An Introduction to Yoga
Annie Besant

Part 2 out of 2

are hindrances. Why not? If the senses are obstacles in their
finer forms, they are also obstacles in their grosser
manifestations. To the man who would find the Self by the Self,
every sense is a hindrance and an obstacle, and there is no
logic, no reason, in denouncing the subtler senses only, while
forgetting the temptations of the physical senses, impediments as
much as the other. No such division exists for the man who tries
to understand the universe in which he is. In the search for the
Self by the Self, all that is not Self is an obstacle. Your eyes,
your ears, everything that puts you into contact with the outer
world, is just as much an obstacle as the subtler forms of the
same senses which put you into touch with the subtler worlds of
matter, which you call astral and mental. This exaggerated fear
of the Siddhis is only a passing reaction, not based on
understanding but on lack of understanding; and those who
denounce the Siddhis should rise to the logical position of the
Hindu Yogi, or of the Roman Catholic recluse, who denounces all
the senses, and all the objects of the senses, as obstacles in
the way. Many Theosophists here, and more in the West, think that
much is gained by acuteness of the physical senses, and of the
other faculties in the physical brain; but the moment the senses
are acute enough to be astral, or the faculties begin to work in
astral matter, they treat them as objects of denunciation. That
is not rational. It is not logical. Obstacles, then, are all the
senses, whether you call them Siddhis or not, in the search for
the Self by turning away from the Not-Self.

It is necessary for the man who seeks the Self by the Self to
have the quality which is called "faith," in the sense in which I
defined it before--the profound, intense conviction, that nothing
can shake, of the reality of the Self within you. That is the one
thing that is worthy to be dignified by the name of faith. Truly
it is beyond reason, for not by reason may the Self be known as
real. Truly it is not based on argument, for not by reasoning may
the Self be discovered. It is the witness of the Self within you
to his own supreme reality, and that unshakable conviction, which
is shraddha, is necessary for the treading of this path. It is
necessary, because without it the human mind would fail, the
human courage would be daunted, the human perseverance would
break, with the difficulties of the seeking for the Self. Only
that imperious conviction that the Self is, only that can cheer
the pilgrim in the darkness that comes down upon him, in the void
that he must cross before--the life of the lower being thrown
away--the life of the higher is realised. This imperious faith is
to the Yogi on this path what experience and knowledge are to the
Yogi on the other.

To the Self Through the Not-self

Turn from him to the seeker for the Self through the Not- Self.
This is the way of the scientist, of the man who uses the
concrete, active Manas, in order scientifically to understand the
universe; he has to find the real among the unreal, the eternal
among the changing, the Self amid the diversity of forms. How is
he to do it? By a close and rigorous study of every changing form
in which the Self has veiled himself. By studying the Not-Self
around him and in him, by understanding his own nature, by
analysing in order to understand, by studying nature in others as
well as in himself, by learning to know himself and to gain
knowledge of others; slowly, gradually, step by step, plane after
plane, he has to climb upwards, rejecting one form of matter
after another, finding not in these the Self he seeks. As he
learns to conquer the physical plane, he uses the keenest senses
in order to understand, and finally to reject. He says: "This is
not my Self. This changing panorama, these obscurities, these
continual transformations, these are obviously the antithesis of
the eternity, the lucidity, the stability of the Self. These
cannot be my Self." And thus he constantly rejects them. He
climbs on to the astral plane and, using there the finer astral
senses, he studies the astral world, only to find that that also
is changing and manifests not the changelessness of the Self.
After the astral world is conquered and rejected, he climbs on
into the mental plane, and there still studies the ever-changing
forms of that Manasic world, only once more to reject them:
"These are not the Self." Climbing still higher, ever following
the track of forms, he goes from the mental to the Buddhic plane,
where the Self begins to show his radiance and beauty in
manifested union. Thus by studying diversity he reaches the
conception of unity, and is led into the understanding of the
One. To him the realisation of the Self comes through the study
of the Not-Self, by the separation of the Not-Self from the Self.
Thus he does by knowledge and experience what the other does by
pure thinking and by faith. In this path of finding the Self
through the Not-Self, the so-called Siddhis are necessary. Just
as you cannot study the physical world without the physical
senses, so you cannot study the astral world without the astral
senses, nor the mental world without the mental senses.
Therefore, calmly choose your ends, and then think out your
means, and you will not 'be in any difficulty about the method
you should employ, the path you should tread.

Thus we see that there are two methods, and these must be kept
separate in your thought. Along the line of pure thinking--the
metaphysical line--you may reach the Self. So also along the line
of scientific observation and experiment--the physical line, in
the widest sense of the term physical--you may reach the Self.
Both are ways of Yoga. Both are included in the directions that
you may read in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Those directions
will cease to be self-contradictory, if you will only separate in
your thought the two methods. Patanjali has given, in the later
part of his Sutras, some hints as to the way in which the Siddhis
may be developed. Thus you may find your way to the Supreme.

Yoga and Morality

The next point that I would pause upon, and ask you to realise,
is the fact that Yoga is a science of psychology. I want further
to point out to you that it is not a science of ethic, though
ethic is certainly the foundation of it. Psychology and ethic are
not the same. The science of psychology is the result of the
study of mind. The science of ethic is the result of the study of
conduct, so as to bring about the harmonious relation of one to
another. Ethic is a science of life, and not an investigation
into the nature of mind and the methods by which the powers of
the mind may be developed and evolved. I pause on this because of
the confusion that exists in many people as regards this point.
If you understand the scope of Yoga aright, such a confusion
ought not to arise. The confused idea makes people think that in
Yoga they ought to find necessarily what are called precepts of
morality, ethic. Though Patanjali gives the universal precepts of
morality and right conduct in the first two angas of Yoga, called
yama and niyama, yet they are subsidiary to the main topic, are
the foundation of it, as just said. No practice of Yoga is
possible unless you possess the ordinary moral attributes summed
up in yama and niyama; that goes without saying. But you should
not expect to find moral precepts in a scientific text book of
psychology, like Yoga. A man studying the science of electricity
is not shocked if he does not find in it moral precepts; why then
should one studying Yoga, as a science of psychology, expect to
find moral precepts in it? I do not say that morality is
unimportant for the Yogi. On the contrary, it is all-important.
It is absolutely necessary in the first stages of Yoga for
everyone. But to a Yogi who has mastered these, it is not
necessary, if he wants to follow the left-hand path. For you must
remember that there is a Yoga of the left-hand path, as well as a
Yoga of the right-hand path. Yoga is there also followed, and
though asceticism is always found in the early stages, and
sometimes in the later, true morality is absent. The black
magician is often as rigid in his morality as any Brother of the
White Lodge.[FN#8: Terms while and black as used here have no
relation to race or colour.] Of the disciples of the black and
white magicians, the disciple of the black magician is often the
more ascetic. His object is not the purification of life for the
sake of humanity, but the purification of the vehicle, that he
may be better able to acquire power. The difference between the
white and the black magician lies in the motive. You might have a
white magician, a follower of the right-hand path, rejecting meat
because the way of obtaining it is against the law of compassion.
The follower of the left-hand path may also reject meat, but for
the reason that be would not be able to work so well with his
vehicle if it were full of the rajasic elements of meat. The
difference is in the motive. The outer action is the same. Both
men may be called moral, if judged by the outer action alone. The
motive marks the path, while the outer actions are often

