I don’t know if you have read the story of the Life of Vivekananda. Have you? No… We could keep one day for that purpose because Sri Aurobindo quotes Vivekananda from time to time in The Synthesis of Yoga. Now let me read to you The Powers of the Mind. This is in connection with the Raja Yoga of which I have spoken yesterday. How do you develop mental powers, what kind of powers are they? This is a lecture given by Swami Vivekananda in California on January 8, 1900.
All over the world there has been the belief in the supernatural throughout the ages. All of us have heard of extraordinary happenings, and many of us have had some personal experience of them. I would rather introduce the subject by telling you certain facts which have come within my own experience. I once heard of a man who, if any one went to him with questions in his mind, would answer them immediately; and I was also informed that he foretold events. I was curious and went to see him with a few friends. We each had something in our minds to ask, and, to avoid mistakes, we wrote down our questions and put them in our pockets. As soon as the man saw one of us, he repeated our questions and gave the answers to them. Then he wrote something on paper, which he folded up, asked me to sign on the back, and said, "Don’t look at it; put it in your pocket and keep it there till I ask for it again." And so on to each one of us. He next told us about some events that would happen to us in the future. Then he said, "Now, think of a word or a sentence, from any language you like." I thought of a long sentence from Sanskrit, a language of which he was entirely ignorant. "Now, take out the paper from your pocket," he said. The Sanskrit sentence was written there! He had written it an hour before with the remark, "In confirmation of what I have written, this man will think of this sentence." It was correct. Another of us who had been given a similar paper which he had signed and placed in his pocket, was also asked to think of a sentence. He thought of a sentence in Arabic, which it was still less possible for the man to know; it was some passage from the Koran. And my friend found this written down on the paper.
Another of us was a physician. He thought of a sentence from a German medical book. It was written on his paper.
Several days later I went to this man again, thinking possibly I had been deluded somehow before. I took other friends, and on this occasion also he came out wonderfully triumphant.
Another time I was in the city of Hyderabad in India, and I was told of a Brâhmin there who could produce numbers of things from where, nobody knew. This man was in business there; he was a respectable gentleman. And I asked him to show me his tricks. It so happened that this man had a fever, and in India there is a general belief that if a holy man puts his hand on a sick man he would be well. This Brahmin came to me and said, "Sir, put your hand on my head, so that my fever may be cured." I said, "Very good; but you show me your tricks." He promised. I put my hand on his head as desired, and later he came to fulfil his promise. He had only a strip of cloth about his loins, we took off everything else from him. I had a blanket which I gave him to wrap round himself, because it was cold, and made him sit in a corner. Twenty-five pairs of eyes were looking at him. And he said, "Now, look, write down anything you want." We all wrote down names of fruits that never grew in that country, bunches of grapes, oranges, and so on. And we gave him those bits of paper. And there came from under his blanket, bushels of grapes, oranges, and so forth, so much that if all that fruit was weighed, it would have been twice as heavy as the man. He asked us to eat the fruit. Some of us objected, thinking it was hypnotism; but the man began eating himself —so we all ate. It was all right.
He ended by producing a mass of roses. Each flower was perfect, with dew-drops on the petals, not one crushed, not one injured. And masses of them! When I asked the man for an explanation, he said, "It is all sleight of hand."
Whatever it was, it seemed to be impossible that it could be sleight of hand merely. From whence could he have got such large quantities of things?
Well, I saw many things like that. Going about India you find hundreds of similar things in different places. These are in every country. Even in this country you will find some such wonderful things. Of course there is a great deal of fraud, no doubt; but then, whenever you see fraud, you have also to say that fraud is an imitation. There must be some truth somewhere, that is being imitated; you cannot imitate nothing. Imitation must be of something substantially true.
In very remote times in India, thousands of years ago, these facts used to happen even more than they do today. It seems to me that when a country becomes very thickly populated, psychical power deteriorates. Given a vast country thinly inhabited, there will, perhaps, be more of psychical power there. These facts, the Hindus, being analytically minded, took up and investigated. And they came to certain remarkable conclusions; that is, they made a science of it. They found out that all these, though extraordinary, are also natural; there is nothing supernatural. They are under laws just the same as any other physical phenomenon. It is not a freak of nature that a man is born with such powers. They can be systematically studied, practiced, and acquired. This science they call the science of Râja-Yoga. There are thousands of people who cultivate the study of this science, and for the whole nation it has become a part of daily worship.
The conclusion they have reached is that all these extraordinary powers are in the mind of man. This mind is a part of the universal mind. Each mind is connected with every other mind. And each mind, wherever it is located, is in actual communication with the whole world.
Have you ever noticed the phenomenon that is called thought-transference? A man here is thinking something, and that thought is manifested in somebody else, in some other place. With preparations —not by chance —a man wants to send a thought to another mind at a distance, and this other mind knows that a thought is coming, and he receives it exactly as it is sent out. Distance makes no difference. The thought goes and reaches the other man, and he understands it. If your mind were an isolated something here, and my mind were an isolated something there, and there were no connection between the two, how would it be possible for my thought to reach you? In the ordinary cases, it is not my thought that is reaching you direct; but my thought has got to be dissolved into ethereal vibrations and those ethereal vibrations go into your brain, and they have to be resolved again into your own thoughts. Here is a dissolution of thought, and there is a resolution of thought. It is a roundabout process. But in telepathy, there is no such thing; it is direct.
