THEOSOPHY, Vol. 42, No. 12, October, 1954
(Pages 540-545; Size: 18K)


THERE is a great difference between the two paths of Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga. This will be observed by the student when he examines what is written about the siddhis or "psychic faculties and powers" said to be attainable by Yoga. There is one group which exacts a high training of the spiritual powers; and another group which concerns the lower and coarse, psychic and mental energies. In the Anugita, a very occult treatise belonging to the Upanishads, is a chapter explaining Pranayama. This, in Yoga practices, is regulation of the breath. Without the previous acquisition of, or at least a full understanding of, the two higher senses (of which there are seven), this mode pertains to the lower Yoga. The Hatha Yoga so called was and still is discountenanced by the Arhats. It is injurious to the health and alone can never develop into Raja Yoga. The Hindu books, which are the only works through which inquirers have heard about Hatha Yoga practices, say that a guide who is fully acquainted with the subject is necessary for each student, and further that every one of these practices requires an antidote for its effects through other regulations tending to neutralize the bad physical effects.

The true system of developing psychic and spiritual powers and union with one's Higher Self -- or the Supreme Spirit, as the profane express it -- is Raja Yoga. It consists of the exercise, regulation and concentration of thought. Raja Yoga is opposed to Hatha Yoga, the physical or psychological training in asceticism. The latter is the lower form which uses physical means for the purposes of spiritual development. "The Yogi, or he who energizes himself to recollect and reunite his scattered self by internal contemplation, is more exalted than those zealots who harass themselves in performing penances." The state of the Yogi is, when reached, that which makes the practitioner absolute master of his six "principles," he now being merged in the seventh. It gives him full control, owing to his knowledge of SELF and Self, over his bodily, intellectual and mental states, which, unable longer to interfere with, or act upon his Higher Ego, leave it free to exist in its original, pure, and divine state.

This highest state of Raja Yoga is variously denominated. As Samadhi it is explained as that state when the disciple has attained the primeval consciousness, absolute bliss, of which the nature is truth, which is without form and actions, and abandons this illusive body that has been assumed by the Atma just as an actor abandons the dress put on. In Samadhi (as in Pralaya) the trinity of Atma in conjunction with Buddhi and the higher Manas, loses its name, when the real ONE SELF of man merges into Brahm in the Turiya state or final Nirvana. Bodhi is likewise said to be the name of the particular state or trance condition, called Samadhi, during which the subject reaches the culmination of spiritual knowledge. The term Samadhi comes from words indicating "self-possession." He who possesses this power is able to exercise an absolute control over all his faculties, physical and mental. Again, the Turiya Avastha (condition) is almost a Nirvanic state -- a condition of the higher Triad, "quite distinct from the conditions known as waking, dreaming, and sleeping," or the life of man's general acquaintance. "There is a state when everything terrestrial except the visible body has ceased to exist for the Yogi, a condition called Samadhana, in which he can no longer diverge from the path of spiritual progress."

Theurgy likewise had its two general forms of practice, as the higher and lower forms of Yoga. Theurgy is defined as "a communication with, and means of bringing down to earth, planetary spirits and angels -- the 'gods of Light.' Knowledge of the inner meaning of their hierarchies, and purity of life alone can lead to the acquisition of powers necessary for communion with them. To arrive at such an exalted goal the aspirant must be absolutely worthy and unselfish." The first school of practical Theurgy in the Christian period was founded by Iamblichus among the Alexandrian Platonists. The priests, however, who were attached to the temples of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia and Greece, and whose business it was to evoke the gods during the celebration of the Mysteries, were known by this name or its equivalent in other terms from the earliest archaic periods. A theurgist had to be a hierophant and an expert in the esoteric learning of the Sanctuaries of all great countries. The popular prevailing idea is that the theurgists, as well as the magicians, worked wonders such as evoking the souls or shadows of the heroes and gods, and other thaumaturgic works, by supernatural powers. But this never was the fact. They did it simply by the liberation of their own astral body, which, taking the form of a god or hero, served as a medium or vehicle through which the special current preserving the ideas and knowledge of that hero or god could be reached and manifested. The Brahman Grihasta, like the Neo-Platonist, had (as evocator) to be in a state of complete purity before he ventured to call forth the Pitris -- the images of ancient heroes, "gods," and divine, spiritual entities. He pronounced a certain number of times the sacred word, and his astral body escaped from its prison, his body disappeared, and the soul (image) of the evoked spirit descended into the double body and animated it. Then the theurgist's astral re-entered its body, whose subtle particles had again been aggregating (to the objective sense), after having formed themselves an aerial body for the deva (god or spirit) evoked. And then, the operator propounded to the latter questions "on the mysteries of Being and the transformation of the imperishable."

