The Yoga and Its Objects
The yoga we practice is not for ourselves alone, but for the Divine; its aim is to work out the will of the Divine in the world, to effect a spiritual transformation and to bring down a divine nature and a divine life into the mental, vital and physical nature and life of humanity. Its object is not personal Mukti, although Mukti is a necessary condition of the yoga, but the liberation and transformation of the human being. It is not personal Ananda, but the bringing down of the divine Ananda--Christ's kingdom of heaven, our Satyayuga--upon the earth.
Of moksa we have no personal need; for the soul is nityamukta and bondage is an illusion. We play at being bound, we are not really bound. We can be free when God wills; for he, our supreme Self, is the master of the game, and without his grace and permission no soul can leave the game. It is often God's will in us to take through the mind the bhoga of ignorance, of the dualities, of joy and grief, of pleasure and pain, of virtue and sin, of enjoyment and renunciation: for long ages, in many countries, he never even thinks of the yoga but plays out this play century after century without wearying of it. There is nothing evil in this, nothing which we need condemn or from which we need shrink,--it is God's play. The wise man is he who recognises this truth and knowing his freedom, yet plays out God's play, waiting for his command to change the methods of the game.
The command is now. God always keeps for himself a chosen country in which the higher knowledge is through all chances and dangers, by the few or the many, continually preserved, and for the present, in this Chaturyuga at least, that country is India. Whenever he chooses to take the full pleasure of ignorance, of the dualities, of strife and wrath and tears and weakness and selfishness, the tamasic and rajasic pleasures, of the play of the Kali in short, he dims the knowledge in India and puts her down into weakness and degradation so that she may retire into herself and not interfere with this movement of his Lila. When he wants to rise up from the mud and Narayana in man to become once again mighty and wise and blissful, then he once more pours out the knowledge on India and raises her up so that she may give the knowledge with its necessary consequences of might, wisdom and bliss to the whole world. When there is the contracted movement of knowledge, the yogins in India withdraw from the world and practise yoga for their own liberation and delight or for the liberation of a few disciples; but when the movement of knowledge again expands and the soul of India expands with it, they come forth once more and work in the world and for the world. Yogins like Janaka, Ajatashatru and Kartavirya once more sit on the thrones of the world and govern the nations.
God's Lila in man moves always in a circle, from Satyayuga to Kali and through Kali to the Satya, from the Age of Gold to the Age of Iron and back again through the Iron to the Gold. In modern language the Satyayuga is a period of the world in which a harmony, stable and sufficient, is created and man realises for a time, under certain conditions and limitations, the perfection of his being. The harmony exists in its nature, by the force of a settled purity; but afterwards it begins to break down and man upholds it, in the Treta, by force of will, individual and collective; it breaks down further and he attempts to uphold it in the Dwapara by intellectual regulation and common consent and rule; then in the Kali it finally collapses and is destroyed. But the Kali is not merely evil; in it the necessary conditions are progressively built up for a new Satya, another harmony, a more advanced perfection. In the period of the Kali which has passed, still endures in its effects, but is now at an end, there has been a general destruction of the ancient knowledge and culture. Only a few fragments remain to us in the Vedas, Upanishads and other sacred works and in the world's confused traditions. But the time is at hand for a first movement upward, the first attempt to build up a new harmony and perfection. That is the reason why so many ideas are abroad for the perfection of human society, knowledge, religion and morals. But the true harmony has not yet been found.
It is only India that can discover the harmony, because it is only by a change--not a mere readjustment--of man's present nature that it can be developed, and such a change is not possible except by yoga. The nature of man and of things is at present a discord, a harmony that has got out of tune. The whole heart and action and mind of man must be changed, but from within, not from without, not by political and social institutions, not even by creeds and philosophies, but by realisation of God in ourselves and the world and a remoulding of life by that realisation. This can only be effected by Purnayoga, a yoga not devoted to a particular purpose, even though that purpose be Mukti or Ananda, but to the fulfilment of the divine humanity in ourselves and others. For this purpose the practices of Hatha and Raja Yoga are not sufficient and even the Trimarga will not serve; we must go higher and resort to the Adhyatmayoga. The principle of Adhyatmayoga is, in knowledge, the realisation of all things that we see or do not see but are aware of,--men, things, ourselves, events, gods, titans, angels,--as one divine Brahman, and in action and attitude, an absolute self-surrender to the Paratpara Purusha, the transcendent, infinite and universal Personality who is at once personal and impersonal, finite and infinite, self-limiting and illimitable, one and many, and informs with his being not only the Gods above, but man and the worm and the clod below.