This shows that there is a continuity of mind, as the Yogis call it. The mind is universal. Your mind, my mind, all these little minds, are fragments of that universal mind, little waves in the ocean; and on account of this continuity, we can convey our thoughts directly to one another.
You see what is happening all around us. The world is one of influence. Part of our energy is used up in the preservation of our own bodies. Beyond that, every particle of our energy is day and night being used in influencing others. Our bodies, our virtues, our intellect, and our spirituality, all these are continuously influencing others; and so, conversely, we are being influenced by them. This is going on all around us. Now, to take a concrete example. A man comes; you know he is very learned, his language is beautiful, and he speaks to you by the hour; but he does not make any impression. Another man comes, and he speaks a few words, not well arranged, ungrammatical perhaps; all the same, he makes an immense impression. Many of you have seen that. So it is evident that words alone cannot always produce an impression. Words, even thoughts contribute only one-third of the influence in making an impression, the man, two-thirds. What you call the personal magnetism of the man —that is what goes out and impresses you.
You may remember, for those who don’t know his life, that Swami Vivekananda went to America in 1893. He attended the Parliament of Religions. It was the first Parliament of Religions. When he went from India to America he was only told that there is a Parliament of Religions and his friends said: “Why don’t you go and address it there?” He had no warm clothes. The king of Khetri gave him a shawl as a gift. It was the only woolen thing that he had with him. He had no pass to present himself at the Parliament of Religions. He was not sent by any Institution in India. He went on his own, he even did not enquire how he would be able to speak there. He was so innocent. In America he had to sleep the first night in a small box on a pavement because he had no house, no place to go to, in that cold. Later on some professor came to know him and then he took him to the Parliament of Religions’ office for registration. And the man who was registering said: “What are your credentials? On whose behalf do you want to address in the Parliament of Religions?” In the meantime the professor was so impressed by Vivekananda that he said: “To ask credentials from this man is to ask the sun to give credentials for its light.” It is a tremendous tribute that was paid to Vivekananda, a young man, by this man. That is how he was allowed to enter into the Parliament of Religions. And the lectures began. One by one the speakers spoke and finally somebody asked him to speak. And he was so shy that he could not even get up and speak a word. Only five minutes were left for the time to close the day’s session. And he was summoned: “Now you speak.” He stood up and he spoke only three words: “Sisters and brothers of America.” Just three words he spoke and the entire audience was so surcharged that they all stood up and gave a standing ovation, they clapped only on hearing these three words. He spoke only for five minutes, but the next day in all the papers in America he was in the headlines. None other, only this young man. This proves the truth of what he himself says here, that a man comes, speaks only a few words and the whole mass becomes influenced. This is the power. It is because when one speaks it is not the mouth that speaks, it is not the words that speak, it is the man who speaks, the spirit that is there: the tapasya that he has done —so much tapasya he had done. He had walked round the whole of the country absolutely without any possession —aparigraha. And all the time moving up and down with only one thing: let my country awake, let my country be great. All the time offering his country to the feet of the Lord. There was nothing else in his life. It is this tapasya. And the words that came out were not incidental words. The formula: “Sisters and brothers of America…” All of India is in the sense of universality. And that universality was born on his tongue as it were. When he said “Sister and brothers of America” there was no difference between Indians and Americans so that universality manifested in three words. It is that which produced a tremendous effect. In fact one of the greatest events of the last century was the visit of Vivekananda to America. He went as a young man, without any possessions, without knowing how to present himself to the Parliament of Religions and he was turned into the greatest orator, the best representative of the Parliament of Religions.
This is the proof of what he says here.
In our families there are the heads; some of them are successful, others are not. Why? We complain of others in our failures. The moment I am unsuccessful, I say, so-and-so is the cause of the failure. In failure, one does not like to confess one’s own faults and weaknesses. Each person tries to hold himself faultless and lay the blame upon somebody or something else, or even on bad luck. When heads of families fail, they should ask themselves, why it is that some persons manage a family so well and others do not. Then you will find that the difference is owing to the man —his presence, his personality.
Coming to great leaders of mankind, we always find that it was the personality of the man that counted. Now, take all the great authors of the past, the great thinkers. Really speaking, how many thoughts have they thought? Take all the writings that have been left to us by the past leaders of mankind; take each one of their books and appraise them. The real thoughts, new and genuine, that have been thought in this world up to this time, amount to only a handful. Read in their books the thoughts they have left to us. The authors do not appear to be giants to us, and yet we know that they were great giants in their days. What made them so? Not simply the thoughts they thought, neither the books they wrote, nor the speeches they made, it was something else that is now gone, that is their personality. As I have already remarked, the personality of the man is two-thirds, and his intellect, his words, are but one-third. It is the real man, the personality of the man, that runs through us. Our actions are but effects. Actions must come when the man is there; the effect is bound to follow the cause.
The ideal of all education, all training, should be this man-making. But, instead of that, we are always trying to polish up the outside. What use in polishing up the outside when there is no inside? The end and aim of all training is to make the man grow. The man who influences, who throws his magic, as it were, upon his fellow-beings, is a dynamo of power, and when that man is ready, he can do anything and everything he likes; that personality put upon anything will make it work.
