This article is sourced from https://www.swami-krishnananda.org/disc/disc_244.html
With due credit to The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, (Spoken on October 1st, 1972)
Yesterday we have seen an outline of the fundamentals of the science of yoga, and today we can go a little more into the details and the essentials of the practice. The outline, a bare description of the philosophical foundations of the practice of yoga, is likely to give us an impression that it is a straight onward march of our consciousness to its goal, almost akin to a march along a main high road where we have only to sit in a vehicle and then go straight. This may be our idea, but it is not so simple as that. It is not straight driving, but is a little more complicated process of approach which ordinary perception and thought cannot reveal to us.
The actual technique and the method of the whole practice is quite different in its structure and makeup from what we might have seen, heard or thought of in this world. There are various stages conceived in yoga, and these stages are sometimes compared to the rungs of a ladder, but they are different because each rung in a ladder is structurally similar to any of the other rungs, while this is not so in the stages of yoga. They are not rungs in the sense that every stage is like every other stage.
Here is an example to show how the stages of yoga differ from the stages of a journey on a road or an ascent up a ladder. Just imagine that there is a series of mirrors kept in broad sunlight. The sun is shining in the sky, and there is a big mirror reflecting the light of the sun on the wall of a building which is not in the direct sunlight. Now, imagine that on the wall which receives the reflected light from the mirror another mirror has been placed whose reflected light is again reflected upon a third mirror which is elsewhere. The light which is doubly reflected through two mirrors is now reflected through a third mirror which, imagine, is again reflected through a fourth mirror which is placed somewhere else. Imagine that there are as many mirrors as there are stages in the practice of yoga.
Now, imagine also, simultaneously, that structurally each mirror is different from the other, especially in colour. One may be reddish, one may be bluish, one may be yellowish, and so on. Imagine what will happen to the colour of the light which is finally reflected upon the last mirror. It will have the blend and appearance of a mixture of all the colours whose tinge belongs to the various mirrors that are in different places. A single light is passing through all these mirrors, which is ultimately the light of the sun. Though the light is single, the reflectors are many; and the reflectors are many in a different sense, in a peculiar sense, as I have mentioned. It is not that we have kept many mirrors at the same place so that the light may fall on all the mirrors simultaneously. Not so. At each given moment of time there is a transformation of the structure of light on account the nature of the medium through which it is reflected. So the final mirror, whether it is the twentieth or the fiftieth as the case may be, will give a peculiar texture of light imbibing the characteristics of the structural patterns of the mirrors through which the light has come, passing ultimately to it.
This is something like what has actually happened to the consciousness in us which is responsible for the perception of the world. Our perception of the world of objects is as near to the Ultimate Reality as the light that is reflected through the last mirror is akin to the original light of the sun. Notwithstanding the fact that the light is of the sun, it is far removed in its contour, its structure, its colour and, perhaps, in its effect. So we should not be under the impression that when we look at an object we are looking at the real object as it ought to be, or as it really is. We have passed through various stages of evolution or involution, as it is called in philosophical terminology, and consciousness has got tied up into various knots before it has come down to the level of what we call human consciousness.
The human consciousness is not a direct reflection of the divine Supreme Reality, as is oftentimes said. It is not that the Absolute is directly reflected on our mind. If that had been the case, we would have been thrice-blessed. We are far removed from Truth by a series of twistings and kinks of consciousness. To give an example, it is something like the system of compound interest, which is very difficult to conceive by the ordinary mind; when we reach the last stage of interest, it assumes a character quite different from the original principle. Or to give a third example, conceive of various knots in a thread. Tie one knot in a piece of thread; over that tie another knot, and go on tying knots after knots. Finally, the last knot will completely conceal what is inside the first knot, though it is true that they are related to each other contiguously on account of a physical proximity.
