Chapter 26: Seeing Through the Delusion of Desire
We have been studying the psychological character of the practice of pratyahara, and there are certain psychological reasons behind the need for the withdrawal of the senses. The satisfaction which the senses seem to bring us is not really satisfying. No one is satisfied through the senses. Every day we have the same hunger, every day we have the same type of needs. Every day we go on bathing and bathing, and still the body is dirty, as it can never become pure. Whatever is our need of today is also tomorrow’s need, and endlessly the same needs continue. Not only this, desires get intensified when they are fulfilled. This is the speciality of the satisfaction of any sensory desire. The weaker desires become strong when they are pampered. As a consequence of their satisfaction, the senses crave for a repetition of the enjoyment. The cravings become so clamorous that, like a parent with many naughty children, life itself becomes difficult and one would not know in the end what to do with them.
The consequence of the satisfaction of desire is further desire—contrary to what we expect. What we expect out of the fulfilment of a desire is satisfaction, but what really happens is further desire for the same satisfaction to be repeated endlessly. Where is the satisfaction if the craving is never going to come to an end? Endless are the avenues of the expression of the senses. This is the reason why we cannot satisfy them permanently. What the senses seek is a permanency in their joy, but like the depths of the ocean which we can never reach, the senses cannot reach the depths of desire. They seem to have no end at all. We go on plumbing deeper and deeper into the desires through satisfaction, and we will not find any end for them.
We may be wondering why it is like that. Why should it be that the desires seem to be endless? They seem to be endless because ultimately they are rooted in an eternity of Reality. They spring from an eternity of background within us, and they crave for nothing but the Eternal. Due to their diversification in the world of space and time, they go astray like rivers that get lost in the desert. Yet, the origin of these desires as well as the destination of these desires is Eternity. The propelling force is ultimately Eternity, and that which summons them to satisfaction is also the Eternal. They seem to have an eternal impetus and an eternal craving. Though this is the original presupposition of the rise of all desire, the way in which they work is in actual fact temporal, contrary to the character of Eternity. There is therefore a conflict between this eternal urge within and the nature of the enjoyment through sense in the temporal world. The urge is infinitely pressed forward, an infinitude of urge is felt within for enjoyment, and no limit for satisfaction or joy could be present in this context of eternity.
Yet, ultimate fulfilment cannot be achieved. Final fulfilment is impossible to achieve because of the playing out of these desires in the context of the diversity of things in space and time. The infinitude of urge is because of the principle of Atman—the universal divine reality that is at the background of all things—that is pressing the urge forward. The propelling force is the universal within us, but when it is manifested through the mental and the sensory level, it becomes a channel which is scattered in different directions.
The Anxiety Associated with Desire
The temporal and the eternal come together in the fulfilment of a desire, and this is the reason that with every desire we have a conflict within us. The conflict between the eternal and the temporal goes on like this. The eternal never allows us to keep quiet, and we are always asking for more and more. On the other hand, the temporal does not satisfy us at all. We are in this samsara, as we call it, which is the world of unending desires which seek for eternal satisfaction. Yoga psychology contends that the consequence of the fulfilment of a sensory desire is dissatisfaction and not satisfaction.
Another reason mentioned is that we are always anxious when we are able to fulfil a desire. “Will I be able to fulfil this desire or not?” is a question that we raise even prior to our attempt to satisfy it. “Can I get this? How can I get it?” is the idea harassing us always. We may not get sleep for many days until the desire is about to be fulfilled. Anxiety precedes satisfaction, but then anxiety continues with satisfaction. “Oh, how long will this continue? I must not be robbed of this satisfaction!” When the satisfaction goes, we know where we are. “Oh, it has gone. I am dead,” and the heart sinks.