It is a moral thing to abstain from meat, because thereby you are
lessening the infliction of suffering; it is not a moral act to
abstain from meat from the yogic standpoint, but only a means to
an end. Some of the greatest yogis in Hindu literature were, and
are, men whom you would rightly call black magicians. But still
they are yogis. One of the greatest yogis of all was Ravana, the
anti-Christ, the Avatara of evil, who summed up all the evil of
the world in his own person in order to oppose the Avatara of
good. He was a great, a marvellous yogi, and by Yoga he gained
his power. Ravana was a typical yogi of the left-hand path, a
great destroyer, and he practiced Yoga to obtain the power of
destruction, in order to force from the hands of the Planetary
Logos the boon that no man should be able to kill him. You may
say: "What a strange thing that a man can force from God such a
power." The laws of Nature are the expression of Divinity, and if
a man follows a law of Nature, he reaps the result which that law
inevitably brings; the question whether he is good or bad to his
fellow men does not touch this matter at all. Whether some other
law is or is not obeyed, is entirely outside the question. It is
a matter of dry fact that the scientific man may be moral or
immoral, provided that his immorality does not upset his eyesight
or nervous system. It is the same with Yoga. Morality matters
profoundly, but it does not affect these particular things, and
if you think it does, you are always getting into bogs and
changing your moral standpoint, either lowering or making it
absurd. Try to understand; that is what the Theosophist should
do; and when you understand, you will not fall into the blunders
nor suffer the bewilderment many do, when you expect laws
belonging to one region of the universe to bring about results in
another. The scientific man understands that. He knows that a
discovery in chemistry does not depend upon his morality, and he
would not think of doing an act of charity with a view to finding
out a new element. He will not fail in a well-wrought experiment,
however vicious his private life may be. The things are in
different regions, and he does not confuse the laws of the two.
As Ishvara is absolutely just, the man who obeys a law reaps the
fruit of that law, whether his actions, in any other fields, are
beneficial to man or not. If you sow rice, you will reap rice; if
you sow weeds, you will reap weeds; rice for rice, and weed for
weed. The harvest is according to the sowing. For this is a
universe of law. By law we conquer, by law we succeed. Where does
morality come in, then? When you are dealing with a magician of
the right-hand path, the servant of the White Lodge, there
morality is an all-important factor. Inasmuch as he is learning
to be a servant of humanity, he must observe the highest
morality, not merely the morality of the world, for the white
magician has to deal with helping on harmonious relations between
man and man. The white magician must be patient. The black
magician may quite well be harsh. The white magician must be
compassionate; compassion widens out his nature, and he is trying
to make his consciousness include the whole of humanity. But not
so the black magician. He can afford to ignore compassion.

A white magician may strive for power. But when he is striving
for power, he seeks it that he may serve humanity and become more
useful to mankind, a more effective servant in the helping of the
world. But not so the brother of the dark side. When he strives
for power, he seeks if for himself, so that he may use it against
the whole world. He may be harsh and cruel. He wants to be
isolated; and harshness and cruelty tend to isolate him. He wants
power; and holding that power for himself, he can put himself
temporarily, as it were, against the Divine Will in evolution.

The end of the one is Nirvana, where all separation has ceased.
The end of the other is Avichi--the uttermost isolation--the
kaivalya of the black magician. Both are yogis, both follow the
science of yoga, and each gets the result of the law he has
followed: one the kaivalya of Nirvana, the other the kaivalya of

Composition of States of the Mind

Let us pass now to the "states of the mind" as they are called.
The word which is used for the states of the mind by Patanjali is
Vritti. This admirably constructed language Sanskrit gives you in
that very word its own meaning. Vrittis means the "being" of the
mind; the ways in which mind can exist; the modes of the mind;
the modes of mental existence; the ways of existing. That is the
literal meaning of this word. A subsidiary meaning is a "turning
around," a "moving in a circle". You have to stop, in Yoga, every
mode of existing in which the mind manifests itself. In order to
guide you towards the power of stopping them--for you cannot stop
them till you understand them--you are told that these modes of
mind are fivefold in their nature. They are pentads. The Sutra,
as usually translated, says " the Vrittis are fivefold
(panchatayyah)," but pentad is a more accurate rendering of the
word pancha-tayyah, in the original, than fivefold. The word
pentad at once recalls to you the way in which the chemist speaks
of a monad, triad, heptad, when he deals with elements. The
elements with which the chemist is dealing are related to the
unit-element in different ways. Some elements are related to it
in one way only, and are called monads; others are related in two
ways, and are called duads, and so on.

Is this applicable to the states of mind also? Recall the shloka
of the Bhagavad-Gita in which it is said that the Jiva goes out
into the world, drawing round him the five senses and mind as
sixth. That may throw a little light on the subject. You have
five senses, the five ways of knowing, the five jnanendriyas or
organs of knowing. Only by these five senses can you know the
outer world. Western psychology says that nothing exists in
thought that does not exist in sensation. That is not true
universally; it is not true of the abstract mind, nor wholly of
the concrete. But there is a great deal of truth in it. Every
idea is a pentad. It is made up of five elements. Each element
making up the idea comes from one of the senses, and of these
there are at present five. Later on every idea will be a heptad,
made up of seven elements. For the present, each has five
qualities, which build up the idea. The mind unites the whole
together into a single thought, synthesises the five sensations.
If you think of an orange and analyse your thought of an orange,
you will find in it: colour, which comes through the eye;
fragrance, which comes through the nose; taste, which comes
through the tongue; roughness or smoothness, which comes through
the sense of touch; and you would hear musical notes made by the
vibrations of the molecules, coming through the sense of hearing,
were it keener. If you had a perfect sense of hearing. you would
hear the sound of the orange also, for wherever there is
vibration there is sound. All this, synthesised by the mind into
one idea, is an orange. That is the root reason for the
"association of ideas". It is not only that a fragrance recalls
the scene and the circumstances under which the fragrance was
observed, but because every impression is made through all the
five senses and, therefore, when one is stimulated, the others
are recalled. The mind is like a prism. If you put a prism in the
path of a ray of white light, it will break it up into its seven
constituent rays and seven colours will appear. Put another prism
in the path of these seven rays, and as they pass through the
prism, the process is reversed and the seven become one white
light. The mind is like the second prism. It takes in the five
sensations that enter through the senses, and combines them into
a single precept. As at the present stage of evolution the senses
are five only, it unites the five sensations into one idea. What
the white ray is to the seven- coloured light, that a thought or
idea is to the fivefold sensation. That is the meaning of the
much controverted Sutra: "Vrittayah panchatayych," "the vrittis,
or modes of the mind, are pentads." If you look at it in that
way, the later teachings will be more clearly understood.

As I have already said, that sentence, that nothing exists in
thought which is not in sensation, is not the whole truth. Manas,
the sixth sense, adds to the sensations its own pure elemental
nature. What is that nature that you find thus added? It is the
establishment of a relation, that is really what the mind adds.
All thinking is the "establishment of relations," and the more
closely you look into that phrase, the more you will realise how
it covers all the varied processes of the mind. The very first
process of the mind is to become aware of an outside world.
However dimly at first, we become aware of something outside
ourselves--a process generally called perception. I use the more
general term "establishing a relation," because that runs through
the whole of the mental processes, whereas perception is only a
single thing. To use a well-known simile, when a little baby
feels a pin pricking it, it is conscious of pain, but not at
first conscious of the pin, nor yet conscious of where exactly
the pin is. It does not recognise the part of the body in which
the pin is. There is no perception, for perception is defined as
relating a sensation to the object which causes the sensation.
You only, technically speaking, "perceive" when you make a
relation between the object and yourself. That is the very first
of these mental processes, following on the heels of sensation.
Of course, from the Eastern standpoint, sensation is a mental
function also, for the senses are part of the cognitive faculty,
but they are unfortunately classed with feelings in Western
psychology. Now having established that relation between yourself
and objects outside, what is the next process of the mind?
Reasoning: that is, the establishing of relations between
different objects, as perception is the establishment of your
relation with a single object. When you have perceived many
objects, then you begin to reason in order to establish relations
between them. Reasoning is the establishment of a new relation,
which comes out from the comparison of the different objects that
by perception you have established in relation with yourself, and
the result is a concept. This one phrase, "establishment of
relations," is true all round. The whole process of thinking is
the establishment of relations, and it is natural that it should
be so, because the Supreme Thinker, by establishing a relation,
brought matter into existence. Just as He, by establishing that
primary relation between Himself and the Not-Self, makes a
universe possible, so do we reflect His powers in ourselves,
thinking by the same method, establishing relations, and thus
carrying out every intellectual process.

Pleasure and Pain

Let us pass again from that to another statement made by this
great teacher of Yoga: "Pentads are of two kinds, painful and
non-painful." Why did he not say: "painful and pleasant"? Because
he was an accurate thinker, a logical thinker, and he uses the
logical division that includes the whole universe of discourse, A
and Not-A, painful and non-painful. There has been much
controversy among psychologists as to a third kind --indifferent.
Some psychologists divide all feelings into three: painful,
pleasant and indifferent. Feelings cannot be divided merely into
pain and pleasure, there is a third class, called indifference,
which is neither painful nor pleasant. Other psychologists say
that indifference is merely pain or pleasure that is not marked
enough to be called the one or the other. Now this controversy
and tangle into which psychologists have fallen might be avoided
if the primary division of feelings were a logical division. A
and Not-A--that is the only true and logical division. Patanjali
is absolutely logical and right. In order to avoid the quicksand
into which the modern psychologists have fallen, he divides all
vrittis, modes of mind, into painful and nonpainful.