Our scriptures, especially the texts in Yoga and Vedanta, tell us that there has been a series of descents from Truth as it really is to the present state of our existence, and the process of yoga is a reversal of the order of the descent, a recession of the effects into the cause. For this, to think in terms of the analogies we have conceived, we have to remove each mirror stage by stage. Here, in the case of these mirrors reflecting the consciousness of the Ultimate Reality, we cannot remove all the mirrors at the same time because we are dealing with consciousness and not with objective things like mirrors that we have thought of in our mind for the purpose of analogy. While we can remove all the mirrors simultaneously if we like, we cannot untie all the knots of consciousness at the same time, because consciousness is not an object to be dealt with as mirrors. It is something connected with us. It is us. It would be self-untying, or sometimes it is called self-dehypnotisation.
Here is a humorous example to give an idea what has happened to us. Suppose a human being gets into a schizophrenic mood, a peculiar kind of mental illness, and imagines that he is an animal. There are various kinds of mental illnesses where a person forgets his identity and imagines that he is something else. Suppose a human being gets into a mood of mental illness and begins to imagine that he is a tiger, and the tiger again gets into a mood of illness and imagines that it is a monkey, and the monkey has another illness and thinks it is a butterfly. The butterfly consciousness is far from the human consciousness. It is not a direct descent from human consciousness, but it has passed through various twists and errors of perception and cognition due to a complexity that has been created, which is difficult to conceive. We cannot actually know today what our position is in the universe, just as a butterfly thus conceived cannot imagine what its relation is to a human being. It has to pass through various stages of reversal in order that it may come back to the human consciousness. The butterfly has come back to the monkey consciousness, the monkey has come back to the tiger consciousness, and then it has to come back to the human consciousness. We cannot suddenly make a butterfly into a human being because it has been a series of maladies of the mind that has brought this condition into the originally human consciousness.
From this point of view, it would become clear that the practice of yoga is not so easy as noviciates take yoga to be. It is not a fiat of the will that we sit for a few minutes and catch something miraculous. If that had been the case, the world would have been heaven today. It has not become that because it is a hard job and we have to pay a heavy price for it.
There are umpteen stages of the descent of consciousness, as we are told, from being as it is to the stage of becoming, as we are today. We cannot count the number of stages, but for practical purposes we have been given a broad division of them, giving us a hint as to how we have to conduct ourselves at any given stage of consciousness. This is sometimes called the theory of creation, the process of the delimitation of consciousness by processes transcending the present comprehension of the human mind. The Upanishads, to cite one instance, tell us that Being alone was. Sad eva somyedam agra āsīd ekam evādvitīyam (Chhand. 6.2.1), as the Chhandogya Upanishad tells us. The past tense – ‘was' – was used in the statement sad eva somyedam agra āsīd. It does not imply that existence was only in the past and not in the present. It is only a grammatical peculiarity which has to be introduced for the purpose of language and expression, especially as we are accustomed to think of creation as a past event. Though it is not true, we are accustomed to think like that, so the scripture uses the past tense: sad eva somyedam agra āsīd. There is no tense for the process of creation. It is an eternal process.
The Being potentially conceived the possibility of Self-expression. Metaphorically, allegorically, in the form of an image or a symbol, we have to conceive the process of creation. It is a symbol and a hint that is given to us which cannot be taken literally. It is not supposed to be taken in that sense, but it has a workable value and, therefore, it is used in the form of an actual process that has taken place physically, as it were. The potentiality of creation in the Absolute is what we generally know as the Creator, God or Ishvara. The cosmic will concretised into a potentiality in which the whole universe is hidden, as in the seed of a tree. This is the creative formation of the Absolute into what we call the Creator as the Supreme Being.
This Creative Will, which is the potentiality of the would-be universe, gets subtly diversified within itself, something like the tendency of a seed to reveal itself in the form of a small tendril or plant, or the tendency of the womb of a mother to conceive a child. It is only a tendency; the child has not yet been born. This subtle, potential tendency is supposed to be the next stage. In the scriptures of the Vedanta, we are told that this stage is the stage of Hiranyagarbha where we have a bare, subtle, invisible outline of the universe to be grossly manifested in the form of what we see with our eyes. This subtle outline is filled with ink, as it were, and becomes a fully coloured painting which is the Virat, the cosmos as it is visible today before our physical senses.
