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BOOK II - THE STEPS TO UNION - Part 4

It is not that form or form taking is in itself evil.  Both forms and the process of incarnation are right and proper in their place but for the man who has no further use for experience in the three worlds, having learnt the needed lessons in the school of life, form and rebirth become evil and must be relegated to a position outside the life of the ego.  That the liberated man may choose to limit himself by a form for specific purposes of service is true, but this he does through an act of the will and self-abnegation; he is not impelled thereto by desire but by love of humanity and a longing to stay with his brothers till the last of the sons of God has reached the portal of liberation.

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

It should be remembered that both the Commandments and the Rules (Yama and Nyama) have to do with the lower fourfold self, functioning in the three worlds, and frequently called the lower quaternary.  We have seen in the preceding sutra that the purification required is fourfold and concerns four vehicles.  The results of this purity are also fourfold and have reference equally to the four sheaths.  These results are, in the order of the vehicles:

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1. Conquest of the organs

The physical body,

2. A quiet spirit

The emotional vehicle,

3. Concentration

The lower mind or the mental body,

4. Ability to see the self

The synthetic result of the triple condition
of the above sheaths.

 

The "conquest of the organs" has reference specially to the senses and is the result of magnetic purity or the refinement of the etheric body.  In this connection students should bear in mind that the physical body is not a principle, but is built in exact conformity with the etheric body.  This etheric body is the magnetic vehicle on the physical plane and attracts (according to its own nature and constituents) those atoms and particles of substance out of which the dense physical is constructed.  When the sense perceptions are refined and when the vibratory condition of the vital body is justly attuned, the organs of the senses are entirely dominated and controlled by the real man and put him in contact eventually with the two highest subplanes of the physical plane and not with the lower astral as is now the case.  The correct order of this control of the organs of physical perception or of the five senses is as follows:

1. Correct intellectual perception of the ideal on the mental plane.

2. Pure desire, freed from love of form on the emotional or astral plane,

3. Correct use and development of the five centres [206] up the spine (base of spine, sacral centre, solar plexus, heart and throat centres), each of which is found in the etheric body and is allied with one or other of the five senses,

4. Consequent correct reaction of the sense organs to the requirements of the true or spiritual man.

In connection with the astral body, the result of purification is a quiet spirit, or the "gentle stillness" of the vehicle so that it can adequately reflect the Christ principle, or the buddhic nature.  The relation of the astral or kamic principle (using the middle vehicle of the threefold lower man) to the buddhic principle using the middle vehicle of the spiritual triad (or atma-buddhi-manas), should be carefully considered.  Quieted emotions, and the control of the desire nature ever precede the re-orientation of the lower.  Before the desire of a man can be towards things spiritual he has to cease to desire the things of the world, and of the flesh.  This produces an interlude of great difficulty in the life of neophyte, and the process is symbolized for us in the use of the word "conversion" in orthodox Christian circles; it involves "a turning round" with its consequent temporary turmoil, but eventual quietness.

In the mental body, the effect of purification is the development of the capacity to concentrate or to be one-pointed.  The mind no longer flits hither and thither but becomes controlled and quiescent and receptive to the higher impress.  [207] As this is discussed fully in book three we need not deal further with it here.

When these three results of purification are making themselves felt in the life of the aspirant, he nears a certain climax which is a sudden perception of the nature of the soul.  He gets a vision of the reality which is himself, and finds out the truth of the words of the Christ that "the pure in heart shall see God."  He beholds the soul and henceforth his desire is for ever towards reality and away from the unreal and the world of illusion.

42. As a result of contentment bliss is achieved.

There is little to say in connection with this sutra except to point out that all pain, displeasure and unhappiness are based upon rebellion, and that, from the point of view of the occultist, rebellion but stirs up increased trouble, and resistance only serves to feed the evil, whatever it may be.  The man who has learnt to accept his lot, wastes no time in vain regrets, and his entire energy can then be given to the perfect fulfillment of his dharma, or obligatory work.  Instead of repining, and clouding the issues of life with worry, doubt and despair, he clarifies his path by the quiet realization of life as it is and a direct appreciation of what he may make of it.  Thus no strength, time or opportunity is lost, and steady progress towards the goal is made.

