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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 4 - Illumination
15. These two, consciousness and form, are distinct and separate; though forms may be similar, the consciousness may function on differing levels of being.

This sutra should not be considered apart from the succeeding one, which predicates the fact of the one Mind, or the one Life being the potent cause of all differentiated lesser minds and lives. This must ever be realized. Three main thoughts therefore lie involved in this sutra.

First, that there are two main lines of evolution, that which concerns matter and form, and that which concerns the soul, the consciousness aspect, the thinker in manifestation. For each of these the path of progress differs and each pursues its course. As has been noted, for a long period of time, the soul identifies itself with the form aspect and endeavors to follow the "Path of Death" for that is what the dark path is in fact to the thinker. Later, through strenuous effort, this identification ceases; the soul becomes aware of itself, and of its own path, or dharma, and follows then the way of light and of life. It should ever be borne in mind, however, that for the two aspects their own path is the right path and that the impulses which lie hidden in the physical [403] vehicle or in the astral body are not in themselves wrong. They became wrong from certain angles when twisted from their right use, and it was this realization that led the disciple in the Book of Job to cry out and say "I have perverted that which was right." The two lines of development are separate and distinct, and this every aspirant has to learn.

When this is grasped, he seeks to aid the evolution of his forms in two ways; first by refusing to identify himself with them, and secondly, by stimulating them.

Through the bringing in of spiritual force, he will also realize the point in evolution at which his brothers stand, and cease to criticise them for what may be to him wrong action, but which is for them the natural activity of the form during the cycle wherein form and soul are identified and considered the same.

The second main line of thought involved in Sutra 15 is more difficult to express. It lends color and veracity to the contention of many thinkers that things exist and have form and activity only in so far as the mind of the thinker formulates them. In other words, that through the modifications of our own thinking principle we build our own world, and create our own environment. The inference, therefore, is that (given the one basic substance, spirit-matter) we weave it into forms by our own thought impulses. Others perceive that which we see, because some of the modifications of their minds are analogous to ours and their reactions and impulses are [404] similar in some respects. Yet no two people see an object in exactly the same way, "Things" or forms of matter do exist; they are created or in process of creation and for them some mind or minds are responsible. It becomes then a question as to who is responsible for the thought forms by which we are surrounded. Dvivedi's commentary and translation leans more to this second line of thought than does the paraphrase of the Tibetan, and it is of profit to study it, for in the approach of many minds to a problem, its magnitude can be appreciated, idle and light conclusions are avoided, and approximation to truth becomes possible. The synthetic point of view is nearer to universal truth than is the specialized. He says:

"Though things are similar, the cause of mind and things is distinct in consequence of the difference of minds."

"The preceding considerations establish, in an indirect manner, the existence of things as objects external to the mind. The Vijnanavadi-Buddhas who maintain that things are but the reflections of our thinking principle, would object to such a position. The objection could not bear examination, for the existence of things apart from the thinking principle is certain. Though there is, indeed, complete similarity among objects of the same class, still the way in which the objects affect the mind, and the way in which the mind is affected by them, are entirely distinct. Hence objects exist out of the thinking principle. Though objects are similar they are not presented to different minds in the same light, which shows [405] that they are apart from the mind. Again, we often hear more than one person saying that he has seen the same object as is seen by another. This would prove that though the object is one, the cognizers are many. This circumstance proves the distinction of the object and the mind. Again the seer and the sight, i. e., the mind and the object or the instrument of knowledge and the object of knowledge cannot be one and the same, for then all distinctive knowledge will be impossible, which, however, is absurd. To attempt a solution of this difficulty by saying that eternal vasana of the form of external objects is the cause of all our distinctive knowledge is useless, for that which has already spent itself cannot become the cause. Hence objective existence must be granted as independent of the subject. Nor should it be imagined how one substance (viz. Prakriti) could produce in this case all the multifarious differences of our experience, for the three gunas and their various combinations in different degrees are enough to account for all that. In the case of Yogins properly enlightened it is but proper that knowledge having produced in them supreme Vairagya they do not care for the gunas, which also assume a state of equilibrium and produce no effect."

The third line of thought deals more specifically with the realization aspect, or with the condition of awareness of the indwelling thinker and is therefore of immediate practical value to the student of Raja Yoga. It involves certain questions which might be expressed as follows: [406]

  1. On what level of being or of realization (for the thought is identical to the occult student) do I function?
  2. Do I identify myself with the form or with the soul?
  3. Which path am I following, the high way of the soul, or the low way of matter?
  4. Am I in a transition period, wherein my realization is being transferred from the lower to the higher consciousness?
  5. Though in the body, is it just my instrument, and am I awake on another plane of awareness ?

These, and similar questions are of profound value to the aspirant, if asked sincerely and answered truthfully, as in the presence of God and of the Master.

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