritual Triad, the Atma-buddhi-manas, to whom we shall return
in a moment.

The Monad remains ever beyond the fivefold universe, and in that
sense is a spectator. He dwells beyond the five planes of matter.
Beyond the Atmic, or Akasic; beyond the Buddhic plane, the plane
of Vayu; beyond the mental plane, the plane of Agni; beyond the
astral plane, the plane of Varuna; beyond the physical plane, the
plane of Kubera. Beyond all these planes the Monad, the Self,
stands Self-conscious and Self-determined. He reigns in
changeless peace and lives in eternity. But as said above, he
appropriates matter. He takes to himself an atom of the Atmic
plane, and in that he, as it were, incorporates his will, and
that becomes Atma. He appropriates an atom of the Buddhic plane,
and reflects in that his aspect of cognition, and that becomes
buddhi. He appropriates an atom of the manasic plane and
embodies, as it were, his activity in it, and it becomes Manas.
Thus we get Atma, plus Buddhi, plus Manas. That triad is the
reflection in the fivefold universe of the Monad beyond the
fivefold universe. The terms of Theosophy can be easily
identified with those of other schools. The Monad of Theosophy is
the Jivatma of Indian philosophy, the Purusha of the Samkhya, the
particularised Self of the Vedanta. The threefold manifestation,
Atma-buddhi-manas, is the result of the Purusha's propinquity to
Prakriti, the subject of the Samkhyan philosophy, the Self
embodied in the highest sheaths, according to the Vedantic
teaching. In the one you have this Self and His sheaths, and in
the other the Subject, a reflection in matter of Purusha. Thus
you can readily see that you are dealing with the same concepts
but they are looked at from different standpoints. We are nearer
to the Vedanta than to the Samkhya, but if you know the
principles you can put the statements of the two philosophies in
their own niches and will not be confused. Learn the principles
and you can explain all the theories. That is the value of the
Theosophical teaching; it gives you the principles and leaves you
to study the philosophies, and you study them with a torch in
your hand instead of in the dark.

Now when we understand the nature of the spiritual man, or Triad,
what do we find with regard to all the manifestations of
consciousness? That they are duads, Spirit-Matter everywhere, on
every plane of our fivefold universe. If you are a scientist, you
will call it spiritualised Matter; if you are a metaphysician you
will call it materialised Spirit. Either phrase is equally true,
so long as you remember that both are always present in every
manifestation, that what you see is not the play of matter alone,
but the play of Spirit-Matter, inseparable through the period of
manifestation. Then, when you come, in reading an ancient book,
to the statement "mind is material," you will not be confused;
you will know that the writer is only speaking on the Samkhyan
line, which speaks of Matter everywhere but always implies that
the Spirit is looking on, and that this presence makes the work
of Matter possible. You will not, when reading the constant
statement in Indian philosophies that "mind is material," confuse
this with the opposite view of the materialist which says that
"mind is the product of matter"--a very different thing. Although
the Samkhyan may use materialistic terms, he always posits the
vivifying influence of Spirit, while the materialist makes Spirit
the product of Matter. Really a gulf divides them, although the
language they use may often be the same.


"Yoga is the inhibition of the functions of the mind," says
Patanjali. The functions of the mind must be suppressed, and in
order that we may be able to follow out really what this means,
we must go more closely into what the Indian philosopher means by
the word "mind".

Mind, in the wide sense of the term, has three great properties
or qualities: cognition, desire or will, activity. Now Yoga is
not immediately concerned with all these three, but only with
one, cognition, the Samkhyan subject. But you cannot separate
cognition, as we have seen, completely from the others, because
consciousness is a unit, and although we are only concerned with
that part of consciousness which we specifically call cognition,
we cannot get cognition all by itself. Hence the Indian
psychologist investigating this property, cognition, divides it
up into three or, as the Vedanta says, into four (with all
submission, the Vedantin here makes a mistake). If you take up
any Vedantic book and read about mind, you will find a particular
word used for it which. translated, means "internal organ". This
antah-karana is the word always used where in English we use
"mind"; but it is only used in relation to cognition, not in
relation to activity and desire. It is said to be fourfold, being
made up of Manas, Buddhi, Ahamkara, and Chitta; but this fourfold
division is a very curious division. We know what Manas is, what
Buddhi is, what Ahamkara is, but what is this Chitta? What is
Chitta, outside Manas, Buddhi and Ahamkara? Ask anyone you like.
and record his answer; you will find that it is of the vaguest
kind. Let us try to analyse it for ourselves, and see whether
light will come upon it by using the Theosophic idea of a triplet
summed up in a fourth, that is not really a fourth, but the
summation of the three. Manas, Buddhi and Ahamkara are the three
different sides of a triangle,' which triangle is called Chitta.
The Chitta is not a fourth, but the sum of the three: Manas,
Buddhi and Ahamkara. This is the old idea of a trinity in unity.
Over and over again H. P. Blavatsky uses this summation as a
fourth to her triplets, for she follows the old methods. The
fourth, which sums up the three but is not other than they, makes
a unity out of their apparent diversity. Let us apply that to

