An Introduction
to Yoga

by Annie Besant

The Meaning of the Universe

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

The Literature of Yoga

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

Relation to Indian Philosophies

  • Mind
  • The Mental Body

Mind and Self

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

  • Yoga and Morality
  • Composition of States of the Mind

Pleasure and Pain

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


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

by Yogi Ramacharaka


The Yogi Philosophy may be divided into several great branches, or
fields. What is known as "Hatha Yoga" deals with the physical body and
its control; its welfare; its health; its preservation; its laws, etc.
What is known as "Raja Yoga" deals with the Mind; its control; its
development; its unfoldment, etc. What is known as "Bhakti Yoga" deals
with the Love of the Absolute--God. What is known as "Gnani Yoga" deals
with the scientific and intellectual knowing of the great questions
regarding Life and what lies back of Life--the Riddle of the Universe.

Each branch of Yoga is but a path leading toward the one
end--unfoldment, development, and growth. He who wishes first to
develop, control and strengthen his physical body so as to render it a
fit instrument of the Higher Self, follows the path of "Hatha Yoga." He
who would develop his will-power and mental faculties, unfolding the
inner senses, and latent powers, follows the path of "Raja Yoga." He
who wishes to develop by "knowing"--by studying the fundamental
principles, and the wonderful truths underlying Life, follows the path
of "Gnani Yoga." And he who wishes to grow into a union with the One
Life by the influence of Love, he follows the path of "Bhakti Yoga."

But it must not be supposed that the student must ally himself to only
a single one of these paths to power. In fact, very few do. The
majority prefer to gain a rounded knowledge, and acquaint themselves
with the principles of the several branches, learning something of
each, giving preference of course to those branches that appeal to them
more strongly, this attraction being the indication of _need_, or
requirement, and, therefore, being the hand pointing out the path.

It is well for every one to know something of "Hatha Yoga," in order
that the body may be purified, strengthened, and kept in health in
order to become a more fitting instrument of the Higher Self. It is
well that each one should know something of "Raja Yoga," that he may
understand the training and control of the mind, and the use of the
Will. It is well that every one should learn the wisdom of "Gnani
Yoga," that he may realize the wonderful truths underlying life--the
science of Being. And, most assuredly every one should know something
of Bhakti Yogi, that he may understand the great teachings regarding
the Love underlying all life.

We have written a work on "Hatha Yoga," and a course on "Raja Yoga"
which is now in book form. We have told you something regarding "Gnani
Yoga" in our Fourteen Lessons, and also in our Advanced Course. We have
written something regarding "Bhakti Yoga" in our Advanced Course, and,
we hope, have taught it also all through our other lessons, for we fail
to see how one can teach or study any of the branches of Yoga without
being filled with a sense of Love and Union with the Source of all
Life. To know the Giver of Life, is to love him, and the more we know
of him, the more love will we manifest.

In this course of lessons, of which this is the first, we shall take up
the subject of "Gnani Yoga"--the Yoga of Wisdom, and will endeavor to
make plain some of its most important and highest teachings. And, we
trust that in so doing, we shall be able to awaken in you a still
higher realization of your relationship with the One, and a
corresponding Love for that in which you live, and move and have your
being. We ask for your loving sympathy and cooperation in our task.

Let us begin by a consideration of what has been called the "Questions
of Questions"--the question: "What is Reality?" To understand the
question we have but to take a look around us and view the visible
world. We see great masses of something that science has called
"matter." We see in operation a wonderful something called "force" or
"energy" in its countless forms of manifestations. We see things that
we call "forms of life," varying in manifestation from the tiny speck
of slime that we call the Moneron, up to that form that we call Man.

But study this world of manifestations by means of science and
research--and such study is of greatest value--still we must find
ourselves brought to a point where we cannot progress further. Matter
melts into mystery--Force resolves itself into something else--the
secret of living-forms subtly elude us--and mind is seen as but the
manifestation of something even finer. But in losing these things of
appearance and manifestation, we find ourselves brought up face to face
with a Something Else that we see must underlie all these varying
forms, shapes and manifestations. And that Something Else, we call
Reality, because it is Real, Permanent, Enduring. And although men may
differ, dispute, wrangle, and quarrel about this Reality, still there
is one point upon which they must agree, and that is that _Reality is
One_--that underlying all forms and manifestations there must be a
_One_ Reality from which all things flow. And this inquiry into this
One Reality is indeed the Question of Questions of the Universe.

