List Of Contents | Contents of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Charles
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the form of the different perceptive powers; the one will, at the same
time, differentiating itself into the varied powers of action.

Now let us imagine this to be reversed, so that the spiritual force,
which has gone into the differentiated powers, is once more gathered
together into the inner power of intuition and spiritual will, taking on
that unity which is the hall- mark of spiritual things, as diversity is the
seal of material things.

It is all a matter of love for the quality of spiritual consciousness, as
against psychical consciousness, of love and attention. For where the
heart is, there will the treasure be also; where the consciousness is,
there will the vesture with its powers be developed.

55. Thereupon follows perfect mastery over the powers.

When the spiritual condition which we have described is reached, with
its purity, poise, and illuminated vision, the spiritual man is coming
into his inheritance, and gaining complete mastery of his powers.

Indeed, much of the struggle to keep the Commandments and the
Rules has been paving the way for this mastery; through this very
struggle and sacrifice the mastery has become possible; just as, to use
St. Paul's simile, the athlete gains the mastery in the contest and the
race through the sacrifice of his long and arduous training. Thus he
gains the crown.


The third book of the Sutras is the Book of Spiritual Powers. In
considering these spiritual powers, two things must be understood and
kept in memory. The first of these is this: These spiritual powers can
only be gained when the development described in the first and second
books has been measurably attained; when the Commandments have
been kept, the Rules faithfully followed, and the experiences which are
described have been passed through. For only after this is the spiritual
man so far grown, so far disentangled from the psychical bandages
and veils which have confined and blinded him, that he can use his
proper powers and faculties. For this is the secret of all spiritual
powers: they are in no sense an abnormal or supernatural overgrowth
upon the material man, but are rather the powers and faculties inherent
in the spiritual man, entirely natural to him, and coming naturally into
activity, as the spiritual man is disentangled and liberated from
psychical bondage, through keeping the Commandments and Rules
already set forth.

As the personal man is the limitation and inversion of the spiritual
man, all his faculties and powers are inversions of the powers of the
spiritual man. In a single phrase, his self seeking is the inversion of the
Self-seeking which is the very being of the spiritual man: the ceaseless
search after the divine and august Self of all beings. This inversion is
corrected by keeping the Commandments and Rules, and gradually,
as the inversion is overcome, the spiritual man is extricated, and
comes into possession and free exercise of his powers. The spiritual
powers, therefore, are the powers of the grown and liberated spiritual
man. They can only be developed and used as the spiritual man grows
and attains liberation through obedience. This is the first thing to be
kept in mind, in all that is said of spiritual powers in the third and
fourth books of the Sutras. The second thing to be understood and
kept in mind is this:

Just as our modern sages have discerned and taught that all matter is
ultimately one and eternal, definitely related throughout the whole
wide universe; just as they have discerned and taught that all force is
one and eternal, so coordinated throughout the whole universe that
whatever affects any atom measurably affects the whole boundless
realm of matter and force, to the most distant star or nebula on the
dim confines of space; so the ancient sages had discerned and taught
that all consciousness is one, immortal, indivisible, infinite; so finely
correlated and continuous that whatever is perceived by any
consciousness is, whether actually or potentially, within the reach of
all consciousness, and therefore within the reach of any consciousness.
This has been well expressed by saying that all souls are fundamentally
one with the Oversoul; that the Son of God, and all Sons of God, are
fundamentally one with the Father. When the consciousness is cleared
of psychic bonds and veils, when the spiritual man is able to stand, to
see, then this superb law comes into effect: whatever is within the
knowledge of any consciousness, and this includes the whole infinite
universe, is within his reach, and may, if he wills, be made a part of his
consciousness. This he may attain through his fundamental unity with
the Oversoul, by raising himself toward the consciousness above him,
and drawing on its resources. The Son, if he would work miracles,
whether of perception or of action, must come often into the presence
of the Father. This is the birthright of the spiritual man; through it he
comes into possession of his splendid and immortal powers. Let it be
clearly kept in mind that what is here to be related of the spiritual man,
and his exalted powers, must in no wise be detached from what has
gone before. The being, the very inception, of the spiritual man
depends on the purification and moral attainment already detailed, and
can in no wise dispense with these or curtail them.

