An Introduction
to Yoga

by Annie Besant

The Meaning of the Universe

  • The Unfolding of Consciousness
  • The Oneness of the Self
  • The Quickening of the Process of Self-Unfoldment
  • Yoga is a Science
  • Man a Duality
  • States of Mind
  • Samadhi

The Literature of Yoga

  • Some Definitions
  • God Without and God  Within
  • Changes of Consciousness and Vibrations of Matter
  • Stages of Mind
  • Inward and Outward-turned Consciousness
  • The Cloud

Relation to Indian Philosophies

  • Mind
  • The Mental Body

Mind and Self

  • Methods of Yoga
  • To the Self by the Self
  • To the Self through the Not-Self

  • Yoga and Morality
  • Composition of States of the Mind

Pleasure and Pain

  • Inhibition of States of Mind
  • Meditation with and without Seed
  • The Use of Mantras


  • Obstacles to Yoga
  • Capacities for Yoga
  • Forthgoing and Returning
  • Purification of Bodies
  • Dwellers on the Threshold
  • Preparation for Yoga
  • The End
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Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka


We have now reached a most interesting point in this course of lessons,
and a period of fascinating study lies before us from now until the
close of the course. We have acquainted ourselves with the fundamental
principles, and will now proceed to witness these principles in active
operation. We have studied the Yogi Teachings concerning the Truth
underlying all things, and shall now pass on to a consideration of the
process of Cosmic Evolution; the Cyclic Laws; the Law of Spiritual
Evolution, or Reincarnation; the Law of Spiritual Cause and Effect, or
Karma; etc. In this lesson we begin the story of the upward progress
of the Universe, and its forms, shapes, and forces, from the point of
the "moment's pause" following the ceasing of the process of
Involution--the point at which Cosmic Evolution begins. Our progress is
now steadily upward, so far as the evolution of Individual Centres is
concerned. We shall see the principles returning to the Principle--the
centres returning to the great Centre from which they emanated during
the process of Involution. We shall study the long, gradual, but steady
ascent of Man, in his journey toward god-hood. We shall see the
Building of an Universe, and the Growth of the Soul.

In our last lesson we have seen that at the dawn of a Brahmic Day, the
Absolute begins the creation of a new Universe. The Teachings inform us
that in the beginning, the Absolute forms a Mental Image, or
Thought-Form of an Universal Mind Principle, or Universal Mind-Stuff,
as some of the teachers express it. Then this Universal Mind Principle
creates within itself the Universal Energy Principle. Then this
Universal Energy Principle creates within itself the Universal Matter
Principle. Thus, Energy is a product of Mind; and Matter a product of

The Teachings then further inform us that from the rare, tenuous,
subtle form of Matter in which the Universal Matter Principle first
appeared, there was produced forms of Matter less rare; and so by easy
stages, and degrees, there appeared grosser and still grosser forms of
matter, until finally there could be no further involution into grosser
forms, and the Involutionary Process ceased. Then ensued the "moment's
pause" of which the Yogi teachers tell us. At that point Matter existed
as much grosser that the grossest form of Matter now known to us, as
the latter is when compared to the most subtle vapors known to science.
It is impossible to describe these lower forms of matter, for they have
ages since disappeared from view, and we would have no words with which
to describe them. We can understand the situation only by comparisons
similar to the above.

Succeeding the moment's pause, there began the Evolutionary Process, or
Cosmic Evolution, which has gone on ever since, and which will go on
for ages to come. From the grossest forms of Matter there evolved forms
a little more refined, and so on and on. From the simple elementarv
forms, evolved more complex and intricate forms. And from these forms
combinations began to be formed. And the urge was ever upward.

But remember this, that all of this Evolutionary Process is but a
Returning Home. It is the Ascent after the Descent. It is not a
Creation but an Unfoldment. The Descent was made by principles as
principles--the Ascent is being made by Individualized Centres evolved
from the principles. Matter manifests finer and finer forms, and
exhibits a greater and greater subservience to Energy or Force. And
Energy or Force shows a greater and greater degree of "mind" in it.
But, remember this, that there is Mind in even the grossest form of
Matter. This must be so, for what springs from a thing must contain the
elements of its cause.

