Science of the Absolute Chapter 9 - Epilogue
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Created on Monday, 20 October 2008 18:52
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Published on Monday, 20 October 2008 18:52
Written by Patrick Misson
AN INTEGRATED SCIENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE
Yoga refers to the subject of a positively adjusted or oriented spirit or global mind of a special kind of spiritual aspirant of India, generally called a yogi, who constantly practices contemplative discipline with a view to peace or joy. It is his mind he controls and it is this same controlled and vertically adjusted state of mind that is referred to in this chapter. As we have already explained, Yoga is a relational attitude in which psycho-physical factors enter from both sides to establish some kind of enjoyable harmony or equilibrium between the two poles of the Self and the non-Self. The mind is thus the central subject or object of meditation.
In order to follow correctly the implications of the Yoga of this chapter we have first of all to think schematically of the mind so that its structural form and its counterpart in more conceptual terms can refer to each other. This is to enable the workings of Yoga, where an osmotic interchange of positive and negative essences takes place, to be visualized. In the second and third chapters we have already seen how mental life was treated from a slightly different epistemological angle. Again, in the sixth chapter the same mind, as an organ of thought or mental activity in general, was considered as an aspect of the Self in interaction with its non-Self counterpart as the basis of the expressions of an active type in both the dream state and mystical life. It is the same mind that is involved in the present chapter. When the mind is vertically oriented and brought into reciprocal relationship with its counterpart called here the cidatma (the reasoning Self) it is revealed as a self-luminous and crystalline entity having both structural and a symbolic status.
The popular version of Yoga often presupposes that within some months or years of cultivating the body through breathing exercises or postures one is brought nearer to some kind of high and culminating value resembling samadhi (peace), satori (the Zen Buddhist version of samadhi) or nirvana (final absorption or emancipation). Freedom in the correct sense is a goal to be reached by periods of practice conceived as units of successive lives, sometimes almost implying a beginningless eternity in time. Quickly obtainable results which are meant only to apply to transient and very practical values are mentioned in Yoga literature But the true Yoga is the pure verticalized version of practical and quickly accomplished Yoga. The values involved cling together into a fourfold scheme which has been referred to by Vyasa in his commentary on the "Yoga Sutras" (11.15): "Hence this science is said to possess four departments." Patanjali's Yoga Sutras fully respect this same structuralism openly referred to by Vyasa in every part of his analysis of the inner workings of the meditative mind. This structuralism is not however an original discovery of Patanjali. It owes much of its inspiration to the Samkhya philosophy of Kapila. Both Samkhya and Patanjali Yoga taken together owe their inspiration in turn to the older Upanishadic literature.
The Upanishads in general use the same structural language. In the "Svetasvatara Upanishad" (IV.6), for instance, we find the image of the two birds sitting on the same tree, one eating fruit and the other watching.
The structuralism which particularly pertains to Yoga is implicitly or explicitly mentioned in the "Yoga Upanishads". In the "Hamsa Upanishad", one of the "Yoga Upanishads", we read the following reference to a pure crystal with its many structural implications:
"In the filament (of the lotus), there arises the waking state; in the pericarp, there arises the svapna (dreaming state); in the bija (seed of the pericarp) there arises the sushupti (dreamless sleeping state); when leaving the lotus, there is turiya (fourth state). When hamsa is absorbed in nada (spiritual sound), the state beyond the fourth is reached. Nada (which is at the end of sound and beyond speech and mind) is like a pure crystal extending from muladhara to brahmarandhra. It is that which is spoken of as Brahma and Paramatma". (1)
Other structural details are found in the "Dhyanabindu Upanishad" which is a variation on the "Hamsa Upanishad", having many points in common. We read:
"Akara (A) is of (pita) yellow colour and is said to be of rajoguna; ukara (U), is of white colour and of sattvaguna; makara (M) is of dark colour and of tamoguna. He who does not know omkara as having eight angas (parts), four padas (feet), three sthanas (seats) and five devatas (presiding deities), is not a Brahmana. Pranava is the bow. Atma is the arrow and Brahman is said to be the aim." (2)
This mystical language in which the secrets of Yoga are mentioned in the original inspiring texts just quoted have later been revised in clearly conceived schematic terms by Patanjali. However, the main features of this protolinguistic structural way of expression are fully retained by Patanjali. If the Samkhya philosophy began to be considered somewhat heterodox by more orthodox schools, the Commentary of Vyasa on the "Yoga Sutras" must be looked upon as an attempt to bring both Samkhya and Yoga more into line with the religious than philosophical way of treating the subject, tending to be more orthodox than heterodox.
