In the Light of Wisdom
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 8: Possessing Nothing

You will have to follow these processes very carefully, stage by stage, and it is essential that you should not miss the link or the argument—otherwise you will not be able to do anything. The thoughts have to be trained in a very comprehensive manner. No link can be missed, else there will be a difficulty in concentration of the mind. You should try to close your eyes and think over the series of thoughts which we have gone through previously, otherwise you will forget the earliest ones and remember only the later ones.

You are going to build up your lives with these lessons and not merely learn something and leave. It is very important to remember—you are not doing this just to learn something, but to transform your lives. Unless these thoughts enter your lives, they will not help you. Hence, it is necessary to think deeply over every aspect of the question, and see that everything is clear—clear as daylight. If any thought cannot be assimilated into your life, it means that you have not understood it and traced it out. A problem should not remain a problem for all times—it should be resolved.

We have discovered that there are three faces of an experience, and it is an erroneous notion to conclude that an experience is only unilateral. Most people who are uneducated and illiterate in this true spirit think that all difficulties come from outside. They think, “All my troubles are from others, not from me. The world is the source of trouble for me.” This is a primitive way of thinking. “The world goes on changing, irrespective of my suffering. The world does not seem to care for me. The history of nations, the change of the world, the seasons, society—all these seem to be unconcerned with me,” is a complaint of the observer of the world. This is the first stage of thinking, the most rudimentary form of it. “All that happens, happens only in the world, and nothing happens in me.” This again is the adhibhuta view of things, bereft of any connection with the adhyatma.

The fact that we are also somehow involved in the changes of the world is a later stage of thinking. It is not true that all change is only outside. In a higher way of thinking, there also seems to be some corresponding change in us. The person may realise, “I am not as unconnected with things as I thought myself to be. Somehow there seems to be some relation of mine, some contribution of mine to the changes—historical as well as social—in the world.” A still higher way of thinking is that the changes are accounted for not merely by outside forces or our own actions, but that there is something else also present, which is the divine element. This is the adhidaiva about which we have already spoken.

From the outside we come to the inside, then we go to another element which seems to be comprehending both the without and the within. That third element has a voice in everything that happens in the world. We cannot simply brush it aside as non-existent or unconnected to events that take place in the world. Unconnected with it, unrelated to it, or without reference to it, nothing can be done and nothing can happen. Our thought ascends through stages, beginning with the purely external—which we may call the materialistic view of things—to the internal psychological or the idealistic view of things. Then it proceeds to a superior synthesised view of things, to which it is difficult to give any appropriate name at the present moment. It is not realism and it is not idealism—it is something more than both. This third aspect is invisible, though in a sense more real than both the visible terms related in perception and experience.

Unfortunately for us the invisible seems to be the reality. The reality is not visible, and the visible is not the whole reality. It is this third element which is so important and which superintends the ‘I and the Thou’, the subject and the object. We arrived at this conclusion by a very careful analysis of the nature of the perception of the object, through which we discovered that there is a connecting conscious link between the seer and the seen which is superior to both—transcending them and yet immanent in them. The adhidaiva is transcendent to the adhibhuta and the adhyatma and yet immanent in both. This is why we are often told that God is both transcendent and immanent. He is ‘above’ and also ‘in’.

The God element, the celestial element, the adhidaiva element—or any other gradation of our concept of God—is the presiding principle over the experiences of the subject and the object and is transcendent and immanent simultaneously. It is the connecting link between the seer and the seen. The conflict between the two, seer and seen, is resolved only by the third element. We are always in a state of conflict between ourselves and the world outside, and it cannot be resolved by any method we can employ, except by the introduction of a third thing—the unseen and yet more real.

The World Needs Understanding and Not Correction

People in the world are not aware that there is a third element involved in experience, because the third element is not seen. We believe only what we can see. This is most unfortunate, because our troubles can be attributed only to this ignorance, which is an ignorance of the fact of a superior element involved in experience. What do we then do in our ignorance? We try to resolve this conflict in our own way, without reference to this third invisible element. There is for us no question of the third element, because we do not know that it exists at all, and yet we feel the conflict is present when “the shoe pinches”, as they say. The world is painful, it is annoying, and it is difficult to get on with things because of an irreconcilable dualism between ourselves and the world outside. We do not know what to do with this world in front of us. It sometimes looks so rigid, so annoying and so unreasonable.