Now, we see that though this is a fact, no physical laws that we know of will explain this. How can we explain it by chemical and physical knowledge? How much of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, how many molecules in different positions, and how many cells, etc., etc. can explain this mysterious personality? And we still see, it is a fact, and not only that, it is the real man; and it is that man that lives and moves and works, it is that man that influences, moves his fellow-beings, and passes out, and his intellect and books and works are but traces left behind. Think of this. Compare the great teachers of religion with the great philosophers. The philosophers scarcely influenced anybody’s inner man, and yet they wrote most marvellous books. The religious teachers, on the other hand, moved countries in their lifetime. The difference was made by personality. In the philosopher it is a faint personality that influences; in the great prophets it is tremendous. In the former we touch the intellect, in the latter we touch life. In the one case, it is simply a chemical process, putting certain chemical ingredients together which may gradually combine and under proper circumstances bring out a flash of light or may fail. In the other, it is like a torch that goes round quickly, lighting others.
The science of Yoga claims that it has discovered the laws which develop this personality, and by proper attention to those laws and methods, each one can grow and strengthen his personality. This is one of the great practical things, and this is the secret of all education. This has a universal application. In the life of the householder, in the life of the poor, the rich, the man of business, the spiritual man, in every one’s life, it is a great thing, the strengthening of this personality. There are laws, very fine, which are behind the physical laws, as we know. That is to say, there are no such realities as a physical world, a mental world, a spiritual world. Whatever is, is one. Let us say, it is a sort of tapering existence; the thickest part is here, it tapers and becomes finer and finer. The finest is what we call spirit; the grossest, the body. And just as it is here in microcosm, it is exactly the same in the macrocosm. The universe of ours is exactly like that; it is the gross external thickness, and it tapers into something finer and finer until it becomes God.
We also know that the greatest power is lodged in the fine, not in the coarse. We see a man take up a huge weight, we see his muscles swell, and all over his body we see signs of exertion, and we think the muscles are powerful things. But it is the thin thread-like things, the nerves, which bring power to the muscles; the moment one of these threads is cut off from reaching the muscles, they are not able to work at all. These tiny nerves bring the power from something still finer, and that again in its turn brings it from something finer still —thought, and so on. So, it is the fine that is really the seat of power. Of course we can see the movements in the gross; but when fine movements take place, we cannot see them. When a gross thing moves, we catch it, and thus we naturally identify movement with things which are gross. But all the power is really in the fine. We do not see any movement in the fine, perhaps, because the movement is so intense that we cannot perceive it. But if by any science, any investigation, we are helped to get hold of these finer forces which are the cause of the expression, the expression itself will be under control. There is a little bubble coming from the bottom of a lake; we do not see it coming all the time, we see it only when it bursts on the surface; so, we can perceive thoughts only after they develop a great deal, or after they become actions. We constantly complain that we have no control over our actions, over our thoughts. But how can we have it? If we can get control over the fine movements, if we can get hold of thought at the root, before it has become thought, before it has become action, then it would be possible for us to control the whole. Now, if there is a method by which we can analyse, investigate, understand, and finally grapple with those finer powers, the finer causes, then alone is it possible to have control over ourselves, and the man who has control over his own mind assuredly will have control over every other mind. That is why purity and morality have been always the object of religion; a pure, moral man has control of himself. And all minds are the same, different parts of one Mind. He who knows one lump of clay has known all the clay in the universe. He who knows and controls his own mind knows the secret of every mind and has power over every mind
Now, a good deal of our physical evil we can get rid of, if we have control over the fine parts; a good many worries we can throw off, if we have control over the fine movements; a good many failures can be averted, if we have control over these fine powers. So far, is utility. Yet beyond, there is something higher.
Now, I shall tell you a theory, which I will not argue now, but simply place before you the conclusion. Each man in his childhood runs through the stages through which his race has come up; only the race took thousands of years to do it, while the child takes a few years. The child is first the old savage man —and he crushes a butterfly under his feet. The child is at first like the primitive ancestors of his race. As he grows, he passes through different stages until he reaches the development of his race. Only he does it swiftly and quickly. Now, take the whole of humanity as a race, or take the whole of the animal creation, man and the lower animals, as one whole. There is an end towards which the whole is moving. Let us call it perfection. Some men and women are born who anticipate the whole progress of mankind. Instead of waiting and being reborn over and over again for ages until the whole human race has attained to that perfection, they, as it were, rush through them in a few short years of their life. And we know that we can hasten these processes, if we be true to ourselves. If a number of men, without any culture, be left to live upon an island, and are given barely enough food, clothing, and shelter, they will gradually go on and on, evolving higher and higher stages of civilization. We know also, that this growth can be hastened by additional means. We help the growth of trees, do we not? Left to nature they would have grown, only they would have taken a longer time; we help them to grow in a shorter time than they would otherwise have taken. We are doing all the time the same thing, hastening the growth of things by artificial means. Why cannot we hasten the growth of man? We can do that as a race. Why are teachers sent to other countries? Because by these means we can hasten the growth of races. Now, can we not hasten the growth of individuals? We can. Can we put a limit to the hastening? We cannot say how much a man can grow in one life. You have no reason to say that this much a man can do and no more. Circumstances can hasten him wonderfully. Can there be any limit then, till you come to perfection? So, what comes of it? —That a perfect man, that is to say, the type that is to come of this race, perhaps millions of years hence, that man can come today. And this is what the Yogis say, that all great incarnations and prophets are such men; that they reached perfection in this one life. We have had such men at all periods of the world’s history and at all times. Quite recently, there was such a man who lived the life of the whole human race and reached the end —even in this life. Even this hastening of the growth must be under laws. Suppose we can investigate these laws and understand their secrets and apply them to our own needs; it follows that we grow. We hasten our growth, we hasten our development, and we become perfect, even in this life. This is the higher part of our life, and the science of the study of mind and its powers has this perfection as its real end. Helping others with money and other material things and teaching them how to go on smoothly in their daily life are mere details.
