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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 2 - The Steps to Union
23. The of the soul with the mind and thus with that which the mind perceives, produces an understanding of the nature of that which is perceived and likewise of the Perceiver.

In this sutra the attention of the student is drawn to the primary quality which he must develop, that of discrimination. Its meaning is therefore very clear. The pairs of opposites, spirit and matter, purusha and prakriti are [167] brought into close and that union must come to be recognized by the soul, the perceiving consciousness. Through the process of this blending of the dualities, the soul, the thinker, comes to a comprehension of the nature which is his very own, the spiritual nature, and the nature of the phenomenal world which he perceives, contacts and uses. The organ of perception is the mind and the five senses, and from the standpoint of the soul, they form one instrument. For a long period and through many incarnations the soul or thinker identifies himself with this organ of perception and in the earlier stages with that also which he perceives through its use. He regards the phenomenal body he uses, the physical body, as himself, as witness the expression: "I am tired" or "I am hungry." He identifies himself with his body of feeling or desire, and says "I am cross," or "I want money." He identifies himself with the mental vehicle and regards himself as thinking thus and so. It is this identification which results in the theological differences, and the doctrinal and sectarian diversities everywhere to be found, and in this fifth root race and particularly in this fifth subrace this identification reaches its apotheosis. It is the era of the personal self, not of the spiritual Self. This realization of the lower nature is part of the great evolutionary process but must be followed by a realization of the other polar opposite, the spiritual Self. This is brought about by the soul beginning to practise discrimination, at first theoretically and intellectually (hence the great value [168] of the present era of criticism and polemical discussion, as it forms part of the planetary discriminative process) and later experimentally. This discrimination leads eventually to three things:

  1. An understanding of the distinction between spirit and matter,
  2. A comprehension of the nature therefore of the soul which is the product of this union, and is the son, produced by the union of the father-spirit and of the mother-matter,
  3. A development whereby the soul begins to identify itself with the spiritual aspect and not with the phenomenal world of forms. This later stage is greatly aided and hastened through the practice of Raja Yoga and hence the determination of the Hierarchy to give this science to the critical discriminating West. It should be borne in mind that the soul passes through great stages in the unifying process and that the word yoga covers the evolutionary development of the human Monad.
  1. The union of the soul with the form and its identification with the matter aspect,
  2. The union of thinking man or the self-conscious reflection in the three worlds with the spiritual man on its own plane,
  3. The union of the spiritual man or divine thinker with its Father in Heaven, the Monad or spirit aspect. Stage I covers the period from the first incarnation up to the treading of the Probationary Path. Stage II covers the period of the Probationary Path up to the third initiation [169] upon the Path of Discipleship. Stage III covers the final stages of the Path of Initiation.
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