And the Cosmic Evolution continues, and must continue for aeons of
time. Higher and higher forms of Mind are being manifested, and still
higher and higher forms will appear in the scale, as the process
continues. The evolution is not only along material lines, but has
passed on to the mental planes, and is now operating along the
spiritual lines as well. And the end, and aim seems to be that each
Ego, after the experiences of many lives, may unfold and develop to a
point where it may become conscious of its Real Self, and realize its
identity with the One Life, and the Spirit.

At this point we may be confronted with the objection of the student of
material science, who will ask why we begin our consideration of Cosmic
Evolution at a point in which matter has reached the limit of its
lowest vibrations, manifesting in the grossest possible form of matter.
These students may point to the fact that Science begins its
consideration of evolution with the nebulae, or faint cloudlike,
vaporous matter, from which the planets were formed. But there is only
an apparent contradiction here. The nebulae were part of the Process
of Involution, and Science is right when it holds that the gross forms
were produced from the finer. But the process of change from finer to
grosser was Involution, not Evolution. Do you see the difference?
Evolution begins at the point when the stage of Unfoldment commenced.
When the gross forms begin to yield to the new upward urge, and unfold
into finer forms--then begins Evolution.

We shall pass over the period of Evolution in which Matter was evolving
into finer and still finer forms, until at last it reached a degree of
vibration capable of supporting that which we call "life." Of course
there is "life" in all matter--even in the atom, as we have shown in
previous lessons. But when we speak of "life," as we now do, we mean
what are generally called "living forms." The Yogi Teachings inform us
that the lowest forms of what we call "life" were evolved from forms of
high crystal life, which indeed they very much resemble. We have spoken
of this resemblance, in the previous lessons of this series. And, so we
shall begin at the point where "living forms" began.

Speaking now of our own planet, the Earth, we find matter emerging from
the molten state in which it manifested for ages. Gradually cooling and
stratifying, the Earth contained none of those forms that we call
living forms. The temperature of the Earth in that period is estimated
at about 15,000 times hotter than boiling water, which would, of
course, render impossible the existence of any of the present known
forms of life. But the Yogi Teachings inform us that even in the molten
mass there were elementary forms that were to become the ancestral
forms of the later living forms. These elementary forms were composed
of a vaporous, peculiar form of matter, of minute size,--little more
than the atoms, in fact, and yet, just a little more advanced. From
these elementary forms, there gradually evolved, as the Earth cooled
and solidified, other forms, and so on until at last the first "living
form" manifested.

As the globe cooled at the poles, there was gradually created a
tropical climate, in which the temperature was sufficiently cool to
support certain rudimentary forms of life. In the rocks in the far
northern latitudes, there are found abundant traces of fossils, which
goes to prove the correctness of the Yogi Teachings of the origin of
life at the north pole, from which the living forms gradually spread
south toward the equator, as the Earth's surface cooled.

The elementary evolving life forms were of a very simple structure, and
were but a degree above the crystals. They were composed of identically
the same substance as the crystals, the only difference being that
they displayed a greater degree of mind. For that matter, even the
highest physical form known to us today is composed of simple chemical
materials. And these chemical materials are obtained, either directly
or indirectly, from the air, water, or earth. The principal materials
composing the physical bodies of plants, animals, and man, are oxygen,
carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, with a still smaller proportion of sulphur
and phosphorus, and traces of a few other elements. The material part
of all living things is alike--the difference lies in the degree of
Mind controlling the matter in which it is embodied.

Of these physical materials, carbon is the most important to the living
forms. It seems to possess properties capable of drawing to it the
other elements, and forcing them into service. From carbon proceeds
what is called "protoplasm," the material of which the cells of animal
and vegetable life is composed. From protoplasm the almost infinite
varieties of living forms have been built up by the process of
Evolution, working gradually and by easy stages. Every living form is
made up, or composed, of a multitude of single cells, and their
combinations. And every form originates in a single cell which rapidly
multiplies and reproduces itself until the form of the amoeba; the
plant; the animal; the man, is completed. All living forms are but a
single cell multiplied. And every cell is composed of protoplasm.
Therefore we must look for the beginning of life in the grade of matter
called protoplasm. In this both modern Science and the Yogi Teachings
agree fully.

