|The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 2 - The Steps to Union|
|32. Internal and external purification, contentment,
fiery aspiration, spiritual reading and devotion to Ishvara constitutes nijama (or the
As said above, these five rules govern the life of the lower personal self and form the basis of character. The yoga practices which so much interest the western thinker and aspirant, and which lure him on with their apparent ease of accomplishment and richness of reward (such as psychic unfoldment) are not permitted by the true guru or teacher until yama or nijama have  been established as controlling factors in the daily life of the disciple. The commandments and the rules must first be kept, and when his outer conduct to his fellowmen and his inner discipline of life is brought into line with these requirements, then he can safely proceed with the forms and rituals of practical yoga, but not till then.
It is the failure to recognize this that leads to so much of the trouble among students of yoga in the west. There is no better basis for the work of Eastern occultism than strict adherence to the requirements laid down by the Master of all the Masters in the Sermon on the Mount, and the self-disciplined Christian, pledged to purity of life and unselfish service, can take up the practise of yoga much more safely than his more worldly and selfish yet intellectual brother. He will not run the risks that his unprepared brother takes.
The words "internal and external purity" relate to the three sheaths in which the self is veiled and must be interpreted in a dual sense. Every sheath has its densest and most tangible form and this must be kept clean, for there is a sense in which the astral and mental bodies can be kept cleansed from impurities coming to them from their environment, just as the physical body must be kept cleansed from similar impurities. The subtler matters of those bodies must be kept equally cleansed and this is the basis of that study of magnetic purity which is the cause of so many observances in the East which seem inexplicable to the Westerner. A shadow cast upon food by  a foreigner produces impure conditions; this is based upon the belief that certain types of force emanations produce impure conditions and though the method of counteracting these conditions may savor of dead letter ritual yet the thought back of the observance remains still the truth. So little is as yet known about force emanations from the human being, or acting upon the human mechanism, that what may be called "scientific purification" is as yet in its infancy.
Contentment is productive of conditions wherein the mind is at rest; it is based upon the recognition of the laws governing life and primarily the law of karma. It produces a state of mind wherein all conditions are regarded as correct and just, and as those in which the aspirant can best work out his problem and achieve the goal for any specific life. This does not entail a settling down and an acquiescence producing inertia, but a recognition of present assets, an availing oneself of one's opportunities and letting them form a background and a basis for all future progress. When this is done rightly the three remaining rules can be more easily kept.
Fiery aspiration will be dealt with more fully in the next book, but it is well to point out here that this quality of "going forth" towards the ideal or of straining towards the objective must be so profound in the aspirant to yoga that no difficulties can turn him back. Only when this quality has been developed and proved and when it is found that no problem, no darkness and no  time element can hinder, is a man permitted to become the disciple of some Master. Fiery effort, steady persistent longing and enduring faithfulness to the ideal visioned are the sine qua non of discipleship. These characteristics must be found in all three bodies. leading to the constant disciplining of the physical vehicle, the steady orientation of the emotional nature and the mental attitude which enables a man to "count all things but loss" if he can only arrive at his goal.
Spiritual reading will be found to concern the development of the sense of subjective realities. It is fostered by study as understood in the physical sense, and by the endeavor to arrive at the thoughts which words convey. It is developed by a close scrutiny of the causes which lie back of all desires, aspirations and feelings, and thus is related to the desire or astral plane. It deals with the reading of symbols or geometrical forms ensouling an idea or thought and this concerns the mental plane. This will be dealt with later in Book III.
Devotion to Ishvara may be briefly stated to constitute the attitude of the lower threefold self to the service of the ego, the inner ruler, the God or Christ within. This will be triple in its manifestation, bringing that lower personal self into a life of obedience to the Master within the heart; eventually bringing the aspirant into the group of some adept or spiritual teacher, and leading him also into devoted service to Ishvara or the divine Self as found in the hearts of all men and back of all forms of divine manifestation.
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