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

Though the two causes of the perfecting process are aspiration and purification, yet these two form really only one and are the two aspects of the discipline of the Probationary Path.  The old commentary which forms the esoteric basis of the inner teaching on Raja Yoga has some sentences which will be found of value here in conveying the correct concept:

"As the breath of fire streams upward through the system, as the fiery element makes its presence felt, that which is hindering is seen to disappear, and that which was obscure becomes illuminated.

The fire ascends and barriers are burned; the breath expands, and limitations disappear.  The seven, hitherto quiescent, stir to life.  The ten portals, sealed and closed or partially ajar, swing wide.

The five great means of contact rush into activity.  Obstacles are overcome, and barriers no longer hinder.  The purified one becomes the great receiver and the One is known."

In these words the purification by fire and by air is dealt with and this is the purification undergone on the path of yoga.  Purification by water has been submitted to in the later stages of the life of the highly evolved man, prior to treading the Path of Discipleship, and is hinted at in the words "waters of sorrow" so often used.  Now the fiery ordeal is undergone and the entire lower nature is passed through the fire.  This is the first meaning and the one with which the aspirant [209] is most concerned.  It is called forth when he can, from his heart, send forth the call for fire, embodied in the words:

"I seek the Way; I yearn to know.  Visions I see, and fleeting deep impressions.  Behind the Portal, on the other side, lies that which I call home, for the circle hath been well-nigh trod, and the end approacheth the beginning.

I seek the Way.  All ways my feet have trod.  The Way of Fire calls me with fierce appeal.  Naught in me seeks the way of peace; naught in me yearns for earth.

Let the fire rage, the flames devour; let all the dross be burnt;

and let me enter through that Gate, and tread the Way of Fire."

The breath of God is felt as the cleansing breeze also and is the response of the soul to the aspiration of the disciple.  The soul then "inspires" the lower man.

The secondary meaning has of course direct reference to the work of the kundalini or serpent fire at the base of the spine as it responds to the soul vibration (felt in the head, in the region of the pineal gland, and called "the light in the head").  Mounting upward, it burns out all obstructions in the spinal etheric channel and vitalizes or electrifies the five centres up the spine and the two in the head.  The vital airs within the ventricles of the head are also swept into activity and produce a cleansing, or rather eliminating effect therein.  With this the student has as yet nothing to do, beyond seeing to it that as far as in him lies, the aspiration of his heart is of the needed "fiery" character, and that the steady purification of his physical, emotional and mental [210] nature, proceeds as desired.  When this is the case, the response of the soul will be effective and the consequent reactions within the etheric centres will take place safely, under law, and normally.

The three verses quoted above deal with,

a. The seven centres, hitherto quiescent,

b. The ten closed portals, the ten orifices of the physical body,

c. The five senses, through which contact with the physical plane takes place, and in these terms the entire outgoing and ingoing activities of the physical plane man are comprehended.

When these have all been brought under the direction of the soul, or inner ruler, then unity with the soul is effected, and consequently identification with that one in whom we live and move and have our being.

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

This might perhaps more literally be translated as "the reading of symbols produces contact with the soul."  A symbol is a form of some kind which veils or hides a thought, an idea or a truth and it might be laid down therefore as a general axiom that every form of every kind is a symbol, or the objective veil of a thought.  This when applied, will be found to refer equally to a human form, which is intended to be the symbol (or made in the image) of God; it is an objective [211] form veiling a divine thought, idea or truth, the tangible manifestation of a divine concept.  The goal of evolution is to bring to perfection, this objective symbolic form.  When a man knows that, he ceases to identify himself with the symbol which is his lower nature.  He begins to function consciously as the divine inner subjective self, using the lower man to veil and hide his form, and daily dealing with that form so that it is moulded and wrought into an adequate instrument of expression.  The idea is also carried forward into the daily life, in the attitude of the man to every form (in the three kingdoms of nature) he contacts.  He seeks to see below the surface and to touch the divine idea.

