In Raja yoga there are eight steps of the process. The first two steps are the longest. They take a very long time, years and years. The first step is called yama and the second niyama. In Raja yoga you cannot attain to the stillness of the mind unless you practice this for years and years. Yesterday I spoke to you of five yamas: satya, ahimsa, brahmacharya, aparigraha, asteya, – truth, non–violence, self–control, self–limitation to the minimum, and non–stealing. These are the five great yamas. In Raja yoga you cannot attain to the stillness of the mind unless you practice this for years and years. Then mind becomes controlled a little when you do this practice for years. Be truthful always, be non–violent, control your senses again and again and again in all different circumstances. And then niyama: you must follow rules of daily life. You should have first cleanliness, be absolutely clean every day, then have contentment, no grudges, no grumblings. Whatever happens you bear, endure and be contented. It is a very difficult task to be contented. Then comes swadhaya, – study regularly. Regular means exactly at the right time you should read, not at irregular times? Ten thirty means that at ten thirty you must be here and study by yourself, it is free progress, not imposed upon you, on your own you want to study, even if it is difficult you will study. Then comes Ishwara pranidana? Submission to the Divine. These are what are called niyamas, regular practices in every circumstance for many–many years. When you have done this then you do pranayama or you can do simultaneously pranayama, breathe control and asana, but not as in Hatha yoga. Simple pranayama, exercises of inhaling, exhaling and retaining. Puraka Rechaka Kumbhaka. In Hatha yoga these three processes are long processes, various kinds of retaining for long–long hours. In Raja yoga it is just enough, comfortable. There is no insistence that you must be a great controller of your breath. And asana. In the case of Hatha yoga there are various kinds of asanas, scores of them. But in Raja yoga any posture in which you feel comfortable is enough, but you should be able to sit in one posture for hours. It is one condition. Normally we sit in a comfortable position then we change it after sometime, become again comfortable and again change it. In Raja yoga normally what is proposed is that your back should be straight and erect. The spinal cord should be straight, your head must be erect not drooping down, absolutely straight and you should be able to keep your feet crossed but comfortably. For many people that is not easy. In India, of course, most of the children right from childhood sit in cross legged form, so there is no problem. But it is not imposed that it should be only one kind of posture, whatever posture you decide. You can even lie down; it is also a posture but lie down completely still — not tossing about in the bed which is not asana. Asana means seated in a still form, really seated. To be able to live in one place for years is also asana. Human beings have the habit of loitering, going from one place to another but according to Raja yoga you should be able to live in a place for years and years and years. But the minimum is one comfortable posture and for quite some time you should be able to keep it. Once you are comfortable in one posture and remain in that posture for quite some time then you begin the real practice of Raja yoga. All this is preliminary. Now comes the real process.
The real process is the withdrawal of the mind from everything else excepting one object which you chose. You can choose any object as you like, a book or a stone or the tip of a flame, you may even keep as object a word such as aum; just keep your consciousness upon the letters of the word; any object you concentrate upon, the condition is that you withdraw your mind from everything else. That is a difficult task. The mind runs after many–many things particularly when you want to centralise your attention on one object. To withdraw the mind from all the other objects excepting one that you have chosen is the fifth step of Raja yoga. The first step is yama, the second is niyama, third step is asana, the forth is pranayama then the fifth is pratyahara. The meaning of pratyahara is to withdraw the mind from all others objects excepting the one that you have chosen. The emphasis is upon withdrawal. Whenever the mind runs you just withdraw it, it is like horses running and you control them. And the sixth step is when you can fix the mind on that object for sometime at least. Having withdrawn your mind from all others your mind should be able to dwell, at least for some time, on the object that you have chosen. You should not be deflected at that time, remain absolutely on that spot, at least for some time. This is called dharana in Sanskrit. Then comes the next step, when you can dwell upon that object for a long time. That is called dhyana. It is the seventh step of Raja yoga. Dhyana is a concentration, called either meditation or concentration. Concentration has two varieties, meditation and contemplation.
Then comes the eighth step: samadhi. The word samadhi is very famous all over the world. Samadhi means the absorption of the mind in the object. There is no difference between your mind and the object, the idea and the object become one. And in that state the object becomes luminous. All that is in the object become known to you, the object reveals itself. You don’t need to read the books; this is the secret of Raja yoga. Swami Vivekananda has written somewhere? You must know a lot about Vivekananda because he did yoga in a very extraordinary manner in the short time of his life. He says: “If I knew in my childhood the power of yoga, the power of concentration of the mind I would have spent my time in developing concentration rather than reading books because if you know concentration then any knowledge that you want can be acquired, even without reading books.” This is the secret that Raja yoga has discovered. By external knowledge you can get a good deal, by reading, by hearing, you can get lot of knowledge that is true, but even without reading, without hearing if you just concentrate upon an object the knowledge automatically blooms in you. This is the discovery of Raja yoga? An extraordinary discovery. You can command knowledge. Therefore a Raja yogi if he wants any knowledge he just concentrates upon the object and the knowledge flows. This may look like magic but this is the claim of Raja yoga. If you concentrate upon any object the object reveals itself. The concentration has such a power. Even when you read you will find that if you don’t attain concentration you don’t understand. It is a fact. That is why people say read with concentration because concentration is the real means; if you don’t concentrate, knowledge will not grow in you. So, even when you use external methods the real method of knowledge is concentration. Only when you concentrate you gain knowledge. These are the eight steps. This is the process of Raja yoga.
The aim is, as I told you, perfection of the mental power and the discovery of the immobile Purusha freed from all mobility of nature. The instrument is the mind and the method, the process is eight–fold: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi.
Tomorrow we shall deal with Karma yoga, Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga and you will see in each yoga the aim is specific, the instrument is specific and the process is specific. Once we gain the knowledge of all the yogas then we shall be in a position to understand the word Integral yoga.