Navigate the Chapters of this Book




a. The five hindrances and their removal.

b. The eight means defined.

Topic: The means of attainment.





1. The Yoga of action, leading to union with the soul is fiery aspiration, spiritual reading and devotion to Ishvara.

2. The aim of these three is to bring about soul vision and to eliminate obstructions.

3. These are the difficulty producing hindrances:  avidya (ignorance) the sense of personality, desire, hate and the sense of attachment.

4. Avidya (ignorance) is the cause of all the other obstructions whether they be latent, in process of elimination, overcome, or in full operation.

5. Avidya is the condition of confusing the permanent, pure, blissful and the Self with that which is impermanent, impure, painful and the not-self.

6. The sense of personality is due to the identification of the knower with the instruments of knowledge.

7. Desire is attachment to objects of pleasure.

8. Hate is aversion for any object of the senses.

9. Intense desire for sentient existence is attachment.  This is inherent in every form, is self-perpetuating, and known even to the very wise.

10. These five hindrances, when subtly known, can be overcome by an opposing mental attitude.

11. Their activities are to be done away with, through the meditation process.

12. Karma itself has its root in these five hindrances and must come to fruition in this life or in some later life.


13. So long as the roots  (or samskaras) exist, their fruition will be birth, life, and experiences resulting in pleasure or pain.

14. These seeds (or samskaras) produce pleasure or pain according as their originating cause was good or evil.

15. To the illuminated man all existence (in the three worlds) is considered pain owing to the activities of the gunas.  These activities are threefold, producing consequences, anxieties and subliminal impressions.

16. Pain which is yet to come may be warded off.

17. The illusion that the Perceiver and that which is perceived are one and the same is the cause (of the pain- producing effects) which must be warded off.

18. That which is perceived has three qualities, sattva, rajas and tamas (rhythm, mobility and inertia); it consists of the elements and the sense organs.  The use of these produces experience and eventual liberation.

19. The divisions of the gunas (or qualities of matter) are fourfold; the specific, the non-specific, the indicated and the untouchable.

20. The seer is pure knowledge (gnosis).  Though pure, he looks upon the presented idea through the medium of the mind.

21. All that is exists for the sake of the soul.

22. In the case of the man who has achieved yoga (or union) the objective universe has ceased to be.  Yet it existeth still for those who are not yet free.

23. The association of the soul with the mind and thus with that which the mind perceives, produces an understanding of the nature of that which is perceived and likewise of the Perceiver.

24. The cause of this association is ignorance or avidya.  This has to be overcome.

25. When ignorance is brought to an end through non- association with the things perceived, this is the great liberation.

26. The state of bondage is overcome through perfectly maintained discrimination.


27. The knowledge (or illumination) achieved is seven-fold and is attained progressively.

28. When the means to yoga have been steadily practised, and when impurity has been overcome, enlightenment takes place, leading up to full illumination.

29. The eight means of yoga are, the Commandments or Yama, the Rules or Nijama, posture or Asana, right control of life-force or Pranayama, abstraction or Pratyahara, attention or Dharana, Meditation or Dhyana, Contemplation or Samadhi.

30. Harmlessness, truth to all beings, abstention from theft, from incontinence and from avarice, constitute yama or the five commandments.

81. Yama (or the five commandments) constitutes the universal duty and is irrespective of race, place, time or emergency.

32. Internal and external purification, contentment, fiery aspiration, spiritual reading and devotion to Ishvara constitutes nijama (or the five rules).

33. When thoughts which are contrary to yoga are present there should be the cultivation of their opposite.

34. Thoughts contrary to yoga are harmfulness, falsehood, theft, incontinence, and avarice, whether committed personally, caused to be committed or approved of, whether arising from avarice, anger or delusion (ignorance); whether slight in the doing, middling or great.  These result always in excessive pain and ignorance.  For this reason, the contrary thoughts must be cultivated.

