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    A Broad Outline Of The Yoga Philosophy

    In the context of the ancient Vedic culture of India, the knowledge that takes one forward and liberates one from the limited experience of body consciousness or the name and form consciousness, the ultimate knowledge that bestows upon one cosmic consciousness, is known as the higher knowledge or the greater knowledge, Para Vidya. This higher knowledge is clearly differentiated from the lower or the lesser knowledge, which pertains only to things that are within the confines of time, space and causation, that are limited by time, space and causation. This latter knowledge of things that are limited within time and space is therefore finite and temporary. It is non-eternal. It is the lesser knowledge, and at best it can help you to have a comfortable life of physical conveniences, sense satisfaction, and temporary, partial desire-fulfilment. It has not the power—limited, finite things have not the power—to liberate you from fear and sorrow, to liberate you from all the limitations and imperfections that pertain to this limited life bound by birth and death, hunger and thirst, joy and sorrow, and the ever-changing experiences of sense contacts. Those who seek a knowledge that is beyond this relative knowledge are, therefore, the aspirants for Para Vidya or the higher knowledge which ultimately bestows upon you freedom from bondage, fear and sorrow. This higher knowledge bestows upon you ultimately the experience of your real identity, your true Self which is beyond the apparent, limited self. It ultimately confers upon you spiritual illumination and perfection, the peace that passeth understanding, freedom from all limitations and absolute bliss.

    Practice—The Keynote of the Science of Yoga

    Para Vidya is not only for knowing, but also for doing. It is not simply for acquiring information, but more importantly, for putting that information to use by translating it into action, into practice. Because, Para Vidya or the science of Yoga is a practical science that is to be applied in living your life. This vital fact, this important point, in relation to the knowledge of Yoga should not be lost sight of. There should be in you the desire and the determination to start applying the instructions contained in the science of Yoga to your own life and conduct—to your mental actions and verbal actions, as well as to your outer physical actions. That is the very essence of this study that it is acquired with the specific intention and objective of simultaneously translating it into action, of simultaneously applying it to your daily life. Thus, every part of Yoga, right from the very start, is knowledge imparted for conversion into Abhyasa, because it is Abhyasa only that will ultimately bring to you the fruit of your knowledge in the form of rare experience that nothing else in this world can give. Therefore, always remember this term, this word, this concept, of Abhyasa, because Yoga is a practical science of Self-realisation and Abhyasa is the very essence of this science. You learn in order to live, to do.

    The Afflictions that Beset the Human Being

    The philosophy of Yoga puts forward, in non-technical or non-metaphysical terms, the thesis that you are essentially an all-perfect entity totally free from any imperfection and not subject to any undesirable, imperfect, negative experience whatsoever. What are the undesirable, imperfect, negative experiences within the range of human knowledge? They are all those things which you are commonly engaged in trying to avoid by so many devious methods. Every day, from the time of your birth, you keep trying to avoid the discomfort and pain that is brought about by hunger. You do not want to remain on an empty stomach even for an hour or two beyond your usual time of breakfast or lunch. If the lunch is missed, you are very, very perturbed, very much disturbed, very much distressed. You become very morose and irritable also. Your whole mood changes. You become a different person. You are no longer a pleasant person. All the days of your life you are engaged in trying to avoid the unpleasant experience of not getting your food. If you do not get your morning breakfast or morning tea, or if you are deprived of your lunch, or if you have to miss your supper, you become a different person. You do not like that experience. So, you try to avoid that circumstance by somehow or the other trying to get something to eat. Have you ever thought about this? This is such a daily and common experience, and such a routine experience, that no one pays any attention to it from the philosophical angle, from the analytical metaphysical angle.

    What is it that happens to you if you have to miss your meal just once? You whole interior changes. You become a different person. You are no longer a pleasant person. You are inclined to give a sharp answer. You are displeased. Your peace is lost. You do not feel happy and you manifest your unhappiness in the form of a sharp answer or an irritated reply or aggravating conduct. This is an affliction that constantly keeps plaguing the human individual. When he wakes up in the morning, he has this affliction of the desire for taking food. One may call it hunger. Many naturopaths have a different opinion on whether this desire for food is really hunger or not. They have their own opinion. But normally, when you wake up in the morning, the desire that arises for taking something is regarded as the sign of hanger. So, this experience that bothers you, which if it is not satisfied distresses you, changes your personality for the time being, and makes you a different person to your own wife and to your brothers and sisters and even to your mother, is an affliction.

