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Pranayma the control of Prana -  Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda - Part 2.  

PRANAYAMA is not, as many think, something about the breath; breath, indeed, has very little to do with it, if anything. Breathing is only one of the many exercises through which we get to the real Pranayama. Pranayama means the control of Prana. According to the philosophers of India, the whole universe is composed of two materials, one of which they call Akaca. It is the omnipresent, all penetrating existence. Everything that has form, everything that is the result of compounds, is evolved out of this Akaca. It is the Akaca that becomes the air, that becomes the liquids, that becomes the solids; it is the Akaca that becomes the plants, every form that we see, everything that can be sensed, everything that exists. It itself it cannot be perceived; it is so subtle that it is beyond all ordinary perception; it can only be seen when it has become gross, has taken form. At the beginning of creation there is only this Akaca; at the end of the cycle, the solids, the liquids, and the gases all melt into the Akaca again, and the next creation similarly proceeds out of this Akaca. By what power is this Akaca manifested into this universe? By the power of Prana. Just as Akaca is the infinite omnipresent material of this universe, so is this Prana the infinite, omnipresent manifesting power of this universe. At the beginning and at the end of a cycle everything becomes Akaca, and all the forces that are in the universe resolve back into the Prana; in the next cycle, out of this Prana is evolved everything that we call energy, everything that we call force. It is the Prana that is manifesting as motion; it is the Prana that is manifesting as gravitation, as magnetism. It is the Prana that is manifesting as the actions of the body, as the nerve currents, as thought force. From thought, down to the lowest physical force, everything is but the manifestation of Prana. The sum-total of all force in the universe, mental or physical, when resolved back into its original state, is called Prana. “When there was neither aught nor naught, when darkness was covering darkness, what existed then? That Akaca existed without motion.” The physical motion of the Prana was stopped, but it existed all the same. All the energies that are now displayed in the universe we know, by modern science, are unchangeable. The sum-total of the energies in the universe remains the same throughout, only, at the end of a cycle, these energies quiet down, become potential, and, at the beginning of the next cycle, they start up, strike upon the Akaca, and out of the Akaca evolve into various forms, and, as the Akaca changes, this Prana changes also into all these manifestations of energy. The knownledge and control of this Prana is really what is meant by Pranayama. This opens to us the door to almost unlimited power. Suppose, for instance, one understood the Prana perfectly, and could control it, what power on earth could there be that would not be his? He would be able to move the sun and stars out of their places, to control everything in the universe, from the atoms to the biggest suns, because he would control the Prana. This is the end and aim of Pranayama. When the Yogi becomes perfect there will be nothing in nature not under his control. If he orders the gods to come, they will come at his bidding; if he asks the departed to come, they will come at his bidding. All the forces of nature will obey him as his slaves, and when the ignorant see these powers of the Yogi they call them miracles. One peculiarity of the Hindu mind is that it always inquires for the last possible generalization, leaving the details to be worked out afterwards. The question is raised in the Vedas, “What is that, knowing which we shall know everything?”

Thus, all books, and all philosophies that have been written, have been only to prove That by knowing which everything is known. If a man wants to know this universe bit by bit he must know every individual grain of sand, and that means infinite time for him; he cannot know all of them. Then how can knowledge be? How is it possible for a man to be all-knowing through particulars? The Yogis say that behind this particular manifestation there is a generalization. Behind all particular ideas stands a generalized, an abstract principle; grasp it, and you have grasped everything. Just as this whole universe has been generalized, in the Vedas, into that One Absolute Existence. He who has grasped that Existence has grasped the whole universe. So all forces have been generalized into this Prana, and he who has grasped the Prana has grasped all the forces of the universe, mental or physical. He who has controlled the Prana has controlled his own mind, and all the minds that exist. He who has controlled the Prana has controlled his body, and all the bodies that exist, because the Prana is the generalized manifestation of force. How to control the Prana is the one idea of Pranayama. All these trainings and exercises are for that one end, and each man must begin where he stands, must learn how to control the things that are nearest to him. This body is the nearest thing to us, nearer than anything in the universe, and this mind is the nearest of all. The Prana which is working this mind and body is the nearest to us of all the Prana in the universe. This little wave of the Prana which represents our own energies, mental and physical, is the nearest wave to us of all that infinite ocean of Prana, and if we can succeed in controlling that