In investigating protoplasm we are made to realize the wonderful
qualities of its principal constituent--Carbon. Carbon is the wonder
worker of the elements. Manifesting in various forms, as the diamond,
graphite, coal, protoplasm--is it not entitled to respect? The Yogi
Teachings inform vis that in Carbon we have that form of matter which
was evolved as the physical basis of life. If any of you doubt that
inorganic matter may be transformed into living forms, let us refer you
to the plant life, in which you may see the plants building up cells
every day from the inorganic, chemical or mineral substances, in the
earth, air, and water. Nature performs every day the miracle of
transforming chemicals and minerals into living plant cells. And when
animal or man eats these plant cells, so produced, they become
transformed into animal cells of which the body is built up. What it
took Nature ages to do in the beginning, is now performed in a few
hours, or minutes.

The Yogi Teachings, again on all-fours with modern Science, inform us
that living forms had their beginning in water. In the slimy bed of the
polar seas the simple cell-forms appeared, having their origin in the
transitional stages before mentioned. The first living forms were a
lowly form of plant life, consisting of a single cell. From these forms
were evolved forms composed of groups of cells, and so proceeded the
work of evolution, from the lower form to the higher, ever in an upward

As we have said, the single cell is the physical centre, or parent, of
every living form. It contains what is known as the nucleus, or
kernel, which seems to be more highly organized than the rest of the
material of the cell--it may be considered as the "brain" of the cell,
if you wish to use your imagination a little. The single cell
reproduces itself by growth and division, or separation. Each cell
manifests the functions of life, whether it be a single-celled
creature, or a cell which with billions of others, goes to make up a
higher form. It feels, feeds, grows, and reproduces itself. In the
single-celled creature, the one cell performs all of the functions, of
course. But as the forms become more complex, the many cells composing
a form perform certain functions which are allotted to it, the division
of labor resulting in a higher manifestation. This is true not only in
the case of animal forms, but also in the case of plant forms. The
cells in the bone, muscle, nerve-tissue and blood of the animal differ
according to their offices; and the same is true in the cells in the
sap, stem, root, leaf, seed and flower of the plant.

As we have said, the cells multiply by division, after a period of
growth. The cell grows by material taken into its substance, as food.
When sufficient food has been partaken, and enough new material
accumulated to cause the cell to attain a certain size, then it
divides, or separates into two cells, the division being equal, and the
point of cleavage being at the kernel or nucleus. As the two parts
separate, the protoplasm of each groups itself around its nucleus,
and two living forms exist where there was but one a moment before. And
then each of the two cells proceed to grow rapidly, and then separate,
and so on to the end, each cell multiplying into millions, as time

Ascending in the scale, we next find the living forms composed of
cell-groups. These cell-groups are formed by single cells dividing, and
then subdividing, but instead of passing on their way they group
themselves in clusters, or masses. There are millions of forms of these
cell-group creatures, among which we find the sponges, polyps, etc.

In the early forms of life it is difficult to distinguish between the
animal and the plant forms, in fact the early forms partake of the
qualities of both. But as we advance in the scale a little there is
seen a decided "branching out," and one large branch is formed of the
evolving plant forms, and the other of the evolving animal forms. The
plant-branch begins with the sea-weeds, and passes on to the fungi,
lichens, mosses, ferns, pines and palm-ferns, grasses, etc., then to
the trees, shrubs and herbs. The animal-branch begins with the
monera, or single-cell forms, which are little more than a drop of
sticky, glue-like protoplasm. Then it passes on to the amoebae, which
begins to show a slight difference in its parts. Then on the
foraminifera, which secretes a shell of lime from the water. Then on
a step higher to the polycystina, which secretes a shell, or skeleton
of flint-like material from the water. Then come the sponges. Then the
coral-animals, anemones and jelly-fish. Then come the sea-lilies,
star-fish, etc. Then the various families of worms. Then the crabs,
spiders, centipedes, insects. Then come the mollusca, which include the
oysters, clams and other shell-fish; snails, cuttle-fish, sea-squirts,
etc. All of the above families of animal-forms are what are known as
"invertebrates," that is, without a backbone.

