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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Let me ask you to think for a while on the place of Yoga in its
relation to two of the great Hindu schools of philosophical
thought, for neither the Westerner nor the non-Sanskrit-knowing
Indian can ever really understand the translations of the chief
Indian books, now current here and in the West, and the force of
all the allusions they make, unless they acquaint themselves in
some degree with the outlines of these great schools of
philosophy, they being the very foundation on which these books
are built up. Take the Bhagavad-Gita. Probably there are many who
know that book fairly well, who use it as the book to help in the
spiritual life, who are not familiar with most of its precepts.
But you must always be more or less in a fog in reading it,
unless you realise the fact that it is founded on a particular
Indian philosophy and that the meaning of nearly all the
technical words in it is practically limited by their meaning in
philosophy known as the Samkhya. There are certain phrases
belonging rather to the Vedanta, but the great majority are
Samkhyan, and it is taken for granted that the people reading or
using the book are familiar with the outline of the Samkhyan
philosophy. I do not want to take you into details, but I must
give you the leading ideas of the philosophy. For if you grasp
these, you will not only read your Bhagavad-Gita with much more
intelligence than before, but you will be able to use it
practically for yogic purposes in a way that, without this
knowledge, is almost impossible.

Alike in the Bhagavad-Gita and in the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali
the terms are Samkhyan, and historically Yoga is based on the
Samkhya, so far as its philosophy is concerned. Samkhya does not
concern itself with, the existence of Deity, but only with the
becoming of a universe, the order of evolution. Hence it is often
called Nir-isvara Samkhya, the Samkhya without God. But so
closely is it bound up with the Yoga system, that the latter is
called Sesvara Samkhya, with God. For its understanding,
therefore, I must outline part of the Samkhya philosophy, that
part which deals with the relation of Spirit and matter; note the
difference from this of the Vedantic conception of Self and
Not-Self, and then find the reconciliation in the Theosophic
statement of the facts in nature. The directions which fall from
the lips of the Lord of Yoga in the Gita may sometimes seem to
you opposed to each other and contradictory, because they
sometimes are phrased in the Samkhyan and sometimes in the
Vedantic terms, starting from different standpoints, one looking
at the world from the standpoint of matter, the other from the
standpoint of Spirit. If you are a student of Theosophy, then the
knowledge of the facts will enable you to translate the different
phrases. That reconciliation and understanding of these
apparently contradictory phrases is the object to which I would
ask your attention now.

The Samkhyan School starts with the statement that the universe
consists of two factors, the first pair of opposites, Spirit and
Matter, or more accurately Spirits and Matter. The Spirit is
called Purusha--the Man; and each Spirit is an individual.
Purusha is a unit, a unit of consciousness; they are all of the
same nature, but distinct everlastingly the one from the other.
Of these units there are many; countless Purushas are to be found
in the world of men. But while they are countless in number they
are identical in nature, they are homogeneous. Every Purusha has
three characteristics, and these three are alike in all. One
characteristic is awareness; it will become cognition. The second
of the characteristics is life or prana; it will become activity.
The third characteristic is immutability, the essence of
eternity; it will become will. Eternity is not, as some
mistakenly think, everlasting time. Everlasting time has nothing
to do with eternity. Time and eternity are two altogether
different things. Eternity is changeless, immutable,
simultaneous. No succession in time, albeit everlasting--if such
could be--could give eternity. The fact that Purusha has this
attribute of immutability tells us that He is eternal; for
changelessness is a mark of the eternal.

Such are the three attributes of Purusha, according to the
Samkhya. Though these are not the same in nomenclature as the
Vedantic Sat, Chit, Ananda, yet they are practically identical.
Awareness or cognition is Chit; life or force is Sat; and
immutability, the essence of eternity, is Ananda.