The highest reason of Man--as well as his deepest intuition--has always
recognized that this Reality or Underlying Being must be but ONE, of
which all Nature is but varying degrees of manifestation, emanation, or
expression. All have recognized that Life is a stream flowing from One
great fount, the nature and name of which is unknown--some have said
unknowable. Differ as men do about theories regarding the nature of
this one, they all agree that it can be but One. It is only when men
begin to name and analyze this One, that confusion results.

Let us see what men have thought and said about this One--it _may_ help
us to understand the nature of the problem.

The materialist claims that this one is a something called
Matter--self-existent--eternal--infinite--containing within itself the
potentiality of Matter, Energy and Mind. Another school, closely allied
to the materialists, claim that this One is a something called Energy,
of which Matter and Mind are but modes of motion. The Idealists claim
that the One is a something called Mind, and that Matter and Force are
but ideas in that One Mind. Theologians claim that this One is a
something called a personal God, to whom they attribute certain
qualities, characteristics, etc., the same varying with their creeds
and dogmas. The Naturistic school claims that this One is a something
called Nature, which is constantly manifesting itself in countless
forms. The occultists, in their varying schools, Oriental and
Occidental, have taught that the One was a Being whose Life constituted
the life of all living forms.

All philosophies, all science, all religions, inform us that this world
of shapes, forms and names is but a phenomenal or shadow world--a
show-world--back of which rests Reality, called by some name of the
teacher. But remember this, _all philosophy that counts_ is based upon
some form of monism--Oneness--whether the concept be a known or unknown
god; an unknown or unknowable principle; a substance; an Energy, or
Spirit. There is but One--there can be but One--such is the inevitable
conclusion of the highest human reason, intuition or faith.

And, likewise, the same reason informs us that this One Life must
permeate all apparent forms of life, and that all apparent material
forms, forces, energies, and principles must be emanations from that
One, and, consequently "of" it. It may be objected to, that the creeds
teaching a personal god do not so hold, for they teach that their God
is the creator of the Universe, which he has set aside from himself as
a workman sets aside his workmanship. But this objection avails naught,
for where could such a creator obtain the material for his universe,
except from himself; and where the energy, except from the same source;
and where the Life, unless from his One Life. So in the end, it is seen
that there must be but One--not two, even if we prefer the terms God
_and_ his Universe, for even in this case the Universe must have
proceeded from God, and can only live, and move and act, and think, by
virtue of his Essence permeating it.

In passing by the conceptions of the various thinkers, we are struck by
the fact that the various schools seem to manifest a one-sidedness in
their theories, seeing only that which fits in with their theories, and
ignoring the rest. The Materialist talks about Infinite and Eternal
Matter, although the latest scientific investigations have shown us
Matter fading into Nothingness--the Eternal Atom being split into
countless particles called Corpuscles or Electrons, which at the last
seem to be nothing but a unit of Electricity, tied up in a "knot in the
Ether"--although just what the Ether is, Science does not dare to
guess. And Energy, also seems to be unthinkable except as operating
through matter, and always seems to be acting under the operation of
Laws--and Laws without a Law giver, and a Law giver without mind or
something higher than Mind, is unthinkable. And Mind, as we know it,
seems to be bound up with matter and energy in a wonderful combination,
and is seen to be subject to laws outside of itself, and to be varying,
inconstant, and changeable, which attributes cannot be conceived of as
belonging to the Absolute. Mind as we know it, as well as Matter and
Energy, is held by the highest occult teachers to be but an appearance
and a relativity of something far more fundamental and enduring, and we
are compelled to fall back upon that old term which wise men have used
in order to describe that Something Else that lies back of, and under,
Matter, Energy and Mind--and that word is "Spirit."

We cannot tell just what is meant by the word "Spirit," for we have
nothing with which to describe it. But we can think of it as meaning
the "essence" of Life and Being--the Reality underlying Universal Life.

