The Study and Practice of Yoga
An Exposition of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
by Swami Krishnananda
PART III: THE VIBHUTI PADA
Chapter 85: The Interrelatedness of All Things
There are three stages by which the mind attains communion with its object, which is the aim of meditation. The first stage is that it thinks deeply over the object, pays entire attention to it, and does not want to think anything else. So much is the longing for communion that the mind cannot think anything else at that time. The heart fixes itself in its thought, in its will, and in its emotion, upon the object. This is a very important factor to remember. It is not merely the thought that fixes itself – it is also the will, and also the emotion. This is important because we are generally under the impression that concentration is the settling of the thought on the form of the object. But, usually, the emotions are not there and, therefore, the will is also not there. There is a shallow concentration with a disturbed background. That is not the concentration that we are expecting here, at this stage of yoga. There is no need to repeat, again and again, that the subject which meditates is not the mind in its shallow conscious aspect. It is the very vitality and essence of the whole of the personality of the subject. It is the very breath of the personality that is drawn towards the object – the very prana is moving towards it. We are entirely, wholly, totally, moving towards the object.
What it is to be totally drawn towards an object is something difficult to imagine under normal conditions, because we are never totally drawn towards anything. Though we have an interest in many things of the world, it cannot be regarded as a whole or entire interest which absorbs the completeness of our being. Such a thing is unknown to us – but that is what is required of us. It is only in deep sleep that the whole being sinks; at other times, the entire being does not operate. Very rarely, even on the conscious level, does the whole being operate, unless we are frightened out of our wits. If lions begin to attack us from all sides in the jungle, the whole being may start working in a particular manner because our intention is to escape, and every cell of the body will be active, cooperating with us for the escape. Intense fright, intense joy and deep sleep – these are the stages or states of mind that may manage to draw the attention of the whole personality. But, we are not in such a state of fright always, nor are we in such a state of joy, and we have no occasion to ponder over the implications of sleep, so that, in consequence, we have no idea of what it means to be totally attracted towards an object.
This is indicated in a sutra in the Samadhi Pada, in a mild form without a detailed commentary, where the great author told us, tīvra saṁvegānām āsannaḥ (I.21): The achievement becomes quickened if the ardour is intensified. The word used is ‘samvega’, a very peculiar term in yoga psychology which has no equivalent in any other language. One’s heart should throb at the very thought of the object. Can it do that? Then it is possible to concentrate. That throbbing of the heart at the very sight of the object due to the joy on its perception, and even the thought of it, is called samvega. Without that samvega, the concentration will not come. How can we think of an object which attracts us only in a lukewarm manner, in which we have only a stepmotherly interest, and which we do not like from the bottom of our heart because we have other interests in the world? With this kind of attitude of the mind where it has side activities together with this so-called activity called yoga, success is far away. Yoga is not a hobby; it is not an experiment that we are making; it is not an activity; it is not a vocation; it is not a business; it is not a job. It is the sinking of our personality in the ideal that we have chosen. We are sunk in it totally, saturated and absorbed, and nothing else remains.
That is the stage where we become superhuman, at least in a very small measure. We become superhuman the moment we are able to draw the attention of the total personality in respect of anything. The difference between man and superman is that while the faculties of the ordinary man are dissipated, the faculties of the superman are integrated. We must have heard of the saying that Lord Krishna has sixteen kalas – which means to say, sixteen powers. These sixteen powers are nothing but the sixteen energies that are present in the individual. They are present in us also, not only in Lord Krishna. But what happens in our case is that they are diverted in sixteen different directions: the pranas which are five, the organs of action which are five, the senses of knowledge which are five, and the psychological principle – these are the sixteen forces. In us, all these are higgledy-piggledy. Everything goes anywhere it likes and there is no coordination among them. But in a superman they are total, whole, complete – integrated like a mass, and not isolated in their content. That is why when a thought originates in the mind of a superman, it immediately takes effect, whereas in ordinary people it does not take effect because its energy has been diverted in some other way.
The implementation of a thought, or the materialisation of an idea, is nothing but the extent of the union which one feels with the object concerned; that is called the materialisation of the thought. The moment we think something, it happens – and it must happen if the mind is able to unite itself with the object wholly. And, the percentage of this union will also be the determining factor of the percentage of this success, or implementation of the thought. But if always there is the feeling that the object is totally outside the mind, and the mind has very little interest in the object, it has also, correspondingly, very little control over the object. So, where can there be implementation? Where can there be materialisation?
