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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In our first three lessons of this series, we have endeavored to bring
into realization within your mind (1) the consciousness of the "I"; its
independence from the body; its immortality; its invincibility and
invulnerability; (2) the superiority of the "I" over the mind, as well as
over the body; the fact that the mind is not the "I," but is merely an
instrument for the expression of the "I"; the fact that the "I" is master
of the mind, as well as of the body; that the "I" is behind all thought;
that the "I" can set aside for consideration the sensations, emotions,
passions, desires, and the rest of the mental phenomena, and still
realize that it, the "I," is apart from these mental manifestations, and
remains unchanged, real and fully existent; that the "I" can set aside
any and all of its mental tools and instruments, as "not I" things, and
still consciously realize that after so setting them aside there remains
something--itself--the "I" which cannot be set aside or taken from; that
the "I" is the master of the mind, and not its slave; (3) that the "I" is
a much greater thing than the little personal "I" we have been
considering it to be; that the "I" is a part of that great One Reality
which pervades all the Universe; that it is connected with all other
forms of life by countless ties, mental and spiritual filaments and
relations; that the "I" is a Centre of Consciousness in that great One
Reality or Spirit, which is behind and back of all Life and Existence,
the Centre of which Reality or Existence, is the Absolute or God; that
the sense of Reality that is inherent in the "I," is really the
reflection of the sense of Reality inherent in the Whole--the Great "I"
of the Universe.

The underlying principle of these three lessons is the Reality of the
"I," in itself, over and above all Matter, Force, or Mind--positive to
all of them, just as they are positive or negative to each other--and
negative only to the Centre of the One--the Absolute itself. And this is
the position for the Candidate or Initiate to take: "I am positive to
Mind, Energy, and Matter, and control them all--I am negative only to the
Absolute, which is the Centre of Being, of which Being I Am. And, as I
assert my mastery over Mind, Energy, and Matter, and exercise my Will
over them, so do I acknowledge my subordination to the Absolute, and
gladly open my soul to the inflow of the Divine Will, and partake of its
Power, Strength, and Wisdom."

In the present lesson, and those immediately following it, we shall
endeavor to assist the Candidate or Initiate in acquiring a mastery of
the subordinate manifestations, Matter, Energy, and Mind. In order to
acquire and assert this mastery, one must acquaint himself with the
nature of the thing to be controlled.

In our "Advanced Course" we have endeavored to explain to you the nature
of the Three Great Manifestations, known as Chitta, or Mind-Substance;
Prana, or Energy; and Akasa, or the Principle of Matter. We also
explained to you that the "I" of man is superior to these three, being
what is known as Atman or Spirit. Matter, Energy, and Mind, as we have
explained, are manifestations of the Absolute, and are relative things.
The Yogi philosophy teaches that Matter is the grossest form of
manifested substance, being below Energy and Mind, and consequently
negative to, and subordinate to both. One stage higher than Matter, is
Energy or Force, which is positive to, and has authority over, Matter
(Matter being a still grosser form of substance), but which is negative
to and subordinate to Mind, which is a still higher form of substance.
Next in order comes the highest of the three--Mind--the finest form of
substance, and which dominates both Energy and Matter, being positive to
both. Mind, however is negative and subordinate to the "I," which is
Spirit, and obeys the orders of the latter when firmly and intelligently
given. The "I" itself is subordinate only to the Absolute--the Centre of
Being--the "I" being positive and dominant over the threefold
manifestation of Mind, Energy, and Matter.