Then we come to the "vertebrates," or animals having a backbone. First
we see the fish family with its thousands of forms. Then come the
amphibia, which include the toads, frogs, etc. Then come the reptiles,
which include the serpents, lizards, crocodiles, turtles, etc. Then
come the great family of birds, with its wonderful variety of forms,
sizes, and characteristics. Then come the mammals, the name of which
comes from the Latin word meaning "the breast," the characteristic of
which group comes from the fact that they nourish their young by milk,
or similar fluid, secreted by the mother. The mammals are the highest
form of the vertebrates.

First among the mammals we find the aplacentals, or those which bring
forth immature young, which are grouped into two divisions, i.e., (1)
the monotremes, or one-vented animals, in which group belong the
duck-bills, spiny ant-eaters, etc.; and (2) the marsupials, or
pouched animals, in which group belong the kangaroo, opossum, etc.

The next highest form among the mammals are known as the placentals,
or those which bring forth mature young. In this class are found the
ant-eaters, sloth, manatee, the whale and porpoise, the horse, cow,
sheep, and other hoofed animals; the elephant, seal, the dog, wolf,
lion, tiger, and all flesh eating animals; the hares, rats, mice, and
ail other gnawing animals; the bats, moles, and other insect-feeders;
then come the great family of apes, from the small monkeys up to the
orang-outang, chimpanzee, and other forms nearly approaching man. And
then comes the highest, Man, from the Kaffir, Bush-man, Cave-man, and
Digger Indian, up through the many stages until the highest forms of
our own race are reached.

From the Monera to Man is a long path, containing many stages, but it
is a path including all the intermediate forms. The Yogi Teachings hold
to the theory of evolution, as maintained by modern Science, but it
goes still further, for it holds not only that the physical forms are
subject to the evolutionary process, but that also the "souls" embodied
in these forms are subject to the evolutionary process. In other words
the Yogi Teachings hold that there is a twin-process of evolution under
way, the main object of which is to develop "souls," but which also
finds it necessary to evolve higher and higher forms of physical bodies
for these constantly advancing souls to occupy.

Let us take a hasty glance at the ascending forms of animal life, as
they rise in the evolutionary scale. By so doing we can witness the
growth of the soul, within them, as manifested by the higher and higher
physical forms which are used as channels of expression by the souls
within. Let us first study soul-evolution from the outer viewpoint,
before we proceed to examine it from the inner. By so doing we will
have a fuller idea of the process than if we ignored the outer and
proceed at once to the inner. Despise not the outer form, for it has
always been, and is now, the Temple of the Soul, which the latter is
remodelling and rebuilding in order to accommodate its constantly
increasing needs and demands.

Let us begin with the Protozoa, or one-celled forms--the lowest form
of animal life. The lowest form of this lowest class is that remarkable
creature that we have mentioned in previous lessons--the Moneron.
This creature lives in water, the natural element in which organic life
is believed to have had its beginning. It is a very tiny, shapeless,
colorless, slimy, sticky mass--something like a tiny drop of
glue--alike all over and in its mass, and without organs or parts of
any kind. Some have claimed that below the field of the microscope
there may be something like elementary organs in the Moneron, but so
far as the human eye may discover there is no evidence of anything of
the kind. It has no organs or parts with which to perform particular
functions, as is the case with the higher forms of life. These
functions, as you know, may be classed into three groups, i.e.,
nutrition, reproduction, and relation--that is, the function of
feeding, the function of reproducing its kind, and the function of
receiving and responding to the impressions of the outside world. All
of these three classes of functions the Moneron performs--but with any
part of its body, or with all of it.

Every part, or the whole, of the Moneron absorbs food and oxygen--it is
all mouth and lungs. Every part, or the whole, digests the food--it is
all stomach. Every part, or the whole, performs the reproductive
function--it is all reproductive organism. Every part of it senses the
impressions from outside, and responds to it--it is all organs of
sense, and organs of motion. It envelops its prey as a drop of glue
surrounds a particle of sand, and then absorbs the substance of the
prey into its own substance. It moves by prolonging any part of itself
outward in a sort of tail-like appendage, which it uses as a "foot," or
"finger" with which to propel itself; draw itself to, or push itself
away from an object. This prolongation is called a pseudopod, or
"false-foot." When it gets through using the "false-foot" for the
particular purpose, it simply draws back into itself that portion which
had been protruded for the purpose.

