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


In our First Lesson of this series we spoke of the One Reality
underlying all Life. This One Reality was stated to be higher than mind
or matter, the nearest term that can be applied to it being "Spirit."
We told you that it was impossible to explain just what "Spirit" is,
for we have nothing else with which to compare or describe it, and it
can be expressed only in its own terms, and not in the terms applicable
to its emanations or manifestations. But, as we said in our First
Lesson, we may think of "Spirit" as meaning the "essence" of Life and
Being--the Reality underlying Universal Life, and from which the latter

In the Second Lesson we stated that this "Spirit," which we called "The
Absolute," expressed itself in the Universal Life, which Universal Life
manifested itself in countless forms of life and activity. In the same
lesson we showed you that the Universe is alive--that there is not a
single dead thing in it--that there can be no such thing as a dead
object in the Universe, else the theory and truth of the One underlying
Life must fall and be rejected. In that lesson we also showed you that
even in the world of inorganic things there was ever manifest life--in
every atom and particle of inorganic matter there is the universal life
energy manifesting itself, and in constant activity.

In the Third Lesson, we went still further into this phase of the
general subject, and showed you that the Creative Will--that active
principle of the Universal Life--was ever at work, building up new
forms, shapes and combinations, and then tearing them down for the
purpose of rebuilding the material into new forms, shapes, and
combinations. The Creative Will is ever at work in its threefold
function of creating, preserving and destroying forms--the change,
however, being merely in the shape and form or combination, the real
substance remaining unchanged in its inner aspect, notwithstanding the
countless apparent changes in its objective forms. Like the great ocean
the depths of which remain calm and undisturbed, and the real nature of
which is unchanged in spite of the waves, and billows of surface
manifestation, so does the great ocean of the Universal Life remain
unchanged and unaltered in spite of the constant play of the Creative
Will upon the surface. In the same lesson we gave you many examples of
the Will in action--of its wondrous workings in the various forms of
life and activity--all of which went to show you that the One Power was
at work everywhere and at all times.

In our next lesson--the Fifth Lesson--we shall endeavor to make plain
to you the highest teachings of the Yogi Philosophy regarding the One
Reality and the Many Manifestations--the One and the Many--how the One
apparently becomes Many--that great question and problem which lies at
the bottom of the well of truth. In that lesson we shall present for
your consideration some fundamental and startling truths, but before we
reach that point in our teachings, we must fasten upon your mind the
basic truth that all the various manifestations of Life that we see on
all hands in the Universe are but forms of manifestation of One
Universal Life which is itself an emanation of the Absolute.

Speaking generally, we would say to you that the emanation of the
Absolute is in the form of a grand manifestation of One Universal Life,
in which the various apparent separate forms of Life are but centers of
Energy or Consciousness, the separation being more apparent than real,
there being a bond of unity and connection underlying all the
apparently separated forms. Unless the student gets this idea firmly
fixed in his mind and consciousness, he will find it difficult to grasp
the higher truths of the Yogi Philosophy. That all Life is One, at the
last,--that all forms of manifestation of Life are in harmonious Unity,
underlying--is one of the great basic truths of the Yogi Teaching, and
all the students of that philosophy must make this basic truth their
own before they may progress further. This grasping of the truth is
more than a mere matter of intellectual conception, for the intellect
reports that all forms of Life are separate and distinct from each
other, and that there can be no unity amidst such diversity. But from
the higher parts of the mind comes the message of an underlying Unity,
in spite of all apparent diversity, and if one will meditate upon this
idea he will soon begin to realize the truth, and will feel that he,
himself, is but a center of consciousness in a great ocean of
Life--that he and all other centers are connected by countless
spiritual and mental filaments--and that all emerge from the One. He
will find that the illusion of separateness is but "a working fiction
of the Universe," as one writer has so aptly described it--and that All
is One, at the last, and underlying all is One.

