Navigate the Chapters of this Book


First, there is that knowledge which the ordinary [316] man can possess, which perhaps is best expressed in the word theoretical.  It makes a man aware of certain hypotheses, possibilities and explanations.  It gives to him an understanding of ways, means and methods, and enables him to take the first step towards correct ascertainment and achievement.  This is true of that knowledge which Patanjali deals with.  By acting upon this knowledge and by conforming to the requirements of the intended investigation or development, the aspirant becomes aware of the light in the head.

Secondly, discriminative knowledge is the next type utilized by the aspirant.  The light having been contacted, is used, and the result is that the pairs of opposites become apparent, duality is known, and the question of choice comes in.  The light of God is cast upon either side of the razor edged path the aspirant is endeavouring to tread, and at first this "noble middle" path is not so apparent as that which lies on either side.  By the addition of dispassion or non-attachment to discriminative knowledge, hindrances are worn away, the veil which hides the light becomes increasingly thin until eventually the third or highest light is touched.

Thirdly, the "light of the intuition" is one of the terms which can be applied to this type of illuminative knowledge.  It results from the treading of the path and the overcoming of the pairs of opposites, and is the forerunner of complete illumination and the full light of day.  Ganganatha Jha in his brief commentary touches on all these three.  He says:


"Intelligence is the emancipator—the forerunner of discriminative knowledge, as the dawn is of sunrise.  On the production of intuitional insight, the yogi comes to know everything."

These flashes of intuition are at first simply vivid flashes of illumination, breaking forth into the mind consciousness and disappearing almost instantaneously.  But they come with increasing frequency as the habit of meditation is cultivated and persist for increasingly long periods as stability of the mind is achieved.  Gradually the light shines forth in a continuous stream until the aspirant walks in the full light of day.  When the intuition begins to function, the aspirant has to learn to utilize it by turning the light which is in him upon all matters "obscure, subtle and remote," and thus enlarging his horizon, solving his problems, and increasing his efficiency.  What he sees and contacts through the use of this spiritual light has then to be registered, understood and adapted for use by the man upon the physical plane, through the medium of the brain. Here is where the rational mind plays its part, interpreting, formulating and transmitting to the brain that which the true spiritual man on his own plane knows, sees, and understands.  Thus this knowledge becomes available in full waking consciousness to the incarnated son of God, the man on the physical plane.

Another side of this, equally true and necessary, is pictured for us by Charles Johnston on page 123 of his edition.  He says:

"This divining power of intuition is the power [318] which lies above and behind the so-called rational mind; the rational mind formulates a question and lays it before the intuition, which gives a real answer, often immediately distorted by the rational mind, yet always embodying a kernel of truth.  It is by this process, through which the rational mind brings questions to the intuition for solution, that the truths of science are reached, the flashes of discovery and genius.  But this higher power need not work in subordination to the so-called rational mind, it may act directly, as full illumination, 'the vision and the faculty divine.'"

34. Understanding of the mind-conscious comes from one-pointed meditation upon the heart centre.

The sons of men are distinguished from the animal kingdom by the possession of intelligence, of the rational reasoning mind.  Hence in the Ageless Wisdom, the Secret Doctrine of the world, human beings are frequently called "sons of mind."  It is this which gives them their sense of individuality, of their separate identity; it is this which makes them egos.

In the centre of the brain, seated in the pineal gland, we are told is the home of the soul, an outpost of the life of God, a spark of pure spiritual fire.  This is the lowest point which pure spiritual life, direct from the Monad, our Father in Heaven, contacts or reaches.  It is the termination of the sutratma, or thread which links and connects [319] the various sheaths and passes from the monad on its own high plane, via the soul body on the higher levels of the mental plane down into the physical vehicle.  This life of God is triple and combines the energy of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and is therefore responsible for the full functioning of all the parts of man's nature on all planes, and for all states of consciousness.  One strand of this triple thread or path, the first, is the giver of life, of spirit, of energy.  Another, the second, is responsible for the consciousness or intelligence aspect, for the power of spirit to respond to contact and to evolve response.  The third concerns the life of the matter or body aspect.