We employ our own individualised methods of adjusting, adapting and reconciling, but all these fail in the end. How long can we go on adapting? The world goes on changing so vehemently that we are not in a position to adjust ourselves properly with it. We think that we can adjust ourselves to it in one condition today, but then in a moment it changes so that we have to work to adapt ourselves to its vicissitudes. This is indeed very unfortunate, and we cannot understand where we really stand. We try many methods. Politicians try to restore unity in the world by some kind of external adjustments, but they too have failed. We have had very great statesmen down through history, yet they did not succeed. They were wiser than those that exist today, but despite all their efforts they are now all gone, and today we may not even remember them. The world is the same old thing in spite of all the great men that trod the earth.

We try many forms of social adjustment. We try methods of social uplift and innovations of various kinds—in the family, in the economy and in other types of social relations. In every type of concern we try to bring some kind of adjustment and harmony into society, so that the world may become better than it was. We have failed, and I don’t know if anyone has ever fully succeeded to his satisfaction in improving the world. Everyone has failed. Why should it be so? Why should the world be so intractable and unavailable to any kind of human approach?

We see the world today—is it better than two thousand years ago? Sometimes it looks worse. Why should it be like this? Because we have employed innumerable methods in an attempt to correct the world, but the world does not stand in need of correction. The world needs understanding and not correction. The world needs understanding minds, not minds that try to conquer the world or rectify it. “What is wrong with me,” the world will retort. “Why do you want to correct me?” The world has less egoism than the human mind, and it is only where the ego is present that rectification may be called for. Do we see ego in the wind? Do we see ego in the rivers that flow, ego in the sun that shines, or ego in the seasons? We don’t see egoism in nature. Egoism is only present in mankind, who is forever complaining.

What kind of correction do we want to make in this egoless poor thing called nature? What is wrong with the world? All attempts at reform have failed—the human approach, the sociological approach, the political approach and the commercial approach—because of our artificial ways of understanding the world or nature, and because we are totally unaware of the true remedy. We cannot jump into the world and correct it; that would be impossible. We have to correct it through a higher power. That which transcends us and the world can alone correct the world. What power do we have when we are ourselves a part of the world? Being a part of the world we cannot have the power to correct the world, because that which belongs to the world has all the characteristics of the world which is to be corrected. In this case, the defective element tries to remove the defect. The individual is defective in the sense that the individual cannot stand apart from a nature already supposed to be defective. Who then is to correct nature, unless it is a power and an understanding superior to the whole of nature in its completeness?

We cannot set right anything in this world. So it is that human approaches fail in every field of life. Every man dies with a sense of remorse. When people pass away from this world, they go rigid and discontented. “Oh, it is all hopeless; I have made a mistake.” This we will realise, and this everyone has to realise. The day of realisation may come too late when nothing else can be done. Everyone leaves this world with a discontented heart, because everyone muddles with things in a confused manner and with a lack of proper understanding of things.

It is for this reason that we are so afraid of death. We do not know what happens to us once death comes. Suddenly we are strangers to this world, carried on by a power of which we have no knowledge. We have lived in discontent, and we die in discontent. What is the good of living like this? Sometimes it seems that trees and plants are better off than us. Man is so miserable, and it is high time that a remedy be sought to deal with this illness of man’s mind which has always been regarded as something superior to the animal and vegetable kingdoms, but which passed away in a condition more unfortunate than the animal kingdom. All this is because we have floundered and made a mess of our lives in this relation to the world outside. We have tried to take the law into our own hands, and here it is that we have committed a mistake. We should not take the law into our own hands. The simple truth to remember is that we cannot administer this law to the world. The adhyatma cannot rectify the adhibhuta in its physical and psychological sense. Man cannot do anything to the world, because the world keeps him in its grips. Man is in the grip of the material laws; hence it is that man has failed in understanding the world and in controlling nature.