Where do we stand then? In the beginning we were unhappy, in the middle we are unhappy, and in the end also we are unhappy. This is what desires do to us. The anxiety attending upon desire is another reason for our withdrawal of the senses in yoga. The third reason mentioned is the impression created by the desires—samskaras as they are called. Vasanas is another word used in a similar way. Every desire when it is fulfilled creates an impression in the mind, and impressions are like a groove formed on a phonograph record. We know when a groove is formed, it is capable of reproducing the very same impulse for satisfaction again and again. With a record album we can go on replaying the song again and again once it has been recorded in the studio.
The samskaras are grooves formed in the mind by the experience of a sensory satisfaction. These grooves are permanently there, and they go on replaying the ‘tune’ again and again, so that we will never forget the memory of our enjoyment. These memories persist through life—even through many incarnations. Unfulfilled desires buried inside us in the form of impressions or grooves formed in the mind are the reason for rebirth. They do not enhance our well-being—quite the contrary. The repetition of enjoyment is insisted upon, not merely by the conscious memories that we retain in our waking lives, but also by the unconscious impulses that may be within us on account of grooves formed without our knowledge.
Due to the undesirable consequences of desire, due to the anxiety that is attending upon every satisfaction, due to the samskaras or impressions formed out of desire, and finally due to the very structure of the rajasic and tamasic properties of prakriti, we have difficulties with these things. The enjoyment of sense is a temporary manifestation of what we call the sattva guna of prakriti. Where there is sattva there is satisfaction, where there is rajas there is distraction, and where there is tamas there is torpidity. Whenever we are happy, exhilarated, refreshed or roused into a mood of joy, a temporary manifestation of sattva is there in our minds. By sattva we mean a tranquil condition of the mind where the desires cease. The desires are like winds that blow over the surface of the lake of the mind, and when these winds blow vehemently, the waters are scattered hither and thither. When this happens, the lake of the mind is disturbed and we are disturbed, because we are the mind for all practical purposes.
When the mind is disturbed, we are disturbed. When we say, “I am not well, mentally,” the mind is oscillating due to the winds of distraction. Desire is rajas; satisfaction is sattva. What we seek is the cessation of rajas by the satisfaction of desire. That is why we seek satisfaction. Sattva is to predominate rather than rajas and tamas, and so it is that the moment we wake up from sleep—which is the condition of tamas—we are after something. The moment we wake up from sleep, we go running about for the satisfaction of a desire, which means to say that we do not really want to be in a state of tamas or rajas.
That is why we wake up from sleep and then go on running here and there to bring about a cessation of desire. We wake up from sleep because tamas cannot be our real nature, and we want sattva—not tamas or rajas. But how long can we have this sattva through an artificial means? The means adopted by the senses in acquiring this satisfaction by rousing this sattva within is very artificial. It is a makeshift contrivance and only very temporary. When a desire is about to be fulfilled, this is what happens. We may be wondering what is happening. “Why am I happy when I hug my object of desire—what is happening to me?” What is happening, if we clearly think about it, is that our minds are after an object. This means to say the mind has run after that object, which again means that we are not in ourselves. We are away from ourselves because of the desires in our minds. We have studied in our psychological analysis earlier that we are unhappy whenever we are out of tune with ourselves. In every condition of desire, we are out of tune with ourselves. We are in tune with an object, but out of tune with ourselves. In our apparent attunement with an object outside and in every form of the expression of desire, we are away from ourselves. Hence, we are agitated. Whenever there is a desire we are agitated, and the reason is that we are not in our centre. We are to put it properly ‘ex-centric’, and not ‘in-centric’. The mind is out from its centre and tethered to an object outside. That is why when a desire is working, we are terribly upset in our minds.
When the object of our desire comes closer to us, the distance between us and the object which is our desire gets shortened. When an object of desire comes nearer to us, we feel greater and greater happiness. If it is one mile away, it is something, but if it is half a mile away it is better. “Oh, it’s coming—wonderful!” When we see it, we cannot even contain ourselves. We run and embrace it and bring it near to us. When it is very near, the psychological distance between us and the object is shortened, because we are nearer to ourselves. We have been very far from ourselves on account of the moving of our minds towards the object. Now the object has come near, so the chain has got shortened, and we are nearer to ourselves.