The surrender must be complete. Nothing must be reserved, no desire, no demand, no opinion, no idea that this must be, that cannot be, that this should be and that should not be;--all must be given. The heart must be purified of all desire, the intellect of all self-will, every duality must be renounced, the whole world seen and unseen must be recognised as one supreme expression of concealed Wisdom, Power and Bliss, and the entire being given up, as an engine is passive in the hands of the driver, for the divine Love, Might and perfect Intelligence to do its work and fulfil its divine Lila. Ahankâra must be blotted out in order that we may have, as God intends us ultimately to have, the perfect bliss, the perfect calm and knowledge and the perfect activity of the divine existence. If this attitude of perfect self-surrender can be even imperfectly established, all necessity of Yogic kriyâ inevitably ceases. For then God himself in us becomes the sadhaka and the siddha and his divine power works in us, not by our artificial processes, but by a working of Nature which is perfectly informed, all-searching and infallibly efficient. Even the most powerful Rajayogic samyama, the most developed prânâyâma, the most strenuous meditation, the most ecstatic Bhakti, the most self-denying action, mighty as they are and efficacious, are comparatively weak in their results when set beside this supreme working. For those are all limited to a certain extent by our capacity, but this is illimitable in potency because it is God's capacity. It is only limited by his will which knows what is best for the world and for each of us in the world and apart from it.
The first process of the yoga is to make the sankalpa of âtmasamarpana. Put yourself with all your heart and all your strength into God's hands. Make no conditions, ask for nothing, not even for siddhi in the yoga, for nothing at all except that in you and through you his will may be directly performed. To those who demand from him, God gives what they demand, but to those who give themselves and demand nothing, he gives everything that they might otherwise have asked or needed and in addition he gives himself and the spontaneous boons of his love.
The next process is to stand aside and watch the working of the divine power in yourself. This working is often attended with disturbance and trouble in the system, therefore faith is necessary, though perfect faith is not always possible at once; for whatever impurity is in you, harboured openly or secretly lurking, is likely to rise at first and be repeated so long as it is not exhaustively swept out, and doubt in this age is an almost universal impurity. But even when doubt assails, stand by and wait for it to pass, availing yourself if possible of the satsanga of those who are already advanced on the path, but when that is absent, still holding fast to the principle of the yoga, self-surrender. When distressed within or assailed from without, remember the words of the Gita,
“By giving thyself up in heart and mind to Me, thou shalt cross over all difficulties and perils by My grace,”
“Abandon all dharmas (all law, rule, means and codes of every kind whether formed by previous habit and belief or imposed from outside) and take refuge in Me alone; I will deliver thee from all sin and evil,--do not grieve.”
“I will deliver”,--you have not to be troubled or struggle yourself as if the responsibility were yours or the result depended on your efforts, a mightier than you is busy with the matter. Neither disease nor calamity nor the rising of sin and impurity in you should cause any alarm. Hold fast only to him. “I will deliver thee from all sin and evil.” But the release does not come by a sudden miracle, it comes by a process of purification and these things are a part of the process. They are like the dust that rises in clouds when a room long uncleaned is at last swept out. Though the dust seem to choke you, yet persevere, mâ shucah.
In order to stand aside, you must know yourself as the Purusha who merely watches, consents to God's work, holds up the Adhar and enjoys the fruits that God gives. The work itself is done by God as Shakti, by Kali, and is offered up by her as a Yajna to Sri Krishna; you are the Yajamana who sees the sacrifice done, whose presence is necessary to every movement of the sacrifice and who tastes its results. This separation of yourself, this renunciation of the kartritva-abhimâna (the idea of yourself as the doer) is easier if you know what the Adhar is. Above the buddhi which is the highest function of mind is the higher buddhi, or vijñâna, the seat of the satyadharma, truth of knowledge, truth of bhâva, truth of action, and above this ideal faculty is the ânanda or cosmic bliss in which the divine part of you dwells. It is of this vijñâna and this ânanda that Christ spoke as the kingdom of God that is within you. We at present are awake, jâgrat, in the lower movements but susupta, fast asleep, in the vijñâna and ânanda; we have to awaken these levels of consciousness within us and their awakening and unmixed activity is the siddhi of the yoga. For when that happens, we gain the condition of being which is called in the Gita dwelling in God, of which Sri Krishna speaks when he says, mayi nivasisyasyeva, “Verily thou shalt dwell in Me.” Once it is gained, we are free and blessed and have everything towards which we strive.