35. In the presence of him who has perfected harmlessness, all enmity ceases.

36. When truth to all beings is perfected, the effectiveness of his words and acts is immediately to be seen.

37. When abstention from theft is perfected, the yogi can have whatever he desires.

38. By abstention from incontinence, energy is acquired.

39. When abstention from avarice is perfected, there comes an understanding of the law of rebirth.


40. Internal and external purification produces aversion for form, both one's own and all forms.

41. Through purification comes also a quiet spirit, concentration, conquest of the organs, and ability to see the Self.

42. As a result of contentment bliss is achieved.

43. Through fiery aspiration and through the removal of all impurity, comes the perfecting of the bodily powers and of the senses.

44. Spiritual reading results in a contact with the soul (or divine One).

45. Through devotion to Ishvara the goal of meditation (or samadhi) is reached.

46. The posture assumed must be steady and easy.

47. Steadiness and ease of posture is to be achieved through persistent slight effort and through the concentration of the mind upon the infinite.

48. When this is attained, the pairs of opposites no longer limit.

49. When right posture (asana) has been attained there follows right control of prana and proper inspiration and expiration of the breath.

50. Right control of prana (or the life currents) is external, internal or motionless; it is subject to place, time and number and is also protracted or brief.

51. There is a fourth stage which transcends those dealing with the internal and external phases.

52. Through this, that which obscures the light is gradually removed.

53. And the mind is prepared for concentrated meditation.

54. Abstraction (or Pratyahara) is the subjugation of the senses by the thinking principle and their withdrawal from that which has hitherto been their object.

55. As a result of these means there follows the complete subjugation of the sense organs.





1. The yoga of action, leading to union with the soul is fiery aspiration, spiritual reading and devotion to Ishvara.

We must here bear in mind that we are beginning the book which outlines the practical part of the work, which gives the rules which must be followed if the aspirant hopes to achieve, and which indicates those methods which will bring about the realization of spiritual consciousness.  The objective has been dealt with in Book I.  The aspirant naturally says on concluding Book I, "how desirable and how right, but how shall this be?  What must I do?  Where shall I begin?"

Patanjali starts at the very beginning and in this second book he indicates:

1. The basic personality requirements,

2. The hindrances which can then be noted by the earnest disciple,

3. The eight "means of yoga" or the eight kinds of activity which will bring about the needed results.


The very simplicity of this outline makes its value exceedingly great; there is no confusion, no complex dissertations, but just a clear simple statement of the requirements.

It might be of value here if we dealt with the various "yogas" so as to give to the student a clear concept as to their distinctions and thus cultivate his discrimination.  The principal yogas are three in number, the various other so-called "yogas" finding their place in one of these three groups:


1. Raja Yoga

the yoga of the mind or will,

2. Bhakti Yoga

the yoga of the heart or the devotee,

3. Karma Yoga

the yoga of action.


Raja Yoga stands by itself and is the king science of them all; it is the summation of all the others, it is the climax and that which completes the work of development in the human kingdom.  It is the science of the mind and of the purposeful will, and brings the higher of man's sheaths in the three worlds under the subjection of the Inner Ruler.  This science coordinates the entire lower threefold man, forcing him into a position where he is nothing but the vehicle for the soul, or God within.  It includes the other yogas and profits by their achievements.  It synthesises the work of evolution and crowns man as king.

Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of the heart; it is the bringing into submission of all the feelings, desires [121] and emotions, to the one beloved, seen and known in the heart.  It is the sublimation of all the lower loves and the bringing captive of all longings and desire, to the one longing to know the God of love and the love of God.

It was the "kingly" or crowning science of the last rootrace, the Atlantean, just as the science of Raja Yoga is the great science of our Aryan civilization.  Bhakti Yoga made its exponent an arhat or led him to the fourth initiation.  Raja Yoga makes him an adept and leads him to the portal of the fifth initiation.  Both lead to liberation, for the arhat is released from the cycle of rebirth but Raja Yoga liberates him to complete service and freedom to work as a White Magician.  Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of the heart, of the astral body.

Karma Yoga has a specific relation to physical plane activity, and to the working out into objective manifestation of all the inner impulses.  In its ancient and simplest form it was the yoga of the third or Lemurian root race and its two best known expressions are:

a. Hatha Yoga,

b. Laya Yoga.

The former has specifically to do with the physical body, its conscious (not subconscious and automatic) functioning and all the various practices which give man control over the different organs and the entire mechanical apparatus of the physical body.  The latter has to do with the etheric body, with the force centers or chakras [122] found in that body and with the distribution of force currents and the awakening of the serpent fire.