The same spirit of the "Brahma Sutras" is seen to be respected by Vyasa in his Commentary on Patanjali, whoever this Vyasa might be. In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapters IV and V) we find the final dialectical revaluation of both Samkhya and Patanjali Yoga brought into perfect line with the Science of the Absolute (brahma-vidya). The whole of the Bhagavad Gita may be said to present Yoga in this dialectical and revalued form as a Science of the Absolute.
The Commentary of Vyasa on Patanjali with which we are more concerned with here, has its own contribution to make to the task of revaluing and restating more unitively the dualistic structuralism of Patanjali and Kapila, as we see from the quotation from Vyasa already given (see pp. 1120-1121 above).
The content of this chapter on Yoga becomes clear to the reader only when this schematic reference to the structure of a colour solid is kept in mind so as to visualize the reciprocity of the counterparts and the verticalization and union producing joy and stillness in the mind or spirit. As envisaged by Narayana Guru in this chapter, Yoga is not a passing way of practising certain attitudes or disciplines lightheartedly or artificially as a hobby or pet regime, but is instead an integrated whole-hearted and lasting way of meditative life to be treated with seriousness throughout one's lifetime. As a discipline leading to nirvana, found in the next chapter, it also marks the culmination of the devotion or contemplation found in the previous chapter.
It must be remembered that all the chapters are meant to throw light on the notion of the Absolute, whether as an existent, subsistent or value factor. Yoga can refer directly to the personality of the yogi or to his meditative mind or the joy resulting from a particular kind of verticalized restraint. This is how Yoga is understood when considered in both its normalized positive or negative aspects at once.
1. PERFECT PARTICIPATION IN YOGA
There is a paradoxical element hiding at the core of the problem of uniting with restraint the mind with reason. We have already reviewed some of the definitions of Yoga given by Patanjali, Vyasa, Valmiki and the author of the Bhagavad Gita, which has its own version implicitly or explicitly given throughout all its chapters. As we have said, the Bhagavad Gita is the one text capable of revaluing and restating Yoga in all its varied practical and theoretical implications. To appreciate the subtle and secret nature of the occasional possibility or probability of establishing a perfect union between the counterparts that properly belong to the context of Yoga, let us look at one intriguing verse found in the Bhagavad Gita (XV.15) where the knower of absolute wisdom is paradoxically referred to as a Vedanta-krit (a doer of Vedanta) side by side with "Veda-vit" (knower of Veda):
"And I am seated at the heart of all, from Me are memory and (positive) wisdom and its negative process; I am that which is to be known by all the Vedas; I am indeed that Vedanta-maker and the Veda-knower too."
It is usually known that Veda refers to action and Vedanta to wisdom without action, but the epithets are seen purposely to be put in what seems to be the wrong way about by the author. This is an example of a subtle revaluation of both action and wisdom, as seen in a more unitive perspective of the non-dual Absolute instead of in the dualistic perspective of purusha (Spirit) and prakriti (Nature) of the original Samkhya Yoga.
When this subtle problem comes forward, the various ways in which the great authorities on Yoga try to bridge the original and inherent duality are seen to be different, and it is by way of concession to all of them that Narayana Guru terminates each of his verses on Yoga here in a different way, saying at one time that the man intent on practising Yoga should engage in it instead of speaking about it, and at other times applauding the knower rather than the practitioner. When a theoretically-minded teacher of Yoga is kept in mind, Narayana Guru terminates the verse with the phrase yogavit (knower of Yoga). When a traditionally-minded yogi is in mind, he uses the phrase yogo yogibhih smritah ("that as Yoga is (traditionally) recognized by yogis"). These variations have to be noted in order to extract the global and integrated import of the verses of this chapter.
The fact of the matter is that the subtle participation between the mind and reason within the same Self of the yogi can be imagined to have degrees of reciprocity, some more intimate than others. The khecari-mudra (attitude enabling one to gain the freedom of pure space), as we have pointed out, is the culmination of a series of synergisms in the psychosomatic hierarchy ranging from the most negative or instinctive of dispositions to the crowning attitude known to expert Yoga teachers. Practical Yoga or kriya-yoga, or even karma-yoga (the Yoga of action), all belong to the necessary or negative aspect of the situation involved in the perfect yogic union. The positive side of the same Yoga has to be the reasoning Self (cidatma) whose implications are philosophical rather than active. The horizontal participation between these counterparts, if possible at all, is called samyoga (contiguity). But proper Yoga can only take place by a more intimate form of verticalized non-contradictory participation known as samanvaya (mutual inherence). The fourfold factors involved; two of them horizontal and two vertical, constitute between them the paradoxical situation offered to the yogi wherein he has two alternative approaches for establishing the basic union between the mind and reason.