Yoga is Knowing Things as the Adhidaiva Would Know Things

The only way to approach it is through a proper method. That which understands nature is also that which has power over nature. The purpose of the human being should not be to tackle nature, but rather to probe into that force which can manipulate nature with an authority superior to the powers of nature itself. All this comes through a simple truth which we have to remember: we cannot do anything unless we approach the world through the adhidaiva. We have tried to control, understand and utilise nature, but it has not come under our control even till this day. We have tried to contact nature for the sake of utilising it, but our contacts have been futile, so we have not been able to harness it properly. How then do we contact nature: through the eyes, the ears, through the sense organs, through the hands, through the feet and through these external avenues of sensation.

Yoga, on the other hand, has a quite different method of contact. If I were to be asked what yoga is, I could put it into one sentence: “It is knowing things as the adhidaiva would know things.” This is not a knowing as a man would know. The adhidaiva has a consciousness of the adhibhuta and the adhyatma which is quite different in nature and structure from the knowledge that the adhyatma had, independently of the adhibhuta. Yoga is the diving into that consciousness which acts as the connecting link between the adhibhuta and the adhyatma.

Bhoga is enjoyment and yoga is realisation. We try to enjoy nature rather than to understand or realise it. The enjoyment is known to lead to complications and sufferings later on because of a wrong approach to things. We cannot approach nature by any intelligent method. Our personality is made up of many layers to which I have already made reference—the physical, the vital, the mental, the intellectual and so on. These layers of our personality try to contact nature outside, and we try to grab the world and enjoy it as an object, if possible. The subject can come in contact with an object by means of the sense organs, and there seems to be no other way to accomplish this contact.

We have the five senses of knowledge, and with these alone we can contact the world and enjoy it. If these are defective, there will be no enjoyment and no knowledge of nature outside. We could not possess anything permanently with the sense organs, so therefore we inevitably find this method unsatisfying. Nature has refused to be possessed by means of the powers of sense. We cannot possess anything permanently, and things that appear to be ours today belong to someone else tomorrow. Union ends in separation, life ends in death, all happiness ends in a kind of sorrow—this has been our experience.

Why should it be like this? It is because it is impossible for nature to be possessed through the sense organs. We cannot possess our wealth, we cannot possess our family members, we cannot possess objects of the world, and we cannot be truly related to anything, because our relationships with things have been through the sense organs, which are a part of nature. We try to have physical contact with things, and this we regard as ‘possession’. If something is tightly held in the palm of my hand, I may think that it is in my possession, but this is not so. That which is in the grip of our fists need not be ours. It can flee from us in spite of its being our nearest possession from the physical point of view. Physical proximity of things is not possession, and things can exclude each other even if they are physically proximate.

We may be sitting on the lap of some person, and yet we are independent, and we cannot be controlled by that person. Just because there is physical proximity, it does not mean that we belong to somebody or that somebody belongs to us. This applies to everything in the world, including wealth, relations, position, occupation, etc. All these are physical and spatial relations. Sometimes it appears that there is no real friend in this world. Because of this mysterious aloofness of things from us, whatever our condition may be, we seem to not know what life is. We have been gazing wonderstruck, trying to understand a little bit of what this life means and why it should be so unkind to us. Nature has been insisting that it be understood—that is all. Nature craves to be understood, and if we refuse to understand it, then it appears to be unkind.

We are familiar with law. How can a law be a friend of anyone or an enemy of anyone? Law is an impersonally existent symbol of the relationship of things. If we abide by this impersonal law, we may say that law is friendly, but if we cannot understand the law, it may appear to be very unkind. We cannot therefore designate law as either this or that. Nature is a set of laws, and to be or not be a friend of nature depends to what extent we have understood nature and its laws that are inexorably operating both in us and outside us.

