Lecture VI 2nd June, 1939
In the last lecture I spoke to you of the Purusha and gave parallels to show the connection in Indian philosophy.
The Purusha is identical with Brahman, the Highest Being, and with Prajapati, Creator of the World, who is also the year and time out of which everything flows.
We also spoke of western parallels, the mystical conception of Christ, and the speculations of the Gnostics and Neo-Platonists.
Today we will return to the text of the Yoga Sutra.
We should be able to get nearer to its meaning with the knowledge of the Purusha which we have gained.
Purusha Gunas Prakriti
Unity Sattvam Manifold appearance
The Gunas belong to the concept of the subtle body which unites the two opposites, Purusha and Prakriti.
The Purusha is always with Prakriti, the masculine is bound to the feminine, but they are never mixed together.
The Gunas are qualities or principles which are to be found in everything.
Sattvam is light and ascends, Tamas is dark, heavy and descends.
Rajas is the passion or energy found in between the opposites, nothing would happen, there would be no world process, if it were not for the energy caused by the opposites.
These opposites, light and darkness, hot and cold, etc.. , are psychological facts projected into the world, when we perceive the difference we make the contrast and project the attributes
we have established.
We desire and ponder, for instance, and these two opposites cause a moral conflict.
Such a conflict is, however, indispensable or we should remain entirely passive.
It is the opposites which are the impetus of our activity, all stimulating moments are moments of conflict.
If it were not for the Purusha, Prakriti would remain unchanged.
Why does our text only mention sattvam and not rajas and tamas?
Hauer translates somewhat differently, I will read you both interpretive translations.
III: 35. “Not discriminating between the concepts of Sattvam [representative of Prakriti) and the Purusha, which are entirely different from each other, is enjoyment [and suffering).”
“‘The man within’ and the ‘luminous substance of the world” which forms the mental organ, are eternally unmixed.
The ‘eating of the world’ by the ‘man within’ comes about because the ‘luminous substance of the world’ and the ‘man within’ are not distinguished from each other in consciousness.”
The meaning of these two is really the same, though this is difficult to see.
Hauer translates more literally.
Instead of enjoyment he speaks of eating the world, taking possession of it, and his translation of sattvam is literal also, the luminous side of the world, Prakriti in its light aspect.
As a psychological phenomenon it is the conscious part of the psyche.
The rest is dark and unconscious, the source of our instincts is in the dark, we do not know why we suddenly have an impetus to do something.
So we can translate Hauer’s “luminous substance of the world” as consciousness, and when sattvam (consciousness) is not distinguished from the Purusha the latter is bound to Prakriti and in the words
of Goethe “frisst er Staub” [he eats the dust).
This is the source of suffering, which Yoga promises to redeem, and this is the reason way Patanjali says we should distinguish between the Purusha and sattvam.
The psychological meaning is that, if we do not discriminate between the Purusha and consciousness, we begin to eat the world, and as we swallow it, it swallows us, for the more you take of the world the more
it encroaches up on you, and causes you to suffer.
“A knowledge of the Purusha arises from practising general discipline on all interests, one’s own interests (belonging to the Purusha) being different from strange interests (belonging to Prakriti).”
A general control gained by practising Yoga.
“Through the application of general discipline to the purpose of this eating, (one’s own purpose being different to the other purpose) one reaches knowledge of the ‘man within’, the essence of man.”
The meaning of both translations is that one should use Yoga as a fettering of the instincts, the klesas, and so separate the strange interests of the Prakriti from the Self-interests of the Purusha, it is
thus that knowledge of the Purusha is reached.
I will give you some more parallels:
First the famous exhortation of Krishna to Arjuna, concerning the three Gunas:
“The Vedas speak of three Gunas: nevertheless, 0 Arjuna be thou indifferent concerning the three Gunas, indifferent towards the opposites (nirdvandva), ever steadfast in courage.”
A pair of opposites always means conflict and doubt, and nirdvandva is the technical term for freedom from the opposites.
We find the same idea in the Book of Manu.