Over against these Purushas, homogeneous units, countless in
number, stands Prakriti, Matter, the second in the Samkhyan
duality. Prakriti is one; Purushas are many. Prakriti is a
continuum; Purushas are discontinuous, being innumerable,
homogeneous units. Continuity is the mark of Prakriti. Pause for
a moment on the name Prakriti. Let us investigate its root
meaning. The name indicates its essence. Pra means "forth," and
kri is the root "make". Prakriti thus means "forth-making ".
Matter is that which enables the essence of Being to become. That
which is Being--is-tence, becomes ex-is-tence--outbeing, by
Matter, and to describe Matter as "forth-making" is to give its
essence in a single word. Only by Prakriti can Spirit, or
Purusha, "forth-make" or "manifest" himself. Without the presence
of Prakriti, Purusha is helpless, a mere abstraction. Only by the
presence of, and in Prakriti, can Purusha make manifest his
powers. Prakriti has also three characteristics, the well-known
gunas--attributes or qualities. These are rhythm, mobility and
inertia. Rhythm enables awareness to become cognition. Mobility
enables life to become activity. Inertia enables immutability to
become will.

Now the conception as to the relation of Spirit to Matter is a
very peculiar one, and confused ideas about it give rise to many
misconceptions. If you grasp it, the Bhagavad-Gita becomes
illuminated, and all the phrases about action and actor, and the
mistake of saying "I act," become easy to understand, as implying
technical Samkhyan ideas.

The three qualities of Prakriti, when Prakriti is thought of as
away from Purusha, are in equilibrium, motionless, poised the one
against the other, counter-balancing and neutralizing each other,
so that Matter is called jada, unconscious, "dead". But in the
presence of Purusha all is changed. When Purusha is in
propinquity to Matter, then there is a change in Matter--not
outside, but in it.

Purusha acts on Prakriti by propinquity, says Vyasa. It comes
near Prakriti, and Prakriti begins to live. The "coming near" is
a figure of speech, an adaptation to our ideas of time and space,
for we cannot posit "nearness" of that which is timeless and
spaceless--Spirit. By the word propinquity is indicated an
influence exerted by Purusha on Prakriti, and this, where
material objects are concerned, would be brought about by their
propinquity. If a magnet be brought near to a piece of soft iron
or an electrified body be brought near to a neutral one, certain
changes are wrought in the soft iron or in the neutral body by
that bringing near. The propinquity of the magnet makes the soft
iron a magnet; the qualities of the magnet are produced in it, it
manifests poles, it attracts steel, it attracts or repels the end
of an electric needle. In the presence of a postively electrified
body the electricity in a neutral body is re-arranged, and the
positive retreats while the negative gathers near the electrified
body. An internal change has occurred in both cases from the
propinquity of another object. So with Purusha and Prakriti.
Purusha does nothing, but from Purusha there comes out an
influence, as in the case of the magnetic influence. The three
gunas, under this influence of Purusha, undergo a marvellous
change. I do not know what words to use, in order not to make a
mistake in putting it. You cannot say that Prakriti absorbs the
influence. You can hardly say that it reflects the Purusha. But
the presence of Purusha brings about certain internal changes,
causes a difference in the equilibrium of the three gunas in
Prakriti. The three gunas were in a state of equilibrium. No guna
was manifest. One guna was balanced against another. What happens
when Purusha influences Prakriti? The quality of awareness in
Purusha is taken up by, or reflected in, the guna called Sattva--
rhythm, and it becomes cognition in Prakriti. The quality that we
call life in Purusha is taken up by, or reflected, in the guna
called Rajas--mobility, and it becomes force, energy, activity,
in Prakriti. The quality that we call immutability in Purusha is
taken up by, or reflected, in the guna called Tamas--inertia, and
shows itself out as will or desire in Prakriti. So that, in that
balanced equilibrium of Prakriti, a change has taken place by the
mere propinquity of, or presence of, the Purusha. The Purusha has
lost nothing, but at the same time a change has taken place in