We can never understand nature or the world outside through the sense organs, because as I have already mentioned many times, the sense organs are physically related to the world outside. Earlier I tried to say that the sense powers are conveyed outside through the sense organs. The organs are physical. How can we grasp a thing unless with the hand, and what is the hand if not a physical object? Grasping, which is our idea of possessing, is a physical contact but is not a real relationship with things. So enjoyments, which are nothing but the placement of one object in physical proximity with another object, are not real enjoyments. We cannot really enjoy anything in this world.

Our So-Called Enjoyment

We are living in a fool’s paradise. Our so-called enjoyment has been merely a kind of titillation of the nerves and the sense organs—”a scratching of what itches us”, as it is sometimes said. When the nerves are tickled, it looks as if we are enjoying something, but it is not enjoyment. We are mistaken thoroughly, because after the tickling of the nerves, there is a fall of the strength of the nerves and we feel worse than we were before. After enjoyment, whatever be the nature of the enjoyment, we feel more miserable than before the enjoyment came. We want to cling more and more, so we want more and more repetitions of the same kind of enjoyment—the same contacts, same possessions, same quantity, same songs, etc.

We are under the erroneous notion that the repetition of the tickling of the nerves would be enjoyable, but the nerves will get exhausted by being tickled constantly, and they will go on reacting for some time after they cease their contact with the object. However, we inevitably become old. Old age supervenes and the nerves refuse to react with the same intensity as before, and we cannot enjoy as we did earlier. In fact we did not enjoy even earlier except for the fact that we tickled these nerves in order to create a sensation in the whole system. When we are tickled, we feel happiness.

The whole of our lives has been an attempt to repeat the tickling of these nerves which connect themselves with the different sense organs. We have been mistaking this for real enjoyment, but we have never been satisfied with these enjoyments. We have never been satisfied, because we have never really enjoyed anything—we have been only tantalised. We have only been shown something but never given that thing. The nerves have been fooled, and the sense organs have never understood anything. The mind plays second fiddle to the senses and the organs, and we have been living this kind of foolish life. Yet, we try to understand nature and be happy in this world. Impossible!

This was the deep analysis of the psychology of yoga. Where comes the need of yoga? The need comes because we never live happily without it. Lacking it we will be miserable, so there is no choice. For yoga or against yoga, do or don’t, want it or don’t want it—there is no such question. We can never live without it. Either we have it, or we live miserably. Yoga is the way of the wise life, the understanding life, the life of the insight into the nature of things. Who can live without it? How can there be life without yoga then? There is no such thing as life without yoga. Life is either lived with it, or life is as if a nothing. People in their credulity have been trying the way without the practice of yoga, and we know where they stand, and most of us are in the same condition.

The yoga analysis discovered that the contact of the seer with the seen—the subject with the object, the adhyatma with the adhibhuta, my personality with the world outside—has been a thoroughly unsatisfactory and artificial one. We have never been able to contact the world properly. We have never been able to possess anything truly, and we have been only deceived from the very time of our birth. The world has deceived all people who have come to into it. Everyone has been living a foolish life, but they discovered this only when they had to depart from this world. That it is difficult for one person to learn from the wisdom of someone else is another interesting thing in life. We will have to pass through this learning process ourselves, and we will have to realise it ourselves ultimately. “Oh, I am sorry, I made a mistake, I never listened to the advice of that person.” This would be the lament of everyone, without exception.

There is no escape in these matters except through wisdom, understanding and honesty of purpose. The yogin, the student of yoga, is a tremendously honest person and one hundred percent sincere in the pursuit. The yoga student is a person who has realised their position properly. “Oh, how miserable it is if I don’t have it. The world cannot in fact be grabbed, the world cannot be possessed, and the world cannot be enjoyed.” All our misbegotten plans have been revealed in one minute. We cannot be happy in this world if we are going to employ the same old erroneous ways of contacting nature. This will not succeed. The vast nature outside is shrewd enough to escape our grasp.