It is by the verticalized version attained by the attitude of restraint and consciously cultivated by the yogi that any participation is at all possible. A flower fertilized by pollen can be taken as an example to explain the two-sided reciprocity necessary for the fecundation of the flower. Vyasa's Commentary on the "Yoga Sutras" (II.24) refers to the story of an impotent husband:
"The impotent husband is thus addressed by his stupid wife, "My Lord! My sister has got a child; why indeed have I none?' He replies to her thus, "I shall produce in you a child when I am dead" (3)
This story, though somewhat banal, puts in graphic form the two alternative sets of possibilities of union between counterparts. An "either-or" or a "neither-nor" situation has to be ruled out if perfect reciprocity and consequent union are to result. In other words, in yogic participation both the mind and reason have to come together from both sides of the axis of reference and enter into reciprocal fusion, mutual transparency or union. At the rich centre of the core of the Self, together with the structural implications and the crystalline globality of the Self we have to think of this mutual transparency. If we call the necessary mental aspect the denominator; the contingent aspect of pure reason will be the numerator. These two factors must cancel out into unity because of their equal epistemological status.
Such are some of the subtle implications of Yoga. Unless these are respected Yoga will easily degenerate into a form of hobby or pastime as it becomes when treated lightheartedly. Sometimes it is even used as a form of substitute for physical culture. In the name of Indian culture Yoga is sometimes presented for purposes of exhibitive public display. True Yoga belongs to a more serious and fully spiritual philosophical context.
The place that yogic postures and exercises play have been greatly exaggerated so as to popularize it. Any comfortable asana (posture) will normally satisfy the requirements of Yoga, even according to the best yogic texts. When one sees that the whole series of possible postures are taught in Yogic Institutes one thinks of a man who goes to a furniture store and insists on buying all the different styles of chairs available so that he can sit comfortably on any one of them. The lady who chooses a hat need not look at all the hats that do not fit her. The mutual compatibility of counterparts is therefore most important, whether in the technique or wisdom of Yoga.
2. SOME ORIGINAL FEATURES OF THE YOGA OF THE UPANISHADS
Narayana Guru's attitude towards Yoga has been made clear in the verses of the text and by his comments, where we find valuable elements of revaluation, whereby a parity and reciprocity within the counterparts of action or wisdom are established. We have also added in our preliminary remarks some schematic clarification of the same fundamental version of Yoga. Both the position of Narayana Guru and the schematic features and normalization of various aspects of Yoga outlined by us seem to find much confirmation in some of the Upanishads. In order to show that neither the position of Narayana Guru nor our own approach are altogether original it will be profitable for us once again to scrutinize some of the implications of certain passages relating to such items as khecari-mudra (an attitude enabling one to gain the freedom of pure space) and the kundalini-sakti (serpent power).
These original versions are presented in a clearer and more absolutist perspective in the Upanishads than in the later and more elaborated treatises on Yoga. The methodology and epistemology of Yoga are respected more in these early texts than in later ones. Yoga as it concerns itself with the totality of spiritual life is both complete and capable of being viewed as a simple global synthetic whole. Over-analysis would defeat its vision as much as over-synthesis. Without pretending to present the following extracts in any definitely conceived order, we are merely trying to direct the attention of the reader to some of the original sources of Yoga that have evidently inspired later writers. The reader must put the features together so as to make them cohere as aspects of a global mental life to be visualized on the basis of the colour-solid referred to in the "Hamsa", "Svetasvatara", and other Upanishads on the one side, and the same colour solid gaining acceptance with modern thinkers of the West on the other side.
The first quotation is from the "Svetasvatara Upanishad" where a crystal is once again brought into the picture:
"Fog, smoke, sun, fire, wind,
Fire-flies, lightning, a crystal, a moon -
These are the preliminary appearances,
Which produce the manifestation of Brahma in Yoga.
When the fivefold quality of Yoga has been produced,
Arising from earth, water, fire, air, and space,
No sickness, no old age, no death has he
Who has obtained a body made out of the fire of Yoga
Lightness, healthiness, steadiness,
Clearness of countenance and pleasantness of voice,
Sweetness of odor, and scanty excretions-
These, they say, are the first stage in the progress of Yoga.