little wave, then alone we can hope to control the whole of Prana. Perfection is to be gained by the Yogi who has done this, and no power is any more his master. He has become almost almighty, almost all knowing. We see sects in every country who have attempted this control of Prana. In this country there are Mind-healers, Faith-healers, Spiritualists, Christian Scientists, Hypnotists, etc., and if we analyses these different groups we shall find that the background of each is this control of the Prana, whether they know it or now. If you boil all their theories down the residuum will be the same. It is the one and same force they are manipulating, only unknowingly. They have stumbled on the discovery of a force, and do not know its nature, but they are unconsciously using the same powers which the Yogi uses, and which come from Prana. This Prana is the vital force in every being, and the finest and highest action of Prana is thought. This thought, again, as we see, is not all. There is also a sort of thought which we call instinct, or unconscious thought, the lowest plane of action. If a mosquito stings us, without thinking, our hand will strike it, automatically, instinctively. This is one expression of thought. All reflex actions of the body belong to this plane of thought. There is then a still higher plane of thought, the conscious. I reason, I judge, I think, I see the pros and cons of certain things; yet that is not all. We know that reason is limited. There is only a certain extent to which reason can go; beyond that it cannot reach. The circle within which it runs is very, very limited indeed. Yet, at the same time, we find facts rush into this circle. Like the coming of comets certain things are coming into this circle, and it is certain they come from outside the limit, although our reason cannot go beyond. The causes of the phenomena protruding themselves in this small limit are outside of this limit. The reason and the intellect cannot reach them, but, says the Yogi, that is not all. The mind can exist on a still higher plane, the super-conscious. When the mind has attained to the state, which is called Samadhi,—perfect concentration, super-conscious-ness—it goes beyond the limits of reason and comes face to face with facts which no instinct or reason can ever know. All these manipulations of subtle forces of the body, the different manifestations of Prana, if trained, give a push to the mind, and the mind goes up higher, and becomes super-conscious, and from that plane it acts. In this universe there is one continuous mass on every plane of existence. Physically this universe is one; there is no difference between the sun and you. The scientist will tell you it is only a fiction to say the contrary. There is no real difference between the table and me; the table is one point in the mass of matter, and I another point. Each form represents, as it were, one whirlpool in the infinite ocean of matter, and these are not constant. Just as in a rushing stream there may be millions of whirlpools, and the water in each of these whirlpools is fresh every moment, turning round and round for a few seconds, and then passing out at the other end, so this whole universe is one constantly changing mass of matter, in which we are little whirlpools. A mass of matter enters them, goes round and round, and turns, for a few years, into the body of a man, becomes changed, and gets whirled out in the form of, maybe, an animal, from that it rushes round to get, after a few years, into another whirlpool, called a lump of mineral. It is a constant change. Not one body is constant. There is no such thing as my body, or your body, except in words. It is one huge mass of matter. One point is called moon, another sun, another a man, another the earth, another a plant, another a mineral. Not one is constant, but everything is changing, matter eternally concreting and disintegrating. So it is with the mind. Matter is represented by the ether; when the action of Prana is most subtle, this very ether, in the finer state of vibration, will represent the mind, and there it will be still one unbroken mass. If you can get to simply that subtle vibration you will see and feel that the whole universe is composed of these subtle vibrations. Sometimes certain drugs have the power to take us, as it were, through our senses, and bring us to that condition. Many of you may remember the celebrated experiment of Sir Humphrey Davy, when the laughing gas overpowered him, and, during the lecture, he remained motionless, stupefied, and, after that, he said that the whole universe was made up of ideas; for the time being, as it were, the gross vibrations had ceased, and only the subtle vibrations, which he called the mind, were present to him. He could only see the subtle vibrations round him; everything had become thought; the whole universe was an ocean of thought, he and everyone else had become little thought whirlpools. Thus, even in the universe of thought we find this unity, and at last, when we get to the Self, we know that that Self can only be One. Beyond motion there is but One. Even in manifest motion there is only a unity. These facts can no more be denied, as modern science has demonstrated them. Modern physics also has demonstrated that the sum-total of the energies is the same throughout. It has also been proved that this sum-total of energy exists in two forms. It becomes potential, toned down, and calmed, and next it comes out manifested as all these various forces; again it goes back to the quiet state, and again it manifests. Thus it goes on evolving and involving through eternity.