Some of our students may feel that we are taking too long a path to
lead up to the great basic truths of our philosophy, but we who have
traveled The Path, and know its rocky places and its sharp turns, feel
justified in insisting that the student be led to the truth gradually
and surely, instead of attempting to make short cuts across dangerous
ravines and canyons. We must insist upon presenting our teachings in
our own way--for this way has been tested and found good. We know that
every student will come to realize that our plan is a wise one, and
that he will thank us for giving him this gradual and easy approach to
the wondrous and awful truth which is before us. By this gradual
process, the mind becomes accustomed to the line of thought and the
underlying principles, and also gradually discards wornout mental
sheaths which have served their purposes, and which must be discarded
because they begin to weigh heavily upon the mind as it reaches the
higher altitudes of The Path of Attainment. Therefore, we must ask you
to consider with us, in this lesson, some further teachings regarding
the Unity of Life.

All the schools of the higher Oriental thought, as well as many of the
great philosophical minds of the Western world, have agreed upon the
conception of the Unity of Life--the Oneness of All Life. The Western
thinkers, and many of the Eastern philosophers arrived at this
conclusion by means of their Intellectual powers, greatly heightened
and stimulated by concentration and meditation, which latter process
liberated the faculties of the Spiritual Mind so that it passed down
knowledge to the Intellect, which then seized upon the higher knowledge
which it found within itself, and amplified and theorized upon the
same. But among the Eastern Masters there are other sources of
information open, and from these sources come the same report--the
Oneness and Unity of Universal Life. These higher sources of
information to which we have alluded, consist of the knowledge coming
from those Beings who have passed on to higher planes of Life than
ours, and whose awakened spiritual faculties and senses enable them to
see things quite plainly which are quite dark to us. And from these
sources, also, comes the message of the Oneness of Life--of the
existence of a wonderful Universal Life including all forms of life as
we know it, and many forms and phases unknown to us--many centers in
the great Ocean of Life. No matter how high the source of inquiry, the
answer is the same--"All Life is One." And this One Life includes
Beings as much higher than ourselves, as we are higher than the
creatures in the slime of the ocean-bed. Included in it are beings who
would seem as archangels or gods to us, and they inform that beyond
them are still higher and more radiant creatures, and so on to infinity
of infinities. And yet all are but centers of Being in the One
Life--all but a part of the great Universal Life, which itself is but
an emanation of The Absolute.

The mind of man shrinks back appalled from the contemplation of such
wonders, and yet there are men who dare to attempt to speak
authoritatively of the attributes and qualities of "God," as if He, the
Absolute, were but a magnified man. Verily, indeed, "fools rush in
where angels fear to tread," as the poet hath said.

Those who will read our next lesson and thus gain an idea of the
sublime conception of the Absolute held by the Yogi teachers may
shudder at the presumption of those mortals who dare to think of the
Absolute as possessing "attributes" and "qualities" like unto the
meanest of things in this his emanated Universe. But even these
spiritual infants are doing well--that is, they are beginning to
think, and when man begins to think and question, he begins to
progress. It is not the fact of these people's immature ideas that has
caused these remarks on our part, but rather their tendency to set up
their puny conceptions as the absolute truth, and then insisting upon
forcing these views upon the outer world of men, whom they consider
"poor ignorant heathen." Permit each man to think according to his
light--and help him by offering to share with him the best that you
possess--but do not attempt to force upon him your own views as
absolute truth to be swallowed by him under threat of damnation or
eternal punishment. Who are you that dares to speak of punishment and
damnation, when the smell of the smoke of the hell of materialism is
still upon your robes. When you realize just what spiritual infants you
still are--the best of you--you will blush at these things. Hold fast
to the best that you know--be generous to others who seem to wish to
share your knowledge--but give without blame or feeling of
superiority--for those whom you teach today may be your teachers
tomorrow--there are many surprises of this kind along The Path. Be
brave and confident, but when you begin to feel puffed up by your
acquirement of some new bit of knowledge, let your prayer--our
prayer, for we too are infants--be, "Lord, be merciful unto me, a

