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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Will-Force is the power of Re-action. It can render all the other
mental functions active or passive. It is the DETERMINATIVE faculty
and is affected most of all by the JUDGMENT. On the lower plane
of mind, Will-Power manifests as Desire and is reciprocally influenced
by outside attractions as well as repulsions. On this plane the Will is
not free. But when it draws the volition for externalizing itself from
Within in the light of the Higher Reason, then indeed is it
Will-Power. On the material the human will is a slave; on the spiritual
plane it is the sovereign. It may then be called the "awakened" will. It
is my conviction that the eternal crossing of swords between the
Determinists and the Libertarians can be set at rest only by a right
understanding of the spiritual makeup of man, otherwise the arguments
of both sets of thinkers are equally strong. Each side has got hold of
half the truth, but requires the reconciling light of transcendental
Psychology in order to enable us to see the whole truth as it is.
However, the point I am driving at is that your will is free only when it
is self-determined i.e., when it has risen above the impulses of the
Lower Personal Self and acts under the direction of the Higher Impersonal
Self. In order to fix this most important truth in your mind, let us
give you a brief idea of the "I AM" consciousness. Do not pass this by as
so much dry rot. No one will ever or can ever manifest genuine Will-Force
of a distinctly spiritual type who does not understand the "I AM"
consciousness. So please listen attentively and think over the following.


If you just turn in and examine the report of your consciousness
regarding the self-dwelling within, you will become conscious of the
"I". But if you press your examination a little closer you will find that
this "I" may be split up into two distinct aspects which, while working
in unison and conjunction, may nevertheless be set apart in thought.
There is an "I" function and there is a "me" function and these mental
twins develop distinct phenomena. The first is the "MASCULINE" principle;
the second is the "FEMININE" principle. Other terms used in current
writings on New Psychology are Conscious Mind, Active Mind, Voluntary
Mind, Objective Mind and so forth. These all refer to the "I" principle.
And the "me" form of mind corresponds to the Sub-Conscious Mind, Passive
Mind, Involuntary Mind, Subjective Mind and so on. Ninety-nine p. c. of
humanity mean this "me" when they say "I".

Now let us examine what this
"me" implies. It consists largely of our consciousness, of our body and
physical sensations as associated with touch, taste, smell, sight and
hearing. The consciousness of some of us is largely bound up in the
physical and carnal side of life. We "live there." There are some men who
consider their "clothes" too as being a part of themselves. But as
consciousness rises in the scale of evolution, man begins to "dissociate"
his idea of "me" from the body and he begins to regard his body as a
beloved companion and as "belonging to" him. He then identifies himself
with his mental states, emotions, feelings, likes and dislikes, habits,
qualities and characteristics. But, by and by, he begins to realize how
even these moods also are subject to change, born and die and are subject
to the Principles of Rhythm and Polarity. He realizes faintly that he can
change them by an effort of will and "transmute" them into mental states
of an exactly opposite nature. Then he again begins to "dissociate"
himself from his emotions and feelings and at last through mental
analysis, introspection and concentration, he sets them apart into the
"not I" collection. He begins then to realize that he is something
above his body and emotions. So also with the intellectual

The intellectual man is very apt to think that although his
physical and emotional selves are something different from him and
under his control, still his intellect is himself. This is the stage of
"Self-Consciousness". "I control my body and emotions." But as
consciousness unfolds intellectual man finds that he can practically
stand aside and see (mentally, of course) his mind going through various
processes of intellection. Study of Psychology and Logic will enable
you to see how all your intellectual processes may be held at arm's
length, examined, analysed, labelled and discussed quite with the same
ease as the professor talks of a solid, liquid and acriform substances in
his laboratory. So at last he finds that even the wonderful powers of
the Intellect must go into the "not I" collection. This is almost as far
as the average man can realize. You can realize and say "I am not the
body, not the emotions, not the intellect." Therefore you see, that side
of consciousness which is the sum-total of your physical, emotional and
intellectual functions comprises the "me" or Feminine or Passive mental
principle. That which can separate itself in thought from all the above
is the "I" or the Masculine Function. But another step must be taken.
That which you have been taught to regard as the Spiritual Consciousness
(see "Spiritual Consciousness") will also eventually go into the
"Not-I" or "me" collection. In brief, the spiritual mind may be said to
comprise all that is GOOD, NOBLE and GREAT in the field of consciousness.
It is the "Super-Conscious" mind, just now.