Even as a mirror stained by dust
Shines brilliantly when it has been cleansed,
So the embodied one, on seeing the nature of the Soul (Atman),
Becomes unitary, his end attained, from sorrow freed.
When with the nature of the self, as with a lamp,
A practitioner or Yoga beholds here the nature of Brahma,
Unborn, steadfast, from every nature free-
By knowing God (deva) one is released from all fetters" (4)
In the "Maitri Upanishad" (VI, 19) the fourth state (turiya) is mentioned and how to attain it. We read the following:
"Now it has been elsewhere said: "Verily, when a knower has restrained his mind from the external, and the breathing spirit (prana) has put to rest objects of sense, thereupon let him continue void of conceptions. Since the living individual (jiva) who is named "breathing spirit" has arisen here from what is not breathing spirit, therefore, verily, let the breathing spirit restrain his breathing spirit in what is called the fourth condition (turiya)."
For thus is has been said:
"That which is non-thought,
(yet) which stands in the midst of thought,
The unthinkable, supreme mystery!
Thereon let one concentrate his thought
And the subtle body (linga), too, without support. "" (5)
A very fine description of khecari-mudra is given in the "Sandilya Upanishad" (Ch.I) where the guru is describing this state to the disciple (sishya) Sandilya:
"With this mind and breath absorbed in an internal object, the yogin, though he does not really see the objects outside the under him, still (appears to) see them with eyes in which the pupils are motionless. This is called khechari mudra. It has as its sphere of extension one object and is very beneficial. (Then) the real seat of Vishnu, which is void and non-void, dawns on him. With eyes half closed and with a firm mind, fixing his eyes on the tip of his nose and becoming absorbed in the sun and moon, he, after remaining thus unshaken (becomes conscious of) the thing which is of the form of light, which is free from all externals, which is resplendent, which is the supreme truth and which is beyond. 0 Sandilya, know this to be tat. (That)." (6)
In Chapter I of the "Yogakundalini Upanishad" we have a description given of khechari as a science (vidya), As the translator rightly points out in a footnote, melana (union) is the key to the science of khechari. We read as follows:
"I shall hereafter describe the science called khechari which is such that one who knows it is freed from old age and death in this world. One who is subject to the pains of death, disease and old age should, 0 sage, on knowing this science, make his mind firm and practise khechari. One should regard that person as his guru on earth who knows khechari, the destroyer of old age and death, both from knowing the meaning of books and practice, and should perform it with all his heart. The science of khechari is not easily attainable, as also its practice. Its practice and melana (i.e. joining or union) are not accomplished simultaneously. Those that are bent upon practice do not get melana. Only some get the practice, 0 Brahman, after several births, but melana is not obtained even after a hundred births. Having undergone the practice after several births, some (solitary) yogin gets the melana in some future birth as the result of his practice. When a yogin gets this melana from the mouth of his guru, then he obtains the siddhis mentioned in the several books. When a man gets this melana through books and the significance, then he attains the state of Siva (i.e. the Absolute) freed from all rebirth. Even gurus may not be able to know this without books." (7)
In the "Sandilya Upanishad" (Ch.I) we get an excellent description of the kundalini:
"Having by contraction. opened the door of kundalini, one should force open the door of moksha. Closing with her mouth the door through which one ought to go, the kundalini sleeps spiral in form and coiled up like a serpent. He who causes this kundalini to move - he is an emancipated person. If this kundalini were to sleep in the upper part of the neck of any yogin, it goes towards his emancipation." (8)
The study of the original yogic texts together with a close examination of the classical work of Patanjali reveal the interesting possibility of making a fresh appraisal of the position of Yoga from two sides. When the two approaches are put together into a whole, the rational and structural aspects of Yoga cling together to one and the same scientific certitude.
We have already noted that the "Yoga Sutras" are based on the Samkhya philosophy which gives primacy to the notion of the pradhana (absolute substance) round which the system is built. Furthermore, more than half the literature that has grown around the Brahma Sutras is directed against the rival claims of the pradhana as against the brahman (Absolute) of the Vedanta philosophy of Badarayana. This single fact is sufficient to indicate that there is a serious disparity or divergence between the Yoga fully compatible with Vedanta and what is presented by Patanjali in the form of precisely analyzed categories and sub-categories. The Samkhya duality between Nature (prakriti) and Spirit (purusha), around which the system of Patanjali is built, necessarily implies the central notion of the pradhana at its core. This is fully repugnant to the author of the Brahma Sutras.
