The reason behind the requirement of striking a harmony in the practice of Yoga is that the world is a harmony, the universe is a harmony, God is harmony, the Absolute is harmony, and to be in tune with it in every respect would be Yoga.
While for some years one's whole life may have to be spent in yogic discipline, one will slowly realise that one has no other duty in this world. All our well-intentioned occupations in life are the little cries of the central longing of the soul for untrammelled freedom.
The student of Yoga is capable of receiving all the buffets of the world, because these are not seen as coming as reactions against him personally. When you change yourself within, the world will correspondingly change itself in respect to you.
Yoga teaches us how to attain eternal happiness by setting up a balance in us permanently, while the external object gives only a temporary delight. Yoga is an independent effort unconnected with transient objects. Yoga brings happiness even without persons or things around you, even when you are alone.
You will not learn a lesson better than through the experience of the transitory nature of things. When you have lost all your belongings, when your life itself is at stake, you learn a lesson better than you learn in universities. The transitory nature of things points to the existence of an eternal value in life.
Temptations are uniformly present on the path of Yoga, but the forms in which they come vary from individual to individual, so that what I face will not be the same as what you have to face. You cannot say what will come to you tomorrow.
The personality of the human individual is deep, far deeper than what it appears on the surface. A withdrawal of oneself from physical contact with objects of sense does not mean renunciation, totally. If you abstain yourself from physical contact with objects by living in a sequestered place, the desire for them will still remain.
The desires of the human being are buried deep beneath the conscious level. So, even if you are consciously free from desires, you cannot be free from them subconsciously. The subconscious seeds of an urge for sensory gratification set up reactions in the counterpart of the cosmos outside and come as temptations.
When you tread the path of Yoga, the first thing that you will face or encounter is a temptation that you cannot resist. No one can resist temptations, because temptations come not as temptations. The devil does not come in the form of a devil; otherwise you will recognise it. Illusion can be mistaken for realisation. This is why, we say, a guru is necessary.
From the external, you go inward, and then on to the Universal. You become cosmically aware of things. Do not think that when a Yogi aspires for only Liberation, he is poverty-stricken in the world. Not so. He is rich even materially and physically. He is alive to every value in life. Many people become "nobodies" when they retire from their offices. No one wants them afterwards, because they have no stuff of their own. On the other hand, spiritual practice, or sadhana, gives a person intrinsic worth. Sadhana feels a person with something even if nobody is to look at his face. One's joy, then, knows no bounds, even if the world does not want you anymore. You are not dependent on it.
Subtle is this path of Yoga, difficult is this way, and hard it is to enter the citadel of this mysterious goal. It is invisible, and hence hard in every sense of the term. If you can see the path, you can walk on it, but you cannot see the path of Yoga. You cannot see the track of birds in the sky, though they have a track of their own. So it is with the path of knowledge. It cannot be seen, though it is there. It is difficult to know where one is being led, for there is no way to it.
Any disturbance of any kind in any part of the personality of an individual will be a disqualification for this path. Any type of agitation is to be avoided. A mind, which is not well composed, cannot hope to touch even the lowest pedestal of this practice.
Our whole life is one of preconceived ideas. The assumptions of our personality may be regarded as the main obstacle to Yoga. The blessings from the heavens come to us when our intellects are rightly directed. The purified intellect or rationality in us is the primeval faculty, which determines the extent of our progress in this effort, called the practice of Yoga. We have to observe what we call the golden mean of conduct, which is beautifully described in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. Moderation in our conduct, balance in our behaviour, harmony in our conduct are preconditions to Yoga. In our behaviour we must be moderate. We should not be excessive with others or with ourselves. When we talk, we should not talk the head off the person. This is a weakness. Speak only what is necessary. Let the mind not be agitated when you express yourself in action and speech.
The world is the field of training in Yoga. The objects have to become aids in our practice rather than oppositions to our effort. The activity of the senses, the thoughts of the mind and the needs of the Spirit should be in conformity with one another. They should not be at variance with each other. This is precisely the practice involved in Yoga. Yoga is nothing but the conformity of the Spirit, the mind and the senses together. Yoga is a movement of the effect towards the cause, a recession of the particular into the universal, in greater and greater degree. Action should be based on understanding-then life becomes Yoga. Yoga changes us completely and makes us gold, as it were, out of the iron that we were. We become different in substance itself. There is a transfiguration of personality. We grow in every sense of the term. Nothing can be dearer to man than Yoga, if one can know what it really means. It is not merely a subject that one may chose for one's studies. It is a system that we are to accommodate into our own personal and practical day-to-day life as an art, by which we shall place ourselves in a greater proximity to that great ideal of all life. Yoga is not a contact physically with anything. It is a union of being with Being.
The mind will not yield to any threat or admonition, if it cannot appreciate or understand the significance behind the teaching that it is worthwhile to restrain oneself. Our insistence that the world or the universe is outside us is called the mind. We are perpetually committing mistake after mistake in our lives, and all these mistakes are the consequences of our original self-affirmation that is called the mind. The mind is to be controlled, because it is the essence of mischief making, and the root cause of all the troubles of life.
Even those who do not know what Yoga is, and do not practice it, and have no idea about it are essentially intended for this great movement called Yoga, which is finally the goal of everyone. The establishment of one's own self in one's own true nature, in universal character, is the aim of Yoga. The false feeling that we are different from others and that things are constituted of isolated particularities leaves us, and we get established in our essential nature. The practice of Yoga, surely, is not an individual affair. The greatest service that one can do to humanity and the world is to enter into Yoga. We cannot isolate social welfare or the world's good from Yoga meditation. They are one and the same.
Yoga is more a state of being rather than outward doing. Any amount of external doing may not be Yoga at all, because one will be the same person inwardly with no difference whatsoever, if one's outlook of life has not changed. Yoga is in fact not a religion at all. Yoga is a systematic and scientific approach to things as they are. It has nothing to do with Hinduism or Christianity or any other "ism." Yoga is like mathematics or logic, which is not Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. Yoga demands a dedicated spirit on the part of the seeker. It calls for a complete surrender of the individual personality to the great purpose to be achieved through Yoga. Yoga encompasses our whole life and not a part of our life, because whenever we have an attitude towards anything, it is a whole attitude and not merely a partial attitude. Yoga is to be practiced with tremendous zeal and a feeling of intense love surpassing all other temporal loves in this world, a love that swallows up every other love. It is not to be one of the loves among many. No. It is to be the only love the seeker can have.
Unselfish service is regarded as the essential prerequisite in the purifying process necessary for the final practice of Yoga. A charitable disposition towards others is the essence of service. Charity of feeling is the greatest of charities. Moderation is a greater virtue than complete abstention. Complete abstention may not be so difficult as moderation. Everyday we have to resort to Yoga as we resort to our breakfast or lunch or super. We have to love it as our own mother and father. There is nothing so dear to us as our Yoga. It is a living, vital, substantial existence, and to think of it as an abstract thought is also a doubt in the mind that has to be removed. As far as possible, one should not physically place oneself in an atmosphere either of temptation or of violent hatred, because they will pull one's mind, either positively in the form of love, or negatively in the form of hatred.
The whole personality of the individual normally runs away from God in our perception of things and especially in our desires. This externalising habit of the mind is restrained by the methods of Yoga. The greatest purity of mind is reflected in its capacity to entertain the thought of the goal of Yoga. Any contemplation mentally of an object or a situation, which is likely to draw the energy of the mind in a direction other than that of Yoga, may be regarded as an impure thought. We carry on our activities in daily life as a matter of routine, helplessly driven by the current of habit, but to be subjected to a habit would be to be a slave of that habit. Yoga is the mastery of the pranas, the senses and the mind, and the gaining of a freedom from the slavish subjection of ourselves to their activities. Every student of Yoga should be a great psychologist of his own mind. When it is violent, what must be done? He must understand all the techniques of the mind and he must know how to deal with the mind at different times.
Yoga is an opening of the bud of the flower of our own heart before the blazing sun of God's Being, and here the sincerity of our heart will be our guide. Yoga is not merely action in the commonsense meaning of the term, but action proceeding from the being of a person, and the action becoming more and more comprehensive and complete as the dimension of the being expands itself gradually in the process of practice of Yoga. Yoga as harmony has to be applied in its relevance at every level of life, even in our kitchen and bathroom, our social relationships and our personal vocations. The great masters of Yoga are most normal persons. They are not queer individuals looking like otherworldly ascetics. Normalcy of behaviour is a spontaneous consequence that follows from an understanding of the wholeness of life, which is basically Yoga.
You must be very sincere and honest in your efforts in the direction of Yoga, and it shall take care of you. It cannot desert you. There are millions of social welfare organisations in the world, but what they do with their hands and feet is not so important as what they are thinking in their minds at the time of their working. In as sense, we may say that a Yogi is the greatest social welfare worker. Nobody can do so much good to the world as a Yogi engaged in meditation can do. Harmony is called Yoga; balance is Yoga-balance between the inner and the outer life. You should neither be an introvert nor an extrovert, but a balanced person. All the instructions and admonitions in Yoga are to bring you to a focusing point that you have to lead a spiritual life in the true sense of the term, and not as an isolated factor of your life. The spirit with which you live in this world, and act, speak and work, is your spirituality. One has to learn to cooperate with the world in every one of its stages of manifestation-socially, physically, psychologically, rationally, politically and spiritually-because Yoga is a total union of oneself with the totality of things.
The tendency to isolate oneself from everything outside is the opposite of Yoga, yet renunciation of any kind is impossible without Yoga. Renunciation does not mean physical disassociation with objects, but a withdrawal of the consciousness of the externality of things. There is nothing unimportant and nothing that can be neglected in this world from the point of view of Yoga. Everything that is visible to the eyes, everything with which we are connected, and everything that we can even think of in our mind, is of great value in some way or other.