It might be pointed out that if we divide the human torso into three departments it might be stated that:

1. Karma Yoga resulted in the awakening of the four centres below the diaphragm,

2. Bhakti Yoga resulted in their transmutation and transference into the two centres above the diaphragm, yet in the torso, the heart and the throat.

3. Raja Yoga synthesises all the forces of the body in the head and from there distributes and controls them.

Raja Yoga, which Patanjali primarily deals with, includes the effects of all the others.  It is only possible when the others have been worked with, but not in the sense of working with them in this life.  Evolution has brought all the sons of men (who are ready to be chelas or disciples), through the various races, and whilst in the Lemurian race (or else on the preceding chain or greater cycle) they were all hatha and laya yogins.  This resulted in the development and control of the dual physical body, dense and etheric.

Whilst in the Atlantean race the desire or astral body was developed, and the flower of that race were true sons of bhakti yoga and true devotees.  Now the highest of the three bodies must be brought to its fullest development and this Raja Yoga is intended to do and this is the object of Patanjali's work.  The Aryan race will [123] contribute this fuller development to the general economy, and the entire human family (with the exception of a percentage which entered the race too late to permit of the full flowering of the soul) will manifest as Sons of God with all the powers of the God unfolded and consciously used on the physical plane and in the physical body.  Patanjali says that three things will bring this about, coupled with the following of certain methods and rules, and these three are:

1. Fiery aspiration, the domination of the physical man so that every atom of his body is afire with zeal and endeavor,

2. Spiritual reading, which has reference to the capacity of the mental body to see back of a symbol or to touch the subject lying back of the object,

3. Devotion to Ishvara, which relates to the astral or emotional body, the whole heart poured out in love to God—God in his own heart, God in the heart of his brother, and God as seen in every form.

Fiery aspiration is the sublimation of karma yoga.  Devotion to Ishvara is the sublimation of bhakti yoga, whilst spiritual reading is the first step to Raja Yoga.

"Devotion to Ishvara" is a large and general term covering the relation of the personal self to the higher self, the Ishvara or Christ principle in the heart.  It covers also the relation of the individual Ishvara to the universal or cosmic Ishvara; it deals with the realization of the soul in man that it is an integral part of the Oversoul.  This [124] results in group consciousness which is the objective of the kingly science.

Devotion involves certain factors which it is valuable for the devotee to realize.

1. A capacity to decentralize oneself, to change one's attitude from self-centredness and selfishness to one of outgoing to the loved one.  All things are counted as loss provided the object of one's devotion is attained.

2. Obedience to the beloved object once that beloved is known.  This has been called in some translations "complete obedience to the Master" and this is the true and accurate translation but in view of the fact that the word Master connotes (to the occult student) one of the adepts, we have chosen to translate the word as "Ishvara," the one God in the heart of man, the divine Jiva or "point of divine life" at the centre of man's being.  This is the same in all men, whether savage or adept; the difference only lies in degree of manifestation and of control.  Complete obedience to any guru or mahatma in the sense of complete subjugation of the will is never taught in the true science of yoga.  Subjugation of the lower man to the will of the inner God is taught and all the methods and rules of yoga are to this specific end.  This should be carefully borne in mind.  "Spiritual reading" is the most significant and occult preliminary thereto.

Every form is the result of thought and of sound.  Every form veils or conceals an idea or concept.  Every form, therefore, is but the symbol or attempted representation of an idea and [125] this is true without exception on all the planes of our solar system, wherein forms are found whether created by God, man or deva.

One object of a disciple's training is to enable him to ascertain that which lies back of any form in any kingdom of nature and thus ascertain the nature of the spiritual energy which brought it into being.  The vastness of this cosmic symbolism will be apparent to even the most superficial thinker and the beginner upon the path of chelaship has to learn to separate the many forms into certain specific groups standing for certain basic ideas.  He has to interpret the ideas lying back of specific symbols, and he has to look for the specific impulse latent in every form.  He can begin practically to do this in the environment and in the place where he is.  He can look for the idea which his brother's form veils; he can search for God behind the body of any and every man.

