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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Personal Magnetism is the individual expression of a subtle irresistible
and dynamic Force in man, which enables him to exert an unusual
influence upon others. You all have come into contact with men of this
type. They are endowed with marvelous, almost miraculous powers of
influencing, persuading, attracting, fascinating, ruling and bending to
their own Will-Force men of widely varying mental peculiarities and
temperaments. Men actually go out of their way to please them. They
attract others without any visible effort and others feel drawn to them
in spite of themselves. Various are the examples of such power as
afforded by history.

Now what is this power due to? How to develop it within yourself?
Is it possible for everyone to acquire it? Has it or can it be put to any
higher and nobler use than merely to enslave others' minds in order to
make them subservient to your selfish purposes on the relative plane
of existence? If so, what is that higher use? I know of a Christian
gentleman, Mr. K. by name, who had been smitten with the young
governess of a Magistrate in Benares. This grown-up man sought out
a young College student who was a born leader of men and who was
adored, admired and universally respected by all students, teachers and
professors. "I wish you would teach me Mesmerism so that I may
fascinate that girl"--this was the application of Mr. K. Well, the
upshot of it all was that Mr. K. got a severe and stern rebuke from the
young mesmerist, who in all truth was a born Yogi and cared not for the
petty ways and small thoughts and attainments of men of this world.

I find that nearly all modern Western writers on and teachers of this
subject are much, in fact solely, taken up with the idea of
sensationalism through Occultism, so much so that when a really
thoughtful man investigates their writings he feels utterly disgusted,
repelled and horrified at the very name of Occultism. "It is sin to
manifest power," said Vivekananda. The man who studies Yoga and
Occultism simply with a view to develop, display and demonstrate Psychic
and Super-normal Powers and Siddhies always ends in Lust and is
caught up in a psychic machinery of law and destructive thought forces
that effectually grind him to pieces. His spiritual progress is thrown
back over ages and he is made to retrace his steps slowly and painfully.
I cannot too strongly condemn the modern tendency to "impress" others, to
"strike terror" into others, to "psychologize" others towards the
accomplishment of our personal motives. If you are one such, do, for
heaven's sake, open your eyes to your gross ignorance and low
propensities or be not surprised if one day you find yourself face to
face with some powerful scoundrel who would not scruple to crush you in
all possible ways. "Harm watch, harm catch." I am going to give you in
practical form what constitute the real cause at the back of a "Magnetic"
personality--that which when developed makes a god-like man of any human

This power is by no means the especial and peculiar possession of some
divinely gifted individuals. Everyone can cultivate it. It is in you
and needs vigorous stirring up as a condition of its awakening. There
are some men who are born great; others are made so by certain unforeseen
circumstances; a third class becomes great through conscious and
intelligent effort.

Now, what are the causes behind Personal Influence?

(1)  Some say that the right control of the Sex-Force or Celibacy
is the cause.

(2)  Others say that vegetarianism leads to it.

(3)  Still others assert that it is physical energy and nerve force.

(4) A fourth class has it that there emanates a current of magnetism
from the human body and influences everyone coming within its
"Magnetic field".

Taking the last view point first, I should say, with certain other
leading mental Scientists, that the human dynamic force is different from
"magnetism" as the latter bears direct reference to the loadstone.

Again, my own personal observations as well as those of others prove
conclusively that although "magnetic" personalities have remarkably
well-disciplined and highly trained physical energies, it is rarely or
never a huge gigantic physique with large, unsightly muscles that exerts
this force. No, it is decidely something other than mere physical energy
and brute strength. A light, active, vigorous physique is desirable and
any one can have it. Again, the principle value of a non-flesh diet lies
in the fact that fruits, nuts, corn and vegetables are possessed of
rhythmic qualities and go to build up a fine, sensitive physique capable
of greater powers of endurance and sustained mental effort than the
'carcass' of any animal ever can. Matter does affect mind in the lower
stages of organic evolution but the process is largely reversed as soon
as CONSCIOUS evolution commences. Therefore vegetarianism, although
highly commendable, from a strictly scientific point of view for the
development of an active and energetic, refined organism, is by no means
a rigid and indispensable necessity in this respect. In fact, some most
"magnetic" individuate make 'graveyards of their stomachs' as a Mental
Scientist puts it.

Lastly, Bramhacharya or Celibacy, as practised by Sannyasis in India, has
a strictly spiritual significance although it certainly has much as
everything to do with Personal Magnetism. To the average man I would say:
"Strive for CONTINENCE, chastity and control in this direction." Do not
emasculate, as that would be a waste of force. The stronger this force,
the better. All Sannyasis learn consciously or unconsciously to transmute
this energy into mental and spiritual force and generally their minds
dwell on a plane of mental and spiritual effort where there cannot be
even a breath of sensuality or grossness. They have gone beyond such
things utterly; the same statement applies to all advanced thinkers,
philosophers and workers, whether married or unmarried. To me the very
name of philosophy carries with it an atmosphere of Chastity, Solemnity,
and Divinity.

But although there is some measure of truth in all the above four
statements, they all miss the real thing. The question resolves itself
into this: "What makes one man superior to another?" The study of
nature shows us that the higher form of intelligence controls the lower.
All leaders of mankind, such as Napoleon, Alexander, etc., were clearly
ahead of the times. But they strove for low things and their SUCCESS
from our point of view is doubtful. Let us take higher ground. Buddha,
Christ, Zoroaster, etc., etc., of ancient times and Vivekananda and a few
others in modern times exhibited tremendous powers of influencing men.
You study their lives and writings and try to find out just those things
that constituted the basic cause of their heroic fibre.

If I were asked to sum up the secrets of their Power I would say:
1. "Their Intelligence and Thought-Power. 2. Awakened Will-Power
and Self-Control."