There is, however, a psychological reason why we should say
"pleasure and pain," although it is not a logical division. The
reason why there should be that classification is that the word
pleasure and the word pain express two fundamental states of
difference, not in the Self, but in the vehicles in which that
Self dwells. The Self, being by nature unlimited, is ever
pressing, so to say, against any boundaries which seek to limit
him. When these limitations give way a little before the constant
pressure of the Self, we feel "pleasure," and when they resist or
contract, we feel "pain". They are not states of the Self so much
as states of the vehicles, and states of certain changes in
consciousness. Pleasure and pain belong to the Self as a whole,
and not to any aspect of the Self separately taken. When pleasure
and pain are marked off as belonging only to the desire nature,
the objection arises: "Well, but in the exercise of the cognitive
faculty there is an intense pleasure. When you use the creative
faculty of the mind you are conscious of a profound joy in its
exercise, and yet that creative faculty can by no means be
classed with desire." The answer is: "Pleasure belongs to the
Self as a whole. Where the vehicles yield themselves to the Self,
and permit it to 'expand' as is its eternal nature, then what is
called pleasure is felt." It has been rightly said: "Pleasure is
a sense of moreness." Every time you feel pleasure, you will find
the word "moreness" covers the case. It will cover the lowest
condition of pleasure, the pleasure of eating. You are becoming
more by appropriating to yourself a part of the Not-Self, food.
You will find it true of the highest condition of bliss, union
with the Supreme. You become more by expanding yourself to His
infinity. When you have a phrase that can be applied to the
lowest and highest with which you are dealing, you may be fairly
sure it is all-inclusive, and that, therefore, "pleasure is
moreness" is a true statement. Similarly, pain is "lessness".

If you understand these things your philosophy of life will
become more practical, and you will be able to help more
effectively people who fall into evil ways. Take drink. The real
attraction of drinking lies in the fact that, in the first stages
of it, a more keen and vivid life is felt. That stage is
overstepped in the case of the man who gets drunk, and then the
attraction ceases. The attraction lies in the first stages, and
many people have experienced that, who would never dream of
becoming drunk. Watch people who are taking wine and see how much
more lively and talkative they become. There lies the attraction,
the danger.

The real attraction in most coarse forms of excess is that they
give an added sense of life, and you will never be able to redeem
a man from his excess unless you know why he does it.
Understanding the attractiveness of the first step, the increase
of life, then you will be able to put your finger on the point of
temptation, and meet that in your argument with him. So that this
sort of mental analysis is not only interesting, but practically
useful to every helper of mankind. The more you know, the greater
is your power to help.

The next question that arises is: "Why does he not divide all
feelings into pleasurable and not-pleasurable, rather than into
'painful and not-painful'?" A Westerner will not be at a loss to
answer that: "Oh, the Hindu is naturally so very pessimistic,
that he naturally ignores pleasure and speaks of painful and
not-painful. The universe is full of pain." But that would not be
a true answer. In the first place the Hindu is not pessimistic.
He is the most optimistic of men. He has not got one solitary
school of philosophy that does not put in its foreground that the
object of all philosophy is to put an end to pain. But he is
profoundly reasonable. He knows that we need not go about seeking
happiness. It is already ours, for it is the essence of our own
nature. Do not the Upanishads say: "The Self is bliss"? Happiness
exists perennially within you. It is your normal state. You have
not to seek it. You will necessarily be happy if you get rid of
the obstacles called pain, which are in the modes of mind.
Happiness is not a secondary thing, but pain is, and these
painful things are obstacles to be got rid of. When they are
stopped, you must be happy. Therefore Patanjali says: "The
vrittis are painful and non-painful." Pain is an excrescence. It
is a transitory thing. The Self, who is bliss, being the
all-permeating life of the universe, pain has no permanent place
in it. Such is the Hindu position, the most optimistic in the

Let us pause for a moment to ask: "Why should there be pain at
all if the Self is bliss?" Just because the nature of the Self is
bliss. It would be impossible to make the Self turn outward, come
into manifestation, if only streams of bliss flowed in on him. He
would have remained unconscious of the streams. To the infinity
of bliss nothing could be added. If you had a stream of water
flowing unimpeded in its course, pouring more water into it would
cause no ruffling, the stream would go on heedless of the
addition. But put an obstacle in the way, so that the free flow
is checked, and the stream will struggle and fume against the
obstacle, and make every endeavour to sweep it away. That which
is contrary to it, that which will check its current's smooth
flow, that alone will cause effort. That is the first function of
pain. It is the only thing that can rouse the Self. It is the
only thing that can awaken his attention. When that peaceful,
happy, dreaming, inturned Self finds the surge of pain beating
against him, he awakens: "What is this, contrary to my nature,
antagonistic and repulsive, what is this?" It arouses him to the
fact of a surrounding universe, an outer world. Hence in
psychology, in yoga, always basing itself on the ultimate
analysis of the fact of nature, pain is the thing that asserts
itself as the most important factor in Self-realisation; that
which is other than the Self will best spur the Self into
activity. Therefore we find our commentator, when dealing with
pain, declares that the karmic receptacle the causal body, that
in which all the seeds of karma are gathered Up, has for its
builder all painful experiences; and along that line of thought
we come to the great generalisation: the first function of pain
in the universe is to arouse the Self to turn himself to the
outer world, to evoke his aspect of activity.

The next function of pain is the organisation of the vehicles.
Pain makes the man exert himself, and by that exertion the matter
of his vehicles gradually becomes organised. If you want to
develop and organise your muscles, you make efforts, you exercise
them, and thus more life flows into them and they become strong.
Pain is necessary that the Self may force his vehicles into
making efforts which develop and organise them. Thus pain not
only awakens awareness, it also organises the vehicles.

It has a third function also. Pain purifies. We try to get rid of
that which causes us pain. It is contrary to our nature, and we
endeavour to throw it away. All that is against the blissful
nature of the Self is shaken by pain out of the vehicles; slowly
they become purified by suffering, and in that way become ready
for the handling of the Self.

It has a fourth function. Pain teaches. All the best lessons of
life come from pain rather than from joy. When one is becoming
old, as I am and I look on the long life behind me, a life of
storm and stress, of difficulties and efforts, I see something of
the great lessons pain can teach. Out of my life story could
efface without regret everything that it has had of joy and
happiness, but not one pain would I let go, for pain is the
teacher of wisdom.

It has a fifth function. Pain gives power. Edward Carpenter said,
in his splendid poem of "Time and Satan," after he had described
the wrestlings and the overthrows: 'Every pain that I suffered in
one body became a power which I wielded in the next." Power is
pain transmuted.

Hence the wise man, knowing these things, does not shrink from
pain; it means purification, wisdom, power.

It is true that a man may suffer so much pain that for this
incarnation he may be numbed by it, rendered wholly or partially
useless. Especially is this the case when the pain has deluged in
childhood. But even then, he shall reap his harvest of good
later. By his past, he may have rendered present pain inevitable,
but none the less can he turn it into a golden opportunity by
knowing and utilising its functions.

You may say: "What use then of pleasure, if pain is so splendid a
thing?" From pleasure comes illumination. Pleasure enables the
Self to manifest. In pleasure all the vehicles of the Self are
made harrnonious; they all vibrate together; the vibrations are
rhythmical, not jangled as they are in pain, and those rhythmical
vibrations permit that expansion of the Self of which I spoke,
and thus lead up to illumination, the knowledge of the Self. And
if that be true, as it is true, you will see that pleasure plays
an immense part in nature, being of the nature of the Self,
belonging to him. When it harmonises the vehicles of the Self
from outside, it enables the Self more readily to manifest
himself through the lower selves within us. Hence happiness is a
condition of illumination. That is the explanation of the value
of the rapture of the mystic; it is an intense joy. A tremendous
wave of bliss, born of love triumphant, sweeps over the whole of
his being, and when that great wave of bliss sweeps over him, it
harmonises the whole of his vehicles, subtle and gross alike, and
the glory of the Self is made manifest and he sees the face of
his God. Then comes the wonderful illumination, which for the
time makes him unconscious of all the lower worlds. It is because
for a moment the Self is realising himself as divine, that it is
possible for him to see that divinity which is cognate to
himself. So you should not fear joy any more than you fear pain,
as some unwise people do, dwarfed by a mistaken religionism. That
foolish thought which you often find in an ignorant religion,
that pleasure is rather to be dreaded, as though God grudged joy
to His children, is one of the nightmares born of ignorance and
terror. The Father of life is bliss. He who is joy cannot grudge
Himself to His children, and every reflection of joy in the world
is a reflection of the Divine Life, and a manifestation of the
Self in the midst of matter. Hence pleasure has its function as
well as pain and that also is welcome to the wise, for he
understands and utilises it. You can easily see how along this
line pleasure and pain become equally welcome. Identified with
neither, the wise man takes either as it comes, knowing its
purpose. When we understand the places of joy and of pain, then
both lose their power to bind or to upset us. If pain comes, we
take it and utilise it. If joy comes, we take it and utilise it.
So we may pass through life, welcoming both pleasure and pain,
content whichever may come to us, and not wishing for that which
is for the moment absent. We use both as means to a desired end;
and thus we may rise to a higher indifference than that of the
stoic, to the true vairagya; both pleasure and pain are
transcended, and the Self remains, who is bliss.