Of course no name can be given to this One, that will fitly describe
it. But we have used the term "The Absolute" in our previous lessons,
and consider it advisable to continue its use, although the student may
substitute any other name that appeals to him more strongly. We do not
use the word God (except occasionally in order to bring out a shade of
meaning) not because we object to it, but because by doing so we would
run the risk of identifying The Absolute with some idea of a personal
god with certain theological attributes. Nor does the word "Principle"
appeal to us, for it seems to imply a cold, unfeeling, abstract thing,
while we conceive the Absolute Spirit or Being to be a warm, vital,
living, acting, feeling Reality. We do not use the word Nature, which
many prefer, because of its materialistic meaning to the minds of many,
although the word is very dear to us when referring to the outward
manifestation of the Absolute Life.

Of the real nature of The Absolute, of course, we can know practically
nothing, because it transcends all human experience and Man has nothing
with which he can measure the Infinite. Spinoza was right when he said
that "to define God is to deny him," for any attempt to define, is, of
course an attempt to limit or make finite the Infinite. To define a
thing is to identify it with something else--and where is the something
else with which to identify the Infinite? The Absolute cannot be
described in terms of the Relative. It is not Something, although it
contains within itself the reality underlying Everything. It cannot be
said to have the qualities of any of its apparently separated parts,
for it is the ALL. It is all that really IS.

It is beyond Matter, Force, or Mind as we know it, and yet these things
emanate from it, and must be within its nature. For what is in the
manifested must be in the manifestor--no stream can rise higher than
its source--the effect cannot be greater than the cause--you cannot get
something out of nothing.

But it is hard for the human mind to take hold of That which is beyond
its experience--many philosophers consider it impossible--and so we
must think of the Absolute in the concepts and terms of its highest
manifestation. We find Mind higher in the scale than Matter or Energy,
and so we are justified in using the terms of Mind in speaking of the
Absolute, rather than the terms of Matter or Energy--so let us try to
think of an Infinite Mind, whose powers and capacities are raised to an
infinite degree--a Mind of which Herbert Spencer said that it was "a
mode of being as much transcending intelligence and will, as these
transcend mere mechanical motion."

While it is true (as all occultists know) that the best information
regarding the Absolute come from regions of the Self higher than
Intellect, yet we are in duty bound to examine the reports of the
Intellect concerning its information regarding the One. The Intellect
has been developed in us for use--for the purpose of examining,
considering, thinking--and it behooves us to employ it. By turning it
to this purpose, we not only strengthen and unfold it, but we also get
certain information that can reach us by no other channel. And
moreover, by such use of the Intellect we are able to discover many
fallacies and errors that have crept into our minds from the opinions
and dogmas of others--as Kant said: "The chief, and perhaps the only,
use of a philosophy of pure reason is a negative one. It is not an
organon for extending, but a discipline for limiting! Instead of
discovering truth, its modest function is to guard against error." Let
us then listen to the report of the Intellect, as well as of the higher
fields of mentation.

One of the first reports of the Intellect, concerning the Absolute, is
that it must have existed forever, and must continue to exist forever.
There is no escape from this conclusion, whether one view the matter
from the viewpoint of the materialist, philosopher, occultist, or
theologian. The Absolute could not have sprung from Nothing, and there
was no other cause outside of itself from which it could have emanated.
And there can be no cause outside of itself which can terminate its
being. And we cannot conceive of Infinite Life, or Absolute Life,
dying. So the Absolute must be Eternal--such is the report of the

This idea of the Eternal is practically unthinkable to the human mind,
although it is forced to believe that it must be a quality of the
Absolute. The trouble arises from the fact that the Intellect is
compelled to see everything through the veil of Time, and Cause and
Effect. Now, Cause and Effect, and Time, are merely phenomena or
appearances of the relative world, and have no place in the Absolute
and Real. Let us see if we can understand this.

Reflection will show you that the only reason that you are unable to
think of or picture a Causeless Cause, is because everything that you
have experienced in this relative world of the senses has had a
cause--something from which it sprung. You have seen Cause and Effect
in full operation all about you, and quite naturally your Intellect has
taken it for granted that there can be nothing uncaused--nothing
without a preceding cause. And the Intellect is perfectly right, so far
as Things are concerned, for all Things are relative and are therefore
caused. But back of the caused things must lie THAT which is the Great
Causer of Things, and which, not being a Thing itself, cannot have been
caused--cannot be the effect of a cause. Your minds reel when you try
to form a mental image of That which has had no cause, because you have
had no experience in the sense world of such a thing, and there fail to
form the image. It is out of your experience, and you cannot form the
mental picture. But yet your mind is compelled to believe that there
must have been an Original One, that can have had no cause. This is a
hard task for the Intellect, but in time it comes to see just where the
trouble lies, and ceases to interpose objections to the voice of the
higher regions of the self.