Remember what is happening to us. When we are nearer to ourselves, the rajasic condition of the mind begins to cease. We are not in a state of tamas because we are awake, and while we are temporarily in a state of rajas, this unwholesome state is becoming less and less intense on account of the proximity of the object to ourselves. This is the explanation for why we feel happy when an object of desire comes near us. It is not because the object has come near, but because the psychological distance between us and the object has become less, which in consequence makes us become nearer and nearer to ourselves. This is the psychological truth of desire.
When the object is almost one with us, when we have the feeling that it has become a part of us, when it is no more separate from us and is identical with us, the rajas has stopped completely. The mind has no work to do at that time. Why should it work—it has obtained its desire. The rajas has ceased; the psychological distance between us and the object has ceased. The mind has come back to its source, we are in ourselves, and we are absolutely in tune with ourselves. Immediately there is a rousing of joy from within. The joy has come not because of the object coming nearer to us or its being away—this has nothing to do with the joy. We have been under a delusion. The object has only acted as an instrument in ceasing our desire. The object has nothing to do with our happiness.
What has happened is that our rajasic psychological activity has ceased, and in the satisfaction of a desire we are mentally at one with ourselves—though not spiritually at one. The mind has come back to its source, the wind has stopped blowing, the waters of the lake are calm, the inner reality is reflected wholly, and then it is that we are in sattva. The reality which is universal is wholly reflected—though only for the flash of a second—in the calm waters of the lake of our mind, which is now undisturbed on account of the cessation of the wind of desire. Then we say, “Wonderful! How joyful and happy I am!” We are in ecstasy, because we are temporarily at one with the universal within.
But we cannot know what is really happening, because we are so deluded. We think the object contains the joy, though the desire has brought us nothing except by indirectly acting as an agent in bringing about a cessation of the rajasic activity of our minds. Due to our non-discriminating attitude and lack of understanding as to what is happening, we falsely imagine that the object is the source of joy. Again and again we long for that object, and we cannot bear separation from it. We weep when it is away, and we feel miserable when it is destroyed. All this is because the feeling of the mind is erroneous in its imagination that its joy is contained wholly in the object. Our sensory satisfaction is purely psychological and has no basis in fact. There is a kind of oscillation of the mind, working once this way and once that way, on account of the working of the gunas of prakriti in this mysterious manner—the rotation of the wheel of prakriti—sattva, rajas and tamas. Again we must realise the need for the withdrawal of the senses. For all these reasons, pratyahara is called for, and thus pratyahara is absolutely necessary. The withdrawal of the senses is an absolute precondition of our attunement with the Universal—which is satisfaction really, which is bliss and which is Reality.
The Withdrawal of the Senses
All this is a difficult job. We have done some analysis and understood some truth about what is happening, but to come to grips with the mind, to handle the situation with iron tenacity, and to deliberately bring the senses back from their meandering to their own source is a difficult task indeed. The senses play tricks of various kinds, they will not easily be subjugated, and they will not yield to our analysis so easily. It may temporarily look like a success, but again the old samskaras will come to the surface and act upon the mind so violently that we will again go for the objects, in spite of our knowing that the objects do not bring satisfaction.
The senses have various methods of avoiding being controlled. These are what we call the defense mechanisms in psychoanalytic psychology. Defense mechanisms of the mind will not allow subjugation so easily. If we apply force, the senses will revolt. If we teach them, they will not understand, and if we tell them, “It is for your own good,” they will say, “No!” These are the ways in which the senses will react when we speak to them. It is a very hard job, as I have said already. Pratyahara is a very difficult step that we are taking. While we may achieve some sort of success in asanas and pranayama, when we come to pratyahara we are at sea, as it were. Here it is that Guru’s grace helps—the proximity of a master, intense study and physical isolation from objects of sense. All these are aids in the practice of pratyahara.