matter. Cognition has appeared in it. Activity, force, has
appeared in it. Will or desire has appeared in it. With this
change in Prakriti another change occurs. The three attributes of
Purusha cannot be separated from each other, nor can the three
attributes of Prakriti be separated each from each. Hence rhythm,
while appropriating awareness, is under the influence of the
whole three-in-one Purusha and cannot but also take up
subordinately life and immutability as activity and will. And so
with mobility and inertia. In combinations one quality or another
may predominate, and we may have combinations which show
preponderantly awareness-rhythm, or life- mobility, or
immutability-inertia. The combinations in which awareness-rhythm
or cognition predominates become "mind in nature," the subject or
subjective half of nature. Combinations in which either of the
other two predominates become the object or objective half of
nature, the " force and matter " of the western scientist.[FN#7:
A friend notes that the first is the Suddha Sattva of the
Ramanuja School, and the second and third the Prakriti, or
spirit-matter, in the lower sense of the same.]

We have thus nature divided into two, the subject and the object.
We have now in nature everything that is wanted for the
manifestation of activity, for the production of forms and for
the expression of consciousness. We have mind, and we have force
and matter. Purusha has nothing more to do, for he has infused
all powers into Prakriti and sits apart, contemplating their
interplay, himself remaining unchanged. The drama of existence is
played out within Matter, and all that Spirit does is to look at
it. Purusha is the spectator before whom the drama is played. He
is not the actor, but only a spectator. The actor is the
subjective part of nature, the mind, which is the reflection of
awareness in rhythmic matter. That with which it works--objective
nature, is the reflection of the other qualities of Purusha--life
and immutability--in the gunas, Rajas and Tamas. Thus we have in
nature everything that is wanted for the production of the
universe. The Putusha only looks on when the drama is played
before him. He is spectator, not actor. This is the predominant
note of the Bhagavad-Gita. Nature does everything. The gunas
bring about the universe. The man who says: "I act," is mistaken
and confused; the gunas act, not he. He is only the spectator and
looks on. Most of the Gita teaching is built upon this conception
of the Samkhya, and unless that is clear in our minds we can
never discriminate the meaning under the phrases of a particular

Let us now turn to the Vedantic idea. According to the Vedantic
view the Self is one, omnipresent, all-permeating, the one
reality. Nothing exists except the Self--that is the
starting-point in Vedanta. All permeating, all-controlling, all-
inspiring, the Self is everywhere present. As the ether permeates
all matter, so does the One Self permeate, restrain, support,
vivify all. It is written in the Gita that as the air goes
everywhere, so is the Self everywhere in the infinite diversity
of objects. As we try to follow the outline of Vedantic thought,
as we try to grasp this idea of the one universal Self, who is
existence, consciousness, bliss, Sat-Chit-Ananda, we find that we
are carried into a loftier region of philosophy than that
occupied by the Samkhya. The Self is One. The Self is everywhere
conscious, the Self is everywhere existent, the Self is
everywhere blissful. There is no division between these qualities
of the Self. Everywhere, all-embracing, these qualities are found
at every point, in every place. There is no spot on which you can
put your finger and say "The Self is not here." Where the Self
is--and He is everywhere--there is existence, there is
consciousness, and there is bliss. The Self, being consciousness,
imagines limitation, division. From that imagination of
limitation arises form, diversity, manyness. From that thought of
the Self, from that thought of limitation, all diversity of the
many is born. Matter is the limitation imposed upon the Self by
His own will to limit Himself. "Eko'ham, bahu syam," "I am one; I
will to he many"; "let me be many," is the thought of the One;
and in that thought, the manifold universe comes into existence.