This is the fourth of the Rules and concerns the man's inner attitude to the objective universe.  It might be said therefore that the rules concern a man's attitude towards:

 

1. His own lower nature

internal and external purification,

2. His karma or lot in life

contentment,

3. His soul or ego

fiery aspiration,

4. Environment and physical plane contacts

spiritual reading.

5. The one Existence, God

devotion to Ishvara.

 

Thus a "right attitude" to all things covers this set of rules.

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

The goal of meditation is ability to contact the divine inner self, and through the contact, to come [212] to a realization of the unity of that self with all selves and the All-Self, and this, not just theoretically, but as a fact in nature.  This comes about when a state called "samadhi" is achieved wherein the consciousness of the thinker is transferred out of the lower brain consciousness into that of the spiritual man or soul on its own plane.  The stages of this transfer might be stated to be as follows:

1. Transfer of the consciousness of the body, the outgoing instinctual consciousness of the physical man, into the head.  This necessitates a conscious withdrawal of the consciousness to a point within the brain in the neighborhood of the pineal gland, and its conscious definite centering there.

2. Transfer of the consciousness out of the head or brain into the mind or mental body.  In this transfer, the brain remains keenly alert and the withdrawal is consciously undertaken via the etheric body, using the brahmarandra or opening at the top of the head.  At no point is the man in trance, unconscious or asleep.  He actively undertakes and carries forward this abstracting or withdrawing process.

3. Transfer of the consciousness from out of the mental body into that of the ego, the soul, lodged in the causal body or egoic lotus.  There is then brought about a condition in which the brain, the mental body and the egoic body form a coherent quiescent unit, alive, alert, positive and steady.

4. The state of samadhi or spiritual contemplation [213] can then be entered, when the soul looks out upon its own world, sees the vision of things as they are, contacts reality and "knows God."

Following upon this comes the stage in which the spiritual man transmits to the brain via the mind that which is visioned, seen, contacted and known; and in this way, the knowledge becomes part of the brain contents and is available for use upon the physical plane.

This is the goal of the meditation process, and the results in their many distinctions are the subject of Book III. and are produced by conformity to the eight means of yoga dealt with in Book II.  Only devotion to Ishvara or true love of God, with its accompanying qualities of service, love of man, and patient endurance in well-doing, will carry a man along this arduous path of discipline, purification and hard work.

MEANS III.  POSTURE

46. The posture assumed must be steady and easy.

This sutra is one that has led our occidental students into a great deal of trouble for they have interpreted it in an entirely physical sense.  That it has a physical meaning is true but taken in reference to the lower threefold nature it might be said that it refers to a steady immovable position of the physical body when in meditation, a firm steadfast unwavering condition of the astral or emotional body in the passage through worldly existence, and an unfluctuating steady mind, one [214] that is absolutely under control.  Of these three, it might be said that the physical posture is of the least importance, and that the position in which the aspirant can the soonest forget that he possesses a physical body is the best.  It might be generally laid down that an upright position in a comfortable chair, with the spine erect, the feet crossed naturally, the hands folded in the lap, the eye closed, and the chin a little dropped is the best posture for the occidental aspirant.  In the East there is a science of postures and about eighty-four different positions, some of them most intricate and painful, are listed.  This science is a branch of hatha yoga and is not to be followed by the fifth root-race; it is a remnant of that yoga which was necessary and sufficient for the Lemurian root-race man, who needed to learn physical control.  Bhakti yoga, or the yoga of the devotee was the yoga of the Atlantean or fourth root-race man, plus a little hatha yoga.  In this fifth rootrace, the Aryan, hatha yoga should fall into desuetude altogether where the disciple is concerned, and he should occupy himself with Raja Yoga plus bhakti yoga—he should be a mental devotee.

