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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 3 - Union achieved and its Results
21. By concentrated meditation upon the distinction between form and body, those properties of the body which make it visible to the human eye are negated (or withdrawn) and the yogi can render himself invisible.

This is one of the most difficult of the sutras to the western thinker for it involves certain [281] recognitions which are foreign to the occident. It involves primarily the recognition of the etheric or vital body and its functions as the attractive force holding the dense physical vehicle in shape. Through this etheric substratum the physical body is realized as a coherent whole and its objectivity is observable. This vital body is the true form from the standpoint of the occultist and not the dense tangible sheath.

The yogi, through concentration and meditation, has acquired the power to center his consciousness in the true or spiritual man and to control the thinking principle. It is an occult law that "as a man thinketh, so is he" and it is equally true occultly that "where a man thinketh there is he." At will the trained seer can withdraw his consciousness from the physical plane and center it on the mental. At will he can "shut off the light and when that is the case visibility is negated and (from the standpoint of the human eye) he disappears. He also becomes intangible from the point of view of touch, and inaudible from the standpoint of hearing. It is this fact that demonstrates the reality of the hypothesis that there is nothing but energy of some form or other, and that that energy is triple; in the East they call the nature of energy sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic. That is translated as follows:

Sattva rhythm spirit life
Rajas mobility soul light
Tamas inertia body substance
All are differentiations in time and space of the one eternal primordial spirit-essence. It may [282] be suggested that the modern western correspondences are to be found in the terms:
Energy spirit life
Force soul light
Matter form substance
The outstanding characteristic of spirit (or energy) is the life-principle, that mysterious something which causes all things to be and to persist. The outstanding characteristic of the soul (or of force) is light. It brings into visibility that which exists.

The outstanding characteristic of living matter is that it is that which "substands" or is found back of the objective body; and provides the true form. It should be remembered here that the basis of all occult teaching and of all phenomena is to be found in the words:

"Matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of soul on this plane of existence; and soul is the vehicle on a higher turn of the spiral for the manifestation of spirit." (Secret Doctrine I, 80.)

When the soul (or force) withdraws itself out of the matter aspect (the tangible objective form), that form is no longer to be seen. It disappears, and temporarily is dissipated. At present this can be adequately accomplished by the seer through a concentration of his consciousness in the ego, the spiritual man or soul, and (through the use of the thinking principle and an act of the will) his withdrawal of the etheric body from the dense physical. This is covered by the word "abstraction" and entails: [283]

  1. A gathering together of the life or vital forces of the body into the physical plane nerve centers up the spine,
  2. Their direction up the spine to the head,
  3. Their concentration there and subsequent abstraction along the thread or sutratma, via the pineal gland and the brahmarandra,
  4. The seer then stands in his true form, the etheric body, which is invisible to the human eye. As etheric vision develops in the race this will necessitate a further abstraction, then the seer will likewise withdraw the vital and luminous principles (the qualities of sattva and of rajas) out of the etheric body and stand in his kamic or astral body and thus be also etherically invisible. However, that time is still distant.

W. Q. Judge, in his commentary, makes certain interesting remarks, as follows:

"Another great difference between this philosophy and modern science is here indicated. The schools of today lay down the rule that if there is a healthy eye in line with the rays of light reflected from an object - such as a human body the latter will be seen, and that no action of the mind of the person looked at can inhibit the functions of the optic nerves and retina of the onlooker. But the ancient Hindus held that all things are seen by reason of that differentiation of Satwa - one of the three great qualities composing all things - which is manifested as luminosity, operating in conjunction with the eye, which is also a manifestation of Satwa in another aspect. The two must conjoin; the absence of luminosity [284] or its being disconnected from the seer's eye will cause a disappearance. And as the quality of luminosity is completely under the control of the ascetic, he can, by the process laid down, cheek it, and thus cut off from the eye of the other an essential element in the seeing of any object."

This entire process is only possible as the result of concentrated and one pointed meditation, and hence is impossible to the man who has not passed through the long discipline and training involved in the work of gaining control of the thinking principle and setting up that direct alignment and functioning which is possible when the thinker on his own plane, the mind, and the brain, are all aligned and coordinated via the sutratma, thread or magnetic silver cord.

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