The third process of the yoga is to perceive all things as God. First, as a rule, in the process of knowledge one comes to see pervading all space and time one divine impersonal Existence, Sad Atman, without movement, distinction or feature, shântam alaksanam, in which all names and forms seem to stand with a very doubtful or a very minor reality. In this realisation the One may seem to be the only reality and everything else Maya, a purposeless and inexplicable illusion. But afterwards, if you do not stop short and limit yourself by the impersonal realisation, you will come to see the same Atman not only containing and supporting all created things, but informing and filling them, and eventually you will be able to understand that even the names and forms are Brahman. You will then be able to live more and more in the knowledge which the Upanishads and the Gita hold up as the rule of life; you will see the Self in all existing things and all existing things in the Self, âtmânam sarvabhûtesu sarvabhûtâni câtmani; you will be aware of all things as Brahman, sarvam khalvidam brahma. But the crowning realisation of this yoga is when you become aware of the whole world as the expression, play or Lila of an infinite divine personality, when you see in all, not the impersonal Sad Atman which is the basis of manifest existence,--although you do not lose that knowledge,--but Sri Krishna who at once is, bases and transcends all manifest and unmanifest existence, avyakto 'vyaktât parah. For behind the Sad Atman is the silence of the Asat which the Buddhist Nihilists realised as the shûnyam and beyond that silence is the Paratpara Purusha (puruso varenya âdityavarnas tamasah parastât). It is he who has made this world out of his being and is immanent in and sustains it as the infinite-finite Ishwara, ananta and sânta, Shiva and Narayana, Sri Krishna the Lilamaya who draws all of us to him by his love, compels all of us by his masteries and plays his eternal play of joy and strength and beauty in the manifold world.
The world is only a play of his being, knowledge and delight, sat, cit and ânanda. Matter itself, you will one day realise, is not material, it is not substance but form of consciousness, guna, the result of quality of being perceived by sense-knowledge. Solidity itself is only a combination of the gunas, samhati and dhriti, cohesion and permanence, a state of conscious being, nothing else. Matter, life, mind and what is beyond mind, it is all Sri Krishna the Ananta-guna Brahman playing in the world as the Sachchidananda. When we have this realisation, when we dwell in it securely and permanently, all possibilities of grief and sin, fear, delusion, internal strife and pain are driven puissantly from our being. We realise in our experience the truth of the Upanishads,
“He who possesses the delight of the Brahman has no fear from anything in the world,”
and that other in the Isha Upanishad,
“When all created things become one with a man's self by his getting the knowledge (vijñâna), thereafter what bewilderment can he have or what grief, when in all things he sees their oneness?”
The whole world then appears to us in a changed aspect, as an ocean of beauty, good, light, bliss, exultant movement on a basis of eternal strength and peace. We see all things as shubha, shiva, mangala, ânandamaya. We become one in soul with all beings, sarvabhûtâtma-bhûtâtmâ, and, having steadfastly this experience, are able by contact, by oneness, by the reaching out of love, to communicate it to others, so that we become a centre of the radiation of this divine state, brâhmî sthiti, throughout our world.
It is not only in things animate but in things inanimate also that we must see Narayana, experience Shiva, throw our arms around Shakti. When our eyes, that are now blinded by the idea of Matter, open to the supreme Light, we shall find that nothing is inanimate, but all contains, expressed or unexpressed, involved or evolved, secret or manifest or in course of manifestation, not only that state of involved consciousness which we call annam or Matter, but also life, mind, knowledge, bliss, divine force and being,--prâna, manas, vijñâna, ânanda, cit, sat. In all things the self-conscious personality of God broods and takes the delight of his gunas. Flowers, fruits, earth, trees, metals, all things have a joy in them of which you will become aware, because in all Sri Krishna dwells, pravishya, having entered into them, not materially or physically,--because there is no such thing, Space and Time being only conventions and arrangements of perception, the perspective in God's creative Art,--but by cit, the divine awareness in his transcendent being.
“All this world and every object in this world of Prakriti has been created as a habitation for the Lord.”
Nor is it enough to see him in all things and beings, sarvabhûtesu; you must see him in all events, actions, thoughts, feelings, in yourself and others, throughout the world. For this realisation two things are necessary: first, that you should give up to him the fruit of all your actions, secondly, that you should give up to him the actions themselves. Giving up the fruits of action does not mean that you must have the vairâgya for the fruits, turn away from them or refuse to act with a given end before you. It means that you must act, not because you want this or that to happen or think it necessary that this or that should happen and your action needed to bring it about, but because it is kartavyam, demanded by the Master of your being and must be done with whatever result God is pleased to give. You must put aside what you want and wish to know what God wants; distrust what your heart, your passions or your habitual opinions prefer to hold as right and necessary, and passing beyond them, like Arjuna in the Gita, seek only to know what God has set down as right and necessary. Be strong in the faith that whatever is right and necessary will inevitably happen as the result of your due fulfilment of the kartavyam karma, even if it is not the result that you preferred or expected. The power that governs the world is at least as wise as you and it is not absolutely necessary that you should be consulted or indulged in its management; God is seeing to it.