The only way is the yoga way, which means to say the way of directly contacting the lower by means of the higher. We and the world outside are on par with one another, and we are living in the same degree of truth, because both of us are equal. The lower cannot contact that which is at its same level, when the two exist in a similar degree of reality. For example, there are certain husbands and wives who are equally educated, and one will not yield to the other, so the family is unhappy. If some chore needs to be done, who is to do it if both are equally educated? So there is an unhappy tension in some families which have similarly educated partners. To further extend this example, if we consider ourselves to be educated, nature may say, “I am equally educated. Who is there to control me? You want to harness me, but I will harness you!” How can we feel that we will master nature and then try to use it? Why shouldn’t nature use us in the same way? In what way are we superior to it? We should not try to fool nature like this. Other persons have been fooled in this way, but nature has never been fooled.

Utilising the Higher Means

Hence, to understand the world and live in the world is to utilise the higher means rather than our own hands and feet. We know the epic example of Draupadi’s asking for succor from Sri Krishna when she was in dire distress. This example is a symbol of man’s seeking a higher power for success in life. Husbands are of no use. All failed, and Draupadi’s strength by itself failed. What help can we have in this world? Not from those who are related to us, not from those who are sympathetic towards us, and not from that which belongs to us. When everything fails, who will help us? Something else has to come which has neither friend nor foe. Friends and foes may take time, but that which is neither a friend nor foe has no necessity for time to come to protect us, and so will come at once to our aid. Immediately and instantaneous is His action. Such is also the power and the joy that we derive through the practice of yoga. It is not temporal succession—it is instantaneous immediacy. We will not be given it afterwards or tomorrow, but now, at this very moment. There is no future for reality, because it is non-temporal. Hence, the yogic approach is very unique, and that is why I said that we have to understand this very carefully and totally.

We can apply these techniques every day in our lives—not tomorrow, but today itself. We can apply this technique even in the smallest of things and not only in the big thing that we call contact with God. We can attain real sympathy from the world outside even in our smallest contacts. Have we understood this technique? It is this technique that we can employ uniformly in every situation. We can be like the cat in the story that knew only one way of escape. The story goes that there was a conversation between a jackal and a cat in the jungle. The jackal asked the cat, “If a hunter attacks us just now, what will you do?” The cat said, “I will jump to the top of a tree.” The jackal replied, “Do you know only one trick? What a fool. I know a hundred tricks to escape. Nobody can catch me. I know a hundred tricks when you only know one trick.” While this conversation was taking place, they heard the barking of hounds attacking them from all sides. The cat immediately jumped to the top of a tree, but the jackal was thinking, “What trick should I use now? Which is better, this trick, that trick, or the third, fourth, or fifth?” The jackal spent a long time revolving these ideas around in its mind, but before it could act the hounds attacked it. In the final analysis, it was certainly not wiser than the cat.

Likewise, we have been trying to be ‘wise’ in this world, but too much of this wisdom is not necessary. We have to employ a simple technique of being honest in every encounter. That is all. When we are honest with nature, it also reacts very sympathetically, like a mother’s reaction to a child. We see that a mother’s reaction towards her child is not complicated. It is very simple, as we know, and immediately there is a happiness between them. But if two politicians meet, what a complexity arises. How to shake hands, how to smile, how to look—they are all great skills. All these are absent in the simple affection between mother and child because it is real, whereas the friendship of politicians is false. This type of artificial relationship never stands; it eventually fails. Nature does not expect us to be a politician with it. It wants us to be very simple in our approach. Nature wants us to be very simple—not complicated or complex.

The simple way of the child’s approach to the mother is itself yoga. It is not a very difficult technique; we should not be afraid of it. Yoga requires a very, very honest approach and an opening of our hearts to the ‘motherliness’ of nature. If we cry before nature, “Mother, I am yours,” it will open its resources to us immediately. “Yes my child, please come to me.” But to be simple is the most difficult of things in this world. We can very easily make things complex, but we cannot be simple. Truth is simple, and that is why simplicity is difficult. Yoga is this supreme simplicity of approach, where we become so humble and so uncomplicated—almost a nothing.

This is what they call self-surrender in the bhakti marga, the path of devotion. We almost become a nothing; and then nature inundates us, takes possession of us and fondles us as her own. We become one with the world when we cease to be an independent person. This is yoga in one sense, but we have many layers of complicated personality, and these complications have to be resolved. It is for this reason that we study these interesting technicalities of yoga practice. It appears to be a technicality because we do not understand it properly, but when we understand it, it becomes a natural thing.