Now, these processes from the Absolute onwards, through Isvara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat, are to be conceived as stages akin to the stages of the reflection of the original sunlight through the various mirrors consecutively placed. The cause is present in the effect. ‘A' is the cause of ‘B', ‘B' is the cause of ‘C', ‘C' is the cause of ‘D'. ‘D', which is the last effect, has, therefore, the characteristics of all the previous effects, the succeeding one imbibing the characteristics of the preceding one. Cosmic creation is described in the scriptures in this manner, and is regarded as ishvara-shristi. Īkṣaṇādi praveśāntā sṛṣṭi rīśena kalpitā, jāgradādi vimokṣāntaḥ saṁsāro jīva kalpitaḥ (Pan. 213). This is what Swami Vidyaranya tells us in the Panchadasi. Īkṣaṇādi praveśāntā sṛṣṭi rīśena kalpitā: Direct creation of the Cosmic Will is right from the potentiality up to the entry of the universal consciousness into every object in the form of Virat. But all this is divine creation according to the scriptures.
Samsara has not yet started, but it is going to start now. What we call mortal existence, samsara bhandana or samsara chakra, begins afterwards. Jāgradādi vimokṣāntaḥ saṁsāro jīva kalpitaḥ: The jiva is an appellation that we give to a part of this universal reality manifested as Virat, whose consciousness gets twisted into further knots. Its conception is difficult. We can say the mirror gets broken into pieces. The universal mirror is uniform, and therefore, there is omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence of Virat, Hiranyagarbha and Ishvara. The light is equally distributed through the uniform mirror of the cosmos. Therefore, omniscience, omnipotence, and so on, are possible in them, but not in the jiva, which is a broken part, a piece taken away from the universally distributed mirror, and so the light gets refracted. It is not merely breaking, but also getting distorted through various other processes to be undergone.
Then what happens? There is a consciousness of what we call waking. The present state of the human mind is waking consciousness, which is not the same as Virat consciousness. Sometimes the scriptures may give us the impression that the waking consciousness of the individual is a part of the Virat consciousness. It is not. It is part, yet not a part, because in becoming a part, the quality of the Virat consciousness has got distorted. When the quality has become different, it ceases to be the original. So while we are in a state called the waking consciousness we are quite different from the Virat consciousness in the sense that while we perceive an object external to us, there is no external object for the Virat. This is the difference. It is a cosmic I-ness, the ‘I am that I am' feeling of the universality, which becomes ‘I see you', ‘I observe this or that' in the case of the jiva. When we as an individual begin to recognise or regard ourselves as a subject of cognition and perception and regard others as objects, jivahood has started. This is the waking consciousness.
The waking consciousness, which is the perception of objects, produces an impression in the mind of the subject. Samskaras are created due to desire and hatred for objects. The relationship of the perceiving consciousness of the subject in respect of objects outside is of love or hatred, likes or dislikes, on account of which there is an agitation of consciousness felt within. This agitation produces impressions of further perception, cognition and action. Inasmuch as these impressions become driving forces for further perception, and because of a continuity of perceptions every day in the various stages of life through which the individual has to pass, what happens is that the impressions get wound up temporarily because of the inability of the limited human mind to manifest all the impressions simultaneously for the sake of expression and satisfaction. This is the tendency to sleep and dream. We go to sleep and begin to dream on account of the samskaras produced by conscious operations in the waking state. So waking, dream and sleep stages are the conditions of the jiva, one differing from the other in quality, and the jiva has to be liberated from these three forces. Moksha is a state which the jiva has to reach. Therefore, jāgradādi vimokṣāntaḥ saṁsāro jīva kalpitaḥ: All this is samsara. Even the attainment of moksha is a part of the samsara process because unless we are in samsara, there is no need for moksha.
