Purna Yoga

THE ENTIRE PURPOSE OF YOGA

BY YOGA we can rise out of falsehood into truth, out of weakness into force, out of pain and grief into bliss, out of bondage into freedom, out of death into immortality, out of darkness into light, out of confusion into purity, out of imperfection into perfection, out of self-division into unity, out of Maya into God. All other utilisation of Yoga is for special and fragmentary advantages not always worth pursuing. Only that which aims at possessing the fullness of God is Purna Yoga; the Sadhaka of the Divine Perfection is the Purna Yogin.

Our aim must be to be perfect as God in His being and bliss is perfect, pure as He is pure, blissful as He is blissful, and, when we are ourselves siddhas in Purna Yoga, to bring all mankind to the same divine perfection. It does not matter if for the present we fall short of our aim, so long as we give ourselves whole-heartedly to the attempt and by living constantly in it and for it move forward even two inches upon the road; even that will help to lead humanity out of struggle and twilight in which it now dwells into the luminous joy which God intends for us. But whatever our immediate success, our unvarying aim must be to perform the whole journey and not lie down content in any wayside stage or imperfect resting place.

All Yoga which takes us entirely away from the world, is a high but narrow specialisation of divine tapasyã. God in His perfection embraces everything; we also must become all-embracing.

God in His ultimate existence beyond all manifestation and all knowledge, is the Absolute Parabrahman; in relation to the world He is that which transcends all universal existence while regarding it or in turning away from it; He is that which contains and upholds the universe, He is that which becomes the universe and He is the universe and everything which it contains.

He is also Absolute and Supreme Personality playing in the universe and as the universe; in the universe He appears to be its Soul and Lord, as the universe He appears to be the motion or process of the Will of the Lord and to become all the subjective and objective results of the motion. All the states of the Brahman, the transcendent, the continent, the universal, the individual are informed and sustained by the divine Personality. He is both the Existent and the state of existence. We call the state of existence the Impersonal Brahman, the Existent the Personal Brahman. There is no difference between them except to the play of our consciousness; for every impersonal state depends upon a manifest or secret Personality and can reveal the Personality which it holds and veils, and every Personality attaches to itself and can plunge itself into an impersonal existence. This they can do because Personality and Impersonality are merely different states of self-consciousness in our Absolute Being.

Philosophies and religions dispute about the priority of different aspects of God and different Yogins, Rishis and Saints have preferred this or that philosophy or religion. Our business is not to dispute about any of them, but to realise and become all of them, not to follow after any aspect to the exclusion of the rest, but to embrace God in all His aspects and beyond aspect.

God descending into world in various forms has consummated on this earth the mental and bodily form which we call humanity.

He has manifested in the world through the play of all-governing Soul with its own formative Will or Shakti, a rhythm of existence of which Matter is the lowest term and pure being the highest. Mind and Life stand upon Matter (manas and prãna on annam) and make the lower half of world-existence (aparardha); pure Consciousness and pure Bbliss proceed out of pure Being (cit and ãnanda out of sat) and make the upper half of world-existence (parãrdha). Pure idea (vijñãna) stands as the link between the two. These seven principles or terms of existence are the basis of the sevenfold world of the Puranas (Satyaloka, Tapas, Jana, Mahar, Swar, Bhuvar and Bhur).

The lower hemisphere in this arrangement of consciousness consists of the three vyãhritis of the Veda, “Bhur, Bhuvah, Swar”; they are states of consciousness in which the principles of the upper world are expressed or try to express themselves under different conditions. Pure in their own homes, they are in this foreign country subject to perverse, impure and disturbing combinations and workings. The ultimate object of life is to get rid of the perversity, impurity and disturbance and express them perfectly in these other conditions. Our life on this earth is a divine poem that we are translating into earthly language or a strain of music which we are rendering into words.

Being in Sat is one in multiplicity, one that regards its multiplicity without being lost or confused in it and multiplicity that knows itself as one without losing the power of multiple play in the universe. Under the conditions of mind, life and body, ahankãra is born, the subjective or objective form of consciousness is falsely taken for self-existent being, the body for an independent reality and the ego for an independent personality; the one loses itself in us in its multiplicity and it recovers its unity, finds it difficult, owing to the nature of mind, to preserve its play of multiplicity. Therefore when we are absorbed in the world, we miss God in Himself; when we see God, we miss Him in the world. Our business is to break down and dissolve the mental ego and get back to our divine unity without losing our power of individual and multiple existence in the universe.