To walk with two legs is a tremendous technicality; but once we know how to walk, we walk without thinking of our legs. How many times did we fall before we learned how to walk? We know very well how difficult it was. To walk across a tightrope in the circus involves a greatly complicated technique, but for one who knows it, it is simple. Everything is difficult when it is not understood. When it becomes a part of our nature, we just do it without thinking of it. Likewise is the process of yoga.

Our attempt to contact nature through the sense organs is therefore a failure, because nature lies outside the sense organs. Anything that is wholly outside cannot be intrinsically related to us. Our relationship with the world has been extrinsic and not intrinsic. It has been external and not internal, which means to say there has not been a true relationship with nature. We should then not try to contact the world with our sense organs—we will not succeed.

Hence, enjoyment is not the way of wisdom; yoga is the way. Yoga does not mean a kind of asceticism or a withdrawal or relinquishment of the normal life of the world. Again, this misunderstanding has to be removed. Yoga is not withdrawal. From where would we withdraw, and into what? Try to understand the implications of the studies we made earlier. In yoga we are not withdrawing into anything—we are only rising into something higher.

Sublimating the Within and Without into the Higher

The ‘without’ and the ‘within’ have both to be sublimated into the higher. This is what we do in yoga. Where is the withdrawal? It may be a withdrawal, if we regard withdrawal as a comprehending of the outside and the inside in something which is above and including both these two. This cannot be normally called a withdrawal. We become fuller and more complete in the consciousness of yoga, because here we simultaneously grasp both our being and the being of the object instead of trying forcibly and erroneously to possess a thing which does not really belong to us. We cannot think of possessing anything in this world, because the world does not belong to us. If we think that the world is our possession, the world also can think that we are its possession! Both are equally applicable, if we employ this law of possession. But if we go to the third element of an encompassing consciousness, which is transcending and including both, then there will be a unification of the two children under a single parent, as it were. It is like two legs walking systematically under the order of a single personality or like two eyes working together in seeing. They harmoniously work together in seeing an object.

Likewise, in the yoga consciousness, the external world and the internal subject come into a symmetrical union. Here one is not controlling the other, and one is not trying to possess the other. Inasmuch as there is no attempt at possession, it is real union. Possession is different from union, and union is different from possession. People unnecessarily and falsely try to possess, although they cannot really come into union with these things. That is why there is bereavement and separation. The method of yoga is the systematic art of the rousing of the lower consciousness to the higher in a comprehension of both—the outer and the inner. This process involves several stages of ascent.

Whatever be the stage in which we are, that stage has to be properly understood through analysis, and then alone will it be possible for us to rise to the higher level. We should not try to go to the higher without understanding the lower. The lower will have to pay its due before we try to go to the higher. Because the lower is included in the higher, the higher will demand our proper relationship with the lower. We should not imagine that the higher would suddenly come to help us. As Christ said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” We cannot merely run to God with the notion that we can despise the world and be a friend of God, because God is in the world also, and He will try to contact us in His immediacy rather than in His transcendence.

The world is not outside reality, because the reality is that which comprehends both—the world and us together. That which is real is that which includes the subject and the object, and this is true at every level of reality and in every grade of truth. There is then no abandoning the world or escaping from life and running away. It is impossible; to where can we run away? We are in the world wherever we go. If at all we can escape, the escape should be to the higher, and not merely to some corner of the lower. Yoga then is a very cautious manipulation of consciousness, subtle in its articulation and spontaneous and joyous when it is made a part of our lives.

In every step that we take in yoga, we as living personalities are involved, and not just our bodies or sense organs. By manipulating the body alone, the objects or our possessions alone, or the prana, the senses, the mind alone, independently, yoga cannot be achieved. As a complete personality we should be engaged in yoga. We are inclusive of all the relations that seem to belong to us—our family, our relationships, our servants, our entanglements—all are involved in our yoga. We cannot say, “Let the entanglements be there; goodbye to them, I shall practise yoga inside my room.” Entanglements are with us, and they cannot leave us. In yoga, our entanglements also have to be sublimated, as the world is a part of our yoga. We cannot kick the world outside and say that we will be separate from it. Our world is with us, and it will not leave us at any time.

