List Of Contents | Contents of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Charles
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consciousness, still containing the seed of separateness.

In the four stages of perception above described, the spiritual vision
is still working through the mental and psychical, the inner genius is
still expressed through the outer, personal man. The spiritual man has
yet to come completely to consciousness as himself, in his own realm,
the psychical veils laid aside.

47. When pure perception without judicial action of the mind is
reached, there follows the gracious peace of the inner self.

We have instanced certain types of this pure perception: the poet's
divination, whereby he sees the spirit within the symbol, likeness in
things unlike, and beauty in all things; the pure insight of the true
philosopher, whose vision rests not on the appearances of life, but on
its realities; or the saint's firm perception of spiritual life and being. All
these are far advanced on the way; they have drawn near to the secret
dwelling of peace.

48. In that peace, perception is unfailingly true.

The poet, the wise philosopher and the saint not only reach a wide and
luminous consciousness, but they gain certain knowledge of
substantial reality. When we know, we know that we know. For we
have come to the stage where we know things by being them, and
nothing can be more true than being. We rest on the rock, and know
it to be rock, rooted in the very heart of the world.

49. The object of this perception is other than what is learned from the
sacred books, or by sound inference, since this perception is

The distinction is a luminous and inspiring one. The Scriptures teach
general truths, concerning universal spiritual life and broad laws, and
inference from their teaching is not less general. But the spiritual
perception of the awakened Seer brings particular truth concerning his
own particular life and needs, whether these be for himself or others.
He receives defined, precise knowledge, exactly applying to what he
has at heart.

50. The impress on the consciousness springing from this perception
supersedes all previous impressions.

Each state or field of the mind, each field of knowledge, so to speak,
which is reached by mental and emotional energies, is a psychical
state, just as the mind picture of a stage with the actors on it, is a
psychical state or field. When the pure vision, as of the poet, the
philosopher, the saint, fills the whole field, all lesser views and visions
are crowded out. This high consciousness displaces all lesser
consciousness. Yet, in a certain sense, that which is viewed as part,
even by the vision of a sage, has still an element of illusion, a thin
psychical veil, however pure and luminous that veil may be. It is the
last and highest psychic state.

51. When this impression ceases, then, since all impressions have
ceased, there arises pure spiritual consciousness, with no seed of
separateness left.

The last psychic veil is drawn aside, and the spiritual man stands with
unveiled vision, pure serene.


The first book of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is called the Book of
Spiritual Consciousness. The second book, which we now begin, is
the Book of the Means of Soul Growth. And we must remember that
soul growth here means the growth of the realization of the spiritual
man, or, to put the matter more briefly, the growth of the spiritual
man, and the disentangling of the spiritual man from the wrappings,
the veils, the disguises laid upon him by the mind and the psychical
nature, wherein he is enmeshed, like a bird caught in a net

The question arises: By what means may the spiritual man be freed
from these psychical meshes and disguises, so that he may stand forth
above death, in his radiant eternalness and divine power? And the
second book sets itself to answer this very question, and to detail the
means in a way entirely practical and very lucid, so that he who runs
may read, and he who reads may understand and practise. 

The second part of the second book is concerned with practical
spiritual training, that is, with the earlier practical training of the
spiritual man.

The most striking thing in it is the emphasis laid on the
Commandments, which are precisely those of the latter part of the
Decalogue, together with obedience to the Master. Our day and
generation is far too prone to fancy that there can be mystical life and
growth on some other foundation, on the foundation, for example, of
intellectual curiosity or psychical selfishness. In reality, on this latter
foundation the life of the spiritual man can never be built; nor, indeed,
anything but a psychic counterfeit, a dangerous delusion.

Therefore Patanjali, like every great spiritual teacher, meets the
question: What must I do to be saved? with the age- old answer: Keep
the Commandments. Only after the disciple can say, These have I
kept, can there be the further and finer teaching of the spiritual Rules.

It is, therefore, vital for us to realize that the Yoga system, like every
true system of spiritual teaching, rests on this broad and firm
foundation of honesty, truth, cleanness, obedience. Without these,
there is no salvation; and he who practices these, even though
ignorant of spiritual things, is laying up treas- against the time to


1. The practices which make for union with the Soul are: fervent
aspiration, spiritual reading, and complete obedience to the Master.