But, mark this, when through
further evolution, the "I" has mastered this field of consciousness also
and is able to regard it as being the last of the "me" collections, then
it will lose its sense of relativity and separation and the real
individuality, the "I AM" consciousness, will have been realized.
What do I mean? This "I AM" is not the petulant self-assertion of the
relative ego. "I" but really means GOD CONSCIOUSNESS as perfect
Existence, perfect Knowledge or perfect Bliss. It means the realization
of an Infinite and Eternal Self or Individuality. "He that has lost the
self has gained the SELF". Here is the explanation: this little self or
"I" so long as it is attached to the PERSONALITY which is the product
of the "me" consciousness is bound down to the relative plane. It can
think only through only one brain, enjoy through one body and such
happiness as it gets is transitory, short-lived and impermanent because
this world of relative existence is itself essentially changeable. It is
permanent only in its impermanence. So long as the "I" thinks and while
only for the benefits of its personal self, both thinking and willing are
limited and not free. But when it has succeeded in joining itself to the
Spiritual mind and works for, aspires after the Larger Self--the "I
AM"--it has to renounce or "disattach" itself from the personal self and
work under the guidance of the impersonal Higher Self. "I refuse to
be contained within my hat and boots," said Walt Whitman. When the
Vedantist says "Aham Brahmasmi"--"I am the absolute"--he does not mean
this lower "I". No, no. He is not built that way. For him the moorings of
self-consciousness are out. He has lost all sense of his particular
relative "I" and has one-d himself with the absolute "I AM"--the
impersonal, intangible, immortal, omnipotent Self of and over all.
This "I am" is Spirit or Atman.

There can be but one Individuality--that
of the Absolute. It becomes objectively expressed in man as Cosmic
Consciousness. Subjectively it is God. Now then you have an idea of
the "I am" Consciousness. Hold fast to it. It is your real, Larger Self.
In the understanding and the exercise of the Will-Power the "I" or the
Positive Mental Principle is the chief factor. To use the one you must
understand the other. Will is a Soul-Power. This "I"--as I have explained
it above--is negative to the "I AM" or God--both meaning the
same thing. It is positive in relation to the Higher Self. This "I" is
the future promise of the "I AM". It is true it shall lose itself in
finding its Self, but so does the child when it grows into full manhood.
Christ was one with his Father-in-Heaven (i.e., on the spiritual plane)
and therefore he could still the waves and raise the dead. Yet just you
examine the nature of Lord Christ's Will-Force. Think of his constant
retirement into the Silence in order to obtain inspiration for his work
in the objective universe. Again, note his utter indifference to and
absolute control over his personal self. Did he care whether his body
would live or die? Did he live for the enjoyments of the flesh? Did he
"play to the gallery" and act and speak for any worldly gain or low
considerations? No! He had forgotten the interests of the flesh in his
earnest enthusiasm in the cause of the Eternal Spirit. He was not moved
by any dammed sense of prudence and caution. He drew the "Motives" that
energised his Will-Power in the life of Action from Within. Nothing
from outside, nothing from the world of lower attractions could in the
least swerve his inner determination or unbalance his brain. Do you or
can you prepare yourself to follow in his steps? Then my first point and
the most infallible method of awakening your Will-Power is this:

(a) Teach Thy Will to "Resist and Renounce." Strengthen your Will-Power
by Renunciation. By Resistance is not meant outer resistance or
aggressiveness. I find that all the modern teachers of Hypnotism advise
their students to develop Will-Power by exercising it upon others. This
is placing the cart before the horse. We Hindus know better. No; by
Resistance to and Repression of your lower Desire-Nature is meant letting
the more difficult choice exercise its compelling and restraining power
over the easier one. Says Sister Nivedita: "The Indian ideal is that man
whose lower mind is so perfectly under control that he can at any moment
plunge into the thought-ocean and remain there at will without the least
possibility of a sudden break and unexpected return to the life of the
senses." Yes, your interests should be within and not without. You must
rise above all personal impulse. Even in this world you find that men of
distinction, fame and honour have achieved recognition by practising a
little self-denial, which is a "milder" form of absolute Renunciation
as practised by true Sanyasis. The man who can work at his aim with
perseverance and denies himself the mess of pottage of present indulgence
in view of some future gain develops Will-Power. So in training your Will
to 'resist', you must, as a first step, sternly refuse to indulge
impulses, desires and tendencies not in consonance with the dictates of
your Higher Self. You must actually go out of your way and "deny"
yourself the little or great "comforts" to which you are or have been
accustomed. The strongest-willed man is he who has the greatest control
over his inclinations, and who can 'force' himself to do such things as
he is naturally most inclined to do. This is a characteristic which
cannot be developed in a day.

There are some children and even grown-up
men and women who mistake their 'obstinacy' for Will-Power. They want a
thing and when they do not get it they tear their hair, gnash their
teeth, stamp their feet and fly into a terrible passion. Since people
think that these uncontrolled creatures are strong-willed while all that
you could say about them is that they are utter slaves to their
desires. You must practise self-denial in fifty different ways and force
yourself to do certain things, 'little and big,' every day purely for
developing this power of Resistance. No short-cut to this. Some children
develop it unconsciously by 'forcing' themselves to study when they might
play, and by applying themselves to such studies as are dry and
uninteresting to them they thus practise voluntary Concentration.
Practise self-denial in every possible way. Cut off such luxuries as you
think "you must have." "Take a cold bath when you would prefer a warm
one. Arise promptly in the morning. Make yourself call upon people you
have avoided. Stand up in a street car when you would prefer sitting;
walk when it is convenient to ride. Make engagements with yourself and
keep them. Promise yourself that when you see something to be done you
will spring at once to it however strong may be the inclination to put it
off awhile" and back of it all let there be the auto-suggestion: "I am
doing all these hard things in order to build up my Will-Power and each
time 'I' succeed in forcing 'my mind' to do a thing or not to do it I
make the next victory easier and my Will-Power stronger." Of course the
above is only a hint as to your line of practise.

(b) You must not give yourself such hard tasks of Self-Development
as might be too heavy and beyond the present strength of your Will.
In denying yourself you develop self-control. In forcing yourself to do
certain things you develop powers of Self-Expression. In one the Will
moves along negative lines. In the other along positive lines. Both are
necessary. The man who cannot control and command himself can never
develop and express Himself. But be sure to begin with easy things and
then as you gain in confidence you may attempt more difficult feats.

(c) The faculties of Courage and Confidence are essentially important.
Nothing weakens the will so much as Fear and lack of Self-Confidence.
Self-Confidence is not blustering self-conceit. That within you which
says "I CAN" when calmly and doggedly backed by your "I Will" when
deliberately translated into action develops Will-Force and commands
startling results.

(d) Always hold these words before your passive Mind:

1. Earnestness. 2. Determination. 3. Courage. 4. Confidence.
5. Stick-to-it-ive-ness. 6. Patience. 7. I can and I will.

(e) The tendency of the Masculine function of your mind to "I" is
towards giving, expressing or projecting energy; that of the Feminine
is towards generating and creating mental progeny such as thoughts,
mental energy, new habits, etc. It is why the Feminine Principle has
been called the "mental womb" by ancient philosophers. It comprises
also the faculty of Imagination. The Masculine function does the work
of the 'Will' in its varied phases. The Feminine function receives
impressions and generates mental offspring in the form of new thoughts,
ideas, concepts, thought-habits and so forth. Its powers of creative
energy are strikingly marvellous and have been proved and attested
to in Psychological experiments conducted by the best known mental
scientists of the day. But "positive" mental energy must be projected by
the 'I' into the Passive Mind through concentration, suggestion and
willing before the latter can be started to work along any line of
creative effort. This suggestion may be given by you to your
sub-conscious mind or it may come as an outer impression. Unless you
control your Passive Mind, it is sure to be controlled by others. Then
you are a slave. Now in cultivating the above seven qualities, you
should take up one word at a time and let the outer form sink into your
mind. Place yourself in a relaxed and passive condition. Close your eyes
and picture the form of the word to yourself, for instance,
D-E-T-E-R-M-I-N-A-T-I-O-N. Employ the Imagination and visualize mentally.
This done, i.e., when the word-picture is well photographed upon your
mind and fastened in place, your next step will be to picture yourself
the Ideas, qualities, physical and mental characteristics, etc.,
associated with the word. Your third step is to calmly, concentratedly
and confidently command your Passive Mind to generate that quality.
Remember, your mind will at first rebel, but a very little persistence
will lead to complete success. Repeat the auto-suggestions daily at the
same time. See that it manifests in Action. Act it out as often as
possible. Of course your efforts will be imperfect to begin with, but,
never mind, go ahead, keeping firm hold on your "I can and I will" in
spite of all things and success is quite certain. Once you have developed
these seven qualities, you can do anything.

(f) Do not let your friends or anyone--no matter who!--deflect
you from your resolutions. "Let not thy right hand know what thy left
hand does." Talk never. Let results show. The Lord has hidden himself
best and His work is wonderful beyond compare! Your very friends
and relatives will spit upon you for lacking any of these qualities. Do
not ever impose your will upon others, but never let others to impose
upon you against the sanction of your own judgment. In fact, none can
unless you are a weakling and fickle-minded.

(g) Frequent the company of chaste, strong-willed men and you
cannot but grow strong.

(h) Read Literature on this subject and obtain all possible aid
through Knowledge.

(i) If your faculty of imagination and idealism are undeveloped,
cultivate them, because it is these two that make a god of a man.
Philosophers, scholars, poets and musicians have them well-developed. But
where imagination is uncontrolled by higher reason and where idealism
is not backed by a strong will, there you have the idle 'dreamer of
dreams' and such a state of mind is reprehensible and pitiable indeed!

(j) Will-Power grows by faith in one's ability by exercise; by

(k) In your efforts to develop Will-Power, be not afraid that your
health will break down. In fact, Perfect Health is the result of a
perfect Will. Deny the power of disease and weakness over yourself. "I
can never be ill. My body is my slave. It shall always manifest perfect
health." Convince your passive mind--which has charge of your body--of
this by repeated commands, demands and assertions. Always think of your
body as being as strong as adamant. Never talk of either health or
disease or weakness. You must be above caring for these. They are
your Natural rights. Only when you lower yourself they have power
to trouble you. Go beyond the lower self. Your business is to care for
the Higher-Self--that in which "You" live, move, and have your being.
Also teach and train your Will to move along negative lines of
self-repression as well as along positive lines of Self-Expression.
Balance both. The former precedes the latter. Now I will pass on to the
subject of SELF-CONTROL, with the distinct understanding that
Self-Control and Will-Power are inextricably bound up in each other. You
Get the real "practical work" in the endeavour for Self-Control.

The Doctrine and Practice of Yoga
by Swami Mukerji

The Mystery Of The Will-Force
The Doctrine and Practice of Yoga
by Swami Mukerji