Consciousness in Chit is luminous, free, illimitable and effective; that which it is aware of as Chit (jñãna-shakti) it fulfils infallibly as Tapas (kriyã-shakti); for Jnana Shakti is only the stable and comprehensive, Kriya Shakti only the motional and intensive form of one self-luminous Conscious Being. They are one power of conscious force of God (Chit-Shakti of Sat-Purusha). But in the lower hemisphere, under the conditions of mind, life and body, the luminousness becomes divided and broken up into uneven rays, the freedom trammelled by egoism and unequal forms, the effectiveness veiled by the uneven play of forces. We have, therefore, states of consciousness, non-consciousness and false consciousness, knowledge and ignorance and false knowledge, effective force and inertia and ineffective force. Our business is by renouncing our divided and unequal individual force of action and thought into the one, undivided universal Chit -Shakti of Kali to replace our egoistic activities by the play in our body of the universal Kali and thus exchange blindness and ignorance for knowledge and ineffective human strength for the divine effective Force.

Delight in Ananda is pure, unmixed, one and yet multitudinous. Under the conditions of mind, life and body it becomes divided, limited, confused and misdirected and owing to shocks of unequal forces and uneven distribution of Ananda subject to the duality of positive and negative movements, grief and joy, pain and pleasure. Our business is to dissolve these dualities by breaking down their cause and plunge ourselves into the ocean of divine bliss, one, multitudinous, evenly distributed (sama), which takes delight from all things and recoils painfully from none.

In brief, we have to replace dualities by unity, egoism by divine consciousness, ignorance by divine wisdom, thought by divine knowledge, weakness, struggle and effort by self-contented divine force, pain and false pleasure by divine bliss. This is called in the language of Christ bringing down the kingdom of heaven on earth, or in modern language, realising and effectuating God in the world.

Humanity is, upon earth, the form of life chosen for this human aspiration and divine accomplishment; all other forms of life either do not need it or are ordinarily incapable of it unless they change into humanity. The divine fullness is therefore the sole real aim of humanity. It has to be effected in the individual in order that it may be effected in the race.

Humanity is a mental existence in a living body; its basis is matter, its centre and instrument mind and its medium life. This is the condition of average or natural humanity.

In every human being there is concealed (avyakta) the four higher principles. Mahas, pure ideality in vijñãna, is not a vyãhrti but the source of the vyãhrtis, the bank upon which mental, vital and bodily action draw and turn its large and infinite wealth into small coin of the lower existence. Vijnana being the link between the divine state and the human animal is the door of escape for man into the supernatural or divine humanity.

Inferior mankind gravitates downward from mind towards life and body; average mankind dwells constant in mind limited by and looking towards life and body; superior mankind levitates upward either to idealised mentality or to pure idea, direct truth of knowledge and spontaneous truth of existence; supreme mankind rises to divine beatitude and from that level either goes upward to pure Sat and Parabrahman or remains to beatify its lower members and raise to divinity in itself and others this human existence.

The man who dwells in the higher or divine and now hidden hemisphere of his consciousness, having rent the veil, is the true superman and the last product of that progressive self-manifestation of God in world, Spirit out of matter, which is now called the principle of evolution.

To rise into divine existence, force, light and bliss and recast in that mould all mundane existence is the supreme aspiration of religion and the complete practical aim of Yoga. The aim is to realise God in the universe, but it cannot be done without realising God transcendent of the Universe.

 

II
PARABRAHMAN, MUKTI AND HUMAN THOUGHT SYSTEMS

Parabrahman is the Absolute, and because It is the Absolute, it cannot be reduced into terms of knowledge. You can know the Infinite in a way, but you cannot know the Absolute.

All things in existence or non-existence are symbols of the Absolute created in self-consciousness (Chid-Atman); by its symbols the Absolute can be known so far as the symbols reveal or hint at it, but even the knowledge of the whole sum of symbols does not amount to real knowledge of the Absolute. You can become Parabrahman; you cannot know Parabrahman. Becoming Parabrahman means going back through self-consciousness into Parabrahman, for you already are That, only you have projected yourself forward in self-consciousness into its terms or symbols, Purusha and Prakriti through which you uphold the universe. Therefore, to become Parabrahman void of terms or symbols you must cease out of the universe.

By becoming Parabrahman void of Its self-symbols you do not become anything you are not already, nor does the universe cease to operate. It only means that God throws back out of the ocean of manifest consciousness one stream or movement of Himself into that from which all consciousness proceeded.

All who go out of universe consciousness, do not necessarily go into Parabrahman. Some go into undifferentiated Nature (avyãkrita prakriti), some lose themselves in God, some pass into a dark state of non-recognition of universe, (asat, sünya), some into a luminous state of non-recognition of universe, — Pure undifferentiated Atman, Pure Sat or Existence-Basis of universe, — some into a temporary state of deep sleep (susupti) in the impersonal principles of Ananda, Chit or Sat. All these are forms of release and the ego gets from God by His Maya or Prakriti the impulse towards any one of them to which the supreme Purusha chooses to direct him. Those whom He wishes to liberate, yet keep in the world, He makes jïvanmuktas or sends them out again as His vibhütis, they consenting to wear for the divine purposes a temporary veil of Avidya, which does not at all bind them and which they can rend or throw off very easily.

