THE COMPLETE WORKS | VOLUME 1 | SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
|| SECTION 4 | PATANJALI'S YOGA SUTRAS ||
|| INTRODUCTION ||
Before going into the Yoga aphorisms I shall try to discuss one great question , upon which rests the whole theory of religion for the Yogis .
It seems the consensus of opinion of the great minds of the world , and it has been nearly demonstrated by researches into physical nature , that we are the outcome and manifestation of an absolute condition , back of our present relative condition , and are going forward , to return to that absolute .
This being granted , the question is :
Which is better , the absolute or this state ?
There are not wanting people who think that this manifested state is the highest state of humanity . Thinkers of great calibre are of the opinion that we are manifestations of undifferentiated being and the differentiated state is higher than the absolute . They imagine that in the absolute there cannot be any quality ; that it must be insensate , dull , and lifeless ; that only this life can be enjoyed , and , therefore , we must cling to it .
First of all we want to inquire into other solutions of life .
There was an old solution that humans after death remained the same ; that all the good sides , minus the evil sides , remained for ever .
Logically stated , this means that humanity's goal is the world ; this world carried a stage higher , and eliminated of its evils , is the state they call heaven . This theory , on the face of it , is absurd and puerile , because it cannot be . There cannot be good without evil , nor evil without good . To live in a world where it is all good and no evil is what Sanskrit logicians call a " dream in the air " .
Another theory in modern times has been presented by several schools , that human destiny is to go on always improving , always struggling towards , but never reaching the goal .
This statement , though apparently very nice , is also absurd , because there is no such thing as motion in a straight line . Every motion is in a circle . If you can take up a stone , and project it into space , and then live long enough , that stone , if it meets with no obstruction , will come back exactly to your hand . A straight line , infinitely projected must end in a circle .
Therefore , this idea that the destiny of humanity is progressing ever forward and forward , and never stopping , is absurd .
Although extraneous to the subject , I may remark that this idea explains the ethical theory that you must not hate , and must love . Because , just as in the case of electricity the modern theory is that the power leaves the dynamo and completes the circle back to the dynamo , so with hate and love ; they must come back to the source .
Therefore do not hate anybody , because that hatred which comes out from you , must , in the long run , come back to you . If you love , that love will come back to you , completing the circle . It is as certain as can be , that every bit of hatred that goes out of the heart of a person comes back in full force , nothing can stop it ; similarly every impulse of love comes back .
On other and practical grounds we see that the theory of eternal progression is untenable , for destruction is the goal of everything earthly .
All our struggles and hopes and fears and joys , what will they lead to ? We shall all end in death . Nothing is so certain as this . Where , then , is this motion in a straight line — this infinite progression ? It is only going out to a distance , and coming back to the centre from which it started .
See how , from nebulae , the sun , moon , and stars are produced ; then they dissolve and go back to nebulae . The same is being done everywhere . The plant takes material from the earth , dissolves , and gives it back . Every form in this world is taken out of surrounding atoms and goes back to these atoms .
It cannot be that the same law acts differently in different places . Law is uniform . Nothing is more certain than that .
If this is the law of nature , it also applies to thought . Thought will dissolve and go back to its origin .
Whether we will it or not , we shall have to return to our origin which is called GOD or Absolute . We all came from GOD , and we are all bound to go back to GOD . Call that by any name you like , GOD , Absolute , or Nature , the fact remains the same .
" From whom all this Universe comes out , in whom all that is born lives , and to whom all returns . "
This is one fact that is certain . Nature works on the same plan ; what is being worked out in one sphere is repeated in millions of spheres . What you see with the planets , the same will it be with this earth , with humanity , and with all . The huge wave is a mighty compound of small waves , it may be of millions ; the life of the whole world is a compound of millions of little lives , and the death of the whole world is the compound of the deaths of these millions of little beings .
Now the question arises : Is going back to GOD the higher state , or not ?
The philosophers of the Yoga school emphatically answer that it is . They say that humans' present state is a degeneration . There is not one religion on the face of the earth which says that being human is an improvement . The idea is that one's beginning is perfect and pure , that one degenerates until one cannot degenerate further , and that there must come a time when one shoots upward again to complete the circle . The circle must be described . However low one may go , one must ultimately take the upward bend and go back to the original source , which is GOD . Human comes from GOD in the beginning , in the middle becomes human , and in the end goes back to GOD .
This is the method of putting it in the dualistic form .
The monistic form is that human is GOD , and goes back to GOD again .
If our present state is the higher one , then why is there so much horror and misery , and why is there an end to it ? If this is the higher state , why does it end ? That which corrupts and degenerates cannot be the highest state . Why should it be so diabolical , so unsatisfying ? It is only excusable , inasmuch as through it we are taking a higher groove ; we have to pass through it in order to become regenerate again . Put a seed into the ground and it disintegrates , dissolves after a time , and out of that dissolution comes the splendid tree . Every soul must disintegrate to become GOD . So it follows that the sooner we get out of this state we call " human " the better for us .
Is it by committing suicide that we get out of this state ? Not at all . That will be making it worse . Torturing ourselves , or condemning the world , is not the way to get out . We have to pass through the Slough of Despond , and the sooner we are through , the better . It must always be remembered that human-state is not the highest state .
The really difficult part to understand is that this state , the Absolute , which has been called the highest , is not , as some fear , that of the zoophyte or of the stone . According to them , there are only two states of existence , one of the stone , and the other of thought . What right have they to limit existence to these two ? Is there not something infinitely superior to thought ?
The vibrations of light , when they are very low , we do not see ; when they become a little more intense , they become light to us ; when they become still more intense , we do not see them — it is dark to us . Is the darkness in the end the same darkness as in the beginning ? Certainly not ; they are different as the two poles .
Is the thoughtlessness of the stone the same as the thoughtlessness of GOD ? Certainly not . GOD does not think ; GOD does not reason . Why should GOD ? Is anything unknown to GOD , that GOD should reason ? The stone cannot reason ; GOD does not . Such is the difference .
These philosophers think it is awful if we go beyond thought ; they find nothing beyond thought .
There are much higher states of existence beyond reasoning . It is really beyond the intellect that the first state of religious life is to be found .
When you step beyond thought and intellect and all reasoning , then you have made the first step towards GOD ; and that is the beginning of life . What is commonly called life is but an embryo state .
The next question will be : What proof is there that the state beyond thought and reasoning is the highest state ?
In the first place , all the great people of the world , much greater than those that only talk , people who moved the world , people who never thought of any selfish ends whatever , have declared that this life is but a little stage on the way towards Infinity which is beyond . In the second place , they not only say so , but show the way to everyone , explain their methods , that all can follow in their steps . In the third place , there is no other way left . There is no other explanation .
Taking for granted that there is no higher state , why are we going through this circle all the time ; what reason can explain the world ? The sensible world will be the limit to our knowledge if we cannot go farther , if we must not ask for anything more . This is what is called agnosticism .
But what reason is there to believe in the testimony of the senses ?
I would call that person a true agnostic who would stand still in the street and die . If reason is all in all , it leaves us no place to stand on this side of nihilism . If one is agnostic of everything but money , fame , and name , one is only a fraud .
Kant has proved beyond all doubt that we cannot penetrate beyond the tremendous dead wall called reason .
But that is the very first idea upon which all Indian thought takes its stand , and dares to seek , and succeeds in finding something higher than reason , where alone the explanation of the present state is to be found . This is the value of the study of something that will take us beyond the world .
" Thou art our source , and wilt take us to the other shore of this ocean of ignorance . "
That is the science of religion , nothing else .
SOURCE | SATYAVEDISM.ORG