The above words are for us, the students of the Yogi Philosophy--the
teachers of the same--for human nature is the same in spite of names,
and we must avoid the "vanity of vanities"--Spiritual Pride and
Arrogance--that fault which has sent many a soul tumbling headlong from
a high position on The Path, and compelled it to again begin the
journey, chastened and bruised. The fall of Lucifer has many
correspondences upon the occult plane, and is, indeed, in itself an
allegorical illustration of just this law. Remember, always, that you
are but a Centre in the Ocean of Life, and that all others are Centres
in the same ocean, and that underlying both and all of you is the same
calm bed of Life and Knowledge, the property of all. The highest and
the lowest are part of the same One Life--each of you has the same life
blood flowing through your veins--you are connected with every other
form of life, high or low, with invisible bonds, and none is separate
from another. We are speaking, of course, to the personalities of the
various students who are reading these words. The Real Self of each is
above the need of such advice and caution, and those who are able to
reach the Real Self in consciousness have no need for these words, for
they have outlived this stage of error. To many, the consciousness of
the One Life--the Universal Life--in which all are centres of
consciousness and being--has come gradually as a final step of a long
series of thought and reasoning, aided by flashes of truth from the
higher regions of the mind. To others it has come as a great
illumination, or flash of Truth, in which all things are seen in their
proper relations and positions to each other, and all as phases of
being in the One. The term "Cosmic Consciousness," which has been used
in the previous series of these lessons, and by other writers, means
this sudden flash of "knowing" in which all the illusionary dividing
lines between persons and things are broken down and the Universal Life
is seen to be actually existent as One Life. To those who have reached
this consciousness by either route just mentioned--or by other
routes--there is no sense of loss of individuality or power or
strength. On the contrary there is always a new sense of increased
power and strength and knowing--instead of losing Individuality, there
is a sense of having found it. One feels that he has the whole Universe
at his back, or within him, rather than that he has lost his identity
in the great Ocean of Life.

While we are speaking of this phase of the subject, we should like to
ask you if you have ever investigated and inquired into the real
meaning of the much-used word "Individuality?" Have you ever looked up
its origin and real meaning, as given by the standard authorities? We
are sure that many of you have no real idea of the actual meaning of
the term, as strange as this statement may appear to you at first
glance. Stop now, and define the word to yourself, as you have been
accustomed to think of it. Ninety-five people of a hundred will tell
you that it means something like "a strong personality." Let us see
about this.

Webster defines the word "Individual" as follows: "Not divided, or not
to be divided; existing as one distinct being or object; single; one."
The same authority informs us that the word arises from the Latin word
individuus, meaning "indivisible; not divisible." Does not this help
you to gain a clearer idea of the Individuality that knows itself to be
a Centre of Consciousness in the One Life, rather than a separate,
puny, insignificant thing apart from all other centres or forms of
Life, or the source of Life? We think it will help to clear your mind
of some of the fog that has not as yet lifted itself.

And while we are on the subject of definitions, let us take a little
look at the word "Personality," that is generally believed to be a
synonym of "Individuality," and is often so used. Webster tells us that
the word "Person" originated from the Latin word persona, meaning "a
mask used by actors," which word in turn arose from two other words,
per, meaning "through," and sonare, meaning "to sound," the two
combined words meaning "to sound through." The same authority informs
us that the archaic meaning of the word was "a character or part, as in
a play; an assumed character." If you will think of Personality as "a
mask used by an actor," or as "a part in a play," or as something used
to "sound through" or to speak through, by the real Individual behind
the mask of Personality, then perhaps you will see a little further
into the Mystery of Personality and Individuality.