But what is the kartavyam karma? It is very difficult to say,--gahanâ karmano gatih. Most people would translate kartavyam karma by the English word and idea, duty; if asked to define it, they would say it is the right and moral action, what people understand by right and morality, what you yourself conscientiously think to be right or else what the good of society, the nation or mankind demands of you. But the man who remains bound by these personal or social ideas of duty, necessary as they are for the ignorant to restrain and tame their clamorous desires or their personal egoism, will be indeed what is called a good man, but he will never attain to the fulfilment of this yoga. He will only replace the desire for one kind of fruit by the desire for another kind; he will strive, even more passionately perhaps, for these higher results and be more bitterly grieved by not attaining them. There is no passion so terrible as the passion of the altruist, no egoism so hard to shake as the fixed egoism of virtue, precisely because it is justified in its own eyes and justified in the sight of men and cannot see the necessity for yielding to a higher law. Even if there is no grieving over the results, there will be the labour and strife of the rajasic kartâ, struggling and fighting, getting eager and getting exhausted, not trigunâtîta, always under bondage to the gunas.
It was under the domination of these ideas of personal virtue and social duty that Arjuna refused to fight. Against his reasonings Sri Krishna sets two different ideas, one inferior for the use of the man bound but seeking liberation, another superior for the liberated man, the Shastra and surrender not only of the fruits of the work but of the work itself to God. The virtue of the Shastra is that it sets up a standard outside ourselves, different from our personal desires, reasonings, passions and prejudices, outside our selfishness and self-will, by living up to which in the right spirit we can not only acquire self-control but by reducing even the sattwic ahankâra to a minimum prepare ourselves for liberation. In the old days the Shastra was the Vedic Dharma based upon a profound knowledge of man's psychology and the laws of the world, revealing man to himself and showing him how to live according to his nature; afterwards it was the law of the Smritis which tried to do the same thing more roughly by classifying men according to the general classes of which the Vedas speak, the câturvarnya; today it is little more than blind mechanical custom and habitual social observance, a thing not sattwic but tamasic, not a preparatory discipline for liberation, but a mere bondage.
Even the highest Shastra can be misused for the purposes of egoism, the egoism of virtue and the egoism of prejudice and personal opinion. At its best it is a great means towards the preparation of liberation. It is shabda-brahma. But we must not be satisfied with mere preparation, we must, as soon as our eyes are opened, hasten on to actual freedom. The liberated soul and the sadhak of liberation who has surrendered even his actions to God, gets beyond the highest Shastra, shabdabrahmâtivartate.
The best foundation for the surrender of action is the realisation that Prakriti is doing all our actions at God's command and God through our svabhâva determines the action. From that moment the action belongs to him, it is not yours nor the responsibility yours; there is indeed no responsibility, no bondage of Karma, for God has no responsibility, but is in every way master and free. Our actions become not only like the Shastric man's svabhâvaniyata, regulated by nature and therefore dharma, but the svabhâva itself is controlled like a machine by God. It is not easy for us, full as we are of the Sanskaras of ignorance, to arrive at this stage of knowledge, but there are three stages by which it can be rapidly done. The first is to live in the spirit of the shloka,
“According as I am appointed by Thee, O Hrishikesha! seated in my heart, so I act.”
When this has entered into your daily life, it will be easier to accomplish the second stage and live in the knowledge of the Gita,
“God stands in the heart of all beings, whirling round all, as on a wheel, by the Maya of the three gunas.”
You will then be able to perceive the action of the three gunas in you and watch the machinery at its work, no longer saying, tathâ karomi, I do, but gunâ vartanta eva, it is merely the gunas that work. One great difficulty in these stages, especially before you can distinguish the action of the gunas, is the perception of the impurity of the svabhâva, the haunting idea of sin and virtue.