1. It was by their intelligence that they could take fearless possession
of the world, handle men and women easily, read human nature at a glance
and "be all things to all men," i.e.., put their fingers direct on the
spiritual, mental, and physical necessities of widely varying
temperaments and help each right where he stood in the ladder of

2. It was by their developed thought-force that they drew the whole world
to themselves. The positive thinker generates a force that draws all such
as are negative to him. Nearly the whole world was negative to these
Masters and hence felt attracted to them. These were the human

3. It was by their strong, manly, marvellous Will-Power that they
drove their suggestions into other minds and gained an immediate
ascendency over whatever environments they were placed in. The whole
man is summed up in his Will. Every other power in man is subservient
to the Will. And say what you will, it is this power more than any other
that we respect in others. It is the central staff in our character.
Intelligence is the directive energy. Will-Power is the propulsive
energy. And the latter when wielded under the guidance of the former
makes of man a veritable God.

4. It was by their unusual power of Self-control that they could stand
square upon their feet and could remain unshaken by the waves of
conflicting opinions and the hostile attacks that continually dashed up
against them. Master yourself, i.e., your personal, relative and lower
self, and beyond the shadow of a doubt, the mastery of others is already
yours. But the world will teach you bitter lessons and rend you to
pieces if you try consciously to control it while you are still a slave
to your lower self. Be great. Strive for Perfection. So will you be
recognised by others. And according to the transcendent energy of the
highest law of our Being it is the consciousness of heights scaled,
accomplishments achieved and consequent dawning of a Loftier Ideal upon
our intellectual horizon that fills us with Strength and Peace rather
than the recognition of our worth by others. It is a serious mistake to
care for fame, praise and admiration. You get them only when you do not
care for them in the least, when your soul has outgrown all such clinging
to the relative in the light of eternal thought, when you have risen to
the Absolute and learnt to read the meaning of the "LARGER WORLD" of
life. Do not pass by this lightly. In it is the key to Peace, Power and
Poise. All that is Real and Permanent, is on the plane of the Absolute.

Now we are drawing to the practical side of our Lesson. The four
principal points, you will please remember, are: (1) Intelligence. (2)
Thought-Force. (3) Will-Power. (4) Self-Control. You might feel
surprised at my retailing this "ancient history" instead of teaching you
how to approach a man, make him your slave and command him to fall
down at your feet and do your bidding. Perhaps you expected me to
tell you how to sail through the air, pass through solid walls,
materialize and dematerialize at will and like Appolonius of Tyana vanish
in the flash of an eye from the court of Ionysius and appear elsewhere at
a distance of 19,000 miles at the same moment. No, no. I will take it
for granted that you are made of different stuff and an earnest seeker
after the truth. If you strive to build yourself on the basis of the
simple principles as laid down in this series of lessons you will in time
grow into the Higher Self and at last become one with it. Moreover, your
daily life will be the Occasion for the practical application of these
principles, thus enabling you to pursue your way through life calmly,
earnestly, independently and with the quiet dignity of a man "who knows
what he is about". I cannot and would not speak of "get-rich-quick"
methods of self-development because they are the veriest rot imaginable.

Now then: (1) Intelligence and (2) Thought-Force are the natural
results of an organised brain.

Concentration is the key to such development. Concentration has been
fully explained in Lesson No. 1. By the constant exercise of
concentration, objectively and subjectively, in your daily life you
will in a short time become conscious of growing Strength. The
exercises I give you in this lesson on Self-Control, Will-Culture and
Memory-Culture if gone through with perseverance will further develop
Concentrative ability. In fact, this entire series of lessons will call
for Effort and Concentration. "Rome was not built in a day"--nor can you
achieve real greatness in a few months. No. All I can do is to indicate
the line and the nature of the effort required of you and if clearly
followed, Progress and Growth will commence from the first day. In
connection with this, a little digression would be necessary. The
Occultist says: Nature, unaided, fails. The purposiveness of Deity,
manifesting in nature an evolution, is present in all individual centres
but it has the way to full expression opened out to itself only when the
more evolved centres of life consciously cooperate with it.

Evolution is started and carried only by the creation of centres within the GREAT
CONSCIOUSNESS and by preserving and enlarging or expanding these centres.
So long as the race had not reached "SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS" (see Yoga
Lessons) the sub-conscious forces of nature had entire control over
evolutionary processes, but this stage was reached by the race according
to the LAW OF AVERAGES in the seventeenth century and you are now
expected to take your progress in your hands and consciously direct your
inner forces along such lines as best correspond to the stage of your
growth. So independent study and steady thinking form the secrets of a
keen and broad intelligence. You will always find that the man who is
more powerful than yourself and moves you at his will has an intelligence
and understanding far superior to yours and he can read your whole nature
as he would an open book, although you find him quite beyond your
depth. Learn to regard earnestly the workings of different mentalities
around you.

Become a student of human nature. To you, each man
ought to be only a partial expression of his mind. Examine closely into
the motives acting behind each personality. Learn to respond more
quickly to the Thoughts and Feelings of a man than to his outer
speech and action. The latter are objective expressions of the subjective
self. The study of Phrenology and Physiognomy are good things to start
with in your efforts to acquire knowledge of human nature. Mind is One
and at the same time, Many. Subjectively, it is ONE. Objectively; many.
So by looking impartially into "yourself" in the calm light of the
intellect and through silent introspection, you will always find a clue
to the working bases of other minds. Each man is a puzzle and most of all
are YOU a puzzle unto yourself. Solve either and you have solved both.

The Doctrine and Practice of Yoga
by Swami Mukerji
The Doctrine and Practice of Yoga
by Swami Mukerji
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