List Of Contents | Contents of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Charles
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burned up utterly. Then, both the vesture and the wearer of the
vesture being alike pure, the spiritual man enters into perfect spiritual


The third book of the Sutras has fairly completed the history of the
birth and growth of the spiritual man, and the enumeration of his
powers; at least so far as concerns that first epoch in his immortal life,
which immediately succeeds, and supersedes, the life of the natural

In the fourth book, we are to consider what one might call the
mechanism of salvation, the ideally simple working of cosmic law
which brings the spiritual man to birth, growth, and fulness of power,
and prepares him for the splendid, toilsome further stages of his great
journey home.

The Sutras are here brief to obscurity; only a few words, for example,
are given to the great triune mystery and illusion of Time; a phrase or
two indicates the sweep of some universal law. Yet it is hoped that,
by keeping our eyes fixed on the spiritual man, remembering that he
is the hero of the story, and that all that is written concerns him and
his adventures, we may be able to find our way through this thicket of
tangled words, and keep in our hands the clue to the mystery.

The last part of the last book needs little introduction. In a sense, it is
the most important part of the whole treatise, since it unmasks the
nature of the personality, that psychical "mind," which is the wakeful
enemy of all who seek to tread the path. Even now, we can hear it
whispering the doubt whether that can be a good path, which thus sets
"mind" at defiance.

If this, then, be the most vital and fundamental part of the teaching,
should it not stand at the very beginning? It may seem so at first; but
had it stood there, we should not have comprehended it. For he who
would know the doctrine must lead the life, doing the will of his [ether
which is in Heaven.


1. Psychic and spiritual powers may be inborn, or they may be gained
by the use of drugs, or by incantations, or by fervour, or by

Spiritual powers have been enumerated and described in the preceding
sections. They are the normal powers of the spiritual man, the
antetype, the divine edition, of the powers of the natural man.
Through these powers, the spiritual man stands, sees, hears, speaks,
in the spiritual world, as the physical man stands, sees, hears, speaks
in the natural world.

There is a counterfeit presentment of the spiritual man, in the world
of dreams, a shadow lord of shadows, who has his own dreamy
powers of vision, of hearing, of movement; he has left the natural
without reaching the spiritual. He has set forth from the shore, but has
not gained the further verge of the river. He is borne along by the
stream, with no foothold on either shore. Leaving the actual, he has
fallen short of the real, caught in the limbo of vanities and delusions.
The cause of this aberrant phantasm is always the worship of a false,
vain self, the lord of dreams, within one's own breast. This is the
psychic man, lord of delusive and bewildering psychic powers.

Spiritual powers, like intellectual or artistic gifts, may be inborn: the
fruit, that is, of seeds planted and reared with toil in a former birth. So
also the powers of the psychic man may be inborn, a delusive harvest
from seeds of delusion.

Psychical powers may be gained by drugs, as poverty, shame,
debasement may be gained by the self-same drugs. In their action, they
are baneful, cutting the man off from consciousness of the restraining
power of his divine nature, so that his forces break forth exuberant,
like the laughter of drunkards, and he sees and hears things delusive.
While sinking, he believes that he has risen; growing weaker, he thinks
himself full of strength; beholding illusions, he takes them to be true.
Such are the powers gained by drugs; they are wholly psychic, since
the real powers, the spiritual, can never be so gained.

Incantations are affirmations of half-truths concerning spirit and
matter, what is and what is not, which work upon the mind and slowly
build up a wraith of powers and a delusive well-being. These, too, are
of the psychic realm of dreams.

Lastly, there are the true powers of the spiritual man, built up and
realized in Meditation, through reverent obedience to spiritual law, to
the pure conditions of being, in the divine realm.

2. The transfer of powers from one venture to another comes through
the flow of the natural creative forces.

Here, if we can perceive it, is the whole secret of spiritual birth,
growth and life Spiritual being, like all being, is but an expression of
the Self, of the inherent power and being of Atma. Inherent in the Self
are consciousness and will, which have, as their lordly heritage, the
wide sweep of the universe throughout eternity, for the Self is one
with the Eternal. And the conscious ness of the Self may make itself
manifest as seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, or whatsoever perceptive
powers there may be, just as the white sunlight may divide into
many-coloured rays. So may the will of the Self manifest itself in the
uttering of words, or in handling, or in moving, and whatever powers
of action there are throughout the seven worlds. Where the Self is,
there will its powers be. It is but a question of the vesture through
which these powers shall shine forth. And wherever the consciousness
and desire of the ever-creative Self are fixed, there will a vesture be
built up; where the heart is, there will the treasure be also.

Since through ages the desire of the Self has been toward the natural
world, wherein the Self sought to mirror himself that he might know
himself, therefore a vesture of natural elements came into being,
through which blossomed forth the Self's powers of perceiving and of
will: the power to see, to hear, to speak, to walk, to handle; and when
the Self, thus come to self-consciousness, and, with it, to a knowledge
of his imprisonment, shall set his desire on the divine and real world,
and raise his consciousness thereto, the spiritual vesture shall be built
up for him there, with its expression of his inherent powers. Nor will
migration thither be difficult for the Self, since the divine is no strange
or foreign land for him, but the house of his home, where he dwells
from everlasting.

3. The apparent, immediate cause is not the true cause of the creative
nature-powers; but, like the husbandman in his field, it takes obstacles

The husbandman tills his field, breaking up the clods of earth into fine
mould, penetrable to air and rain; he sows his seed, carefully covering
it, for fear of birds and the wind; he waters the seed-laden earth,
turning the little rills from the irrigation tank now this way and that,
removing obstacles from the channels, until the even How of water
vitalizes the whole field. And so the plants germinate and grow, first
the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. But it is not the
husbandman who makes them grow. It is, first, the miraculous plasmic
power in the grain of seed, which brings forth after its kind; then the
alchemy of sunlight which, in presence of the green colouring matter
of the leaves, gathers hydrogen from the water and carbon from the
gases in the air, and mingles them in the hydro-carbons of plant
growth; and, finally, the wholly occult vital powers of the plant itself,
stored up through ages, and flowing down from the primal sources of
life. The husbandman but removes the obstacles. He plants and
waters, but God gives the increase.

So with the finer husbandman of diviner fields. He tills and sows, but
the growth of the spiritual man comes through the surge and flow of
divine, creative forces and powers. Here, again, God gives the
increase. The divine Self puts forth, for the manifestation of its
powers, a new and finer vesture, the body of the spiritual man.

4. Vestures of consciousness are built up in conformity with the
Boston of the feel- ing of selfhood.

The Self, says a great Teacher, in turn at- itself to three vestures: first,
to the physical body, then to the finer body, and thirdly to the causal
body. Finally it stands forth radiant, luminous, joyous, as the Self.

When the Self attributes itself to the physical body, there arise the
states of bodily consciousness, built up about the physical self.

When the Self, breaking through this first illusion, begins to see and
feel itself in the finer body, to find selfhood there, then the states of
consciousness of the finer body come into being; or, to speak exactly,
the finer body and its states of consciousness arise and grow together.

But the Self must not dwell permanently there. It must learn to find
itself in the causal body, to build up the wide and luminous fields of
consciousness that belong to that.

Nor must it dwell forever there, for there remains the fourth state, the
divine, with its own splendour and everlastingness.

It is all a question of the states of consciousness; all a question of
raising the sense of selfhood, until it dwells forever in the Eternal.

5. In the different fields of manifestation, the Consciousness, though
one, is the elective cause of many states of consciousness.

Here is the splendid teaching of oneness that lies at the heart of the
Eastern wisdom. Consciousness is ultimately One, everywhere and
forever. The Eternal, the Father, is the One Self of All Beings. And so,
in each individual who is but a facet of that Self, Consciousness is
One. Whether it breaks through as the dull fire of physical life, or the
murky flame of the psychic and passional, or the radiance of the
spiritual man, or the full glory of the Divine, it is ever the Light,
naught but the Light. The one Consciousness is the effective cause of
all states of consciousness, on every plane.