Take cognition. Though in cognition that aspect of the Self is
predominant, yet it cannot exist absolutely alone, The whole Self
is there in every act of cognition. Similarly with the other two.
One cannot exist separate from the others. Where there is
cognition the other two are present, though subordinate to it.
The activity is there, the will is there. Let us think of
cognition as pure as it can be, turned on itself, reflected in
itself, and we have Buddhi, the pure reason, the very essence of
cognition; this in the universe is represented by Vishnu, the
sustaining wisdom of the universe. Now let us think of cognition
looking outwards, and as reflecting itself in activity, its
brother quality, and we have a mixture of cognition and activity
which is called Manas, the active mind; cognition reflected in
activity is Manas in man or Brahma, the creative mind, in the
universe. When cognition similarly reflects itself in will, then
it becomes Ahamkara, the "I am I" in man, represented by Mahadeva
in the universe. Thus wee have found within the limits of this
cognition a triple division, making up the internal organ or
Antahkarana--Manas, plus Buddhi, plus Ahamkara--and we can find
no fourth. What is then Chitta? It is the summation of the three,
the three taken together, the totality of the three. Because of
the old way of counting these things, you get this division of
Antahkarana into four.

The Mental Body

We must now deal with the mental body, which is taken as
equivalent to mind for practical purposes. The first thing for a
man to do in practical Yoga is to separate himself from the
mental body, to draw away from that into the sheath next above
it. And here remember what I said previously, that in Yoga the
Self is always the consciousness plus the vehicle from which the
consciousness is unable to separate itself. All that is above the
body you cannot leave is the Self for practical purposes, and
your first attempt must be to draw away from your mental body.
Under these conditions, Manas must be identified with the Self,
and the spiritual Triad, the Atma-buddhi-manas, is to be realised
as separate from the mental body. That is the first step. You
must be able to take up and lay down your mind as you do a tool,
before it is of any use to consider the further progress of the
Self in getting rid of its envelopes. Hence the mental body is
taken as the starting point. Suppress thought. Quiet it. Still
it. Now what is the ordinary condition of the mental body? As you
look upon that body from a higher plane, you see constant changes
of colours playing in it. You find that they are sometimes
initiated from within, sometimes from without. Sometimes a
vibration from without has caused a change in consciousness, and
a corresponding change in the colours in the mental body. If
there is a change of consciousness, that causes vibration in the
matter in which that consciousness is functioning. The mental
body is a body of ever-changing hues and colours, never still,
changing colour with swift rapidity throughout the whole of it.
Yoga is the stopping of all these, the inhibition of vibrations
and changes alike. Inhibition of the change of consciousness
stops the vibration of the mental body; the checking of the
vibration of the mental body checks the change in consciousness.
In the mental body of a Master there is no change of colour save
as initiated from within; no outward stimulus can produce any
answer, any vibration,ùin that perfectly controlled mental body.
The colour of the mental body of a Master is as moonlight on the
rippling ocean. Within that whiteness of moon-like refulgence lie
all possibilities of colour, but nothing in the outer world can
make the faintest change of hue sweep over its steady radiance.
If a change of consciousness occurs within, then the change will
send a wave of delicate hues over the mental body which responds
only in colour to changes initiated from within and never to
changes stimulated from without. His mental body is never His
Self, but only His tool or instrument, which He can take up or
lay down at His will. It is only an outer sheath that He uses
when He needs to communicate with the lower world.

By that idea of the stopping of all changes of colour in the
mental body you can realise what is meant by inhibition. The
functions of mind are stopped in Yoga. You have to begin with
your mental body. You have to learn how to stop the whole of
those vibrations, how to make the mental body colourless, still
and quiet, responsive only to the impulses that you choose to put
upon it. How will you be able to tell when the mind is really
coming under control, when it is no longer a part of your Self?
You will begin to realise this when you find that, by the action
of your will, you can check the current of thought and hold the
mind in perfect stillness. Sheath after sheath has to be
transcended, and the proof of transcending is that it can no
longer affect you. You can affect it, but it cannot affect you.
The moment that nothing outside you can harass you, can stir the
mind, the moment that the mind does not respond to the outer,
save under your own impulse, then can you say of it: "This is not
my Self." It has become part of the outer, it can no longer be
identified with the Self.

From this you pass on to the conquest of the causal body in a
similar way. When the conquering of the causal body is complete
then you go to the conquering of the Buddhic body. When mastery
over the Buddhic body is complete, you pass on to the~conquest of
the Atmic body.