The Control of Prana - Panayama

The control of this Prana, as before stated, is what is called Pranayama. This Pranayama has very little to do with breathing, except as exercise. The most obvious manifestation of this Prana in the human body is the motion of the lungs. If that stops, the body will stop; all the other manifestations of force in the body will immediately stop, if this is stopped. There are persons who can trained themselves in such a manner that the body will live on, even when this motion has stopped. There are some persons who can bury themselves for months and yet live, without breathing. But, for all ordinary persons, this is the principal gross motion in the body. To reach the more subtle we must take the help of the grosser, and so, slowly travel towards the most subtle, until we gain our point. The most obvious of all motions in the body is the motion of the lungs, the flywheel which is setting all the other forces in motion. Pranayama really means controlling this motion of the lungs, and this motion is associated with the breath. Not that breath is producing it; on the contrary it is producing breath. This motion draws the air by pump action. The Prana is moving the lungs, and that motion of the lungs draws in the air. So Pranayama is not breathing, but controlling that muscular power which moves the lungs, and that muscular power which is going out through the nerves to the muscles, from them to the lungs, making them move in a certain manner, in the Prana, which we have to control in the practice of Pranayama. When this Prana has become controlled, then we shall immediately find that all the other actions of the Prana in the body will slowly come under control. I myself have seen men who have controlled almost every muscle of the body; and why not? If I have control over certain muscles, why not over every muscle and nerve of the body? What impossibility is there? What impossibility is there? At present the control is lost, and the motion has become automatic. We cannot move the ears at will, but we know that animals can. We have not that power because we do not exercise it. This what is called atavism. Again, we know that motion which has become latest can be brought back to manifestation. By hard work and practice certain motions of the body which are most dormant can be brought back under perfect control. Reasoning in that way we find there is no impossibility, but, on the other hand, every probability that each part of the body can be brought under perfect control. This the Yogi does through Pranayama. Perhaps some of you have read in these books that in Pranayama, when drawing in the breath, you must fill your whole body with Prana. In the English translation Prana is given as breath, and you are inclined to ask how that is to be done. The fault is with the translator. Every part of the body can be filled with Prana, this vital force, and when you are able to do that, you can control the whole body. All the sickness and misery felt in the body will be perfectly controlled, and, not only so, you will be able to control another’s body. Everything is infectious in this world, good or bad. If your body be in a certain state of tension, it will have a tendency to produce the same tension in others. If you are strong and healthy, those that live near you will also have the tendency to become strong and healthy, but, if you are sick and weak, those around you will have the tendency to become the same. This vibration will be, as it were, conveyed to another body. In the case of one man trying to heal another, the first idea is simply transferring his own health to the other. This is the primitive sort of healing. Consciously, or unconsciously health can be transmitted. The very strong man, living with the weak man, will make him a little stronger, whether he knows it or not. When consciously done it becomes quicker and better in its action.

RAJA YOGA - PRANA - PRANAYAMA

Next come those cases in which a man may not be very healthy himself, yet we know that he can bring health to another. The first man, in such a case, has a little more control over the Prana, and can rouse, for the time being, his Prana, as it were, to a certain state of vibration, and transmit it to another person. There have been cases where this process has been carried on at a distance, but in reality there is no distance, in the sense of a break. Where is the distance that has a break? Is there any break between you and the sun? It is a continuous mass of matter, the sun the one part, and you the other. Is there a break between one part of a river and another? Then why cannot any force travel? There is no reason against it. These cases are perfectly true, and this Prana can be transmitted to a very great distance; but to one genuine case, there are hundreds of frauds. It is not as easy as it is thought to be. In the most ordinary cases of this healing you will find that these healers are simply taking advantage of the naturally healthy state of the human body. There is no disease in this world which kills the majority of persons attacked. Even in cholera epidemics, if for a few days sixty per cent. die, after that the rate comes down to thirty and twenty per cent., and the rest recover. An allopath comes and treats cholera patients, and gives them his medicines; the homeopath comes and gives his medicine, and cures perhaps more, simply because the homeopath did not disturb the patients, but allowed nature to deal with them; and the faith-healer