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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 4 - Illumination
3. The practices and methods are not the true cause of the transfer of consciousness, but they serve to remove obstacles, just as the husbandman prepares his ground for sowing.

This is one of the simplest and clearest of the sutras and needs but little comment. The practices refer primarily to:

1. The means for removing obstacles. (See Book I. Sutras 29 to 39) This is affected, we are told earlier, by:

  1. Steady application to a principle,
  2. Sympathy with all beings,
  3. Regulation of the prana or life-breath,
  4. Steadiness of the mind,
  5. Meditation upon light,
  6. Purification of the lower nature,
  7. The understanding of the dream state, [384]
  8. The way of devotion.

2. The way of eliminating obstructions. (See Book II. Sutras 2 to 33.) These obstructions are eliminated by:

  1. An opposing mental attitude,
  2. Meditation,
  3. The cultivation of right thought.

They concern more specifically the life preparation for the true training in yoga practice, and when practiced, bring the entire lower nature into such a condition that the more drastic methods can produce rapid effects.

The methods refer to the eight means of yoga or union, enumerated as follows: the commandments, the rules, posture or attitude, right control of the life force, abstraction, attention, meditation and contemplation. (See Book II. Sutras 29 to 54, and Book III. Sutras 1 to 12.)

The Commandments, the Rules, posture of attitude, right control of the life force, abstraction, attention, meditation and contemplation.

It might be noted, therefore, that we could refer the practices more specifically to that stage in the life of the aspirant in which he is upon the probationary path, the path of purification, whilst the methods relate to the final stages of that path, and to the path of discipleship. When the practices and methods are followed they bring about certain changes within the forms occupied by the real or spiritual man, but are not the main cause of the transfer of his consciousness to the soul aspect and away from the body aspect. That great change is the result of certain causes, [385] extraneous to the body-nature, such as the divine origin of the man, the fact that the Christ or the soul consciousness is found latent within those forms, and the urge of the evolutionary process which carries the life of God within all forms onward into ever fuller expression. It should be remembered that as the one Life in Whom we live and move and have our being, moves on to greater achievement, so the cells and atoms in His body are correspondingly influenced, stimulated and developed.

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