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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

As the yogin acquires strength in one stage of samadhi


In order to practise this concentration one has to see that there may be no disturbance, and the yogin should select a quiet place on a hill or in a forest. One of the main obstacles is, however, to be found in our constant respiratory action. This has to be stopped by the practice of _pra@nayama_. Pra@nayama consists in taking in breath, keeping it for a while and then giving it up. With practice one may retain breath steadily for hours, days, months and even years. When there is no need of taking in breath or giving it out, and it can be retained steady for a long time, one of the main obstacles is removed.

The process of practising concentration is begun by sitting in a steady posture, holding the breath by pra@nayama, excluding all other thoughts, and fixing the mind on any object (_dhara@na_). At first it is difficult to fix steadily on any object, and the same thought has to be repeated constantly in the mind, this is called _dhyana._ After sufficient practice in dhyana the mind attains the power of making itself steady; at this stage it becomes one with its object and there is no change or repetition. There is no consciousness of subject, object or thinking, but the mind becomes steady and one with the object of thought. This is called _samadhi_ [Footnote ref 1]. We have already described the six stages of samadhi. As the yogin acquires strength in one stage of samadhi, he passes on to a still higher stage and so on. As he progresses onwards he attains miraculous powers (_vibhuti_) and his faith and hope in the practice increase. Miraculous powers bring with them many temptations, but the yogin is firm of purpose and even though the position of Indra is offered to him he does not relax. His wisdom (_prajna_) also increases at each step. Prajna knowledge is as clear as perception, but while perception is limited to

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[Footnote 1: It should be noted that the word _samadhi_ cannot properly be translated either by "concentration" or by "meditation." It means that peculiar kind of concentration in the Yoga sense by which the mind becomes one with its object and there is no movement of the mind into its passing states.]

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certain gross things and certain gross qualities [Footnote ref 1] prajna has no such limitations, penetrating into the subtlest things, the tanmatras, the gu@nas, and perceiving clearly and vividly all their subtle conditions and qualities [Footnote ref 2]. As the potencies (_sa@mskara_) of the prajna wisdom grow in strength the potencies of ordinary knowledge are rooted out, and the yogin continues to remain always in his prajna wisdom. It is a peculiarity of this prajna that it leads a man towards liberation and cannot bind him to sa@msara. The final prajnas which lead to liberation are of seven kinds, namely, (1) I have known the world, the object of suffering and misery, I have nothing more to know of it. (2) The grounds and roots of sa@msara have been thoroughly uprooted, nothing more of it remains to be uprooted. (3) Removal has become a fact of direct cognition by inhibitive trance. (4) The means of knowledge in the shape of a discrimination of puru@sa from prak@rti has been understood. The other three are not psychological but are rather metaphysical processes associated with the situation. They are as follows: (5) The double purpose of buddhi experience and emancipation (_bhoga_ and _apavarga_) has been realized. (6) The strong gravitating tendency of the disintegrated gu@nas drives them into prak@rti like heavy stones dropped from high hill tops. (7) The buddhi disintegrated into its constituents the gu@nas become merged in the prak@rti and remain there for ever. The puru@sa having passed beyond the bondage of the gu@nas shines forth in its pure intelligence. There is no bliss or happiness in this Sa@mkhya-Yoga mukti, for all feeling belongs to prak@rti. It is thus a state of pure intelligence. What the Sa@mkhya tries to achieve through knowledge, Yoga achieves through the perfected discipline of the will and psychological control of the mental states.


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