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    All Yoga Is One

    The study of Yoga is the study of the higher Self within you. It is the study of that science which has something to tell you about your unchanging real identity. The human individual has an apparent outer identity which is seen by, and known to, the rest of the human beings, the rest of the world. It is what they see in a person, what they know about a person. That is the apparent identity of the human being. This apparent identity is limited in time; it has a beginning and an end. This apparent identity is not stable and unchanging; it keeps ever changing. And this apparent identity is subject to inevitable stages of being—birth, growth, old age, decay and death. This is inevitable, this pattern through which every born body has to pass through. This is what Buddha discovered when he first went out of his secluded, carefree, guarded and protected palace environs and it was an eye-opener to him. And this is what set him thinking. Buddha began to ponder: “What is man? What is life? Why do these things happen to men? It may happen to me also”. What happened to man seemed to be painful too, because Buddha saw an old man, a sick man, a dead person. All those sights were accompanied by sorrow, grief, distress. They were not joy-giving and happy. So Buddha came to the conclusion that there was a great deal of suffering and distress in individual human life. He set on a quest to find out an answer to human suffering, to find a way out of the predicament of man in Samsara.

    So, the apparent outer personality of man, which is the only personality that the world knows, that the world sees, that the rest of the human beings see, is something limited, is something subject to change, subject to ultimate destruction. It has an end and men of wisdom discovered that the outer personality is only a mask that man has taken upon himself and not his true being. The real being is hidden inside. And what is this hidden identity about which those men of wisdom had a faint inkling, but did not know in full? They launched upon an inner quest to try to probe and find out what was this real identity of man. And it is their discoveries about the inner being that form the theme of the Upanishads that are the contents of the great Vedantic scriptures. The Upanishads deal with the reality of man, with the inner man, with the higher Self in man, with man’s true identity. They call it the Nija-Svarupa, one’s own real nature. And the Rishis found out that this true identity of man is completely free from all the defects and limitations that characterise his false identity. Man’s false identity is subject to change, subject to decay, subject to ultimate extinction. It is limited. It is subject to various types of afflictions and so it is always in a state of turmoil and suffering. But man’s true identity, according to the Rishis, is absolutely free from all these characteristics. The very entity in it is all-full, subject to no change, indestructible, imperishable, of the nature of peace and joy. It was after this discovery that those wise men declared that that inner Self must be known. Knowing the Self, therefore, is the greatest achievement and attainment. Knowledge of the Self is really the supreme goal and purpose of life. And to enable man to attain that supreme experience and once and for all liberate him from all the painful experiences of the embodied existence on earth, to enable him to obtain that state of infinite joy, eternal bliss, peace, perfection and liberation, the ancient seers formulated the different paths. That also they did not formulate out of their thought by sitting out and trying. They did not try to arrive at a conclusion by deep thinking. No. They themselves tried various methods to attain the Self. They went into a dedicated, whole-souled practice. Then they discovered the Self. God revealed Himself to them. Thus they were able to prove the Self. Thus their practices ultimately led to the tangible experience of the Self, the discovery of the Self. And they put down their experiences, formulating them in the form of a graded series of techniques. These constitute the various Yogas.

    Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga

    If the attempt to discover the Self is done through feeling, through spiritual emotions and divine sentiments, and the love of the heart is directed towards the Divine, then it takes the form of a distinct Yoga. If the attempt to realise the Self is done through pure reasoning, through an analytical exercise of the intellect, through investigation into that which is beyond name and form, that which is beyond appearance, that which is the imperishable in the midst of the perishable, that which is the infinite in the midst of the finite, that which is the eternal in the midst of the non-eternal, then it is another distinct Yoga. In this Yoga, through analysis and sifting, through rejecting certain things and through affirming certain other things, through vigorous and intense exercise of a very sharp intellect and rationality, through inner research, one ultimately begins to get a glimpse of the higher realities. So, this approach is through questioning, through enquiry, through analysis, through deep investigation. This is the Yoga of the intellect, whereas, Bhakti Yoga is through the heart, through feeling, through love, devotion, prayer, divine sentiments and longing for God. Then there is a third Yoga, the Yoga of mental discipline. The Rishis found out that mind had a power. If the mind is scattered, it is weak; but if it is gathered, it is strong. If intensely brought together, if intensely gathered together, the mind’s rays can pierce through the appearance and go beyond to the very substratum or the root, the very ground of appearance. It is just as with the sun’s rays. The sun’s rays may be warm or even hot in summer; yet, they do not have the power to do extraordinary things, though they help crops to grow on land. But, if you hold a magnifying glass against the sun, and that convex lens gathers the very same sun’s rays which are now falling outside, the rays emerge on the other side in the form of a unified ray. And that unified ray is brilliant; you cannot look at it. It is dazzling light and if any combustible object—be it paper, cotton or wood—is brought against that ray, the object starts smoking and burning. The sun’s rays are the same. In a scattered form, their powers are normal; but in an intensely gathered form, their powers are supernormal.

    Consider another example. A vast volume of water is collected when you suddenly stop the flow of a river by a dam. You build the dam across the course of the river and then the flow of the waters is halted and water becomes piled up inside the dam. And if this vast volume of water is made to emerge through a small opening, ah, it emerges with such terrible power that it is able to make metal turbines weighing tons spin like tops. What a miracle! Turbines which cannot be moved even by twenty or fifty men whirl at a terrific speed merely through the sheer force of concentrated water. When all the water is concentrated in a small opening and made to gush through, it has terrific impact and power which make the giant generators whirl like toys and generate electricity. So, coming together of any force increases the power of that force tenfold, hundredfold, thousandfold. That is the principle. It is this principle that is invoked by the science of Raja Yoga formulated by Patanjali.

    The Power of Concentration—Its Application in Matters Mundane and Spiritual

    The essence of Raja Yoga is Dharana or the focussing or bringing together of the entire force of the mind so that it becomes very powerful. That is the key technique of Yoga. The main thing is concentration, bringing the mind together. That is the key technique. That is the very heart of the science of Yoga. And, the uniqueness, the distinguishing special feature, of Raja Yoga is the object to which this concentrated mind is applied, the purpose for which this concentrated mind is utilised. It is utilised to meditate upon your real identity and realise your real identity. It is utilised to enter into a state of unbroken, deep, intense meditation upon your real identity so that you realise your real identity and become liberated. Whereas, the same type of concentration is generated and applied in other fields of activity for other purposes. It is applied by the scientists in doing their research work, by the surgeons in doing very delicate operations, by the Swiss watchmaker in making and assembling very minute and intricate parts of watches. Concentration is there in all these instances. Even a musician concentrates upon his music. But, the Raja Yogic concentration is concentration par excellence. It is concentration taken to its ultimate logical conclusion, so that the mind becomes nothing but one concentrated power. The mind loses all its normal characteristics and becomes one powerful, concentrated ray. And that is directed towards the transcendental Reality, towards that which is beyond phenomena. That is the uniqueness of Yoga, whereas, in all other fields of human endeavour, concentration is there, but only a part of it. And that too is applied only in the phenomenal field of the outer world.

    These applications of concentration in the outer field of phenomenal existence produce extraordinary results, no doubt, but of short duration only or of short relevance to man. This is because man, the discoverer of these applications, is himself only a passing traveller. He has no ultimate connection with anything or anybody here on earth. He has no permanent relevance or individuality. So, his discovery too has no permanent significance or relevance to any human individual. Thus, Nitya-Prayojana is conspicuous by its absence in such applications of concentration in any outer field. And then, man himself is a field for constant conflicts, constant tug of war, constant tension between opposing forces of good and evil, of light and darkness, of that which is sublime and that which is degraded or ignoble. Every moment man is waging an inner battle. So, what happens? More often than not, the power gained by man through intense concentration—the power of the intellect, the power of the disciplined mind—gets misdirected and misapplied. The attainments and achievements that evolve out of this misapplication do not come as blessings to mankind, do not come as results that are conducive to human happiness, human welfare and human progress, but come as curses destroying in one moment what man has painfully built up over centuries in terms of human welfare and human good. Some of the scientists and politicians who have thus developed their power of concentration are giant intellects, no doubt. But then, their intense concentration, their attention, their rationality and their reasoning powers are unfortunately accompanied by egoism, greed, selfishness, hatred, avarice, carnal passion, ambition and a desire to dominate. What happens? Because their nature is qualified by such negative traits and tendencies, the entire motivation for their investigations and research becomes vitiated and the result is human sorrow.

