"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Why Is it Hard To Welcome A 'New Spiritual Idea' ?" An Explanation By Swami Vivekananda

The word Prana. Prana is not exactly breath. It is the name for the energy that is in the universe. Whatever you see in the universe, whatever moves or works, or has life, is a manifestation of this Prana. the sum-total of the energy displayed in the universe is called Prana. This Prana, before a cycle begins, remains in an almost motionless state, and when the cycle begins this Prana begins to manifest itself. It is this Prana that is manifested as motion, as the nervous motion in human beings or animals, and the same Prana is manifesting as thought, and so on. The whole universe is a combination of Prana and Akasa; so is the human body. Outof Akasa you get the different materials that you feel, and see, and out of Prana all the various forces. Now this throwing out and restraining the Prana is what is called Pranayama. Patanjali, the father of the Yoga Philosophy,does not give many particular directions about Pranayama,but later on other Yogis found out various things about this Pranayama, and made of it a great science. With Patanjali this is one of the many ways, but he does not lay much stress on it.He means that you simply throw the air out, and draw it in,and hold it for some time, that is all, and by that, the mind will become a little calmner. But, later on, you will find that out of this is evolved a particular science called Pranayama. We will hear a little of what these later Yogis have to say.

Some of this I have told you before, but a little repetition will serve to fix it in your minds. First, you must remember that this Prana is not the breath. But that which causes the motion of the breath, that which is the vitality of the breath is the Prana.Again, the word Prana is used of all the senses; they are all called Prana, the mind is called Prana; and so we see that Prana is the name of a certain force. And yet we cannot call it force, because force is only the manifestation of it. It is that which manifests itself as force and everything else in the way of motion. The Chitta, the mind, is the engine which draws in the Prana from the surroundings, and manufactures out of this Prana the various vital forces. First of all the forces that keep the body in preservation, and lastly thought,will, and all other powers. By this process of breathing we can control all the various motions in the body, and the various nerve currents that are running through the body. First we begin to recognise them, and then we slowly get control over them.

Now these later Yogis consider that there are three main currents of this Prana in the human body. One they call Ida,another Pingala, and the third Susumna. Pingala, accordingto them, is on the right side of the spinal column, and the Ida is on the left side, and in the middle of this spinal column is the Susumna, a vacant channel. Ida and Pingala, according to them, are the currents working in every man, and through these currents, we are performing all the functions of life.Susumna is present in all, as a possibility; but it works only in the Yogi. You must remember that the Yogi changes his body;as you go on practicing your body changes; it is not the same body that you had before the practice. That is very rational,and can be explained, because every new thought that we have must make, as it were, a new channel through the brain,and that explains the tremendous conservatism of human nature. Human nature likes to run through the ruts that are already there, because it is easy. If we think, just for example’s sake, that the mind is like a needle, and the brain substance a soft lump before it, then each thought that we have makes a street, as it were, in the brain, and this street would close up, but that the grey matter comes and makes a lining to keep it separate. If there were no grey matter there would be no memory, because memory means going over these old streets, retracing a thought as it were. Now perhaps you have remarked that when I talk on subjects that in which it take a few ideas that are familiar to everyone, and combine,and recombine them, it is easy to follow, because these channels are present in everyone’s brain, and it is only necessary to recur to them. But whenever a new subject comes new channels have to be made, so it is not understood so readily. And that is why the brain (it is the brain, and not the people themselves) refuses unconsciously to be acted upon by new ideas. It resists. The Prana is trying to make new channels, and the brain will not allow it. This is the secret of conservatism. The less channels there have been in the brain, and the less the needle of the Prana has made these passages, the more conservative will be the brain, the more it will struggle against new thoughts. The more thoughtful the man, the more complicated will be the streets in his brain,and the more easily he will take to new ideas, and understand them. So with every fresh idea; we make a new impression inthe brain, cut new channels though the brain-stuff, and that is why we find that in the practice of Yoga (it being an entirely new set of thoughts and motives) there is so much physical resistance at first. That is why we find that the part of religion which deals with the world side of nature can be so widely accpeted, while the other part, the Philosophy, or the Psychology, which deals with the inner nature of man, is so frequently neglected. We must remember the definition of this world of ours; it is only the Infinite Existence projected in to the plane of consciousness. A little of the Infinite is projected into consciousness, and that we call our world. So there is an Infinite beyond, and religion has to deal with both,with the little lump we call our world, and with the Infinite beyond. Any religion which deals alone with either one of these two will be defective. It must deal with both. That partof religion which deals with this part of the Infinite which has come into this plane of consciousness, got itself caught, as it were, in the plane of consciousness, in the case of time, space,and causation, is quite familiar to us, because we are in that already, and ideas about this world have been with us almost from time immemorial. The part of religion which deals with the Infinite beyond comes entirely new to us, and getting ideas about it produces new channels in the brain, disturbing the whole system, and that is why you find in the practice of Yoga ordinary people are at first turned out of their groove. In order to lesson these disturbances as much as possible all these methods are devised by Patanjali, that we may practice any one of them best suited to us.

- From the commentary of Swami Vivekananda 
  on Patanjali's Yoga Sutra


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