This article is an excerpt from the book “Yoga as a Universal Science”.
The powers of nature are too incomprehensible and too incredibly large for the little individual to encounter them, to face them. To succeed in such an encounter with Nature, one has to develop a strength equal to the powers of Nature, which is not an ordinary job. So, we may have to apply various methods in trying to restrain the mind and should not rest content with applying only one method; just as in military manoeuvres, they apply many techniques and not only one technique. If they did not do so, there might be a retrograde movement and perhaps a defeat. Just as nature works in many ways, just as we take different types of diet on different days, it is necessary that the student of Yoga should also apply the techniques of restraint of the mind in as many ways as possible. We do not eat the same food everyday, though we eat everyday. We change the type of diet daily, because the body and the mind have their own idiosyncracies. Somehow we have to transform this process of the practice of Yoga into a happy and joyous undertaking, rather than imagine that it is painful work imposed upon us as in a prison-house. We do not try to practise Yoga as if we are captives in a concentration camp and as if Yoga is a punishment meted out to us. No. It is something that we have undertaken of our own accord with wide open eyes, with a knowledge of what it is, and how essential it is for our life.
The mind refuses to concentrate on any particular object, because it has not been convinced that the object chosen for the purpose of concentration is capable of bestowing upon it all the boons that it seeks. We have only heard people say that concentration is good. We have read this in many books. We have been hammering on this matter. But, our heart has a reason which reason does not know. The heart cannot always agree with the reason’s judgement, because we are more hearts than reasons oftentimes. Our feelings gain the upper hand and put down the opinions of the reasons. Who can be really convinced at the bottom of one’s heart that all that the world can give to a person is also there in the object of concentrations? Who can believe this? How can one force oneself or persuade oneself to believe that all the wealth and the riches of creation can be acquired merely by an act of concentration on a dot on the wall, or on the flame of a candle, or a flower that is rosy, or any imagery that is conceivable? Though there is a kind of rationale behind this argument, and intellectually perhaps we are capable of being convinced that there is a point in this type of concentration that we are required to practise, yet, there is a dissatisfaction at the core of the heart–the world is so rich, so beautiful, grand and perfect. There are many things in this world which are exceedingly beautiful and worth possessing, having and enjoying. What good is this concentration? “I have been doing this concentration for years. I have been a fool, a wool-gathering individual. I have lost this world, I have lost the other world, and am in a helpless condition.”–So saying, the mind weeps. We begin to cry inwardly that we have been befooled, as it were, by the so-called advice to concentrate the mind on some point. There is a revolt and a rebellion from inside, and nothing can be worse than psychological revolution.
This may happen to any person. Because Yoga is a terror, though it is also a mother and a father. Nothing can be so beneficial as Yoga is, and nothing can be so terrific and frightening as Yoga is. This is the irony of the whole matter. It is not easy for a person to feel in one’s own heart that a concentration on a form, whatever that form may be, inward or outward, is capable of bestowing the abundance of the riches of the world. Who does not wish to become a king, if it could be possible? Who does not wish to possess the whole world, if it were practicable? We know that it is not possible. So, like the fox in the story rejecting the sour grapes, we are likely to reject the world as not worth having, because we cannot have it. We all know this very well. We are not fit and we have not got the capacity to possess the treasures of the universe; we have not got the means to acquire the powers by which we can be the masters of the universe, of the world. We are defeatists, poor nothings trying to practise Yoga, for an end which also appears to be nothing. These difficulties will have to be faced one day or the other. In facing them, many have failed, have had a fall. With such a thud they had to break their heads. They would have been better without Yoga than with it. This is a sorry state of affairs. If it has come about in the lives of some, it can come about in the lives of others also. So, it is necessary once again to bring back to our own memory the necessity to go slowly, and see that we are really convinced in our hearts that what we are doing is hundred per cent correct, and that we are on the right path. “Absolutely I have no doubt in my mind, and my practice is the one that I am expected to perform. I am treading the correct way, and the fact that I do not see any light in the horizon, the fact that I have no experience whatsoever even after years of practice, is not going to deter me from continuing the practice, because I already know that I have to pass through all these stages of oblivion, darkness and helplessness.”–Such should be the firm conviction of every Yoga student. Even when we are utterly helpless and seem to be failing down, we must be convinced that the so-called fall is only a part of the process of rising up. But, who can be convinced like this when one is actually falling? So, God save us and the Guru bless us! These are some of the cautions that have to be administered to the mind of a student of Yoga, if he is going to be sincere when he takes to its practice.