The pairs of opposites were ordained by the Creator of the World in order to bring about discrimination:
“Moreover, in order to distinguish actions, he separated merit from demerit, and he caused the creature to be affected by the pairs of opposites, such as pain and pleasure.”
The commentator Kulluka mentions: desire and anger, love and hate, hunger and thirst, anxiety and delusion, honour and shame as further opposites.
“Beneath the pairs of opposites must this world suffer without ceasing.”
You have overcome suffering when you can separate yourself from the opposites, you have reached ” nirdvandva ” where you are untouched by them.
In the sense of our quotation from the Yoga Sutra, if you can separate yourself from sattvam you come to the Purusha and find redemption in the Universal Being.
We find further in the Book of Manu:
“He who becometh indifferent towards all objects by the disposition of his feelings attaineth eternal blessedness, as much in this world as after death. Whosoever in this wise hath gradually surrendered all bonds and freed himself from all the opposites, reposeth in Brahman.”
Concerning the wise one the Kaushitaki Upanishad says:
“Both good and evil deeds doth he shake off in that place; they who are known unto him and are his friends take up on them his good deeds, but they who are not his friends, his evil works: and like one who faring fast in a chariot looketh down up on the chariot wheels, so up on day and night, up on good and evil deeds and up on all opposites, doth he look down; but he, freed from good and evil deeds, as knower of Brahman, entereth into Brahman.”
We find in another Upanishad (to the one called to meditation):
“Whosoever overcometh desire and anger, the cleaving to the world and the lust of the senses; whoso maketh himself free from the opposites, and relinquisheth the feeling of self (above all self- seeking),
that one is released from expectation.”
And in yet another:
“Clothed with dust, housed under the open sky, I will take my lodging at the root of a tree, surrendering all things loved as well as unloved, tasting neither grief nor pleasure, forfeiting blame and praise alike,
neither cherishing hope, nor offering respect, free from the opposites (nirdvandva), with neither fortune nor belongings.”
We can distinguish the universal ideal which still exists in India in all these quotations.
We come now to the question: what does it mean psychologically?
Through fettering the klesas one brings the eating of the world to an end, and can discriminate between oneself and desire.
We reach our own will and its content by practising this restraint.
We, in the West, are under the delusion that it is our own ego-will which is meant, that when we cut ourselves off from the world we remain with the ego.
But the Indian idea is that we leave the ego with the rest of the world and go over into the Purusha, the Self, and that then we can cut off the Gunas and the Prakriti.
The world disappears and we come to what has always existed, the eternal Purusha.
But such a conception is only possible to an eastern psychology and we should not imagine that we can understand it with our western consciousness.
There is an essential difference in the quality of consciousness between East and West.
Ours is an exceedingly definite ego consciousness, it is much more intense.
The eastern consciousness is far less distinct, it is not difficult for Easterners to move from their consciousness into the unconscious, the Void, but we have to make a tremendous effort in order
to do this, an acrobatic effort.
Meditation belongs to the eastern day, the Indian retires to his room and sinks into the Void as a matter of course, and it has a very favourable effect on him.
We find the same thing in Japan and all over the East.
But we spend our free time listening to the wireless and rushing off to the cinema.
Yet much of our western neurosis comes from the fact that we do not find enough time for ourselves; it would be wiser to me meditate and seek the Void when we need rest, than to run after outer distraction.
That Void is the Purusha, which we can reach by emptying the ego.
The Indian would laugh if we told him that such meditation belonged to religion.
It is a practical matter for him, he regards it much in the way we regard brushing our teeth, as something quite banal.
There is nothing hysterical or overdone about it, as is usually the case in the West.
The Indian meditates quite naturally, it is a sort of science and he would be amused at the idea of there being anything secret about it.
It belongs to his training, he is taught to reach the Void in meditation.
Hatha yoga especially is a technical means, rather like breathing gymnastics, to reach the Void, which we call the unconscious but which the Indian calls higher consciousness.
There is no term for the unconscious in the East, or rather it is expressed by Bodhi, enlightenment, higher, nay super, consciousness!