    The same is the case with thirst, sleep, fatigue and other emotions also. Various sentiments and emotions bother you, disturb you, throw you out of gear and make you restless. They have the power to agitate you, to make you feel distressed. Unfulfilled desire, anger, a little failure on the part of someone to show respect to you, unkindness from someone, some sharp word from someone, or the failure on the part of someone to recognise your presence—all these immediately put you in a turmoil. Thus, physically, you are subject to the afflictions of hunger, thirst and fatigue and heat and cold. And mentally, emotionally and sentimentally, you are always subject to the affliction of varying states of mind. In this way, you are constantly falling a prey to varying states of mind, not all of which are pleasant. Some are pleasant, many are distressing. Yoga philosophy says that this is an unnatural condition, that this is not your natural condition. You are not a creature subject to such afflictions. You are not a being who has any one of these distressing experiences and symptoms. You are above them, you are beyond them, you are really free from them. They do not really form a part of your actual, true nature. This is very fine for Yoga philosophy to say! But this is not your experience. Your experience contradicts the possible validity or truth of this fine philosophy. Your experience is directly the contrary of what Yoga philosophy says about you. Every day you are in a state of distress only. Every day you suffer. The afflictions of hunger, thirst and discomfort, heat and cold, pain and pleasure are your daily experience. If a little attention is not paid to you when you ask something, your mind is thrown into a state of distress, agitation and turmoil; and it brings about physical changes also. Your blood pressure goes up, your face is flushed, you feel hot and uncomfortable all over, and you want to blurt out something. You want to express your feeling of displeasure and distress and give vent to it so that you can relieve yourself of this inner buildup. You are altogether in an upset condition if someone somehow fails to pay due attention to what you try to bring to his notice, if your request is not regarded, if your presence is not recognised, or if something which you put forward is not properly attended to. So, your experience is an ever-fluctuating, ever-changing experience of constant contraries and constant opposites swinging between hope and despair, joy and sorrow, elation and depression—not only depression, but also a great deal of agitation caused by unfulfilled desires and cravings for things, agitation caused by irritability, annoyance, anger, fear, worry, anxiety and jealousy.

    The Real Status of Man

    Yoga philosophy says, “No. You are really free from all these things. You have no afflictions. You have no hunger, no thirst, no sleep, no fatigue. You have no pain, no pleasure. You have no distress, no agitation, no worry, no anxiety. You are a being full of perfection, complete in yourself, lacking nothing, full of joy, full of peace, full of bliss”. Then, if that is the fact, how come that your entire life, your entire experience from morning till night, contradicts this fact? What is the explanation? What is the reason for this? Why is this complication there? Whence has this problem arisen?

    Yoga philosophy offers the analogy of a perfectly clear crystal which is transparent and pure, but becomes filled as it were with some colour if some coloured object is brought forth near it. The object thus brought forth may be a green-coloured ball or a little red-coloured flower or a blue-coloured cork and the whole crystal becomes green or red or blue. This proximity of something having some characteristic brings about a seeming transference of that characteristic from that something into the pure, transparent, clear crystal. So, it is the proximity to something that is the cause for the apparent change in the otherwise attributeless crystal ball. Now, Yoga philosophy says that you are also in a similar state of proximity to something, you have become involved with something, and therefore, states and conditions that exist in that factor seem as though they have come and taken possession of you.

    In the ease of the crystal, if you want it to become clear once again, what is the method to bring it about? You have to bring about once again a separation between the crystal and its proximate object. You have to bring about a cessation of the proximity that is there between the crystal and the object by separating the two. If the proximate object is taken away and the crystal is once again isolated from that object which has been superimposing all its qualities upon it, then, once again the crystal is pure, clear and transparent. Once again it stands in its own nature; it regains its own nature. It is no more modified and qualified by the something else which is not part of its essential being. This is the analogy that you have to consider and keep in mind.

    Prakriti and Its Play of Superimposition

    Now, what is it that has thus become involved in a state of proximity with you that is seemingly transferring its imperfect nature upon you, upon your perfectly pristine native condition, which is sorrowless, painless, without any limitation, without any blemish? Yoga philosophy tells you that it is phenomenal nature. Nature, in all its variations, acts as the factor which limits you into a certain range of experience which is its own area, which is its own territory; and, by its proximity and by its close association with you, it transfers its varying experience into you as it were, and this cosmic nature with its different variations is termed Prakriti. And in your own physical personality, in your own individual personality, this Prakriti comprises all those factors other than your essential pristine identity, other than your eternal unchanging nature. Your eternal, unchanging nature is an identity independent of this cosmic nature, called Prakriti, and therefore, perfectly free from all the limitations that are part of Prakriti. But your present experience does not seem to reflect that essential identity of pristine awareness, where you are totally independent of any changeful experience whatsoever, where you are ever in a state of unchanging experience of fullness, peace and joy. On the other hand, your present experience seems to be the very contradiction of your pristine experience. Why? It is precisely because of your being associated with Prakriti in all its variegated modes, because of your being involved with it in a state of identification, taking upon yourself and your consciousness factors that do not really pertain to your eternal pristine native state. These factors are foreign to you, but you have taken them upon yourself. Or, they have become somehow like creepers twining into a tree due to close association. This association and this close proximity is the root cause of your being deprived of that experience of fullness and perfection, of peace and joy, which is your native state, and of your being caught in the trammels of a complicated pattern of experience which is the very contradiction of your pristine state. This is the problem. Your experience is not, therefore, your normal and natural experience. It is an unnatural, abnormal experience; and the cause, the main source or cause, the reason for this experience, is your having got into this bad company, having got into this embroilment or entanglement in Prakriti; and your true native state, your true identity in the state of Purusha, of Self, of Real Being, is lost. And as long as this involvement in the ever-changing Prakriti—which is full of contradictory experience, full of complication, full of fluctuation—is going to continue, your problem also is going to continue. As long as this state of association and entanglement with phenomenal nature is going to continue, your problem also is going to continue. The only way of putting an end to this problem, of brining about a cessation of this hotchpotch of ever-changing experience—pleasant, unpleasant and neutral—is once again to regain your isolation, to go back to your normal and native pristine position, where you are not associated with any other factor, where you are not entangled or embroiled in any other factor, where you are independent. In that independent state, you are by yourself in a state of grand isolation, untouched by anything, beyond anything. In that pristine state, you are yourself as you are, as you eternally are, independent of any other factor, grandly isolated, free from any other association. If you regain that state which is your normal state, native state—now you are in an abnormal state—then all problems vanish. There is no more weeping and wailing, there is no more swinging between contrary experiences. You regain your pristine, ever-stable, unchanging state of fullness, of perfection. So, when this association with Prakriti or cosmic nature has precipitated this unfortunate state of affairs, to put an end to it, there is only one way and that is the right royal way—stop this association, terminate this association with the imperfect Prakriti, and be yourself. Establish yourself in your pristine isolated position. This is the philosophical thesis which is at the basis of the science of Yoga.