The "I," which for the sake of the illustration must be regarded as a
separate thing (although it is really only a Centre of Consciousness in
the great body of Spirit), finds itself surrounded by the triple-ocean of
Mind, Energy and Matter, which ocean extends into Infinity. The body is
but a physical form through which flows an unending stream of matter,
for, as you know the particles and atoms of the body are constantly
changing; being renewed; replaced; thrown off, and supplanted. One's body
of a few years ago, or rather the particles composing that body, have
passed off and now form new combinations in the world of matter. And
one's body of to-day is passing away and being replaced by new particles.
And one's body of next year is now occupying some other portion of space,
and its particles are now parts of countless other combinations, from
which space and combinations they will later come to combine and form the
body of next year. There is nothing permanent about the body--even the
particles of the bones are being constantly replaced by others. And
so it is with the Vital Energy, Force, or Strength of the body (including
that of the brain). It is constantly being used up, and expended, a fresh
supply taking its place. And even the Mind of the person is changeable,
and the Mind-substance or Chitta, is being used up and replenished, the
new supply coming from the great Ocean of Mind, into which the discarded
portion slips, just as is the case with the matter and energy.

While the majority of our students, who are more or less familiar with
the current material scientific conceptions, will readily accept the
above idea of the ocean of Matter, and Energy, and the fact that there
is a continual using up and replenishing of one's store of both, they may
have more or less trouble in accepting the idea that Mind is a substance
or principle amenable to the same general laws as are the other two
manifestations, or attributes of substance. One is so apt to think of his
Mind as "himself"--the "I." Notwithstanding the fact that in our Second
Lesson of this series we showed you that the "I" is superior to the
mental states, and that it can set them aside and regard and consider
them as "not-I" things, yet the force of the habit of thought is very
strong, and it may take some of you considerable time before you "get
into the way" of realizing that your Mind is "something that you use,"
instead of being You--yourself. And yet, you must persevere in attaining
this realization, for in the degree that you realize your dominance over
your mind, so will be your control of it, and its amenability to that
control. And, as is the degree of that dominance and control, so will
be the character, grade and extent of the work that your Mind will do for
you. So you see: Realization brings Control--and Control brings
results. This statement lies at the base of the science of Raja Yoga.
And many of its first exercises are designed to acquaint the student with
that realization, and to develop the realization and control by habit and

The Yogi Philosophy teaches that instead of Mind being the "I." it is
the thing through and by means of which the "I" thinks, at least so
far as is concerned the knowledge concerning the phenomenal or outward
Universe--that is the Universe of Name and Form. There is a higher
Knowledge locked up in the innermost part of the "I," that far transcends
any information that it may receive about or from the outer world, but
that is not before us for consideration at this time, and we must concern
ourselves with the "thinking" about the world of things.

Mind-substance in Sanscrit is called "Chitta," and a wave in the
Chitta (which wave is the combination of Mind and Energy) is called
"Vritta," which is akin to what we call a "thought." In other words it
is "mind in action," whereas Chitta is "mind in repose." Vritta, when
literally translated means "a whirlpool or eddy in the mind," which is
exactly what a thought really is.

But we must call the attention of the student, at this point, to the fact
that the word "Mind" is used in two ways by the Yogis and other
occultists, and the student is directed to form a clear conception of
each meaning, in order to avoid confusion, and that he may more clearly
perceive the two aspects of the things which the word is intended to
express. In the first place the word "Mind" is used as synonymous
with Chitta, or Mind-substance, which is the Universal Mind Principle.
From this Chitta, Mind-substance, or Mind, all the material of the
millions of personal minds is obtained. The second meaning of the word
"Mind" is that which we mean when we speak of the "mind" of anyone,
thereby meaning the mental faculties of that particular person--that
which distinguishes his mental personality from that of another. We have
taught you that this "mind" in Man, functions on three planes, and have
called the respective manifestations (1) the Instinctive Mind; (2) the
Intellect; and (3) the Spiritual Mind. (See "Fourteen Lessons in Yogi
Philosophy," etc.) These three mental planes, taken together, make up
the "mind" of the person, or to be more exact they, clustered around the
"I" form the "soul" of the individual. The word "soul" is often used as
synonymous with "spirit" but those who have followed us will distinguish
the difference. The "soul" is the Ego surrounded by its mental
principles, while the Spirit is the "soul of the soul"--the "I," or Real

