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
Add this page to your favorites.
Most Popular Search Terms:

Yoga      Reiki    Tarot       Astrology
Psychics         Diet              Fitness
Spiritual Health      Love & Romance
Invest in YOU! Discover the ten most downloadable books on our CBMall
Invest in YOU! Discover the ten most downloadable books on our CBMall in the following subjects

Most Popular Search Terms:

Yoga      Reiki    Tarot       Astrology
Psychics         Diet              Fitness
Spiritual Health      Love & Romance
Be sure to Bookmark this site as it's equal to many hundreds of pages of ordinary book text.
Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka


In our last lesson we led you by successive steps from the beginnings
of Life in living forms up to the creatures closely resembling the
family of vertebrates--the highest family of living forms on this
planet. In this present lesson we take up the story of the "Ascent of
Man" from the lowly vertebrate forms.

The large sub-family of forms called "The Vertebrates" are
distinguished from the Invertebrates by reason of the former possessing
an internal bony skeleton, the most important feature of which is the
vertebra or spinal column. The vertebrates, be it remembered, possess
practically the same organs as the lower forms of life, but differ from
them most materially by the possession of the internal skeleton, the
lower forms having an external or outside skeleton, which latter is
merely a hardening of the skin.

The flexibility of the vertebra creates a wonderful strength of
structure, combined with an ease of movement peculiar to the
vertebrates, and which renders them the natural forms of life capable
of rapid development and evolution. By means of this strength, and
ease, these forms are enabled to move rapidly in pursuit of their prey,
and away from their pursuers, and also to resist outside pressure or
attack. They are protected in a way similar to the invertebrates having
shells, and yet have the additional advantage of easy movement.
Differing in shape and appearance as do the numerous members of the
sub-family of vertebrates, still their structure is easily seen to
spring from a single form--all are modifications of some common
pattern, the differences arising from the necessities of the life of
the animal, as manifested through the desire and necessities of the

Science shows the direct relationship between the Vertebrates, and the
Invertebrates by means of several connecting-links, the most noticeable
of which is the Lancelot, a creature resembling the fish-form, and yet
also closely resembling the lower (invertebrate) forms of life. This
creature has no head, and but one eye. It is semi-transparent, and
possesses cilia for forcing in the water containing its food. It has
something like gills, and a gullet like the lower forms. It has no
heart, the blood being circulated by means of contracting vessels or
parts. Strictly speaking, it has no back-bone, or vertebra, but still
Science has been compelled to class it among the vertebrates because is
has a gristly cartilage where the back-bone is found in the higher
forms. This gristle may be called an "elementary spine." It has a
nervous system consisting of a single cord which spreads into a
broadened end near the creature's mouth, and which may therefore be
regarded as "something like a brain." This creature is really a
developed form of Invertebrate, shaped like a Vertebrate, and showing
signs of a rudimentary spine and nervous system of the latter. It is a

The lowest forms of the true Vertebrates are the great families of
Fishes. These Fish families include fishes of high and low degree, some
of the higher forms being as different from the lowest as they (the
highest) are different from the Reptile family. It is not necessary to
go into detail regarding the nature of the fish families, for every
student is more or less familiar with them.

Some peculiar forms of fish show a shading into the Reptile family, in
fact they seem to belong nearly as much to the latter as to their own
general family. Some species of fish known as the Dipnoi or
"double-breathers," have a remarkable dual system of breathing. That
is, they have gills for breathing while in the water, and also have a
primitive or elementary "lung" in the shape of an air-bladder, or
"sound," which they use for breathing on land. The Mud-fish of South
America, and also other forms in Australia and other places, have a
modification of fins which are practically "limbs," which they actually
use for traveling on land from pond to pond. Some of these fish have
been known to travel enormous distances in search of new pools of
water, or new streams, having been driven from their original homes by
droughts, or perhaps by instincts similar to the migrating instinct of
birds. Eels are fish (although many commonly forget this fact) and
many of their species are able to leave the water and travel on land
from pond to pond, their breathing being performed by a peculiar
modification of the gills. The climbing perch of India are able to live
out of water, and have modified gills for breathing purposes, and
modified fins for climbing and walking. So you see that without leaving
the fish family proper, we have examples of land living creatures which
are akin to "connecting links."

