XIII. Yoga (II)
The object in view in this article is to mark the stages along the road of mental matter to its final absorption in the soul. In the last essay I brought the mind to the state of samprajnata samadhi. It is in this state that the mind acquires the power of discovering new truths, and seeing new combinations of things existent. As this state has been attained in the long cycle of bygone ages, man has acquired a knowledge of science to its present stage of development, and the attainment of this quantum of knowledge has been the means of raising our minds to our present pitch of perfection, when we have learned to say that these great powers are native to the human mind. As I have shown, these powers have become native to the mind only after long submission of the mind to the influence of the soul.
By the constant exercise of this samadhi the mind learns to incline towards those cosmic influences that are in their very nature antagonistic to those bad powers of our constitution that check our progress. These powers tend to die out naturally. The ultimate goal of this march is that the state of mind when its manifestation become entirely potential. The soul, if she pleases, might propel them by her inherent power into the domain of the actual, but they lose all power to draw the soul after them.
When this state is reached, or when it is about to be reached, certain powers begin to show themselves in the mind, which in the present cycle are by no means common. This state is technically called paravairagya, or the Higher Apathy.
The word vairagya usually is rendered into English as apathy, and is looked upon with disfavor by modern thinkers. This is, I believe, owing to a misconception of the meaning of the word. It is generally understood that misanthropy is the only indication, or perhaps the highest perfection, of this mental state. Nothing can be further from the intention of those sages who put vairagya down as the highest means of the attainment of bliss. Vairagya or apathy is defined by Vyasa in his commentary on The Aphorisms of Yoga as the “final state of perfected knowledge”. It is that state in which the mind, coming to know the real nature of things, would no longer be deluded into false pleasure by the manifestations of avidya. When this upward inclination becomes confirmed, when this habit of soaring towards the divine becomes second nature, the name of paravairagya is given to the complementary mental state.
This state is reached in many ways, and the road is marked by many clearly defined stages. One way is the practice of samprajnata samadhi. By the constant practice of this samadhi, to which the mind runs of itself when it once tastes the bliss of the fourth stage of that state, the mind is habituated to a state of faith in the efficacy of the pursuit. This faith is nothing more than a state of mental lucidity in which the yet unknown truths of nature begin to throw their shadows before them. The mind begins to feel truth in any and every place, and drawn by the taste of bliss (ananda), sets to work out the process of its evolution with greater and greater zeal. This faith has been called Sraddha by Patanjali, and he calls the consequent zeal Virya.
Confirmed in this zeal and working on, the manifestation of memory comes in naturally. This is a high state of evolution. Every truth becomes present before the mind’s eye at the slightest thought, and the four stages of samadhi make their appearance again and again till the mind becomes very nearly a mirror of Nature.
This corresponds to the state of paravairagya, which in the second place would also be attained by the contemplation of the High Prototype of the Soul. This is the Iswara of Ptanjali, the macrocosmic soul that remains forever in that entity’s soul of pristine purity. It is this Iswara of that I have spoken as the self-conscious universe.
This Iswara, as I conceive it, is only a macrocosmic center, similar in nature to the sun, though higher in function.
As the sun with his ocean of Prana is the prototype of our life-principle, prana maya kosha, so Iswara is the great prototype of our souls. What is the sixth principle of not only a phase of the existence of this great being prolonged as a separate phase into the lower principles, yet destined to emerge again into its own true self? Just as I have shown that the principles of life live in the sun after our terrestrial death, to recur again and again into actual life, so too the soul lives in the Iswara in a similar fashion. We may look upon this entity as being the group of all the liberated souls, but at the same time we must remember that the unliberated souls also are his undeveloped reflections, destined in the long run to attain their original state. It is therefore necessary to assume the independent existence of Iswara, and of other souls in Iswara.
This macrocosmic psychic center, this ideal of the sixth principle in man, is the great reservoir of every actual force in the universe. He is the true type of the perfection of the human soul. The incidents of mental and physical existence which, however perfect in themselves, are to His more comprehensive nature mere imperfections, find no place in Him. There is no misery for Him – the five comprehensive miseries of Patanjali are enumerated above – for misery can arise only in the retrograde process of the first awakening of the mind, only being caused by sensation, and the human sixth principle not yet gaining sufficient strength in the process of time to draw the mind towards itself and out of the domain of the senses, to make it what its prototype originally is, the rod of dominion, and not as sensation has made it, the instrument of slavery.
By this conemplation of the sixth principle of the Universe, a sympathy is established naturally between it and the human soul. That sympathy is only necessary for the Universal Tatwic Law to work with greater effect. The human soul begins to be cleansed of the dust of the world and in its turn affects the mind in a similar way, and therein the yogi becomes conscious of this influence by the slackening of the fetters forged by Prakriti, and a daily, hourly strengthening of heavenward aspirations.
The human soul then begins to become a center of power for its own little universe, just as Iswara is the center of power in His universe. The microcosm then becomes a perfect little picture of the macrocosm. When perfection is attained, all the mental and physiological tatwas of the microcosm, and to a certain extent of the surrounding world, become the slaves of the soul. Whitherso it may incline, the tatwas are at its back. He may will, and the atmospheric Vayu tatwa, with any amount of strength he pleases or is capable of centering, will set in motion any piece of furniture within the reach of his will. He may will, and at the instant the apas tatwa will slake your thirst, cure your fever, or in fact wash off the germs of any disease. He may will, and any and every tatwa on either of the lower planes will do its work for him. These high powers do not wait to come in all of a sudden, but show themselves gradually, and according to the special aptitudes in special forms.