The Science of Raja Yoga, to which this series of lessons is devoted,
teaches, as its basic principle, the Control of the Mind. It holds that
the first step toward Power consists in obtaining a control of one's
own mind. It holds that the internal world must be conquered before the
outer world is attacked. It holds that the "I" manifests itself in
Will, and that that Will may be used to manipulate, guide, govern and
direct the mind of its owner, as well as the physical world. It aims to
clear away all mental rubbish, and encumbrances--to conduct a "mental
house-cleaning," as it were, and to secure a clear, clean, healthy mind.
Then it proceeds to control that mind intelligently, and with effect,
saving all waste-power, and by means of concentration bringing the Mind
in full harmony with the Will, that it may be brought to a focus and its
power greatly increased and its efficiency fully secured. Concentration
and Will-power are the means by which the Yogis obtain such wonderful
results, and by which they manage and direct their vigorous, healthy
minds, and master the material world, acting positively upon Energy and
Matter. This control extends to all planes of the Mind and the Yogis not
only control the Instinctive Mind, holding in subjection its lower
qualities and making use of its other parts, but they also develop and
enlarge the field of their Intellect and obtain from it wonderful
results. Even the Spiritual Mind is mastered, and aided in its
unfoldment, and urged to pass down into the field of consciousness some
of the wonderful secrets to be found within its area. By means of Raja
Yoga many of the secrets of existence and Being--many of the Riddles of
the Universe--are answered and solved. And by it the latent powers
inherent in the constitution of Man are unfolded and brought into action.
Those highly advanced in the science are believed to have obtained such a
wonderful degree of power and control over the forces of the universe,
that they are as gods compared with the ordinary man.

Raja Yoga teaches that not only may power of this kind be secured, but
that a wonderful field of Knowledge is opened out through its practice.
It holds that when the concentrated mind is focused upon thing or
subject, the true nature and inner meaning, of, and concerning, that
thing or subject will be brought to view. The concentrated mind passes
through the object or subject just as the X-Ray passes through a block of
wood, and the thing is seen by the "I" as it is--in truth--and not as
it had appeared before, imperfectly and erroneously. Not only may the
outside world be thus explored, but the mental ray may be turned inward,
and the secret places of the mind explored. When it is remembered that
the bit of mind that each man possesses, is like a drop of the ocean
which contains within its tiny compass all the elements that make up the
ocean, and that to know perfectly the drop is to know perfectly the
ocean, then we begin to see what such a power really means.

Many in the Western world who have attained great results in the
intellectual and scientific fields of endeavor, have developed these
powers more or less unconsciously. Many great inventors are practical
Yogis, although they do not realize the source of their power. Anyone who
is familiar with the personal mental characteristics of Edison, will see
that he follows some of the Raja Yoga methods, and that Concentration
is one of his strongest weapons. And from all reports, Prof. Elmer Gates,
of Washington, D.C., whose mind has unfolded many wonderful discoveries
and inventions, is also a practical Yogi although he may repudiate the
assertion vigorously, and may not have familiarized himself with the
principles of this science, which he has "dropped into" unconsciously.
Those who have reported upon Prof. Gates' methods, say that he fairly
"digs out" the inventions and discoveries from his mind, after going
into seclusion and practicing concentration, and what is known as the
Mental Vision.

But we have given you enough of theory for one lesson, and must begin to
give you directions whereby you may aid yourself in developing these
latent powers and unfolding these dormant energies. You will notice that
in this series we first tell you something about the theory, and then
proceed to give you "something to do." This is the true Yogi method as
followed and practiced by their best teachers. Too much theory is
tiresome, and sings the mind to sleep, while too much exercise tires one,
and does not give the inquiring part of his mind the necessary food. To
combine both in suitable proportions is the better plan, and one that we
aim to follow.