The word which I have rendered "fervent aspiration' means primarily
"fire"; and, in the Eastern teaching, it means the fire which gives life
and light, and at the same time the fire which purifies. We have,
therefore, as our first practice, as the first of the means of spiritual
growth, that fiery quality of the will which enkindles and illumines,
and, at the same time, the steady practice of purification, the burning
away of all known impurities. Spiritual reading is so universally
accepted and understood, that it needs no comment. The very study
of Patanjali's Sutras is an exercise in spiritual reading, and a very
effective one. And so with all other books of the Soul. Obedience to
the Master means, that we shall make the will of the Master our will,
and shall confirm in all wave to the will of the Divine, setting aside the
wills of self, which are but psychic distortions of the one Divine Will.
The constant effort to obey in all the ways we know and understand,
will reveal new ways and new tasks, the evidence of new growth of
the Soul. Nothing will do more for the spiritual man in us than this, for
there is no such regenerating power as the awakening spiritual will.

2. Their aim is, to bring soul-vision, and to wear away hindrances.

The aim of fervour, spiritual reading and obedience to the Master, is,
to bring soulvision, and to wear away hindrances. Or, to use the
phrase we have already adopted, the aim of these practices is, to help
the spiritual man to open his eyes; to help him also to throw aside the
veils and disguises, the enmeshing psychic nets which surround him,
tying his hands, as it were, and bandaging his eyes. And this, as all
teachers testify, is a long and arduous task, a steady up-hill fight,
demanding fine courage and persistent toil. Fervour, the fire of the
spiritual will, is, as we said, two-fold: it illumines, and so helps the
spiritual man to see; and it also burns up the nets and meshes which
ensnare the spiritual man. So with the other means, spiritual reading
and obedience. Each, in its action, is two-fold, wearing away the
psychical, and upbuilding the spiritual man.

3. These are the hindrances: the darkness of unwisdom, self-assertion,
lust hate, attachment.

Let us try to translate this into terms of the psychical and spiritual
man. The darkness of unwisdom is, primarily, the self-absorption of
the psychical man, his complete preoccupation with his own hopes and
fears, plans and purposes, sensations and desires; so that he fails to
see, or refuses to see, that there is a spiritual man; and so doggedly
resists all efforts of the spiritual man to cast off his psychic tyrant and
set himself free. This is the real darkness; and all those who deny the
immortality of the soul, or deny the soul's existence, and so lay out
their lives wholly for the psychical, mortal man and his ambitions, are
under this power of darkness. Born of this darkness, this psychic self-
absorption, is the dogged conviction that the psychic, personal man
has separate, exclusive interests, which he can follow for himself
alone; and this conviction, when put into practice in our life, leads to
contest with other personalities, and so to hate. This hate, again,
makes against the spiritual man, since it hinders the revelation of the
high harmony between the spiritual man and his other selves, a
harmony to be revealed only through the practice of love, that perfect
love which casts out fear.

In like manner, lust is the psychic man's craving for the stimulus of
sensation, the din of which smothers the voice of the spiritual man, as,
in Shakespeare's phrase, the cackling geese would drown the song of
the nightingale. And this craving for stimulus is the fruit of weakness,
coming from the failure to find strength in the primal life of the
spiritual man.

Attachment is but another name for psychic self-absorption; for we are
absorbed, not in outward things, but rather in their images within our
minds; our inner eyes are fixed on them; our inner desires brood over
them; and em we blind ourselves to the presence of the prisoner' the
enmeshed and fettered spiritual man.

4. The darkness of unwisdom is the field of the others. These
hindrances may be dormant, or worn thin, or suspended, or expanded.

Here we have really two Sutras in one. The first has been explained
already: in the darkness of unwisdom grow the parasites, hate, lust,
attachment. They are all outgrowths of the self-absorption of the
psychical self.

Next, we are told that these barriers may be either dormant, or
suspended, or expanded, or worn thin. Faults which are dormant will
be brought out through the pressure of life, or through the pressure of
strong aspiration. Thus expanded, they must be fought and conquered,
or, as Patanjali quaintly says, they must be worn thin,-as a veil might,
or the links of manacles.