And, the Intellect experiences a similar difficulty when it tries to
think of an Eternal--a That which is above and outside of Time. We see
Time in operation everywhere, and take it for granted that Time is a
reality--an actual thing. But this is a mistake of the senses. There is
no such thing as Time, in reality. Time exists solely in our minds. It
is merely a form of perception by which we express our consciousness of
the Change in Things.

We cannot think of Time except in connection with a succession of
changes of things in our consciousness--either things of the outer
world, or the passing of thought-things through our mind. A day is
merely the consciousness of the passing of the sun--an hour or minute
merely the subdivision of the day, or else the consciousness of the
movement of the hands of the clock--merely the consciousness of the
movement of Things--the symbols of changes in Things. In a world
without changes in Things, there would be no such thing as Time. Time
is but a mental invention. Such is the report of the Intellect.

And, besides the conclusions of pure abstract reasoning about Time, we
may see many instances of the relativity of Time in our everyday
experiences. We all know that when we are interested Time seems to pass
rapidly, and when we are bored it drags along in a shameful manner. We
know that when we are happy, Time develops the speed of a meteor, while
when we are unhappy it crawls like a tortoise. When we are interested
or happy our attention is largely diverted from the changes occurring
in things--because we do not notice the Things so closely. And while we
are miserable or bored, we notice the details in Things, and their
changes, until the length of time seems interminable. A tiny insect
mite may, and does, live a lifetime of birth, growth, marriage,
reproduction, old age, and death, in a few minutes, and no doubt its
life seems as full as does that of the elephant with his hundred years.
Why? _Because so many things haze happened!_ When we are conscious of
many things happening, we get the impression and sensation of the
length of time. The greater the consciousness of things, the greater
the sensation of Time. When we are so interested in talking to a loved
one that we forget all that is occurring about us, then the hours fly
by unheeded, while the same hours seem like days to one in the same
place who is not interested or occupied with some task.

Men have nodded, and in the second before awakening they have dreamed
of events that seemed to have required the passage of years. Many of
you have had experiences of this kind, and many such cases have been
recorded by science. On the other hand, one may fall asleep and remain
unconscious, but without dreams, for hours, and upon awakening will
insist that he has merely nodded. Time belongs to the relative mind,
and has no place in the Eternal or Absolute.

Next, the Intellect informs us that it must think of the Absolute as
Infinite in Space--present everywhere--Omnipresent. It cannot be
limited, for there is nothing outside of itself to limit it. There is
no such place as Nowhere. Every place is in the Everywhere. And
Everywhere is filled with the All--the Infinite Reality--the Absolute.

And, just as was the case with the idea of Time, we find it most
difficult--if not indeed impossible--to form an idea of an
Omnipresent--of That which occupies Infinite Space. This because
everything that our minds have experienced has had dimensions and
limits. The secret lies in the fact that Space, like Time, has no real
existence outside of our perception of consciousness of the relative
position of Things--material objects. We see this thing here, and that
thing there. Between them is Nothingness. We take another object, say a
yard-stick, and measure off this Nothingness between the two objects,
and we call this measure of Nothingness by the term Distance. And yet
we cannot have measured Nothingness--that is impossible. What have we
really done? Simply this, determined how many lengths of yard-stick
could be laid between the other two objects.

We call this process measuring Space, but Space is Nothing, and we have
merely determined the relative position of objects. To "measure Space"
we must have three Things or objects, _i.e._, (l) The object from which
we start the measure; (2) The object with which we measure; and (3) The
object with which we end our measurement. We are unable to conceive of
Infinite Space, because we lack the third object in the measuring
process--the ending object. We may use ourselves as a starting point,
and the mental yard-stick is always at hand, but where is the object at
the other side of Infinity of Space by which the measurement may be
ended? It is not there, and we cannot think of the end without it.