The Rosicrucians or the Philosophers per ignem, were the successors of the theurgists. That which was worshipped by the Magi and Fire-Philosophers is the invisible, imponderable Spirit of things and the invisible, but too tangible fluid that radiates from the fingers of the healthy magnetizer -- Vital Electricity, LIFE itself. To this day it is termed by the theurgists and occultists "the living Fire"; and there is not a Hindu who practices at dawn a certain kind of meditation but knows its effects. This is the "Fire that gives knowledge of the future." It is the "Deity in the shape of Akasha pervading all things."

A Yogi (however named) generally performs his wonders by means of Will-power and Kriyashakti, or the mysterious power of thought. It was in this way that the Third race created the so-called Sons of Will and Yoga, the spiritual forefathers of all the subsequent and present Arhats, Mahatmas, in a truly immaculate way. They were created, not begotten; for creation is the result of Will acting on phenomenal matter, and calling forth out of it primordial Light and Life. The unbound soul of the Yogi is limited by neither time nor space; nor obstructed by obstacles; nor prevented from seeing, hearing, feeling or knowing anything it likes, on the instant; no matter how distant or hidden the thing the Yogi would see, feel, hear or know. The soul has potentially, in short, the qualities of omniscience and omnipotence, and the object in the pursuit of this knowledge -- Yoga Vidya -- is to develop them fully.

The unveiling of the soul's senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, and the awakening of its Will-power, may be compared with that change which comes to the bodily senses and will, when the child emerges from its foetal home into the outer world. All the physical faculties it will ever exercise were potentially in the babe before birth, but latent. And yet this contrast affords but a very meagre idea of that contrast which exists between the dormant powers of the soul in the man of matter, and the transcendent reach of these same powers in the fully-trained Yogi. Rather compare the shining star with a yellow taper. While average mortals maintain their perceptions only during the day, the initiated Yogi has an equally real, undimmed, and perfect appreciation of his individual existence at night, while his body sleeps. He can go even further, he can voluntarily paralyze his vital functions so that his body shall lie like a corpse, the heart still, the lungs collapsed, animal heat transferred to the interior surfaces; the vital machine stopped, as it were, like a clock which waits only the key that re-winds it, to resume its beating. What nature does for the scores of hibernating quadrupeds, reptiles and insects under the spontaneous action of her established laws, the Yogi effects for his physical body by long practice, and the intense concentration of an undaunted will.

Concentration, or Yoga, is said by Patanjali to be the hindering of the modifications of the thinking principle, or the mind. "The state of abstract meditation may be obtained by profound devotedness toward the Supreme Spirit considered in its comprehensible manifestation as Ishwara. Ishwara is a spirit, untouched by troubles, works, fruits of works, or desires. In Ishwara becomes infinite that omniscience which in man exists but as a germ." Thus Yoga is the practice of meditation as a means of leading to spiritual liberation. Psychological powers are obtained thereby, and induced ecstatic states lead to the clear and correct perception of the eternal truths, in both the visible and invisible universe. "In the esoteric system Concentration (Yoga, Samadhi) is divided into five roots, which are said in that philosophy to be the agents in producing a highly moral life, leading to sanctity and liberation. When the latter are reached, the two spiritual roots lying latent in the body (Atma and Buddhi) will send out shoots and blossom."

The story is related of two Yogis, Ananta and Maricha, primitive Rishis of old who lived in the days of the Ramayana of India, but whose names when examined indicate these two personages were far more than this tale would imply. The former, Ananta, dwelt in a hermitage with civilization all around him, while the latter, Maricha, lived in the center of a dense forest. The practice of severe penitential austerities was carried to excess by Maricha, who had stood on his head for a series of years; for a similar period upon one leg; had hung suspended from a tree with his head down, or stood motionless for a long time gazing at the sun. ... While Maricha scrupled on account of his vow of renunciation to wear any clothing but woven bark, and even renounced all action itself, Ananta wore fine and clean cotton garments, without being attached to or taking any pride in them, and took part in useful action without looking to reward.