Mind and Self

You cannot be surprised that under these conditions of continued
disappearance of functions, the unfortunate student asks: " What
becomes of the mind itself? If you suppress all the functions,
what is left?" In the Indian way of teaching, when you come to a
difficulty, someone jumps up and asks a question. And in the
commentaries, the question which raises the difficulty is always
put. The answer of Patanjali is: "Then the spectator remains in
his own form." Theosophy answers: "The Monad remains." It is the
end of the human pilgrimage. That is the highest point to which
humanity may climb: to suppress all the reflections in the
fivefold universe through which the Monad has manifested his
powers, and then for the Monad to realise himself, enriched by
the experiences through which his manifested aspects have passed.
But to the Samkhyan the difficulty is very great, for when he has
only his spectator left, when spectacle ceases, the spectator
himself almost vanishes. His only function was to look on at the
play of mind. When the play of mind is gone, what is left? He can
no longer be a spectator, since there is nothing to see. The only
answer is: " He remains in his own form." He is now out of
manifestation, the duality is transcended, and so the Spirit
sinks back into latency, no longer capable of manifestation.
There you come to a very serious difference with the Theosophical
view of the universe, for according to that view of the universe,
when all these functions have been suppressed, then the Monad is
ruler over matter and is prepared for a new cycle of activity, no
longer slave but master.

All analogy shows us that as the Self withdraws from sheath after
sheath, he does not lose but gains in Self- realisation.
Self-realisation becomes more and more vivid with each successive
withdrawal; so that as the Self puts aside one veil of matter
after another, recognises in regular succession that each body in
turn is not himself, by that process of withdrawal his sense of
Self-reality becomes keener, not less keen. It is important to
remember that, because often Western readers, dealing with
Eastern ideas, in consequence of misunderstanding the meaning of
the state of liberation, or the condition of Nirvana, identify it
with nothingness or unconsciousness--an entirely mistaken idea
which is apt to colour the whole of their thought when dealing
with Yogic processes. Imagine the condition of a man who
identifies himself completely with the body, so that he cannot,
even in thought, separate himself from it--the state of the early
undeveloped man--and compare that with the strength, vigour and
lucidity of your own mental consciousness.

The consciousness of the early man limited to the physical body,
with occasional touches of dream consciousness, is very
restricted in its range. He has no idea of the sweep of your
consciousness, of your abstract thinking. But is that
consciousness of the early man more vivid, or less vivid, than
yours? Certainly you will say, it is less vivid. You have largely
transcended his powers of consciousness. Your consciousness is
astral rather than physical, but has thereby increased its
vividness. AS the Self withdraws himself from sheath after
sheath, he realises himself more and more, not less and less;
Self-realisation becomes more intense, as sheath after sheath is
cast aside. The centre grows more powerful as the circumference
becomes more permeable, and at last a stage is reached when the
centre knows itself at every point of the circumference. When
that is accomplished the circumference vanishes, but not so the
centre. The centre still remains. Just as you are more vividly
conscious than the early man, just as your consciousness is more
alive, not less, than that of an undeveloped man, so it is as we
climb up the stairway of life and cast away garment after
garment. We become more conscious of existence, more conscious of
knowledge, more conscious of Self-determined power. The faculties
of the Self shine out more strongly, as veil after veil falls
away. By analogy, then, when we touch the Monad, our
consciousness should be mightier, more vivid, and more perfect.
As you learn to truly live, your powers and feelings grow in

And remember that all control is exercised over sheaths, over
portions of the Not-Self. You do not control your Self; that is a
misconception; you control your Not-Self. The Self is never
controlled; He is the Inner Ruler Immortal. He is the controller,
not the controlled. As sheath after sheath becomes subject to
your Self, and body after body becomes the tool of your Self,
then shall you realise the truth of the saying of the Upanishad,
that you are the Self, the Inner Ruler, the immortal.

Lecture III


I propose now to deal first with the two great methods of Yoga,
one related to the Self and the other to the Not-Self. Let me
remind you, before I begin, that we are dealing only with the
science of Yoga and not with other means of attaining union with
the Divine. The scientific method, following the old Indian
conception, is the one to which I am asking your attention. I
would remind you, however, that, though I am only dealing with
this, there remain also the other two great ways of Bhakti and
Karma. The Yoga we are studying specially concerns the Marga of
Jnanam or knowledge, and within that way, within that Marga or
path of knowledge, we find that three subdivisions occur, as
everywhere in nature.