But there are real "connecting-links"' between the Fish and the
Reptiles. Passing over the many queer forms which serve as links
between the two families, we have but to consider our common frog's
history for a striking example. The Tadpole has gills, has no limbs,
uses its tail like a fish's fin, eats plants, etc. Passing through
several interesting stages the Tadpole reaches a stage in which it is a
frog with a tail--then it sheds its tail and is a full fledged Frog,
with four legs; web-feet; no tail; and feeding on animals. The Frog is
amphibious, that is, able to live on land or in water--and yet it is
compelled to come to the surface of the water for air to supply its
lungs. Some of the amphibious animals possess both lungs and gills,
even when matured; but the higher vertebrates living in the water
breathe through lungs which are evolved from the air-bladder of fishes,
which in turn have been evolved from the primitive gullet of the lower
forms. There are fishes known which are warm-blooded. Students will
kindly remember that the Whale is not a fish, but an aquatic animal--a
mammal, in fact, bringing forth its young alive, and suckling it from
its breasts.

So we readily see that it is but a step, and a short step at that,
between the land-traveling and climbing fishes and the lower forms of
Reptiles. The Frog shows us the process of evolution between the two
families, its life history reproducing the gradual evolution which may
have required ages to perfect in the case of the species. You will
remember that the embryo stages of all creatures reproduce the various
stages of evolution through which the species has passed--this is true
in Man as well as in the Frog.

We need not tarry long in considering the Reptile family of living
forms. In its varieties of serpents, lizards, crocodiles, turtles,
etc., we have studied and observed its forms. We see the limbless
snakes; the lizards with active limbs; the huge, clumsy, slow
crocodiles and alligators--the armor-bearing turtles and tortoises--all
belonging to the one great family of Reptiles, and nearly all of them
being degenerate descendants of the mighty Reptile forms of the
geological Age of Reptiles, in which flourished the mighty forms of the
giant reptiles--the monsters of land and water. Amidst the dense
vegetation of that pre-historic age, surrounded by the most favorable
conditions, these mighty creatures flourished and lived, their
fossilized skeleton forms evidencing to us how far their descendants
have fallen, owing to less favorable conditions, and the development of
other life-forms more in harmony with their changed environment.

Next comes the great family of Birds. The Birds ascended from the
Reptiles. This is the Eastern Teaching, and this is the teaching of
Western Science It was formerly taught in the text-books that the line
of ascent was along the family of winged reptiles which existed in the
Age of Reptiles, in the early days of the Earth. But the later writers
on the subject, in the Western world, have contradicted this. It is now
taught that these ancient winged-reptiles were featherless, and more
closely resembled the Bat family than birds. (You will remember that a
Bat is neither a reptile nor a bird--it is a mammal, bringing forth its
young alive, and suckling them at its breast. The Bat is more like a
mouse, and its wings are simply membrane stretched between its fingers,
its feet, and its tail.)

The line of ascent from Reptile to Bird was along the forms of the
Reptiles that walked on land. There are close anatomical and
physiological relations and correspondences between the two families
(Reptiles and Birds) which we need not refer to here. And, of course,
many modifications have occurred since the "branching-out." The scales
of the reptiles, and the feathers of the birds, are known to be but
modifications of the original outer skin, as are also the hair, claws,
hoofs, nails, etc., of all animals. Even teeth arose in this way,
strange as it may now seem--they are all secreted from the skin. What a
wonderful field for thought--this gradual evolution from the filmy
outer covering of the lowest living forms to the beautiful feathers,
beaks, and claws of the bird!