The utility of this science is to bring out the perfect man, and not let him wait and wait for ages, just a plaything in the hands of the physical world, like a log of drift-wood carried from wave to wave and tossing about in the ocean. This science wants you to be strong, to take the work in your own hand, instead of leaving it in the hands of nature, and get beyond this little life. That is the great idea.
Man is growing in knowledge, in power, in happiness. Continuously, we are growing as a race. We see that is true, perfectly true. Is it true of individuals? To a certain extent, yes. But yet, again comes the question: Where do you fix the limit? I can see only at a distance of so many feet. But I have seen a man close his eyes and see what is happening in another room. If you say you do not believe it, perhaps in three weeks that man can make you do the same. It can be taught to anybody. Some persons, in five minutes even, can be made to read what is happening in another man’s mind. These facts can be demonstrated.
Now, if these things are true, where can we put a limit? If a man can read what is happening in another’s mind in the corner of this room, why not in the next room? Why not anywhere? We cannot say, why not. We dare not say that it is not possible. We can only say, we do not know how it happens. Material scientists have no right to say that things like this are not possible; they can only say, "We do not know." Science has to collect facts, generalise upon them, deduce principles, and state the truth —that is all. But if we begin by denying the facts, how can a science be?
There is no end to the power a man can obtain. This is the peculiarity of the Indian mind, that when anything interests it, it gets absorbed in it and other things are neglected. You know how many sciences had their origin in India. Mathematics began there. You are even today counting 1, 2, 3, etc. to zero, after Sanskrit figures, and you all know that algebra also originated in India, and that gravitation was known to the Indians thousands of years before Newton was born.
You see the peculiarity. At a certain period of Indian history, this one subject of man and his mind absorbed all their interest. And it was so enticing, because it seemed the easiest way to achieve their ends. Now, the Indian mind became so thoroughly persuaded that the mind could do anything and everything according to law, that its powers became the great object of study. Charms, magic, and other powers, and all that were nothing extraordinary, but a regularly taught science, just as the physical sciences they had taught before that. Such a conviction in these things came upon the race that physical sciences nearly died out. It was the one thing that came before them. Different sects of Yogis began to make all sorts of experiments. Some made experiments with light, trying to find out how lights of different colours produced changes in the body. They wore a certain coloured cloth, lived under a certain colour, and ate certain coloured foods. All sorts of experiments were made in this way. Others made experiments in sound by stopping and unstopping their ears. And still others experimented in the sense of smell, and so on.
The whole idea was to get at the basis, to reach the fine parts of the thing. And some of them really showed most marvellous powers. Many of them were trying to float in the air or pass through it. I shall tell you a story which I heard from a great scholar in the West. It was told him by a Governor of Ceylon who saw the performance. A girl was brought forward and seated cross-legged upon a stool made of sticks crossed. After she had been seated for a time, the show-man began to take out, one after another, these cross-bars; and when all were taken out, the girl was left floating in the air. The Governor thought there was some trick, so he drew his sword and violently passed it under the girl; nothing was there. Now, what was this? It was not magic or something extraordinary. That is the peculiarity. No one in India would tell you that things like this do not exist. To the Hindu it is a matter of course. You know what the Hindus would often say when they have to fight their enemies —"Oh, one of our Yogis will come and drive the whole lot out!" It is the extreme belief of the race. What power is there in the hand or the sword? The power is all in the spirit.
If this is true, it is temptation enough for the mind to exert its highest. But as with every other science it is very difficult to make any great achievement, so also with this, nay much more. Yet most people think that these powers can be easily gained. How many are the years you take to make a fortune? Think of that! First, how many years do you take to learn electrical science or engineering? And then you have to work all the rest of your life.
Again, most of the other sciences deal with things that do not move, that are fixed. You can analyse the chair, the chair does not fly from you. But this science deals with the mind, which moves all the time; the moment you want to study it, it slips. Now the mind is in one mood, the next moment, perhaps, it is different, changing, changing all the time. In the midst of all this change it has to be studied, understood, grasped, and controlled. How much more difficult, then, is this science! It requires rigorous training. People ask me why I do not give them practical lessons. Why, it is no joke. I stand upon this platform talking to you and you go home and find no benefit; nor do I. Then you say, "It is all bosh." It is because you wanted to make a bosh of it. I know very little of this science, but the little that I gained I worked for thirty years of my life, and for six years I have been telling people the little that I know. It took me thirty years to learn it; thirty years of hard struggle. Sometimes I worked at it twenty hours during the twenty-four; sometimes I slept only one hour in the night; sometimes I worked whole nights; sometimes I lived in places where there was hardly a sound, hardly a breath; sometimes I had to live in caves. Think of that. And yet I know little or nothing; I have barely touched the hem of the garment of this science. But I can understand that it is true and vast and wonderful.