The communion that we are seeking – which is samadhi, the aim of yoga – is the total merger of the subject with its ideal of meditation. There it has total control over the object, whatever that object be. For this purpose it is that the mind is directed towards the object. The object does not necessarily mean any isolated little bit of matter, though that also can be taken as a prop for concentration in the earliest stages. But the intention is not merely to end there. If we have an ultimate aim of reaching the ocean, we may take the help of a little mountain stream to row our boat. Though we have used a stream, the intention is not merely to row on the stream or river, but to reach the ocean. Likewise, the little bit of material content, which is the object of our concentration in the initial stages, becomes the diverting medium of the mind towards the ocean of the Absolute. That is the ultimate aim.
Thus, the point that we have to emphasise is that in concentration it is not our mind thinking about something else, or something outside or external. It is not our mind – it is we that are thinking. We should not use the word ‘my mind’, as if we are behind the mind and we are only operating the mind, like a driver driving a vehicle. It is the subject in its completeness, in its compactness, in its totality, in its wholeness, that attends upon the object. This point cannot be forgotten; and if it is missed, there is no concentration. For this purpose it is necessary to understand how far it is possible for us to be totally integrated.
Can it be possible for us to unite our thought, will and emotion at one stroke? Whenever I think of a thing, my emotion also goes there. Is it possible? I may think of a table or a chair – can my emotion also be there? It is not possible. This is the weakness of the human mind: it cannot unite its various faculties. Where the heart is, there the will is not; where the will is, there thought is not, and where everything is – memory is gone. So, naturally, there is a failure – utter failure. All the faculties which we call the psychological organ should be gathered up into a single focus of energy. It is a terrible task. But, naturally, yoga is a terrible task. Who said it is simple? We have to sacrifice ourselves, and that is perhaps the greatest of sacrifices we can conceive. But afterwards we will see that it is a great joy. How can it be a pain to us to integrate our personality? Can we even imagine that it is a sorrow? Would we call it a joy to be dissipated? It is very strange, indeed, that we find joy in a life of dissipation, disintegration and dismemberment of the faculties of the mind. It is very strange that people should live like this.
But a little bit of effort, continued for a sufficient length of time, will bear its fruit and we will amply be given the reward thereof. We will see what it is, and then we will not open our eyes to see anything else. Then we would not like to hear any sound, and we would not like to have any other contact. Once we visualise it, we will be stunned from the bottom of our hearts, and we will not have occasion to be attracted towards anything else afterwards. It will be all beauty, all grandeur, all magnificence, all power and all abundance in every respect.
Towards this objective, the mind has to move continuously. ‘Non-stop’ is the word that is used. “Like oil poured from one vessel to another” is the analogy that is usually given. When we pour oil from one vessel to another, it is a continuous stream of pouring oil; it does not break into bits or drops. ‘Taila dharavatu’ is the term used. Taila dhara is the flow of the oil from one vessel to another. A continuous stream is there, and such should be the stream of the flow of thought of the subject towards the object. That is called dhyana, or meditation. There is no interruption of thought; there is no breaking of the flow; there is no driplet or droplet of the mind. It is a continuous movement without any kind of intervention of any other thought. In the dhyana, or the meditation process, there is not even the attempt at the elimination of extraneous thought, because there is no extraneous thought – there is only one thought. When we are fondling our dearest of objectives, we cannot have the time to think of eliminating other thoughts. The other thoughts do not exist and, therefore, the question of eliminating them does not arise. There is only that which we want, and our heart has gone for it; and it has drawn, together with it, all the accessories – the thought, the will, the memory, everything. That is tatra pratyaya ekatānatā dhyānam (III.2).
Tadeva arthamātranirbhāsaṁ svarūpaśūnyam iva samādhiḥ (III.3): The total absorption of the meditating consciousness on the form of the object, with such intensity as to forget its own existence, as it were, and to identify itself with the object with such force that it looks as if the object itself – not the subject – is meditating; that is called samadhi. These sutras are very important. Deśa bandhaḥ cittasya dhāraṇā (III.1) is the definition of concentration. The fixing of the attention of the mind on a particular spot or objective is concentration. Tatra pratyaya ekatānatā dhyānam (III.2): ‘There itself’, that means to say, at the very point of concentration when the flow of the mind becomes continuous, without any kind of interruption – that is called meditation, or dhyana.
Tadeva arthamātranirbhāsaṁ iva (III.3): That meditation itself becomes samadhi. How? When it becomes arthamatranirbhasam – that is, the object only shines; the subject has vanished out of sight. We do not exist there any more. We have evaporated like burnt-up camphor, as it were, and our residuum is absent. There is nothing to call our own – our existence itself has lifted itself up to the level of the object. Tadeva arthamātranirbhāsaṁ svarūpaśūnyam iva. The svarupa is the self-consciousness of the subject, the individuality or the self-sense. That has become absent. There is a vanishing of personality; that is called svarupasunyata – that is called samadhi. The term ‘samadhi’ in Sanskrit means the balancing of consciousness. Sama adhana, the equilibrated condition of consciousness, where it establishes a total harmony in content and intensity between itself and its object, is called samadhi.