Let us start with ourselves, and try to imagine a million million
miles, and then multiply them by another million million miles, a
million million times. What have we done? Simply extended our mental
yard-stick a certain number of times to an imaginary point in the
Nothingness that we call Space. So far so good, but the mind
intuitively recognizes that beyond that imaginary point at the end of
the last yard-stick, there is a capacity for an infinite extension of
yard-sticks--an infinite capacity for such extension. Extension of
what? Space? No! Yard-sticks! Objects! Things! Without material objects
Space is unthinkable. It has no existence outside of our consciousness
of Things. There is no such thing as Real Space. Space is merely an
infinite capacity for extending objects. Space itself is merely a name
for Nothingness. If you can form an idea of an object swept out of
existence, and nothing to take its place, that Nothing would be called
Space, the term implying the possibility of placing something there
without displacing anything else.

Size, of course, is but another form of speaking of Distance. And in
this connection let us not forget that just as one may think of Space
being infinite in the direction of largeness, so may we think of it as
being infinite in the sense of smallness. No matter how small may be an
object thought of, we are still able to think of it as being capable of
subdivision, and so on infinitely. There is no limit in this direction
either. As Jakob has said: "The conception of the infinitely minute is
as little capable of being grasped by us, as is that of the infinitely
great. Despite this, the admission of the reality of the infinitude,
both in the direction of greatness and of minuteness, is inevitable."

And, as Radenhausen has said: "The idea of Space is only an unavoidable
illusion of our Consciousness, or of our finite nature, and does not
exist outside of ourselves; the universe is infinitely small and
infinitely great."

The telescope has opened to us ideas of magnificent vastness and
greatness, and the perfected microscope has opened to us a world of
magnificent smallness and minuteness. The latter has shown us that a
drop of water is a world of minute living forms who live, eat, fight,
reproduce, and die. The mind is capable of imagining a universe
occupying no more space than one million-millionth of the tiniest speck
visible under the strongest microscope--and then imagining such a
universe containing millions of suns and worlds similar to our own, and
inhabited by living forms akin to ours--living, thinking men and women,
identical in every respect to ourselves. Indeed, as some philosophers
have said, if our Universe were suddenly reduced to such a size--the
relative proportions of everything being preserved, of course--then we
would not be conscious of any change, and life would go on the same,
and we would be of the same importance to ourselves and to the Absolute
as we are this moment. And the same would be true were the Universe
suddenly enlarged a million-million times. These changes would make no
difference in reality. Compared with each other, the tiniest speck and
the largest sun are practically the same size when viewed from the

We have dwelt upon these things so that you would be able to better
realize the relativity of Space and Time, and perceive that they are
merely symbols of Things used by the mind in dealing with finite
objects, and have no place in reality. When this is realized, then the
idea of Infinity in Time and Space is more readily grasped.

As Radenhausen says: "Beyond the range of human reason there is neither
Space nor Time; they are arbitrary conceptions of man, at which he has
arrived by the comparison and arrangement of different impressions
which he has received from the outside world. The conception of Space
arises from the sequence of the various forms which fill Space, by
which the external world appears to the individual man. The conception
of Time arises from the sequence of the various forms which change in
space (motion), by which the external world acts on the individual man,
and so on. But externally to ourselves, the distinction between
repletion of Space and mutation of Space does not exist, for each is in
constant transmutation, whatever is is filling and changing at the same
time--nothing is at a standstill," and to quote Ruckert: "The world has
neither beginning nor end, in space nor in time. Everywhere is center
and turning-point, and in a moment is eternity."

Next, the Intellect informs us that we must think of the Absolute as
containing within Itself all the Power there is, because there can be
no other source or reservoir of Power, and there can be no Power
outside of the All-Power. There can be no Power outside of the Absolute
to limit, confine, or conflict with It. Any laws of the Universe must
have been imposed by It, for there is no other law-giver, and every
manifestation of Energy, Force, or Power, perceived or evident in
Nature must be a part of the Power of the Absolute working along lines
laid down by it. In the Third Lesson, which will be entitled The
Will-to-Live, we shall see this Power manifesting along the lines of
Life as we know it.

