Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali

Basically, yoga means "union." It is the Sanskrit ancestor of the English word "yoke." Hence, it comes to mean a method of spiritual union. A yoga is a method—any one of many—by which an individual may become united with the Godhead, the Reality which underlies this apparent, ephemeral universe.To achieve such union is to reach the state of perfect yoga.

According to Patañjali, the mind (chitta) is made up of three components, manas, buddhi, and ahamkara. Manas is the recording faculty which receives impressions gathered by the senses from the outside world. Buddhi is the discriminative faculty which classifies these impressions and reacts to them. Ahamkara is the ego-sense which claims these impressions for its own and stores them up

When the lake of the mind becomes clear and still, man knows himself as he really is, always was and always will be. He knows that he is the Atman. His "personality," his mistaken belief in himself as a separate, unique individual, disappears. "Patañjali" is only an outer covering, like a coat or a mask, which he can assume or

Whatever our senses perceive is right knowledge, provided that there has been no element of delusion. Whatever we infer from our direct perception is also right knowledge, provided that our reasoning is correct. The scriptures are based upon the superconscious knowledge obtained by great spiritual teachers while in the state of perfect yoga. Therefore they also are right knowledge.

The waves of the mind can be made to flow in two opposite directions—either toward the objective world ("the will to desire") or toward true self-knowledge ("the will to liberation"). Therefore both practice and non-attachment are necessary. Indeed, it is useless and even dangerous to attempt one without the other. If we try to practice spiritual disciplines without attempting to

Non-attachment is not indifference—this cannot be repeated too often. Many people reject the aims of yoga philosophy as "inhuman" and "selfish," because they imagine yoga as a cold, deliberate shunning of everybody and everything for the sake of working out one's own salvation. The truth is exactly opposite. Human love is the highest emotion most of us know.

In order to understand this and the following aphorisms, we must now study the structure of the universe as it is presented in Vedanta philosophy. (Vedanta is the philosophy based on the teachings of the Vedas—the earliest Hindu scriptures.) First let us consider the basic Reality. The Reality considered as the innermost Self of any particular creature or object, is

When the spiritual aspirant has achieved the highest degree of concentration upon a single object, he is ready to attempt the supreme feat—concentration upon consciousness itself. This is the state of perfect yoga, in which one passes beyond Prakriti, beyond all object knowledge, into union with the Atman—the undifferentiated universal consciousness. The state of perfect yoga can only be entered

Concentration without non-attachment cannot bring liberation. However hard we may struggle, we can only be rewarded in accordance with our desires. If we really want liberation, and work hard enough for it, we shall get it. But if we really want power and pleasure we can get them instead—not only in this world and in this human form, but in

"Faith" is often used by agnostics as a term of abuse. That is to say, it is taken to refer to the blind credulity which accepts all kinds of dogmas and creeds without question, repeating parrot-like what has been taught, and closing its ears to doubt and reason. Such "faith" should certainly be attacked. It is compounded of laziness, obstinacy,