    The Danger of Psychic Powers

    Power is a very dangerous thing. In the course of Yogic disciplines, the Yogic practitioner may also get various types of powers, lesser and greater. And if he gets them, he becomes elated; he becomes very happy, he becomes fascinated, he becomes curious, he is very very thrilled. Yoga teachers very seriously warn their students to beware, beware, beware. They tell their students: “These powers are terrible dangers on the path. They are obstacles to your progress. Not only are they obstacles, but they are real enemies to your success in this field. They will destroy all prospects of your attaining anything. They will bring about your hopeless downfall. Therefore, beware of them. Shun them ruthlessly, shun them, kick them aside, do not have anything to do with them. Do not pay attention to them”. In this way the great Masters and teachers have never hesitated to seriously warn the students of Yoga to beware in the course of their Yogic process and progress about the powers that may come. Because, they are supranormal powers, and when power comes to the hands of man, you know how it corrupts, how it vitiates, how it makes man a beast. It can be seen all around, every day. Even with a little power in his hands, a person will oppress those who are subordinate to him, over whom he has got a sort of hold. That happens everywhere, in gross and subtle ways. So, a clear warning is given by Yogic teachers in this connection.

    So, this is the uniqueness of Yoga. Unlike in other fields of human activity, the concentration of mind, which is powerful and effective anywhere, is applied in Yoga, not for phenomenal purposes, but for the attainment of the Eternal Reality, for Self-discovery, for going beyond all limitations and imperfections in order to attain a state of absolute freedom and liberation and total divine perfection. Therein lies the uniqueness of Yoga. Yoga is an approach through mental discipline. Its key place is concentration. And what follows afterwards is the sublime right application of the power of this concentrated mind. And what precedes concentration, what goes before it, is all a preparation for enabling you to get to a state of concentration. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara—all are preparatory processes, preparatory techniques very wisely arranged in order that in case psychic powers come to the Yogi, they may not bring about his downfall. In order that the Yogi may not succumb to the temptation of the supranormal powers, in order that he may not fall a prey to them, our wise Maharshis first of all laid the foundations of absolute selflessness, absolute purity of conduct and character, humility, Tyaga, desirelessness, total renunciation, and aspiration to know one and one thing only. In this way they anticipated the danger ahead, the danger of the Yogi being tempted by psychic powers, and provided for it at the very beginning of Yoga, at the very threshold of Yoga, at the very point of entry into the portals of Yoga.

    The Importance of a Complementary Relationship Between the Outer Life and the Inner Life