It performs the functions of digestion, assimilation, elimination,
etc., perfectly, just as the higher forms of life--but it has no organs
for the functions, and performs them severally, and collectively with
any, or all parts of its body. What the higher animals perform with
intricate organs and parts--heart, stomach, lungs, liver, kidneys,
etc., etc.--this tiny creature performs without organs, and with its
entire body, or any part thereof. The function of reproduction is
startlingly simple in the case of the Moneron. It simply divides itself
in two parts, and that is all there is to it. There is no male or
female sex in its case--it combines both within itself. The
reproductive process is even far more simple than the "budding" of
plants. You may turn one of these wonderful creatures inside out, and
still it goes on the even tenor of its way, in no manner disturbed or
affected. It is simply a "living drop of glue," which eats, digests,
receives impressions and responds thereto, and reproduces itself. This
tiny glue-drop performs virtually the same life functions as do the
higher complex forms of living things. Which is the greater
"miracle"--the Moneron or Man?

A slight step upward from the Moneron brings us to the Amoeba. The
name of this new creature is derived from the Greek word meaning
"change," and has been bestowed because the creature is constantly
changing its shape. This continual change of shape is caused by a
continuous prolongation and drawing-in of its pseudopods, or
"false-feet," which also gives the creature the appearance of a
"many-fingered" organism. This creature shows the first step toward
"parts," for it has something like a membrane or "skin" at its surface,
and a "nucleus" at its centre, and also an expanding and contracting
cavity within its substance, which it uses for holding, digesting and
distributing its food, and also for storing and distributing its
oxygen--an elementary combination of stomach and lungs! So you see that
the amoeba has taken a step upward from the moneron, and is beginning
to appreciate the convenience of parts and organs. It is interesting to
note, in this connection, that while the ordinary cells of the higher
animal body resemble the monera in many ways, still the white
corpuscles in the blood of man and the animals bear a startling
resemblance to the amoebae so far as regards size, general structure,
and movements, and are in fact known to Science as "amoeboids." The
white corpuscles change their shape, take in food in an intelligent
manner, and live a comparatively independent life, their movements
showing independent "thought" and "will."

Some of the amoebae (the diatoms, for instance) secrete solid matter
from the water, and build therefrom shells or houses, which serve to
protect them from their enemies. These shells are full of tiny holes,
through which the pseudopods are extended in their search for food, and
for purposes of movement. Some of these shells are composed of secreted
lime, and others of a flinty substance, the "selection" of these
substances from the ether mineral particles in the water, evidencing a
degree cf "thought," and mind, even in these lowly creatures. The
skeletons of these tiny creatures form vast deposits of chalk and
similar substances.

Next higher in the scale are the Infusoria. These creatures differ
from the amoebae inasmuch as instead of pseudopods, they have developed
tiny vibrating filaments, or thread-like appendages, which are used for
drawing in their prey and for moving about. These filaments are
permanent, and are not temporary like the pseudopods of the monera or
amoebae--they are the first signs of permanent hands and feet. These
creatures have also discovered the possibilities of organs and parts,
to a still greater degree than have their cousins the amoebae, and have
evolved something like a mouth-opening (very rudimentary) and also a
short gullet through which they pass their food and oxygen--they have
developed the first signs of a throat, wind-pipe and food-passage.

Next come the family of Sponges, the soft skeletons of which form the
useful article of everyday use. There are many forms who weave a home
of far more delicacy and beauty than their more familiar and homely
brothers. The sponge creature itself is a slimy, soft creature, which
fills in the spaces in its spongy skeleton. It is fastened to one spot,
and gathers in its food from the water around it (and oxygen as well),
by means of numerous whip-like filaments called cilia, which flash
through the water driving in the food and oxygen to the inner positions
of its body. The water thus drawn in, as well as the refuse from the
food, is then driven out in the same manner. It is interesting to note
that in the organisms of the higher animals, including man, there are
numerous cilia performing offices in connection with nutrition, etc.
When Nature perfects an instrument, it is very apt to retain it, even
in the higher forms, although in the latter its importance may be
dwarfed by higher ones.