Next, the Intellect informs us that it is compelled to think of the
Absolute as containing within Itself all possible Knowledge or Wisdom,
because there can be no Knowledge or Wisdom outside of It, and
therefore all the Wisdom and Knowledge possible must be within It. We
see Mind, Wisdom, and Knowledge manifested by relative forms of Life,
and such must emanate from the Absolute in accordance with certain laws
laid down by It, for otherwise there would be no such wisdom, etc., for
there is nowhere outside of the All from whence it could come. The
effect cannot be greater than the cause. If there is anything unknown
to the Absolute, then it will never be known to finite minds. So,
therefore, ALL KNOWLEDGE that Is, Has Been, or Can Be, must be NOW
vested in the One--the Absolute.

This does not mean that the Absolute _thinks_, in any such sense as
does Man. The Absolute must Know, without Thinking. It does not have to
gather Knowledge by the process of Thinking, as does Man--such an Idea
would be ridiculous, for from whence could the Knowledge come outside
of itself. When man thinks he draws to himself Knowledge from the
Universal source by the action of the Mind, but the Absolute has only
itself to draw on. So we cannot imagine the Absolute compelled to Think
as we do.

But, lest we be misunderstood regarding this phase of the subject, we
may say here that the highest occult teachings inform us that the
Absolute _does_ manifest a quality somewhat akin to what we would call
constructive thought, and that such "thoughts" manifest into
objectivity and manifestation, and become Creation. Created Things,
according to the Occult teachings are "Thoughts of God." Do not let
this idea disturb you, and cause you to feel that you are nothing,
because you have been called into being by a Thought of the Infinite
One. Even a Thought of that One would be intensely real in the relative
world--actually Real to all except the Absolute itself--and even the
Absolute knows that the _Real_ part of its Creations must be a part of
itself manifested through its thought, for the Thought of the Infinite
must be Real, and a part of Itself, for it cannot be anything else, and
to call it Nothing is merely to juggle with words. The faintest Thought
of the Infinite One would be far more real than anything man could
create--as solid as the mountain--as hard as steel--as durable as the
diamond--for, verily, even these are emanations of the Mind of the
Infinite, and are things of but a day, while the higher Thoughts--the
soul of Man--contains within itself a spark from the Divine Flame
itself--the Spirit of the Infinite. But these things will appear in
their own place, as we proceed with this series. We have merely given
you a little food for thought at this point, in connection with the
Mind of the Absolute.

So you see, good friends and students, that the Intellect in its
highest efforts, informs us that it finds itself compelled to report
that the One--the Absolute--That which it is compelled to admit really
exists--must be a One possessed of a nature so far transcending human
experience that the human mind finds itself without the proper
concepts, symbols, and words with which to think of It. But none the
less, the Intellect finds itself bound by its own laws to postulate the
existence of such an One.

It is the veriest folly to try to think of the One as It is "in
Itself"--for we have nothing but human attributes with which to measure
it, and It so far transcends such measurements that the mental
yard-sticks run out into infinity and are lost sight of. The highest
minds of the race inform us that the most exalted efforts of their
reason compels them to report that the One--in Itself--cannot be spoken
of as possessing attributes or qualities capable of being expressed in
human words employed to describe the Things of the relative world--and
all of our words are such. All of our words originate from such ideas,
and all of our ideas arise from our experience, directly or indirectly.
So we are not equipped with words with which to think of or speak of
that which transcends experience, although our Intellect informs us
that Reality lies back of our experience.

Philosophy finds itself unable to do anything better than to bring us
face to face with high paradoxes. Science in its pursuit of Truth finds
it cunningly avoiding it, and ever escaping its net. And we believe
that the Absolute purposely causes this to be, that in the end Man may
be compelled to look for the Spirit within himself--the only place
where he can come in touch with it. This, we think, is the answer to
the Riddle of the Sphinx--"Look Within for that which Thou needest."

But while the Spirit may be discerned only by looking within ourselves,
we find that once the mind realizes that the Absolute Is, it will be
able to see countless evidences of its action and presence by observing
manifested Life without. All Life is filled with the Life Power and
Will of the Absolute.