    It is in the above context that you must understand the invaluable importance of Yama and Niyama and take them with you right up to the very end. Now, very few, if any, will be able to practise Yoga twenty-four hours a day, all the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. Few are in a position to cut off all connections with the entire world—with family, friends, surroundings, property and so on—and go away into a deep dense interior forest, where no other human being is there. Very few can afford such absolute isolation to lead a hermetical life. By and large, nine hundred and ninety nine out of a thousand have to blend this Yoga somehow or the other with their normal life. Somehow or the other they have to make a sort of blend of both their outer life and their inner life, their secular life and their spiritual life. There is no other alternative open to them. For them, it has to be in this way only. That being the case, when you have to be in Yoga, and at the same time, carry on your allotted occupations and fulfil your obligations to home and society, there arises an indispensable necessity to carefully ensure that nothing in the outer aspect of your life, in the worldly dimension of your life, either in your domestic set-up or in your professional set-up or in your social activities, assumes a quality or a form that is anti-Yoga, that is unspiritual, that contradicts Divinity and that goes against your entire orientation Godward. Because, if that comes about, then there will be an altogether undesirable tension between two aspects of your life. It is readily admitted that it is not possible to reject or completely waive the outer aspect of your life—individual, collective, domestic as well as professional and social. At the same time, wisdom dictates that as far as possible you must make all sincere attempts, all earnest attempts, to see that the outer does not contradict the inner, that your earthly life in all its different parts and aspects does not become an obstacle, does not become a serious hindrance to your progress upon your inner path, to your ascent towards Reality, towards light, towards liberation. So, very wisely you have to find out ways and means of how your life of activity, your life of association with other individuals, could be so wisely organised, could be so carefully made, that it does not become a hindrance and an obstacle to your spiritual progress, that it does not range itself in direct opposition to your inner life. Not only that, if you are wise and if it is possible, it is in your interest to see whether you can order your life in such a way that it supplements your inner spiritual life and offers further help in your striving. It is the necessity and importance of this complementary relationship between the outer life and the inner life in your spiritual journey that gave rise to the important science of spiritualising one’s entire life, of trying to make even your normal activities into processes of bringing you nearer to God and not taking you further away from God. This means transforming your normal activities into Yogic activities, because anything that brings you nearer to God is directly or indirectly a part of the Yoga process. Yoga is nothing but moving towards God. Yoga is trying to approach God; Yoga is trying to bring about a connection, a relationship, a link with the Infinite, with the Divine, with the Cosmic Spirit. So, if you so wisely try to organise your life in such a way that it also becomes a process helpful to Yoga, then your life itself becomes a part of Yoga. All your activities are converted into Yogic activities. All your work is transformed into spiritual work. Your whole life becomes spiritualised by this wise way of living and acting and engaging in work. Your work itself becomes a spiritual process; your activity becomes something that takes you nearer to God and ceases to be something that opposes and contradicts your Sadhana or your Yogabhyasa. This technique, this wise process, has assumed the distinct nature of a separate Yoga; it is called the Yoga of spiritualised activity or Karma Yoga, for short.

    And this Karma Yoga occupies a unique place in the seeker’s life, because it is something that is necessary as a basis for the seeker, no matter what Yoga he is employing as his specific technique of approach to God. This is because the area of outer life is the same in the case of all seekers, no matter what technique they may be adopting—Bhakti Yoga or Vedanta or Raja Yoga—as their individual method of approach to God. All seekers have to deal with the outer life; somehow or the other they have to come to terms with it and wisely make it a complementary process in their Sadhana. Because of this necessity, the importance of Karma Yoga extends to all seekers and is not confined to pure Karma Yogins only. So, Karma Yoga has its importance also for the Vedantin, the Bhakta and the Raja Yogi. Karma Yoga has a distinct place in the life of seekers of all categories. Because, as long as they have to engage themselves in one field of activity or the other, as long as they have to live and move in the outer world, they must know how to make that activity their friend and not their enemy, how to make that activity their asset and not their problem.