The first aspect via the monad reaches to the pineal gland—the point where spirit resides in man.  The second or consciousness aspect, via the ego, makes a point of contact with the heart centre, whilst the third aspect or third part of the sutratma links up with the centre at the base of the spine, which is the main source of the personality or bodily activity.

Through concentration, therefore, on the light in the head, knowledge of the spiritual worlds and of those pure spirits who work and walk in them is achieved, for Atma or spirit shines there.  Similarly through concentrated meditation upon the heart, knowledge of the second aspect, of the conscious intelligent principle which makes a man a son of God, is gained.

Through the development of the head and the use of the head centre, the will is brought into [320] functioning activity.  It is the characteristic of spirit, and demonstrates purpose and control.  Through the unfolding and use of the heart centre the love-wisdom aspect is similarly brought into use and the love of God is seen working out in a man's life and work.  For the mind of God is love, and the love of God is intelligence, and these two aspects of one great quality are brought into play for the working out of His will and purpose.  Of this the Christ was the outstanding example to the Occident, as Krishna was to India, and this has to be reflected and manifested also in every man.

35. Experience (of the pairs of opposites) comes from the inability of the soul to distinguish between the personal self and the purusa (or spirit).  The objective forms exist for the use (and experience) of the spiritual man.  By meditation upon this, arises the intuitive perception of the spiritual nature.

Again we have quite a loose paraphrase of the original text, but one which nevertheless conveys the correct interpretation.

We have seen in the preceding sutras that the narrow path to be trodden between the pairs of opposites (through the practice of discrimination and dispassion) is the path of equilibrium, of balance, the noble middle path.  This sutra is in the nature of a comment upon this stage of the soul's experience and points out the following lessons:


First, that the reason we are confronted by the pairs of opposites, and so frequently choose that line of activity or attitude of mind which produces in us pleasure or pain, is because we fail to distinguish between the lower nature and the higher, between the personal self (functioning as a physical, an emotional, and a mental unit) and the divine spirit to be found in each of us.  We identify ourselves with the form aspect, and not with the spirit.  We regard ourselves as the not-self, for aeons of time and forget our sonship, our unity with the father and the fact that we are, in reality, the indwelling self.

Second, that the purpose of form is simply to enable the self to contact worlds otherwise closed to it, and to develop full awareness in all parts of the Father's kingdom, and thus demonstrate as a fully conscious son of God.  Through the form, experience is gained, consciousness awakened, faculty is developed and powers are unfolded.

Third, that as this fact is grasped intellectually and meditated upon interiorly, awareness of one's identity with the spiritual nature and one's distinction from the form is developed.  One knows oneself in truth to be, not the form but the indweller, not the material self but the spiritual, not the differentiated aspects but the One alone, and thus the great process of liberation is carried forward.  One becomes what one is, and one accomplishes this through meditation on the intelligent soul, the middle aspect, the Christ principle which links the Father (spirit) and the Mother (matter).


Thus the great triplicity is again to be seen:

1. The Father, or spirit, the one who manifests, who creates, who indwells,

2. The Son who reveals, meditates and links the highest aspect with the lower,

3. The Holy Ghost, overshadowing the Mother, intelligent material substance providing the forms through which experience and development are gained.

The one who experiences, who incarnates and who achieves divine expression through the medium of form is the soul, the self, the spiritual conscious man, the Christ within.  When through this experience he has achieved maturity, he reveals the Father or spirit and so fulfills the words of Christ, when He said (in reply to Philip's question "Lord, show us the Father"), "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John XIV.).

36. As the result of this experience and meditation, the higher hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell are developed, producing intuitional knowledge.

Through meditation the aspirant becomes aware of the counterparts of the five senses as they are found in the subtler realms, and through their awakening and conscious use he becomes able to function as freely on the inner planes as he does on the physical.  He can then serve intelligently in those realms and cooperate with the great evolutionary scheme.