Vyasa's Commentary on the "Yoga Sutras" represents an effort to remedy the philosophical difference between the two positions. This we have already pointed out. Bhoja Raja's further commentary is also meant to help in the same correction. The very existence of these two commentaries indicates that there is need for some serious dialectical revaluation.
It is exactly this kind of revaluation that the Bhagavad Gita has undertaken. In Verses 4 and 5 of the Bhagavad Gita (already quoted) there is striking evidence of this sort of revaluation which is also found all over the eighteen chapters. It is not easy to select a few of them to serve as examples, but we can readily place our finger on the title of Chapter XV, called purushottama-yoga (The Yoga of the Paramount Person). Here we find Spirit (purusha) and Nature (prakriti) postulated in the first instance and then revised and given an equal status. There is no duality between them as they have been put together and fused masterfully into the Paramount Person (purushottama) who, devoid of all duality, represents the Supreme Spirit as nearly as possible.
Besides this chapter there is also more pointed reference in the Bhagavad Gita where the same desire to revalue and restate the Samkhya categories is fully in evidence. We can cite the example found in Chapter XIII, 19 and 20, where Spirit and Nature are intended to be put together into one and the same scheme belonging to the core of the Absolute. We read:
"Know you that nature and spirit are both beginningless; and know you also that modifications and their intrinsic modalities are born of nature. In what concerns agency for cause and effect the motivating factor is said to be nature; in the matter of experience of pleasure and pain, the motivating factor is spirit" (9)
The enjoyer (bhokta) can only be the Absolute conceived as the Self of man. The actor (karta) can only be an actual individual in a less richly universal but more concrete sense. The actor, (karta) can also be considered as belonging to a fully universalized, concrete and schematized context. The enjoyer (bhokta) and the actor (karta), the former fully verticalized while the latter is treated as a universal concrete with a horizontal reference, belong together to the same normalized Absolute. The verses under reference here are meant to accomplish such a double-sided correction or revaluation. When we add to this the more thorough-going revaluation found in IV, 18 where the whole of the paradox between action and inaction is abolished, the revaluation is fully accomplished.
It might naturally be asked why we should adhere to Patanjali's categories at all, instead of building up a new set of categories which are not vitiated by his duality. The answer to this is simple. The categories of Patanjali presuppose a protolinguistic schematism which has been consciously or unconsciously inherited from the older Upanishads. We have reviewed notions like kundalini-shakti (serpent power), khechari-mudra (the attitude enabling one to gain the freedom of pure space), the three nadis centres of vitality), the sushumna (the hair-like channel), the mulabandha (the lower), and the sahasrara (the higher poles). The "Yoga Upanishads" refer to a bird tied to a string, which, in its limited flight represents the elements of vitality moving between the three nadis and the mulabandhas. The ambivalent factors having a horizontal amplitude are the respiratory processes and inhibitions when inhaling and exhaling breaths along with the deep-seated vital tendencies (vayus) which together conform to the same structural pattern examined by us. The disparity between the more minute structural details mentioned in the texts can be conveniently neglected by us so as to extract for our purposes the main structural pattern in the mind of the ancient sages in broad outline only.
When we do this in a proper scientific spirit we believe that it will be possible to find full compatibility with the pattern emerging from these ancient texts and our own outlines found in the Preliminaries. Logic and even cybernetics, as we have pointed out, imply the same fundamental double-sided structure of the colour solid. We find reference made to these features in no unmistakable terms in both Vyasa´s Commentary to the "Yoga Sutras" and in some of the "Yoga Upanishads".
A most promising and interesting possibility now suggests itself. Philosophically speaking, the pradhana (absolute substance) of the Samkhyas can be treated as a rival notion to that of the brahman (Absolute) of Vedanta as far as categories are concerned. But both brahma-vidya (the Science of the Absolute) and Samkhya can share the same underlying schematic language for purposes of communicability, methodology and epistemology. As we have already pointed out the structure constitutes the basis for protolinguistics which has been respected as a schematized lingua-mystica of the ancient wisdom texts of the world. Such a protolinguism at the same time will answer all the requirements of a universal language for a future Science of the Absolute.
Just as the Pythagorean theorem gets its certitude both from the side of geometric figures and of algebraic equations, so the duality of Samkhya can be understood to belong to a central normalized notion in the context of the Absolute. Instead of rejecting the categories or structural implications of the subject of Yoga, we can combine both of them as a teacher can combine the two methods of proving the Pythagorean theorem. It is exactly this position that is underlined in the Bhagavad Gita (Verses 4-5).