The evolving of wings meant much to the ascending forms of life. The
Reptiles were compelled to live in a narrow circle of territory, while
the Birds were able to travel over the earth in wide flights. And
travel always develops the faculties of observation, memory, etc., and
cultivates the senses of seeing, hearing, etc. And the creature is
compelled to exercise its evolving "thinking" faculties to a greater
extent. And so the Birds were compelled by necessity of their travels
to develop a greater degree of thinking organism. The result is that
among birds we find many instances of intelligent thought, which cannot
be dismissed as "mere instinct." Naturalists place the Crow at the head
of the family of Birds, in point of intelligence, and those who have
watched these creatures and studied the mental processes, will agree
that this is a just decision. It has been proven that Crows are capable
of counting up to several figures, and in other ways they display a
wonderful degree of almost human sagacity.

Next above the Bird family comes the highest form of all--the Mammals.
But before we begin our consideration of these high forms, let us take
a hasty glance at the "connecting-links" between the Birds and the
Mammals. The lowest forms of the Mammals resemble Birds in many ways.
Some of them are toothless, and many of them have the same primitive
intestinal arrangements possessed by the birds, from which arises their
name, Monotremes. These Monotremes may be called half-bird and
half-mammal. One of the most characteristic of their family is the
Ornithorhynchus, or Duck-bill, which the early naturalists first
thought was a fraud of the taxidermists, or bird-stuffers, and then,
when finally convinced, deemed it a "freak-of-nature." But it is not a
freak creature, but a "connecting-link" between the two great families
of creatures. This animal presents a startling appearance to the
observer who witnesses it for the first time. It resembles a beaver,
having a soft furry coat, but also has a horny, flat bill like a duck,
its feet being webbed, but also furnished with claws projecting over
the edge of the web-foot. It lays eggs in an underground nest--two eggs
at a time, which are like the eggs of birds, inasmuch as they contain
not only the protoplasm from which the embryo is formed, but also the
"yolk." on which the embryo feeds until hatched. After the young
Duck-bill is hatched, it feeds from teatless glands in the mother's
body, the milk being furnished by the mother by a peculiar process.
Consider this miracle--an animal which lays eggs and then when her
young are hatched nourishes them with milk. The milk-glands in the
mother are elementary "breasts."

The above-mentioned animal is found in Australia, the land of many
strange forms and "connecting-links," which have survived there while
in other parts of the globe they have vanished gradually from
existence, crowded out by the more perfectly evolved forms. Darwin has
called these surviving forms "living fossils." In that same land is
also found the Echidna or spiny ant-eater, which lays an egg and then
hatches it in her pouch, after which she nourishes it on milk, in a
manner similar to that of the Duck-bill. This animal, like the
Duck-bill, is a Monotreme.

Scientists are divided in theories as to whether the Monotremes are
actually descended directly from the Reptiles or Birds, or whether
there was a common ancestor from which Reptiles and Birds and Mammals
branched off. But this is not important, for the relationship between
Reptiles, Birds and Mammals is clearly proven. And the Monotremes are
certainly one of the surviving forms of the intermediate stages.

The next higher step in the ascent of Mammal life above the Monotreme
is occupied by the Marsupials, or milk-giving, pouched animals, of
which family the opossum and kangaroo are well known members. The
characteristic feature of this family of creatures is the possession of
an external pouch in the female, in which the young are kept and
nourished until they can take care of themselves as the young of other
animals are able to do. The young of the Marsupials are brought forth,
or born, in an imperfect condition, and undeveloped in size and
strength. There are fossil remains of Marsupials showing that in past
ages creatures of this kind existed which were as large as elephants.

In the more common form of Mammals the young are brought forth fully
formed, they having received "nourishment, before birth, from the
mother's body, through the placenta, the appendage which connects the
fetus with the parent. The Placental Mammals were the best equipped of
all the life-forms for survival and development, for the reason that
the young were nourished during their critical period, and the care
that the mammal must of necessity give to her young operated in the
direction of affording a special protection far superior to that of the
other forms. This and other causes acted to place the Placentals in the
"Royal line" from which Man was evolved.