The next step in the ascending scale of life-forms is occupied by the
polyps, which are found in water, fastened to floating matter. The
polyps fasten themselves to this floating matter, with their mouths
downward, from the latter dangling certain tentacles, or thin, long
arms. These tentacles contain small thread-like coils in contact with a
poisonous fluid, and enclosed in a cell. When the tentacles come in
contact with the prey of the creature, or with anything that is sensed
as a possible enemy, they contract around the object and the little
cells burst and the tiny thread-like coils are released and twist
themselves like a loop around the object, poisoning it with the
secreted fluid. Some of the polyps secrete flint-like tubes, which they
inhabit, and from the ends of which they emerge like flowers. From
these parent polyps emerge clusters of young, resembling buds. These
bud-like young afterwards become what are known as jelly-fishes, etc.,
which in turn reproduce themselves--but here is a wonder--the
jelly-fish lay eggs, which when hatched produce stationary polyps like
their grandparent, and not moving creatures like their parents. The
jelly-fishes have a comparatively complex organism. They have an
intricate system of canal-like passages with which to convey their food
and oxygen to the various parts. They also have something like muscles,
which contract and enable the creature to "swim." They also possess a
"nervous system," and, most wonderful of all, they have rudimentary
eyes and ears. Their tentacles, like those of the parent-polyp,
secrete the poisonous fluid which is discharged into prey or enemy.

Akin to the polyps are the sea-anemones, with their beautiful colors,
and still more complex structure and organism, the tentacles of which
resemble the petals of a flower. Varying slightly from these are the
coral-creatures, which form in colonies and the skeletons of which form
the coral trees and branches, and other forms, with which we are

Passing on to the next highest family of life-forms, we see the
spiny-bodied sea-creatures, such as the sea-urchin, star-fish, etc.,
which possess a thick, hard skin, covered by spines or prickly
projections. These creatures abound in numerous species. The star-fish
has rays projecting from a common centre, which gives it its name,
while the sea-urchin resembles a ball. The sea-lilies, with their stems
and flowers (so-called) belong to this family, as do also the
sea-cucumbers, whose name is obtained from their shape and general
appearance, but which are animals possessing a comparatively complex
organism, one of the features of which is a stomach which may be
discarded at will and replaced by a new one. These creatures have a
well defined nervous system, and have eyes, and some of them even
rudimentary eyelids.

Ascending the scale of life-forms, we next observe the great family of
the Annulosa, or jointed creatures, which comprises the various
families of the worm, the crab, the spider, the ant, etc. In this great
family are grouped nearly four-fifths of the known life-forms. Their
bodies are well formed and they have nervous systems running along the
body and consisting of two thin threads, knotted at different points
into ganglia or masses of nerve cells similar to those possessed by the
higher animals. They possess eyes and other sense organs, in some cases
highly developed. They possess organs, corresponding to the heart, and
have a well-developed digestive apparatus. Note this advance in the
nutritive organism: the moneron takes its food at any point of its
body; the amoeba takes its food by means of its "false-feet," and
drives it through its body by a rhythmic movement of its substance; the
polyp distributes its food to its various parts by means of the water
which it absorbs with the food; the sea-urchin and star-fish
distribute their food by canals in their bodies which open directly
into the water; in the higher forms of the annulosa, the food is
distributed by a fluid resembling blood, which carries the nourishment
to every part and organ, and which carries away the waste matter, the
blood being propelled through the body by a rudimentary heart. The
oxygen is distributed by each of these forms in a corresponding way,
the higher forms having rudimentary lungs and respiratory organs. Step
by step the life-forms are perfected, and the organs necessary to
perform certain definite functions are evolved from rudimentary to
perfected forms.

The families of worms are the humblest members of the great family of
the Annulosa. Next come the creatures called Rotifers, which are very
minute. Then come the Crustacea, so called from their crustlike shell.
This group includes the crabs, lobsters, etc., and closely resembles
the insects. In fact, some of the best authorities believe that the
insects and the crustacea spring from the same parent form, and some of
the Yogi authorities hold to this belief, while others do not attempt
to pass upon it, deeming it immaterial, inasmuch as all life-forms have
a common origin. The western scientists pay great attention to outward
details, while the Oriental mind is apt to pass over these details as
of slight importance, preferring to seek the cause back of the outward
form. On one point both the Yogi teachers and the scientists absolutely
agree, and that is that the family of insect life had its origin in
some aquatic creature. Both hold that the wings of the insect have been
evolved from organs primarily used for breathing purposes by the
ancestor when it took short aerial flights, the need for means of
flight afterwards acting to develop these rudimentary organs into
perfected wings. There need be no more wonder expressed at this change
than in the case of the transformation of the insect from grub to
chrysalis, and then to insect. In fact this process is a reproduction
of the stages through which the life-form passed during the long ages
between sea-creature and land-insect.