When duality is treated both schematically and symbolically at once, we have in our hands a readymade instrument of scientific research of a rare and lasting value.
An integrated Science of the Absolute would then become a theoretical and practical possibility. As an example of the correction which Patanjali and Vyasa apply to pure categories we refer to the comments on the "Yoga Sutras" (11.22):
" 22. Although destroyed in relation to him whose interest has been fulfilled, it is not destroyed on account of its commonness to others" (10)
We now give Vyasa´s fully comment on this sutra:
"Why? Although destroyed for him whose interest has been fulfilled, it is not destroyed on account of its commonness to others. Although the Perceivable is destroyed, i.e., gets destruction with reference to one Purusha whose interest has been fulfilled, it is not destroyed on account of its commonness to other Purushas. Though it gets destroyed for the skilful Purusha (who has obtained perfection in Yoga), yet it has not fulfilled its duties in relation to the unskillful Purushas. So it gets fallen into the nature of the sphere of action on behalf of their Perceptivity. Thus it gets its own form from that of the other. Hence, on account of the eternity of the powers of both the Pure Perceptivity and the Perceiving Instrument, the beginningless conjunction has been described. So also it has been said: 'By reason of the beginningless conjunction of the characterized substances there is also the beginningless conjunction of each of the characteristics." (11)
This quotation, along with Vyasa´s comment on II, 41 already quoted (see pages 1120-1122 above) should be read together so that one lends certitude to the other. In doing so, Yoga is given a scientific status approached analytically through categories and synthetically through the colour solid. When this is done a normalized certitude results.
Thus there is a promising future from the science of Yoga, which, by more clearly revealing the "unknown man" of Alexis Carrel, will lay the foundation of a new discipline along lines that he dreamt of for Western civilization, as indicated in his words quoted at the end of the prologue to this chapter (see pp. 1136-37 above) .
4. CONCLUDING REMARKS
We have passed successively, in the various chapters of the second half of this work, from being an instrument obeying the wish of God and understanding the implications of absolutism more intimately and intensely, through pure reason, to a form of devotion or contemplation in Chapter 7. There the same two counterparts of the Self and the non-Self have been involved in a more intimate and complementary relationship always referring from the existent ontological to the high value implied in the general notion of the non-Self placed on the plus side of the vertical axis. Furthermore, devotion or contemplation has the element of joy or bliss (ananda) as an axiological factor, resulting from a verticalized participation of counterparts of the Self.
In the present chapter, which we have called Meditation, the same counterparts have attained to a degree of reciprocity, implying a mutual transparency or parity of status, by which the mind characterizing the Self, together with its more positive counterpart, the reasoning Self (cidatma) have become ready to be fused together by a mutual osmotic interchange of spiritual essences. In the next chapter this intimacy between the two counterparts becomes further accentuated. This is because one and the same whole is implied here, involving fusion of the highest of personal factors giving value to man and approximating him to God as nearly as possible. The present chapter has to be viewed in such a perspective if it is to yield the proper vision of the Absolute.
Let us now scrutinize each verse in the light of this perspective and try to relate it to the structural unit of a colour solid. This will serve as a very advantageous reference to see how the elements and functions referred to in this chapter hang together and operate.
Verse 1. Here the intention is to give a revised definition of Yoga in terms of the restraint (nirodha) found in the "Yoga Sutras" of Patanjali. There is, however a slight revaluation to be noticed. Instead of referring to restraint of all the functions of the mind there is a special kind of control exercised over horizontal tendencies. This is so that the mind will gain a vertical and positive orientation enabling it to meet on equal terms with its more positive counterpart, the reasoning Self (cidatma), with which it is ready to unite, to descend into its arms, as it were. The two-sided reciprocity implied between the two poles of the total structural situation, globally understood, constitutes the delicate evaluation and restatement that we have to note in this revised definition of Yoga.
By the final use of the term samsitah (is praised), Narayana Guru wants to say that such a definition. is already implied and accepted by the well-known classical scholars of Yoga such as Panini, Patanjali, Valmiki, Vyasa, Bhoja Raja and others. Patanjali's definition is retained as an overall factor of global restraint involved in the totality of the situation, rather than restraint of the mind in a limited and misleading dualistic sense as proper in the context of Samkhya Philosophy.
