Then is the process of Pranayama (prāṇāyāma): it is based upon the idea of control of breath. It was found by the Yogis in India that breath is an extremely vital thing in human life and in the world. In fact, the whole world is nothing but breathing, the whole world: it is the supreme Lord’s breath; the whole world is the supreme Lord’s breath. If you therefore know how to control the breath, then you can command the whole world. And how do you do that? One of the simplest methods is our own breath control. If you can control your own breathing…and the simplest process of breathing consists of three parts: there is inhalation of breath and there is exhalation of breath; in between there is a period when you can keep the breath inside your body, neither inhaling, nor exhaling, Kumbhaka: pūraka, kumbhaka, recaka. You inhale, keep it steady, and exhale. When you can do this, you will find a great flow of energy in the body, and the powers of our consciousness begin to flower. Sometimes the capacity of write begins to flower: you may not be a poet till now, suddenly poetic faculty begins to open up. You may not be able to work hard for hours together and suddenly you find that now you are able to work for hours together without fatigue. These are some of the results that you find from Pranayama.
Then, when you have reached a certain stage of conquest in Pranayama, then comes the starting point of the real psychological process: these are only physical processes; Asana and Pranayama are only physical processes basically, although they have psychological impacts also, and psychological aspects also.
That starts with what they call: Pratyahara (pratyāhāra). Pratyahara is followed by Dharana (dhāraṇā); Dharana is followed by Dhyana (dhyāna); and Dhyana is followed by Samadhi (samādhi). These are the four processes, which are purely psychological: Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.
Pratyahara is the attempt to fix yourself on one idea, one word, one image, one spot, one object, whatever it is: select anything that you like. It is said that Yoga is a science, and here you are not required to believe in anything as opposed to religion, because religion starts with a belief, you should have a belief, whether in Yoga have no belief, you just select any object of your choice, then see that you go on concentrating upon that object; and the first stage what will happen that so many ideas will come together apart from that very object. You start saying: “I shall concentrate upon only this piece of metal”, and immediately so many other ideas will also cross in my mind. Pratyahara is a process with which you will try to eliminate others and try to fix on one. It is much more a kind of a struggle, you might say, Pratyahara is a struggle in which you try to eliminate all other ideas, excepting one idea on which you want to concentrate: this is Pratyahara.
Then, when you are able to fix your mind upon one idea for some time, then comes Dharana. Dharana is to hold; you continue to hold upon one object that which you have succeeded already in concentrating upon one object, try to hold it for certain duration.
When you are able to hold it, then become fully concentrated upon it and that is Dhyana: you be fully concentrated on an object, where nothing else than the object really remains in your consciousness. Like Arjuna shooting the eye of the bird, and he could see nothing else than that eye of the bird, that is Dhyana.
When you do this, then the object begins to reveal itself. This is the ‘secret’ of Yoga: the object begins to reveal itself in the state of concentration, of Dhyana.
Patanjali says that if you want to know anything, form an idea of that object, form a word representing that object, or keep that object before you, mentally, and when the stage of Dhyana will be reached, after Pratyahara and Dharana, then the object itself will begin to reveal the knowledge which is regarding that particular object. This is what is called ‘revelation’ of the object: object reveals itself.
It is based upon the original concept that the ‘knower’ and the ‘known’ are basically one: the knower and the known, the subject and the object of the knowledge are basically one, but this oneness is destroyed by our divisive consciousness, by our restlessness. Therefore the knower and the known, when they meet each other there is no concentration, therefore the object is obscured. There is too much of movement of other ideas coming across our consciousness, and therefore the object is not revealed to us. But if you can concentrate upon it, then because the knower and the known are one, in the exact state of identity, the knowledge is revealed, directly.