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The Method of Yoga

When, in the Supreme Unity, a differentiation takes place, dualism, the origin of all existence, appears as the first stage of manifestation. The further manifestation proceeds, the more we find multiplicity and complexity.

There is no one aspect of manifestation which does not imply all the others because of the fundamental, all-pervading unity. Hence the principle: "That which is here is everywhere, that which is not here is nowhere." The difference between the limited, powerless individual and the limitless, all-powerful Universal Being is one of partition: in the Universal Being all is oneness, in the individual being this oneness is fragmented into multiplicity. When we are able to weld together the separated elements which form our own being, we realize oneness, that is, we become identical with the Universal Being.

It is the first aim of the method of yoga to control our vital energies or pranas (so-called because the vital breath, prana, is the most prominent and directly controllable of all the vital rhythms) by bringing under the control of our mental consciousness all our vital and emotive reactions. And this absorption of our submental energies by our mental consciousness gives us the power to leap into the supra-mental consciousness. The three thus merged constitute our own undivided individual consciousness, the which by its unity must be identical with the impartible Universal Consciousness.

Having first to conquer the sub-mental energies and then dissolve the united sub-mental and mental Conscious into the supra-mental, the yogi must at every stage follow a course distinct from that of the sensory perceptions and mental activities which are the normal field of human investigation. Leaving outward observation and silencing his mind, he turns his attention inwardly, and it is within himself that he experiences all the stages of re-integration from multiplicity towards unity. To each of these stages corresponds a subtle center which the introspecting mind experiences as having a form resembling that of a lotus or a wheel (chakra). These centers appear as diagrams of geometrical forms, associated with numbers, forms, sounds and colors. They are the maps, so to speak, of the stages of this inner journey. Each of the centers of the subtle body thus corresponds to a stage of realization. The mind of the yogi concentrates one after the other on each of these centers; using their diagram as a mental guide, it follows their outline, stops on this or that detail, to the left or to the right, in an angle or in the center, etc., just as if it were visiting the different quarters of an unknown city. But in each of these quarters it enters a different order of things, finds itself in a new world, discovers new aspects of reality and gains new powers.

Many definitions in Hindu sciences bear the mark of this method. Reaching physical forms through their subtle aspect, the Hindu theorist perceives the continuity between the different orders of things where outwardly only unrelated phenomena are seen. The Hindu will therefore speak indifferently of men or of subtle beings, he intermingles the geography of celestial worlds with that of terrestrial continents, and in this he sees no discontinuity but, on the contrary, a perfect coherence; for, to him, these worlds meet at many common points, and the passage from one to the other is easy for those who have the key. For instance, in medicine, the Hindu takes into account not only the effects of the drugs and foods on the physical organism, but also on the nervous centers and, through them, on the subtle body, character, mental faculties, etc., effects all too little known to the modern physician.

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