    Adherence to Virtue—The Common Basis of Every Type of Yoga

    The Bhagavad Gita throws a lot of light upon this important dimension of your life. All the different Yogas, though apparently different in their structure, in their composition, in their outer form, are fundamentally one in the ultimate analysis. How? Because, all these Yogas ultimately raise the Jiva or the individual being who has fallen into a very gross state into the net of desires, selfishness, bondage and ignorance. Basically, all the Yogas have this common motive or intention to take the individual out of his present predicament and gradually help him to ascend higher into a different state of experience and consciousness. They all have this identical objective or motivation or aim. Therefore, in order to achieve this, you have to first shake off the present state of consciousness in order to free yourself, somehow or the other, from the prison-house of your present state of being, where you are completely enslaved by your ego, by selfishness, greed, anger, passion, envy, jealousy, hatred, pettiness and meanness. The normal human individual has so many defects in him that all Yogas lay down the taking up of firm vows to adhere to certain principles of higher life. That takes the life immediately from a lower plane to a higher plane. That helps the person to get established in a higher level of living. It is righteous living, noble living, virtuous living, not unrighteous living, not hating and yelling, not violence and dishonesty, not impurity and evil. So, irrespective of whether you are a student of Vedanta or Bhakti Yoga or Raja Yoga, first of all you have to rise up from your present state. No matter what Yoga you may be practising or you may want to practise, the common basis is Dharma or righteousness of life; the common basis is the adoption of certain noble, ethical principles to live by; the common basis is adherence to virtue. So, character building, Sadachara, right conduct, good conduct, becoming established in a noble pattern of moral and ethical life, righteousness in life—this has to be the firm basis, whether you are a Vedantin or a Bhakta or a Raja Yogi or a Hatha Yogi or a Japa Yogi or a Sankirtan Yogi, whether you are practising Zen or whether you are practising Christian Yoga or Sufi Yoga, no matter what particular background you come from, whether you are Jew, Christian, Muslim or Parsi. Higher life demands that you lay the firm foundation of a blameless, ethical and moral life bidding goodbye once and for all to the ugliness of the ego and its manifestations of selfishness, crookedness, cunningness, falsehood, dishonesty, deceit and all other types of lower impurities. You can have no truck with these undivine factors any longer if you really mean business, if you are really earnest and sincere. That is the plain truth. So, in this matter of an ethical foundation, all Yogas are one, fundamentally one.

    Fundamental Unity of the Different Yoga Systems

    And then, when you take up serious effort in Yoga Sadhana, no matter what Yoga you may adopt, you must have dedication and intensity. Even if you do a little Sadhana, it should be unbroken, it should be continuous, it should never be given up, it should be daily, daily, daily. It should be daily, daily, daily; it should be unfailingly regular. Regularity is the key to success—unfailing regularity, unbroken continuity. Daily practice is absolutely indispensable. If you are able to do Sadhana for six hours daily, wonderful. If you are able to do it for one hour only, wonderful. If you are able to do it for half an hour only, still wonderful. If you are able to do it for fifteen minutes only, even then, wonderful. But, do not give it up. Even if you are able to do Sadhana for five minutes only daily, it should be as regular as your eating, drinking and sleeping, as regular as your breathing. And if you are really earnest, if you are really sincere, your effort would be where your heart is, where your love and longing is. There the mind must go. That is the truth. And so, if you have real love for the ultimate goal, for the ultimate attainment, you must engage in unbroken continuous effort. Your Sadhana must be a regular, unfailing, daily affair. And while you are engaged in this manner, you should never allow yourself to slide back, you should never allow yourself to slip into the old sensual ruts and grooves, because then all that you might have achieved will become lost. You must hedge yourself against this possibility and you must see that you never go back. Once you have turned in the spiritual direction, once you have put your hand to the plough, there is no turning back. Be very strict with yourself, be very firm with yourself. Never allow the senses to run riot once again. Never allow the mind to once again fall a prey to desire and craving. That which has been spat out should not be picked up from the earth and put into the mouth once again. No decent person with any sense of respectability will do it. Spat out means spat out. That is the attitude the Sadhaka must take, the Yogi must take. That is called Vairagya. The continuous practice of Vairagya and the keeping up of an unbroken continuity in your Sadhana—what is known as Abhyasa—must be there side by side until you come face to face with your Beloved God or attain Vedantic illumination or Asamprajnata Raja Yoga Samadhi. Until then, Abhyasa and Vairagya should go hand in hand relentlessly.

    In this respect, all Yoga is one. The foundation for all types of Yoga is identical. There is no difference in the basis. The outer form of each Yoga may be different, but the inner anatomy of the progress of the Yogi is the same. It is a fiery determination to keep the effort unbroken and continuous, unfailing and regular and determined. It is a fiery determination never to slip back, never to allow the mind and the senses to fall into old grooves. It is becoming firmly and continuously established in Vairagya. This is the inner form of Yoga Sadhana.