In dealing with the third section of the subject, I drew your
attention to the states of mind, and pointed out to you that,
according to the Samskrit word vritti, those states of mind
should be regarded as ways m which the mind exists, or, to use
the philosophical phrase of the West, they are modes of mind,
modes of mental existence. These are the states which are to be
inhibited, put an end to, abolished, reduced into absolute
quiescence. The reason for this inhibition is the production of a
state which allows the higher mind to pour itself into the lower.
To put it in another way: the lower mind, unruffled, waveless,
reflects the higher, as a waveless lake reflects the stars. You
will remember the phrase used in the Upanishad, which puts it
less technically and scientifically, but more beautifully, and
declares that in the quietude of the mind and the tranquility of
the senses, a man may behold the majesty of the Self. The method
of producing this quietude is what we have now to consider.

Inhibition of States of Mind

Two ways, and two ways only, there are of inhibiting these modes,
these ways of existence, of the mind. They were given by Sri
Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, when Arjuna complained that the
mind was impetuous, strong, difficult to bend, hard to curb as
the wind. His answer was definite: " Without doubt, O
mighty-armed, the mind is hard to curb and restless; but it may
be curbed by constant practice (abhyasa) and by dispassion
(vai-ragya)."[FN#9: loc. cit., VI. 35, 35]

These are the two methods, the only two methods, by which this
restless, storm-tossed mind can be reduced to peace and quietude.
Vai-ragya and abhyasa, they are the only two methods, but when
steadily practiced they inevitably bring about the result.

Let us consider what these two familiar words imply. Vai-ragya,
or dispassion, has as its main idea the clearing away of all
passion for, attraction to, the objects of the senses, the bonds
which are made by desire between man and the objects around him.
Raga is "passion, addiction," that which binds a man to things.
The prefix "vi"--changing to "vai" by a grammatical rule --means
"without," or "in opposition to". Hence vai-ragya is
"non-passion, absence of passion," not bound, tied or related to
any of these outside objects. Remembering that thinking is the
establishing of relations, we see that the getting rid of
relations will impose on the mind the stillness that is Yoga. All
raga must be entirely put aside. We must separate ourselves from
it. We must acquire the opposite condition, where every passion
is stilled, where no attraction for the objects of desire
remains, where all the bonds that unite the man to surrounding
objects are broken. "When the bonds of the heart are broken, then
the man becomes immortal."

How shall this dispassion be brought about? There is only one
right way of doing it. By slowly and gradually drawing ourselves
away from outer objects through the more potent attraction of the
Self. The Self is ever attracted to the Self. That attraction
alone can turn these vehicles away from the alluring and
repulsive objects that surround them; free from all raga, no more
establishing relations with objects, the separated Self finds
himself liberated and free, and union with the one Self becomes
the sole object of desire. But not instantly, by one supreme
effort, by one endeavour, can this great quality of dispassion
become the characteristic of the man bent on Yoga. He must
practice dispassion constantly and steadfastly. That is implied
in the word joined with dispassion, abhyasa or practice. The
practice must be constant, continual and unbroken. "Practice"
does not mean only meditation, though this is the sense in which
the word is generally used; it means the deliberate, unbroken
carrying out of dispassion in the very midst of the objects that

In order that you may acquire dispassion, you must practice it in
the everyday things of life. I have said that many confine
abhyasa to meditation. That is why so few people attain to Yoga.
Another error is to wait for some big opportunity. People prepare
themselves for some tremendous sacrifice and forget the little
things of everyday life, in which the mind is knitted to objects
by a myriad tiny threads. These things, by their pettiness, fail
to attract attention, and in waiting for the large thing, which
does not come, people lose the daily practice of dispassion
towards the little things that are around them. By curbing desire
at every moment, we become indifferent to all the objects that
surround us. Then, when the great opportunity comes, we seize it
while scarce aware that it is upon us. Every day, all day long,
practice--that is what is demanded from the aspirant to Yoga, for
only on that line can success come; and it is the wearisomeness
of this strenuous, continued endeavour that tires out the
majority of aspirants.

I must here warn you of a danger. There is a rough-and- ready way
of quickly bringing about dispassion. Some say to you: "Kill out
all love and affection; harden your hearts; become cold to all
around you; desert your wife and children, your father and
mother, and fly to the desert or the jungle; put a wall between
youself and all objects of desire; then dispassion will be
yours." It is true that it is comparatively easy to acquire
dispassion in that way. But by that you kill more than desire.
You put round the Self, who is love, a barrier through which he
is unable to pierce. You cramp yourself by encircling yourself
with a thick shell, and you cannot break through it. You harden
yourself where you ought to be softened; you isolate yourself
where you ought to be embracing others; you kill love and not
only desire, forgetting that love clings to the Self and seeks
the Self, while desire clings to the sheaths of the Self, the
bodies in which the Self is clothed. Love is the desire of the
separated Self for union with all other separated Selves.
Dispassion is the non-attraction to matter--a very different
thing. You must guard love--for it is the very Self of the Self.
In your anxiety to acquire dispassion do not kill out love. Love
is the life in everyone of us, separated Selves. It draws every
separated Self to the other Self. Each one of us is a part of one
mighty whole. Efface desire as regards the vehicles that clothe
the Self, but do not efface love as regards the Self, that
never-dying force which draws Self to Self. In this great
up-climbing, it is far better to suffer from love rather than to
reject it, and to harden your hearts against all ties and claims
of affection. Suffer for love, even though the suffering be
bitter. Love, even though the love be an avenue of pain. The pain
shall pass away, but the love shall continue to grow, and in the
unity of the Self you shall finally discover that love is the
great attracting force which makes all things one.

Many people, in trying to kill out love, only throw themselves
back, becoming less human, not superhuman; by their mistaken
attempts. It is by and through human ties of love and sympathy
that the Self unfolds. It is said of the Masters that They love
all humanity as a mother loves her firstborn son. Their love is
not love watered down to coolness, but love for all raised to the
heat of the highest particular loves of smaller souls. Always
mistrust the teacher who tells you to kill out love, to be
indifferent to human affections. That is the way which leads to
the left-hand path.

Meditation With and Without Seed

The next step is our method of meditation. What do we mean by
meditation? Meditation cannot be the same for every man. Though
the same in principle, namely, the steadying of the mind, the
method must vary with the temperament of the practitioner.
Suppose that you are a strong-minded and intelligent man, fond of
reasoning. Suppose that connected links of thought and argument
have been to you the only exorcise of the mind. Utilise that past
training. Do not imagine that you can make your mind still by a
single effort. Follow a logical chain of reasoning, step by step,
link after link; do not allow the mind to swerve a hair's breadth
from it. Do not allow the mind to go aside to other lines of
thought. Keep it rigidly along a single line, and steadiness will
gradually result. Then, when you have worked up to your highest
point of reasoning and reached the last link of your chain of
argument, and your mind will carry you no further, and beyond
that you can see nothing, then stop. At that highest point of
thinking, cling desperately to the last link of the chain, and
there keep the mind poised, in steadiness and strenuous quiet,
waiting for what may come. After a while, you will be able to
maintain this attitude for a considerable time.

For one in whom imagination is stronger than the reasoning
faculty, the method by devotion, rather than by reasoning, is the
method. Let him call imagination to his help. He should picture
some scene, in which the object of his devotion forms the central
figure, building it up, bit by bit, as a painter paints a
picture, putting in it gradually all the elements of the scene He
must work at it as a painter works on his canvas, line by line,
his brush the brush of imagination. At first the work will be
very slow, but the picture soon begins to present itself at call.
Over and over he should picture the scene, dwelling less and less
on the surrounding objects and more and more on the central
figure which is the object of his heart's devotion. The drawing
of the mind to a point, in this way, brings it under control and
steadies it, and thus gradually, by this use of the imagination.
he brings the mind under command. The object of devotion will be
according to the man's religion. Suppose--as is the case with
many of you--that his object of devotion is Sri Krishna; picture
Him in any scene of His earthly life, as in the battle of
Kurukshetra. Imagine the armies arrayed for battle on both sides;
imagine Arjuna on the floor of the chariot, despondent,
despairing; then come to Sri Krishna, the Charioteer, the Friend
and Teacher. Then, fixing your mind on the central figure, let
your heart go out to Him with onepointed devotion. Resting on
Him, poise yourself in silence and, as before, wait for what may

This is what is called "meditation with seed". The central
figure, or the last link in reasoning, that is "the seed". You
have gradually made the vagrant mind steady by this process of
slow and gradual curbing, and at last you are fixed on the
central thought, or the central figure, and there you are poised.
Now let even that go. Drop the central thought, the idea, the
seed of meditation. Let everything go. But keep the mind in the
position gained, the highest point reached, vigorous and alert.
This is meditation without a seed. Remain poised, and wait in the
silence and the void. You are in the "cloud," before described,
and pass through the condition before sketched. Suddenly there
will be a change, a change unmistakable, stupendous, incredible.
In that silence, as said, a Voice shall be heard. In that void, a
Form shall reveal itself. In that empty sky, a Sun shall rise,
and in the light of that Sun you shall realise your own identity
with it, and know that that which is empty to the eye of sense is
full to the eye of Spirit, that that which is silence to the ear
of sense is full of music to the ear of Spirit.