Now, if there is any one amongst you who really wants to study this science, he will have to start with that sort of determination, the same as, nay even more than, that which he puts into any business of life.
And what an amount of attention does business require, and what a rigorous taskmaster it is! Even if the father, the mother, the wife, or the child dies, business cannot stop! Even if the heart is breaking, we still have to go to our place of business, when every hour of work is a pang. That is business, and we think that it is just, that it is right.
This science calls for more application than any business can ever require. Many men can succeed in business; very few in this. Because so much depends upon the particular constitution of the person studying it. As in business all may not make a fortune, but everyone can make something, so in the study of this science each one can get a glimpse which will convince him of its truth and of the fact that there have been men who realised it fully.
This is the outline of the science. It stands upon its own feet and in its own light, and challenges comparison with any other science. There have been charlatans, there have been magicians, there have been cheats, and more here than in any other field. Why? For the same reason, that the more profitable the business, the greater the number of charlatans and cheats. But that is no reason why the business should not be good. And one thing more; it may be good intellectual gymnastics to listen to all the arguments and an intellectual satisfaction to hear of wonderful things. But, if any one of you really wants to learn something beyond that, merely attending lectures will not do. That cannot be taught in lectures, for it is life; and life can only convey life. If there are any amongst you who are really determined to learn it, I shall be very glad to help them.
(The 'Powers of the Mind' talk delivered at Los Angeles, California, January 8, 1900)
It is one of the great lectures of Vivekananda.
We are dealing with yoga and this is an introductory lecture on yoga: the powers of the mind that can be studied scientifically. You can learn something by practicing this with a great patience —as he said for thirty years, even to touch the hem of the garment. Yoga is defined, what you can do in many, many years, by practice of yoga you can do in a short time. You can shorten, you can accelerate and you can attain to perfection. Therefore the book that we have started a few days ago, The Synthesis of Yoga, is such a tremendous thing. Very few people have the chance to read it and you are so fortunate that you are reading it.
I was telling you about the integral yoga and I told you about Hatha Yoga and about Raja Yoga and now I will tell you about the third one: Karma Yoga, the Yoga of works.
As I said you should ask three questions regarding any yoga. What is the aim? What is the instrument? What is the process? Let us ask these three questions regarding Karma Yoga.
What is the aim? The aim of Karma Yoga is to discover the Supreme Will and to allow that Will to work through us. To be an instrument of God’s Will. Not only to discover the Will of God, the Will of the Divine but also to be the instrument of the Divine’s Will. This is the aim of Karma Yoga.
What is the instrument? The instrument is that which is the most elementary,rudimentary aspect of will in us, just as the body is the instrument of Hatha Yoga, mind is the instrument of Raja Yoga, the instrument of Karma Yoga is desire because in our life all that we will is through desire. So you take that instrument and what do you do with that instrument?
What is the process? We can say in three words what takes many, many years to practice. First give up the desire for the fruits of action. This is the first part of the process of Karma Yoga. Second, perceive that what you think is your action is not really your action. Constantly observe your action and see, when you analyse any action you are doing, that its origin is elsewhere. You think it is your action. But it is a mistake. So correct that mistake by seeing that your action is not really your action. Then comes the third part. To discover the real origin of action you make a practice. You offer your action to the Divine. Whatever you are doing you offer it to the Divine like a gift. Whatever you think you are doing you think it is like a flower which you are offering to the Divine. This is called sacrifice. Sacrifice your action to the Divine. And when you sacrifice a miracle happens. It is the fourth part of the process. When you give to the Divine you are able to touch the Divine. If you give me a flower you can touch me by giving me a flower. And when you touch the Divine, the Divine touches you. You touch the Divine from your side and the Divine touches you at the same time because as you touch Him he touches you. And the moment he touches you His action enters into you, His vibration enters into you. As soon as that vibration enters into you His action begins in you and you discover what is His action, what is His will. And by discovering this will of the Divine you also find that he is already vibrating in you. The moment you touch Him he begins to vibrate in you. So you begin to be the instrument of the Divine Will. And then whatever you do is actually the Divine himself doing it through you. These are the processes of Karma Yoga.
I repeat now. You take the desire as an instrument and the first thing is that whatever you desire —normally you desire the enjoyment of the fruits of action —this Yoga says that first you do not enjoy the fruits of action. You may have the fruits of action but give up the enjoyment of the fruits of action. Still continue to work. Normally when you are not to enjoy the fruits of action you cease to work. Karma Yoga says don’t do that. Do your work, whatever you are doing, but do not enjoy the fruits of action. It is a mastery over it —a mastery of your enjoyment. Usually we work with desire, we do everything for enjoyment. The first lesson of Karma Yoga is: do not enjoy the fruit of your action. That gives you great austerity in your being, makes your personality. The personality, which simply does something for enjoyment, is a very weak personality. That personality can be won over very easily, can be tempted very easily. But the strong personality is one who does not care for enjoyment. This is the starting point of a real development of personality. Do not enjoy the fruits of your action. The second part of the process is: see that your action is not your own. Normally we always think ‘this is my action’, that we are doing it. There is a very beautiful line of a Gujarati poem which simply says: “I do, I do: that is the ignorance.” It is like a dog which is moving under a cart and thinks “I am carrying the cart.” It thinks that the cart is moving because of him. As if the burden of the cart is upon his back and the whole cart is moving because of him. See how this line of the poem gives a complete light to this ignorance. Whenever you think “I am doing it, I am doing it”, think that you are like a dog walking under a cart thinking that the cart is moving because of it. This is the second part of the process of the Karma Yoga. And this is tremendous because normally all of us think that we are doing. And Karma Yoga says that this is a false proposition. Psychologically you are under an illusion, you are mistaken. Just as a dog would be mistaken if it thinks that the cart is moving because of its force when it is itself only moving under the cart.