Before we can get the mind to do good work for us, we must first "tame"
it, and bring it to obedience to the Will of the "I." The mind, as a
rule, has been allowed to run wild, and follow its own sweet will and
desires, without regard to anything else. Like a spoiled child or badly
trained domestic animal, it gets into much trouble, and is of very little
pleasure, comfort or use. The minds of many of us are like menageries
of wild animals, each pursuing the bent of its own nature, and going its
own way. We have the whole menagerie within us--the tiger, the ape, the
peacock, the ass, the goose, the sheep the hyena, and all the rest. And
we have been letting these animals rule us. Even our Intellect is
erratic, unstable, and like the quicksilver to which the ancient
occultists compared it, shifting and uncertain. If you will look around
you you will see that those men and women in the world who have really
accomplished anything worth while have trained their minds to obedience.
They have asserted the Will over their own minds, and learned Mastery and
Power in that way. The average mind chafes at the restraint of the Will,
and is like a frisky monkey that will not be "taught tricks." But taught
it must be, if it wants to do good work. And teach it you must if you
expect to get any use from it--if you expect to use it, instead of having
it use you.

And this is the first thing to be learned in Raja Yoga--this control of
the mind. Those who had hoped for some royal road to mastery, may be
disappointed, but there is only one way and that is to master and control
the mind by the Will. Otherwise it will run away when you most need it.
And so we shall give you some exercise designed to aid you in this

The first exercise in Raja Yoga Is what is called Pratyahara or the
art of making the mind introspective or turned inward upon itself. It is
the first step toward mental control. It aims to turn the mind from
going outward, and gradually turning it inward upon itself or inner
nature. The object is to gain control of it by the Will. The following
exercises will aid in that direction:


(a) Place yourself in a comfortable position, and so far as possible free
from outside disturbing influences. Make no violent effort to control
the mind, but rather allow it to run along for a while and exhaust its
efforts. It will take advantage of the opportunity, and will jump around
like an unchained monkey at first, until it gradually slows down and
looks to you for orders. It may take some time to tame down at first
trial, but each time you try it will come around to you in shorter time.
The Yogis spend much time in acquiring this mental peace and calm, and
consider themselves well paid for it.

(b) When the mind is well calmed down, and peaceful, fix the thought on
the "I Am," as taught in our previous lessons. Picture the "I" as an
entity independent of the body; deathless; invulnerable; immortal; real.
Then think of it as independent of the body, and able to exist without
its fleshly covering. Meditate upon this for a time, and then gradually
direct the thought to the realization of the "I" as independent and
superior to the mind, and controlling same. Go over the general ideas of
the first two lessons, and endeavor to calmly reflect upon them and
to see them in the "mind's eye." You will find that your mind is
gradually becoming more and more peaceful and calm, and that the
distracting thoughts of the outside world are farther and farther removed
from you.

(c) Then let the mind pass on to a calm consideration of the Third
Lesson, in which we have spoken of the Oneness of All, and the
relationship of the "I" to the One Life; Power; Intelligence; Being. You
will find that you are acquiring a mental control and calm heretofore
unknown to you. The exercises in the first three lessons will have
prepared you for this.

(d) The following is the most difficult of the variations or degrees of
this exercise, but the ability to perform it will come gradually. The
exercise consists in gradually shutting out all thought or impression
of the outside world; of the body; and of the thoughts themselves, the
student concentrating and meditating upon the word and idea "I AM," the
idea being that he shall concentrate upon the idea of mere "being" or
"existence," symbolized by the words "I Am." Not "I am this," or "I am
that," or "I do this," or "I think that," but simply: "I AM."
This exercise will focus the attention at the very centre of Being within
oneself, and will gather in all the mental energies, instead of allowing
them to be scattered upon outside things. A feeling of Peace, Strength,
and Power will result, for the affirmation, and the thought back of it,
is the most powerful and strongest that one may make, for it is a
statement of Actual Being, and a turning of the thought inward to that
truth. Let the mind first dwell upon the word "I," identifying it with
the Self, and then let it pass on to the word "AM," which signifies
Reality, and Being. Then combine the two with the meanings thereof, and
the result a most powerful focusing of thought inward, and most potent
Statement of Being.