Along such lines you can learn to bring into control your mind,
to discipline your vagrant thought, and thus to reach
illumination. One word of warning. You cannot do this, while you
are trying meditation with a seed. until you are able to cling to
your seed definitely for a considerable time, and maintain
throughout an alert attention. It is the emptiness of alert
expectation. not the emptiness of impending sleep. If your mind
be not in that condition, its mere emptiness is dangerous. It
leads to mediumship, to possession, to obsession. You can wisely
aim at emptiness, only when you have so disciplined the mind that
it can hold for a considerable time to a single point and remain
alert when that point is dropped.

The question is sometimes asked: "Suppose that I do this and
succeed in becoming unconscious of the body; suppose that I do
rise into a higher region; is it quite sure that I shall come
back again to the body? Having left the body, shall I be certain
to return?" The idea of non-return makes a man nervous. Even if
he says that matter is nothing and Spirit is everything, he yet
does not like to lose touch with his body and, losing that touch,
by sheer fear, he drops back to the earth after having taken so
much trouble to leave it. You should, however, have no such fear.
That which will draw you back again is the trace of your past,
which remains under all these conditions.

The question is of the same kind as: "Why should a state of
Pralaya ever come to an end, and a new state of Manvantara
begin?" And the answer is the same from the Hindu psychological
standpoint; because, although you have dropped the very seed of
thought, you cannot destroy the traces which that thought has
left, and that trace is a germ, and it tends to draw again to
itself matter, that it may express itself once more. This trace
is what is called the privation of matter-- samskara. Far as you
may soar beyond the concrete mind, that trace, left in the
thinking principle, of what you have thought and have known, that
remains and will inevitably draw you back. You cannot escape your
past and, until your life-period is over, that samskara will
bring you back. It is this also which, at the close of the
heavenly life, brings a man back to rebirth. It is the expression
of the law of rhythm. In Light on the Path, that wonderful occult
treatise, this state is spoken of and the disciple is pictured as
in the silence. The writer goes on to say: "Out of the silence
that is peace a resonant voice shall arise. And this voice will
say: 'It is not well; thou hast reaped, now thou must sow.' And
knowing this voice to be the silence itself, thou wilt obey."

What is the meaning of that phrase: "Thou hast reaped, now thou
must sow?" It refers to the great law of rhythm which rules even
the Logoi, the Ishvaras --the law of the Mighty Breath, the
out-breathing and the in-breathing, which compels every fragment
which is separated for a time. A Logos may leave His universe,
and it may drop away when He turns His gaze inward, for it was He
who gave reality to it.

He may plunge into the infinite depths of being, but even then
there is the samskara of the past universe, the shadowy latent
memory, the germ of maya from which He cannot escape. To escape
from it would be to cease to be Ishvara, and to become Brahma
Nirguna. There is no Ishvara without maya, there is no maya
without Ishvara. Even in pralaya, a time comes when the rest is
over and the inner life again demands manifestation; then the
outward turning begins and a new universe comes forth. Such is
the law of rest and activity: activity followed by rest; rest
followed again by the desire for activity; and so the ceaseless
wheel of the universe, as well as of human lives, goes on. For in
the eternal, both rest and activity are ever present, and in that
which we call Time, they follow each other, although in eternity
they be simultaneous and ever-existing.

The Use of Mantras

Let us see how far we can help ourselves in this difficult work.
I will draw your attention to one fact which is of enormous help
to the beginner.

Your vehicles are ever restless. Every vibration in the vehicle
produces a corresponding change in consciousness. Is there any
way to check these vibrations, to steady the vehicle, so that
consciousness may be still? One method is the repeating of a
mantra. A mantra is a mechanical way of checking vibration.
Instead of using the powers of the will and of imagination, you
save these for other purposes, and use the mechanical resource of
a mantra. A mantra is a definite succession of sounds. Those
sounds, repeated rhythmically over and over again in succession,
synchronise the vibrations of the vehicles into unity with
themselves. Hence a mantra cannot be translated; translation
alters the sounds. Not only in Hinduism, but in Buddhism, in
Roman Catholicism, in Islam, and among the Parsis, mantras are
found, and they are never translated, for when you have changed
the succession and order of the sounds, the mantra ceases to be a
mantra. If you translate the words, you may have a very beautiful
prayer, but not a mantra. Your translation may be beautiful
inspired poetry, but it is not a living mantra. It will no longer
harmonise the vibrations of the surrounding sheaths, and thus
enable the consciousness to become still. The poetry, the
inspired prayer, these are mentally translatable. But a mantra is
unique and untranslatable. Poetry is a great thing: it is often
an inspirer of the soul, it gives gratification to the ear, and
it may be sublime and beautiful, but it is not a mantra.


Let us consider concentration. You ask a man if he can
concentrate. He at once says: "Oh! it is very difficult. I have
often tried and failed." But put the same question in a different
way, and ask him: "Can you pay attention to a thing?" He will at
once say: "Yes, I can do that."

Concentration is attention. The fixed attitude of attention, that
is concentration. If you pay attention to what you do, your mind
will be concentrated. Many sit down for meditation and wonder why
they do not succeed. How can you suppose that half an hour of
meditation and twenty- three and a half hours of scattering of
thought throughout the day and night, will enable you to
concentrate during the half hour? You have undone during the day
and night what you did in the morning, as Penelope unravelled the
web she wove. To become a Yogi, you must be attentive all the
time. You must practice concentration every hour of your active
life. Now you scatter your thoughts for many hours, and you
wonder that you do not succeed. The wonder would be if you did.
You must pay attention every day to everything you do. That is,
no doubt, hard to do, and you may make it easier in the first
stages by choosing out of your day's work a portion only, and
doing that portion with perfect, unflagging attention. Do not let
your mind wander from the thing before you. It does not matter
what the thing is. It may be the adding up of a column of
figures, or the reading of a book. Anything will do. It is the
attitude of the mind that is important and not the object before
it. This is the only way of learning concentration. Fix your mind
rigidly on the work before you for the time being, and when you
have done with it, drop it. Practise steadily in this way for a
few months, and you will be surprised to find how easy it becomes
to concentrate the mind. Moreover, the body will soon learn to do
many things automatically. If you force it to do a thing
regularly, it will begin to do it, after a time, of its own
accord, and then you find that you can manage to do two or three
things at the same time. In England, for instance, women are very
fond of knitting. When a girl first learns to knit, she is
obliged to be very intent on her fingers. Her attention must not
wander from her fingers for a moment, or she will make a mistake.
She goes on doing that day after day, and presently her fingers
have learnt to pay attention to the work without her supervision,
and they may be left to do the knitting while she employs the
conscious mind on something else. It is further possible to train
your mind as the girl has trained her fingers. The mind also, the
mental body, can be so trained as to do a thing automatically. At
last, your highest consciousness can always remain fixed on the
Supreme, while the lower consciousness in the body will do the
things of the body, and do them perfectly, because perfectly
trained. These are practical lessons of Yoga.

Practice of this sort builds up the qualities you want, and you
become stronger and better, and fit to go on to the definite
study of Yoga.

Obstacles to Yoga

Before considering the capacities needed for this definite
practice, let us run over the obstacles to Yoga as laid down by

The obstacles to Yoga are very inclusive. First, disease: if you
are diseased you cannot practice Yoga; it demands sound health,
for the physical strain entailed by it is great. Then languor of
mind: you must be alert, energetic, in your thought. Then doubt:
you must have decision of will, must be able to make up your
mind. Then carelessness: this is one of the greatest difficulties
with beginners; they read a thing carelessly, they are
inaccurate. Sloth: a lazy man cannot be a Yogi; one who is inert,
who lacks the power and the will to exert himself; how shall he
make the desperate exertions wanted along this line? The next,
worldly-mindedness, is obviously an obstacle. Mistaken ideas is
another great obstacle, thinking wrongly about things. One of the
great qualifications for Yoga is "right notion" "Right notion"
means that the thought shall correspond with the outside truth;
that a man shall he fundamentally true, so that his thought
corresponds to fact; unless there is truth in a man, Yoga is for
him impossible. Missing the point, illogical, stupid, making the
important, unimportant and vice versa. Lastly, instability: which
makes Yoga impossible, and even a small amount of which makes
Yoga futile; the unstable man cannot be a yogi.

