List Of Contents | Contents of An Introduction to Yoga
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yourself desire or not desire, exactly as you like, if only you
will use the right means, and those means, after all, are fairly
simple. Why is it you desire to possess a thing? Because you
think it will make you happier. But suppose you know by past
experience that in the long run it does not make you happier, but
brings you sorrow, trouble, distress. You have at once, ready to
your hands, the way to get rid of that desire. Think of the
ultimate results. Let your mind dwell carefully on all the
painful things. Jump over the momentary pleasure, and fix your
thought steadily on the pain which follows the gratification of
that desire. And when you have done that for a month or so, the
very sight of those objects of desire will repel you. You will
have associated it in your mind with suffering, and will recoil
from it instinctively. You will not want it. You have changed the
want, and have changed it by your power of imagination. There is
no more effective way of destroying a vice than by deliberately
picturing the ultimate results of its indulgence. Persuade a
young man who is inclined to be profligate to keep in his mind
the image of an old profligate; show him the profligate worn out,
desiring without the power to gratify; and if you can get him to
think in that way, unconsciously he will begin to shrink from
that which before attracted him; the very hideousness of the
results frightens away the man from clinging to the object of
desire. And the would-be yogi has to use his thought to mark out
the desires he will permit, and the desires that he is determined
to slay.

The next thing after a strong desire is a strong will. Will is
desire. transmuted, its directing is changed from without to
within. If your will is weak, you must strengthen it. Deal with
it as you do with other weak things: strengthen it by practice.
If a boy knows that he has weak arms, he says: "My arms are weak,
but I shall practice gymnastics, work on the parallel bars: thus
my arms. will grow strong." It is the same with the will.
Practice will make strong the little, weak will that you have at

Resolve, for example, saying: "I will do such and such thing
every morning," and do it. One thing at a time is enough for a
feeble will. Make yourself a promise to do such and such a thing
at such a time, and you will soon find that you will be ashamed
to break your promise. When you have kept such a promise to
yourself for a day, make it for a week, then for a fortnight.
Having succeeded, you can choose a harder thing to do, and so on.
By this forcing of action, you strengthen the will. Day after day
it grows greater in power, and you find your inner strength
increases. First have a strong desire. Then transmute it into a
strong will.

The third requisite for Yoga is a keen and broad intelligence.
You cannot control your mind, unless you have a mind to control.
Therefore you must develop your mind. You must study. By study, I
do not mean the reading of books. I mean thinking. You may read a
dozen books and your mind may be as feeble as in the beginning.
But if you have read one serious book properly, then, by slow
reading and much thinking, your intelligence will be nurtured and
your; mind grow strong.

These are the things you want--a strong desire, an indomitable
will, a keen. intelligence. Those are the capacities that you
must unfold in order that the practice of Yoga may be possible to
you. If your mind is very unsteady, if it is a butterfly mind
like a child's, you must make it steady. That comes by close
study and thinking. You must unfold the mind by which you are to

Forthgoing and Returning

It will help you, in doing this and in changing your desire, if
you realise that the great evolution of humanity goes on along
two paths--the Path of Forthgoing, and the Path of Return.

On the Path, or marga, of Pravritti--forthgoing on which are the
vast majority of human beings, desires are necessary and useful.
On that path, the more desire a man has, the better for his
evolution. They are the motives that prompt to activity. Without
these the stagnates, he is inert. Why should Isvara have filled
the worlds with desirable objects if He did not intend that
desire should be an ingredient in evolution? He deals with
humanity as a sensible mother deals -with her child. She does not
give lectures to the child on the advantages of walking nor
explain to it learnedly the mechanism of the muscles of the leg.
She holds a bright glittering toy before the child, and says:
"Come and get it." Desire awakens, and the child begins to crawl,
and so it learns to walk. So Isvara has put toys around us, but
always just out of our reach, and He says: "Come, children, take
these. Here are love, money, fame, social consideration; come and
get them. Walk, make efforts for them." And we, like children,
make great efforts and struggle along to snatch these toys. When
we seize the toy, it breaks into pieces and is of no use. People
fight and struggle and toil for wealth, and, when they become
multi-millionaires, they ask: "How shall we spend this wealth?" I
read of a millionaire in America, who was walking on foot from
city to city, in order to distribute the vast wealth which he
accumulated. He learned his lesson. Never in another life will
that man be induced to put forth efforts for the toy of wealth.
Love of fame, love of power, stimulate men to most strenuous
effort. But when they are grasped and held in the hand, weariness
is the result. The mighty statesman, the leader of the nation,
the man idolised by millions--follow him home, and there you will
see the weariness of power, the satiety that cloys passion. Does
then God mock us with all the objects? No. The object has been to
bring out the power of the Self to develop the capacity latent in
man, and in the development of human faculty, the result of the
great lila may be seen. That is the way in which we learn to
unfold the God within us; that is the result of the play of the
divine Father with His children.

