List Of Contents | Contents of An Introduction to Yoga
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the eternal, both rest and activity are ever present, and in that
which we call Time, they follow each other, although in eternity
they be simultaneous and ever-existing.

The Use of Mantras

Let us see how far we can help ourselves in this difficult work.
I will draw your attention to one fact which is of enormous help
to the beginner.

Your vehicles are ever restless. Every vibration in the vehicle
produces a corresponding change in consciousness. Is there any
way to check these vibrations, to steady the vehicle, so that
consciousness may be still? One method is the repeating of a
mantra. A mantra is a mechanical way of checking vibration.
Instead of using the powers of the will and of imagination, you
save these for other purposes, and use the mechanical resource of
a mantra. A mantra is a definite succession of sounds. Those
sounds, repeated rhythmically over and over again in succession,
synchronise the vibrations of the vehicles into unity with
themselves. Hence a mantra cannot be translated; translation
alters the sounds. Not only in Hinduism, but in Buddhism, in
Roman Catholicism, in Islam, and among the Parsis, mantras are
found, and they are never translated, for when you have changed
the succession and order of the sounds, the mantra ceases to be a
mantra. If you translate the words, you may have a very beautiful
prayer, but not a mantra. Your translation may be beautiful
inspired poetry, but it is not a living mantra. It will no longer
harmonise the vibrations of the surrounding sheaths, and thus
enable the consciousness to become still. The poetry, the
inspired prayer, these are mentally translatable. But a mantra is
unique and untranslatable. Poetry is a great thing: it is often
an inspirer of the soul, it gives gratification to the ear, and
it may be sublime and beautiful, but it is not a mantra.


Let us consider concentration. You ask a man if he can
concentrate. He at once says: "Oh! it is very difficult. I have
often tried and failed." But put the same question in a different
way, and ask him: "Can you pay attention to a thing?" He will at
once say: "Yes, I can do that."

Concentration is attention. The fixed attitude of attention, that
is concentration. If you pay attention to what you do, your mind
will be concentrated. Many sit down for meditation and wonder why
they do not succeed. How can you suppose that half an hour of
meditation and twenty- three and a half hours of scattering of
thought throughout the day and night, will enable you to
concentrate during the half hour? You have undone during the day
and night what you did in the morning, as Penelope unravelled the
web she wove. To become a Yogi, you must be attentive all the
time. You must practice concentration every hour of your active
life. Now you scatter your thoughts for many hours, and you
wonder that you do not succeed. The wonder would be if you did.
You must pay attention every day to everything you do. That is,
no doubt, hard to do, and you may make it easier in the first
stages by choosing out of your day's work a portion only, and
doing that portion with perfect, unflagging attention. Do not let
your mind wander from the thing before you. It does not matter
what the thing is. It may be the adding up of a column of
figures, or the reading of a book. Anything will do. It is the
attitude of the mind that is important and not the object before
it. This is the only way of learning concentration. Fix your mind
rigidly on the work before you for the time being, and when you
have done with it, drop it. Practise steadily in this way for a
few months, and you will be surprised to find how easy it becomes
to concentrate the mind. Moreover, the body will soon learn to do
many things automatically. If you force it to do a thing
regularly, it will begin to do it, after a time, of its own
accord, and then you find that you can manage to do two or three
things at the same time. In England, for instance, women are very
fond of knitting. When a girl first learns to knit, she is
obliged to be very intent on her fingers. Her attention must not
wander from her fingers for a moment, or she will make a mistake.
She goes on doing that day after day, and presently her fingers
have learnt to pay attention to the work without her supervision,
and they may be left to do the knitting while she employs the
conscious mind on something else. It is further possible to train
your mind as the girl has trained her fingers. The mind also, the
mental body, can be so trained as to do a thing automatically. At
last, your highest consciousness can always remain fixed on the
Supreme, while the lower consciousness in the body will do the
things of the body, and do them perfectly, because perfectly
trained. These are practical lessons of Yoga.

Practice of this sort builds up the qualities you want, and you
become stronger and better, and fit to go on to the definite
study of Yoga.