When force is applied on the senses through will power for the sake of controlling them, they hibernate. We know what hibernation is. It is like a frog getting under the rocks in winter and never being visible. At this point there seem to be no senses at all, and it looks as if everything were all right. They will cease working when we apply force, but how long can we apply force? We know that no force can be applied perpetually in any field of life. It is a temporary action to which we take resort. We cannot go on pressing the senses, just as we cannot go on pressing anything in this world forever. When our pressure is released, immediately they will react against us, retaliate and take vengeance. They will come upon us with such vehemence that we will be taken unawares, and we will be in a worse condition than we were earlier. Earlier they were calm and quiet, working according to their own whim and fancy. Now they are angry. “You tried to suppress us. You wanted to destroy us. Now we will teach you a lesson.”
We will be in an awful situation when they take action against us in a vehement manner and take us unawares. This is the difficulty—we will be taken unawares. They will not give us notice: “Tomorrow we are going to attack you.” It is rather an attack without forewarning. Suddenly we will find ourselves in a difficult situation, and generally under pressure there will be a yielding to their force. In most cases, ninety-nine percent of the cases we may say, the person yields. The person may become a nervous wreck when the senses take action through retaliation and vengeance. The pressure that was exerted upon them will now rebound upon the person.
Starving the senses is no means of controlling them. It is said that starved snakes are more poisonous than well-fed ones. If they bite, they will go on biting. The senses are like cobras. When they are starved, they become terrible. While a kind of check on the senses is necessary and desirable, starving them to the extreme is very harmful. We will not be benefited by starving the senses. They will lie dormant. In Patanjali’s language, the senses have at least four different ways of working. While there may be many sub-divisions, broadly speaking we may say that the senses have four ways of taking action. One way is sleeping or keeping quiet—like enemies who are not presently doing anything. When the enemy does not do anything, it does not mean that we are safe. Just because the enemies are not taking any action, saying nothing and doing nothing, we cannot be inattentive. I am reminded of a quote from a military commander. When his soldiers said, “After all, God will help us,” his answer to them was, “Trust in God, but keep the powder dry.” Very interesting! It’s exactly what we have to do in yoga also—trust in God, but keep the powder dry. Otherwise, we will be under a misapprehension that the enemy is sleeping and apparently withdrawn. It is not so.
In warfare there is a particular tactic called guerrilla warfare which means being suddenly jumped upon in an ambush. We will be going along in a carefree manner without any kind of anxiety in our minds, and suddenly we will find something jumping on us. This is guerrilla war, and the senses will do that. Patanjali knows all this. He has put it in a very beautiful style in his own Sutras. The sleeping condition of the desire is not a happy condition for us. Many people say, “We have no desires. All the children are fixed, the pension is committed.” What, no desires? If the pension is committed and the children are fixed, it doesn’t mean that we are all right. We will be worrying ourselves inside, because the pension may fail and the children may not want us in the house. They will say, “You get away!”
The children asking the father to go away reminds me of a story, and I’ll tell this story just to divert our attention for a bit. It seems that when God created the world, He told man, “My dear friend, your life will be for forty years.” Man said, “My Lord, forty is too little. How can I enjoy life? So many things are there in this beautiful creation. Forty is too small a number.” All right. God called a monkey and said to him, “My dear friend, your life shall be forty years.” The monkey replied, “Oh, God, that is too much. Forty years’ load I cannot bear. Please make it twenty. We have to run about here and there fending for ourselves in the forests. Please reduce it to twenty.” God called the dog. “My dear friend, forty years shall be your age.” The dog said, “No, no, twenty will do. We cannot run about for our food here and there. Nobody wants us. They beat us wherever we go. We will be satisfied with twenty years.” Then He called the bull. God said, “Bull, your age shall be forty years,” but the bull also said, “No, no, no. We have to plough the fields and carry vehicles and all that. Twenty will suit us.” Man alone said, “It is too little, I cannot enjoy life in forty years.” God said to man, “All right. We take twenty of the bull’s years, twenty of the monkey’s, and twenty of the dog’s. So, sixty plus forty makes a hundred—your own forty which I gave to you, and twenty of each of these three animals which they do not want.” So, man was given a hundred years of life, whereas these animals only lived for twenty years.