The following families of Placental Mammals are recognized by Science,
each having its own structural peculiarities:

The Edentata, or Toothless creatures, among which are the sloths,
ant-eaters, armadillos, etc. These animals seem to be closer to the
Monotremes than they are to the Marsupials;

The Sirenia, so called by reason of their fanciful resemblance to the
sirens of mythology, among which are the sea-cows, manatees, dugongs,
etc., which are fish-like in structure and appearance, the fore-limbs
being shaped like paddles, or fins, and the hind-limbs being absent or

The Cetacea, or Whale Family, including whales, Porpoises, dolphins,
etc., which are quite fish-like in appearance and structure, their
forms being adapted for life in the sea, although they are, of course,
Mammals, bringing forth matured young which are suckled at the breast;

The Ungulata, or Hoofed Animals, which comprise many varied forms,
such as the horse, the tapir, the rhinoceros, the swine, the
hippopotamus, the camel, the deer, the sheep, the cow, etc., etc.;

The Hyracoidea, which is a small family, the principal member of
which is the coney, or rock rabbit, which has teeth resembling those of
the hoofed animals, in some ways, and those of the gnawing animals in
the others.

The Proboscidea, or Trunked Animals, which family is represented in
this age only by the families of elephants, which have a peculiar
appendage called a "trunk," which they use as an additional limb;

The Carnivora, or Flesh-eaters, represented by numerous and various
forms, such as the seal, the bear, the weasel, the wolf, the dog, the
lion, the tiger, the leopard, etc. The wolf and similar forms belong to
the sub-family of dogs; while the lion, tiger, etc., belong to the
sub-family of cats;

The Rodentia, or Gnawers, comprising the rat, the hare, the beaver,
the squirrel, the mouse, etc., etc.;

The Insectivora, or Insect Feeders, comprising the mole, the shrew,
the hedgehog, etc.;

The Chiroptera, or Finger-Winged Animals, comprising the great family
of Bats, etc., which are very highly developed animals;

The Lemuroidea, or Lemurs, the name of which is derived from the
Latin word meaning a "ghost," by reason of the Lemur's habits of
roaming about at night. The Lemur is a nocturnal animal, somewhat
resembling the Monkey in general appearance, but with a long, bushy
tail and sharp muzzle like a fox. It is akin to a small fox having
hands and feet like a monkey, the feet being used to grasp like a hand,
as is the case with the true Monkey family. These creatures are classed
by some naturalists among the Monkeys by reason of being "four-handed,"
while others are disposed to consider as still more important their
marked relationship with, and affinity to, the marsupials, gnawers and
insect-feeders. On the whole, these creatures are strangely organized
and come very near to being a "connecting-link" between other forms.
One of the Lemurs is what is known as the colugo, or "flying lemur,"
which resembles a squirrel in many particulars, and yet has a
membranous web extending from its hands, which enables it to make
flying leaps over great distances. This last named variety seems to
furnish a link between the insect-feeders and the Primates;

The Primates, which is a large family comprising the various forms of
monkeys, baboons, man-apes, such as the gibbon, gorilla, chimpanzee,
orang-outang, etc., all of which have big jaws, small brains, and a
stooping posture. This family also includes MAN, with his big brain and
erect posture, and his many races depending upon shape of skull, color
of skin, character of hair, etc.

In considering the Ascent of Man (physical) from the lowly forms of the
Monera, etc., up to his present high position, the student is struck
with the continuity of the ascent, development and unfoldment. While
there are many "missing-links," owing to the disappearance of the forms
which formed the connection, still there is sufficient proof left in
the existing forms to satisfy the fair-minded inquirer. The facts of
embryology alone are sufficient proof of the ascent of Man from the
lowly forms. Each and every man today has passed through all the forms
of the ascent within a few months, from single cell to the new-born,
fully formed infant.