    The Spiritual Reality of Man and the Psychological Situation in which He is Caught Up

    How to bring about this separation so that you once again regain your independent status where you are not caught up in the factor called Prakriti? How to bring about this breaking of your unfortunate association with Prakriti? That is what the science of Yoga is concerned about. How to give back to you your independence, how to give back to you once again that pristine state in which you are always there—that is the subject-matter of the science of Yoga. The imperfect-experience condition which is distressing, going up and down, has arisen due to your association with Prakriti or Nature that is ever unsteady. This association has to be broken if you are to regain your independent status of everlasting joy. So, the problem and the solution are provided for you by the philosophy of Yoga and the working out of the solution is gradually elaborated in a systematic manner in the practice of Yoga. But, this practice has to recognise the present reality. The present reality is that you are a very-much harassed being subject to a great deal of distress, of limitations. Whatever the truth of your identity may be, you have lost the awareness of your identity. Now you are not in that state of identity. So, we have to start from where you are. We cannot start from the other end, whatever you might be. That seems to have no relevance at all, because that experience is lost. It is no longer there. You may be told theoretically about it; you may believe it. But now you find yourself in a totally different position, and so we have to start from the position in which you are, where you are completely involved in thought, in mind, in the mental process, in sentiments, emotions—in short, involved in all the variations of all the physical as well as the psychological factors which make up Prakriti. Prakriti is made up of many things—the five elements, the Prana, the senses, and the mind in its different modes, each mode having its own variations. One single mode of the mind has got so many variations—Vasanas, Samskaras, imaginations, anger, passion, greed, hatred, envy, jealousy, worry, selfishness, attachment. The intellect has its own variations—clear perception, unclear perception and wrong perception. So, it is a complicated maze in which your consciousness is caught at present. And, in any practice that has to bring about the liberation of your Self, you must take count of the actual present position and start from there, and hence the need to get a clear idea of the psychology of Yoga. The practice of Yoga rests upon the present situation of the individual being and the present situation of the individual being is the psychological situation. The spiritual reality of the individual being is totally hidden and overcome by his psychological situation, like the sun or the moon overcome by an eclipse or a big piece of cloud. The practice of Yoga is thus based upon the realistic recognition of the present psychological position of the individual. As such, a clear knowledge of the present psychological situation of the individual is very essential. Herein comes the necessity of knowing about the psychology of Yoga. Based upon the psychology of Yoga, they have formulated a certain set of practices which form the practice of Yoga.

    So, you are the Purusha, totally free from all sorts of negative experiences and afflictions. You are self-sufficient, independent, complete, of the nature of absolute peace and joy. But, that stage which the philosophy of Yoga clearly declares to be your authentic and genuine identity seems to be a far cry from where you now find yourself. You are very much dependent, not independent, very much full of experiences which you are always trying to get rid of somehow or the other, which you are always trying to replace by a more satisfying condition. So, it is not a very flattering position to find yourself in. Yoga science tries to explain to you why you are in this condition. Is there a way out of this condition? If so, what is it? Based upon the knowledge supplied by the science of Yoga as to why your present condition has been brought about, the way out of it also has been formulated. And if you seriously start applying this knowledge of the way out in the form of Abhyasa or personal practice, gradually it gives you back your state of independence or fullness—independence from all limitations, from all afflictions.

    To sum up: your true identity is a state of absolute independence and freedom from any negative or painful or undesirable experience. You are a perfect being, free from all afflictions, independent. But, your present state does not seem to be anywhere near that pristine state and this is due to your association with another cosmical factor called phenomenal nature which Yoga philosophy calls Prakriti. Your proximity to, and association with, Prakriti has brought about this vitiation of your own Self-experience and replaced it by a very unsatisfactory, contradictory and mixed-up experience. And therefore, this association has to be terminated. Once again separating yourself from Prakriti, you have to establish yourself in your original independent status. And the practical aspect of the science of Yoga tries to give you a certain systematic method by which this can be achieved.

    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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