Thus the sutra under consideration takes the aspirant into the most practical part of life; it brings him face to face with three basic enquiries and as he seeks to answer them aright, he will inevitably equip himself to tread the path.  These three enquiries are:

1. Towards what objective do all the longings and aspirations of my soul trend, towards God, or to things material?

2. Am I bringing my entire lower nature under the control of Ishvara or the true spiritual man?

3. Do I see God back of every form and circumstance in my daily contacts?


2. The aim of these three is to bring about soul vision and to eliminate obstructions.

It is interesting to note here that the words "soul vision" precede the thought of the eliminated hindrances or obstructions, showing that the vision is possible even to those who have not yet perfected themselves.  The vision comes in those moments of exaltation and high aspiration to which most of the sons of men are susceptible and provides the incentive needed to produce that determination and perseverance which the elimination of the obstruction necessitates.  The words "elimination of the obstructions" or the "alteration of the hindrances" (as it is sometimes translated), is a large and generic expression and Hindu commentators point out that it involves even the eradication of the seeds of those hindrances, and their total destruction as by fire; that just as a burnt, dried up seed is no longer capable of propagation and becomes unfertile, producing no growth, so the seeds of the obstructions to the life of the Spirit are similarly rendered unfertile.  These seeds are found in three groups, each producing a large crop of hindrances or obstructions on the three planes of man's evolution—the seeds latent in the physical body, those producing the obstructions of the astral body, and the seeds latent in the mental body.  They are of three kinds in each case, making literally nine types or kinds of seeds:

1. Seeds brought over from previous lives,

2. Seeds sown in this life,


3. Seeds brought into the field of one's life from the family or race with which one is allied.

It is these seeds which produce the obstructions or hindrances to soul vision and the free play of spiritual energy and Patanjali says they are of five kinds and proceeds to deal with them specifically.  By some commentators the word is translated distractions, and all three terms are equally correct and any of them can be used.  It may perhaps be pointed out that:

1. The word "obstruction" is more technically correct when applied to the physical plane,

2. The word "hindrance" is more illuminating when applied to those things which, through the medium of the astral body, prevent soul vision,

3. The word "distraction" has more specific reference to the difficulties which assail the man who seeks to quiet the mind and so achieve soul vision.

3. These are the difficulty producing hindrances: avidya (ignorance), and the sense of personality, desire, hate and the sense of attachment.

These are the five wrong ideas or concepts which for aeons of time and throughout many lives, prevent the sons of men from realizing that they are sons of God.  It is these concepts which lead men to identify themselves with that which is lower and material, and to forget the divine realities.  It is these misconceptions which make a prodigal son of the divine Monad, and which send [128] him forth into the far country to eat of the husks of mortal existence.  It is these which must be overcome and eliminated before a man can "lift up his eyes" and see again the vision of the Father and the Father's Home and so be enabled to tread consciously the Path of return.

It might be pointed out that two of the hindrances, avidya and sense of personality, relate to man, the synthesis upon the physical plane, that desire has relation to his astral body or vehicle of feeling, and that hate and a sense of attachment are products of the sense of egoism (the ahamkara principle) which animate the mental body.  Thus the threefold personality is the field for the seeds and in the soil of the personal life in the three worlds do these seeds propagate and flourish and grow up to obstruct and hinder the real man.  These seeds must be destroyed, and in their destruction three things eventuate:

1. Karma is worked off,

2. Liberation is achieved,

3. The vision of the soul is perfected.

4. Avidya (ignorance) is the cause of all the other obstructions, whether they be latent, in process of elimination, overcome, or in full operation.

The comprehensiveness of this sutra is the first thing which attracts one's attention.  It carries one in thought to the root cause of all evil and in its reference to the obstructions covers all possible conditions of their being.  This verse sums [129] up the condition of every man from the savage stage up through all intervening conditions to the state of arhatship, in which the final fetters of ignorance are cast off.  It states that the reason evil exists, the reason selfishness and personal desires of any kind are evident, is found in the great basic condition which is the limitation of form itself, avidya or ignorance.