Let no one imagine that the true life, the true powers of the spiritual
man, can be attained by any way except the hard way of sacrifice, of
trial, of renunciation, of selfless self-conquest and genuine devotion to
the weal of all others. Only thus can the golden gates be reached and
entered. Only thus can we attain to that pure world wherein the
spiritual man lives, and moves, and has his being. Nothing impure,
nothing unholy can ever cross that threshold, least of all impure
motives or self seeking desires. These must be burnt away before an
entrance to that world can be gained.

But where there is light, there is shadow; and the lofty light of the soul
casts upon the clouds of the mid-world the shadow of the spiritual
man and of his powers; the bastard vesture and the bastard powers of
psychism are easily attained; yet, even when attained, they are a
delusion, the very essence of unreality.

Therefore ponder well the earlier rules, and lay a firm foundation of
courage, sacrifice, selflessness, holiness.


1. The binding of the perceiving consciousness to a certain region is
attention (dharana).

Emerson quotes Sir Isaac Newton as saying that he made his great
discoveries by intending his mind on them. That is what is meant here.
I read the page of a book while inking of something else. At the end
of he page, I have no idea of what it is about, and read it again, still
thinking of something else, with the same result. Then I wake up, so
to speak, make an effort of attention, fix my thought on what I am
reading, and easily take in its meaning. The act of will, the effort of
attention, the intending of the mind on each word and line of the page,
just as the eyes are focussed on each word and line, is the power here
contemplated. It is the power to focus the consciousness on a given
spot, and hold it there Attention is the first and indispensable step in
all knowledge. Atten. tion to spiritual things is the first step to
spiritual knowledge.

2. A prolonged holding of the perceiving consciousness in that region
is meditation (dhyana).

This will apply equally to outer and inner things. I may for a moment
fix my attention on some visible object, in a single penetrating glance,
or I may hold the attention fixedly on it until it reveals far more of its
nature than a single glance could perceive. The first is the focussing
of the searchlight of consciousness upon the object. The other is the
holding of the white beam of light steadily and persistently on the
object, until it yields up the secret of its details. So for things within;
one may fix the inner glance for a moment on spiritual things, or one
may hold the consciousness steadily upon them, until what was in the
dark slowly comes forth into the light, and yields up its immortal
secret. But this is possible only for the spiritual man, after the
Commandments and the Rules have been kept; for until this is done,
the thronging storms of psychical thoughts dissipate and distract the
attention, so that it will not remain fixed on spiritual things. The cares
of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word of the
spiritual message.

3. When the perceiving consciousness in this meditative is wholly
given to illuminating the essential meaning of the object contemplated,
and is freed from the sense of separateness and personality, this is
contemplation (samadhi).

Let us review the steps so far taken. First, the beam of perceiving
consciousness is focussed on a certain region or subject, through the
effort of attention. Then this attending consciousness is held on its
object. Third, there is the ardent will to know its meaning, to illumine
it with comprehending thought. Fourth, all personal bias - all desire
merely to indorse a previous opinion and so prove oneself right, and
all desire for personal profit or gratification must be quite put away.
There must be a purely disinterested love of truth for its own sake.
Thus is the perceiving consciousness made void, as it were, of all
personality or sense of separateness. The personal limitation stands
aside and lets the All-consciousness come to bear upon the problem.
The Oversoul bends its ray upon the object, and illumines it with pure

4. When these three, Attention, Meditation Contemplation, are
exercised at once, this is perfectly concentrated Meditation (sanyama).