Naturally there are no parallels in western modern philosophy but we have a medieval parallel in Meister Eckhart, particularly in his sermon on “Leaving all Things.”
” ‘Alas , Sir, ‘people say, ‘I wish I stood as well with God, had as much devotion, were as much at peace with God as other people are. If only I could be like this, or as poor as that,’ or, ‘It is not a bit of good unless I can be here or there or do so and so. I must live away from home, in a convent or a cell.’ – Believe me, the fault is in thyself and nowhere else. It is nothing but own will. Thou mayst not know it and it may not seem so to thee, but the only source of restlessness in thee is thy personal will, whether this is realized or not.”
Pay attention here, for this is western language.
Self-will* refers to the ego, not to the Purusha, it is the egotism of western consciousness.
“We think we ought to flee this thing or follow that – places, people, methods, purposes, or acts – but ways and things are not to blame for hindering thee, it is thou thyself in things that is standing in thy way, cleaving to things as thou dost inordinately. Starting with thyself then, rise up and quit thyself.”
Things: Prakriti. We must leave sattvam, that is our ego consciousness.
“An thou flee not first thyself it is certain that wherever else thou mayest flee thou wilt find thou art disturbed and hindered, be it where it may. For people to seek peace in outward things – in places, persons, ways or works, in poverty or exile or despisery or anything else however important it may be – is all in vain, it will not bring peace. Those who seek in this way are looking in the wrong direction: the further out they go the less are they likely to find what they are seeking. They go like one who has missed his way: the further he walks the wider he strays. But what ought he to do? He must leave himself first; he will then have left all things.”
When I leave sattvam, my ego consciousness, I leave all things.
It is possible to reach the Purusha when we leave the ego.
“A man may give up a kingdom or the whole world but if he still clings to himself he has given up nothing. But supposing he gives up himself then no matter what he may keep, riches or honours or what not, he will have given up all things. Commenting on St. Peter’s words, ‘See, Lord, we have left all,’ when he had left merely his boat and net, a holy man (Hieronymus) observes: He who resigns the little of his own free will resigns not that alone: he is resigning all that worldly folk are out to gain, all they could possibly desire. But he who gives up his own will and himself to boot is giving up all things as surely as though they were his very own, his absolutely. What thou wilt not desire thou hast resigned and left for love of God.”
For the sake of the Purusha.
“Our Lord said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ in desire, that is to say; had there been a better way doubtless our Lord would have told us so just as he told us, ‘If anyone will come after me he must deny himself first,’ and there lies the crux of the whole matter. Watch thyself, and wherever thou findest thyself, there leave thyself: it is much the best way. Remember, in this life no one ever left himself so much but he could find something more to leave. Very few can stand it who know what it really means. It is just a give and take, a mutual exchange: thou goest out of things so much and just so much, no more or less, does God go in: with all of his if thou dost go clean out of all of thine. Try it, though it cost thy all. That way lies true peace and none elsewhere.”
This is a parallel to discriminating between sattvam and the Purusha in the Yoga Sutra but in a western form.
We are mixed up in the West between the ego and the Self, between Prakriti and the Purusha but this is not the case in the East.
In a way we are much more conscious than eastern man, his consciousness is dimmer, but where we are in the dark he is in the light and he can distinguish between the Purusha and Prakriti.
We find another aspect of the difference between one’s own interests and the Prakriti in Meister Eckhart’s sermon on “Detachment”.
He sees detachment in an original way and the following is very illuminating:
“I have read many writings of heathen philosophers and sages, of the old covenant and of the new, and have sought earnestly and with diligence which is the best and highest virtue whereby a man may knit himself most narrowly to God and wherein he is most like to his exemplar, as he was in. God, wherein was no difference between himself and God, ere God created creature. And having approfounded all these scriptures to the best of my ability, I find it is none other than absolute detachment from all creatures. As our Lord said to Martha, ‘unum est necessarium’,
which is as good as saying, He who would be serene and pure needs but one thing, detachment. Our doctors sing love’s praises, as did St. Paul, who said, ‘Whatsoever things I do and have not charity I am nothing.’ But. into detachment above . any love. First, because at best love constrains me. to love God. Now it is far better my constraining God to me than for, me to be constrained to, God. My eternal happiness depends on God, and me becoming one;
This is the . union between man and the Purusha.