The third part of the process of Karma Yoga is that when you are thinking that you are doing —as it is very difficult to rub out this idea that you are doing, Karma Yoga says, to make it easy, think that you are doing but offer it to the Divine. This is a process, a kind of trick you might say, a device. Continue to think that you are doing fine, but having done it you say to the Divine: “This is for You”. You give it as a gift. And when you give it as a gift a miracle takes place because when you offer it, the Divine touches you as you touch the Divine. And as soon as he touches you, you come to know that everything proceeds from Him. He is the real doer. The Supreme Lord is the doer. And the moment you discover this he begins to move in you. To discover the Divine Will and to be the instrument of the Divine Will takes no time. Between the two there is no interval. To know the Divine Will and to be the instrument of the Divine happens simultaneously because he already works in you. This is the Karma Yoga, in very brief terms. You have the whole book here (The Synthesis of Yoga) of Karma Yoga but I have told you the fundamental principles so that very briefly you can grasp them.
The aim of Karma Yoga is to discover the Divine Will and to become its instrument. The instrument is desire. You touch your desire, concentrate upon your desire and work on your desire. For working, the first thing is to say: “I do not want to enjoy the fruits of my action.” So it touches the desire, actually you will find that your desire becomes very weak. Ultimately the desire is completely wiped out. When you follow the whole process first they become weak. But do not therefore drop the action because normally this is what happens. When we do not desire the fruits of action we drop the action also. But don’t do that, Karma Yoga says: continue the work. It is a very difficult task. Not to desire the enjoyment of the fruits of action and yet to continue to work is very difficult but gives tremendous strength of action. It is said: action for the sake of action. Because action in itself is the right to do. The right action is to be done for the sake of action because it is right. I may fail: doesn’t matter, I succeed: doesn’t matter. I may enjoy, doesn't matter; I may not enjoy, doesn't matter. This is called a strong personality. This comes when as the first process you take your desire and then begin to chop off the head of the desire. The head of the desire is the fruits of action. If you examine the desire you will find that the head of the desire is the enjoyment of the fruits of action. If you chop off that head very often you feel that you are dead, you can do no work at all. But Karma Yoga says, still continue to act. When you do that then you realise that every time you act there is in you the sense that you are doing. So Karma Yoga says whenever you say, “I am doing” think that you are like a dog which is moving under a cart —this is an illusion. You are not the doer. Find out really who is the doer. In Sanskrit it is said: Aham Kartasmi I am the doer. Aham means: I; Karta means: the doer. And when you really examine you will find that you are not at all the doer. All actions and energies are moving the Universe and you are a small little pebble in it and all the winds are blowing around you and you are blown by the winds. You are not blown by yourself, you are blown by all others. This is the truth that you perceive when you begin to concentrate upon it. But our psychology is so obstinate that even when you see that you are not the doer, still your mind continues to believe that he is the doer. Therefore Karma Yoga says, at the third stage, think that you are doing but offer it to the Divine. And the moment you begin to offer to the Divine the Divine enters into you and gives you the knowledge that He is the doer. Then you discover His Will and you become the instrument of His Will.
Now we come to the next one: Jnana Yoga. Again we ask three questions. What is the aim, what is the instrument, what is the process?
What is the aim of Jnana Yoga? The aim of Jnana Yoga is to know the Being of God. In Karma Yoga the aim was to know the Will of God. There is a difference between the Will of God and the Being of God. Being is much larger, Will is only an expression. But the Being is the very stuff, the very heart, the very soul, the very self. So the aim of Jnana Yoga is the knowledge of the Self, the Supreme Being, the Supreme Self. And to become that very Being yourself. Just as in Karma Yoga the aim was to discover the will of the Divine and also to be the instrument of the Divine Will. Similarly in Jnana Yoga you discover the Supreme Being of the Divine and to become identical, to be one with that Being. That is the aim.