Jāgradādi vimokṣāntaḥ saṁsāro jīva kalpitaḥ, īkṣaṇādi praveśāntā sṛṣṭi rīśena kalpitā is a scriptural presentation of the processes of the descent of consciousness from the Absolute to the individual. The scripture has given us only a philosophical, metaphysical outline of the process, but we are involved in greater problems than the scripture has mentioned. We have social, political and personal problems which the scripture does not describe in detail because it takes for granted that the jiva's samsaric state has to be prepared for the further involvements in which we are today. Involvements, as I said, are umpteen, consisting of the various stages of the psychological involvements of the human being, from which one has to get extricated gradually, withdrawing oneself from the external to the internal in a systematic process. Ultimately, we are united with the Sun of suns, the Light of lights, which is our essential nature.
Far from Truth we are, though Truth is embedded within us. It is implanted in our hearts. We cannot be without it. Our existence is its existence. Our consciousness is its consciousness, and whatever satisfaction we have is a distorted reflection of that Supreme Bliss. Yes, it is true, yet we know how far we are from it on account of these erroneous involvements in which we have been caught up, from which we have to liberate ourselves gradually with tremendous patience of practice. This is an achievement which cannot be had in a day or two. We have to realise our true position, and we should not unnecessarily overestimate things and imagine that the goal is just at our elbow. The Isavasya Upanisad puts the Truth before us: tad ejati tan naijati tad dūre tad vad antike, tad antarasya sarvasya tad u sarvasyāsya bāhyataḥ (Isa 5). It is far, and it is near. It is near; perhaps nothing can be so near as that because it is our very Being. But is very far; nothing can be so distant as that, though nothing can be so near as that. It is near because it is our Being; it is distant because through a consciousness process of delimitation, reflection, refraction and involvement, we have come down to a level which is, for all practical purposes, very distant from the originality.
A great enigma is before us, which is difficult to understand. This is why we have been told again and again that without the direct instruction of an expert it is difficult to practice yoga. It is difficult to conceive the process because the mind itself is the element that is involved in the process. It is the mind that has to be liberated. Self-medication is a very difficult process, as we know very well. Even doctors always go to another doctor if they are ill. Self-medication is a hard job, but this is the thing to be done here. Self-analysis, self-investigation, self-discovery is like self-treatment. We have to treat our own self, and nobody else can ultimately be of any help to us, although an expert or an adept can show us the way, give us a direction of the existence of the goal, and also give us a simple technique in a bare outline for the purpose of practice. But the actual treading is our job. While they can show us the way, they cannot walk for us. The walking has to be done each for oneself. This is the implication of the practice of yoga.
So we can know that to be honest to oneself in yoga is to realise one's true position and be prepared for the ordeal, if we would like to call it so. It is a hard job because it is something like peeling one's own skin. How difficult it is to peel one's skin! We may peel another's skin, not our own, but that is the thing to be done now. We lay bare our essentiality stage by stage. When we want to bask in the sun we remove our overcoat, then another coat, then our sweater, our shirt; everything is removed gradually, and then we are open to the brightness and light of the sun. In the same manner we have to remove one by one the involucrum in which we are involved, the koshas, the panchakoshas, as they say. We have many more koshas than the pancha. All these have to be opened gradually by obedience to the law of the particular level in which one is.
Every stage, every step, every level has its own law which controls it and which operates inexorably. We should not try to apply a higher law in a lower realm. That would be a mistake. We should obey the law which operates in the particular realm in which our present consciousness is. Human consciousness is one stage of consciousness, and there are laws that operate in the human world which we cannot simply defy. There is the law of hunger and thirst, the law of heat and cold, the law of health, the law of human society, the law of the government. These are all human laws, physical laws which have to be obeyed and cannot merely be set at naught by saying, “Truth is one,” or, “Existence was alone in the beginning,” because that would be to apply a transcendent law to an empirical realm. “One thing at a time, and that done well, is a very good rule, as many can tell.” It is one thing at a time, not two things.