When the personal limitation of the perceiving consciousness stands
aside, and allows the All-conscious to come to bear upon the problem,
then arises that real knowledge which is called a flash of genius; that
real knowledge which makes discoveries, and without which no
discovery can be made, however painstaking the effort. For genius is
the vision of the spiritual man, and that vision is a question of growth
rather than present effort; though right effort, rightly continued, will
in time infallibly lead to growth and vision. Through the power thus
to set aside personal limitation, to push aside petty concerns and
cares, and steady the whole nature and will in an ardent love of truth
and desire to know it; through the power thus to make way for the
All-consciousness, all great men make their discoveries. Newton,
watching the apple fall to the earth, was able to look beyond, to see
the subtle waves of force pulsating through apples and worlds and
suns and galaxies. and thus to perceive universal gravitation. The
Oversoul, looking through his eyes, recognized the universal force,
one of its own children. Darwin, watching the forms and motions of
plants and animals, let the same august consciousness come to bear on
them, and saw infinite growth perfected through ceaseless struggle.
He perceived the superb process of evolution, the Oversoul once more
recognizing its own. Fraunhofer, noting the dark lines in the band of
sunlight in his spectroscope, divined their identity with the bright lines
in the spectra of incandescent iron, sodium and the rest, and so saw
the oneness of substance in the worlds and suns, the unity of the
materials of the universe. Once again the Oversoul, looking with his
eyes, recognized its own. So it is with all true knowledge. But the
mind must transcend its limitations, its idiosyncrasies; there must be
purity, for to the pure in heart is the promise, that they shall see God.

5. By mastering this perf ectly concen- bated Meditation, there comes
the illumina- tion of perception. The meaning of this is illustrated by
what has been said before. When the spiritual man is able to throw
aside the trammels of emotional and mental limitation, and to open his
eyes, he sees clearly, he attains to illuminated perception. A poet once
said that Occultism is the conscious cultivation of genius; and it is
certain that the awakened spiritual man attains to the perceptions of
genius. Genius is the vision, the power, of the spiritual man, whether
its possessor recognizes this or not. All true knowledge is of the
spiritual man. The greatest in all ages have recognized this and put
their testimony on record. The great in wisdom who have not
consciously recognized it, have ever been full of the spirit of
reverence, of selfless devotion to truth, of humility, as was Darwin;
and reverence and humility are the unconscious recognition of the
nearness of the Spirit, that Divinity which broods over us, a Master
o'er a slave.

6. This power is distributed in ascending degrees.

It is to be attained step by step. It is a question, not of miracle, but of
evolution, of growth. Newton had to master the multiplication table,
then the four rules of arithmetic, then the rudiments of algebra, before
he came to the binomial theorem. At each point, there was attention,
concentration, insight; until these were attained, no progress to the
next point was possible. So with Darwin. He had to learn the form and
use of leaf and flower, of bone and muscle; the characteristics of
genera and species; the distribution of plants and animals, before he
had in mind that nexus of knowledge on which the light of his great
idea was at last able to shine. So is it with all knowledge. So is it with
spiritual knowledge. Take the matter this way: The first subject for the
exercise of my spiritual insight is my day, with its circumstances, its
hindrances, its opportunities, its duties. I do what I can to solve it, to
fulfil its duties, to learn its lessons. I try to live my day with aspiration
and faith. That is the first step. By doing this, I gather a harvest for the
evening, I gain a deeper insight into life, in virtue of which I begin the
next day with a certain advantage, a certain spiritual advance and
attainment. So with all successive days. In faith and aspiration, we
pass from day to day, in growing knowledge and power, with never
more than one day to solve at a time, until all life becomes radiant and

7. This threefold power, of Attention, Meditation, Contemplation, is
more interior than the means of growth previously described.

Very naturally so; because the means of growth previously described
were concerned with the extrication of the spiritual man from psychic
bondages and veils; while this threefold power is to be exercised by
the spiritual man thus extricated and standing on his feet, viewing life
with open eyes.

8. But this triad is still exterior to the soul vision which is
unconditioned, free from the seed of mental analyses.

The reason is this: The threefold power we have been considering, the
triad of Attention, Contemplation, Meditation is, so far as we have yet
considered it, the focussing of the beam of perceiving consciousness
upon some form of manifesting being, with a view of understanding
it completely. There is a higher stage, where the beam of
consciousness is turned back upon itself, and the individual

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