Yoga is a Comprehensive Stocktaking

The sublimation that is attempted in yoga is a comprehensive stocktaking by our consciousness, in which no relationships are excluded. Yoga is based on an attention to every one of them. We have to take stock of our relationships therefore, which means to say our desires and our commitments. If we have commitments, we cannot be a yogin. We must fulfil those commitments first or find out a way of putting an end to them in an effective manner—then only can we take to yoga. Else, they will be there as ungerminated seeds, and they will germinate one day. We must take stock of all our longings and unfulfilled ambitions. We may sometimes even have a desire to become an emperor or a president. Well, this may be laughable that one should aspire to be that which one cannot realise in one’s life, but sometimes these ideas come to one’s mind. There was a Brahmin, says the Yoga Vasishtha, who saw the procession of a king, and an idea passed through his mind, “How happy is this king. If only I had been him!” With this idea he died and became a king in the next birth, because even passing thoughts produce an impression in the mind.

There are no such things as passing thoughts. We cannot say that a thought is unimportant if it is there. Even these passing thoughts that might occur to us must be taken note of properly. For or against, good or bad, pleasurable or otherwise, friendly or acrimonious—whatever they are, we should take stock of them. “What are my subtle entanglements?” Nobody else can know this; only we ourselves can know it. We have some subtle entanglements which the public cannot know. We may know them ourselves, but we cannot express them to the outside world for fear of censure.

We can however have our own private diary. If we are afraid that this diary will be seen by other people, we can then note down the weaknesses in code which we alone can understand. We may be afraid, “How can I write it in a diary? Somebody may see it,” but it is for our own good. Our weaknesses can be written in a code which we alone understand. Everyone has subtle entanglements in the world. They are subtle in the sense that they cannot be publicised; they are secret longings of the heart which the world has refused to fulfil. These longings have to be dealt with properly if our yoga is to succeed; otherwise we will be simply nowhere. These longings are like our children, and they have to be properly reared and educated and treated with consideration.

The first thing therefore in yoga is to take stock of the entanglements of our personality. There is a twofold conflict in our nature. One is purely psychological, and the other is factual. There are many difficult Sanskrit terms to designate all this, but we shall try to avoid them to save the bother of remembering them all. There is a psychological conflict and a factual conflict. The factual conflict is that which occurs between us and nature. A factual conflict occurs if we cannot reconcile ourselves with the world outside. The mountain, which is an object of our perception, cannot be intelligibly related to us, and there is a conflict between us and the mountain which is an object outside of us. This is a natural or a factual conflict, as we may call it. The conflict between the object and the subject in a metaphysical sense is one as well.

Then there are psychological conflicts; for example, the conflict between our desire and its fulfilment. Not all of our desires can be fulfilled, so there is a conflict between our desires and the possibility of their fulfilment. This is a psychological conflict. From the psychological conflict we have to go to the factual conflict, which is the higher reach of yoga. The lower one is studied in abnormal psychology, and the higher one usually in general psychology. So again, we go from the lower to the higher.

Everybody is ‘abnormal’ in the sense that there is a psychological conflict in everybody’s mind. A stocktaking of these psychological entanglements has to be done in a very dispassionate manner. We should not try to hide ourselves from ourselves. Though we may hide ourselves to others, we must be open to our own selves at least. If we are not open to ourselves, we alone are going to suffer—nobody else. With this analysis of the relationships which our mind has with outer life, we will have taken one step along the path of yoga. The resolution of psychological conflict is the purpose of the psychoanalysis and psychology of the West, and I have already mentioned how yoga differs from psychoanalysis. Though we may try to resolve the conflict between the desire and its fulfilment, even if we succeed in this we will have a higher conflict between us and the world outside. The resolution of this higher conflict is the object of the psychology of yoga.