Therefore to lust after becoming Parabrahman is a sort of luminous illusion or sattwic play of Maya; for in reality there is none bound or none free and none needing to be freed and all is only God's Lila, Parabrahman's play of manifestation. God uses this sattwic Maya in certain egos in order to draw them upwards in the line of His special purpose and for these egos it is the only right and possible path.

But the aim of our Yoga is Jivanmukti in the universe; we have to live released in the world, not released out of the world, not because we need to be freed or for any other reason, but because that is God's will in us.

The Jivanmukta has, for perfect knowledge and self-fulfilment, to stand on the threshold of Parabrahman, but not to cross the threshold. The statement he brings back from the threshold is that That is and we are That, but what That is or is not, words cannot describe, nor mind discriminate.

Parabrahman being the Absolute is indescribable by any name or definite conception. It is not Being or Non-Being, but something of which Being and Non-Being are primary symbols; not Atman or un-Atman or Maya; not Personality or Impersonality; not Quality or Non-Quality; not Consciousness or Non-Consciousness; not Bliss or Non-Bliss; not Purusha or Prakriti; not god nor man nor animal; not release nor bondage; but something of which all these are primary or derivative, general or particular symbols. Still, when we say Parabrahman is not this or that, we mean that It cannot in its essentiality be limited to this or that symbol or any sum of symbols; in a sense Parabrahman is all this and all this is Parabrahman. There is nothing else which all this can be. Parabrahman being Absolute is not subject to logic, for logic applies only to the determinate. We talk confusion if we say that the Absolute cannot manifest the determinate and therefore the universe is false or non-existent. The very nature of the Absolute is that we do not know what it is or is not, what it can do or cannot do; we have no reason to suppose that there is anything it cannot do or that its Absoluteness is limited by any kind of impotency. We experience spiritually that when we go beyond everything else we come to something Absolute; we experience spiritually that the universe is in the nature of a manifestation proceeding, as it were, from the Absolute; but all these words and phrases are merely intellectual terms trying to express the inexpressible. We must state what we see as best we can, but need not dispute what others see or state; rather we must accept and in our own system locate and account for what they have seen and stated. Our only dispute is with those who deny credit to the vision or freedom and value to the statements of others; not with those who are content with stating their own vision.

A philosophical or religious system is only a statement of that arrangement of existence in universe which God has revealed to us as our status of being. It is given in order that the mind may have something to stand upon while we act in Prakriti. But our vision need not be precisely the same in arrangement as the vision of others, nor is the form of thought that suits our mentality bound to suit a mentality differently constituted. Firmness, without dogmatism, in our own system, toleration, without weakness, of all other systems should therefore be our intellectual outlook.

You will find disputants questioning your system on the ground that it is not consistent with this or that Shastra or this or that great authority, whether philosophers, saints or Avatars. Remember then that realisation and experience are alone of essential importance. What Shankara argued or Vivekananda conceived intellectually about existence or even what Ramakrishna stated from his multitudinous and varied realisation, is only of value to you so far as you are moved by God to accept and renew it in your own experience. The opinions of thinkers and saints and Avatars should be accepted as hints but not as fetters. What matters to you is what you have seen or what God in His universal personality or impersonally or again personally in some teacher, Guru or pathfinder undertakes to show to you in the path of Yoga.

 

III

God or Parapurusha is Parabrahman unmanifest and inexpressible turned towards a certain kind of manifestation or expression, of which the two eternal terms are Atman and Jagati, Self and Universe. Atman becomes in self-symbol all existences in the universe; so too, the universe when known, resolves all its symbols into Atman. God being Parabrahman is Himself Absolute, neither Atman nor Maya nor un-Atman; neither Being nor not-being (sat, asat); neither Becoming nor non-Becoming (sambhüti, asambhüti); neither Quality nor non-Quality (saguna, nirguna); neither Consciousness nor non-Consciousness (caitanya, jada); neither Soul nor Nature (purusha, prakriti), neither Bliss nor non-Bliss; neither man, nor god nor animal; He is beyond all these things, He maintains and contains all these things in Himself as world; He is and becomes all these things.

The only difference between Parabrahman and Parapurusha is that we think of the first as something beyond our universe-existence, expressed here indeed, but still inexpressible, and of the second as something approaching our universe-existence, inexpressible indeed, but still here expressed. It is as if, in reading a translation of the Ramayana or Homer's Iliad, we were to look at the unapproachable something no translator can seize and say “This is not the Ramayana”, “This is not the Iliad” and yet, looking at the comparative adequacy of the expressions which do succeed in catching something of the original spirit and intention, were at the same time to say “This is Valmikie”, “This is Homer.” There is no other difference except this of standpoint. The Upanishads speak of the Absolute Parabrahman as Tat; they say Sa when they speak of the Absolute Parapurusha.