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The Method of Yoga

To the traditionalist Hindu physician his Western colleague often appears not to be aware of the effect his treatment may have on the subtle body or on the soul of his patient, the consequences of which treatment may prove of much greater importance than the rapid cure of a merely physical ailment.

The practices of yoga necessarily vary according to the state of development and stage of advancement of the seeker (sadhaka). For those least qualified, the training must gradually pass, ". . . through the eight stages of: abstinences, observances, sitting postures, breath-control, withdrawal [of the mind from outer objects], concentration, contemplation and identification (i.e. the dissolution of the mind into the object of its contemplation)." (Yoga Darshana 2, 29.)

"For those averagely qualified, the method is that of reintegration through the mode of action by practicing austerities, study and surrender to God." (Yoga Darsh. 2, 1.)

For those already highly qualified, "the mind can be controlled through regular practice and detachment". (Yoga Darsh. 1, 12.)

"Or by total surrender of oneself to God." (id., 1, 32.)

The seeker (sadhaka) at the different stages is given different names:

"He who practices the method of re-integration is called a 'seeker of liberation' (Mumukshu)." (Vishnu Purana, VI, 7, 3.)

"The man who no longer feels inclination towards the objects of the senses, nor towards action, and who has thus renounced all desire is said to be 'riding on yoga' (yoga-arudha)." (Bhagavad Gita, 6, 4.)

"The yogi who has conquered himself, whose inner peace is not disturbed by cold or heat, pain or pleasure, honors or insults, whose all being is set on the Supreme Self, whose inner faculties are satiated with knowledge and Transcendent Wisdom, without impulses, his sense mastered, looking to mud and gold with an equal eye is said to be 'yoked' (yukta)." (Bhag. Gita 6, 7-8).

"When the conquered mental faculties of the yogi like a lamp in a windless place, remain motionless in union with the Self, [he is said to be 'in union' (yunjana)]." (id., 6, 19.)

"The yogi who has reached 'accomplished identification' (vinishpanna samadhi) attains the Supreme Being." (Vishnu Purana VI. 7, 33.)

The Yoga Sara Sangraha gives a slightly different definition of these stages, saying:

"Individuals qualified for the practice of yoga are of three types: low, medium and high. These are defined as:

(a) Arurukshu (one desirous to ascend).

(b) Yunjana (in union, i.e. one who is practicing).

(c) Yoga-arudha (one who has ascended, who has realized, the aim of yoga)." (Yoga Sara Sangraha, p. 22.)

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