The aspirant is reminded right at the beginning of his investigations into the laws of spiritual unfoldment, that two factors must be taken into account which are based on the fact of manifestation itself:

1. The fact of the not-self towards which the divine points of spiritual life are attracted, and which in the period of evolution absorbs them,

2. The fact of the limitations which form-taking necessitates.

The above two factors must be recognized as true of the solar Logos, the planetary Logos, a man or an atom.  Every form of divine life (the infinitesimally small and the infinitely great) veils or hides a fraction of spiritual energy.  The result to the point of spiritual existence is necessarily a shutting in, a cutting off, and a circumscribing of itself, and only the contacts of existence itself and the struggle of the spiritual unit within the form can bring about, eventual release.

For the time being and during the process of incarnation, the veiled point of life remains in ignorance of that which lies outside of itself and progressively has to fight its way out to ever increasing freedom and liberty.


First the sphere of its own form is the sole thing it is aware of and it remains in ignorance of all outside of itself.  The contacts, brought about by desire, are the factors whereby ignorance works out into knowledge, and the man (for we will only consider the human unit in this connection, though the basic laws hold good for all forms of divine life) gradually becomes aware of himself as he is and conscious of his environment.  As this environment is triple (physical, astral and mental) and as he has three vehicles whereby he can contact the three worlds, the period covered in this awakening is immense.  The old commentary says in this connection:

"In the Hall of Ignorance the triple sheaths are known.  The solar life at its densest point is contacted and man emerges fully human."

Then the man becomes aware of something else, the group to which he belongs, and he does this through a finding of his own inner reality as latent in his personality.  He learns that he, the human atom is a part of a group or centre in the body of a heavenly Man, a planetary Logos and that he must develop awareness of:

a. His group vibration,

b. His group purpose,

c. His group centre.

This is the stage of the probationary path or the Path of Discipleship up to the third initiation, and the old commentary proceeds:

"Within the Hall of Learning, the central mystery is contacted.  The method of release is seen, the law is well fulfilled, and man emerges well-nigh adept."


Finally, the man enters the Hall of Wisdom to which he was admitted occasionally (and with increasing frequency) after the first great initiation, and learns of the place his group holds in the planetary plan, catching a glimpse also of the cosmic scheme.  Ignorance (as we understand the term) is, of course, negated, but it cannot be too frequently emphasized that there remains much unknown even to the adept, and that the Christ Himself, the great World Teacher, knows not all that is the content of the awareness of the King of the World.  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali only deal, however, with the overcoming of the ignorance which holds a man upon the wheel of rebirth and which prevents him unfolding the true powers of the soul.  The old commentary says in connection with this final stage:

"Within the Hall of Wisdom, light fully shines upon the adept's ways.  He knows and sees the seventh part and visions all the rest.  He is himself a septenate and from this Hall emerges God."

5. Avidya is the condition of confusing the permanent, pure, blissful and the Self, with that which is impermanent, impure, painful and the not-self.

This condition of ignorance, or the "state of avidya" is characteristic of all those who as yet do not discriminate between the real and unreal, between death and immortality, and between light and darkness.  It governs, therefore, life in the three worlds, for the correspondence between [132] avidya on the physical plane as experienced by man in incarnation is to be found on all planes.  It is a limitation of Spirit itself and a necessary corollary of form-taking.  The spiritual unit is born blind and senseless.  It comes into form at the beginning of the ages and cycles of rebirth in a state of total unawareness.  It has to become aware of that which is around it; to do this it has first to develop the senses whereby contact and awareness become possible.  The method and process through which the human being has evolved five senses or avenues of approach to the not-self are well known and any standard physiological text book can supply the needed information.  Three factors must be borne in mind in connection with the spiritual unit:

1. The senses have to be evolved,

2. Their recognition and use must follow,

3. A period succeeds wherein the spiritual man utilizes the senses in the fulfillment of his desire, and in so doing identifies himself with his apparatus of manifestation.

He is doubly blind, for he is not only born blind and senseless but he is mentally blinded also, and does not see himself or things as they are but makes the mistake of regarding himself as the material form, and this he does for many cycles.  He has no sense of values or of proportion but looks upon the transient, suffering, unclean, material, lower man (his three sheaths in their totality) as himself, the reality,  He cannot dissociate himself from his forms.  The senses are part of the forms; they are not the spiritual man, the [133] dweller in the form.  They are part of the not-self and the medium of its contact with the planetary not-self.