    Ultimately, the fruit of Yoga is also identical, whether you come face to face with your beloved Lord through Bhakti or whether you attain Vedantic Aparoksha Anubhuti or Cosmic Consciousness where you feel that everything is the Lord, where you feel, “Vasudeva Sarvam Iti”, “Siya Ram Maya Saba Jaga Jani”, “Sarvam Vishnu Mayam Jagat”. The fruit of Yoga is the same to a Raja Yogi who practises meditation and attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi as to a Karma Yogin who practises Nishkama Karma Yoga with Isvara Drishti or Narayana Bhava in all Nama-Rupa, who sees the manifestation of the Lord in all creatures and serves them and attains cosmic vision, Darshan of Narayan, Darshan of Atma. Once you attain the supreme experience be it through Karma yoga or Bhakti Yoga or Jnana Yoga—there is cessation of all sorrow, pain and suffering. That is the attainment of supreme bliss and blessedness—bliss, bliss, bliss, indescribable infinite bliss, limitless bliss—Paramananda, divine bliss, divine joy. In that state there is no desire, there is no wish, one wants nothing, one has no desire left, all desires are fulfilled and finished. In that condition one is in a state of absolute bliss, one is in a state of total eternal satisfaction. Whatever he has wanted he has got, and therefore, whatever he had to do to get it is all done. There is no more doing, no more striving, no more need for any effort or activity. This outcome is identical, no matter which way you have got on to the roof, whether you took the inside staircase or whether you took the outside staircase, or whether you put the ladder and climbed the ladder, or whether you asked someone to put a rope down and you went up the rope, or whether you asked someone to take you on a helicopter and drop you there. No matter in what way you landed on the roof, you are on the roof all the same. You are in a condition identical with those others who too have reached the roof-top by one means or the other. The attainment is identical. Even so, all the different Yogas ultimately take the seeker to the same supreme summit of blessedness and bliss where there is Sarva Duhkha Nivritti, cessation of all sorrow, where there is Paramananda Prapti, attainment of supreme bliss, where there is Nitya Tripti, eternal satisfaction, where there is that state of fullness, Paripurnata, where man says, “I want nothing” and becomes Apta-Kama, where he becomes Krita-Kritya or one who has done all that there is to be done. That supreme attainment is the fruit of Yoga, call it Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga or Raja Yoga, call it Karma Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Kirtan Yoga, Laya Yoga, Hatha Yoga or whatever.

    So, though there is apparent difference of form in the outer structure of the various Yogas differently named, the basis and the attainment are both identical in all cases. Two factors are indispensable and necessary as the very basis to carry you from start to finish, from A to Z, and they are Abhyasa and Vairagya—Akhanda Abhyasa and perfect Vairagya. Without these two, no Yoga can proceed. And the ultimate fruit of attainment is also identical. All forms of Yoga, no matter how completely different they may look on the surface, how clashing and contrary to one another they may seem to be in outer detail, are the same in the ultimate achievement, in the ultimate reckoning. If you take a deeper and inner glimpse, you find that all this clash and conflict is only between the Ganas of Siva and the Vanaras of Rama. The Ganas of Siva and the Vanaras of Rama may clash, but Rama and Siva have no difference. Rama worships Siva and takes His Name and Siva worships Rama and takes His Name. They have no difference. They have got identical Bhava. In the same way, the outer structure and details of the Yogic ascent may be different; the details of practice may be different—they have to be—and they may even look contradictory. And the followers of the different Yogas may even quarrel with one another and say that each one is wrong. But it is all futile and vain. It is all a puerile attitude and approach to Yoga, a limited vision lacking in depth. Those who have inner vision see all Yoga as fundamentally one, as identical from start to finish, based upon Sadachara and self-control and purity of conduct and character and righteous living, and progressing through unremitting, unbroken effort and perfect dispassion, and ultimately culminating in the cessation of all sorrow, in the attainment of supreme bliss—absolute fullness and eternal satisfaction. In that supreme state, in that great experience, all Yoga becomes unified and you find that all the erstwhile differences merge and disappear and you begin to wonder why it was like that in the beginning.

    Philosophy, Phychology and Practice of Yoga -- | Preface | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 |17 | 18 | 19

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