Now comes the question of the instrument. The instrument is the intellect. You take hold of the intellect as an instrument. In Raja Yoga we said that the instrument is the Mind. In Jnana Yoga we are using the word Intellect. There is a difference between the two. Normally we say that mind and intellect are the same. But yoga tells us that there is a difference. Intellect is that part of the mind which distinguishes, which is capable of distinction, which makes a distinction between the Truth and the False. Between what is right and what is wrong. Between what is really real and what simply appears to be real. It distinguishes between reality and appearance. It is that part of the mind which distinguishes between right and wrong which is taken as an instrument in Jnana Yoga. That is why many people think that Jnana Yoga is a difficult one. Because already you must have intellect, you must be aware of intellect, so already you must be sufficiently developed. Hatha Yoga is easier because bodily existence is very easily seen by us and we can manipulate it easily. Desire is much more easy also to see and to manipulate. But intellect already requires a great degree of development. That is why many people think that Jnana Yoga is the most difficult one. Later on we shall examine if this question is easier or not. But anyway it is true that unless intellectually you are aware you cannot practice Jnana Yoga. You must know the instrument of intellect. You must develop the mind up to a certain extent so that it is able to decide, to judge. That much capacity you must already have. That is why all the people who are asked to practice Jnana Yoga are given a long practice in the process of intellect. Intellectual development is the first process. In all processes of Jnana Yoga the individual is told to realise intellect first. And for that the process is to think. Thinking is the real starting point of Jnana Yoga.
You might say that from the time that I came to you we have started Jnana Yoga because I gave you many subjects for thinking and you have been put into the practice of thinking. You are already doing Jnana Yoga. We defined many things. And when you define, you decide what is real and what is not real. Whenever you define anything you are already judging what is real and what is not real. You are defining exactly what the subject is. We defined what is philosophy, what is science therefore we distinguished between what is philosophy and what is not philosophy, between what is science and what is not science. Your intellect already begins to develop and to decide what is right and what is wrong, what is real and what is appearance. And when you study philosophy —there are many ways of learning philosophy but if you are a Jnana yogi, if you are doing the process of Jnana Yoga, study of philosophy can be by deciding or discriminating what is ultimately real and what is ultimately unreal. This is a true philosophical training.
The first step, the first process in Jnana Yoga is to think. The second process is to think what is right and what is wrong to discriminate between the truth and falsehood, right and wrong, real and unreal, reality and appearance. The third process is to distinguish between ultimately real and ultimately unreal. This is a very long process. It may take ten years. Unless and until you are able to think what is ultimately real and what is ultimately not real you are not entering into the real gates of Jnana Yoga.
But having done it the prescription is —now comes the real Jnana Yoga, before were only preliminaries —think what is ultimately real and what is ultimately unreal again, and again, and again… and still again and again further. This is called manana in Sanskrit. When you think again and again of what is ultimately real and what is ultimately unreal —there can be many exercises. In India so many exercises have been discovered or created so that they may become a great help to you to think again and again.
The next step consists of a double movement: a negative movement and a positive movement. The negative movement is to say: “I am not unreal.” The positive movement is to say: “I am real.” Normally I think that I am the body. Realise first you are not the body. You have a body, not that you are the body. It is a mistake to think that you are the body. You have a body. So between unreal and real you see the distinction now. The reality is that you are more than the body and you have a body but you are not yourself the body. This is a first meditation you might say. Think of it again and again and again… Whenever you think “I am the body”, remember that you are not the body. You have a body, you are not the body. You are real, this body is only a part of it, this body is only something, you are much more. You are the real Self, the Supreme Self. Remember that you are the Supreme Self, you are not this. As long as you think: I am the Supreme Self you are also wrong because ‘you’ is only referring to your body, to your little self. But that is not the real self. You are neither the body nor the life nor the mind. These are the three great illusions in which we live. We always think that I am the body, I am the life, I am the mind. These are unrealities. There are false ideas. You are not the body, you are not the life, you are not the mind. You have the body, you have the life, you have the mind. But you are not yourself, the body or the life or the mind. This is negative meditation. I am not the body, I am not the life, I am not the mind. Repeat it a thousand times, ten thousand times, one million times.
Then you go to the positive side: “I am the Supreme Self.” But when you say: “I am the Supreme Self”, remember that we should precede it by saying: “I am not I.” What I think is myself is also not myself. Don’t think that the Supreme Self is what you think you are. That is also false. You have to realise that you are not yourself. What I think is myself is not myself. It is only the ego —Aham bhava. You are not the ego. When you say you or I it is not the ego it is the Supreme Self. I am vast. Sri Aurobindo had used the words: “union of the human individual with the universal and transcendent”. Your individuality has to be united with the universal and with the transcendental which is even more than the universal. That Supreme Being is more than the universe. And that is yourself. In which there is no I and no You. It is only One. There is only one reality, one Self, one Supreme Self. Even the statement “I am that Self” is also wrong. There is only the Self. That is all. There is only the Supreme Self. That is the real Reality. So meditate upon this: “I am the Supreme Self”, then cut it out and say: “There is only one Supreme Self”. That is the real reality. There is only one Supreme Self. Having done this, now you say: “This Supreme Self manifests as a universe, manifests as the individual, manifests itself as the mind, as the life, as the body.” When you have done this whole circuit then you have the aim of Jnana Yoga achieved. It is a long programme, a difficult programme but that is what Jnana Yoga aims at. And it is said there is nothing as pure as this knowledge. This knowledge is the purest. If you want to be the purest, as we all should be, then we should remember that there is only one Supreme Self. This very perception delivers you from every impurity.
Bhakti Yoga: Again we put these three questions: What is the aim, what is the instrument and what is the process?