So now, where are we standing? What is our present state of awareness? What is our concept of Reality at present? That is the thing with which we are concerned, and not with Reality as it is. We are not concerned with Reality as it is; we are concerned only with reality as it appears to our mind and as we take it to be, because that is what affects us. And when laws are obeyed, laws also liberate us. Law is binding, but law is also a means of freedom. We obey a law so that we may be free from its clutches. If we defy it, it catches us. So obedience to the law of the stage of consciousness at which one is at any given moment of time is the way in which one can be free from the operation of the very law which we are obeying. The physical laws, the vital laws, the sensory laws, the psychological laws, and intellectual laws are the individual readings of the cosmic law, which have to be obeyed gradually.
Previously I mentioned that these stages are given in the Kathopanishad: indriyebhyaḥ parā hy arthā, arthebhyaś ca param manaḥ, manasaś ca parā buddhir buddher ātmā mahān paraḥ; mahataḥ param avyaktam, avyaktāt puruṣaḥ paraḥ puruṣān na paraṁ kiñcit: sā kāṣṭhā sā parā gatiḥ (Katha 1.3.10-11): Beyond the objects we have the senses, beyond the senses we have the mind, beyond the mind there is the intellect, beyond the intellect is what we cannot conceive because beyond the intellect, individuality cannot penetrate. Beyond the intellect, the Virat comes into operation. Individuality has a peculiar predisposition to conceive the object of perception as different from the structure of consciousness. There intellectuality ends, but higher than that, says the Upanishad, buddher ātmā mahān paraḥ: Superior to the intellectual state of consciousness is the universal state of consciousness, called the Mahat-tattva, Hiranyagarbha. Beyond that is mahataḥ param avyaktam, the avyakta prakriti, which is the body of the potential consciousness known as Ishvara. Beyond it, and still beyond, is the Absolute Purusha, and beyond that there is nothing because it is pure universality and pure subjectness, or the Atman.
The methods of meditation also are described in the Upanishads themselves, applicable to the individual state of mind as well as the universalised form of consciousness. But every stage is to be taken as a complete stage as if it is, for the time being, the only reality for us. When we are doing one work, we should not be thinking of some other work. Then we will not be efficient in our work. We should do it diligently, concentrating our attention wholly on that, and then when that work is completed, take to another work.
In the stages of yoga also, the same thing is to be done. Even if the stage is an initial one, do it dextrously. Even in such simple duties as washing a vessel, a student of yoga is very dextrous. He will clean it better than a servant boy because his whole attention is on the perfection of it. Swami Sivananda Maharaj never tired of saying that a yogi is the best sweeper, the best clerk, the best officer, the best friend. He will be the best in the field in which he is placed because yoga is perfection and thoroughness of attitude in any field of work, attitude or duty. Yoga does not make a distinction between duties, functions, etc. It matters very little what our function is, what our duty is, what our profession or work is, but it matters very much as to how we do it. Yoga is a quality, and not a quantity. It is not a largeness or a magnitude that is called yoga, but a subtle qualitative element that is present in the quantity that we see in the world. It is the life principle, the vitality behind work and profession.
So in yoga we should not be too enthusiastic so that it may only be a magnitude and a quantity, and not a quality. We should not be too eager to finish a hundred rounds of mala, thereby divesting the mala from the vitality or the quality of the japa. It is better to repeat the mantra only a few times with tremendous feeling, bhava, concentration and quality rather than roll the beads for several hours with no mind in it, no feeling in it, and no bhava present in it, because the feeling or the bhava or the attitude is an indication of the state of our consciousness. It is not activity or action that is called yoga; yoga is a transformation of consciousness, so where the consciousness element is absent, yoga also is absent.
Let us remember again that yoga is not what we do but what we are. It is something intimately connected with and inseparably related to our essential being. We practice yoga; it is not the limbs of our body that do it as a routine. It is a vital process, a living process. In every stage, therefore, consciousness operates. So you can test yourself whether you are progressing or not in your practice: Is your consciousness present there or are you wool-gathering, building castles in the air while your fingers are rolling the beads? You may be offering archana to a deity in a temple, you may be waving arati, you may be reading a scripture without thinking about it. It can be a routine of Bhagavat-saptaha without a thought about it because a routine is the worst of things. It becomes a dead mechanism, a corpse without life, and yet it is taken for spiritual sadhana by people who have not properly understood what sadhana is.