Generally, this kind of balance between the subject and the object is not maintained in ordinary perception. There is always a dichotomy, a gulf between the seer and the seen; therefore, there is no proper communication of the one with the other except by way of artificial contact by the senses. But in this deep absorption of consciousness, the contact of the subject with the object is not sensory. It is not at all contact in the ordinary sense. It is not one thing coming in contact with another thing. It is not a juxtaposition of one object with another. It is not the proximity of one thing with another. It is the commingling of one with the other – water mixing with water, milk with milk, so that one cannot know which is what; both have become one mass. This sort of experience, where there is an utter equilibration of consciousness with its object so that one does not know which is consciousness and which is the object, where they stand on equal footing in every respect – that condition is called samadhi. It is not merely the flowing of consciousness towards the object. The flowing stops. When there is water in two tanks which are beside each other on the same level of ground, there is no movement of water from one tank to another tank; we cannot see the movement at all. When the other tank is on a little inclination, there can be a movement. If the inclination is not there – there is a balance between the two on account of the same level that they maintain – the water in both tanks will be connected without actually a flow or an activity of movement.
Something like that happens in this condition of the establishment of balance between the subject that meditates and the object that is meditated upon. In this balance there is a fusion of the content of the two. They become one in an extraordinary sense, and here it is that one gains insight into the nature of the object. This is called intuition. We begin to cognise, perceive and enter into the content of the object more clearly and in greater detail than we would have done by any sensory contact. We can see everything that is inside the object, without the operation of the senses. The mind enters the object and begins to pervade every part of its body, and begins to be aware of everything that is there. This is called insight; this is called intuition. This is what they call the third eye – other than the two eyes with which we see physical objects. But this is a very terrific job because whatever may be the effort we make in concentration of mind, the object will manage to wrench itself away from our grasp and remain outside us. This is the difficulty.
We have lived in a world of externality to such an extent that it is difficult to teach the mind the lesson of there being such a thing as internality of perception. How on earth will it be possible to conceive that there can be an internal relationship of the object with the subject? We have never known such a thing. We have never been taught such a thing anywhere. No school, no college will teach us all this, because these are all strange things which are unearthly, outside the syllabus of any study in any branch of learning. This is the secret of nature, which we are not taught anywhere – neither by our parents, nor by our teachers, nor do our friends talk about this subject. Everything is kept a guarded secret. This secret has to be unearthed and brought to the surface of perception. Here is the benefit of yoga.
How long it will take for us to establish a proper communion with the object, as required in this technique of meditation, will be known only by ourselves, each for oneself, and another cannot make a judgement on this. It depends upon the absence of extraneous interest in the mind. If there is any kind of extra-curricular interest, if we would like to call it so, in the mind, there would be a diminution of the intensity of concentration. We should have only one interest. The difficulty is: how is it possible to have one interest? Such a thing is impossible for the mind. We have many interests. We want so many things. We want our dinner; we want our supper; we want our lunch; we have got friends to contact; we have got works in this world; we have got a business; we have got relationships of umpteen kinds. With this kind of distracted attention, where comes the question of the whole-souled attention of the mind on any object, even if it be yoga?
This difficulty, this doubt, arises because one does not know what the object of meditation is. We have a wrong notion that the object of meditation is one among the many objects of the world; therefore, a doubt arises as to how it is possible to take total interest in one of the objects while there are many others which are equally good. The point in our doubt is that the object of our meditation is not one of the objects of the world – it is the only object that exists. This is the thesis that has to be maintained. But how can there be only one object before us? Is it possible? Have we seen anywhere only a single object existing, independent of relationship with any other thing? Here again, this doubt arises because of the impossibility to conceive an integrated object. We have never been taught what an integrated object is. An integrated object is that which maintains a vital relationship with every other thing in the world; that is the object of our concentration. Even if it be for the time being, let us take for granted that our object is one among the many. It has to be borne in mind that it maintains an internal relationship with other things of the world, so that at the time of concentration on this given object we are simultaneously attending upon everything else in the world also.
There is no need for us to think of other things, because this particular object maintains a necessary connection with everything else, so all the other things in which we are interested also will be included. This is not to be forgotten. When this focusing of the attention of the mind is done on a particular object, we are converging the forces of the universe on that object. So, all our business also will be there, and we need not be frightened. As a matter of fact, our business will improve, our relationships with the world will become friendlier, and success will be on hand, at the tip of our fingers, in any walk of life. There need not be any fear about this matter, provided we are able to comprehend the principle that the object of our meditation is the focusing point of the whole universe.