Verse 2. It is the Philosophical interpretation of the way of yogic orientation of the Self which is referred to here as the heart (hrit) that is implied in the purpose of this verse. The yogi is first of all required to abolish through intense philosophical reasoning the tri-basic prejudice consisting of the three discrete elements of knowledge, knower and known or seer, seen and sight. When treated horizontally they still remain disjunct from each other but when contemplation establishes a verticalized orientation at the heart of the Self, they absorb each other. This absorption is an interchange of essences melted and mixed by the purer, more liquid and transparent mind which can relate the heart or the lower Self when it is fully transparent with its own higher counterpart.
The lower Self is necessarily coloured or conditioned by the vasanas (incipient memory factors) however faint or feeble. This keeps the two counterparts apart without their being able to enter into more perfect unity. An effort is here recommended on the part of the yogi, but this effort is to last only so long as the vasanas are still operative. When no such effort is needed the province that is properly reserved for the next chapter is attained.
This reference to effort is reminiscent of the dualism of Patanjali, but nonetheless it is retained even in this revised version for the purposes of structural consistency and communicability. The use of the term vit (knower) at the end of the verse is to indicate that there are in this world persons who are experts on the subject and know the most important aspects of Yoga according to their own correct philosophical views.
Verse 3. After describing Yoga and its implications in fully philosophical terms, Narayana Guru now enters into the domain of Yoga as something to be practiced by a spiritual aspirant. He takes care, however, not to enter into the overt, gross or brute physical aspects of the practice, and prefers to begin by inserting the thin end of the wedge. He refers to the most subtle of epistemological factors called nama-rupa (name and form). These factors represent the relations and relata constituting the complex conglomeration called the Universe as the total reality inwardly confronting the contemplative yogi. When these monadic entities made up of name and form are mentally brought together and verticalized through meditation, the resulting knowledge will abolish all pluralistic items of interest, however numerous they might be. They all become merged into one vertical axis and finally become absorbed in the crystalline unity of the Absolute.
What is recommended here as the proper objective for the yogi is to constantly link his negative subjective mind to such a positive notion of the Absolute. This kind of discipline implies intellectual certitude about the nature of the Absolute. The word nisccitah (is fixed as certain) is expressly underlined by Narayana Guru to show how conviction is also a condition of Yoga, not mere practice.
Verse 4. The purpose of this verse is to bring in the value factor of joy or bliss (ananda) when the constant union through effort, as recommended in the previous verse, becomes more fully established and natural. The analogy of a streak of oil flowing when it is transferred alternately from one vessel to another is well known in texts on Yoga.
When meditation is interrupted the cumulative effect of the intimacy of the union of the counterparts involved is disrupted and made to suffer damage. The participation has to be unbroken although at certain stages of meditation, due to such actors as the alternation of respiration etc., the streak of oil representing the interchange of essences between counterparts might be thinner than at other stages.
The continuity principle in the process of meditation is therefore very important as known in the esoteric texts on Yoga. It is to indicate the importance of such secret indications that the word smritah (traditionally recognized) is employed here.
Verse 5. This verse, being in a central position, has its own realistic approach which is neither too philosophical nor too practical. It is when we recognize such detailed consistency in the arrangement of the verses, as also in every detail of the terms employed, that the fine workmanship of Narayana Guru becomes evident in each of the visions (darsanas) that constitute his Garland of Visions.
It is well known that the mind, by its associative processes, keeps wandering from interest to interest. Each item of interest has its incipient memory factor (vasana) determining the interest operating from a lower level. The yogi practising meditation has the task of constantly keeping his mind from other interests.
This is the form of restraint that he has to practise at all times The word iha (in this here) used at the end of the verse correctly refers to the "here and now" aspect of the situation as something the practising yogi has to attend to immediately whether or not mentioned in the yogic texts and known to experts.
Verses 6 - 7. A superior knower of Yoga is here under reference as the terminating epithet, sah yogavidam varah (he is a superior knower of Yoga) expressly states. He is evidently one whose knowledge of both the practical and theoretical peculiarities of Yoga are understood in a more expert manner than usual.
Sankalpa (willing) has its corresponding incipient memory factors (vasanas) at a lower level of the mind. Such couples consisting of willing and incipient memory factors have to be looked upon as independent psycho-physical entities, functioning outside the stream of Self-consciousness referred to here as the atma (Self). Such multiple entities or extraneous spheres of interest require to be uprooted by a more conscious effort than in the previous operations which were less physical in their importance.
The word nirudhyate (is restrained) implies the act of wilful inhibition rather than merely a form of passive unconscious mental restraint. Rising out of the seventh verse we have to notice an equation taking place between the seen and the seer. This is recommended as a mental operation to be practiced by the yogi. The seer and the seen may be cancelled out either way into the neutrality of the highest union of Yoga. Such wilful practice implies a conscious agent well-informed about the technical implications of Yoga.