Through discrimination and dispassion the self, who is permanent, pure, and blissful, can eventually dissociate itself from the not-self which is impermanent, impure, and full of pain.  When this is not realized, the man is in a condition of avidya.  When it is in process of accomplishment, the man is a follower of vidya or knowledge, a fourfold path.  When the soul is known as it is and the not-self is relegated to its rightful place as a sheath, vehicle or implement, then knowledge itself is transcended and the knower stands alone.  This is liberation and the goal.

6. The sense of personality is due to the identification of the knower with the instruments of knowledge.

This verse is the commentary upon the previous one.  The student should remember that the knower, the spiritual man, has various instruments for contacting his environment and thus becoming increasingly aware:

1. His three sheaths or bodies which are his medium of contact on three planes:

a. The physical body,

b. The emotional or astral body,

c. The mental body.

2. On the physical plane he has his five senses, hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.


3. The mind, the great sixth sense which has a triple use.  As yet for the majority of men it has but one use:

Its first and commonest use is a gathering of the realized contacts together and their transmission as information to the ego or knower, much in the same way as the nervous system telegraphs to the brain the external contacts it makes.  It is this use of the mind which produces primarily the sense of personality which begins to fade out as the other uses become possible.

A second use of the mind is the one which the first five means of yoga bring about—the power to transmit to the brain the thoughts, wishes and will of the ego or soul.  This brings into the personal self on the physical plane a recognition of the reality and the sense of identification with the not-self becomes steadily less.

The third use of the mind is its use by the soul as an organ of vision whereby the realm of the soul itself is contacted and known.  The final three means of yoga bring this about.

It should be emphasized that this is a most important fact to note.  If the aspirant will regard the development and full use of the sixth sense as his immediate objective, and will bear in mind the three purposes for which it is intended, he will make rapid progress, the sense of personality will fade away and identification with the soul will ensue.  This is one of the greatest of the fetters which hold the sons of men captive.  It is here that the axe must be laid to the root of the tree.


7. Desire is attachment to objects of pleasure.

This is not a literal translation by any means but gives the basic idea so clearly that it is best to translate the sutra as above.

These objects of pleasure cover all the attachments which a man forms from the savage state of infant humanity up to advanced degrees of discipleship; they cover desire for gross objects on the physical plane as well as attachment to those things, occupations and reactions which the emotions or intellectual pursuits will offer; they cover the whole gamut or range of sensuous experience from the response of the savage to warmth and a good meal to the rapture of the mystic.  Desire is a generic term covering the outgoing tendency of spirit towards form life.  It may mean the delight of a cannibal for that which he eats, the love of a man for his family, the appreciation of the artist for a beautiful painting, or the adoration of the devotee for Christ or his guru.  It is all attachment in some degree or another, and the progress of the soul seems to be in this dispensation from one object of sense to another until that time comes when he is thrown back alone upon himself.  He has exhausted all objects of attachment, and even his guru seems to have left him alone.  Only one reality is left, that spiritual reality which is himself, and his desire then turns inward.  It is no longer outgoing but he finds the kingdom of God within.  All desire then leaves him.  He makes contacts, and continues to manifest [136] and work upon the planes of illusion but he works from the centre where dwells his divine self, the sum total of all desire, and there is nothing to lure him forth into the byways of pleasure or of pain.

8. Hate is aversion for any object of the senses.

This sutra is the reverse of the preceding one.  The true yogi neither feels aversion or desire.  He is balanced between these pairs of opposites.  Hate causes separation, whereas love reveals the unity underlying all forms.  Hate is the result of concentration upon form and of a forgetfulness of that which every form (in more or less degree) reveals; hate is the feeling of repulsion and leads to a withdrawal of the man from the object hated; hate is the reverse of brotherhood and therefore is the breaking of one of the basic laws of the solar system.  Hate negates unity, causes barriers to be built and produces those causes which lead to crystallization, destruction and death.  It is energy used to repudiate instead of to synthesize and therefore runs counter to the law of evolution.

Hate is really the result of the sense of personality and of ignorance plus misapplied desire.  It is almost the culmination of the other three.  It was the sense of personality and of extreme ignorance coupled with desire for personal gain which produced hatred of Abel in the heart of Cain and caused the first murder, or the destruction of a brother's form.  This should be carefully considered, [137] for hate in some degree, aversion to some extent, is present in every human heart.  Only, however, when it is entirely overcome by love or the sense of unity will death, danger and fear pass out of the ken of the human family.

