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The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjai

The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjai

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Published by: UrbanMonk1986 on Mar 20, 2011
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11/06/2012

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attained through faith, energy, recollectedness, absorption

and illumination.

"Faith" is often used by agnostics as a term of abuse. That is

to say, it is taken to refer to the blind credulity which accepts

all kinds of dogmas and creeds without question, repeating

parrot-like what has been taught, and closing its ears to doubt

YOGA AND ITS AIMS 25

and reason. Such "faith" should certainly be attacked. It is

compounded of laziness, obstinacy, ignorance and fear. Because

it is rigid and unyielding it can quite easily be shaken and

altogether destroyed.

But this is not the true faith²the faith which is recommended

by Patanjali. True faith is provisional, flexible, undogmatic,

open to doubt and reason. True faith is not like a picture

frame, a permanently limited area of acceptance. It is like a

plant which keeps on throwing forth shoots and growing. All

we require, at the beginning, is a seed. And the seed need be

nothing more than a feeling of interest in the possibilities of

the spiritual life. Perhaps we read a passage in a book which

moves us. Perhaps we meet someone who seems to have

reached some degree of wisdom and tranquillity through the

practice of meditation and spiritual disciplines. We become

interested and intrigued. Maybe this is a solution for our own

problems, maybe it isn't. We can't be sure²we ought not, at

this stage, be sure²but we decide to give it a try.

Suppose you are subject to indigestion. One day you read a

book about diet or meet a doctor who tells you that he can

restore your health if you follow his instructions. You do not

have to accept the book or the doctor with blind faith, but you

do have to have provisional, hypothetical faith. You have to

assume that the diet will help your condition. You have to try

it before you can say with authority whether it is helpful or

useless. So, too, with the spiritual diet which the great teachers

recommend. You have to have provisional faith in the truth of

the scriptures and in the word of your teacher.

Also, you have to have energy. Without energy you cannot

follow any kind of instructions, day after day, and really test

their value. The Buddha pointed out that, if there is any sin, it

is laziness. As we have seen in discussing the gunas, tamas is

the lowest condition of nature and the human mind.

But, luckily for us, energy is like a muscle; it grows stronger

a 3

26 PATANJALI YOGA SUTRAS

through being used. This is a very simple and obvious, yet

perpetually amazing truth. Every creative artist knows those

days of apparently blank stupidity and lack of inspiration on

which he has to force himself to work. And then, suddenly,

after hours of toiling, the effort is rewarded; ideas and

enthusiasm begin to flow into him. In all our undertakings, the

little daily effort is all-important. The muscles of our energy

must be continually exercised. Thus, gradually, we gain

momentum and purpose.

As faith increases through personal experience and energy

grows through practice, the mind acquires a direction. it

becomes recollected, in the basic meaning of the word. Our

thoughts have been scattered, as it were, all over the mental

field. Now we begin to collect them again and to direct them

toward a single goal²knowledge of the Atman. As we do this

we find ourselves becoming increasingly absorbed in the

thought of what we are seeking. And so, at length, absorption

merges into illumination, and the knowledge is ours.

cl ti 4 11+11 4-IRTX:U II

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