Oh, dear students, be not deceived by the mask of Personality which you
may happen to be wearing at this moment, or by the masks which are worn
by those around you. Realize that back of your mask is the great
Individual--the Indivisible--the Universal Life, in which you are a
centre of consciousness and activity. This does not wipe out your
identity--instead it gives you a greater and grander identity. Instead
of your sinking into a Nirvana of extinction of consciousness, your
consciousness so enlarges as you unfold, that you will in the end feel
your identity to be the identity of the Universe. Instead of your
gaining Nothingness, you gain Allness. All spiritual growth and
unfoldment gives you a constantly increasing sense of relationship
with, and agreement with, the All. You grow into Allness as you unfold.
Be not deceived by this chatter about Nothingness, and loss of
Individuality, in the Oriental thought, although some of the
presentations of its teachings may so seem to mean at first reading.
Remember always that Personality is the mask, and Individuality the
Real One.

You have often heard persons, claiming to be acquainted with the
teachings of Theosophy and other expositions of the Oriental Wisdom
Religion (including our own presentation), asserting that the Oriental
mind was ever bent upon attaining a final stage of Nothingness or
Extinction in Nirvana. In addition to what we have said, and to what we
shall say on this subject, let us quote from the inspired writer of the
"Secret Doctrine" (a standard Theosophical work) when she says, in
that work on page 286, Vol. I: "Is this annihilation, as some think?
... To see in Nirvana annihilation, amounts to saying of a man plunged
in a sound, dreamless sleep--one that leaves no impression on the
physical memory and brain, because the sleeper's Higher Self is in its
original state of absolute consciousness during these hours--that he
too is annihilated. The latter simile answers only to one side of the
question--the most material; since reabsorption is by no means such a
dreamless sleep, but, on the contrary, absolute existence, an
unconditional unity, or a state, to describe which human language is
absolutely and hopelessly inadequate... Nor is the individuality--nor
even the essence of the personality, if any be left behind--lost
because re-absorbed." As J. Wm. Lloyd says, in connection with the
above quotation, "This seems conclusive proof that Theosophy does not
regard Nirvana as annihilation, but as an infinite enlargement of
consciousness." And we would add that this is true not only as regards
the Nirvana of the Theosophist, but also of the consciousness of the
Unity of Life--the Universal Life. This too is not annihilation of
individual consciousness, but an "infinite enlargement of
consciousness" as this Western writer Lloyd has so well expressed it.

The very consciousness of Life that every man feels within him, comes
not from something belonging exclusively to himself as a separate or
personal thing. On the contrary, it belongs to his Individuality, not
to his Personality, and is a phase of his consciousness or "awareness"
of his relation to the One Universal Life which underlies his
existence, and in which he is a center of consciousness. Do you grasp
this idea? If not, meditate and concentrate upon it, for it is
important. You must learn to feel the Life within you, and to know
that it is the Life of the great Ocean of Universal Life upon the bosom
of which you are borne as a centre of consciousness and energy. In this
thought there is Power, Strength, Calm, Peace, and Wisdom. Acquire it,
if you are wise. It is indeed a Gift from the Gods.

In this lesson we are not attempting to build up your idea of the Unity
of Life by a series of arguments taken from a world of phenomena in
which separateness and non-Unity is apparent. No such arguments would
suffice, for it would be like trying to prove the existence and laws of
color to a man born blind, by arguments taken from his world of
darkness. On the contrary we are appealing to that region of the mind
in which is stored the capacity for intuitively apprehending truth. We
are endeavoring to speak in tones which will awaken a similar vibration
in that part of your mentality, and if these vibrations be started into
being, then will you be able to feel and know the truth, and then
will your Intellect eagerly seize upon the new idea that it finds
within itself, and will proceed to apply the same to the various
problems that have been bothering you in the past.

This consciousness of Unity must come from the higher regions of the
mind, for the Intellect alone knows it not,--it is out of its field.
Just as one may not know that the earth is round by means of his senses
which report quite the contrary, but may and does know this truth by
abstract reasoning and higher intellectual effort; so may one know the
truth that All Life is indeed One, at the last, and underlying, by the
higher faculties of the mind, although his senses and ordinary
intellectual processes fail to so inform him. The senses cannot inform
man that the earth is round, because they cannot see it as a whole,
but only in part--while the higher reasoning faculties are able to
visualize the earth as a whole, and know it must be round. And the
Intellect, in its ordinary field can see only separateness, and cannot
report Oneness, but the Higher Mind sees Life as a Whole, and knows it
to be One. And it is the Higher Mind that we are trying to bring into
the field of consciousness in the appeal to you in this lesson. We
trust that we may be successful--in fact we know that we shall be so,
in many cases, for we know that the field is ready for the sowing of
the seed--and that the call has been heard, and the message passed on
to us to answer the call--else these words would not have been written.