“but God is apter to adapt himself to me and can. easier to communicate with me than I .can communicate with God. Detachment forces God to come to me, and this is shown as follows. Everything is fain to be in its own natural state. But God’s own natural state is unity and purity and . these come from detachment.
Hence God is bound to give himself to a heart detached. Secondly, I rank detachment above love because love constrains me to suffer all things for God’s sake: detachment constrains me to admit nothing but God, Now it is far better to tolerate nothing but God than to suffer all things for God’s sake. For in suffering one has regard to creatures.”
“whence the suffering comes, but detachment is immune from creature. Further, that detachment admits of none but God I demonstrate in this wise: anything received must be received, in aught. But detachment is so nearly naught that there is nothing rare enough to stay in this detachment, except God, He, is so simple, so. ethereal, that he can sojourn in the solitary heart. Detachment then admits of God alone. That which is received is received and grasped by its receiver according to. the mode of the receiver, and for anything conceived is known and understood according to the mind of him who understands. and not according to; its own innate; conceivability.
And humility the masters laud beyond most other virtues. l rank detachment before any meekness and for the following reasons. Meekness can be without detachment but complete detachment is impossible without humility. Perfect humility is a matter of self-naughting; but detachment so narrowly approximates to naught that no room remains for aught betwixt zero and absolute detachment.”
Zero is the Void, Shunyata. .
“Wherefore without humility is no complete detachment. Withal two virtues are always better than one. – Another reason why I put detachment higher than humility is this: humility means abasing self before all creatures and in that same abasement one goes out of oneself to creatures.”
Humility is itself bound to creatures, to Prakriti.
“But detachment abideth in itself. Now no going out however excellent, but staying in is better still. As the prophet hath it, ‘omnis gloria filiae regis ab intus,’ the King’s daughter is all glorious within. Perfect detachment is without regard, without either lowliness or loftiness to creatures: it has no mind to be below nor yet to be above; it is minded to be master of itself, loving ‘none and hating none, having neither likeness nor unlikeness, neither this nor that, to any creature; the only thing” it fain would be is same. But to be, either this or that it does not want at all. He who is this or that is aught;”
Aught is Prakriti.
“but detachment is altogether naught. It leaves things unmolested.
Here someone may object. But surely in our Lady all the, virtues flourished in perfection and among them absolute detachment. Now granting that detachment is better than humility, why did our Lady glory in her lowliness instead of her detachment saying, ‘quia respexit dominus humilitatem ancillae suae:’ ‘He regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden’?
I answer that, in God there is. Detachment and humility as well, so far as virtues can be attributed to God. Know, it was his loving meekness that mage God, stooped to enter huma nature while it remained within itself as motionless, what time he was made man, as it was while he created the heavens and the earth, as I shall show you later.”
This describes. the, Purusha with the Prakriti, the drop on the lotus leaf. God has entered. all creatures without being altered.
“And seeing that our ,Lord when he chose to become man did persist in his motionless detachment, by that same token our Lady know that he he expected her to the same, albeit for the, nonce he had regard expressly to her lowliness and not to her detachment. So, remaining unmoved in her detachment she yet gloried in her lowliness and not in her detachment. Had she but once ‘remembered her detachment to say, ‘He regarded my detachment’,’ her detachment would: by that have been disturbed and would not have been absolute and perfect since a going forth had taken place. Any event, however insignificant will always cause some troubling of detachment. There you have the explanation
of our Lady’s glorying in her lowliness instead of her detachment. Quoth the prophet, ‘audiani, quid loquatur in me dominus deus,’ I will be still and listen to what my Lord and and my God may be saying within me,’ as though to say, if, God would parley with me then he must come in for I will not go out. It is Boethius who exclaims, ‘Ye men, why do ye llo without for that which is within you?” ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture VI, Pages 125 -131.