5 The darkness of ignorance is: holding that which is unenduring,
impure, full of pain, not the Soul, to be eternal, pure, full of joy, the

This we have really considered already. The psychic man is
unenduring, impure, full of pain, not the Soul, not the real Self. The
spiritual man is enduring, pure, full of joy, the real Self. The darkness
of unwisdom is, therefore, the self-absorption of the psychical,
personal man, to the exclusion of the spiritual man. It is the belief,
carried into action, that the personal man is the real man, the man for
whom we should toil, for whom we should build, for whom we should
live. This is that psychical man of whom it is said: he that soweth to
the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption.

6. Self -assertion comes f rom thinking of the Seer and the instrument
of vision as forming one self.

This is the fundamental idea of the Sankhya philosophy, of which the
Yoga is avowedly the practical side. To translate this into our terms,
we may say that the Seer is the spiritual man; the instrument of vision
is the psychical man, through which the spiritual man gains experience
of the outer world. But we turn the servant into the master. We
attribute to the psychical man, the personal self, a reality which really
belongs to the spiritual man alone; and so, thinking of the quality of
the spiritual man as belonging to the psychical, we merge the spiritual
man in the psychical; or, as the text says, we think of the two as
forming one self.

7. Lust is the resting in the sense of enjoyment.

This has been explained again and again. Sensation, as, for example,
the sense of taste, is meant to be the guide to action; in this case, the
choice of wholesome food, and the avoidance of poisonous and
hurtful things. But if we rest in the sense of taste, as a pleasure in
itself; rest, that is, in the psychical side of taste, we fall into gluttony,
and live to eat, instead of eating to live. So with the other great
organic power, the power of reproduction. This lust comes into being,
through resting in the sensation, and looking for pleasure from that.

8. Hate is the resting in the sense of pain.

Pain comes, for the most part, from the strife of personalities, the
jarring discords between psychic selves, each of which deems itself
supreme. A dwelling on this pain breeds hate, which tears the warring
selves yet further asunder, and puts new enmity between them, thus
hindering the harmony of the Real, the reconciliation through the

9. Attachment is the desire toward life, even in the wise, carried
forward by its own energy.

The life here desired is the psychic life, the intensely vibrating life of
the psychical self. This prevails even in those who have attained much
wisdom, so long as it falls short of the wisdom of complete
renunciation, complete obedience to each least behest of the spiritual
man, and of the Master who guards and aids the spiritual man.

The desire of sensation, the desire of psychic life, reproduces itself,
carried on by its own energy and momentum; and hence comes the
circle of death and rebirth, death and rebirth, instead of the liberation
of the spiritual man.

10. These hindrances, when they have become subtle, are to be
removed by a countercurrent

The darkness of unwisdom is to be removed by the light of wisdom,
pursued through fervour, spiritual reading of holy teachings and of life
itself, and by obedience to the Master.

Lust is to be removed by pure aspiration of spiritual life, which,
bringing true strength and stability, takes away the void of weakness
which we try to fill by the stimulus of sensations.

Hate is to be overcome by love. The fear that arises through the sense
of separate, warring selves is to be stilled by the realization of the One
Self, the one soul in all. This realization is the perfect love that casts
out fear.

The hindrances are said to have become subtle when, by initial efforts,
they have been located and recognized in the psychic nature.

11. Their active turnings are to be removed by meditation.

Here is, in truth, the whole secret of Yoga, the science of the soul.
The active turnings, the strident vibrations, of selfishness, lust and hate
are to be stilled by meditation, by letting heart and mind dwell in
spiritual life, by lifting up the heart to the strong, silent life above,
which rests in the stillness of eternal love, and needs no harsh
vibration to convince it of true being.

12. The burden of bondage to sorrow has its root in these hindrances.
It will be felt in this life, or in a life not yet manifested.

The burden of bondage to sorrow has its root in the darkness of
unwisdom, in selfishness, in lust, in hate, in attachment to sensation.
All these are, in the last analysis, absorption in the psychical self; and
this means sorrow, because it means the sense of separateness, and

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