6. Among states of consciousness, that which is born of
Contemplation is free from the seed of future sorrow.

 Where the consciousness breaks forth in the physical body, and the
full play of bodily life begins, its progression carries with it inevitable
limitations. Birth involves death. Meetings have their partings. Hunger
alternates with satiety. Age follows on the heels of youth. So do the
states of consciousness run along the circle of birth and death.

With the psychic, the alternation between prize and penalty is swifter.
Hope has its shadow of fear, or it is no hope. Exclusive love is
tortured by jealousy. Pleasure passes through deadness into pain.
Pain's surcease brings pleasure back again. So here, too, the states of
consciousness run their circle. In all psychic states there is egotism,
which, indeed, is the very essence of the psychic; and where there is
egotism there is ever the seed of future sorrow. Desire carries
bondage in its womb.

But where the pure spiritual consciousness begins, free from self and
stain, the ancient law of retaliation ceases; the penalty of sorrow
lapses and is no more imposed. The soul now passes, no longer from
sorrow to sorrow, but from glory to glory. Its growth and splendour
have no limit. The good passes to better, best.

7. The works of followers after Union make neither for bright pleasure
nor for dark pain The works of others make for pleasure or pain, or
a mingling of these.

The man of desire wins from his works the reward of pleasure, or
incurs the penalty of pain; or, as so often happens in life, his guerdon,
like the passionate mood of the lover, is part pleasure and part pain.
Works done with self- seeking bear within them the seeds of future
sorrow; conversely, according to the proverb, present pain is future

But, for him who has gone beyond desire, whose desire is set on the
Eternal, neither pain to be avoided nor pleasure to be gained inspires
his work. He fears no hell and desires no heaven. His one desire is, to
know the will of the Father and finish His work. He comes directly in
line with the divine Will, and works cleanly and immediately, without
longing or fear. His heart dwells in the Eternal; all his desires are set
on the Eternal.

8. From the force inherent in works comes the manifestation of those
dynamic mind images which are conformable to the ripening out of
each of these works.

We are now to consider the general mechanism of Karma, in order
that we may pass on to the consideration of him who is free from
Karma. Karma, indeed, is the concern of the personal man, of his
bondage or freedom. It is the succession of the forces which built up
the personal man, reproducing themselves in one personality after

Now let us take an imaginary case, to see how these forces may work
out. Let us think of a man, with murderous intent in his heart, striking
with a dagger at his enemy. He makes a red wound in his victim's
breast; at the same instant he paints, in his own mind, a picture of that
wound: a picture dynamic with all the fierce will-power he has put
into his murderous blow. In other words he has made a deep wound
in his own psychic body; and, when he comes to be born again, that
body will become his outermost vesture, upon which, with its wound
still there, bodily tissue will be built up. So the man will be born
maimed, or with the predisposition to some mortal injury; he is
unguarded at that point, and any trifling accidental blow will pierce the
broken Joints of his psychic armour. Thus do the dynamic
mind-images manifest themselves, coming to the surface, so that
works done in the past may ripen and come to fruition.

9. Works separated by different nature, or place, or time, are brought
together by the correspondence between memory and dynamic

Just as, in the ripening out of mind-images into bodily conditions, the
effect is brought about by the ray of creative force sent down by the
Self, somewhat as the light of the magic lantern projects the details of
a picture on the screen, revealing the hidden, and making secret things
palpable and visible, so does this divine ray exercise a selective power
on the dynamic mind-images, bringing together into one day of life the
seeds gathered from many days. The memory constantly exemplifies
this power; a passage of poetry will call up in the mind like passages
of many poets, read at different times. So a prayer may call up many

In like manner, the same over-ruling selective power, which is a ray
of the Higher Self, gathers together from different births and times and
places those mind-images which are conformable, and may be grouped
in the frame of a single life or a single event. Through this grouping,
visible bodily conditions or outward circumstances are brought about,
and by these the soul is taught and trained.

Just as the dynamic mind-images of desire ripen out in bodily
conditions and circumstances, so the far more dynamic powers of
aspiration, wherein the soul reaches toward the Eternal, have their
fruition in a finer world, building the vesture of the spiritual man.

10. The series of dynamic mind-images is beginningless, because
Desire is everlasting.

The whole series of dynamic mind-images, which make up the entire

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