The consciousness of the Unity of Life is something that must be
experienced before the truth may be realized. It is not necessary for
one to wait until he acquire full Cosmic Consciousness before he may
realize, at least partially, the Oneness of All Life, for he may unfold
gradually into the Cosmic Knowing, experiencing at each stage a fuller
conception of the underlying Unity of Life, in which he is a centre of
consciousness and manifestation. But there must be at least a partial
unfoldment before one is able to feel the sense of Unity. To those
who have not unfolded sufficiently to gain at least a glimmering of the
truth, everything appears separate from every other thing, and there is
no Unity of All. It is as if every leaf on a mighty tree were to
consider itself a being separate and distinct from everything else in
the world, failing to perceive its connection with the branch or limb,
and tree, and its unity in being with every other leaf on the tree.
After a bit the unfolding consciousness of the leaf enables it to
perceive the stem that connects it with the twig. Then it begins to
realize certain relationships, and feels its vital connection with the
twig and the few other leaves attached to the same twig. Later on, it
unfolds sufficiently to perceive that certain other leaf-bearing twigs
are connected with the same branch, and it learns to feel its
relationship with all twigs and leaves springing from that branch. Then
again, a little later on, it begins to realize that other branches
spring from the same limb as its branch, and the sense of relationship
and dawning Unity begins to widen still further. And so it goes on,
until at last, the tiny leaflet realizes that the life of the tree is
the life of all of its parts--limbs, branches, twigs, leaves, blossoms,
fruit, seed, etc., and that it, itself, is but a centre of expression
in the One Life of the tree. Does the leaf feel less important and real
from this discovery? We should say assuredly not, for it must feel that
behind its tiny form and limited strength is the strength and vitality
of the entire organism of the tree. It must know that the tree is ever
at work extracting nourishment from the earth, air, and water, and
transmitting that nourishment to its every part, including our little
friend the leaflet. It knows that the sap will rise in the Spring to
renew the manifestations of life, and it knows that although its leafy
form may wither and die, still the essence of its life--its real
Life--does not die but remains ever active and strong awaiting its
chance for future expression and re-embodiment. Of course this figure
of the leaf and the tree fails us if we attempt to carry it very far,
but it will give us at least a partial idea of the relationship between
the life of the person, and the One Life.

Some of the Oriental teachers have illustrated this idea to their
students by various familiar examples and figures of speech. Some bid
the student hold up his hand, and then point out to him that each
finger is apparently separate and distinct if one does not look down to
where it joins the hand. Each finger, if it had consciousness, might
well argue that it was a separate individual, having no relationship
with any other finger. It might prove this to its own satisfaction, and
to that of its listeners, by showing that it could move itself without
stirring the other fingers. And so long as its consciousness was
confined to its upper two joints it would remain under the illusion of
separateness. But when its consciousness at last permeated the depths
of its being, it would find that it emerged from the same hand from
which also sprung the other fingers, and that its real life and power
was vested in the hand rather than in itself, and that although
apparently separate and independent, it was really but a part of the
hand. And when its consciousness, through the consciousness of the
hand, broadened and widened, it would perceive its relationship with,
and interdependence with, the whole body, and would also recognize the
power of the brain, and its mighty Will.

Another favorite illustration of the Eastern teachers is the stream of
water flowing over a rocky bed. They point to the stream before it
comes to a rocky place, and show the chela (student) that it is One.
Then they will move a little way down the stream and show him how the
rocks and stones divide the stream into countless little streams, each
of which might imagine itself a separate and distinct stream, until
later on it again joins the main united stream, and finds that it was
but a form of expression of the One.

