|To Energy Enhancement Meditation Homepage Previous Next Index Table of Contents|
|The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 1 - The Problem of Union|
|30. The obstacles to soul cognition are bodily
disability, mental inertia, wrong questioning, carelessness, laziness, lack of dispassion,
erroneous perception, inability to achieve concentration, failure to hold the meditative
attitude when achieved.
Obstacle I - Bodily Disability
It is interesting to note that the first obstacle has relation to the physical body. Aspirants would do well to remember this and should seek to adjust the physical vehicle to the demands later to be made upon it. These adjustments will be great and they fall into four groups:
The third adjustment spoken of can only safely be undertaken after the first three means of yoga have been used and developed. These are:
This is a point often forgotten by aspirants to yoga, and hence the disasters and trouble so often seen amongst those who prematurely occupy themselves with the awakening of the centers and the arousing of the serpent fire. Only when the entire relation of the aspirant to the social economy (as dealt with in the commandments), only when the task of purifying and regulating the threefold lower nature has been worked at (as outlined in the rules), and only as a balanced and controlled condition of the emotional nature has been brought about and right poise achieved, can the aspirant to Raja Yoga safely proceed to the more esoteric and occult work connected with the fires of his little system. This point cannot be too strongly emphasized. Only at a very advanced stage of discipleship will it be safe for the man to deal consciously with the vital fires and direct  their right progression up the spine. Few there are as yet who have "kept the law and the commandments."
Obstacle II - Mental Inertia
The next great basic obstacle (for these obstacles are given in the order of their relative power over average man) is inability to think clearly about the problem of attainment. Unless clear thinking precedes action, insufficient momentum will be found coupled with failure to appreciate the magnitude of the problem. Mental inertia is due to the lethargic condition of the "vesture of consciousness" which we call the mental body and to the heavy rate of rhythm found in most people. That is the reason why Raja Yoga necessarily makes a greater appeal to mental types than to pure devotees, and it accounts for the fact that those whose mental bodies are well equipped and actively used can more quickly be trained in this sacred science. For the majority of people, the awakening of the mental body, the development of an intellectual interest, and the substitution of mind control in place of control by the emotions has to precede any later realization of the need of soul culture. The apparatus of thought must be contacted and used before the nature of the thinker can be intelligently appreciated.
When this is realized, the contribution to human development by the great schools of thought we call Mental Science, Christian Science, New Thought and other groups which lay the emphasis upon the mental states will be more justly  appraised. The human family is only now becoming aware of the "vesture of consciousness" which we call the mental body.
The majority of men have as yet to build that vesture which occult students call the mental body. From among those who are so doing, the true raja yogins will be gathered.
Obstacle III - Wrong Questioning
This is the next stage and is also dependent upon a certain amount of mental development. Some translators call this 'doubt.' This wrong questioning is that which is based upon lower perception and the identification of the real man with that illusory instrument, his mental body. This leads him to question the eternal verities, to doubt the existence of the fundamental realities and to seek for the solution of his problems in that which is ephemeral and transitory, and in the things of the senses.
There is a questioning which is right and proper. It is that "asking of questions" spoken of by the Christ in the words "Ask and ye shall receive." This faculty of enquiry is deliberately cultivated in their disciples by all true Masters in the Orient. They are taught to formulate questions about the inner realities and then to find the answer for themselves through a search for that source of all knowledge, latent at the heart of all beings. To ask intelligently and to find the answer, they must first free themselves from all outer imposed authority and from all tradition and from the imposition of every theological  dogma, whether religious or scientific. Only thus can the reality be found and the truth be seen.
Obstacle IV - Carelessness
The attitude of mind dealt with here has been translated by some as "light-mindedness." It is really that versatile mental attitude which makes one-pointedness and attention so difficult to achieve. It is literally the thought-form-making tendency of the mind stuff which has also been described as the "mind's tendency to flit from one object to another." See Book III Sutra 11.
Obstacle V - Laziness
All the commentators agree as to this translation, employing the terms, sloth, languor or laziness. This refers not so much to mental inertia (for it may accompany acute mental perception) as to that slothfulness of the entire lower man which prevents him from measuring up to the intellectual recognition and the inner aspiration. The aspirant has been told what he has to do, the "means of yoga" have been clear to him. He has glimpsed the ideal and is aware of the obstacles; he knows theoretically just what steps he has to take but there is no correspondence between his activity and his knowledge. There is a gap between his aspiration and his performance.  Though he longs to achieve and to know, it is too hard work to fulfil the conditions. His will is not yet strong enough to force him forwards. He permits time to slip by and does nothing.
Obstacle VI - Lack of dispassion
This has been well translated by some as "addiction to objects." This is the desire for material and sensuous things. It is love of sense perceptions and attraction for all that brings a man back again and again into the condition of physical plane existence. The disciple has to cultivate "dispassion" or that attitude which never identifies itself with forms of any kind, but which is ever detached and aloof, freed from limitations imposed by possessions and belongings. This is covered in many places in the various sutras and need not be enlarged upon here.
Obstacle VII - Erroneous perception
This inability to perceive correctly and to vision things as they really are, is the natural outcome of the six previous obstacles. As long as the thinker identifies himself with form, as long as the lesser lives of the lower vestures of consciousness can hold him in thrall, and as long as he refuses to separate himself from the material aspect, just so long will his perceptions remain erroneous. Vision is of various kinds and these might be enumerated as follows:
By the study of these types of perception, the student will arrive at a just appreciation of the work he has to do. He is thus aided to place himself where he at present stands, and consequently to prepare intelligently for the next step forward.
Obstacle VIII - Inability to achieve Concentration
The two last obstacles indicate the way whereby "old things can pass away" and the new man come into his heritage. The method of the disciple must not only include self-discipline or the subjugation of the vestures or sheaths, nor must it only include service or identification with group consciousness, but it must also include the two stages of concentration, focusing or control of the mind, and meditation, the steady process of pondering upon what the soul has contacted and knows. These two will later be dealt with and will not be further touched upon here.
Obstacle IX - Failure to hold the Meditative Attitude
It will be apparent therefore that the first six obstacles deal with wrong conditions and the last three with the results of those conditions. They contain a hint as to the method whereby liberation from the wrong states of consciousness can be effected.
The next sutra is most interesting as it deals with the effects produced in each of the four bodies  of the lower nature. in the case of the man who has not overcome the obstacles.
|To Energy Enhancement Meditation Homepage Previous Next Index Table of Contents|
|Last updated Monday, February 2, 1998 Energy Enhancement Meditation.|