The Lemurian disciple learned to control the physical body and to devote it to the service of Ishvara through hatha yoga, with aspiration towards emotional control.

The Atlantean disciple learned to control the emotional body and to devote it to the service of Ishvara through bhakti yoga, with aspiration towards mental control.

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The Aryan disciple has to learn to control the mental body and devote it to the service of Ishvara through Raja Yoga, with aspiration towards knowledge of the indweller, the soul.  Thus in this root-race, the entire lower man, the personality is subjugated and the "Transfiguration" of humanity takes place.

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

This covers the two aspects which in meditation produce difficulty, the comfort of the body and the control of the mind.  It is noteworthy that the effort to attain forgetfulness of the physical body through correct posture is brought about through steady gentle persistent practise, rather than through the violent forcing of the body into postures and attitudes unaccustomed and uncomfortable.  When this can be done and when the mind can be so engrossed upon a consideration of the things of the soul, then steadiness and ease characterize the man on the physical plane.  He is forgetful of the physical vehicle and hence can concentrate the mind, and his concentration of the mind is then so one-pointed that thought of the body becomes impossible.

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

The pairs of opposites concern the desire body and it is significant that in the preceding sutra [216] only the mind and the physical body were dealt with.  In this sutra the emotional nature, expressing itself through desire fails to be influenced by the pull of any attractive force.  The astral body becomes quiescent and non-assertive, unresponsive to any lure from the world of illusion.

There is a great mystery concerned with the astral body of man and with the astral light, and the nature of the mystery is still only known to advanced initiates.  The astral light is thrown into objectivity by two producing factors, and the astral body of a man is responsive to two types of energy.  They seem essentially in themselves to lack character or form but to be dependent for manifestation upon "that which is above and that which is below."  The desire nature of man, for instance, seems to respond to the lure of the great world of illusion, the maya of the senses, or to the voice of the ego, using the mental body.  Vibrations reach the astral body from the physical plane and from the mental world, and according to the nature of the man and to the point in evolution which he has reached, so will be the response to the higher or the lower call.

The astral body is either attentive to the egoic impression or swayed by the million voices of earth.  It apparently has no voice of its own, no character of its own.  This has been pictured for us in the Gita where Arjuna stands midway between the two opposing forces of good and evil and searches for the right attitude to both.  The astral plane is the battleground of the soul, the place of victory or the place of defeat; it is the [217] kurukshetra, upon which the great choice is made.

In these sutras concerning posture, the same idea lies latent.  The physical plane and the mental plane are emphasized and it is brought out that when they are adjusted rightly, when poise on the physical plane and one pointedness on the mental plane are attained, then the pairs of opposites no longer limit.  The point of balance is reached and the man is liberated.  The scales of a man's life are absolutely adjusted and he stands free.

MEANS IV.  PRANAYAMA

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

Here again we come to a sutra that has led to much misunderstanding and much mischief.  Teaching on the control of prana is prevalent and has led to the following of breathing exercises and to the practices dependent for their success upon the suspension of the breathing process.  Most of this has been caused by a belief in the occidental mind that prana and breath are synonymous terms.  This is by no means the case.  Vivekananda points this out in his commentary on the sutra in the following words:

"When the posture has been conquered, then this motion is to be broken and controlled, and thus we come to pranayama; the controlling of the vital forces of the body.  Prana is not breath, [218] though it is usually so translated.  It is the sum total of the cosmic energy.  It is the energy that is in each body, and its most apparent manifestation is the motion of the lungs.  This motion is caused by prana drawing in the breath, and is what we seek to control in pranayama.  We begin by controlling the breath, as the easiest way of getting control of the prana."