But a description of these powers is not my present business. My only purpose is to show in what way, according to the universal law of nature, by contemplation of the macrocosmic sixth principle, that the human soul becomes the means for the mind attaining the state called paravairagya.
Besides these two, the author of The Aphorisms of Yoga enumerates five more ways in which the minds of those who are already by the power of previous karma inclined towards the divine, are seen to work out their way to the sate of paravairagya.
This first way is the habituating of the mind to the manifestations of pleasure, sympathy, elation, and pity toward the comfortable, the miserable, and the vicious respectively. Every good man will tell us that the manifestation of joy at the comfort of another is a high virtue. Why, what harm is there in jealousy? I think no other science except the philosophy of the tatwas explains with any amount of satisfaction the reason why of such questions.
We have seen that in a state of enjoyment, comfort, pleasure, satisfaction, and the like, the prithivi or the apas tatwa prevails in the prana and the mind. It is evident that if we put our minds in the same, we induce either of the two tatwas in our life and mental principles. What will be the result? A process of purification will set in. Both the principles will being to be cleansed of any trace of defect that the excess of any remaining tatwas may have given to our constitution.
All those physiological or mental causes that induce inattention in the mind are removed. Bodily distempers take their leave for they are the result of the disturbance of the balance of the physiological tatwas, and comfort, pleasure and enjoyment are foreign to these. The one induces the other. As the balance of the tatwas brings comfort and enjoyment of life, so the sense of comfort and enjoyment that colors our prana and mind when we put ourselves in sympathy with the comfortable, restores the balance of our tatwas.
And when the balance of tatwas is restored, what remains? Disinclination to work, doubt, laziness and other feelings of that kind can no longer stand, and the only result is the restoration of the mind to perfect calmness. As Vyasa says in his commentary, the White Law makes its appearance in the mind. Such and in a similar way is the result of the manifestation of the other qualities. But for such a result to beachieved, there must be long and powerful application.
The next method is Pranayama, deep expiration and inspiration. This too conduces to the same end and in the same way. The drawing of deep breaths in and out has to some extent the same effect as running and other hard exercise. The heat that is produced burns down certain elements of disease, which if it desirable should be burnt. But the practice in its effects differs for the better from hard exercise. In hard exercise the susumna begins to play, and that is not good for physiological health. Pranayama, if properly performed, however, is beneficial from a physiological as well as from a mental point of view. The first effect that is produced in pranayama is the general prevalence of the prithivi tatwa. It is unnecessary to remind the reader that the apas tatwa carries the breath lowest down, and that the Prithivi is the next. In our attempt to draw deeper breaths than usual, the prithivi tatwa cannot but be introduced, and the general prevalence of this tatwa, with the consequent golden tinge of the circle of light round our heads, can never fail to cause fixity of purpose and strength of attention. The apas tatwa comes in next. This is the silvery hue of innocence that encircles the head of a saint and marks the attainment of paravairagya.
The next is the attainment of the two-fold lucidity – the sensuous and the cardiac. The sensuous lucidity is the power of the senses to perceive the changes of prana. The previously trained attention, according to special aptitudes, is centered on any one of the five senses or more. If centered in the eyes, one can see the physiological and atmospheric colors of prana. I can affirm this by personal experience. I can see the various colors of the seasons. I can see the rain coming an hour, two hours, and sometimes even two days before an actual shower. Bright sheets of the green washed into coolness and purity by the white make their appearance anywhere about me – in the room, in the heavens, on the table before me, on the wall in front. When this happens, I am sure that rain is in the air and will come down soon. If the green is streaked with red, it takes some time to come, but it is surely preparing.
These remarks are enough for color. The power can be made to show itself by a sustained attempt to look into space, or anything else, as the moon, a star, a jewel, and so on. The remaining four senses also attain similar powers, and sounds, smells, tastes and touches that ordinary humanity cannot perceive begin to be perceived by the Yogi.
The cardiac lucidity is the power of the mind to feel and also that of the senses to perceive thoughts. In the article on Prana, I have given a chart of the head, specifying the places and giving the colors of the various kinds of mental manifestations. These colors are seen by anyone who has or acquires the power, and they constitute the surest book in which to read the thoughts of any man. By sustained practice one will recognize the finest shades.
One can also feel these thoughts. The modifications of thought moving along the universal tatwic wires affect any and every man. They each impart a distinct impulse to the prana maya kosha, and thus a distinguishable impulse to the throbs of the brain and the more easily perceivable throbs of the heart. A man who studies these throbs of the heart and sits with his attention centered into the heart (while it is of course open to every influence) learns to feel every influence there. The effect on the heart of the mental modifications of other people is a fact that, so far as quality is concerned, may be verified by the commonest experience.
This sensuous or cardiac lucidity, as the case may be, once attained kills skepticism, and in the end conduces to the state of paravairagya.
In the next place, says Patanjali, one may rely upon the knowledge obtainable through dreams and sleep. But this will do for the present.