< You must always remember that, since you have put yourself in God's hands, he will work out the impurities and you have only to be careful, as you cannot be attached either to pâpa or punya, sin or virtue. For he has repeatedly given the abhaya vacana, the assurance of safety. “Pratijânîhi,” he says in the Gita, “na me bhaktah pranashyati, he who is devoted to Me cannot perish.” The third stage comes out of the second, by full realisation of God, or of itself by the grace of God. Not only will the Purusha stand apart and be trigunâtîta, beyond the three gunas, but the Prakriti, though using the gunas, will be free from their bondage. Sattwa, as we know it, will disappear into pure prakâsha and jyotih, and the nature will live in a pure, free and infinite self-existing illumination. Tamas, as we know it, will disappear into pure shama or shânti, and the nature will take its firm stand on an infinite and ineffable rest and peace. Rajas, as we know it, will disappear into pure tapas, and the nature will flow in a free and infinite ocean of divine force. On that foundation of calm and in that heaven of light, action will occur as the spontaneous objective expression of God's knowledge, which is one with God's will. This is the condition of infinity, ânantya, in which this struggle of bound and limited sattwa, rajas and tamas is replaced by a mighty harmony of free prakâsha, tapas and shama. And even before you reach that condition, on the way to it, you will find that some mighty force not your own, not situated in your body though possessing and occupying it, is thinking for you, feeling for you, acting for you, your very body as well as your mind and heart being moved by that force and not by yourself. You will enjoy that thought, feeling, action, but will neither possess nor be possessed by it,--karmâni pravilîyante, your actions will disappear without leaving in you mark or trace, as a wave disappears from the surface of the sea, as water falls from the lotus leaf.
Your mind, heart, body will not be yours, but God's; you yourself will be only a centre of being, knowledge and bliss through which God works in that Adhar. This is the condition in which one is utterly taccittah, given up in all his conscious being to God, in which there is utter fulfilment of the description,
“One whose state of being is free from egoism and whose understanding receives no stain.”
This is the surrender of action to which Sri Krishna gives so much importance.
“Laying down all actions upon Me, with thy whole conscious being in adhyâtmayoga, become free from desire and the sense of belongings; fight, let the fever of thy soul pass from thee.”
For this great and complete liberation it is necessary that you should be nihspriha, nirdvandva and nirahankâra, without the longing and reaching after things, free from the samskâra of the dualities and free from egoism; for these three things are the chief enemies of self-surrender. If you are nirdvandva, you can be nihspriha, but hardly otherwise, for every dvandva creates in the mind by the very nature of the mind some form of râgadvesa, like and dislike, attraction and repulsion, whether they are the lowest dualities that appeal to the mind through the body, hunger and thirst, heat and cold, physical pleasure and pain, or the middle sorts that appeal to it through the feelings and desires, success and failure, victory and defeat, fortune and misfortune, pleasure and displeasure, joy and grief, hate and love, or the highest which appeal to the mind through the discriminating buddhi, virtue and sin, reason and unreason, error and truth. These things can only be put under our feet by complete knowledge, the knowledge that sees God in all things and thus comes to understand the relations of things to each other in his great cosmic purpose, by complete Bhakti which accepts all things with joy,--thus abolishing the dvandvas,--because they come from the Beloved or by perfect action offering up all works as a sacrifice to God with an entire indifference to these dualities of success, failure, honour, disgrace, etc., which usually pursue all Karma. Such knowledge, such Bhakti, such Karma come inevitably as the eventual result of the sankalpa of self-surrender and the practice of it.
But it is ahankâra that by making the relation and effect of things on ourselves or on things connected with us the standard of life, makes the dvandvas a chain for our bondage. Ahankâra in its action on our life and sadhana will be seen to be of three kinds, rajasic, tamasic and sattwic. Rajas binds by desire and the craving in the nature for occupation and activity, it is always reaching after action and the fruit of action; it is in order that we may be free from the rajasic ahankâra that we have the command, “Do not do works from the desire of fruit,” mâ karma-phala-hetur bhûh, and the command to give up our actions to God. Tamas binds by weakness and the craving in the nature for ease and inaction; it is always sinking into idleness, depression, confusion of mind, fear, disappointment, despondency and despair; it is in order that we may get rid of the tamasic ahankâra that we are given the command, “Let there be no attachment to inaction,” and the instruction to pursue the yoga always, whether we seem to advance or seem to be standing still or seem even to be going back, always with a calm faith and patient and cheerful perseverance, anirvinnacetasâ. Sattwa binds by knowledge and pleasure; it is always attaching itself to some imperfect realisation, to the idea of one's own virtue, the correctness of one's own opinions and principles or at its highest, as in the case of Arjuna, opposing some personal idea of altruism, justice or virtue against the surrender of our will that God demands of us. It is for the escape from the sattwic ahankâra that we have to pass beyond the attachment to the duality of virtue and sin, ubhe sukritaduskrite.
Each of the gunas working on the ahankâra has its particular danger for the sadhak who has made the sankalpa of self-surrender, but has not yet attained to the full accomplishment of the surrender. The danger of the rajoguna is when the sadhak is assailed by the pride that thinks, “I am a great sadhak, I have advanced so far, I am a great instrument in God's hands,” and similar ideas, or when he attaches himself to the work as God's work which must be carried out, putting himself into it and troubling himself about it as if he had more interest in God's work than God himself and could manage it better.
Many, while they are acting all the while in the spirit of rajasic ahankâra, persuade themselves that God is working through them and they have no part in the action. This is because they are satisfied with the mere intellectual assent to the idea without waiting for the whole system and life to be full of it. A continual remembrance of God in others and renunciation of individual eagerness (sprihâ) are needed and a careful watching of our inner activities until God by the full light of self-knowledge, jñânadîpena bhâsvatâ, dispels all further chance of self-delusion.
The danger of tamoguna is twofold, first, when the Purusha thinks, identifying himself with the tamas in him, “I am weak, sinful, miserable, ignorant, good-for-nothing, inferior to this man and inferior to that man, adhama, what will God do through me?”--as if God were limited by the temporary capacities or incapacities of his instruments and it were not true that he can make the dumb to talk and the lame to cross the hills, mûkam karoti vâcâlam pangum langhayate girim,--and again when the sadhak tastes the relief, the tremendous relief of a negative shânti and, feeling himself delivered from all troubles and in possession of peace, turns away from life and action and becomes attached to the peace and ease of inaction. Remember always that you too are Brahman and the divine Shakti is working in you; reach out always to the realisation of God's omnipotence and his delight in the Lila. He bids Arjuna work lokasangrahârthâya, for keeping the world together, for he does not wish the world to sink back into Prakriti, but insists on your acting as he acts,
“These worlds would be overpowered by tamas and sink into Prakriti if I did not do actions.”
To be attached to inaction is to give up our action not to God but to our tamasic ahankâra.
The danger of the sattvaguna is when the sadhak becomes attached to any one-sided conclusion of his reason, to some particular kriyâ or movement of the sadhana, to the joy of any particular siddhi of the yoga, perhaps the sense of purity or the possession of some particular power or the Ananda of the contact with God or the sense of freedom and hungers after it, becomes attached to that only and would have nothing else. Remember that the yoga is not for yourself; for these things, though they are part of the siddhi, are not the object of the siddhi, for you have decided at the beginning to make no claim upon God but take what he gives you freely and, as for the Ananda, the selfless soul will even forego the joy of God's presence, when that is God's will. You must be free even from the highest sattwic ahankâra, even from the subtle ignorance of mumuksutva, the desire of liberation, and take all joy and delight without attachment. You will then be the siddha or perfect man of the Gita.
These then are the processes of the yoga, (1) the sankalpa of âtmasamarpana, (2) the standing apart from the Adhar by self-knowledge, (3) the vision of God everywhere and in all things and in all happenings, the surrender of the fruits of action and action itself to God, and the freedom thereby from ignorance, from ahankâra, from the dvandvas, from desire, so that you are shuddha, mukta, siddha, full of Ananda, pure, free, perfect and blissful in your being. But the processes will be worked out, once the sankalpa is made, by God's Shakti, by a mighty process of Nature. All that is indispensable on your part is the anumati and smriti. Anumati is consent, you must give a temporary consent to the movements of the yoga, to all that happens inside or outside you as part of the circumstances of the sadhana, not exulting at the good, not fretting at the evil, not struggling in your heart to keep the one or get rid of the other, but always keeping in mind and giving a permanent assent to that which has to be finally effected. The temporary consent is passive submission to the methods and not positive acceptance of the results. The permanent consent is an anticipatory acceptance of the results, a sort of effortless and desireless exercise of will. It is the constant exercise of this desireless will, an intent aspiration and constant remembrance of the path and its goal which are the dhriti and utsâha needed, the necessary steadfastness and zeal of the sadhak; vyâkulatâ or excited, passionate eagerness is more intense, but less widely powerful, and it is disturbing and exhausting, giving intense pleasure and pain in the pursuit but not so vast a bliss in the acquisition. The followers of this path must be like the men of the early yugas, dhîrâh, the great word of praise in the Upanishads. In the remembrance, the smriti or smarana, you must be apramatta, free from negligence. It is by the loss of the smriti owing to the rush and onset of the gunas that the yogin becomes bhrasta, falls from his firm seat, wanders from his path. But you need not be distressed when the pramâda comes and the state of fall or clouded condition seems to persist, for there is no fear for you of a permanent fall since God himself has taken entire charge of you and if you stumble, it is because it is best for you to stumble, as a child by frequent stumbling and falling learns to walk. The necessity of apramattatâ disappears when you can replace the memory of the yoga and its objects by the continual remembrance of God in all things and happenings, the nitya anusmarana of the Gita. For those who can make the full surrender from the beginning there is no question; their path is utterly swift and easy.
It is said in the “Sanatsujatiya” that four things are necessary for siddhi--shâstra, utsâha, guru and kâla--the teaching of the path, zeal in following it, the Guru and time. Your path is that which I am pointing out, the utsâha needed is this anumati and this nitya smarana, the Guru is God himself and for the rest only time is needed. That God himself is the Guru, you will find when knowledge comes to you; you will see how every little circumstance within you and without you has been subtly planned and brought about by infinite wisdom to carry out the natural process of the yoga, how the internal and external movements are arranged and brought together to work on each other, so as to work out the imperfection and work in the perfection. An almighty love and wisdom are at work for your uplifting. Therefore never be troubled by the time that is being taken, even if it seems very long, but when imperfections and obstructions arise, be apramatta, dhîra, have the utsâha, and leave God to do the rest. Time is necessary. It is a tremendous work that is being done in you, the alteration of your whole human nature into a divine nature, the crowding of centuries of evolution into a few years. You ought not to grudge the time. There are other paths that offer more immediate results or at any rate, by offering you some definite kriyâ you can work at yourself, give your ahankâra the satisfaction of feeling that you are doing something, so many more prânâyâmas today, so much longer a time for the âsana, so many more repetitions of the japa, so much done, so much definite progress marked. But once you have chosen this path, you must cleave to it. Those are human methods, not the way that the infinite Shakti works, which moves silently, sometimes imperceptibly to its goal, advances here, seems to pause there, then mightily and triumphantly reveals the grandiose thing that it has done. Artificial paths are like canals hewn by the intelligence of man; you travel easily, safely, surely, but from one given place to another. This path is the broad and trackless ocean by which you can travel widely to all parts of the world and are admitted to the freedom of the infinite. All that you need are the ship, the steering-wheel, the compass, the motive-power and a skilful captain. Your ship is the Brahmavidya, faith is your steering-wheel, self-surrender your compass, the motive-power is she who makes, directs and destroys the worlds at God's command and God himself is your captain. But he has his own way of working and his own time for everything. Watch his way and wait for his time. Understand also the importance of accepting the Shastra and submitting to the Guru and do not do like the Europeans who insist on the freedom of the individual intellect to follow its own fancies and preferences which it calls reasonings, even before it is trained to discern or fit to reason. It is much the fashion nowadays to indulge in metaphysical discussions and philosophical subtleties about Maya and Adwaita and put them in the forefront, making them take the place of spiritual experience. Do not follow that fashion or confuse yourself and waste time on the way by questionings which will be amply and luminously answered when the divine knowledge of the vijñâna awakes in you. Metaphysical knowledge has its place, but as a handmaid to spiritual experience, showing it the way sometimes but much more dependent on it and living upon its bounty. By itself it is mere pân\,ditya, a dry and barren thing and more often a stumbling-block than a help. Having accepted this path, follow its Shastra without unnecessary doubt and questioning, keeping the mind plastic to the light of the higher knowledge, gripping firmly what is experienced, waiting for light where things are dark to you, taking without pride what help you can from the living guides who have already trod the path, always patient, never hastening to narrow conclusions, but waiting for a more complete experience and a fuller light, relying on the Jagadguru who helps you from within.
It is necessary to say something about the Mayavada and the modern teachings about the Adwaita because they are much in the air at the present moment and, penetrated with ideas from European rationalism and agnosticism for which Shankara would have been astonished to find himself made responsible, perplex many minds. Remember that one-sided philosophies are always a partial statement of truth. The world, as God has made it, is not a rigid exercise in logic but, like a strain of music, an infinite harmony of many diversities, and his own existence, being free and absolute, cannot be logically defined. Just as the best religion is that which admits the truth of all religions, so the best philosophy is that which admits the truth of all philosophies and gives each its right place. Maya is one realisation, an important one which Shankara overstressed because it was most vivid to his own experience. For yourself leave the word for subordinate use and fix rather on the idea of Lila, a deeper and more penetrating word than Maya. Lila includes the idea of Maya and exceeds it; nor has it that association of the vanity of all things, useless to you who have elected to remain and play with Sri Krishna in Mathura and Brindavan.