Capacities of Yoga

Can everybody practise Yoga? No. But every well-educated person
can prepare for its future practice. For rapid progress you must
have special capacities, as for anything else. In any of the
sciences a man may study without being the possessor of very
special capacity, although he cannot attain eminence therein; and
so it is with Yoga. Anybody with a fair intelligence may learn
something from Yoga which he may advantageously practice, but he
cannot hope unless he starts with certain capacities, to be a
success in Yoga in this life. It is only right to say that; for
if any special science needs particular capacities in order to
attain eminence therein, the science of sciences certainly cannot
fall behind the ordinary sciences in the demands that it makes on
its students.

Suppose I am asked: "Can I become a great mathematician?" What
must be my answer? "You must have a natural aptitude and capacity
for mathematics to be a great mathematician. If you have not that
capacity, you cannot be a great mathematician in this life." But
this does not mean that you cannot learn any mathematics. To be a
great mathematician you must be born with a special capacity for
mathematics. To be born with such a special capacity means that
you have practiced it in very many lives and now you are born
with it ready-made. It is the same with Yoga. Every man can learn
a little of it. But to be a great Yogi means lives of practice.
If these are behind you, you will have been born with the
necessary faculties in the present birth.

There are three faculties which one must have to obtain success
in Yoga. The first is a strong desire. "Desire ardently." Such a
desire is needed to break the strong links of desire which knit
you to the outer world. Moreover, without that strong desire you
will never go through all the difficulties that bat your way. You
must have the conviction that you will ultimately succeed, and
the resolution to go on until you do succeed. It must be a desire
so ardent and so firmly rooted, that obstacles only make it more
keen. To such a man an obstacle is like fuel that you throw on a
fire. It burns but the more strongly as it catches hold of it and
finds it fuel for the burning. So difficulties and obstacles are
but fuel to feed the fire of the yogi's resolute desire. He only
becomes the more firmly fixed, because he finds the difficulties.

If you have not this strong desire, its absence shows that you
are new to the work, but you can begin to prepare for it in this
life. You can create desire by thought; you cannot create desire
by desire. Out of the desire nature, the training of the desire
nature cannot come.

What is it in us that calls out desire? Look into your own mind,
and you will find that memory and imagination are the two things
that evoke desire most strongly. Hence thought is the means
whereby all the changes in desire can be brought about. Thought,
imagination, is the only creative power in you, and by
imagination your powers are to be unfolded. The more you think of
a desirable object, the stronger becomes the desire for it. Then
think of Yoga as desirable, if you want to desire Yoga. Think
about the results of Yoga and what it means for the world when
you have become a yogi, and you will find your desire becoming
stronger and stronger. For it is only by thought that you can
manage desire. You can do nothing with it by itself. You want the
thing, or you do not want it, and within the limits of the desire
nature you are helpless in its grasp. As just said, you cannot
change desire by desire. You must go into another region of your
being, the region of thought, and by thought you can make
yourself desire or not desire, exactly as you like, if only you
will use the right means, and those means, after all, are fairly
simple. Why is it you desire to possess a thing? Because you
think it will make you happier. But suppose you know by past
experience that in the long run it does not make you happier, but
brings you sorrow, trouble, distress. You have at once, ready to
your hands, the way to get rid of that desire. Think of the
ultimate results. Let your mind dwell carefully on all the
painful things. Jump over the momentary pleasure, and fix your
thought steadily on the pain which follows the gratification of
that desire. And when you have done that for a month or so, the
very sight of those objects of desire will repel you. You will
have associated it in your mind with suffering, and will recoil
from it instinctively. You will not want it. You have changed the
want, and have changed it by your power of imagination. There is
no more effective way of destroying a vice than by deliberately
picturing the ultimate results of its indulgence. Persuade a
young man who is inclined to be profligate to keep in his mind
the image of an old profligate; show him the profligate worn out,
desiring without the power to gratify; and if you can get him to
think in that way, unconsciously he will begin to shrink from
that which before attracted him; the very hideousness of the
results frightens away the man from clinging to the object of
desire. And the would-be yogi has to use his thought to mark out
the desires he will permit, and the desires that he is determined
to slay.

The next thing after a strong desire is a strong will. Will is
desire. transmuted, its directing is changed from without to
within. If your will is weak, you must strengthen it. Deal with
it as you do with other weak things: strengthen it by practice.
If a boy knows that he has weak arms, he says: "My arms are weak,
but I shall practice gymnastics, work on the parallel bars: thus
my arms. will grow strong." It is the same with the will.
Practice will make strong the little, weak will that you have at

Resolve, for example, saying: "I will do such and such thing
every morning," and do it. One thing at a time is enough for a
feeble will. Make yourself a promise to do such and such a thing
at such a time, and you will soon find that you will be ashamed
to break your promise. When you have kept such a promise to
yourself for a day, make it for a week, then for a fortnight.
Having succeeded, you can choose a harder thing to do, and so on.
By this forcing of action, you strengthen the will. Day after day
it grows greater in power, and you find your inner strength
increases. First have a strong desire. Then transmute it into a
strong will.

The third requisite for Yoga is a keen and broad intelligence.
You cannot control your mind, unless you have a mind to control.
Therefore you must develop your mind. You must study. By study, I
do not mean the reading of books. I mean thinking. You may read a
dozen books and your mind may be as feeble as in the beginning.
But if you have read one serious book properly, then, by slow
reading and much thinking, your intelligence will be nurtured and
your; mind grow strong.

These are the things you want--a strong desire, an indomitable
will, a keen. intelligence. Those are the capacities that you
must unfold in order that the practice of Yoga may be possible to
you. If your mind is very unsteady, if it is a butterfly mind
like a child's, you must make it steady. That comes by close
study and thinking. You must unfold the mind by which you are to

Forthgoing and Returning

It will help you, in doing this and in changing your desire, if
you realise that the great evolution of humanity goes on along
two paths--the Path of Forthgoing, and the Path of Return.

On the Path, or marga, of Pravritti--forthgoing on which are the
vast majority of human beings, desires are necessary and useful.
On that path, the more desire a man has, the better for his
evolution. They are the motives that prompt to activity. Without
these the stagnates, he is inert. Why should Isvara have filled
the worlds with desirable objects if He did not intend that
desire should be an ingredient in evolution? He deals with
humanity as a sensible mother deals -with her child. She does not
give lectures to the child on the advantages of walking nor
explain to it learnedly the mechanism of the muscles of the leg.
She holds a bright glittering toy before the child, and says:
"Come and get it." Desire awakens, and the child begins to crawl,
and so it learns to walk. So Isvara has put toys around us, but
always just out of our reach, and He says: "Come, children, take
these. Here are love, money, fame, social consideration; come and
get them. Walk, make efforts for them." And we, like children,
make great efforts and struggle along to snatch these toys. When
we seize the toy, it breaks into pieces and is of no use. People
fight and struggle and toil for wealth, and, when they become
multi-millionaires, they ask: "How shall we spend this wealth?" I
read of a millionaire in America, who was walking on foot from
city to city, in order to distribute the vast wealth which he
accumulated. He learned his lesson. Never in another life will
that man be induced to put forth efforts for the toy of wealth.
Love of fame, love of power, stimulate men to most strenuous
effort. But when they are grasped and held in the hand, weariness
is the result. The mighty statesman, the leader of the nation,
the man idolised by millions--follow him home, and there you will
see the weariness of power, the satiety that cloys passion. Does
then God mock us with all the objects? No. The object has been to
bring out the power of the Self to develop the capacity latent in
man, and in the development of human faculty, the result of the
great lila may be seen. That is the way in which we learn to
unfold the God within us; that is the result of the play of the
divine Father with His children.

But sometimes the desire for objects is lost too early, and the
lesson is but half learned. That is one of the difficulties in
the India of today. You have a mighty spiritual philosophy, which
was the natural expression for the souls who were born centuries
ago. They were ready to throw away the fruit of action and to
work for the Supreme to carry out His Will.