9. Intense desire for sentient existence is attachment.  This is inherent in every form, is self-perpetuating, and known even to the very wise.

This form of attachment is the basic cause of all manifestation.  It is inherent in the relationship of the two great opposites, spirit and matter; it is the governing factor in logoic manifestation and this is the reason why even "the very wise" are subject to it.  This form of attachment is an automatic self-reproducing, self-perpetuating faculty, and it should be remembered that the overcoming of this tendency, even when carried to its highest stage by the adept, is but a relative overcoming.  As long as the Logos of our solar system, or the Absolute Spirit, incarnates through the medium of a solar system, this tendency will be present in the highest planetary Spirit and the most elevated spiritual existence.  All that is possible in overcoming attachment, or killing out desire, is to develop the power to balance the pairs of opposites on any particular plane so that one is no longer held by the forms of that plane and withdrawal becomes possible.  Very secondary meanings are given by the ordinary student to the words attachment, desire, and their killing out.  They are interpreted in terms of the student's [138] small advancement.  They are but English words which most inadequately and only symbolically seek to express an occult work.  They can only be truly understood in terms of the law of Attraction and Repulsion and through an understanding of the system of occult vibrations.

The will to live or to manifest is part of the divine Life impulse, and therefore is right.  The will to be or to manifest upon any specific plane or through any specific group of forms is not right when that sphere of manifestation is out-grown, and when any peculiar set of forms have served their purpose of providing media for experience-contacts and can teach no further lessons, evil enters in, for a tendency to evil is but a tendency to revert to the use of forms and practices which the Indweller has outgrown.  For this reason, the gross animal sins are universally regarded as evil because it is generally recognized that the dweller in the form of man has outgrown the third or animal kingdom.

An adept, therefore, has transcended attachment to forms on three planes (physical, astral and mental) and has killed out all longing for the forms of those planes.  When the life or Spirit withdraws itself, the form dies, occultly.  When the thought of the ego or higher self is occupied with its own plane, there is no energy outgoing towards the matter of the three worlds and so no form-building and form-attachment is there possible.  This is in line with the occult truism that "energy follows thought," and in line too with the teaching that the body of the Christ principle, [139] (the buddhic vehicle) only begins to coordinate as the lower impulses fade out.  It is consistent also with the fact that the causal vehicle, the body of the higher self on the abstract levels of the mental plane gains in beauty, size and activity with greater rapidity during the stages of discipleship than was previously possible in the entire cycle of previous incarnations.  Egoic energy is not strictly outgoing, but is directed more literally to its own self-development.  Attachment to form or the attraction of form for Spirit is the great involutionary impulse.  Repulsion of form and consequent form disintegration is the great evolutionary urge.

10. These five hindrances, when subtly known, can be overcome by an opposing mental attitude.

The words "subtly known" could be paraphrased as "when realized by the inner man," and the thought back of the words has been well explained by Dvivedi in his Comment as follows:

"Having described the nature of 'distractions,' the author points out the way to suppress them.  They are divided into two kinds, subtle and gross.  The first are those which exist in a dormant condition in the form of impressions, whereas the second are those that are concretely affecting the mind.  The first can be completely suppressed only by gaining mastery over the whole of their support, viz. the thinking principle."


This is the first work of the aspirant to yoga.  He must realize the nature of the obstacles and then set in to overcome them, doing the work from the mental plane.  He has to gain control of the apparatus of thought; then he has to learn how to use that apparatus, and when this has been accomplished, he begins to offset the hindrances by counter currents.  The hindrances themselves are the result of wrong habits of thought and the misuse of the thinking principle.  When they are subtly known as the seeds which produce the "obstacle-producing forms," then they can be exterminated in the latent stages by right habits of thought resulting in the setting up of the liberty-producing means.

Ignorance (avidya) must be supplanted by the true vidya or knowledge, and as is well-known, in this fourth race on this fourth globe and in the fourth round, the four vidyas and the four noble truths and the four basic elements form the sum total of this knowledge.