In that limitation, Self-created, He exists, He is conscious, He
is happy. In Him arises the thought that He is Self-existence,
and behold! all existence becomes possible. Because in Him is the
will to manifest, all manifestation at once comes into existence.
Because in Him is all bliss, therefore is the law of life the
seeking for happiness, the essential characteristic of every
sentient creature. The universe appears by the Self-limitation in
thought of the Self. The moment the Self ceases to think it, the
universe is not, it vanishes as a dream. That is the fundamental
idea of the Vedanta. Then it accepts the spirits of the Samkhya--
the Purushas; but it says that these spirits are only reflections
of the one Self, emanated by the activity of the Self and that
they all reproduce Him in miniature, with the limitations which
the universal Self has imposed upon them, which are apparently
portions of the universe, but are really identical with Him. It
is the play of the Supreme Self that makes the limitations, and
thus reproduces within limitations the qualities of the Self; the
consciousness of the Self, of the Supreme Self; becomes, in the
particularised Self, cognition, the power to know; and the
existence of the Self becomes activity, the power to manifest;
and the bliss of the Self becomes will, the deepest part of all,
the longing for happiness, for bliss; the resolve to obtain it is
what we call will.

And so in the limited, the power to know, and
the power to act, and the power to will, these are the
reflections in the particular Self of the essential qualities of
the universal Self. Otherwise put: that which was universal
awareness becomes now cognition in the separated Self; that which
in the universal Self was awareness of itself becomes in the
limited Self awareness of others; the awareness of the whole
becomes the cognition of the individual. So with the existence of
the Self: the Self-existence of the universal Self becomes, in
the limited Self, activity, preservation of existence. So does
the bliss of the universal Self, in the limited expression of the
individual Self, become the will that seeks for happiness, the
Self-determination of the Self, the seeking for Self-realisation,
that deepest essence of human life.

The difference comes with limitation, with the narrowing of the
universal qualities into the specific qualities of the limited
Self; both are the same in essence, though seeming different in
manifestation. We have the power to know, the power to will, and
the power to act. These are the three great powers of the Self
that show themselves in the separated Self in every diversity of
forms, from the minutes" organism to the loftiest Logos.

Then just as in the Samkhya, if the Purusha, the particular Self,
should identify himself with the matter in which he is reflected,
then there is delusion and bondage, so in the Vedanta, if the
Self, eternally free, imagines himself to be bound by matter,
identifying himself with his limitations, he is deluded, he is
under the domain of Maya; for Maya is the self-identification of
the Self with his limitations. The eternally free can never be
bound by matter; the eternally pure can never be tainted by
matter; the eternally knowing can never be deluded by matter; the
eternally Self-determined can never be ruled by matter, save by
his own ignorance. His own foolish fancy limits his inherent
powers; he is bound, because he imagines himself bound; he is
impure, because he imagines himself impure; he is ignorant,
because he imagines himself ignorant. With the vanishing of
delusion he finds that he is eternally pure, eternally wise.

Here is the great difference between the Samkhya and the Vedanta.
According to the Samkhya, Purusha is the spectator and never the
actor. According to Vedanta the Self is the only actor, all else
is maya: there is no one else who acts but the Self, according to
the Vedanta teaching. As says the Upanishad: the Self willed to
see, and there were eyes; the Self willed to hear, and there were
ears; the Self willed to think, and there was mind. The eyes, the
ears, the mind exist, because the Self has willed them into
existence. The Self appropriates matter, in order that He may
manifest His powers through it. There is the distinction between
the Samkhya and the Vedanta: in the Samkhya the propinquity of
the Purusha brings out in matter or Prakriti all these
characteristics, the Prakriti acts and not the Purusha; in the
Vedanta, Self alone exists and Self alone acts; He imagines
limitation and matter appears; He appropriates that matter in
order that He may manifest His own capacity.