Another illustration that is frequently used by the teachers, is that
which bids the student consider himself as a minute cell, or
"little-life" as the Hindus call it, in a body. It may be a cell in the
blood performing the office of a carrier or messenger, or it may be a
working cell in one of the organs of the body; or it may be a thinking
cell in the brain. At any rate, the cell manifests capacity for
thought, action and memory--and a number of secondary attributes quite
wonderful in the way. (See "Hatha Yoga," Chapter XVIII.) Each cell
might well consider itself as a separate individual--in a certain sense
it does. It has a certain degree of something akin to consciousness,
enabling it to perform its work correctly and properly, and is called
upon at times to manifest something like judgment. It may well be
excused for thinking of itself as a "person" having a separate life.
The analogy between its illusions and that of the man when seen by a
Master, is very close. But we know that the life of the cell is merely
a centre of expression of the life of the body--that its consciousness
is merely a part of the consciousness of the mind animating the body.
The cell will die and apparently perish, but the essence of it will
remain in the life of the person whose body it occupied, and nothing
really dies or perishes. Would the cell feel any less real if it knew
that behind its Personality as a cell, there was the Individuality of
the Man--that its Real Self was the Man, not the cell? Of course, even
this figure of speech can be carried only so far, and then must stop,
for the personality of the man, when it is dissolved, leaves behind it
an essence which is called Character, which becomes the property of the
Ego and which accompanies it into after life according to the Law of
Karma, of which we shall speak in future lessons. But back even of
these attributes of Personality, is the Ego which exists in spite of
Personality, and lives on and on throughout many Personalities, and yet
learning the lessons of each, until at last it rises above Personality
and enters into higher sphere of Knowing and Being.

Still another favorite illustration of the Hindu teachers is that of
the sun beating down upon the ocean and causing a portion of the water
to rise in the form of vapor. This vapor forms clouds which spread all
over the earth, and which eventually condense in the form of rain
drops, dew, etc. This rain and dew form streams, rivers, etc., and
sooner or later every drop finds its way back to Mother Ocean which is
its Real Self. Separate though the dewdrop be, yet it is a part of the
Ocean, no matter how far distant it may be, and the attraction of the
Ocean will surely, and without fail, draw it back to its bosom. And the
dewdrop, if it could know the truth, would be so much happier and
stronger, and braver if it could know that it was superior to accident,
time and space, and that it could not escape its own good, and that
nothing could prevent its final triumph and victory when at last "the
dewdrop glides into the shining sea." How cheerfully it could have met
its many changes of form. and the incidents of its journey, if it could
have gotten rid of the illusion of separateness, and knew that instead
of being a tiny insignificant dewdrop it was a part of the Mighty
Ocean--in fact that its Real Self was that Ocean itself--and that the
Ocean was continually drawing it toward it, and that the many changes,
up and down, were in response to that mighty power of attraction which
was slowly but irresistibly drawing it back Home to Rest, Peace, and

As valuable as are all these illustrations, examples, and figures of
speech, still all must of necessity fall short of the truth in the case
of the Soul of Man--that wondrous something which has been built up by
the Absolute after aeons and aeons of time, and which is destined to
play an important part in the great Cosmic Drama which it has pleased
the Absolute to think into existence. Drawing its Life from the
Universal Life, it has the roots of its being still further back in the
Absolute itself, as we shall see in the next lesson. Great and
wonderful is it all, and our minds are but illy fitted to receive the
truth, and must be gradually accustomed to the glare of the Sun. But it
will come to all--none can escape his glorious destiny.

The Oriental writings are full of allusions to the underlying Oneness,
in fact the entire Oriental philosophies rest upon it. You may find it
everywhere if you will but look for it. The experience of Cosmic
Consciousness, which is naught but a sudden or gradual "awareness" of
the underlying Unity of Life, is evidenced everywhere in the
Upanishads, that wonderful series of teachings in the Hindu classics.
Every writer in the collection gives his evidence regarding this
awareness of Unity and Oneness, and the experiences and mental
characteristics arising from the same. The following quotations will
give an idea of the prevalence of this thought:

"He that beholds all beings in the Self, and the Self in all things, he
never turns away from it."