Obstacles to Yoga

Before considering the capacities needed for this definite
practice, let us run over the obstacles to Yoga as laid down by

The obstacles to Yoga are very inclusive. First, disease: if you
are diseased you cannot practice Yoga; it demands sound health,
for the physical strain entailed by it is great. Then languor of
mind: you must be alert, energetic, in your thought. Then doubt:
you must have decision of will, must be able to make up your
mind. Then carelessness: this is one of the greatest difficulties
with beginners; they read a thing carelessly, they are
inaccurate. Sloth: a lazy man cannot be a Yogi; one who is inert,
who lacks the power and the will to exert himself; how shall he
make the desperate exertions wanted along this line? The next,
worldly-mindedness, is obviously an obstacle. Mistaken ideas is
another great obstacle, thinking wrongly about things. One of the
great qualifications for Yoga is "right notion" "Right notion"
means that the thought shall correspond with the outside truth;
that a man shall he fundamentally true, so that his thought
corresponds to fact; unless there is truth in a man, Yoga is for
him impossible. Missing the point, illogical, stupid, making the
important, unimportant and vice versa. Lastly, instability: which
makes Yoga impossible, and even a small amount of which makes
Yoga futile; the unstable man cannot be a yogi.

Capacities of Yoga

Can everybody practise Yoga? No. But every well-educated person
can prepare for its future practice. For rapid progress you must
have special capacities, as for anything else. In any of the
sciences a man may study without being the possessor of very
special capacity, although he cannot attain eminence therein; and
so it is with Yoga. Anybody with a fair intelligence may learn
something from Yoga which he may advantageously practice, but he
cannot hope unless he starts with certain capacities, to be a
success in Yoga in this life. It is only right to say that; for
if any special science needs particular capacities in order to
attain eminence therein, the science of sciences certainly cannot
fall behind the ordinary sciences in the demands that it makes on
its students.

Suppose I am asked: "Can I become a great mathematician?" What
must be my answer? "You must have a natural aptitude and capacity
for mathematics to be a great mathematician. If you have not that
capacity, you cannot be a great mathematician in this life." But
this does not mean that you cannot learn any mathematics. To be a
great mathematician you must be born with a special capacity for
mathematics. To be born with such a special capacity means that
you have practiced it in very many lives and now you are born
with it ready-made. It is the same with Yoga. Every man can learn
a little of it. But to be a great Yogi means lives of practice.
If these are behind you, you will have been born with the
necessary faculties in the present birth.

There are three faculties which one must have to obtain success
in Yoga. The first is a strong desire. "Desire ardently." Such a
desire is needed to break the strong links of desire which knit
you to the outer world. Moreover, without that strong desire you
will never go through all the difficulties that bat your way. You
must have the conviction that you will ultimately succeed, and
the resolution to go on until you do succeed. It must be a desire
so ardent and so firmly rooted, that obstacles only make it more
keen. To such a man an obstacle is like fuel that you throw on a
fire. It burns but the more strongly as it catches hold of it and
finds it fuel for the burning. So difficulties and obstacles are
but fuel to feed the fire of the yogi's resolute desire. He only
becomes the more firmly fixed, because he finds the difficulties.

If you have not this strong desire, its absence shows that you
are new to the work, but you can begin to prepare for it in this
life. You can create desire by thought; you cannot create desire
by desire. Out of the desire nature, the training of the desire
nature cannot come.

What is it in us that calls out desire? Look into your own mind,
and you will find that memory and imagination are the two things
that evoke desire most strongly. Hence thought is the means
whereby all the changes in desire can be brought about. Thought,
imagination, is the only creative power in you, and by
imagination your powers are to be unfolded. The more you think of
a desirable object, the stronger becomes the desire for it. Then
think of Yoga as desirable, if you want to desire Yoga. Think
about the results of Yoga and what it means for the world when
you have become a yogi, and you will find your desire becoming
stronger and stronger. For it is only by thought that you can
manage desire. You can do nothing with it by itself. You want the
thing, or you do not want it, and within the limits of the desire
nature you are helpless in its grasp. As just said, you cannot
change desire by desire. You must go into another region of your
being, the region of thought, and by thought you can make

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