The aim of Bhakti Yoga is to discover the Divine Love. Not love, as we understand it but the Divine Love, the Divine Bliss. Because the origin of Divine Love is Divine Bliss —ananda. The aim of Bhakti Yoga is to discover the Divine Ananda and to enjoy the Divine Ananda. In Karma Yoga we saw that we normally like to enjoy the fruits of our action. So there was an element of enjoyment. But we were told not to enjoy. Now in Bhakti Yoga we are told: enjoy. Our aim is to enjoy; but to enjoy what: not the fruits of action but to enjoy the Divine Love. To be in the embrace of the Divine for ever and ever… That is the aim of Bhakti Yoga —to enjoy. That is true enjoyment. That is why in the Isha Upanishad there is a very nice sentence: “Tena tyaktena bhunjitha” “By renouncing it you enjoy it.” You renounce this enjoyment of the fruits of action and then you enjoy the Supreme Divine. You renounce this enjoyment and when you do that properly you will enjoy the Divine Love. The aim of Bhakti Yoga is to discover the Divine Love, the Divine Bliss and to enjoy that Divine Love and Bliss. This is the aim of Bhakti Yoga.
Bhaktas are supposed to be mad men. Because when they really realize there is a madness and ecstasy because of the joy which is so immeasurable. The brain itself begins to be completely quiet. The brain has no place in that joy. One dances and dances and dances. That is why many real bhaktas cannot but dance cannot but create. All kinds of artistic creations come out of this great love. In fact all artists are basically bhaktas. All of you are artists, I know, and therefore you are actually following the path of bhakti. All of you are in search of the Divine Creation. Your little artistic pieces are only a little effort but when you reach the culmination of it you can create the whole universe because the Divine creates the universe out of His great ecstasy. As Sri Aurobindo says: “The whole world is the laughter of Shiva.” He laughs and the whole world is created. The whole world is a laughter. It is to discover this and enjoy it that is the aim of Bhakta Yoga.
What is the instrument? The instrument is emotion. Not the body, not the mind, not the desire, not the intellect, but emotion.
What is the process? Our emotions which are at present tied to small little things —this relationship or that relationship, this little thing to be enjoyed or that little thing to be enjoyed —all these emotions should be turned to the Supreme object of Love. The One that is really worthy of love. All other things are only tidbits of life. The real thing to be enjoyed is the Supreme, Supreme Krishna, the Delight of delight, the Universal and the Transcendental, the One Being, source of all joy and inexhaustible joy. To turn all your attention from these little things and pour all your love, all your emotions… If you are angry be angry with the Lord, if you are happy be happy in the company of the Lord. If you are in a mood to fight, fight with the Lord. If you want to obey somebody, obey the Lord. If you want to serve somebody, serve the Lord. All your emotions, whatever emotions you have, just pour them on the Supreme Object of Love. By doing this you find the Divine responds and this is the miracle. It is not only your part of thinking of God and loving him, you find that he loves you much more than you love him, much more passionately. As Sri Aurobindo says, “The bhakta discovers that the Divine pursues him more passionately than he pursues Him.” He loves you so much that nobody in the world can love you so. And this is not an illusion, it is a real fact. He himself manifests. If you read the poems of Mirabai, for example the dance that burst out in her body when she sees Sri Krishna and finds Sri Krishna in passionate love of Mirabai herself, that love, imperishable love, unfailing love. You then realise that all we call human love is bitter at the end. That is Sri Aurobindo’s words. All human love is basically, ultimately bitter. Although while drinking it, it is very sweet but when you analyse it and go to the depth of human love it is bitter as long as it is human, unless you turn it to the Divine —if you turn the human love to the Divine then it is immortal. Bhakti Yoga consists of turning human love into Divine love. It is the real process.
In this process there are three basic steps. Straining yourself towards the Divine —striving. Second, the experience that you are separated from your beloved. You do not find Him, you are striving up to Him. You do not find Him. Sometimes He appears but just for a little while. But that little while is so powerful that all other moments you feel that you are separated from Him and everything becomes dry. That moment when the Divine appears and touches you the ecstasy is so great that all other moments are felt to be a dry desert. So the process of Bhakti Yoga consists of striving even in that condition and ultimately comes the union. You receive Him, you obtain Him, you attain Him. You allow that love to manifest to you. You become the brazier of that love, the power, instrument of that love. Thereafter, wherever you see, everything is love. There is nothing which is bitter. Even bitterness itself becomes the Divine. It is said of Mirabai that she was sent a glass of poison. Her brother-in-law was very much opposed to her. To get rid of her one day he sent to her a glass of poison and as usual for Mirabai everything had to be offered to the Divine. She did not know that it was a glass of poison. She offered it to the Divine and said, “First you drink and then I drink”. That was the sadhana of bhakti. And when she drank she danced. Poison had become nectar. The touch of the Divine love was the touch of nectar. This is the power of the Divine love. When you reach that stage, even if poison is poured on you it becomes nectar, because everything in this world is the Divine nectar. That is the power and magic and efficacy of Divine love. That is why many great bhaktas were able to bear torture, great tortures. Because they see the Divine embrace in every torture. And that is really a fact. This is the process of Bhakti Yoga. In a sense there is no process. To strive and strive again and to be mad after the Divine. And then to enjoy the madness of the Divine, that is the process. That is Bhakti Yoga.
We have now done all the important systems of Yoga. Now we shall see what Integral Yoga is.
All right. All this was to explain only one word in the first line of the second paragraph of The Synthesis of Yoga.