The four vidyas of the Hindu philosophy might be enumerated as follows:

1. Yajna Vidya.—The  performance of religious rites in order to produce certain results.  Ceremonial magic.  Is concerned with sound, therefore with the Akasa or the ether of space.  The "Yajna" is the invisible deity who pervades space.

2. Mahavidya.—The great magic knowledge.  It has degenerated into Tantrika worship.  Deals with the feminine aspect, or the matter (mother) aspect.  The basis of black magic.  True maha-yoga [141] has to do with the form (2nd aspect) and its adaptation to Spirit and its needs.

3. Guhya vidya.—The science of mantrams.  The secret knowledge of mystic mantrams.  The occult potency of sound, of the Word.

4. Atman vidya.—True spiritual wisdom.

The four noble truths have been stated for us in the words of the Buddha in the following terms:

"Now the Exalted One thus addressed the brethren:

'Through not understanding, through not penetrating the Four Aryan Truths, brethren, we have run on and wandered round this long, long journey (or rebirth), both you and I.  What are those four?

The Aryan Truth of Ill:  the Aryan Truth of the Arising of Ill:  the Aryan Truth of the Ceasing of Ill:  the Aryan Truth of the Way leading to the Ceasing of Ill.

But, brethren, when these Four Aryan Truths are understood and penetrated, then is uprooted the craving for existence, cut off is the thread that leadeth to rebirth, then is there no more coming to be.'

Thus spake the Exalted One.  When the Happy One had thus spoken, the Master added this further:

Blind to the Fourfold Aryan Truths of things,

And blind to see things as they really are,

Long was our journeying thro' divers births.

Gone is the cord of life when these are seen.

No more becoming when Ill's root is cut."

The four elements have been stated for us in the following extract from the Secret Doctrine (I. 95):

"The Golden Egg was surrounded by seven natural Elements, four ready (ether, fire, air, water), three secret."


11. Their activities are to be done away with through the meditation process.

The "opposing mental attitude" referred to in the previous sutra has distinct reference to the seeds or the latent tendencies as they subsist in the mental body and in the body of desire.  This mental attitude has to become one of active mental meditation and one-pointed thought if the activities of the physical body are to be subjected to a like control.  Much that we do is automatic and the result of long continued emotional and mental habits.  Instinctively, from ancient practice and through subjection to a world of tangible forms, our physical plane activities are governed by the five hindrances.  These have to be suppressed and the work of dealing with the latent seeds and with suppressing the external activities must proceed simultaneously.  The steady opposition of the mental attitude deals with one; meditation which brings in the three factors of the thinker, the mind and the physical brain will take care of the other, and this must not be forgotten, otherwise theory will not become intelligent practice.  This meditation process is dealt with in Book III and need not be enlarged upon here.

12. Karma itself has its root in these five hindrances and must come to fruition in this life or in some later life.

Just as long as man on the physical plane is subject to, or governed by these hindrances, just [143] so long will he initiate those activities which will produce inevitable effects, and just so long will he be tied to the wheel of rebirth and be condemned to form-taking.  The student should carefully note that these five hindrances are the cause of all the activities of the lower personality or the lower man.  Everything he does is based on one or other of them and there is no action of the average man in the three worlds which is not the outcome of ignorance and its accompanying erroneous identifications and reactions.

As the hindrances are overcome and ignorance, the field of them all, is superseded by divine wisdom, there are fewer and fewer effects to work out on the physical plane, and the chains which link a man to the great wheel of physical manifestation are severed one by one.  These chains are triple just as the field of ignorance is triple, being the three great planes of consciousness which are the field of human evolution.  When the field of ignorance becomes the field of conscious experience and when the chains are felt to be fetters and limitations, the would be chela has made a tremendous step forward in the liberating process.  When he can carry the struggle inward into what Ganganatha Jha calls "the unmanifested life" and which we frequently call "the subtler planes" he is entering the Hall of Learning and is severing those fetters which kama (or desire) and the wrong use of the mind have so subtly forged.  Later he will enter the Hall of Wisdom and be taught certain esoteric and occult methods of hastening the liberating process.


13. So long as the roots (or samkaras) exist, their fruition will be birth, life, and experiences resulting in pleasure or pain.