It is well to accompany the above exercises with a comfortable and easy
physical attitude, so as to prevent the distraction of the attention by
the body. In order to do this one should assume an easy attitude and then
relax every muscle, and take the tension from every nerve, until a
perfect sense of ease, comfort and relaxation is obtained. You should
practice this until you have fully acquired it. It will be useful to you
in many ways, besides rendering Concentration and Meditation easier. It
will act as a "rest cure" for tired body, nerves, and mind.


The second step in Raja Yoga is what is known as Dharana, or
Concentration. This is a most wonderful idea in the direction of focusing
the mental forces, and may be cultivated to an almost incredible degree,
but all this requires work, time, and patience. But the student will be
well repaid for it. Concentration consists in the mind focusing upon a
certain subject, or object, and being held there for a time. This, at
first thought seems very easy, but a little practice will show how
difficult it is to firmly fix the attention and hold it there. It will
have a tendency to waver, and move to some other object or subject, and
much practice will be needed in order to hold it at the desired point.
But practice will accomplish wonders, as one may see by observing people
who have acquired this faculty, and who use it in their everyday life.
But the following point should be remembered. Many persons have acquired
the faculty of concentrating their attention, but have allowed it to
become almost involuntary, and they become a slave to it, forgetting
themselves and everything else, and often neglecting necessary affairs.
This is the ignorant way of concentrating, and those addicted to it
become slaves to their habits, instead of masters of their minds. They
become day-dreamers, and absent-minded people, instead of Masters. They
are to be pitied as much as those who cannot concentrate at all. The
secret is in a mastery of the mind. The Yogis can concentrate at will,
and completely bury themselves in the subject before them, and extract
from it every item of interest, and can then pass the mind from the thing
at will, the same control being used in both cases. They do not allow
fits of abstraction, or "absent-mindedness" to come upon them, nor are
they day-dreamers. On the contrary they are very wide awake individuals;
close observers; clear thinkers; correct reasoners. They are masters of
their minds, not slaves to their moods. The ignorant concentrator buries
himself in the object or subject, and allows it to master and absorb
himself, while the trained Yogi thinker asserts the "I," and then directs
his mind to concentrate upon the subject or object, keeping it well under
control and in view all the time. Do you see the difference? Then heed
the lesson.

The following exercises may be found useful in the first steps of

(a) Concentrate the attention upon some familiar object--a pencil, for
instance. Hold the mind there and consider the pencil to the exclusion of
any other object. Consider its size; color; shape; kind of wood. Consider
its uses, and purposes; its materials; the process of its manufacture,
etc., etc., etc. In short think as many things about the pencil as
possible allowing the mind to pursue any associated by-paths, such as a
consideration of the graphite of which the "lead" is made; the forest
from which came the wood used in making the pencil; the history of
pencils, and other implements used for writing, etc. In short exhaust
the subject of "Pencils." In considering a subject under concentration,
the following plan of synopsis will be found useful. Think of the thing
in question from the following view-points:

(1) The thing itself.

(2) The place from whence it came.

(3) Its purpose or use.

(4) Its associations.

(5) Its probable end.

Do not let the apparently trivial nature of the inquiry discourage you,
for the simplest form of mental training is useful, and will help to
develop your Will and Concentration. It is akin to the process of
developing a physical muscle by some simple exercise, and in both cases
one loses sight of the unimportance of the exercise itself, in view of
the end to be gained.

(b) Concentrate the attention upon some part of the body--the hand for
instance, and fixing your entire attention upon it, shut off or inhibit
all sensation from the other parts of the body. A little practice will
enable you to do this. In addition to the mental training, this exercise
will stimulate the part of the body concentrated upon, for reasons that
will appear in future lessons. Change the parts of the body concentrated
upon, and thus give the mind a variety of exercises, and the body the
effect of a general stimulation.