Some people say that what man does is this: for forty years he is very happy, jumping here and there with jubilance, because it is God’s given age. The next twenty years he has to work like a bull as the head of the family, doing this and that. All this twenty years of working is because of the bull’s years which he has borrowed. Afterwards he will be taken towards the veranda of the house. The children will say, “We have got no place for you—go sit on the veranda.” He will be like a dog, because he has to pass the twenty years he has borrowed from the dog, so he will sit outside and watch the house because the children have married and do not want the old man inside the house. Finally the monkey’s twenty years come. He has to go away somewhere. He will not even be allowed inside the house. They will tell him, “Go be a vanaprasta sannyasin (in retirement and seclusion). Go to some ashram. You are not allowed even on the veranda, because you are a burden even on the veranda. Go to some ashram.” Poor man, he has to live like a monkey because he has to spend the monkey’s twenty years. This is what man finds by disregarding the advice of God of a full life of forty years. God said the other sixty would have to be spent like the animals. When we are not wanted, we may be thrown out. This is a humorous story, full of wisdom, which describes our predicament in this world.
The mind of man is the difficulty in all this, and the mind finds it hard to reconcile itself with Reality. The desires, which one attempts to fulfil in the prime of youth and in the hot blood of the strength of the body, refuse to finally be satisfied. There is a famous saying of a great sage and poet who said, “We grow old, but our desires don’t grow old.” The desires seem to be growing younger in our old age, and we do not have sufficient strength to fulfil these desires. The limbs become worn out and weak, and even if we have a desire, we cannot fulfil it. Society does not want us, and we are turned away. We are not a productive person, we are a burden and we have no strength to stand on our own legs. This is the difficulty in old age, as an old person gradually becomes as helpless as a baby. Yet, desires do not leave the person. The body may be cast off, but the desires are not cast off. This is the cause of rebirth. Our circumstances with the desires are therefore very complicated and difficult to manage. For all these reasons, the senses have to be controlled when we are strong and not merely when we become old.
The Four Types of Desires
I mentioned this as a kind of digression in the context of the explanation of the various tactics which desires employ to avoid control. The four tactics mentioned in Patanjali’s Sutras are 1) the sleepiness of desires, 2) the attenuated condition of desires, 3) the interrupted condition of desires, and 4) the expressed condition of desires. The sleeping condition is where we do not know that they exist at all. Here we have to be very cautious, because they are trying to germinate into action when the atmosphere becomes suitable—like the seed buried under the earth. The seed will not germinate at all until it rains and until the temperature becomes suitable. The seed of desire will be there, and when the suitable atmosphere is provided, it will slowly manifest itself.
The desires are not necessarily in the conscious mind. We will not know that there is a desire, and that is why we make the mistake of declaring, “We have no desires.” We should not make such statements. It is difficult to know if we have a desire or not, because desires are in three layers: conscious, subconscious and unconscious. We can know only the conscious desires. We cannot know the other ones so easily as they are buried, and they come out only when there is no pressure from the conscious mind. When there is pressure of any kind, they won’t come out, and they remain hidden below like snakes in a snake charmer’s basket. When we lift the lid, slowly the snake raises its hood. Otherwise it stays hidden because of the pressure of the lid of the snake charmer’s basket.
We are like snake charmers, the desires are like snakes, and we press them down with the force of social tension and moral rules. But when we lift the lid and they are released, we find Pandora’s box being opened, and to our horror we find so many things that would surprise us. The desires therefore are not merely conscious; they can be subconscious and unconscious. Sometimes they are released in the dream state. Many times certain things come out in our dreams, and we can see what we are. There are other things which we cannot know at all. They are in the unconscious level; therefore it is useless to say, “I have no desires.” We will know the falsity of this claim when we are in a deep state of meditation or when we are in a state of frustration, and we will know then that we have desires. When we try desperately to get out of a situation on account of difficulties and pressures from all sides, desires will show their nature. In deep meditation—not shallow, but very deep—we will know what desires we have. Especially when it is protracted, profound meditation, which is an activity of the mind to disintegrate the network of desires, then it is that the desires will know that they are being interfered with, and they will come out.
