In some traditions, the spiritual stages are presented in terms of warfare. In a remote province of a kingdom well and justly governed, there is a local warlord who from his walled city makes continual raids. The kings small standing forces goes out to meet the raiders. They are professional soldiers, and though few in number can nearly always defeat the raiders quickly so that they run back to their remote stronghold. But the raids have generally done a certain amount of damage to local towns and villages before they are repulsed.
This situation is compared to the ordinary life of a yogi. Periodically, it is broken up by raids from the instinctive desires located below the surface of the mind. The yogi may have quite a battle with them but by the yogic means of devotion, analysis and meditation he can finally repulse the attacks, though often not before they have caused quite some distress.
After such battles there is often an apparent peace for quite a time. The disturbing elements seem to have been subdued and it can seem that peace has been established forever. But it is not peace; only a truce. The disruptive forces seem to say, “Leave us alone and we will leave you alone. We are not disturbing you now so you do not need much in the way of yogic practice.” It is however only a truce and they are gathering themselves for further assaults.
What then is the pupil to do? Is life to be nothing more than a series of such engagements? He is told you have to do what the king has to do. You must recognise that the raiders will always regroup and rearm themselves after a defeat. They will simply wait for an opportunity.
So the king must now mobilise the full army and mount an expedition to capture the stronghold of the raiders, even if it means a siege of two or three months. When that stronghold is taken there is no base for raiders and they can no longer do any serious harm.
In yoga terms this means that at some time a yogi must be prepared to mobilise the whole personality and all his circumstances, and launch a sustained offensive against the stronghold from which the desires, fears, hopes and ambitions, take their rise. This citadel is classically called the I-maker or ahan-kara. The kings forces, spear pointed by profound meditation called samadhi, first besiege and then break into pieces the Ego-citadel.
In practical terms it means setting aside at least a week, and usually much more for solitary yoga practice and penetration into the holy texts. A yogi will generally do this only when he begins to realise the total futility of worldly hopes and fears.
When the Ego-citadel is destroyed desires and purposes no longer have a personal base, and become elements of the cosmic purpose. The former raiders become citizens, and the country is at peace free and able to cooperate with the king in his spiritual policy. This is not a triumph in the old Roman sense. The desires were giving loyalty to a false pretender, the personal ego. When that has been removed they show their true nature as citizens of the kingdom, and cooperate in its spiritual progress.
© 2000 Trevor Leggett