Embryology teaches us that the eggs from which all animal forms evolve
are all practically alike so far as one can ascertain by microscopic
examination, no matter how diverse may be the forms which will evolve
from them, and this resemblance is maintained even when the embryo of
the higher forms begins to manifest traces of its future form. Von
Baer, the German scientist, was the first to note this remarkable and
suggestive fact. He stated it in the following words: "In my possession
are two little embryos, preserved in alcohol, whose names I have
omitted to attach, and at present I am unable to state to what class
they belong. They may be lizards, or small birds, or very young
mammals, so complete is the similarity in the mode of the formation of
the head and trunk in these animals. The extremities, however, are
still absent in these embryos. But even if they had existed in the
earliest stage of their development, we should learn nothing, for the
feet of lizards and mammals, the wings and feet of birds, no less than
the hands and feet of man, all arise from the same fundamental form."

As has been said by Prof. Clodd, "the embryos of all living creatures
epitomize during development the series of changes through which the
ancestral forms passed if their ascent from the simple to the complex;
the higher structures passing through the same stages as the lower
structures up to the point when they are marked off from them, yet
never becoming in detail the form which they represent for the time
being. For example, the embryo of man has at the outset gill-like slits
on each side of the neck, like a fish. These give place to a membrane
like that which supersedes gills in the development of birds and
reptiles; the heart is at first a simple pulsating chamber like that in
worms; the backbone is prolonged into a movable tail; the great toe is
extended, or opposable, like our thumbs, and like the toes of apes; the
body three months before birth is covered all over with hair except on
the palms and soles. At birth the head is relatively larger, and the
arms and legs relatively longer than in the adult; the nose is
bridgeless; both features, with others which need not be detailed,
being distinctly ape-like. Thus does the egg from which man springs, a
structure only one hundred and twenty-fifth of an inch in size,
compress into a few weeks the results of millions of years, and set
before us the history of his development from fish-like and reptilian
forms, and of his more immediate descent from a hairy, tailed
quadruped. That which is individual or peculiar to him, the physical
and mental character inherited, is left to the slower development which
follows birth."

This, then, in brief is the Western theory of Evolution--the Physical
Ascent of Man. We have given it as fully as might be in the small space
at our disposal in these lessons on the Yogi Philosophy. Why? Because
we wish to prove to the Western mind, in the Western way, that Western
Science corroborates the Ancient Yogi Teachings of the Unfoldment of
Living Forms, from Monad to Man. The Eastern teachers scorn to "prove"
anything to their pupils, who sit at the feet of teachers and accept as
truth that which is taught them, and which has been handed down from
the dim ages long past. But this method will never do for the Western
student--he must have it "proven" to him by physical facts and
instances, not by keen, subtle, intellectual reasoning alone. The
Eastern student wishes to be "told"--the Western student wishes to be
"shown." Herein lies the racial differences of method of imparting
knowledge. And so we have recognized this fact and have heaped up proof
after proof from the pages of Western Science, in order to prove to you
the reasonableness, from the Western point of view, of the doctrine of
Physical Unfoldment as taught for ages past by the Yogi gurus to
their chelas. You have now the Eastern Teachings on the subject,
together with the testimony of Western Science to the reasonableness of
the idea.

But, alas! Western Science, while performing a marvelous work in piling
up fact after fact to support its newly-discovered theory of Evolution,
in a way utterly unknown to the Oriental thinker who seeks after
principles by mental concentration--within rather than without--while
actually proving by physical facts the mental conceptions of the
Oriental Teachings, still misses the vital point of the
subject-thought. In its materialistic tendencies it has failed to
recognize the mental cause of the physical unfoldment. It is true
that Lamark, the real Western discoverer of Evolution, taught that
Desire and Mental Craving, was the real force behind Evolution, but his
ideas were jeered at by his contemporaries, and are not regarded
seriously by the majority of Evolutionists even today. And yet he was
nearer to the truth than Darwin or any other Western Evolutionist. And
time will show that Science has overlooked his genius, which alone
throws the true light upon the subject.