The Samkhya is the view of the universe of the scientist: the
Vedanta is the view of the universe of the metaphysician. Haeckel
unconsciously expounded the Samkhyan philosophy almost perfectly.
So close to the Samkhyan is his exposition, that another idea
would make it purely Samkhyan; he has not yet supplied that
propinquity of consciousness which the Samkhya postulates in its
ultimate duality. He has Force and Matter, he has Mind in Matter,
but he has no Purusha. His last book, criticised by Sir Oliver
Lodge, is thoroughly intelligible from the Hindu standpoint as an
almost accurate representation of Samkhyan philosophy. It is the
view of the scientist, indifferent to the "why" of the facts
which he records. The Vedanta, as I said, is the view of the
metaphysician he seeks the unity in which all diversities are
rooted and into which they are resolved.

Now, what light does Theosophy throw on both these systems?
Theosophy enables every thinker to reconcile the partial
statements which are apparently so contradictory. Theosophy, with
the Vedanta, proclaims the universal Self. All that the Vedanta
says of the universal Self and the Self- limitation, Theosophy
repeats. We call these Self-limited selves Monads, and we say, as
the Vedantin says, that these Monads reproduce the nature of the
universal Self whose portions they are. And hence you find in
them the three qualities which you find in the Supreme. They are
units' and these represent the Purushas of the Samkhya; but with
a very great difference, for they are not passive watchers, but
active agents in the drama of the universe, although, being above
the fivefold universe, they are as spectators who pull the
strings of the players of the stage. The Monad takes to himself
from the universe of matter atoms which show out the qualities
corresponding to his three qualities, and in these he thinks, and
wills and acts. He takes to himself rhythmic combinations, and
shows his quality of cognition. He takes to himself combinations
that are mobile; through those he shows out his activity. He
takes the combinations that are inert, and shows out his quality
of bliss, as the will to be happy. Now notice the difference of
phrase and thought. In the Samkhya, Matter changed to reflect the
Spirit; in fact, the Spirit appropriates portions of Matter, and
through those expresses his own characteristics--an enormous
difference. He creates an actor for Self-expression, and this
actor is the "spiritual man" of the Theosophical teaching, the
spiritual Triad, the Atma-buddhi-manas, to whom we shall return
in a moment.

The Monad remains ever beyond the fivefold universe, and in that
sense is a spectator. He dwells beyond the five planes of matter.
Beyond the Atmic, or Akasic; beyond the Buddhic plane, the plane
of Vayu; beyond the mental plane, the plane of Agni; beyond the
astral plane, the plane of Varuna; beyond the physical plane, the
plane of Kubera. Beyond all these planes the Monad, the Self,
stands Self-conscious and Self-determined. He reigns in
changeless peace and lives in eternity. But as said above, he
appropriates matter. He takes to himself an atom of the Atmic
plane, and in that he, as it were, incorporates his will, and
that becomes Atma. He appropriates an atom of the Buddhic plane,
and reflects in that his aspect of cognition, and that becomes
buddhi. He appropriates an atom of the manasic plane and
embodies, as it were, his activity in it, and it becomes Manas.
Thus we get Atma, plus Buddhi, plus Manas. That triad is the
reflection in the fivefold universe of the Monad beyond the
fivefold universe. The terms of Theosophy can be easily
identified with those of other schools. The Monad of Theosophy is
the Jivatma of Indian philosophy, the Purusha of the Samkhya, the
particularised Self of the Vedanta. The threefold manifestation,
Atma-buddhi-manas, is the result of the Purusha's propinquity to
Prakriti, the subject of the Samkhyan philosophy, the Self
embodied in the highest sheaths, according to the Vedantic
teaching. In the one you have this Self and His sheaths, and in
the other the Subject, a reflection in matter of Purusha. Thus
you can readily see that you are dealing with the same concepts
but they are looked at from different standpoints. We are nearer
to the Vedanta than to the Samkhya, but if you know the
principles you can put the statements of the two philosophies in
their own niches and will not be confused. Learn the principles
and you can explain all the theories. That is the value of the
Theosophical teaching; it gives you the principles and leaves you
to study the philosophies, and you study them with a torch in
your hand instead of in the dark.