Prana is the sum total of the energy in the body (and this applies equally to the planetary and the solar body).  It therefore concerns the inflow of energy into the etheric body and its outflow through the medium of the physical body.  In the physical body this is symbolized for us in the necessary inspiration and exhalation of the breath.  By stressing the physical act of breathing, much of the true sense of this sutra has been lost.

Certain things should be remembered as one studies pranayama.  First, that one of the main purposes of the etheric body is that it acts as a stimulator and the energizer of the dense physical body.  It is almost as if the dense physical body had no independent existence but simply acted as it was swayed and motivated by the etheric body.  The etheric body is the force or vital body and it permeates every part of the dense vehicle.  It is the background, the true substance of the physical body.  According to the nature of the force animating the etheric body, according to the activity of that force in the etheric body, according to the aliveness or the sluggishness of the most important parts of the etheric body (the centres up the [219] spine) so will be the corresponding activity of the physical body.  Similarly and symbolically, according to the wholeness of the breathing apparatus, and according to the ability of that apparatus to oxygenate and render pure the blood, so will be the health or wholeness of the dense physical body.

It should also be remembered that the key to the just response of the lower to the higher, lies in rhythm, and in the ability of the physical body to respond or vibrate in rhythmic unison with the etheric body.  Students have found out that this is much facilitated by steady even breathing, and the majority of the breathing exercises when emphasized to the exclusion of the previous three means to yoga (the Commandments, Rules and Posture) have a definite effect upon the etheric centres and may lead to disastrous results.  It is most necessary that students should follow the means of yoga in the order in which they are given by Patanjali, and so see to it that the purificatory process, the discipline of the outer and inner life and one-pointedness of the mind should be aimed at, prior to attempting the regulation of the etheric vehicle through breathing, and the awakening of the centres.

The work done through pranayama might briefly be stated to be the following:

1. The oxygenation of the blood and hence the cleansing of the blood currents and consequent physical health.

2. The bringing of the physical body into a vibration synchronous with that of the etheric [220] body.  This results in the complete subjugation of the dense physical body and its bringing into line with the etheric body.  The two parts of the physical vehicle form a unit.

3. The transmission of energy via the etheric body to all parts of the dense physical body.  This energy may come from various sources:

a. From the planetary aura.  In this case it is planetary prana, and so concerns primarily the spleen and the health of the physical body.

b. From the astral world via the astral body.  This will be purely kamic or desire force and will affect primarily the centres below the diaphragm.

c. From the universal mind or manasic force.  This will be largely thought force and will go to the throat centre.

d. From the ego itself, stimulating primarily the head and heart centres.

Most people receive force only from the physical and astral planes, but disciples receive force also from the mental and egoic levels.

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.

This is a most difficult sutra to understand and its meaning has been made purposely abstruse, owing to the dangers incident to the control of the bodily forces.  The ideas and teaching conveyed fall into three parts:

I. The external, internal or motionless control [221] of the life currents of the body  (dense and etheric).  This concerns:

1. The breathing apparatus and the use of the breath.

2. The vital airs and their radiation.

3. The centres, and their awakening.

4. The kundalini fire and its right progression up the spine.

II. The astrological significance and the relation of the man to his group, planetary or otherwise.  This is dealt with in the words "place, time and number."

III. The process of illumination and the production of response in the physical man via the brain to the higher impressions.  This ability to respond to the voice of the ego and to become quiescent and receptive must precede the last four means of yoga which do not so immediately concern the dense physical plane or the etheric levels of consciousness.

It will be obvious that much of the teaching conveyed in this sutra can only safely be given directly by the teacher to the pupil, after a proper study of the bodily conditions of that pupil.  It is not possible nor right to give in a book intended for the general public those rules, practices and methods which enable the trained disciple to bring his dense physical vehicle into instantaneous synchronization with his etheric body, to densify and irradiate his aura so as to produce certain magnetic results in his environment, and to awaken his centres so that certain psychic powers are displayed.  The methods for arousing the kundalini [222] fire and blending it with the downpouring egoic force must also be left for direct teaching by a master in this science to his pupil.  There is extreme danger attendant upon the premature awakening of the fire, and the consequent destruction of certain protective structures in the etheric body and the breaking down of the barriers between this world and the astral world, before the pupil is properly "balanced between the pairs of opposites.  There is a menace in the premature growth of the lower psychic powers before the higher nature is awakened, and the effect upon the brain can be seen as insanity in some form or other, mild or the reverse.  A few explanatory words can, however, be given which will enable the true occult student to gain that information which, if correctly used, acts as a key to the possession of more.  This is ever the occult method.  Let us, therefore, deal briefly with our three points.

