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The Gita and Yoga

The yogin should eat neither too much nor too little, should neither sleep too much, nor dispense with sleep. He should thus lead the middle course of life and avoid extremes. This avoidance of extremes is very unlike the process of yoga advised by Patanjali. Patanjali's course of yoga formulates a method by which the yogin can gradually habituate himself to a condition of life in which he can ultimately dispense with food and drink altogether and desist from all movements of body and mind. The object of a yogin in making his mind one-pointed is ultimately to destroy the mind. According to Patanjali the advancement of a yogin has but one object before it, viz. the cessation of all movements of mind (citta-vrtti-nirodha). Since this absolute cessation cannot be effected without stopping all movements of the body, desires and passions are to be uprooted, not only because they would make the mind fly to different objects, but also because they would necessitate movements of the body, which would again disturb the mind. The yogin therefore has to practice a twofold control of movements of body and mind. He has to habituate himself to dispensing with the necessity of food and drink, to make himself used to all kinds of privations and climatic inconveniences of heat and cold and ultimately to prepare himself for the stoppage of all kinds of bodily movements. But, since this cannot be successfully done so long as one inhales and exhales, he has to practice pranayama for absolute breath control, and not for hours or days, but for months and years. Moral elevation is regarded as indispensable in yoga only because without absolute and perfect cessation of all desires and passions the movements of the body and mind could not be absolutely stopped. The yogin, however, has not only to cut off all new causes of disturbance leading to movements of body and mind, but also to practice one-pointedness of mind on subtler and subtler objects, so that as a result thereof the subconscious forces of the mind can also be destroyed. Thus, on the one hand, the mind should be made to starve by taking care that no new sense-data and no new percepts, concepts, thoughts, ideas or emotions be presented to it, and, on the other hand, steps are to be taken to make the mind one-pointed, by which all that it had apprehended before, which formed the great storehouse of the subconscious, is destroyed. The mind, thus pumped out on both sides, becomes absolutely empty and is destroyed. The ideal of Patanjali's Yoga is absolute extremism, consisting in absolute stoppage of all functions of body and mind.

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