At the present time in the world, a large section of the population is engaged in the pursuit of temporal interests, and in many cases it involves destruction. A glance at the functions of nature shows that destruction is only a prelude to construction. We can infer that while our eyes can only see destruction, the eyes of the Lord Omniscient and Omnipresent see more, and He is also engaged in creating something more beautiful, something more perfect. There is no cause for hopelessness. There is no reason to think with those who only see evil in the world. It is a pessimistic view and erroneous.
In order to understand what follows you need careful preparation in the form of the tranquillizing of your heart. Anything worth while that a man performs in the realm of art, letters or devotion, or in any other realm, is only possible when the heart is in a tranquil state. An agitated heart does not permit reasonable action or constructive planning. Let us always remember to keep the heart tranquil whilst engaged in external duties.
How can desires be hushed? How can passions be banished ? How can conflicting emotions be brought to rest ? There are various schools of thought. The one that has the authority of the holy Saints of God, expert in the method of tranquillizing their hearts, is the engaging of our minds in the remembrance of the Lord as if He is present in our hearts. From what little experience in the matter the Lord has vouchsafed me, I can say that there is no way to tranquillity of the heart except to remember the name of the Lord ; let it be any name, realising that He is the Light of your soul, the Mind of your mind. By doing so you can obtain the key to success in the three-dimensional world and in the world of no dimensions. If the mind is very turbulent, the second easy method is to imagine the presence of the Lord in the heart, which is the centre of life, and to breathe deeply and slowly for a few minutes concentrating on the heart. Without attaining a measure of tranquillity, spiritual understanding cannot come.
What is spiritual understanding ? It is the means to end sufferings and the way to achieve the Light of God. I have pointed out two methods, ancient and verified by personal experience, which please practice every day. This is the true sacrament. Any ritual which aids the mind to inner tranquillity is called a sacrament. Merely wetting the lips with grape juice, with no regard for the Lord within or without, is of very little use.
There are three worlds—matter, mind and spirit. Not the supposed disincarnate entity giving messages but God in His totality is called Spirit; in the individual form He is the human soul. It is one and the same thing. As the Atlantic ocean narrowed down between England and France is the Channel, so the Lord Omniscient and Omnipresent, ever compassionate, when He limits Himself, the where and why of which the human mind cannot fathom, is called the human soul.
The world of matter is in a state of constant flux. The Sanskrit word is Sansara, meaning ‘ ever-changing The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said : “You cannot bathe twice in the same river.” So the world of matter is constantly changing. Where are the Holy Saints of the past, the wise souls of 20,000 years ago, authors of the great systems of philosophy ? Where are Kant, Beethoven and others ? This is true in the world of matter.
These three worlds are not like three layers one on the other but are interpenetrating. The world of the mind observes through the senses the world of matter, and creates out of it new horizons, earths and heavens. It consists of our desires, loves, hates, urges, ideals, impulses, etc. The world of spirit is the world of light under which matter is seen, mind observes. It is the Light which ordains the limits of the functions of matter, produces forms of permanent beauty. Light is equivalent to Bliss.
The world of matter is always changing ; the world of mind is always changing ; but the world of spirit knows no change. The mind changes, and our memory is choked with the memory of discarded loves. History is made up of outgrown ideals. The world of Spirit is Light, not physical light, but that which lights up the mind, by Whose power the mind functions, Who dwells in the mind and Whom the mind does not know, that is the Lord Omniscient and Omnipresent, or the world of Spirit.
The human soul is a complex of the world of Spirit and the world of mind. The holy saint Tulsidas has said : “A tangle has been formed between the sentient and the insentient ”—the human soul. The tangle is illusory, but hard to unravel. A ray from the divine world passing into the human mind has created a knot between the perishable and the imperishable. How can the Infinite form a knot with the finite ? It is deeply metaphysical. Have you seen the infinite sky reflected in a dewdrop ?
The philosopher Spinoza says : “ Self-preservation.” Not body-preservation, not mind-preservation ; but preservation in the highest sense —that of the soul. “ What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but lose his soul ? ”
This is the main thing in life. Freedom means to let our soul expand without let or hindrance from passion. It is passions, inordinate affections that bind the soul down, which makes the tangle referred to stronger and stronger. Freedom means the atmosphere in which the soul can expand in wisdom, love, God-consciousness, free from the tyranny of passions and ambitions. Let us transpose our value. The so-called great were very little. Caesar, Napoleon, Attila were not great. They were masters of destruction, slaves of their passions, leaving nothing but a trail of misery. This cannot be called .greatness.
The soul is a tangle. It has self-consciousness. The mind is not self-conscious. It is the soul that is. ‘ I am ’ is the self-consciousness of the soul. It is attributed to the soul or Atman. How is the tangle to be resolved, between the soul and the mind ? Who will do it ? Who can free us
from our sufferings once and forever ? We ourselves. Man himself can free himself, and the man himself binds himself. Of course the deciding factor is the Grace of God ; but it is available to those who make serious attempts, sustained and determined, to free themselves from lust.
Forgetfulness of the most important fact that ‘ I am the Spirit ’, creates the phantoms of suffering and limitations, and the world which grinds the soul into the powder of lassitude and want of faith. A man is dead when he has no faith ; not necessarily when the heart ceases to beat. There must be faith in himself, in the Holy Truth that ‘ I am Spirit—the body and mind are my instruments and not my self’.
How this faith and strength are realised is the burden of the true philosophy called Yoga, or, in a wider sense, religion. A man is what he thinks himself to be. If he believes himself to be mortal and perishable which fundamentally he never can, then he is weak, mortal and a prey to all sufferings. Ignorance is not want of knowledge, but erroneous knowledge. Lack of knowledge is not hurtful, but erroneous knowledge is.
Take a doll made of cloth, and immerse it in water, and then pass an electric current into it. First it was a doll of cloth ; then it was immersed in water, and finally electrified. The material body is equivalent to the cloth part of the doll. The mind is the water and the soul is the Divine electricity by which it moves. That is Spirit. Now the doll becomes self-conscious and begins to say ‘ I want to eat, etc.’ What is the element which is knowing and desiring ? The electrical ray. Cloth is perishable, water lasts longer, but electricity is almost imperishable. What should the doll say ? ‘I am just a bundle of cloth.’ Instead it says ‘ I am the electric ray.’
Now you will understand why we say : “ remember God ”. It is most vital we should do so. Epictetus said : “ Think of God more often than you breathe.”
In Him there are no affections or sufferings, but perennial Bliss that we cannot experience except by His Grace.
Remember Him in your heart as your Self. All other forms are preliminary save the form “ Thou art my own Self.” If you feel it, meditate on it, you will one day feel the throb of infinity and be free. You will say like Cleopatra : “I have immortal urges in me ”. This is real life. All others are pseudo-lives.
The real life is the life of the saints of God who have controlled their lusts and passions and emotions, creating a vacuum and uniting themselves with the Cosmic Self—the ray uniting itself with the Sun.
These are a few principles of Adhyatma Yoga.