(c) These exercises may be extended indefinitely upon familiar objects
about you. Remember always, that the thing in itself is of no importance,
the whole idea being to train the mind to obey the Will, so that when you
really wish to use the mental forces upon some important object, you may
find them well trained and obedient. Do not be tempted to slight this
part of the work because it is "dry" and uninteresting, for it leads up
to things that are most interesting, and opens a door to a fascinating

(d) Practice focusing the attention upon some abstract subject--that is
upon some subject of interest that may offer a field for mental
exploration. Think about the subject in all its phases and branches,
following up one by-path, and then another, until you feel that you know
all about the subject that your mind has acquired. You will be surprised
to find how much more you know about any one thing or subject than you
had believed possible. In hidden corners of your mind you will find some
useful or interesting information about the thing in question, and when
you are through you will feel well posted upon it, and upon the things
connected with it. This exercise will not only help, to develop your
intellectual powers, but will strengthen your memory, and broaden your
mind, and give you more confidence in yourself. And, in addition, you
will have taken a valuable exercise in Concentration or Dharana.

The Importance of Concentration.

Concentration is a focusing of the mind. And this focusing of the mind
requires a focusing, or bringing to a center, of the Will. The mind is
concentrated because the Will is focused upon the object. The mind flows
into the mould made by the Will. The above exercises are designed not
only to accustom the mind to the obedience and direction of the Will, but
also tend to accustom the Will to command. We speak of strengthening the
Will, when what we really mean is training the mind to obey, and
accustoming the Will to command. Our Will is strong enough, but we do not
realize it. The Will takes root in the very center of our being--in the
"I," but our imperfectly developed mind does not recognize this tact.
We are like young elephants that do not recognize their own strength, but
allow themselves to be mastered by puny drivers, whom they could brush
aside with a movement. The Will is back of all action--all doing--mental
and physical.

We shall have much to say touching the Will, in these lessons and the
student should give the matter his careful attention. Let him look around
him, and he will see that the great difference between the men who have
stepped forward from the ranks, and those who remain huddled up in the
crowd, consists in Determination and Will. As Buxton has well said:
"The longer I live, the more certain I am that the great difference
between men, the feeble and the powerful; the great and the
insignificant; is Energy and Invincible Determination." And he might have
added that the thing behind that "energy and invincible determination"
was Will.

The writers and thinkers of all ages have recognized the wonderful and
transcendent importance of the Will. Tennyson sings: "O living Will thou
shalt endure when all that seems shall suffer shock." Oliver Wendell
Holmes says: "The seat of the Will seems to vary with the organ through
which it is manifested; to transport itself to different parts of the
brain, as we may wish to recall a picture, a phrase, a melody; to throw
its force on the muscles or the intellectual processes. Like the
general-in-chief, its place is everywhere in the field of action. It is
the least like an instrument of any of our faculties; the farthest
removed from our conceptions of mechanism and matter, as we commonly
define them." Holmes was correct in his idea, but faulty in his details.
The Will does not change its seat, which is always in the center of the
Ego, but the Will forces the mind to all parts, and in all directions,
and it directs the Prana or vital force likewise. The Will is indeed
the general-in-chief, but it does not rush to the various points of
action, but sends its messengers and couriers there to carry out its
orders. Buxton has said: "The Will will do anything that can be done in
this world. And no talents, no circumstances, no opportunities will
make a two-legged creature a Man without it." Ik Marvel truly says:
"Resolve is what makes a man manifest; not puny resolve, not crude
determinations, not errant purpose--but that strong and indefatigable
Will which treads down difficulties and danger, as a boy treads down the
heaving frost-lands of winter; which kindles his eye and brain with a
proud pulse-beat toward the unattainable. Will makes men giants."