In order to see just this difference between the Darwinian school and
the Yogi Teachings let us examine into what causes the Western
Evolutionists give for the fact of Evolution itself. We shall do this

The Darwinians start out to explain the causes of the "Origin of
Species," with the statement that "no two individuals of the same
species are exactly alike; each tends to vary." This is a self-evident
fact, and is very properly used as a starting point for Variation. The
next step is then stated as "variations are transmitted, and therefore
tend to become permanent," which also is self-evident, and tends to
prove the reasonableness of the gradual evolution of species. The next
step in the argument is "as man produces new species and forms, by
breeding, culture, etc., so has Nature in a longer time produced the
same effect, in the same way." This also is reasonable, although it
tends to personify Nature, and to give it a mind before the
evolutionists admit "mind" was evolved.

It will be as well to quote Darwin himself on this point. He says; "As
man can produce, and certainly has produced, a great result by his
methodical and unconscious means of selection, what may not natural
selection effect? Man can act only on external and visible characters,
while Nature, if I may be allowed to personify the natural preservation
or survival of the fittest, cares nothing for appearances except in so
far as they are useful to any being. She can act on every internal
organ, on every shade of constitutional difference, on the whole
machinery of life. Man selects only for his own good; Nature only for
the good of the being which she tends. Every selected character is
fully exercised by her, as is implied by the fact of their selection.
Man keeps the natives of many climates in the same country; he seldom
exercises each selected character in some peculiar and fitting manner;
he feeds a long-beaked and a short-beaked pigeon on the same food; he
does not exercise a long-backed or long-legged quadruped in any
peculiar manner; he exposes sheep with long hair and short wool in the
same climate. He does not allow the most vigorous males to struggle for
the females. He does not rigidly destroy all inferior animals, but
protects during each varying season, so far as lies in his power, all
his productions. He often begins his selection by some half-monstrous
form, or at least by some modification prominent enough to catch the
eye or to be plainly useful to him. Under Nature the slightest
differences of structure or constitution may- well turn the nicely
balanced scale in the struggle for life, and so be preserved. How
fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and
consequently how poor will be his results, compared with those
accumulated by nature during whole geological periods! Can we wonder,
then, that Nature's productions should be far 'truer' in character than
man's productions; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the
most complex conditions of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of
far higher workmanship?"

Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest is begun by the statement of
the fact that the number of organisms that survive are very small
compared with the number that are born. To quote his own words, "There
is no exception to the rule that every organic being naturally
increases at so high a rate that, if not destroyed, the earth would
soon be covered by the progeny of a single pair. Even slow-breeding man
has doubled in twenty-five years, and at this rate in less than a
thousand years there would literally not be standing room for the
progeny." It has been computed that if the offspring of the elephant,
which is believed to be the slowest breeding animal known, were to
survive, there would be about 20,000,000 elephants on the earth in 750
years. The roe of a single cod contains eight or nine millions of eggs,
and if each egg were to hatch, and the fish survive, the sea would
shortly become a solid mass of codfish. The house fly is said to have
20,000,000 descendants in a season, counting several generations of
progeny, from its several broods. And some scientist has computed that
the aphis, or plant-louse, breeds so rapidly, and in such enormous
quantity, that the tenth generation of one set of parents would be so
large that it would contain more ponderable animal matter than would
the population of China, which is estimated at 500,000,000! And this
without counting the progeny preceding the tenth generation!

The result of the above conditions is very plain. There must ensue a
Struggle for Existence, which necessitates the Survival of the Fittest.
The weak are crushed out by the strong; the swift out-distance the
slow. The individual forms or species best adapted to their environment
and best equipped for the struggle, be the equipment physical or
mental, survive those less well equipped or less well adapted to
environment. Animals evolving variations in structure that give them
even a slight advantage over others not so favored, naturally have a
better chance to survive. And this, briefly, is what Evolutionists call
"The Survival of the Fittest."