But the lesson for India at the present time is to wake up the
desire. It may look like going back, but it is really a going
forward. The philosophy is true, but it belonged to those older
souls who were ready for it, and the younger souls now being born
into the people are not ready for that philosophy. They repeat it
by rote, they are hypnotised by it, and they sink down into
inertia, because there is nothing they desire enough to force
them to exertion. The consequence is that the nation as a whole
is going downhill. The old lesson of putting different objects
before souls of different ages, is forgotten, and every one is
now nominally aiming at ideal perfection, which can only be
reached when the preliminary steps have been successfully
mounted. It is the same as with the "Sermon on the Mount" in
Christian countries, but there the practical common sense of the
people bows to it and--ignores it. No nation tries to live by the
"Sermon on the Mount " It is not meant for ordinary men and
women, but for the saint. For all those who are on the Path of
Forthgoing, desire is necessary for progress.

What is the Path of Nivritti? It is the Path of Return. There
desire must cease; and the Self-determined will must take its
place. The last object of desire in a person commencing the Path
of Return is the desire to work with the Will of the Supreme; he
harmonises his will with the Supreme Will, renounces all separate
desires, and thus works to turn the wheel of life as long as such
turning is needed by the law of Life. Desire on the Path of
Forthgoing becomes will on the Path of Return; the soul, in
harmony with the Divine, works with the law. Thought on the Path
of Forthgoing is ever alert, flighty and changing; it becomes
reason on the Path of Return; the yoke of reason is placed on the
neck of the lower mind, and reason guides the bull. Work,
activity, on the Path of Forthgoing, is restless action by which
the ordinary man is bound; on the Path of Return work becomes
sacrifice, and thus its binding force is broken. These are, then,
the manifestations of three aspects, as shown on the Paths of
Forthgoing and Return.

Bliss manifested as desire is changed into will
Wisdom manifested as thought is changed into reason.
Activity manifested as work is changed into sacrifice.

People very often ask with regard to this: "Why is will placed in
the human being as the correspondence of bliss in the Divine?"
The three great Divine qualities are: chit or consciousness;
ananda or bliss; sat or existence. Now it is quite clear that the
consciousness is reflected in intelligence in man--the same
quality, only in miniature. It is equally clear that existence
and activity belong to each other. You can only exist as you act
outwards. The very form of the word shows It --"ex, out of"; it
is manifested life. That leaves the third, bliss, to correspond
with will, and some people are rather puzzled with that, and they
ask: "What is the correspondence between bliss and will?" But if
you come down to desire, and the objects of desire, you will be
able to solve the riddle. The nature of the Self is bliss. Throw
that nature down into matter and what will be the expression of
the bliss nature? Desire for happiness, the seeking after
desirable objects, which it imagines will give it the happiness
which is of its own essential nature, and which it is continually
seeking to realise amid the obstacles of the world. Its nature
being bliss, it seeks for happiness and that desire for happiness
is to be transmuted into will. All these correspondences have a
profound meaning if you will only look into them, and that
universal "will-to-live" translates itself as the "desire for
happiness" that you find in every man and woman, in every
sentient creature. Has it ever struck you how surely you are
justifying that analysis of your own nature by the way you accept
happiness as your right, and resent misery, and ask what you have
done to deserve it? You do not ask the same about happiness,
which is the natural result of your own nature. The thing that
has to be explained is not happiness but pain, the things that
are against the nature of the Self that is bliss. And so, looking
into this, we see how desire and will are both the determination
to be happy. But the one is ignorant, drawn out by outer objects;
the other is self-conscious, initiated and ruled from within.
Desire is evoked and directed from outside; and when the same
aspect rules from within, it is will. There is no difference in
their nature. Hence desire on the Path of Forthgoing becomes will
on the Path of Return.

When desire, thought and work are changed into will, reason and
sacrifice, then the man is turning homewards, then he lives by

When a man has really renounced, a strange change takes place. On
the Path of Forthgoing, you must fight for everything you want to
get; on the Path of Return, nature pours her treasures at your
feet. When a man has ceased to desire them, then all treasures
pour down upon him, for he has become a channel through which all
good gifts flow to those around him. Seek the good, give up
grasping, and then everything will be yours. Cease to ask that
your own little water tank may be filled, and you will become a
pipe, joined to the living source of all waters, the source which
never runs dry, the waters which spring up unfailingly.
Renunciation means the power of unceasing work for the good of
all, work which cannot fail, because wrought by the Supreme
Worker through His servant.

If you are engaged in any true work of charity, and your means
are limited and the wealth does not flow into your hands, what
does it mean? It means that you have not yet learnt the true
renunciation. You are clinging to the visible, to the fruit of
action, and so the wealth does not pour through your hands.

Purification of Bodies

The unfolding of powers belongs to the side of consciousness;
purification of bodies belongs to the side of matter. You must
purify each of your three working bodies--mental, astral and
physical. Without that purification you had better leave yoga
alone. First of all, how shall you purify the thought body? By
right thinking. Then you must use imagination, your great
creative tool, once more. Imagine things, and, imagining them,
you will form your thought-body into the organisation that you
desire. Imagine something strongly, as the painter imagines when
he is going to paint. Visualise an object if you have the power
of visualisation at all: if you have not, try to make it. It is
an artistic faculty, of course, hut most people have it more or
less. See how far you can reproduce perfectly a face you see
daily. By such practice you will be strengthening your
imagination, and by strengthening your imagination you will be
making the great tool with which you have to practice in Yoga.

There is another use of the imagination which is very valuable.
If you will imagine in your thought-body the presence of the
qualities that you desire to have, and the absence of those which
you desire not to have, you are half-way to having and not having
them. Also, many of the troubles of your life might be weakened
if you would imagine them on right lines before you have to go
through them. Why do you wait helplessly until you meet them in
the physical world. If you thought of your coming trouble in the
morning, and thought of yourself as acting perfectly in the midst
of it (you should never scruple to imagine yourself perfect),
when the thing turned up in the day, it would have lost its
power, and you would no longer feel the sting to the same extent.
Now each of you must have in your life something that troubles
you. Think of yourself as facing that trouble and not minding it,
and when it comes, you will be what you have been thinking. You
might get rid of half your troubles and your faults, if you would
deal with them through your imagination.

As the thought body, becomes purified in this way, you must turn
to the astral body. The astral body is purified by right desire.
Desire nobly, and the astral body will evolve the organs of good
desires instead of the organs of evil ones. The secret of all
progress is to think and desire the highest, never dwelling on
the fault, the weakness, the error, but always on the perfected
power, and slowly in that way you will be able to build up
perfection in yourself. Think and desire, then, in order to
purify the thought body and the astral body.

And how shall you purify the physical body? You must regulate it
in all its activities--in sleep, in food, in exercise, in
everything. You cannot have a pure physical body with impure
mental and astral bodies so that the work of imagination helps
also in the purification of the physical. But you must also
regulate the physical body in all its activities. Take for
instance, food. The Indian says truly that every sort of food has
a dominant quality in it, either rhythm, or activity, or inertia,
and that all foods fall under one of these heads. Now the man who
is to be a yogi must not touch any food which is on the way to
decay. Those things belong to the tamasic foods--all foods, for
instance, of the nature of game, of venison, all food which is
showing signs of decay (all alcohol is a product of decay), are
to be avoided. Flesh foods come under the quality of activity.
All flesh foods are really stimulants. All forms in the animal
kingdom are built up to express animal desires and animal
activities. The yogi cannot afford to use these in a body meant
for the higher processes of thought. Vitality, yes, they will
give that; strength, which does not last, they will give that; a
sudden spurs of energy, yes, meat will give that; but those are
not the things which the yogi wants; so he puts aside all those
foods as not available for the work he desires, and chooses his
food out of the most highly vitalised products. All the foods
which tend to growth, those are the most highly vitalised, grain,
out of which the new plant will grow, is packed full of the most
nutritious substances; fruits; all those things which have growth
as their next stage in the life cycle, those are the rhythmic
foods, full of life, and building up a body sensitive and strong
at the same time.