The great obstacle to the proper use of the Will, in the case of the
majority of people, is the lack of ability to focus the attention. The
Yogis clearly understand this point, and many of the Raja Yoga
exercises which are given to the students by the teachers, are designed
to overcome this difficulty. Attention is the outward evidence of the
Will. As a French writer has said: "The attention is subject to the
superior authority of the Ego. I yield it, or I withhold it, as I please.
I direct it in turn to several points. I concentrate it upon each point
as long as my Will can stand the effort." Prof. James has said: "The
essential achievement of the Will, when it is most voluntary, is to
attend to a difficult object, and hold it fast before the mind. Effort of
Attention is the essential phenomenon of the Will." And Prof. Halleck
says: "The first step toward the development of Will lies in the exercise
of Attention. Ideas grow in distinctness and motor-power as we attend to
them. If we take two ideas of the same intensity and center the attention
upon one, we shall notice how much it grows in power." Prof. Sully says:
"Attention may be roughly defined as the active self-direction of the
mind to any object which presents itself at the moment." The word
"Attention" is derived from two Latin words, ad tendere, meaning "to
stretch towards," and this is just what the Yogis know it to be. By means
of their psychic or clairvoyant sight, they see the thought of the
attentive person stretched out toward the object attended to, like a
sharp wedge, the point of which is focused upon the object under
consideration, the entire force of the thought being concentrated at that
point. This is true not only when the person is considering an object,
but when he is earnestly impressing his ideas upon another, or upon some
task to be accomplished. Attention means reaching the mind out to and
focusing it upon something.

The trained Will exhibits itself in a tenacious Attention, and this
Attention is one of the signs of the trained Will. The student must not
hastily conclude that this kind of Attention is a common faculty among
men. On the contrary it is quite rare, and is seen only among those of
"strong" mentality. Anyone may fasten his Attention upon some passing,
pleasing thing, but it takes a trained will to fasten it upon some
unattractive thing, and hold it there. Of course the trained occultist is
able to throw interest into the most unattractive thing upon which it
becomes advisable to focus his Attention, but this, in itself, comes with
the trained Will, and is not the possession of the average man. Voluntary
Attention is rare, and is found only among strong characters. But it may
be cultivated and grown, until he who has scarcely a shade of it to-day,
in time may become a giant. It is all a matter of practice, exercise, and

It is difficult to say too much in favor of the development of the
faculty of tenacious Attention. One possessing this developed faculty is
able to accomplish far more than even a much "brighter" man who lacks
it. And the best way to train the Attention, under the direction of the
Will, is to practice upon uninteresting objects, and ideas, holding
them before the mind until they begin to assume an Interest. This is
difficult at first, but the task soon begins to take on a pleasant
aspect, for one finds that his Will-power and Attention are growing, and
he feels himself acquiring a Force and Power that were lacking before--he
realizes that he is growing Stronger. Charles Dickens said that the
secret of his success consisted in his developing a faculty of throwing
his entire Attention into whatever he happened to be doing at the moment
and then being able to turn that same degree of Attention to the next
thing coming before him for consideration. He was like a man behind a
great searchlight, which was successively turned upon point after point,
illuminating each in turn. The "I" is the man behind the light, and the
Will is the reflector, the light being the Attention.

This discussion of Will and Attention may seem somewhat "dry" to the
student, but that is all the more reason that he should attend to it. It
is the secret that lies at the basis of the Science of Raja Yoga, and
the Yogi Masters have attained a degree of Concentrated Will and
Attention that would be inconceivable to the average "man on the street."
By reason of this, they are able to direct the mind here and there,
outward or inward, with an enormous force. They are able to focus the
mind upon a small thing with remarkable intensity, just as the rays of
the sun may be focused through a "sun-glass" and caused to ignite linen,
or, on the other hand, they are able to send forth the mind with intense
energy, illuminating whatever it rests upon, just as happens in the case
of the strong electric searchlight, with which many of us are familiar.
By all means start in to cultivate the Attention and Will. Practice on
the unpleasant tasks--do the things that you have before you, and from
which you have been shrinking because they were unpleasant. Throw
interest into them, and the difficulty will vanish, and you will come out
of it much stronger, and filled with a new sense of Power.


"I" have a Will--it is my inalienable property and right. I determine to
cultivate and develop it by practice and exercise. My mind is obedient to
my Will. I assert my Will over my Mind. I am Master of my mind and body.
I assert my Mastery. My Will is Dynamic--full of Force and Energy, and
Power. I feel my strength. I am Strong. I am Forceful. I am Vital. I am
Center of Consciousness, Energy, Strength, and Power, and I claim my

Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka
Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka
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