As appertaining to the Struggle for Existence, color and mimicry are
important factors. Grant Allen, in his work on Darwin, says concerning
this, and also as illustrating "Natural Selection": "In the desert with
its monotonous sandy coloring, a black insect or a white insect, still
more a red insect or a blue insect, would be immediately detected and
devoured by its natural enemies, the birds and the lizards. But any
greyish or yellowish insects would be less likely to attract attention
at first sight, and would be overlooked as long as there were any more
conspicuous individuals of their own kind about for the birds and
lizards to feed on. Hence, in a very short time the desert would be
depopulated of all but the greyest and yellowest insects; and among
these the birds would pick out those which differed most markedly in
hue and shade from the sand around them. But those which happened to
vary most in the direction of a sandy or spotty color would be more
likely to survive, and to become the parents of future generations.
Thus, in the course of long ages, all the insects which inhabit deserts
have become sand-colored, because the less sandy were perpetually
picked out for destruction by their ever-watchful foes, while the most
sandy escaped, and multiplied and replenished the earth with their own

Prof. Clodd, remarking upon this fact, adds: "Thus, then, is explained
the tawny color of the larger animals that inhabit the desert; the
stripes upon the tiger, which parallel with the vertical stems of
bamboo, conceal him as he stealthily nears his prey; the brilliant
green of tropical birds; the leaf-like form and colors of certain
insects; the dried, twig-like form of many caterpillars; the bark-like
appearance of tree-frogs; the harmony of the ptarmigan's summer plumage
with the lichen-colored stones upon which it sits; the dusky color of
creatures that haunt the night; the bluish transparency of animals
which live on the surface of the sea; the gravel-like color of
flat-fish that live at the bottom; and the gorgeous tints of those that
swim among the coral reefs."

All this does not run contrary to the Yogi Philosophy, although the
latter would regard these things as but the secondary cause for the
variation and survival of species, etc. The Oriental teachings are that
it is the desire of the animal that causes it to assume the colors
and shapes in accordance with its environment, the desire of course
operating along sub-conscious lines of physical manifestation. The
mental influence, which is the real cause of the phenomena, and which
is taught as such by the Yogis, is almost lost sight of by the Western
Evolutionists, who are apt to regard Mind as a "by-product" of matter.
On the contrary, the Yogis regard Matter as the product of Mind. But
there is no conflict here as far as regards the law of the Survival of
the Fittest. The insects that most desired to become sand-colored
became so, and were thus protected, while their less "desireful"
brethren were exterminated. The Western scientist explains the outward
phenomena, but does not look for the cause behind it, which is taught
by the Oriental sages.

The doctrine of "Sexual Selection" is another of the leading tenets of
the Darwinists. Briefly, it may be expressed as the theory that in the
rivalry and struggle of the males for the females the strongest males
win the day, and thus transmit their particular qualities to their
offspring. Along the same lines is that of the attraction exerted by
bright colors in the plumage of the males of birds, etc., which give
them an advantage in the eyes of the females, and thus, naturally, the
bright colors are perpetuated.

This, then, is the brief outline of the Story of Man's Physical
Evolution, as stated by Western Science, and compared with the Yogi
Teachings. The student should compare the two ideas, that he may
harmonize and reconcile them. It must be remembered, however, that
Darwin did not teach that Man descended from the monkeys, or apes, as
we know them now. The teaching of Western Evolution is that the apes,
and higher forms of monkey life descended from some common ancestral
form, which same ancestor was also the ancestor of Man. In other words,
Man and Apes are the different branches that emerged from the common
trunk ages ago. Other forms doubtless emerged from the same trunk, and
perished because less adapted to their environments. The Apes were best
adapted to their own environments, and Man was best adapted to his. The
weaker branches failed.