I. The external control of the prana or life currents concerns those breathing exercises and rhythmic practices which bring the physical organs, allied with the etheric centres, into proper condition.  These physical organs are themselves never specifically dealt with by the white magician or occultist.  They are dealt with in black magic, and consist of the brain, the lungs, the heart, the spleen and the generative organs.

The black magician definitely utilizes these physical parts of the body to generate a type of force which is a mixture of etheric force and dense physical energy, to enable him to do certain [223] forms of magical work and also to produce effects on the physical bodies of animals and men.  It is the knowledge of this which is the basis of voodooism and of all those practices which cause the depletion and death of men and women who obstruct the path of the black magician or are regarded by him as enemies.  With these the aspirant to the mysteries of the Brotherhood of the great White Lodge has nothing to do.  He brings about the merging of the two parts of the dense physical, and the synchronization of the rhythm of the two bodies and the consequent unity of the entire lower man through attention to the etheric breath and rhythm.  This inevitably produces the "external control of the life currents."

The internal control of the life currents is brought about in three ways:

1. By an intellectual understanding of the nature of the etheric body and the laws of its life.

2. Through a consideration of the types of energy and of their apparatus, the system of centres, to be found in the etheric body.

3. Through certain developments and knowledge which come to the aspirant when he is ready (having attended to the previous means of yoga) and which give him the ability to tap certain types of forces, energies, or shaktis, to utilize them correctly through the medium of his own centres and to produce effects which come under the descriptive terms, illuminative, purificatory, magnetic, dynamic, psychic, and magic.

The motionless control of the life currents is the effect of the proper development of the other [224] two, external and internal control and must be present before the fifth means of yoga, withdrawal or abstraction becomes possible.  It simply indicates perfectly balanced synchronization and the complete unification of the two parts of the physical body so that there is no impediment to the outgoing or incoming forces.  When motionless control is reached, the yogi can withdraw from his physical body at will or can pull in that body and manipulate at will any of the seven great planetary forces.

It should be borne in mind that the ideal condition is here dealt with and that no aspirant can achieve this means of yoga without working simultaneously at the other means also.  The study of the parallelism in nature is of value here.

II. The astrological significance is also hinted at here in the three words, "place, time, and number."  In these words the universal triplicities must be recognized, and right control of the life currents must be seen to be related to karma, opportunity and form; there are certain words which when rightly understood give the key to all practical occultism and make the yogi a master of life.  They are:

 

Sound

Number

Colour

Form

Word

Life

Light

Body

 

and these are recognized as subject to the space-idea and the time-element.  It should be borne in mind, in this connection, that "space is the first entity" (Secret Doctrine I. 583) and that cyclic manifestation is the law of life.

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When this is recognized, the entity, expressing itself cyclically, will make its presence felt through differentiation, through the colour or quality of the veiling form and through the form itself.  These factors make up the sum total of the expression of any identity, God or man, and the appearance of any man in exoteric expression on the physical plane is dependent upon the rhythmic or cyclic outgoing or indrawing energy of the great Life in whom he lives and moves and has his being.  This is the basis of the science of astrology or the relationship of the planet, or planets to the human being and of their relation to the stars and the various signs of the zodiac.

Some knowledge of this is essential to the right control of the life currents, so that the disciple can avail himself of the "times and seasons" wherein progress can be expedited.

III. The process of illuminating the lower man becomes possible through the right control of the pranas and this "illuminating process" is an exact science for which these four means of yoga have prepared the way.  The fires of the body are justly arranged, the "motionless" condition can be somewhat reached, the vital airs in the head are "at peace" and the entire lower man awaits one of two processes:

a. The withdrawal of the true or spiritual man in order to function on some higher plane,

b. Or the bringing down into the lower brain consciousness, of light, illumination and knowledge from the planes of the ego.

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

We have seen how the control of the life currents can be either externally active, internally active or balanced.  This triple process brings the entire lower personal man into a condition, first of rhythmic response to the inner motivating factor (in this case, the ego or spiritual man on his own plane) and then of complete quiescence or stillness.  This latter condition of receptive waiting, if one might so call it, is succeeded by one of a form of higher activity.  This is literally the imposition of a new rate of vibration on the lower, the sounding forth of a new note, emanating from the inner spiritual man which produces certain definite effects in the three sheaths which constitute the lower self and which veil the divinity which is man.  These changes are dealt with in the next two sutras.

The work of the average aspirant is most frequently given to preparing the sheaths so that this fourth stage can become possible.  His attention is concentrated upon the attainment of:

1. The conscious coordination of the three bodies or sheaths,

2. Their due alignment,

3. The regulation of the rhythm of the sheaths so that they are synchronized with each other and with the rate of the egoic impression,

4. Their unification into one coherent whole [227] so that the man is literally the three in one and the one in three,

5. Quiescence, or the attitude of positive receptivity to the higher inspiration and downflow of egoic life and energy.

It may help the student if he realizes that the right control of prana involves the recognition that energy is the sum total of existence and of manifestation, and that the three lower bodies are energy bodies, each forming a vehicle for the higher type of energy and being themselves transmitters of energy.  The energies of the lower man are energies of the third aspect, the Holy Ghost or Brahma aspect.  The energy of the spiritual man is that of the second aspect, the Christ force, or buddhi.  The object of evolution in the human family is to bring this Christ force, the principle of buddhi, into full manifestation upon the physical plane and this through the utilization of the lower triple sheath.  This triple sheath is the Holy Grail, the cup which is the receiver and container of the life of God.  When the lower man is brought into proper response through attention to the four means of yoga already considered, two results begin to manifest in him and he is ready to use the remaining four means which will reorient him and bring him eventually to liberation.

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

The first result is the gradual wearing away, or attenuation of the material forms which hide [228] the reality.  This does not mean the wasting away of the forms but the steady refining and transmutation of the matter with which they are constructed so that they become so purified and clarified that the "Light of God" which they have hitherto hidden, can shine forth in all its beauty in the three worlds.  This can be demonstrated as literally true upon the physical plane, for through the work of purification and the control of the life currents the light in the head becomes so apparent that it can be seen by those who have supernatural vision, as radiations extending all around the head, thus forming the halo so well known in pictures of the saints.  The halo is a fact in nature and not just a symbol.  It is the result of the work of Raja Yoga and is the physical demonstration of the life and light of the spiritual man.  Vivekananda says, speaking technically (and it is good for Western occult students to master the technique and terminology of this science of the soul which the East has held in trust for so long):

"The chitta has, by its own nature, all knowledge.  It is made of sattva particles, but is covered by rajas and tamas particles, and by pranayama this covering is removed."

53. And the mind is prepared for concentrated meditation.

Johnston's edition gives a beautiful rendering of this sutra in the words:  "Thence comes the mind's power to hold itself in the light—," the idea being that once the condition of quiescence [229] has been reached, and the fourth stage of supernormal impression has been made possible, the remaining means of yoga, abstraction, attention, meditation and contemplation can be properly undertaken.  The mind can be gripped and used and the process of transmitting the knowledge, light and wisdom from the ego or soul, to the brain via the mind can be safely undertaken.

MEANS V.  ABSTRACTION

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.

This sutra summarizes for us the work done in the control of the psychic nature, and gives us the result achieved when the thinker, through the medium of the mind, the thinking principle, so dominates the senses that they have no independent expression of their own.

Before attention, meditation and contemplation, (the last three means of yoga) can be properly undertaken, not only must the outer conduct be corrected, not only must inner purity be arrived at, not only must the right attitude towards all things be cultivated and the life currents consequently controlled, but the capacity to subjugate the outgoing tendencies of the five senses must be worked at.  So the aspirant is taught the right withdrawal or abstraction of the consciousness which is outgoing towards the world of phenomena, [230] and must learn to centre his consciousness in the great central station in the head from whence energy can be consciously distributed as he participates in the great work, from whence he can make a contact with the realm of the soul and in which he can receive the messages and impressions which emanate from that realm.  This is a definite stage of achievement and is not simply a symbolic way of expressing one-pointed interest.

The various avenues of sense perception are brought into a quiescent condition.  The consciousness of the real man no longer surges outwards along its five avenues of contact.  The five senses are dominated by the sixth sense, the mind and all the consciousness and the perceptive faculty of the aspirant is synthesized in the head, and turns inward and upward.  The psychic nature is thereby subjugated and the mental plane becomes the field of man's activity.  This withdrawal or abstracting process proceeds in stages:

1. The withdrawal of the physical consciousness, or perception through hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.  These modes of perception become temporarily dormant, and man's perception becomes simply mental and the brain consciousness is all that is active on the physical plane.

2. The withdrawal of the consciousness into the region of the pineal gland, so that man's point of realization is centralized in the region between the middle of the forehead and the pineal gland.

3. The next stage is that of abstracting the [231] consciousness into the head centre, the thousand petalled lotus or sahasara, by knowingly withdrawing the consciousness out of the head.  This can be done in full waking consciousness when certain rules are learned and certain work accomplished.  These can obviously not be given in such a work as this.  The majority of people have to master the first two stages and learn to control the avenues of perception, the five senses.

4. The abstracting of the consciousness into the astral body and thus freeing it from the physical plane.

5. A still further withdrawal into the mental body or the mind so that neither the physical nor the astral any longer limit or confine the man.

When this can be done, true meditation and contemplation becomes possible.

Dvivedi says in his commentary on this sutra:  "Abstraction consists in the senses becoming entirely assimilated to, or controlled by the mind.  They must be drawn away from their objects and fixed upon the mind and assimilated to it, so that by preventing the transformation of the thinking principle, the sense also will follow it and be immediately controlled.  Not only this but they will be ever ready to contribute collectively toward the absorbing meditation of any given thing at any moment."

The result, therefore, of correct abstraction or withdrawal is briefly:

1. The synthesis of the senses by the sixth sense, the mind.

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2. The alignment of the threefold lower man so that the three bodies function as a coordinated unit.

3. The freeing of the man from the limitations of the bodies.

4. The consequent ability of the soul or ego to impress and illuminate the brain through the medium of the mind.

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

In Book I a general indication was given of the objective of Raja Yoga and of the hindrances to its practice coupled with an indication of the benefits.  In Book II which we have just completed, the hindrances are specifically dealt with, the method of correcting them is indicated and then the means of yoga are taken up, five out of the eight being considered and explained.  These five means, when duly followed, bring a man to the point where his lower psychic nature is being controlled, the senses are being mastered and he can begin to undertake the subjugation of the sixth sense, the mind.

The methods whereby the mind is controlled and the aspirant becomes complete master of the entire lower man are taken up in the next book.  The remaining three means of yoga are explained and then the results of yoga are given in detail.  Students will find it useful to note the graded and accurate method outlined in this marvellous treatise.  It is valuable to note its brevity and yet its [233] concise and complete nature.  It is the text book of an exact science and within its few short pages are gathered all the rules, necessary in the Aryan rootrace, for the complete control of the mind, which should be the contribution of that race to the evolutionary process.

(part 2)