Now when we understand the nature of the spiritual man, or Triad,
what do we find with regard to all the manifestations of
consciousness? That they are duads, Spirit-Matter everywhere, on
every plane of our fivefold universe. If you are a scientist, you
will call it spiritualised Matter; if you are a metaphysician you
will call it materialised Spirit. Either phrase is equally true,
so long as you remember that both are always present in every
manifestation, that what you see is not the play of matter alone,
but the play of Spirit-Matter, inseparable through the period of
manifestation. Then, when you come, in reading an ancient book,
to the statement "mind is material," you will not be confused;
you will know that the writer is only speaking on the Samkhyan
line, which speaks of Matter everywhere but always implies that
the Spirit is looking on, and that this presence makes the work
of Matter possible. You will not, when reading the constant
statement in Indian philosophies that "mind is material," confuse
this with the opposite view of the materialist which says that
"mind is the product of matter"--a very different thing. Although
the Samkhyan may use materialistic terms, he always posits the
vivifying influence of Spirit, while the materialist makes Spirit
the product of Matter. Really a gulf divides them, although the
language they use may often be the same.


"Yoga is the inhibition of the functions of the mind," says
Patanjali. The functions of the mind must be suppressed, and in
order that we may be able to follow out really what this means,
we must go more closely into what the Indian philosopher means by
the word "mind".

Mind, in the wide sense of the term, has three great properties
or qualities: cognition, desire or will, activity. Now Yoga is
not immediately concerned with all these three, but only with
one, cognition, the Samkhyan subject. But you cannot separate
cognition, as we have seen, completely from the others, because
consciousness is a unit, and although we are only concerned with
that part of consciousness which we specifically call cognition,
we cannot get cognition all by itself. Hence the Indian
psychologist investigating this property, cognition, divides it
up into three or, as the Vedanta says, into four (with all
submission, the Vedantin here makes a mistake). If you take up
any Vedantic book and read about mind, you will find a particular
word used for it which. translated, means "internal organ". This
antah-karana is the word always used where in English we use
"mind"; but it is only used in relation to cognition, not in
relation to activity and desire. It is said to be fourfold, being
made up of Manas, Buddhi, Ahamkara, and Chitta; but this fourfold
division is a very curious division. We know what Manas is, what
Buddhi is, what Ahamkara is, but what is this Chitta? What is
Chitta, outside Manas, Buddhi and Ahamkara? Ask anyone you like.
and record his answer; you will find that it is of the vaguest
kind. Let us try to analyse it for ourselves, and see whether
light will come upon it by using the Theosophic idea of a triplet
summed up in a fourth, that is not really a fourth, but the
summation of the three. Manas, Buddhi and Ahamkara are the three
different sides of a triangle,' which triangle is called Chitta.
The Chitta is not a fourth, but the sum of the three: Manas,
Buddhi and Ahamkara. This is the old idea of a trinity in unity.
Over and over again H. P. Blavatsky uses this summation as a
fourth to her triplets, for she follows the old methods. The
fourth, which sums up the three but is not other than they, makes
a unity out of their apparent diversity. Let us apply that to

Take cognition. Though in cognition that aspect of the Self is
predominant, yet it cannot exist absolutely alone, The whole Self
is there in every act of cognition. Similarly with the other two.
One cannot exist separate from the others. Where there is
cognition the other two are present, though subordinate to it.
The activity is there, the will is there. Let us think of
cognition as pure as it can be, turned on itself, reflected in
itself, and we have Buddhi, the pure reason, the very essence of
cognition; this in the universe is represented by Vishnu, the
sustaining wisdom of the universe. Now let us think of cognition
looking outwards, and as reflecting itself in activity, its
brother quality, and we have a mixture of cognition and activity
which is called Manas, the active mind; cognition reflected in
activity is Manas in man or Brahma, the creative mind, in the
universe. When cognition similarly reflects itself in will, then
it becomes Ahamkara, the "I am I" in man, represented by Mahadeva
in the universe. Thus wee have found within the limits of this
cognition a triple division, making up the internal organ or
Antahkarana--Manas, plus Buddhi, plus Ahamkara--and we can find
no fourth. What is then Chitta? It is the summation of the three,
the three taken together, the totality of the three. Because of
the old way of counting these things, you get this division of
Antahkarana into four.