You have to be present in what you do; only then it assumes meaning. If you have been absent and what you do assumes something independent of your feeling about it, it will not bring you any success. So be guarded from entering into this mire of routine and complacency that such and such a thing has been done. So many archanas have been performed, but what have you been thinking at that time? What you were thinking and feeling, and the processes that were going on in your psychological organs inside will determine the quality of your practice much more than what was observed to have been done outwardly.
It is self-evolution, self-transcendence. The word ‘self', sva, is an ameliorable accompaniment of the different processes of yoga. You are always present in what you do because it is you that does the thing, and here various practicable methods may have to be employed to keep the consciousness alert, vigilant and active. Though theoretically and scientifically it is true that your consciousness should be present in your practice, actually when you come to it you will find that it will not be an easy affair. You will feel that you are exhausted; you are tired and want a diversion from the method of practice which you have commenced.
The obstacles in yoga mentioned by Patanjali and various scriptures in yoga are nothing but the defence mechanisms employed by consciousness to get away from the practice in which it has been made to enter. When you compel yourself to a particular or a definite process of practice, defence mechanisms are set up from within to counteract this practice. These are the obstacles in yoga.
The defence mechanisms can be of various kinds. One of them is the feeling that we have been progressing and that there is a palpable achievement: The goal is not very far. There are indications of it coming nearer to us, though what has been observed is only an object of temptation of consciousness. The presentations before the meditating mind need not necessarily be forms of reality. They can be sheer temptation to put an end to the practice. And there can be another tactic followed by the impressions, or samskaras, within to divert the consciousness completely along another channel altogether, to make the river flow in a different channel although your intention was something else.
Most sadhakas flow along channels different from the one they have chosen originally, and the interesting point is that they will not know that this has happened. No one can know that he is wrong. Everyone always thinks that he is right. If something is wrong, it is somebody else's mistake, not theirs. This is self-complacency, a great danger in the practice of yoga. Consciousness is involved, and therefore, we cannot know our own errors. If the error or mistake had been an object outside, we would have observed it, but unfortunately for us the mistake we commit is not an object. It is a part of the transformation going on in the mind itself. So when we are side-tracked, we do not know that it is happening. Temptations may be mistaken for realities or visions of truth, and moving along a different, unwanted channel may be regarded as progress in yoga.
A third obstacle is stagnation of spirit. We neither go forward nor backward, and remain in the same position for years and years together. Many people complain, “I have been meditating for years. There is no success. I have achieved nothing.” There is no retrogression because one is meditating, but there is no progression also. It is like running a mile on the same spot. It is possible to run fast without moving an inch. If you want, I will show how it is done. [laughter from the audience] We will be exhausted from running, but will not have moved an inch. We are in the same place. It is called stagnation of spirit, torpidity of consciousness, which can also be mistaken for a state of yoga.
And sometimes we may have to face actual opposition. We will not be allowed to go further due to conditions unfavourable to the practice. We may be constantly sick. Patanjali mentions illness as the first obstacle, vyadhi. We will have various kinds of illnesses. When we are sick every day and want some medicine, naturally we cannot do anything. We will be fed-up with yoga and bid goodbye to God and go home.
There are physical obstacles in the form of illness, and social obstacles in the form of unfavourable society in which we have to live – shouting neighbours, screaming children, and so on. Especially in the case of people who live in big cities, or people who have to live in small houses with large families, how can they do meditation? These are all socially unfavourable conditions in which we find ourselves incapable of practice.
There can be various other kinds of obstacles which need not be enumerated here. Suffice it to say that opposition is one of the things that we have to face, which can sometimes come as a direct frontal attack from outside and at other times from inside. The attack may come from either outside or inside. We may have an unfriendly atmosphere from outside or we may have an unfriendly mood of our own mind, which is opposition. There is stagnation, there is side-tracking, and there is temptation. All these are the obstacles which will present themselves before the meditating consciousness due to the defence reaction set up by the mind, because our present state of mind is accustomed to conditions which are mostly regarded as favourable, and we do not want to give them up.