"When to a man who understands, the Self has become all things, what
sorrow, what trouble, can there be to him who once beheld that unity."

The Hindu father explains to his son that the One Life is in all forms
and shapes, points out object after object, saying to the boy: "Tat
tuam asi, Thou art that; That thou art."

And the Mystics have added their testimony to that of others who have
experienced this consciousness. Plotinus said: "Knowledge has three
degrees: opinion, science, and illumination. The last is absolute
knowledge founded upon the identity of the knowing mind with the known

And Eckhardt, the German mystic, has told his pupils that: "God is the
soul of all things. He is the light that shines in us when the veil is

And Tennyson, in his wonderful verse describing the temporary lifting
of the veil for him, has described a phase of Cosmic Consciousness in
the following words:

    "For knowledge is the swallow on the lake
    That sees and stirs the surface-shadow there,
    But never yet hath dippt into the abysm,
    The Abysm of all Abysms, beneath, within
    The blue of sky and sea, the green of earth,
    And in the million-millionth of a grain
    Which cleft and cleft again for evermore
    And ever vanishing, never vanishes. . .

    And more, my son, for more than once when I
    Sat all alone, revolving in myself
    That word which is the symbol of myself,
    The mortal symbol of the Self was loosed,
    And past into the Nameless, as a cloud
    Melts into Heaven. I touched my limbs, the limbs
    Were strange, not mine--and yet no shadow of doubt,
    But utter clearness, and through loss of Self
    The gain of such large life as matched with ours
    Were Sun to spark, unshadowable in words,
    Themselves but shadows of a shadow-world."

And not only among the mystics and poets is this universal truth
experienced and expressed, but among the great philosophers of all ages
may we find this teaching of the Unity of Life originally voiced in the
Upanishads. The Grecian thinkers have expressed the thought; the
Chinese philosophers have added their testimony; the modern
philosophers, Spinoza, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Hartman,
Ferrier, Royce, although differing widely in their theories, all have
expressed as a fundamental truth the Unity of Life--a One Life
underlying. The basic teachings of the Vedas are receiving confirmation
at the hands of Modern Science, which while calling itself
Rationalistic and inclining to a Materialistic conception of the
Universe, still finds itself compelled to say, "At the last, All is

And in nearly every human soul there is a secret chamber in which the
text of this knowledge lies hidden, and in the rare moments in which
the chamber door is opened in response to poetry, music, art, deep
religious feeling, or those unaccountable waves of uplift that come to
all, the truth is recognized for the moment and the soul feels at peace
and is content in the feeling that it is at harmony with the All. The
sense of Beauty, however expressed, when keenly experienced, has a
tendency to lift us out of our consciousness of separateness into
another plane of mind in which the keynote is Unity. The higher the
human feeling, the nearer is the conscious realization of the
underlying Unity.

This realization of the Unity of Life--the Oneness of Life--the Great
Life--even when but faintly experienced, renders Life quite a different
thing to the person. He feels no longer that he is a mere "part" of
something that may be destroyed--or that he is a tiny personal
something, separate from and opposed to all the rest of the
Universe--but that he is, instead, a Unit of Expression--a Centre of
Consciousness--in the Great One Life. He realizes that he has the
Power, and Strength, and Life, and Wisdom of the Whole back of him,
upon which he may learn to draw as he unfolds. He realizes that he is
at Home, and that he cannot be thrust out, for there is no outside of
the All. He feels within himself the certainty of infinite Life and
being, for his Life is the all Life, and that cannot die. The petty
cares, and worries, and griefs, and pains of everyday personal life are
seen for what they are, and they cease to threaten and dominate him as
of old. He sees the things of personality as merely the costume and
trappings of the part in the play of life that he is acting out, and he
knows that when he discards them he will still be "I."

When one really feels the consciousness of the One Life underlying, he
acquires a confident trust and faith, and a new sense of freedom and
strength comes to him, for is he not indeed delivered from the bondage
of fear that has haunted him in his world of separateness. He feels
within him the spiritual pulse of the Universal Life, and at once he
thrills with a sense of new-found power and being. He becomes
reconciled with Life in all its phases, for he knows these things as
but temporary phases in the working out of some great Universal plan,
instead of things permanent and fixed and beyond remedy. He begins to
feel the assurance of Ultimate Justice and God, and the old ideas of
Injustice and Evil begin to fade from him. He who enters into the
consciousness of the Universal Life, indeed enters into a present
realization of the Life Everlasting. All fear of being "lost" or
"eternally damned" fades away, and one instinctively realizes that he
is "saved" because he is of the One Life and cannot be lost. All the
fear of being lost arises from the sense of illusion of separateness or
apartness from the One Life. Once the consciousness of Unity is gained,
fear drops from the soul like a wornout garment.

When the idea and consciousness of the Unity takes possession of one,
he feels a new sense of cheerfulness and optimism entirely different
from any other feeling that he has ever experienced. He loses that
distrust and hardness which seems to cling to so many in this age who
have arrived at the Intellectual stage of development, and have been
unable to progress further. A new sense of peace and harmony comes to
one, and illuminates his entire character and life. The bitterness
engendered by the illusion of separateness is neutralized by the
sweetness of the sense of Unity. When one enters into this
consciousness he finds that he has the key to many a riddle of life
that has heretofore perplexed him. Many dark corners are
illuminated--many hard sayings are made clear. Paradoxes become
understandable truths, and the pairs of opposites that dwell in all
advanced intellectual conceptions, seem to bend around their ends and
form themselves into a circle.

To the one who understands the Unity, all Nature seems akin and
friendly. There is no sense of antagonism or opposition--everything is
seen to fit into its place, and work out its appointed task in the
Universal plan. All Nature is seen to be friendly, when properly
understood, and Man regains that sense of harmonious environment and
at-home-ness that he lost when he entered the stage of
self-consciousness. The lower animal and the children feel this Unity,
in their poor imperfect way, but Man lost this Paradise when he
discovered Good and Evil. But Paradise Lost becomes Paradise Regained
when Man enters into this new stage of consciousness. But unlike the
animal or child, which instinctively feels the Unity, the awakened soul
of man possesses the Unity consciousness, coupled with intelligent
comprehension, and unfolding spiritual power. He has found that which
he lost, together with the accumulated interest of the ages. This new
kingdom of Consciousness is before the race. All must enter into it in
time--all will enter into it--many are entering into it now, by gradual
stages. This dawning sense of Unity is that which is causing the
spiritual unrest which is now agitating the world, and Which in time
will bring the race to a realization of the Fatherhood of God and the
Brotherhood of Man, and his kinship to Every Living Thing. We are
entering into this new cycle of human unfoldment, and the greatest
changes are before the race. Ye who read these words are in the
foremost ranks of the new dispensation, else you would not be
interested in this subject. You are the leaven which is designed to
lighten the heavy mass of the world-mind. Play well your parts. You are
not alone. Mighty forces and great Intelligences are behind you in the
work. Be worthy of them. Peace be with you.

Carry with you the Central Thought of this lesson:

CENTRAL THOUGHT. There is but One Life--a Universal Life--in the
world. This One Life is an emanation from the Absolute. It infills all
forms, shapes and manifestations of Life, and is the Real Life that
each imagines to be his personal property. There is but One--and you
are centres of consciousness and expression in that One. There is a
Unity and Harmony which becomes apparent to those who enter into the
consciousness of the One Life. There is Peace and Calm in the thought.
There is Strength and Power in the knowledge. Enter ye into your
Kingdom of Power--possess yourselves of your Birthright of Knowledge.
In the very center of your being you will find a holy of holies in
which dwells the Consciousness of the One Life, underlying. Enter into
the Silence of the Shrine within.

Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka