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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 2 - The Steps to Union
10. These five hindrances, when subtly known, can be overcome by an opposing mental attitude.

The words "subtly known" could be paraphrased as "when realized by the inner man," and the thought back of the words has been well explained by Dvivedi in his Comment as follows:

"Having described the nature of 'distractions,' the author points out the way to suppress them. They are divided into two kinds, subtle and gross. The first are those which exist in a dormant condition in the form of impressions, whereas the second are those that are concretely affecting the mind. The first can be completely suppressed only by gaining mastery over the whole of their support, viz. the thinking principle." [140]

This is the first work of the aspirant to yoga. He must realize the nature of the obstacles and then set in to overcome them, doing the work from the mental plane. He has to gain control of the apparatus of thought; then he has to learn how to use that apparatus, and when this has been accomplished, he begins to offset the hindrances by counter currents. The hindrances themselves are the result of wrong habits of thought and the misuse of the thinking principle. When they are subtly known as the seeds which produce the "obstacle-producing forms," then they can be exterminated in the latent stages by right habits of thought resulting in the setting up of the liberty-producing means.

Ignorance (avidya) must be supplanted by the true vidya or knowledge, and as is well know, in this fourth race on this fourth globe and in the fourth round, the four vidyas and the four noble truths and the four basic elements form the sum total of this knowledge.

The four vidyas of the Hindu philosophy might be enumerated as follows:

  1. Yajna Vidya - The performance of religious rights in order to produce certain results. Ceremonial magic. Is concerned with sound, therefore with the Akasha or the ether of space. The "Yajna" is the invisible deity who pervades space.
  2. Mahavidya - The great magic knowledge. It has degenerated into Tantrika worship. Deals with the feminine aspect, or the matter (mother) aspect. The basis of black magic. True mahayoga [141] has to do with the form (2nd aspect) and its adaptation to Spirit and its needs.
  3. Guyha vidya - The science of mantrams. The secret knowledge of mystic mantrams. The occult potency of sound, of the Word.
  4. Atman vidya - True spiritual wisdom.

The four noble truths have been stated for us in the words of the Buddha in the following terms:

"Now the Exalted One thus addressed the brethren:

"Through not understanding, though not penetrating the Four Aryan Truths, brethren, we have run on and wandered round this long, long journey (or rebirth), both you and I. What are those four?

The Aryan Truth of Ill: the Aryan Truth of the Arising of Ill: the Aryan Truth of the Ceasing of Ill: the Aryan Truth of the Way leading to the Ceasing of Ill.

But, brethren, when these Four Aryan Truths are understood and penetrated, then is uprooted the craving for existence, cut off is the thread that leadeth to rebirth, then is there no more coming to be.'

Thus spake the Exalted One. When the Happy One had thus spoken, the Master added this further:

Blind to the Fourfold Aryan Truths of things,
And blind to see things as they really are,
Long was our journeying thro' divers births.
Gone is the cord of life when these are seen.
No more becoming when Ill's root is cut."

The four elements have been stated for us in the following extract from the Secret Doctrine (I. 95):

"The Golden Egg was surrounded by seven natural Elements, four ready (ether, fire, air, water), three secret." [142]

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