The senses may be defined as those organs [323] whereby man becomes aware of his surroundings.  In the animal these five senses exist, but the thinking correlating faculty is lacking.  They demonstrate as group faculty, analogous to a racial instinct in the human kingdom.

Each of these five senses has a definite connection with one or other of the seven planes of manifestation, and has also a correspondence on all the planes.




1. Physical


2. Astral

Touch or feeling

3. Mental


4. Buddhic


5. Atmic



A further tabulation taken from A Treatise on Cosmic Fire will serve to make clear the five different aspects of the five senses on the five planes, and for further information, the student is referred to that Treatise pages 186-202.








1. Hearing




2. Touch, feeling


first etheric


3. Sight




4. Taste




5. Smell








1. Clairaudience




2. Psychometry




3. Clairvoyance




4. Imagination




5. Emotional idealism






1. Higher clairaudience




2. Planetary psychometry




3. Higher clairvoyance


 > Form


4. Discrimination




5. Spiritual discernment

3rd      <



    Response to group






 > Formless


    Spiritual telepathy








1. Comprehension




2. Healing




3. Divine vision




4. Intuition




5. Idealism








1. Beatitude




2. Active service




3. Realisation




4. Perfection




5. All knowledge




In the following table the numbers one, two, three, four and five under each sense refer to the planes of manifestation as given in the first tabulation above.

a. The First Sense............Hearing.

1.    Physical hearing.

2.    Clairaudience.

3.    Higher clairaudience.

4.    Comprehension (of four sounds)

5.    Beatitude.

b. The Second Sense............Touch or feeling.

1.    Physical touch.

2.    Psychometry.

3.    Planetary psychometry.

4.    Healing.

5.    Active service.


c. The Third Sense............Sight.

1.    Physical sight.

2.    Clairvoyance.

3.    Higher clairvoyance.

4.    Divine vision.

5.    Realisation.

d. Fourth Sense............Taste.

1.    Physical taste.

2.    Imagination.

3.    Discrimination.

4.    Intuition.

5.    Perfection.

e. The Fifth Sense.........Smell.

1.    Physical smell.

2.    Emotional idealism.

3.    Spiritual discernment.

4.    Idealism.

5.    All knowledge.

37. These powers are obstacles to the highest spiritual realisation, but serve as magical powers in the objective worlds.

One fact continuously emerges in this text book of spiritual development, and that is, that the psychic powers, higher and lower, are hindrances to the highest spiritual state and must be left behind by the man who can function freed from the three worlds altogether.  This is a hard lesson for the aspirant to grasp.  He is apt to think that a tendency towards clairvoyance or clairaudience is indicative of progress and a sign that his practice of meditation is beginning to take effect.  It might prove just the opposite and inevitably [326] will, should the aspirant be attracted by, or attached to, any of these forms of psychic faculty.  An old Hindu writer says in connection with these powers: 

"A mind whose mind stuff is emergent thinks highly of these perfections, just as a man born in misery considers even a small bit of wealth a pile of wealth.  But a yogin whose mind-stuff is concentrated must avoid these perfections, even when brought near to him.  One who longs for the final goal of life, the absolute assuagement of the threefold anguish, how could he have any affection for those perfections which go counter to the attainment of that goal."

Dvivedi says:

"The occult powers described hitherto and to be described hereafter...serve as obstacles because they become the cause of distracting the mind by the various feelings they excite.  But they are not quite useless inasmuch as they are great powers for good in moments when samadhi is suspended."  It is of value to the aspirant to know what these powers are, how to control them and not be controlled by them, and how to use them in the service of his brother and of the Hierarchy, but they must be regarded as instruments and be relegated to the form side.  It must be realised that they are the qualities or capacities of the sheaths or the form aspect, otherwise they will assume undue importance, engross undue attention and prove stumbling blocks to the progress of soul unfoldment.


38. By liberation from the causes of bondage through their weakening, and by an understanding of the mode of transference (withdrawal or entrance), the mind stuff (or chitta) can enter another body.