Even in the performance of Yoga, or the internal contemplation and self-union, Ananta differed from Maricha. The latter, following his mystic, thaumaturgic bent, was full of internal visions and revelations. Sometimes, according to the mystic school of Paithana, sitting cross-legged, meditating at midnight at the foot of a banyan-tree, with his two thumbs closing his ears, and his little fingers pressed upon his eyelids, he saw rolling before him gigantic fiery wheels, masses of serpent shapes, clusters of brilliant jewels. ... Internal, spontaneous, unproduced music (anahata) vibrated on his ear. At other times, he followed the path laid down by the more ancient and profounder school of Alandi, and sought to attain, and sometimes deemed that he had attained, the condition of the illuminated Yogi as described by Krishna to his friend Arjuna in the sixth Adhyaya of that most mystic of all mystic books, the Dnyaneshvari. Ananta, without condemning such visions, and the pursuit after such a transfiguration and rejuvenescence, without expressing disbelief, or daring to pronounce them hallucinations, simply declared that his own experience had furnished him with none such. Admitting the infinite possibilities of the spiritual world and the internal life, he looked with wonder and respect on Maricha, but contented himself with the humbler exercise of fixing the contemplations of his spirit on the infinite moral beauty and goodness of the divine nature, and endeavoring by contemplation, to transform himself to some likeness of the eternal love. While Maricha, notwithstanding the natural timidity of his nature, came down from the mount of contemplation with a wild and terrible splendor on his brow, and a crazed, unearthly expression, which scared his fellowmen -- Ananta "returned" with a glow of sweetness and love, that encouraged and drew them towards him....

Meditation is silent and unuttered prayer, or as Plato expresses it, "the ardent turning of the soul toward the divine; not to ask for any particular good but for good itself -- for the universal Supreme Good," of which we are a part on earth, and out of the essence of which we have all emerged. "The mind, when united with the soul and fully conversant with knowledge, embraces universally all objects. In the ascetic who has acquired the accurate discriminative knowledge of the truth and of the nature of the soul, there arises (spontaneously) a knowledge of all existences in their essential natures and mastery over them. Perfection in meditation comes from persevering devotion to the Supreme Soul." That which hinders man today in the acquirement of soul perceptions is the dormancy of his spiritual organs. With earlier races of the human period such faculties were normal in their functioning. According to The Secret Doctrine, "When the Fourth race arrived at its middle age, the inner vision -- that of the 'third eye' -- had to be awakened, and acquired by artificial stimulus, the process of which was known to the old sages. The third eye, getting gradually petrified, soon disappeared. During the activity of the inner man (during trances and spiritual visions) the eye swells and expands. The Arhat sees and feels it, and regulates his action accordingly." The inner sight could henceforth be acquired only through training and initiation, save in the cases of "natural and born magicians." The "deva-eye" exists no more for the majority of mankind. The third eye is dead, and acts no longer. But it has left behind a witness to its existence, which is now the pineal gland. The latter has become an atrophied organ, as little understood now by physiologists as the spleen is.

During human life the greatest impediment in the way of spiritual development, and especially to the acquirement of Yoga powers, is the activity of our physiological organs. Sexual action being closely connected, by interaction, with the spinal cord and the grey matter of the brain, it is useless to give any longer explanation. Of course, the normal and abnormal state of the brain, and the degree of active work in the medulla oblongata, reacts powerfully on the pineal gland, for, owing to the number of "centres" in that region, which controls by far the greater majority of the physiological actions of the animal economy -- and also owing to the close and intimate neighborhood of the two -- there must be exerted a very powerful "inductive" action by the medulla on the pineal gland.

"When, O Arjuna, a man hath renounced all intentions and is devoid of attachment to action in regard to objects of sense, then he is called one who has ascended to meditation."

Next article:

Back to the complete list of the

Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".


(1) NOTE.--Collated from standard Theosophical sources.
Back to text.

Main Page | Introductory Brochure | Volume 1--> Setting the Stage
Karma and Reincarnation | Science | Education | Economics | Race Relations
The WISDOM WORLD | World Problems & Solutions | The People*s Voice | Misc.