Dwellers on the Threshold

Of these there are many kinds. First, elementals. They try to bar
the astral plane against man. And naturally so, because they are
concerned with the building up of the lower kingdoms, these
elementals of form, the Rupa Devas; and to them man is a really
hateful creature, because of his destructive properties. That is
why they dislike him so much. He spoils their work wherever he
goes, tramples down vegetable things, and kills animals, so that
the whole of that great kingdom of nature hates the name of man.
They band themselves together to stop the one who is just taking
his first conscious steps on the astral plane, and try to
frighten him, for they fear that he is bringing destructiveness
into the new world. They cannot do anything, if you do not mind
them. When that rush of elemental force comes against the man
entering on the astral plane, he must remain quiet, indifferent,
taking up the position: "I am a higher product of evolution than
you are; you can do nothing to me. I am your friend, not your
enemy, Peace!" If he be strong enough to take up that position,
the great wave of elemental force will roll aside and let him
through. The seemingly causeless fears which some feel at night
are largely due to this hostility. You are, at night, more
sensitive to the astral plane than during the day, and the
dislike of the beings on the plane for man is felt more strongly.
But when the elementals find you are not destructive, not an
embodiment of ruin, they become as friendly to you as they were
before hostile. That is the first form of the dweller on the
threshold. Here again the importance of pure and rhythmic food
comes in; because if you use meat and alcohol, you attract the
lower elementals of the plane, those that take pleasure in the
scent of blood and spirits, and they will inevitably prevent your
seeing and understanding things clearly. They will surge round
you, impress their thoughts upon you, force their impressions on
your astral body, so that you may have a kind of shell of
objectionable hangers-on to your aura, who will much obstruct you
in your efforts to see and hear correctly. That is the chief
reason why every one who is teaching Yoga on the right-hand path
absolutely forbids indulgence in meat and alcohol.

The second form of the dweller on the threshold is the thought
forms of our own past. Those forms, growing out of the evil of
lives that lie behind us, thought forms of wickedness of all
kinds, those face us when we first come into touch with the
astral plane, really belonging to us, but appearing as outside
forms, as objects; and they try to scare back their creator. You
can only conquer them by sternly repudiating them: "You are no
longer mine; you belong to my past, and not to my present. I will
give you none of my life." Thus you will gradually exhaust and
finally annihilate them. This is perhaps one of the most painful
difficulties that one has to face in treading the astral plane in
consciousness for the first time. Of course, where a person has
in any way been mixed up with objectionable thought forms of the
stronger kind, such as those brought about by practicing black
magic, there this particular form of the dweller will be much
stronger and more dangerous, and often desperate is the struggle
between the neophyte and these dwellers from his past backed up
by the masters of the black side.

Now we come to one of the most terrible forms of the dwellers on
the threshold. Suppose a case in which a man during the past has
steadily identified himself with the lower part of his nature and
has gone against the higher, paralysing himself, using higher
powers for lower purposes, degrading his mind to be the mere
slave of his lower desires. A curious change takes place in him.
The life which belongs to the Ego in him is taken up by the
physical body, and assimilated with the lower lives of which the
body is composed. Instead of serving the purposes of the Spirit,
it is dragged away for tile purposes of the lower, and becomes
part of the animal life belonging to the lower bodies, so that
the Ego and his higher bodies are weakened, and the animal life
of the lower is strengthened. Now under those conditions, the Ego
will sometimes become so disgusted with his vehicles that when
death relieves him of the physical body he will cast the others
quite aside. And even sometimes during physical life he will
leave the desecrated temple. Now after death, in these cases, the
man generally reincarnates very quickly; for, having torn himself
away from his astral and mental bodies, he has no bodies with
which to live in the astral and mental worlds, and he must
quickly form new ones and come again to rebirth here. Under these
conditions the old astral and mental bodies are not disintegrated
when the new mental and astral bodies are formed and born into
the world, and the affinity between the old and new, both having
had the same owner, the same tenant, asserts itself, and the
highly vitalised old astral and mental bodies will attach
themselves to the new astral and mental bodies, and become the
most terrible form of the dweller on the threshold.

These are the various forms which the dweller may assume, and all
are spoken of in books dealing with these particular subjects,
though I do not know that you will find anywhere in a single book
a definite classification like the above. In addition to these
there are, of course, the direct attacks of the Dark Brothers,
taking up various forms and aspects, and the most common form
they will take is the form of some virtue which is a little bit
in excess in the yogi. The yogi is not attacked through his
vices, but through his virtues; for a virtue in excess becomes a
vice. It is the extremes which are ever the vices; the golden
mean is the virtue. And thus, virtues become tempters in the
difficult regions of the astral and mental worlds, and are
utilised by the Brothers of the Shadow in order to entrap the

I am not here speaking of the four ordinary ordeals of the astral
plane: the ordeals by earth, water, fire and air. Those are mere
trifles, hardly worth considering when speaking of these more
serious difficulties. Of course, you have to learn that you are
entirely master of astral matter, that earth cannot crush you,
nor water drown you, etc. Those are, so to speak, very easy
lessons. Those who belong to a Masonic body will recognise these
ordeals as parts of the language they are familiar with in their
Masonic ritual.

There is one other danger also. You may injure yourself by
repercussion. If on the astral plane you are threatened with
danger which belongs to the physical, but are unwise enough to
think it can injure you, it will injure your physical body. You
may get a wound, or a bruise, and so on, out of astral
experiences. I once made a fool of myself in this way. I was in a
ship going down and, as I was busy there, I saw that the mast of
the ship was going to fall and, in a moment's forgetfulness,
thought: "That mast will fall on me" that momentary thought had
its result, for when I came back to the body in the morning, I
had a large physical bruise where the mast fell. That is a
frequent phenomenon until you have corrected the fault of the
mind, which thinks instinctively the things which it is
accustomed to think down here.

One protection you can make for yourself as you become more
sensitive. Be rigorously truthful in thought, in word, in deed.
Every thought, every desire, takes form in the higher world. If
you are careless of truth here, you are creating a whole host of
terrifying and deluding forms. Think truth, speak truth, live
truth, and then you shall be free from the illusions of the
astral world.

Preparation for Yoga

People say that I put the ideal of discipleship so very high that
nobody can hope to become a disciple. But I have not said that no
one can become a disciple who does not reproduce the description
that is given of the perfect disciple. One may. But we do it at
our own peril. A man may be thoroughly capable along one line,
but have a serious fault along another. The serious fault will
not prevent him from becoming a disciple, but he must suffer for
it. The initiate pays for his faults ten times the price he would
have had to pay for them as a man of the world. That is why I
have put the ideal so high. I have never said that a person must
come utterly up to the ideal before becoming a disciple, but I
have said that the risks of becoming a disciple without these
qualifications are enormous. It is the duty of those who have
seen the results of going through the gateway with faults in
character, to point out that it is well to get rid of these
faults first. Every fault you carry through the gateway with you
becomes a dagger to stab you on the other side. Therefore it is
well to purify yourself as much as you can, before you are
sufficiently evolved on any line to have the right to say: "I
will pass through that gateway." That is what I intended to be
understood when I spoke of qualifications for discipleship. I
have followed along the ancient road which lays down these
qualifications which the disciple should bring with him; and if
he comes without them, then the word of Jesus is true, that he
will be beaten with many stripes; for a man can afford to do in
the outer world with small result what will bring terrible
results upon him when once he is treading the Path.

The End

What is to be the end of this long struggle? What is the goal of
the upward climbing, the prize of the great battle? What does the
yogi reach at last? He reaches unity. Sometimes I am not sure
that large numbers of people, if they realised what unity means,
would really desire to reach it. There are many "virtues" of your
ordinary life which will drop entirely away from you when you
reach unity. Many things you admire will be no longer helps but
hindrances, when the sense of unity begins to dawn. All those
qualities so useful in ordinary life--such as moral indignation,
repulsion from evil, judgment of others--have no room where unity
is realised. When you feel repulsion from evil, it is a sign that
your Higher Self is beginning to awaken, is seeing the dangers of
evil: he drags the body forcibly away from it. That is the
beginning of the conscious moral life. Hatred of evil is better
at that stage than indifference to evil. It is a necessary stage.
But repulsion cannot be felt when a man has realised unity, when
he sees God made manifest in man. A man who knows unity cannot
judge another. "I judge no man," said the Christ. He cannot be
repelled by anyone. The sinner is himself, and how shall he be
repelled from himself? For him there is no "I" or "Thee," for we
are one.

This is not a thing that many honestly wish for. It is not a
thing that many honestly desire. The man who has realised unity
knows no difference between himself and the vilest wretch that
walks the earth. He sees only the God that walks in the sinner,
and knows that the sin is not in the God but in the sheath. The
difference is only there. He who has realised the inner greatness
of the Self never pronounces judgment upon another, knows that
other as himself, and he himself as that other--that is unity. We
talk brotherhood, but how many of us really practice it? And even
that is not the thing the yogi aims at. Greater than brotherhood
are identity and realisation of the Self as one. The Sixth Root
Race will carry brotherhood to the highest point. The Seventh
Root Race will know identity, will realise the unity of the human
race. To catch a glimpse of the beauty of that high conception,
the greatness of the unity in which "I" and "mine," "you" and
"yours" have vanished, in which we are all one life, even to do
that lifts the whole nature towards divinity, and those who can
even see that unity is fair; they are the nearer to the
realisation of the Beauty that is God.


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