This entire science of Raja Yoga is based upon an understanding of the nature, purpose and function of the mind.  The basic law of this science can be summed up in the words "energy follows thought" and the sequence of activity might be stated as follows:

The thinker on his own plane formulates a thought embodying some purpose or some desire.  The mind vibrates in response to this idea and simultaneously produces a corresponding reaction in the kamic, desire or emotional body.  The energy body, the etheric sheath vibrates synchronously, and thereby the brain responds and energises the nerve-system throughout the dense physical body, so that the impulse of the thinker works out into physical plane activity.

There is a close connection between the mind and the nervous system so that we have an interesting triplicity,

1. The mind,

2. The brain,

3. Nervous system,

and this triplicity must be carefully borne in mind by the student of Raja Yoga in the initial stage of his work.  Later a second triplicity will engross his attention,


1. The thinker,

2. The mind,

3. The brain,

but this will be during the demonstration side of his work.

It is through an understanding of the method of energising the nerves that the thinker can galvanise its instrument into activity during incarnation, and similarly produce trance, samadhi, or death.  The same basic knowledge enables the adept to raise a dead body, as Christ did in Palestine, or occupy the vehicle of a disciple for purposes of service, as Christ occupied the body of the disciple Jesus.  This knowledge and its use, we are told, is subject to the great law of karma, of cause and effect, and even the Christ Himself may not set the law aside in any case unless there is adequate "weakening" of the cause producing the bondage.

39. By subjugation of the upward life (the udana) there is liberation from water, the thorny path, and mire, and the power of ascension is gained.

Pervading the whole body is that sum total of nervous force, called by the Hindu, prana.  It is controlled by the mind via the brain; it is the vitality which brings into activity the sense-organs and produces the outward-going life of the man; its medium of distribution is the nervous system through certain great distributing centres called plexi, or lotuses. The nerve ganglia known [329] to orthodox medicine, are the reflections or shadows of the more vital plexi.  The student will not go far astray if he regards the sum total of prana in the human body as constituting the vital or etheric body.  This etheric body is formed entirely of energy currents, and is the substratum of living substance which underlies the dense physical form.

One term applied to this energy is the "vital airs."  Prana is fivefold in its manifestation, thus corresponding to the five states of mind, the fifth principle and to the five modifications of the thinking principle.  Prana in the solar system works out as the five great states of energy which we call planes, the medium of consciousness; these are:

1. The atmic or spiritual plane,

2. The buddhic or intuitional plane,

3. The mental plane,

4. The emotional, astral or kamic plane,

5. The physical plane.

The five differentiations of prana in the human body are:

1. Prana, extending from the nose to the heart and having special relation to the mouth and speech, the heart and lungs.

2. Samana extends from the heart to the solar plexus; it concerns food and the nourishing of the body through the medium of food and drink and has a special relation to the stomach.

3. Apana controls from the solar plexus to the soles of the feet; it concerns the organs of elimination, of rejection and of birth, thus having special [330] relation to the organs of generation and of elimination.

4.  Vpana is found between the nose and the top of the head; it has a special relation to the brain, the nose and the eyes, and when properly controlled produces the coordination of the vital airs and their correct handling.

5.  Vyana is the term applied to the sum total of pranic energy as it is distributed evenly throughout the entire body.  Its instruments are the thousands of nadis or nerves found in the body, and it has a peculiar definite connection with the blood channels, the veins and arteries.

In this sutra we are told that by mastery of the fourth of these vital airs, certain definite results can be achieved and it will be interesting to note what they are.  This mastery only becomes possible as the Raja Yoga system is understood and mastered, for it involves the capacity to function in the head and to control the entire nature from the point within the brain.  When a man becomes polarised there, then the nervous force or energy found in the top of the head becomes active and through its correct control and through mastery of it, the right direction of the pranas of the body becomes possible and man reaches liberation; through it, noncontact in the three worlds is brought about.  The language used is necessarily symbolic and its meaning must not be lost through a materializing of its real significance.  Levitation, the power to walk on water, and ability to withstand the gravitational pull of the earth is its lowest and least important significance.