The samskaras, or impressions, in the subconscious and unconscious levels of the mind are the causes of this defence reaction. As long as the buried impressions are there, we cannot prevent these possibilities. So in yoga we deliberately bring these impressions to the daylight of waking consciousness and direct observational attitude.
We should not take our conscious level of perception for our real personality. A sadhaka or a student of yoga should also be a very good psychologist and perhaps a psychoanalyst for his own sake. We should not mistake our present state of mind for our real personality or individuality. It is an imagined, foisted personality. It is also a contrivance of the mind projected for the sake of practical convenience in society.
Most of us project a false personality in society; our real personality is hidden, because if the real personality is manifest we cannot live in society. We know it very well, and therefore, we hide our real personality and put on a made-up personality for the sake of convenience and practical getting on in human society. But the real personality will not leave us. It is already there, like a snake coiled up in a corner, and so we should not take for granted that everything is fine merely because society is favourable to us. We look all right outwardly because of our conscious adjustments in society to suppress our real nature, but in yoga our inward personality will persist till the end, and it will pursue us like a creditor wherever we go.
It is better, therefore, if we honourably and voluntarily try to bring out these impressions and sublimate our real personality rather than hide it from the vision of other people. It is good to be really good rather than appear to be good, because the appearance of goodness will not succeed. What succeeds is truth, satyam eva jayate (Mundaka 3.1.6), not what we put on or appear to be. Appearances will not succeed, though they look like they are succeeding. Ravana succeeded, Hiranyakashipu succeeded, but ultimately they got ruined because they were far from truth.
So in yoga practice it is essential that we must honestly and dispassionately try to tabulate our impressions, desires and frustrated longings, if there are any. The frustrated impressions are sometimes incapable of observation when they are piled up too much into a heap. When we go on piling up frustrated impressions into our subconscious, they will form a thick layer like a cloud over the sun so that we ourselves will not be able to know how thick this layer is. It is, therefore, very advisable that we do not allow impressions to get formed every day. “Whatever has happened, has happened, but now, from today onwards, I shall not bury my desires,” should be our determination. We may bury our anger, our passion, our greed, and all sorts of anti-human, anti-divine, anti-social impressions of the mind merely because of an impossibility on our part to adjust our total personality with the environment outside.
Hence, we have to observe our every thought honestly and dispassionately: “What is it that I am feeling and thinking just now?” The thought and the feeling has to express itself into action and experience. Unless it is expressed in experience, it cannot be sublimated because when it is not manifest in this manner, it is automatically buried in the subconscious mind, in the unconscious level, by a process which takes place of its own accord like a reflex action, even without our directly knowing it.
This process of burying desires inside is not always done consciously. We do not think, “Here I have a desire. Let me bury it.” It is automatic. Even when we are asleep, if a rat munches our toe, we withdraw the leg. We are not consciously doing it. It is a reflex action of the nerves. Likewise, through an automatic process desires get buried in the mind and afterwards we completely lose control over them. This is the worst form of samsara. Samsara is involvement in circumstances over which we have no control.
Thus, from this day onwards you should be a sadhaka; make a determination, a pratijna, that impressions, ideas, thoughts and feelings will be kept on watch and they shall be properly directed towards fulfilment if they are pious, and sublimated if they are not desired. How do you sublimate them? By direct engagement in spiritual practice, or sadhana. This sadhana takes various shapes, the most important of them being japa of a given mantra or a formula, and study of scriptures like the Bhagavadgita, the Srimad Bhagavata, the Srimad Ramayana, etc., which will enable your mind to lift itself from lower levels of perception to higher, more integrating ones, and finally direct concentration and meditation. With these methods you have to guard yourselves, engage yourselves in proper practice with a clarity of perception of the fundamentals of yoga, and also be very perspicuous about the methodology to be put into action.