Verse 8. Here the restless mind is compared to a bee whose fluttering wings attain to stillness in proportion to the joy or bliss it feels when enjoying the nectar at the core of the flower. This is to mark a kind of homeostasis or state of equilibrium between opposing tendencies. Value factors exist on the plus side and quickly alternating activities exist at the other pole, while the reciprocity of relationship between them, both active and retroactive, silences both and immerses the mind in the joy of the Absolute as a supreme though neutral value factor. The structure and mode of operation of Yoga when it succeeds is here indicated. This striking analogy is found mentioned in one of the "Yoga Upanishads" where there is also the reference to the breeze of yoga (yoga-vayuna) referring to tendencies that have become contemplative in the mind of the yogi.
Verse 9. Here the famous khecari-mudra (attitude enabling one to attain the freedom-of pure space) marks the crowning attitude of an expert in correct Yoga practice. Psychosomatic adjustments involving a hierarchy of lesser syndromes or synergisms are in principle covered by the attitude of khechari-mudra. Pure space is not to be mixed up with actual physical space. Various kinds of spaces are known even in modern physics. The "Mandalabrahmana Upanishad" (IV) refers to five kinds of space. Thus there is a hierarchy of spaces as well as a hierarchy of syndromes. In each case Yoga consists of matching the lower syndrome with its higher corresponding intellectual factor like the sky or space. This rule of matching the numerator with the denominator is respected throughout the "Yoga Upanishads" as an overall rule of yogic union.
It is further to be noted that in. the commentary on this verse, Narayana Guru states that the good effect or end result of practising khechari-mudra results in the abolition of sleepiness and fatigue. Sleepiness touches the negative structural pole of the mind and fatigue comes within its positive pole. The khechari-mudraversa, there is a middle state attained which, although understood in physical terms, contains the same essence of absolute freedom or bliss, because it has a high degree of spiritual attainment implied in it as union or harmony or a more intellectual level.
Here the reference is not to any expert knower or man of practices but to the event taking place as an occasional possibility. This is how an expert guides a disciple in such a rare attainment. Narayana Guru here cautions that this practice involving the cutting of the ligament joining the bottom of the tongue with the lower soft palate has to be performed carefully and in stages, and the practice has to be wilfully cultivated through long periods, sometimes with the help of a silk thread passed through the nose.
This is also referred to in the "Yoga Upanishads". Expert guidance is important in conforming to such detailed requirements. Contact of the punctured tongue with the region of the pituitary body or the pineal eye, where, even according to Descartes the soul or consciousness has its main locus, is supposed by knowers of khechari-mudra to produce a form of cosmic consciousness of a rare kind. By choosing to mention this mudra (attitude) and omitting all lesser ones, Narayana Guru gives his indirect recognition in principle to all the stages of the eightfold way of Yoga, which are inclusively covered by this crowning yogic attitude.
Verse 10. This final verse takes a summary and retrospective review of the whole position involved in Yoga. As Narayana Guru points out in his commentary, the distinction between Jnana Yoga (the Yoga of wisdom) and Karma Yoga (the Yoga of action) is not of much consequence. When viewed in the proto-unitive perspective of the Absolute both these disciplines meet within the same transparent crystal of the mind, tending to abolish even the last vestiges of duality between bright intelligence and dark action. The crystal may then be said to attain a uniformly grey brilliance of its own. The dualistic prejudice is fully abolished in the context of Yoga as a vision of the Absolute.
Patanjali in the "Yoga Sutras" (IV.7) thus describes the full-fledged yogi:
"Action is not bright nor dark to the man of unitive ways (i.e. the yogi); for others it is threefold."
Chuang Tzu, the Chinese mystic of Taoism has this interesting remark to make about the man without passions, who is very similar in outlook to the absolutist yogi of India:
"By a man without passions I mean one who does not permit good and evil to disturb his inward economy, but rather, falls in with what happens and does not add to the sum of his mortality." (12)
 K.N. Aiyar (trans.), "Thirty Minor Upanishads", Madras, 1914, p.213.
 Patanjali, "Yoga Sutras", p.79
 Bhagavad Gita, pp.556-567.
 Patanjali, "Yoga Sutras",p.75.
 Patanjali, "Yoga Sutras", pp. 75-76
 J.Legge (trans.) "The Texts of Taoism, Vol.I: The Writings of Chuang Tzu", Dover ed; New York, 1962.