1. Freedom from water is a symbolic way of stating that the astral nature is subjugated and the great waters of illusion can no longer hold the emancipated soul.  The energies of the solar plexus no longer dominate.

2. Liberation from the thorny path refers to the path of physical life, and is nowhere more beautifully referred to than by the Christ in His parable of the Sowers, where some of the seed fell among thorns.  The explanation is given that the thorns are the cares and troubles of worldly existence which succeed in choking the spiritual life and in veiling the true man for so long.  The thorny path must lead to the northern path and that in turn to the Path of Initiation.  In one of the old books in the Archives of the Lodge, are found these words:

"Let the seeker after truth escape from drowning and climb the river's bank.  Let him turn towards the northern star and on firm ground stand, his face directed towards the light.  Then let the star lead."

3. Liberation from the mire refers to that mixed nature of kama-manas, desire and lower mind, which causes the unique problem of humanity.  It is a symbolic way also of referring to the great illusion which snares the pilgrim for so long.  When the aspirant can walk in the light, having found the light (the Shekinah) within himself in the Holy of Holies, then the illusion is dissipated.  It is of value to the student to trace the analogy between the three parts of Solomon's Temple, and that of the "Temple of the Holy Spirit," the human frame.


The outer court corresponds to those energies and their corresponding organs found below the diaphragm.  The Holy Place is the centres and organs in the upper part of the body from the throat to the diaphragm.  The Holy of Holies is the head where is the throne of God, the Mercy Seat, and the overshadowing glory.

When these three aspects of freedom have been gained and the man is no longer dominated by the water, the mire or physical plane life, then "the power of ascension" is gained and he can ascend into heaven at will.  The Christ or spiritual man can stand upon the mountain of ascension, having passed through the four crises or points of control from the birth to the crucifixion.  Thus the "udana" or upward life becomes the controlling factor and the downward life no longer dominates.

40. Through subjugation of the samana, the spark becomes the flame.

This sutra is one of the most beautiful in the book and the translation by Charles Johnston should here be noted:  "By mastery of the binding life comes radiance."  Another interpretation might be "through control of samana the AUM (the Word of Glory) manifests."  Out of the heart are the issues of life, and the vital energy called samana controls the heart and the life breath through the lungs.  When the body is purified and its energies rightly directed, and when rhythm is achieved, then a radiant life is seen.


This will work out literally and not simply metaphorically, for when the life currents are directed by the soul upon the throne, through the nerves and the blood channels, then only the purest atoms will be built into the body and the result will be a shining forth of light through the entire man.  Not only will the head be radiating light so that the clairvoyant will see a halo or circle of brilliant colors, but all the body will be irradiated by the vibrant centres of electrical force distributed throughout the body.

41. By the means of one-pointed meditation upon the relationship between the akasha and sound, an organ for spiritual hearing will be developed.

To understand this sutra, it is essential that certain relationships are comprehended—relationships between matter, the senses and the one who experiences.

The Christian believes that "all things were made by the word of God."  The oriental believer holds that sound was the originating factor in the creative process and both teach that this word or sound is descriptive of the second Person of the divine Trinity.

This sound or word threw into peculiar activity the matter of the solar system, and was preceded by the breath of the Father which started the original motion or vibration.

First, therefore, the breath (pneuma or spirit) impinging upon primordial substance and setting up a pulsation, a vibration, a rhythm.  Then the [334] word or sound, causing the pulsating vibrating substance to take form or shape, and thus bringing about the incarnation of the second Person of the cosmic Trinity, the Son of God, the Macrocosm.

This process eventuated in the seven planes of manifestation, the spheres wherein seven states of consciousness are possible.  All of these are characterized by certain qualities and differentiated from each other by specific vibrating capacities and called by certain terms. 

The following tabulation may prove useful if the student will bear in mind that the first triplicity of planes are those of divine manifestation and the lower triplicity constitute the reflection of that divine process and are the three planes of our normal experience.  These two triplicities of God and man are connected by the middle plane of at-one-ment or union whereon God and man are made one.  This is the Christ plane in Christian phraseology, the buddhic plane in the eastern terminology.