We are now going to investigate the stages of meditation, and we have to know what is going to happen to our minds and our desires. They cannot be kept there buried—they must be disintegrated. They must be cast aside by way of sublimation. This is what happens to the desires in meditation. The desires refuse to yield to these techniques of meditation, and they prevent the action of meditation itself by remaining dormant or by interrupting the meditational process. When we have affection for an object but we cannot get that object, we may develop a kind of dislike for the object. A father may get angry with the son whom he loves most, but it is a temporary anger which is nothing but an expression of his love for him. He may strike his son, he may rebuke him, and he may say, “You get out of here!” But all these are expressions of the love that he has for his son.
This is an interrupted condition of desire. It appears to be like a quarrel between ourselves and the object of our desire. These quarrels take place many times in families, but they are not really quarrelling. They come back together again, like water that has apparently been separated by an obstacle. The interrupted condition of desire is the apparent expression of dislike for an object of desire, but it is apparent, not real. Our expression of anger is not real anger. It is an outward form, taken by our love for the thing.
When it is interrupted thus, it should not be mistaken for a cessation of the desire. There are some fathers who get angry with their sons. The son will be sent away, but then he will be called back. He will come back and stay in the house again. The father’s anger was not however an expression of vairagya or dispassion. It was a frustration of his wish that made him express himself in that manner. When I thwart your wish, you may dislike me, and it is a thwarted wish that is behind this dislike. Anger and desire are reverse sides of the same coin. When they are not in a position to be expressed, they remain in a dormant condition for a long time. But given the opportunity, the desires will express themselves. When they cannot express themselves in a continuous fashion, they interrupt their working by intermittent likes and dislikes expressed in this manner. When we press the desires very hard, they may look as if their intensity is being lessened. In intense sadhana, the desires become thin like a thread that is about to break. But they can swell into overblown abundance when they are fed with sense food. The attenuated condition is again not to be mistaken for a real removal of the desires.
Thinning out Desires
The three states of desire—dormancy, interruptedness and attenuation—are not really an indication of the destruction of the desires. They represent rather a tendency to hibernate, which is only a preparation for the full expression later of an intensified activity. The fullness of the expression of desire is to be prevented, because when they express themselves fully, we cannot control them. We can control a forest fire when it is in an incipient state, but when it has grown and become extreme and is burning up things everywhere, we cannot extinguish it with a bucket of water. Before it becomes a violent, all-consuming conflagration like a forest fire, it would be wise on our part to see that the desires are thinned out. By a repeated practice of yoga they are thinned out, and they are not allowed to later get fattened again. All these techniques are employed in pratyahara. In the Bhagavadgita we have a simple verse which states, in so many words, that when the mind moves towards the objects of sense, as many times as it tries to go outwardly towards the object of sense, so many times we must bring it back, as we control a restive horse with reins. Every time we have to call it back. It may go a hundred times, but a hundred times we have to bring it back, without impatience of any kind.
We should not get angry with our senses—we must understand them. They will again and again slip out of our hands, and as many times as they slip out, so many times must we go and catch them and bring them back. In this way, the mind may get accustomed to a new way of thinking. The old way of thinking will cease gradually after years of practice. We do not know when we will finally reach perfection. There should be no anxiety whatsoever about this. Do not be anxious. “Three years, four years, five years of meditation—nothing has it brought me. Is it going to yield any fruit after further meditation?” This may be our anxiety, but patience is one of the watchwords of yoga.