The Mental Body

We must now deal with the mental body, which is taken as
equivalent to mind for practical purposes. The first thing for a
man to do in practical Yoga is to separate himself from the
mental body, to draw away from that into the sheath next above
it. And here remember what I said previously, that in Yoga the
Self is always the consciousness plus the vehicle from which the
consciousness is unable to separate itself. All that is above the
body you cannot leave is the Self for practical purposes, and
your first attempt must be to draw away from your mental body.
Under these conditions, Manas must be identified with the Self,
and the spiritual Triad, the Atma-buddhi-manas, is to be realised
as separate from the mental body. That is the first step. You
must be able to take up and lay down your mind as you do a tool,
before it is of any use to consider the further progress of the
Self in getting rid of its envelopes. Hence the mental body is
taken as the starting point. Suppress thought. Quiet it. Still
it. Now what is the ordinary condition of the mental body? As you
look upon that body from a higher plane, you see constant changes
of colours playing in it. You find that they are sometimes
initiated from within, sometimes from without. Sometimes a
vibration from without has caused a change in consciousness, and
a corresponding change in the colours in the mental body. If
there is a change of consciousness, that causes vibration in the
matter in which that consciousness is functioning. The mental
body is a body of ever-changing hues and colours, never still,
changing colour with swift rapidity throughout the whole of it.
Yoga is the stopping of all these, the inhibition of vibrations
and changes alike. Inhibition of the change of consciousness
stops the vibration of the mental body; the checking of the
vibration of the mental body checks the change in consciousness.
In the mental body of a Master there is no change of colour save
as initiated from within; no outward stimulus can produce any
answer, any vibration,ùin that perfectly controlled mental body.
The colour of the mental body of a Master is as moonlight on the
rippling ocean. Within that whiteness of moon-like refulgence lie
all possibilities of colour, but nothing in the outer world can
make the faintest change of hue sweep over its steady radiance.
If a change of consciousness occurs within, then the change will
send a wave of delicate hues over the mental body which responds
only in colour to changes initiated from within and never to
changes stimulated from without. His mental body is never His
Self, but only His tool or instrument, which He can take up or
lay down at His will. It is only an outer sheath that He uses
when He needs to communicate with the lower world.

By that idea of the stopping of all changes of colour in the
mental body you can realise what is meant by inhibition. The
functions of mind are stopped in Yoga. You have to begin with
your mental body. You have to learn how to stop the whole of
those vibrations, how to make the mental body colourless, still
and quiet, responsive only to the impulses that you choose to put
upon it. How will you be able to tell when the mind is really
coming under control, when it is no longer a part of your Self?
You will begin to realise this when you find that, by the action
of your will, you can check the current of thought and hold the
mind in perfect stillness. Sheath after sheath has to be
transcended, and the proof of transcending is that it can no
longer affect you. You can affect it, but it cannot affect you.
The moment that nothing outside you can harass you, can stir the
mind, the moment that the mind does not respond to the outer,
save under your own impulse, then can you say of it: "This is not
my Self." It has become part of the outer, it can no longer be
identified with the Self.

From this you pass on to the conquest of the causal body in a
similar way. When the conquering of the causal body is complete
then you go to the conquering of the Buddhic body. When mastery
over the Buddhic body is complete, you pass on to the~conquest of
the Atmic body.

An Introduction to Yoga
Relation to Indian Philosophies
An Introduction to Yoga
By  Annie Besant
Relation to Indian Philosophies
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