Methods of Yoga

With regard to what I have just called the two great methods in
Yoga, we find that by one of these a man treads the path of
knowledge by Buddhi--the pure reason; and the other the same path
by Manas--the concrete mind. You may remember that in speaking
yesterday of the sub- divisions of Antah-karana, I pointed out to
you that there we had a process of reflection of one quality in
another; and within the limits of the cognitional aspect of the
Self, you find Buddhi, cognition reflected in cognition; and
Ahamkara, cognition reflected in will; and Manas, cognition
reflected in activity. Bearing those three sub-divisions in mind,
you will very readily be able to see that these two methods of
Yoga fall naturally under two of these heads. But what of the
third? What of the will, of which Ahamkara is the representative
in cognition? That certainly has its road, but it can scarcely be
said to be a "method". Will breaks its way upwards by sheer
unflinching determination, keeping its eyes fixed on the end, and
using either buddhi or manes indifferently as a means to that
end. Metaphysics is used to realise the Self; science is used to
understand the Not-Self; but either is grasped, either is thrown
aside, as it serves, or fails to serve, the needs of the moment.
Often the man, in whom will is predominant, does not know how he
gains the object he is aiming at; it comes to his hands, but the
"how" is obscure to him; he willed to have it, and nature gives
it to him. This is also seen in Yoga in the man of Ahamkara, the
sub-type of will in cognition. Just as in the man of Ahamkara,
Buddhi and Manas are subordinate, so in the man of Buddhi,
Ahamkara and Manas are not absent, but are subordinate; and in
the man of Manas, Ahamkara and Buddhi are present, but play a
subsidiary part. Both the metaphysician and the scientist must be
supported by Ahamkara. That Self-determining faculty, that
deliberate setting of oneself to a chosen end, that is necessary
in all forms of Yoga. Whether a Yogi is going to follow the
purely cognitional way of Buddhi, or whether he is going to
follow the more active path of Manas, in both cases he needs the
self-determining will in order to sustain him in his arduous
task. You remember it is written in the Upanishad that the weak
man cannot reach the Self. Strength is wanted. Determination is
wanted. Perseverance is wanted. And you must have, in every
successful Yogi, that intense determination which is the very
essence of individuality.

Now what are these two great methods? One of them may be
described as seeking the Self by the Self; the other may be
described as seeking the Self by the Not-Self; and if you will
think of them in that fashion, I think you will find the idea
illuminative. Those who seek the Self by the Self, seek him
through the faculty of Buddhi; they turn ever inwards, and turn
away from the outer world. Those who seek the Self by the
Not-Self, seek him through the active working Manas; they are
outward-turned, and by study of the Not-Self, they learn to
realise the Self. The one is the path of the metaphysician; the
other is the path of the scientist.

To the Self by the Self

Let us look at this a little more closely, with its appropriate
methods. The path on which the faculty of Buddhi is used
predominantly is, as just said, the path of the metaphysician. It
is the path of the philosopher. He turns inwards, ever seeking to
find the Self by diving into the recesses of his own nature.
Knowing that the Self is within him, he tries to strip away
vesture after vesture, envelope after envelope, and by a process
of rejecting them he reaches the glory of the unveiled Self. To
begin this, he must give up concrete thinking and dwell amidst
abstractions. His method, then, must be strenuous,
long-sustained, patient meditation. Nothing else will serve his
end; strenuous, hard thinking, by which he rises away from the
concrete into the abstract regions of the mind; strenuous, hard
thinking, further continued, by which he reaches from the
abstract region of the mind up to the region of Buddhi, where
unity is sensed; still by strenuous thinking, climbing yet
further, until Buddhi as it were opens out into Atma, until the
Self is seen in his splendour, with only a film of atmic matter,
the envelope of Atma in the manifested fivefold world. It is
along that difficult and strenuous path that the Self must be
found by way of the Self.

Such a man must utterly disregard the Not-Self. He must shut his
senses against the outside world. The world must no longer be
able to touch him. The senses must be closed against all the
vibrations that come from without, and he must turn a deaf ear, a
blind eye, to all the allurements of matter, to all the diversity
of objects, which make up the universe of the Not-Self. Seclusion
will help him, until he is strong enough to close himself against
the outer stimuli or allurements. The contemplative orders in the
Roman Catholic Church offer a good environment for this path.
They put the outer world away, as far away as possible. It is a
snare, a temptation, a hindrance. Always turning away from the
world, the Yogi must fix his thought, his attention, upon the
Self. Hence for those who walk along this road, what are called
the Siddhis are direct obstacles, and not helps. But that
statement that you find so often, that the Siddhis are things to
be avoided, is far more sweeping than some of our modern
Theosophists are apt to imagine. They declare that the Siddhis
are to be avoided, but forget that the Indian who says this also
avoids the use of the physical senses. He closes physical eyes
and ears as hindrances. But some Theosophists urge avoidance of
all use of the astral senses and mental senses, but they do not
object to the free use of the physical senses, or dream that they


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