To us Life is but One--the Universe is a living Unity, throbbing,
thrilling and pulsating with the Will-to-Live of the Absolute. Back of
all apparent shapes, forms, names, forces, elements, principles and
substances, there is but One--One Life, present everywhere, and
manifesting in an infinitude of shapes, forms, and forces All
individual lives are but centers of consciousness in the One Life
underlying, depending upon it for degree of unfoldment, expression and

This may sound like Pantheism to some, but it is very different from
the Pantheism of the schools and cults. Pantheism is defined as "the
doctrine that God consists in the combined forces and laws manifested
in the existing Universe," or that "the Universe taken or conceived as
a whole is God." These definitions do not fit the conception of the
Absolute, of the Yogi Philosophy--they seem to breathe but a refined
materialism. The Absolute is not "the combined forces and laws
manifested in the universe," nor "the universe conceived as a whole."
Instead, the Universe, its forces and laws, even conceived as a whole,
have no existence in themselves, but are mere manifestations of the
Absolute. Surely this is different from Pantheism.

We teach that the Absolute is immanent in, and abiding in all forms of
Life in the Universe, as well as in its forces and laws--all being but
manifestations of the Will of the One. And we teach that this One is
superior to all forms of manifestations, and that Its existence and
being does not depend upon the manifestations, which are but effects of
the Cause.

The Pantheistic Universe--God is but a thing of phenomenal appearance,
but the Absolute is the very Spirit of Life--a Living, Existing
Reality, and would be so even if every manifestation were withdrawn
from appearance and expression--drawn back into the source from which
it emanated. The Absolute is more than Mountain or Ocean--Electricity
or Gravitation--Monad or Man--It is SPIRIT--LIFE--BEING--REALITY--the
ONE THAT IS. Omnipotent, Omnipresent; Omniscient; Eternal; Infinite;
Absolute; these are Man's greatest words, and yet they but feebly
portray a shadow thrown by the One Itself.

The Absolute is not a far-away Being directing our affairs at long
range--not an absentee Deity--but an Immanent Life in and about us
all--manifesting in us and creating us into individual centers of
consciousness, in pursuance with some great law of being.

And, more than this, the Absolute instead of being an indifferent and
unmoved spectator to its own creation, is a thriving, longing, active,
suffering, rejoicing, feeling Spirit, partaking of the feelings of its
manifestations, rather than callously witnessing them. It lives in
us--with us--through us. Back of all the pain in the world may be found
a great feeling and suffering love. The pain of the world is not
punishment or evidence of divine wrath, but the incidents of the
working out of some cosmic plan, in which the Absolute is the Actor,
through the forms of Its manifestations.

The message of the Absolute to some of the Illumined has been, "All is
being done in the best and only possible way--I am doing the best I
can--all is well--and in the end will so appear."

The Absolute is no personal Deity--yet in itself it contains all that
goes to make up all personality and all human relations. Father,
Mother, Child, Friend, is in It. All forms of human love and craving
for sympathy, understanding and companionship may find refuge in loving
the Absolute.

The Absolute is constantly in evidence in our lives, and yet we have
been seeking it here and there in the outer world, asking it to show
itself and prove Its existence. Well may it say to us: "Hast thou been
so long time with me, and hast thou not known me?" This is the great
tragedy of Life, that the Spirit comes to us--Its own--and we know It
not. We fail to hear Its words: "Oh, ye who mourn, I suffer with you
and through you. Yea, it is I who grieve in you. Your pain is mine--to
the last pang. I suffer all pain through you--and yet I rejoice beyond
you, for I know that through you, and with you, I shall conquer."

And this is a faint idea of what we believe the Absolute to be. In the
following lessons we shall see it in operation in all forms of life,
and in ourselves. We shall get close to the workings of Its mighty
Will--close to Its Heart of Love.

Carry with you the Central Thought of the Lesson: CENTRAL THOUGHT.
There is but One Life in the Universe. And underlying that One
Life--Its Real Self--Its Essence--Its Spirit--is The Absolute, living,
feeling, suffering, rejoicing, longing, striving, in and through us.
The Absolute is all that really Is, and all the visible Universe and
forms of Life is Its expression, through Its Will. We lack words
adequate to describe the nature of the Absolute, but we will use two
words describing its inmost nature as best we see it. These two words
are LIFE and LOVE, the one describing the outer, the other the inner
nature. Let us manifest both Life and Love as a token of our origin and
inner nature. Peace be with you.

Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka