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|The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 3 - Union achieved and its Results|
|39. By subjugation
of the upward life (the udana) there is liberation from water, the thorny path, and mire,
and the power of ascension is gained.
Pervading the whole body is that sum total of nervous force, called by the Hindu, prana. It is controlled by the mind via the brain; it is the vitality which brings into activity the sense-organs and produces the outward-going life of the man; its medium of distribution is the nervous system through certain great distributing centers called plexi, or lotuses. The nerve ganglia known  to orthodox medicine, are the reflections or shadows of the more vital plexi. The student will not go far astray if he regards the sum total of prana in the human body as constituting the vital or etheric body. This etheric body is formed entirely of energy currents, and is the substratum of living substance which underlies the dense physical form.
One term applied to this energy is the "vital airs." Prana is fivefold in its manifestation, thus corresponding to the five states of mind, the fifth principle and to the five modifications of the thinking principle. Prana in the solar system works out as the five great states of energy which we call planes, the medium of consciousness; these are:
The five differentiations of prana in the human body are:
In this sutra we are told that by mastery of the fourth of these vital airs, certain definite results can be achieved and it will be interesting to note what they are. This mastery only becomes possible as the Raja Yoga system is understood and mastered, for it involves the capacity to function in the head and to control the entire nature from the point within the brain. When a man becomes polarized there, then the nervous force or energy found in the top of the head becomes active and through its correct control and through mastery of it, the right direction of the pranas of the body becomes possible and man reaches liberation; through it, non-contact in the three worlds is brought about. The language used is necessarily symbolic and its meaning must not be lost through a materialising of its real significance. Levitation, the power to walk on water, and ability to withstand the gravitational pull of the earth is its lowest and least important significance. 
When these three aspects of freedom have been gained and the man is no longer dominated by the water, the mire or physical plane life, then "the power of ascension" is gained and he can ascend into heaven at will. The Christ or spiritual man can stand upon the mountain of ascension, having passed through the four crises or points of control from the birth to the crucifixion. Thus the "udana" or upward life becomes the controlling factor and the downward life no longer dominates.
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