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The Five Observances, or Niyamas

2. Contentment, or Santosha

"To maintain a joyful and satisfied mind whether one meets with pleasure or pain, profit or loss, fame or contempt, success or failure, sympathy or hatred, is contentment."

The main means of contentment is to reduce one's needs and be satisfied with the bare necessities of life.

3. Austerity, or Tapa

"Forbearance, the practice of fasts and other forms of abstinence, and the bearing of pain for the sake of controlling the mind and senses and of performing one's duty, is austerity." Austerity is of three kinds: physical, pertaining to words, and mental. The rules and restraints which lead to the bearing of hardships as well as ritual observances and modes of worship which purify the mind, come within the realm of physical austerity, likewise fasts and various forms of penance. To speak without passion kind and useful words and to use one's strength in study and to develop oneself is austerity of words (vak-maya tapa). Inner silence, gladness of mind and concentration on the Self is mental austerity (manasa tapa).

4. Self-development, or Svadhyaya

"Self-development consists in the study of the revealed Scriptures, which are the source of human progress and happiness. Together with the practice of bead-telling or repetition (japa) of the name of that aspect of Divinity chosen for worship. It includes also the learning and the teaching of divine praise and commenting upon the divine qualities." To witness the Supreme Self is the aim of self-development. It is reached by study, teaching, listening, pondering and meditating.

The repetition of sacred syllables has a very great effect in self-development. All things whether conscious or unconscious are grasped through the sequence of "spoken sounds" (Varna). If, therefore, by constant practice of the rhythmic repetition of certain basic syllables while meditating on their meaning we are able to rouse and capture the energy latent in them, we can thereby gain knowledge of all that is expressed through sounds, all the sciences of this and other worlds.

5. The Constant Thought of Divinity, or Ishvara Pranidhana

"The constant thought of Divinity is devotion (bhakti), it is a tendency of our whole being to act in mind, word and body in such a way as will lead us to God." This surrender of our being to Divinity by offering up all our actions and their results, and thus becoming without desire, is the most important o£ the five observances.

He whose thoughts are thus set on the Self is ever, "whether he sleep, sit or walk, in union with Him. The network of the opposing tendencies (violence, etc.) dissolves of itself, there is no need to fight. The world of appearances which rests on desires disappears and the seeker enjoys the ambrosia of immortality."

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