I will tell another story that may be helpful. We have in our Indian Puranic stories a great sage called Narada, who travelled to all the heavens. He went to Vaikuntha and met Lord Vishnu; he went to Kailas and met Lord Siva; he went to Satya Loka and met Lord Brahma—he went to all the gods. Narada eventually passed by a farmer and a gardener on one of his journeys somewhere. First the farmer asked Maharishi Narada, “Sir, where are you going?” Narada replied, “I’m going to Vaikuntha to Lord Vishnu.” The farmer responded, “Will you ask Him, when I will get mukti (liberation)” “Yes,” Narada said,” “I will ask Him.” Then Narada met the gardener. The gardener made the same request: “Could you please be so kind as to ask the Lord when I will get mukti?” Narada answered that he would. So Narada went on to meet Lord Vishnu.
When Narada returned from Vaikuntha, the farmer queried him, “Did you ask for me?” “Yes, I did. The Lord said that you will have to wait another fifteen years for liberation.” “What,” the farmer said, “another fifteen years? So many years of japa and meditation I have done. Another fifteen years, and this is all that I have got!” Very wearily he went back home. Then Narada met the gardener, and the gardener asked, “Did you ask the Lord?” “Yes, I did.” “What did He say?” Narada replied, “The Lord said that as many thousand years as there are leaves on this tree, so many years you must live in this world before attaining mukti.” The gardener rejoiced, “So, after all, I am fit! Oh, wonderful! This means I will be liberated.” He was so ecstatic and the joy of God-consciousness possessed him in such intensity, that they say his sins were destroyed in a moment. He attained mukti then and there, and not after many thousands of years.
This was an analogy recounted by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in his talks to teach a lesson to the sadhakas who came to him. We should not say, “Oh, no, fifteen more years!” That is not to be our attitude. Our attitude should be that of that gardener who was so happy. “After all, I am fit!” That was enough for him. “I am a chosen one; I am not one who is damned. After so many of thousands of years, at least I am to attain mukti.” That was enough reward for him, and he couldn’t contain himself. His joy in God was of such an intensity that he was ready for mukti then and there. He did not need to pass through the cycle of so many thousands of years. But the farmer who could not bear even fifteen years condemned himself to live a life of drudgery and burdens. The sadhaka therefore should not be of a complaining nature as regards the fruits of yoga. Remember the great dictum of the Bhagavadgita: “Our duty is to act and not to ask.” Don’t say, “What has it brought me finally?” This is not our function. To be honest, what have we really done that deserves merit? This is the question we have to ask ourselves. Whatever comes out of this endeavour will come of its own accord. Why should we worry about it?
What will come, we know from the nature of the seed. What type of fruit the plant will yield will be known from the seed that we are sowing. When we sow rice, we know what is going to come out. Why do we ask the question? Our work is to sow the seed, to plough the field, to water the field, to remove the weeds, to protect it from pests, and then we will know what fruit it will yield. But don’t ask merely a silly question like, “What will it bring me? What will I get?” like a businessman asking what profit will come. Yoga is not a business, nor is it an economic transaction. It is a vital transaction, if at all it is one. It is vitality, it is a relationship with God, and we are asking nevertheless, “What will it bring me?” It is a silly question, indeed. The patience that the student of yoga should exercise has to be immense. Unending should be our patience in yoga. Don’t ask, “How long will I have to bother?” There is no limit for it—we have to just go on bothering. Read the lives of saints—Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and many other saints—you will know what patience is, and what it pays and how it pays.
Patience itself is a part of the strength that we acquire in yoga. In the control of the senses we must be immensely patient like the yogin of Tibet, Milarepa, whose life we may read. How patient he was to even merely get an initiation, and how difficult it all was for him. The master would not even initiate him. So many difficulties we will have to pass through. These are difficulties of an internal type and an external type—physical, vital, psychological, social, political and many other things which will harass us from all sides. All these we have to bear if we want God. The abundance of God-realisation is the result of practice. Hence, the work of sense control has to be attempted in order to further the practice of yoga.