One must remember that the most savage races known to us today are
practically as far different from the highest American, European or
Hindu types of Man as from the highest Apes. Indeed, it would seem far
easier for a high Ape to evolve into a Kaffir, Hottentot, or Digger
Indian, than for the latter to evolve into an Emerson, Shakespeare, or
Hindu Sage. As Huxley has shown, the brain-structure of Man compared
with that of the Chimpanzee shows differences but slight when compared
with the difference between that of the Chimpanzee and that of the
Lemur. The same authority informs us that in the important feature of
the deeper brain furrows, and intricate convolutions, the chasm between
the highest civilized man and the lowest savage is far greater than
between the lowest savage and the highest man-like ape. Darwin,
describing the Fuegians, who are among the very lowest forms of
savages, says: "Their very signs and expressions are less intelligible
to us than those of the domesticated animal. They are men who do not
possess the instinct of those animals, nor yet appear to boast of human
reason, or at least of arts consequent upon that reason."

Professor Clodd, in describing the "primitive man," says: "Doubtless he
was lower than the lowest of the savages of today--a powerful, cunning
biped, with keen sense organs always sharper, in virtue of constant
exercise, in the savage than in the civilized man (who supplements them
by science), strong instincts, uncontrolled and fitful emotions, small
faculty of wonder, and nascent reasoning power; unable to forecast
tomorrow, or to comprehend yesterday, living from hand to mouth on the
wild products of Nature, clothed in skin and bark, or daubed with clay,
and finding shelter in trees and caves; ignorant of the simplest arts,
save to chip a stone missile, and perhaps to produce fire; strong in
his needs of life and vague sense of right to it and to what he could
get, but slowly impelled by common perils and passions to form ties,
loose and haphazard at the outset, with his kind, the power of
combination with them depending on sounds, signs and gestures."

Such was the ancestral man. Those who are interested in him are
referred to the two wonderful tales of the cave-man written in the form
of stories by two great modern novelists. The books referred to are (1)
"The Story of Ab," by Stanley Waterloo, and (2) "Before Adam," by
Jack London. They may be obtained from any bookseller. Both are works
of fiction, with the scientific facts cleverly interwoven into them.

And now in conclusion before we pass on the subject of "Spiritual
Evolution," which will form the subject of our next lesson, we would
again call your attention to the vital difference between the Western
and the Eastern Teachings. The Western holds to a mechanical theory of
life, which works without the necessity of antecedent Mind, the latter
appearing as a "product" at a certain stage. The Eastern holds that
Mind is back of, under, and antecedent to all the work of
Evolution--the cause, not the effect or product. The Western claims
that Mind was produced by the struggle of Matter to produce higher
forms of itself. The Eastern claims that the whole process of
Evolution is caused by Mind striving, struggling and pressing forward
toward expressing itself more fully--to liberate itself from the
confining and retarding Matter--the struggle resulting in an Unfoldment
which causes sheath after sheath of the confining material bonds to be
thrown off and discarded, in the effort to release the confined Spirit
which is behind even the Mind. The Yogi Teachings are that the
Evolutionary Urge is the pressure of the confined Spirit striving to
free itself from the fetters and bonds which sorely oppress it.

The struggle and pain of Evolution is the parturition-pangs of the
Spiritual deliverance from the womb of Matter. Like all birth it is
attended by pain and suffering, but the end justifies it all. And as
the human mother forgets her past suffering in the joy of witnessing
the face, and form, and life, of her loved child, so will the soul
forget the pain of the Spiritual birth by reason of the beauty and
nobility of that which will be born to and from it.

Let us study well the story of Physical Evolution, but let us not lose
ourselves in it, for it is but the preliminary to the story of the
Unfoldment of the Soul.

Let us not despise the tale of the Body of Man--for it is the story of
the Temple of the Spirit which has been built up from the most humble
beginnings, until it has reached the present high stage. And yet even
this is but the beginning, for the work will go on, and on, and on, in
the spirit of those beautiful lines of Holmes:

    "Build thee more stately mansions, oh, my soul!
    As the swift seasons roll!
    Leave thy low-vaulted past!
    Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
    Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
    Till thou at last art free,
    Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea."

Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka