Adapt to the Regulations of Yama and Niyama
There are five regulations of Yama and five regulations of Niyama given by Patanjali in the eightfold path of Yoga. These form the fundamentals of all occult practice. Yama relates to the regulations while working in the outer world. Niyama relates to the regulations while working with oneself.
Let us first consider the regulations of Yama. They are:
Of the above five, Ahimsa was already given as one of the teachings. Ahimsa means harmlessness. It was given as the 12th teaching. The Lord recommends the other teachings of Yama here for practice.
Satyam means truth, to speak truth. To be truthful is the instruction. Truthfulness means alignment of thought, speech and action. It enables manifestation of Truth. Truthfulness in this context means unity in thought, in speech and in action. In the world men try to be manipulative. What they think, what they speak and what they do is different. When there is variance within thought, speech and action, the three states of objectivity get distorted. Manipulative thought, speech and action gradually bind the person who is indulging in it. When one speaks what he does not mean and when one does what is not in tune with that which is spoken, his energies get deranged. He gets out of track and causes problems to himself. He accumulates more and more that which binds him tight. Non-alignment of thought, speech and action cripples one’s personality. One builds his own prison and gets bound by it. It is therefore desired that a student of Yoga or discipleship shall ensure alignment within thought, speech and action. It prevents accumulation of Karma. It enables unimpeded flow of resources for one’s progress. Wealth that comforts comes up to persons who follow this virtue, just like all beings behave friendly with the ones who follow harmlessness. The world is full of manipulation and the men of world are manipulated by their own manipulation. That is the law. For students of discipleship non-manipulation is the way out from the conditioning of the world. A disciple is expected to stand out of the world and impact the world positively. One cannot do so, when one is part of manipulation. A lot can be said relating to this virtue, but in this context what is said should be sufficient.
This word has two meanings. The simple meaning is ‘regulated sex activity’. The deeper meaning is ‘moving in Brahman’. The first leads to the second. The second is the ultimate goal of all discipleship. It is called ‘living, moving and having one’s being in Brahman’. This is the state of That I Am. But in the present context it means regulated sex activity. A lot has been written and spoken about sex, its importance and its dangers in many books. Sexual energy is but the energy of the soul, which has a purpose in creation. It cannot be suppressed and it cannot be indulged into. It should be a regulated activity. The nature’s purpose in granting sex instinct to the beings is to procreate. By this the nature is fulfilling a grand activity of proffering bodies to the incarnating souls. Every person is given a body to fulfil the purposes of the soul. It is therefore his bounden duty to help others also by proffering bodies. Everyone of us received a body. We therefore have a duty to offer bodies to incarnating souls. What one receives, one should learn to give also. We receive to give and we give to receive. This is how continuity is ensured in creation. You cannot continue receiving when you do not give. You cannot continue to inhale, unless every inhalation is alternated by an exhalation. You cannot inhale twice without an intermittent exhalation. You cannot go on eating and drinking without defecating and urinating. Similarly you cannot receive well, unless you give away meaningfully. The same law applies in matters of receiving and giving bodies. Sex is thus a natural act. Its purpose is to proffer bodies to incarnating souls and thereby satisfy the biological need as well. When this responsibility is fulfilled, the same energy is recommended to be diverted into the field of Yoga to build buddhic / Antahkarana body. The same energy is useful for building Antahkarana Sarira. It enables rising of Kundalini power. The scriptures neither recommend suppression nor indulgence. They suggest a regulated activity. When sex activity is well regulated, the related energies can be utilised for self-transmutation of body, transformation and transfiguration. Therefore this regulation of Yama is considered important. Follow the golden middle path in matters of sex also.
It means ‘absence of thieving instinct’. Thieving brings in heavy binding Karma. Man binds himself hopelessly when he thieves. Thieving is at three levels. Physical thieving is a crude thieving. Emotional thieving is finer thieving. Exploiting others’ emotions for self-profit is worse than the first one. Humanity is emotional at large. Exploiting the emotions of the people for one’s own advantage has much heavier Karma. The leaders of the society mostly suffer this Karma when they manipulate the emotional people to profit themselves. Winning other people through emotional means is also thieving. This kind of thieving exists in all activities of indulgence, such as gambling (emotional weakness for money) or sensuousness (weakness for the other gender). They come under the second category of thieving. The third category of thieving relates to intellectual thieving. This is the worst of the thievings. Intellectual thieving is very rampant in the society. The stronger thieves ideas from the weak and promotes them as his own. Today many patents are being thieved. The less intelligent are exploited by the more intelligent. Mostly intelligence is misused than used. Humanity suffers heavily from this Karma. The one who thieves becomes an eternal prisoner of his own personality. It is the worst of the human qualities, from which one gets eventually suffocated with Karma. Abstaining from mental, emotional and physical thieving is fundamental to any practice of discipleship. The whole human history reveals that the major activity of the human activity on the planet has been thieving others’ property and others’ people. The story of Mahabharata relates to thieving others’ property. The story of Ramayana relates to thieving others’ women. The two epics of India give clear message of the consequences of thieving.
Aparigraha means ‘not seeking favours’. Parigraha means ‘seeking favours’. If you seek favours from others while doing nothing to them it is contrary to the concept of Yagna. Yagna is the ritual of action. Action in creation is inherently doing for others. Having done good to others one becomes eligible to the fruits of such acts of goodwill. Seeking favours is an attitude to receive without doing any act of good to others. Such seekers are seen as vampires. Therefore seeking favours without doing or contributing anything to the surrounding lives is undesirable, since one gets heavily loaded with Karma. The practice of Yoga or discipleship is to neutralise the past Karma and move forward. For this reason the aspirants are recommended to carry out acts of service and charity, where no return is expected. Doing acts of goodwill without seeking anything for oneself enables release from Karma, contributes to neutralising the past Karma. That is the reason for encouraging service and charity along with practice of Yoga. If one receives more than what he gives he tends to be progressing into material which binds him. If one gives more than what he receives he tends to progress more into spirit. Essentially all aspirants are heavy with their past Karma. Therefore they would do well to give more than what they receive. To clear Karma faster they tend to give substantially and receive little. Giving leads to positive pole. Receiving leads to negative pole. Sahasrara stands for the North Pole or positive pole and Muladhara relates to the negative and receptive pole.
The entire creational activity has been of materialisation progressing from spirit. Likewise, the Yoga practice is to get back to the spiritual status by working the contrary to materialisation. Materialisation reached the grossest level and therefore it needs to return. In the story of the Bible the serpent is said to have descended down the tree of life. Now it needs to ascend. The serpent is no other than the Kundalini energy. If aspirants aspire to become disciples and disciples are aspiring to become Masters, they need to become better and better givers, but not better and better gatherers. The message is: “Offer, do not gather.” Such is the fifth regulation. Givers have moved faster as can be seen from the stories of Initiates. Gatherers perish along with the material. Yogis and Masters receive from higher circles and distribute in the lower circles. They keep their balances neither plus nor minus. By this way they continue eternally to be channels of the Divine upon earth. They do not glamour to move into higher circles of light. Instead they stay where darkness prevails and light is needed. It is a noble act of denial for the sake of the fellow beings. Christ who is known as Maitreya in the east is the first to do so in this cycle of humanity. Buddha also did so. These two are the great Initiates that are serving humanity. Remember that Christ existed even before the advent of Jesus.
With this we conclude the first set of the five regulations of Yama. Then follows the next set of five regulations of Niyama. They are
- Ishwara Pranidhana
Suchi and Soucha
Suchi and Soucha relate to outer and inner purity. In the second set of regulations it is working with oneself. In the first set of regulations it is working with the surroundings. When the first set of regulations is more or less accomplished, man is no more bound by the objectivity. If the first set is not fulfilled, the objectivity continues to bind the aspirants. If you harm the surrounding life, if you steal others’ wealth, if you seek favours in the objectivity, if you are not regulated in your sex activity, and if you are not aligned in your thought, speech, and action, you would be bound by the objectivity. When you are bound by the objectivity you cannot carry the rhythms of discipleship and grow inside. Therefore the first set of regulations is very important before one thinks of the second set. In the second set of regulations external and internal purity are recommended. The purity has to be in all the three levels. As it is in the first set, all regulations are applicable in all the three levels. So is the case with purity. Outer purity demands that you keep your surroundings pure. If the surroundings are not pure they affect your energies. They disturb the equilibrium. The basic harmony does not exist when the surroundings are impure. It is for this reason dwelling in places which are unclean, which emit bad smell or which are by the side of a butchery or in market places or places proximate to gambling houses, night clubs, prostitution, bars and the like are avoidable. A yogi may stay even in such places, for he affects the places positively and is not affected by the place. But the trainees are vulnerable to the strong negative energies. Therefore, they should select their place of dwelling, place of work, nature of activity and places where they move with care.
Outer purity also includes one’s clothing, bathing, eating habits. Yoga demands regular cleaning of the body from head to foot to ensure that no bad odours are emitted by the body. Through physical exercise it is natural that the body sweats and smells. In all such situations we are recommended to take showers. Frequent baths are advised. Frequent washing of hands, face and the feet is also advised. The students must take care that the body is clean. Natural scents and perfumery are allowed, but not chemical and sensuous ones. Similar understanding needs to be gained with respect to soaps and cosmetics.
Ensure that all your personal belongings which you use daily, are clean, neat and shining. Ensure that your worktable, workplace and vehicle are kept clean and orderly. Let not any dust or impurity gather. Eat not strong smelling food. Strong smells contribute to the undesirable odour of the body. These are some of the instructions to ensure external purity.
Internal purity relates to the thoughts and desires that we entertain. This purity is of greater importance. It requires greater effort to ensure clean thoughts and desires. Cleanliness at thought level enables a clean mind, which can reflect clearly the light inside and the light outside. The speeches need to communicate harmonious messages, but not disturbing and conflicting messages. We speak of speech separately in the following chapters. Inner purity is necessary to contact the light within. The obstructions for experiencing the inner light are impure desires, thoughts and speeches.
The third in the second set of regulations is Santhosha. It means cheerfulness. Cheerfulness is with persons who have gained a clean mind, a stable and comfortable mind. Cheerfulness enables reception and transmission of good luck. Cheerfulness enables effective transmission of magnetic currents of love. A cheerful person would make his life and the life surrounding him lighter. The sorrowful, the fearful and the serious ones make their lives heavier. They work as anti-magnets, and no good luck can come to them. If you see the various pictures of angels and Masters in India, they have a cheerful countenance. Meditating upon cheerful faces would also bring some cheer to us. Lives that do not carry cheer are heavy and tiresome.
Please remember, cheer is a pleasant smile on the face and does not extend to loud laughters. Persons who get loud laughter would alternatingly have deep sorrow and deep seriousness. Their energies keep oscillating from one to the other, like a pendulum. Smile is the middle point between sorrow and joy. It is called the state of Ashoka. There is a tree called Ashoka under which aspirants mediate to gain the state of equilibrium between sorrow and happiness, pleasantness and unpleasantness, pains and pleasures, comforts and discomforts, profit and loss. Such ones have equal disposition to heat and cold, dry and wet. They do not suffer the extremities of the duality due to their stable placement in the golden middle point.
Santhosha (cheerfulness) cannot straightaway be practised. One cannot maintain a cheerful face all the time. It creates tension to put up a cheerful face when the inner energies are otherwise. Only clean mind enables a cheerful face. Clean mind becomes possible when there is inner purity. Inner purity is possible when the preceding six regulations are followed. Thus the eighth regulation is the result which follows the preceding regulation.
A clean mind is a cheerful mind. Only such minds can conceive the light in any situation. When such mind turns inward it receives the light by reflection. When it turns outward, it also sees light. Such minds are really eligible for self-study.
Self-study is study of self within and study of scriptures as well. A clean mind appropriately receives wisdom through outer study or through inner study. It is like having clean glasses to read and to see. If the glasses are not clean one does not see what is to be seen. The object of sight is obscured. Such is the fate of persons who jump to read the writings of the Initiates. They make their own understanding, frequently a misunderstanding. But they do not get the right perception. Students who only read books but do not practice the steps of Yama and Niyama gain wrong understanding. They would be like badly cooked food, which cannot be repaired. For this reason the teachers do not recommend reading books. On the contrary, they recommend students to practise harmlessness, alignment of thought and speech, regulation of sex, eliminating the thieving instinct, eliminating the instinct to seek obligations, and purity inner and outer. The teacher’s way of imparting wisdom is totally different from what the students think. The students straightaway wish to get into wisdom. Before a student steps into the hall of wisdom, there is the hall of learning. When the first seven steps of Yama and Niyama are fulfilled, one can walk into wisdom. This is generally not known. People straightaway read Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Tantra and so on. The information they gather is neither useful to them nor to the others.
The fourth regulation of Niyama, Swadhyaya was already explained elaborately in the previous teaching titled “Do not deviate from Self-Study.”
The tenth regulation of Yama and Niyama and the fifth of Niyama is Ishwara Pranidhana. It means ‘surrendering to the Master within oneself and within all the surrounding forms, animate or inanimate’. The Master Consciousness prevails as the basis for all forms, whether organic or inorganic. This is what is given in the earlier teachings as observing I Am in and around. This practice continues forever until it is realised.
These are the ten regulations of Yama and Niyama, which the Lord says that we need to pick up and practise. By practising these ten regulations one gradually becomes eligible to be of stable mind, and such a stable mind can be applied upon respiration to find the way into oneself through Pranayama.
… to be continued