An Introduction to the Philosophy of Yoga
by Swami Krishnananda

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Introduction

The outlook of one's life depends upon one's conception of reality. The structure of the universe decides our relationship with things. What is known as a vision of life is just the attitude which the individual is constrained to develop in regard to the atmosphere of the universe. Such an exalted conception of the totality of experience may be designated as the philosophy of life. It is, thus, philosophy which determines human conduct and enterprises of every kind in the social field as well as in one's own person. Not merely this; the psychological pattern of the apparatus of perception and inference and the like is also conditioned by the relationship that obtains between the universe and the individual. As such, it can be safely said that psychology and ethics are rooted in metaphysics.

It is often held that the programme of human life may be carried on with an amount of success without straining one's consciousness to the distant depths of the structure of the universe. People mostly prefer to live on the surface and move with the current of the river, with the least effort involved in the vocations of their personal and social existence. But, it is not difficult to notice that a sort of merely getting on with life through the vicissitudes of history is not only soul-less in its effect, by which the spirit of existence gets converted into a lifeless skeleton, but life, in the end, whether psychological, social or physical, would be impracticable if action is not fixed upon its proper relation with the environment of the entire pattern of life. Even as the working arrangement and the day-to-day performance of administration is based on a Governmental Constitution, along the lines of which contemplated programmes are carried on smoothly, life's enterprise would not be a possibility if the same is not rooted in a standard picture of the whole pattern of existence which directs and determines the nature as well as the details of activity. Hence it is necessary to bestow a further thought on the facile formula of the commonplace of mankind that one can go on with the urges of life always in the direction in which the winds of the world blow, because without a stable ideology and a lofty idealism, no movement is conceivable. If this is the aim behind all enterprises and programmes, no worthwhile action of any kind would be possible without it, even in contemplation.

It is not that the activities of life are to be psychological meditations in an academic sense, or in the way in which people wrongly try to understand philosophy. Often, the erroneous notion goes that philosophy is an abstract thought process which idealises life into an ethereal and, perhaps, an unknown something, while life is concrete and substantial. It is surprising that the world of matter should be taken as a solid substance while the ideas are regarded as airy nothings, even in the light of the astounding discoveries of modern researches in the field of science, which have swept off matter from the region of solidity, and matter appears to be evaporating into an undivided continuum of what is sometimes called a space-time extension, transcending the notions of a three-dimensional distance and a time process divided into the partiteness of past, present and future. There is something more about this interesting discovery. If the continuum mentioned is indivisible by the very nature of its impartite and non-durational structure, naturally it would follow that the individual observer of things cannot stand outside the continuum. The consequences of this deduction are, again, startling, while being obvious. The observing individual merges, as it were, into the vast indivisibility of the continuum, and the events of the universe knowing itself and the individual knowing himself, as well as the individual knowing the universe, cannot be separated from one another. It would appear that the universe, in this analysis, is itself a measureless conflagration of intelligence, knowing itself, and nothing outside it can be noticed as an object of sensory perception or psychological cognition. We find ourselves entering into the bottom of an ocean of force and existence which is inseparable from intelligence, and to know the universe would be the same as to know one's own Self. In the act of Self-knowledge, the universe is known at once, and the knowledge of the universe, on the other hand, is the knowledge of the Self.

In this circumstance of a new vision that we seem to be confronting before us, our personal and social life should be, indeed, a mirror-like clarity, which would include the type of relationship that we should adopt with other people in our day-to-day existence. What we call the ethics or morality of human relationships as well as of personal behaviour amounts, from the above analysis, to a conscious participation in the pattern of things in general, which is only the face of the brooding Spirit of the Cosmos as a whole. Love becomes spontaneously unselfish. Love, then, cannot be directed exclusively to any person or thing, or to an isolated ideal, but becomes a spring of joy arising from the recognition of the fullness of existence. Hatred of any kind gets abolished from the surface of life by the very fact of the unity of procedure and purpose involved in the structure and programme of creation. Human history can transfigure itself into a saga of the dramatic evolution of the particulars to the Universal through the various levels and degrees of its manifestation. What people have been dreaming of as the glorified ideal of Rama-Rajya, or the Golden Age of Satya-Yuga of divine and eternal perfection, would not, indeed, be a far-off object to be realised. It was a perennial message which Plato proclaimed with the conviction of a genius when he declared that no peace on earth can ever prevail unless philosophy goes with administration, and administration with philosophy. We have a glorious day ahead. Humanity! Be prepared to extend it a warm welcome.