God is one but he is not bounded by his unity. We see him here as one who is always manifesting as many, not because he cannot help it, but because he so wills, and outside manifestation he is anirdeshyam, indefinable, and cannot be described as either one or many. That is what the Upanishads and other sacred books consistently teach; he is ekamevâdvitîyam, One and there is no other, but also and consequently he is “this man, yonder woman, that blue-winged bird, this scarlet-eyed.” He is sânta, he is ananta; the Jiva is he. “I am the ashvattha tree,” says Sri Krishna in the Gita, “I am death, I am Agni Vaishwanara, I am the heat that digests food, I am Vyasa, I am Vasudeva, I am Arjuna.” All that is the play of his caitanya in his infinite being, his manifestations, and therefore all are real. Maya means nothing more than the freedom of Brahman from the circumstances through which he expresses himself. He is in no way limited by that which we see or think about him. That is the Maya from which we must escape, the Maya of ignorance which takes things as separately existent and not God, not caitanya, the illimitable for the really limited, the free for the bound. Do you remember the story of Sri Krishna and the Gopis, how Narada found him differently occupied in each house to which he went, present to each Gopi in a different body, yet always the same Sri Krishna? Apart from the devotional meaning of the story, which you know, it is a good image of his World-Lila. He is sarva, everyone, each Purusha with his apparently different Prakriti and action is he, and yet at the same time he is the Purushottama who is with Radha, the Para Prakriti, and can withdraw all these into himself when he wills and put them out again when he wills. From one point of view they are one with him, from another one yet different, from yet another always different because they always exist, latent in him or expressed at his pleasure.
There is no profit in disputing about these standpoints. Wait until you see God and know yourself and him and then debate and discussion will be unnecessary.
The goal marked out for us is not to speculate about these things, but to experience them. The call upon us is to grow into the image of God, to dwell in him and with him and be a channel of his joy and might and an instrument of his works.
Purified from all that is ashubha, transfigured in soul by his touch, we have to act in the world as dynamos of that divine electricity and send it thrilling and radiating through mankind, so that wherever one of us stands, hundreds around may become full of his light and force, full of God and full of Ananda. Churches, Orders, theologies, philosophies have failed to save mankind because they have busied themselves with intellectual creeds, dogmas, rites and institutions, with âcârashuddhi and darshana, as if these could save mankind, and have neglected the one thing needful, the power and purification of the soul. We must go back to the one thing needful, take up again Christ's gospel of the purity and perfection of mankind, Mahomed's gospel of perfect submission, self-surrender and servitude to God, Chaitanya's gospel of the perfect love and joy of God in man, Ramakrishna's gospel of the unity of all religions and the divinity of God in man, and, gathering all these streams into one mighty river, one purifying and redeeming Ganges, pour it over the death-in-life of a materialistic humanity as Bhagirath led down the Ganges and flooded with it the ashes of his fathers, so that they may be a resurrection of the soul in mankind and the Satyayuga for a while return to the world. Nor is this the whole object of the Lila or the Yoga; the reason for which the Avatars descend is to raise up man again and again, developing in him a higher and ever higher humanity, a greater and yet greater development of divine being, bringing more and more of heaven again and again upon the earth until our toil is done, our work accomplished and Sachchidananda fulfilled in all even here, even in this material universe. Small is his work, even if he succeeds, who labours for his own salvation or the salvation of a few; infinitely great is his, even if he fail or succeed only partially or for a season, who lives only to bring about peace of soul, joy, purity and perfection among all mankind.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Thoughts and Aphorisms of Sri Aurobindo
- Sri Aurobindo on Astrology
- Fate and freewill by Sri Aurobindo
- Man and Battle for Life From The Essays on the Bhagavdgita by Sri Aurobindo
- The Nature of Supermind by Sri Aurobindo
- Sri Aurobindo on Yoga
- Philological methods of the Vedas
- The Process of evolution by Aurobindo
- The Puranas and the Tantras by Sri Aurobindo
- Essay on rebirth by Sri Aurobindo
- The Reincarnating Soul by Sri Aurobindo
- The Spiritual aim of life by Aurobindo
- The strength of stillness by Sri Aurobindo
- The Superman by Sri Aurobindo
- The Supramental Sense by Sri Aurobindo
- Thoughts and glimpses of Sri Aurobindo
- An essay on the Upanishads by Sri Aurobindo
- An Essay on the Vedas by Sri Aurobindo
- The yoga and its objects by Sri Aurobindo
- An essay on yoga and skills by Sri Aurobindo
- Thoughts and Glimpses of Sri Aurobindo
- The Prayers and Meditations of the Divine Mother
- The Visions of the Divine Mother
- Excerpts From the Notebook of Sri Aurobindo
Source:This article was Originally published in the Arya 1918. It is currently in the public domain and reproduced here as per the international conventions on copyright laws for the benefit of our readers. Source: SABCL, volume 16 "The Supramental Manifestation and Other Writings" published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry diffusion by SABDA.
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