But sometimes the desire for objects is lost too early, and the
lesson is but half learned. That is one of the difficulties in
the India of today. You have a mighty spiritual philosophy, which
was the natural expression for the souls who were born centuries
ago. They were ready to throw away the fruit of action and to
work for the Supreme to carry out His Will.

But the lesson for India at the present time is to wake up the
desire. It may look like going back, but it is really a going
forward. The philosophy is true, but it belonged to those older
souls who were ready for it, and the younger souls now being born
into the people are not ready for that philosophy. They repeat it
by rote, they are hypnotised by it, and they sink down into
inertia, because there is nothing they desire enough to force
them to exertion. The consequence is that the nation as a whole
is going downhill. The old lesson of putting different objects
before souls of different ages, is forgotten, and every one is
now nominally aiming at ideal perfection, which can only be
reached when the preliminary steps have been successfully
mounted. It is the same as with the "Sermon on the Mount" in
Christian countries, but there the practical common sense of the
people bows to it and--ignores it. No nation tries to live by the
"Sermon on the Mount " It is not meant for ordinary men and
women, but for the saint. For all those who are on the Path of
Forthgoing, desire is necessary for progress.

What is the Path of Nivritti? It is the Path of Return. There
desire must cease; and the Self-determined will must take its
place. The last object of desire in a person commencing the Path
of Return is the desire to work with the Will of the Supreme; he
harmonises his will with the Supreme Will, renounces all separate
desires, and thus works to turn the wheel of life as long as such
turning is needed by the law of Life. Desire on the Path of
Forthgoing becomes will on the Path of Return; the soul, in
harmony with the Divine, works with the law. Thought on the Path
of Forthgoing is ever alert, flighty and changing; it becomes
reason on the Path of Return; the yoke of reason is placed on the
neck of the lower mind, and reason guides the bull. Work,
activity, on the Path of Forthgoing, is restless action by which
the ordinary man is bound; on the Path of Return work becomes
sacrifice, and thus its binding force is broken. These are, then,
the manifestations of three aspects, as shown on the Paths of
Forthgoing and Return.

Bliss manifested as desire is changed into will
Wisdom manifested as thought is changed into reason.
Activity  manifested as work  is changed into sacrifice.

People very often ask with regard to this: "Why is will placed in
the human being as the correspondence of bliss in the Divine?"
The three great Divine qualities are: chit or consciousness;
ananda or bliss; sat or existence. Now it is quite clear that the
consciousness is reflected in intelligence in man--the same
quality, only in miniature. It is equally clear that existence
and activity belong to each other. You can only exist as you act
outwards. The very form of the word shows It --"ex, out of"; it
is manifested life. That leaves the third, bliss, to correspond
with will, and some people are rather puzzled with that, and they
ask: "What is the correspondence between bliss and will?" But if
you come down to desire, and the objects of desire, you will be
able to solve the riddle. The nature of the Self is bliss. Throw
that nature down into matter and what will be the expression of
the bliss nature? Desire for happiness, the seeking after
desirable objects, which it imagines will give it the happiness
which is of its own essential nature, and which it is continually
seeking to realise amid the obstacles of the world. Its nature
being bliss, it seeks for happiness and that desire for happiness
is to be transmuted into will. All these correspondences have a
profound meaning if you will only look into them, and that
universal "will-to-live" translates itself as the "desire for

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