We need not take up much of your time in speaking of the wonderful
complex organism of some of the insect family, which are next on the
scale above the crustacea. The wonders of spider-life--the almost human
life of the ants--the spirit of the beehive--and all the rest of the
wonders of insect life are familiar to all of our readers. A study of
some good book on the life of the higher forms of the insect family
will prove of value to anyone, for it will open his or her eyes to the
wonderful manifestation of life and mind among these creatures.
Remember the remark of Darwin, that the brain of the ant, although not
much larger than a pin point, "is one of the most marvelous atoms of
matter in the world, perhaps more so than the brain of man."

Closely allied to the crustacea is the sub-family of the mollusca,
which includes the oyster, clams, and similar creatures; also the
snails, cuttle-fish, slugs, nautilus, sea-squirts, etc., etc. Some are
protected by a hard shell, while others have a gristly outer skin,
serving as an armor, while others still are naked. Those having shells
secrete the material for their construction from the water. Some of
them are fixed to rocks, etc., while others roam at will. Strange as it
may appear at first sight, some of the higher forms of the mollusca
show signs of a rudimentary vertebra, and science has hazarded the
opinion that the sea-squirts and similar creatures were descended from
some ancestor from whom also descended the vertebrate animals, of which
man is the highest form known today on this planet. We shall mention
this connection in our next lesson, where we will take up the story of
"The Ascent of Man" from the lowly vertebrate forms.

And now, in closing this lesson, we must remind the reader that we are
not teaching Evolution as it is conceived by modern science. We are
viewing it from the opposite viewpoint of the Yogi Teaching. Modern
Science teaches that Mind is a by-product of the evolving material
forms--while the Yogi Teachings hold that there was Mind involved in
the lowest form, and that that Mind constantly pressing forward for
unfoldment compelled the gradual evolution, or unfoldment of the
slowly advancing degrees of organization and function. Science teaches
that "function precedes organization," that is, that a form performs
certain functions, imperfectly and crudely, before it evolves the
organs suitable for the functioning. For instance the lower forms
digested food before they evolved stomachs--the latter coming to meet
the need. But the Yogi Teachings go further and claim that "desire
precedes function," that is, that the lowly life form "desires" to have
digestive apparatus, in order to proceed in the evolutionary scale,
before it begins the functioning that brings about the more complex
organism. There is ever the "urge" of the Mind which craves unfoldment,
and which the creature feels as a dim desire, which grows stronger and
stronger as time goes on. Some yield more readily to the urge, and such
become the parents of possible higher forms. "Many are called, but few
are chosen," and so matters move along slowly from generation to
generation, a few forms serving to carry on the evolutionary urge to
their descendants. But is always the Evolutionary Urge of the
imprisoned Mind striving to cast aside its sheaths and to have more
perfect machinery with which, and through which, to manifest and
express itself? This is the difference between the "Evolution" of
Modern Science and the "Unfoldment" of the Yogi Teachings. The one is
all material, with mind as a mere by-product, while the other is all
Mind, with matter as a tool and instrument of expression and

As we have said in this lesson--and as we shall point out to you in
detail in future lessons--accompanying this evolution of bodies there
is an evolution of "souls" producing the former. This evolution of
souls is a basic principle of the Yogi Teachings, but it is first
necessary that you acquaint yourselves with the evolution of bodies and
forms, before you may fully grasp the higher teachings.

Our next lesson will be entitled "The Ascent of Man," in which the rise
of man--that is, his body--from the lowly forms of the vertebrates is
shown. In the same lesson we shall begin our consideration of the
"evolution of souls." We trust that the students are carefully studying
the details of each lesson, for every lesson has its part in the grand
whole of the Teachings.

Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka
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