will cure more still, because he will bring the strength of his mind to bear, and rouses, through faith, the dormant Prana of the patient. But there is a mistake constantly made by faith-healers; they think that it is faith itself that directly heals a man. It alone will not cover all the ground. There are diseases where the worst symptoms are that the patient never thinks that he has the disease. That tremendous faith of the patient is itself one symptom of the disease, and usually indicates that he will die quickly. In such cases the principal that faith cures does not apply. If it were faith that cured in all these cases, these patients would be cured. It is by this Prana that real curing comes. The pure man, who has controlled this Prana, has the power of bringing it into a certain state of vibration, which can be conveyed to others, arousing in them a similar vibration. You see that in every-day actions. I am talking to you. What am I trying to do? I am, so to say, bringing my mind to a certain state of vibration, and the more I succeed in bringing it to that state, the more you will be affected by what I say. All of you know that the day I am more enthusiastic the more you enjoy the lecture, and when I am less enthusiastic you feel lack of interest. The gigantic will powers of the world, the world-movers, can bring their Prana into a high state of vibration, and it is so great and powerful that it catches others in a moment, and thousands are drawn towards them, and half the world thinks as they do. Great prophets of the world had the most wonderful control of this Prana, which gave them tremendous will power; they had brought their Prana to the highest state of motion, and this is what gave them power to sway the world. All manifestations of power arise from this control. Men may not know the secret, but this is the one explanation. Sometimes in your own body the supply of Prana gravitates more or less to one part; the balance is disturbed, and when the balance of the Prana is disturbed, what we call disease is produced. To take away the superfluous Prana, or to supply the Prana that is wanting, will be curing the disease. That again is Pranayama, to learn when there is more or less Prana in one part of the body than there should be. The feelings will become so subtle that the mind will feel that there is less Prana in the toe or the finger than there should be, and possess the power to supply it. These are among the various functions of Pranayama. They have to be learned slowly and gradually, and, as you see, the whole scope of Raja Yoga is really to teach the control and direction in different planes of the Prana. When a man has concentrated his energies he masters the Prana that is in his body. When a man is meditating, he is also concentrating the Prana. In an ocean there are huge waves, like mountains, then smaller waves, and still smaller, down to little bubbles, but the background of all these is the infinite ocean. The bubble is connected with the infinite ocean at one end, and the huge wave at the other end. So, one may be a gigantic man, and another a little bubble, but each is connected with the infinite ocean of energy, and this is the common birthright of every animal that exists. Wherever there is life, the storehouse of infinite energy is behind it. Starting from some fungus, some very minute, microscopic bubble, and all the time drawing from that infinite storehouse of energy, the form is changed slowly and slowly, until in course of time it becomes a plant, then an animal, then man, ultimately God. This is attained through millions of eons, but what is time? An increase of speed, an increase of struggle, is able to bridge the distance of time. That which naturally takes a long time to accomplish can be shortened by the intensity of action, says the Yogi. A man may go on slowly drawing in this energy from the infinite mass that exists in the universe, and perhaps he will require a hundred thousand years to become a Deva, and then, perhaps, five hundred thousand years to become still higher, and perhaps five millions of years to become perfect. Given rapid growth the time will be lessened. Why is it not possible, with sufficient effort, to reach this very perfection in six months or six years? There is no limit. Reason shows that. If an engine, with a certain amount of coal, runs at two miles an hour, add more coal, and it will run in quicker time. Similarly why shall not the soul, by intensifying its action, attain to that goal in this very life? All being will at last attain to that perfection we know. But who cares to wait all those millions of eons? Why not reach it immediately, in this body even, in this human form? Why shall I not get that infinite knowledge, infinite power, now? That is the ideal of the Yogi; the whole science of Yoga is directed to that one end, to teach men how to shorten the time by adding power, how to intensify the power of assimilation, and thereby shorten the time for reaching perfection, instead of slowly advancing from point to point, and waiting until the whole human race has come out, and become perfect. All the great prophets, saints, and seers, of the world, what are they? In that one span of life they lived the whole life of humanity, bridged the whole length of time that it will take ordinary humanity to come to the state of perfection. In this life they perfect themselves; they have no thought for anything else, breathe for nothing else, never live a moment for any other idea, and thus the way is shortened for them. This is what is meant by concentration, intensifying the action or assimilation, and thus shortening the time; and Raja Yoga is the science which teaches us how to gain the power of concentration? What has this Pranayama got to do with spiritualism? That is also a manifestation of Pranayama. If it be true that the departed spirits exist, only that we cannot see them, it is quite probable that there may be hundreds and millions living here that we can neither see, feel, nor touch. We may be continually passing and repressing through their bodies, and it is also probable that they do not see or feel us. It is a circle within a circle, universe within universe. Those only that are on the same plane see each other. We have five senses, and we represent Prana in a certain state of vibration. All beings in the same state of vibration will see each other, but if there are beings who represent Prana in a higher state of vibration they will not be seen. We may increase the intensity of light until we cannot see the light at all, but theremay be beings with eyes so powerful that they can see such light. Again, if the vibrations are very low, we do not see light, but there are animals that see it, as cats and owls. Our range of vision is only one plane of the vibrations of this Prana. Take this atmosphere, for instance; it is piled up layer on layer, but the layers nearer to the earth are denser than those above and as you go higher the atmospherebecomes finer and finer. Or take the case of the ocean; as you go deeper and deeper the density of the water increases, and those animals that live at the bottom of the sea can nevercome up, or they will broken into pieces. Think of this whole universe as an ocean of ether, in vibration under the action of Prana, and that it consists of layer after layer of varying degrees of vibration; in the more external the vibrations are less, and nearer to the center the vibrations become quicker and quicker, and each range of vibrations makes one plane. Think of the whole thing as one circle, the center of which is perfection; the further you get from the center the slower the vibrations. Matter is the outermost crust, next comes mind, and spirit is the center. Then suppose these ranges of vision are cut into planes, so many millions of miles one set of vibrations, and then so many millions of miles still higher, and so on. It is perfectly certain, then, that those who live on the plane of a certain state of vibration will have the power of recognizing each other, but will not recognize those above or below them. Yet, just as by the telescope and the microscope we can increase the scope of our vision, and make higher or lower vibrations cognizable to us, similarly, every man can bring himself to the state of vibration belonging to the next plane, thus enabling himself to see what is going on there. Suppose this room were full of beings whom we do not see. They represent certain vibrations in the Prana, and we represent other vibrations. Suppose they represent the quicker, and we the slower. Prana is the material of which they are composed; all are parts of the same ocean of Prana, only the rate of vibration differs. If I can bring myself to the quicker vibration this plane will immediately change for me; I shall not see you any more; you vanish, and they appear. Some of you, perhaps, know this to true. All this bringing of the mind into a higher state of vibration is included in one word in Yoga Samadhi. All these states of higher vibration, super conscious vibrations of the mind, are grouped in that one word, Samadhi, and the lower states of Samadhi give us visions of these beings. The highest grade of Samadhi is when we see the real thing, when we see the material out of which the whole of these grades of beings are composed, and that lump of clay being known, we know all the clay in the universe. Thus we see that this Pranayama includes all that is true of spiritualism even. Similarly, you will find that wherever any sect or body of people is trying to search out anything occult and mystical, or hidden, it is really this Yoga, this attempt to control the Prana. You will find that wherever there is any extraordinary display of power it is the manifestation of this Prana. Even the physical sciences can be included also in Pranayama. What move the steam engine? Prana, acting through the steam. What are all these phenomena of electricity and so forth but Prana? What is physical science? Pranayama, by external means. Prana, manifesting itself as mental power, can only be controlled by mental means. That part of the Pranayama which attempts to control the physical manifestations of the Prana by physical means is called physical science, and that part which tries to control the manifestations of the Prana as mental force, by mental means, is called Raja Yoga.

Pranayma the control of Prana - Vivikananda

Yoga & Meditation -  Short daily meditations | Raja Yoga - Control of the mind – The Science of Religion: - Contents |  An Introduction to Raja Yoga:  Introduction to Raja Yoga | The first steps in Raja Yoga – Swarmini Vivekananda: First steps in Raja Yoga The control of energy or Prana by Pranayama: Raga Yoga & the power of Prana |  The next step is Pratyahara.to concentrate the mind: Pratyahara & Dharana |  Samadhi the state of super-consciousness: Dhyana & SamadhiAn explanation of what Raja Yoga is: Raja Yoga in brief translated from the Kurma Purana | Listern and relax to -  Meditation Radio