Constant Inner Practice




Energy Enhancement Enlightened Texts Yoga Yoga Sutras of Patanjali











Book 1, Sutra 11


Book 1, Sutra 12


Book 1, Sutra 13


Man is not only his conscious mind. He has also nine times more than the conscious, the unconscious layer of the mind. Not only that, man has the body, the soma, in which this mind exists. The body is absolutely unconscious. Its working is almost non-voluntary. Only the surface of the body is voluntary. The inner sources are non-voluntary; you cannot do anything about them. Your will is not effective.

This pattern of man's existence has to be understood before one can enter into oneself. And the understanding should not remain only intellectual. It must go deeper. It must penetrate the unconscious layers; it must reach to the very body itself.

Hence, the importance of abhyasa -- constant inner practice. These two words are very significant: abhyasa and vairagya. Abhyasa means constant inner practice, and vairagya means non-attachment, desirelessness. The coming sutras of Patanjali are concerned with these two most significant concepts, but before we enter the sutras, that this, the pattern of human personality, is not totally intellectual, has to be firmly grasped.

If it was only intellect, then there would be no need for abhyasa -- constant, repetitive effort. You can understand immediately anything, if it is rational, through the mind, but just that understanding won't do. You can understand easily anger is bad, poisonous, but this understanding is not enough for the anger to leave you, to disappear. In spite of your understanding the anger will continue, because the anger exists in many layers of your unconscious mind -- not only in the mind, but in your body also.

The body cannot understand just by verbal communication. Only your head can understand, but the body remains unaffected. And unless understanding reaches to the very roots of the body, you cannot be transformed. You will remain the same. Your ideas may go on changing, but your personality will persist. And then a new conflict will arise. And you will be in more turmoil than ever, because now you can see what is wrong and still you persist doing it; you go on doing it.

A self-guilt and condemnation is created. You start hating yourself; you start thinking yourself a sinner. And the more you understand, the more condemnation grows, because you see how it is difficult, almost impossible, to change yourself.

Yoga does not believe in intellectual understanding. It believes in bodily understanding in a total understanding in which your wholeness is involved. Not only you change in your head, but the deep sources of your being also change.

How they can change? Constant repetition of a particular practice becomes non-voluntary. If you do a particular practice constantly -- just repeating it continuously by and by it drops from the conscious, reaches to the unconscious and becomes part of it Once it becomes part of the unconscious, it starts functioning from that deep source.

Anything can become unconscious if you go on repeating it continuously. For example, your name has been repeated so constantly from your childhood. Now it is not part of the conscious, it has become part of the unconscious. You may be sleeping with one hundred persons in a room, and if somebody comes and calls "Ram? Is Ram there?" ninety-nine persons who are not concerned with the name will go on sleeping. They will not be disturbed. But the person who has the name "Ram" will suddenly ask, "Who is calling me? Why are you disturbing my sleep?"

Even in sleep, he knows his name is Ram. How this name has reached so deep? Just by constant repetition. Everybody is repeating his name; everybody is calling he himself, introducing himself. Continuous use. Now it is not conscious. It has reached to the unconscious

The language, your mother tongue, becomes a part of the unconscious. Whatsoever else you learn later on will never be so unconscious; it will remain conscious. That's why your unconscious language will continuously affect your conscious language.

If a German speaks English, it is different; if a Frenchman speaks English, it is different; if an Indian speaks English, it is different. The difference is not in English, the difference is in their innermost patterns. The Frenchman has a different pattern -- unconscious pattern. That affects. So whatsoever you learn later on will be affected by your mother tongue. And if you fall unconscious, then only your mother tongue can penetrate.

I remember one of my friends who was a Maharashtrian. He was in Germany for twenty years or even more. For twenty years he was using German language. He has completely forgotten his own mother tongue, Marathi. He couldn't read it, he couldn't talk in it. Consciously, the language was completely forgotten because it was not used.

Then he was ill. And in that illness sometimes he would become unconscious. Whenever he will become unconscious, a totally different type of personality will evolve. He will start behaving in a different way. In his unconscious he will utter words from Marathi, not from German. When he was unconscious, then he will utter words which are from Marathi language. And after his unconscious, when he will come back to the conscious, for few minutes he will not be able to understand German.

Constant repetition in the childhood goes deeper because the child has no conscious really. He has more of unconscious just near the surface; everything enters into the unconscious. As he will learn, as he will get educated, the conscious will become a thicker layer -- then less and less penetration towards the unconscious.

Psychologists say that almost fifty percent of your learning is finished by the seventh year of your age. The seventh year of your life, you have almost known half of the things that you are ever going to know. Your half education is finished, and this half is going to be the base. Now everything else will be just imposed on it. And the deeper pattern will remain of the childhood.

That's why modern psychology, modern psychoanalysis, psychiatry, they all try to penetrate in your childhood, because if you are mentally ill, somewhere the seed is to be found in your childhood-not now. The pattern must be located there in your childhood. Once that deep pattern is located, then something can be done and you can be transformed.

But how to penetrate it? Yoga has a method. That method is called abhyasa. Abhyasa means constant, repetitive practice of a certain thing. Why, through repetition, something becomes unconscious? There are few reasons for it.

If you want to learn something, you will have to repeat it. Why? If you read a poem just once, you may remember few words here and there, but if you read it twice, thrice, many more times, then you can remember lines, paragraphs. If you repeat it a hundred times, then you can remember it as a whole pattern. If you repeat it even more, then it may continue, persist in your memory for years. You may not be able to forget it.

What is happening? When you repeat a certain thing, the more you repeat, the more it is engraved on the brain cells. A constant repetition is a constant hammering. Then it is engrained. It becomes a part of your brain cells. And the more it becomes a part of your brain cells, less consciousness is needed Your consciousness can move; now it is not needed.

So whatsoever you learn deeply, for it you need not be conscious. In the beginning, if you learn driving, how to drive a car, then it is a conscious effort. That's why it is so much trouble, because you have to be alert continuously, and there are so many things to be aware -- the road, the traffic, the mechanism, the wheel, the accelerator, the brakes, and everything, and the rules and regulations of the road. You have to be constantly aware of everything. So you are so much involved in it, it becomes arduous, it becomes a deep effort.

But by and by, you will be able to completely forget everything. You will drive; driving will become unconscious. You need not bring your mind to it, you can go on thinking anything you like, you can be anywhere you like, and the car will move unconsciously. Now your body has learned it. Now the whole mechanism knows it. It has become an unconscious learning.

Whenever something becomes so deep that you need not be conscious about it, it falls into the unconscious. And once the thing has fallen into the unconscious, it will start changing your being, your life, your character. And the change will be effortless now; you need not be concerned with it. Simply you will move in the directions where the unconscious is leading you.

Yoga has worked very much on abhyasa, constant repetition. This constant repetition is just to bring your unconscious into work. And when unconscious starts functioning, you are at ease. No effort is needed; things become natural. It is said in old scriptures that a sage is not one who has a good character, because even that consciousness shows that the "anti" still exists, the opposite still exists. A sage is one who cannot do bad, cannot think about it. The goodness has become unconscious; it has become like breathing. Whatsoever he is going to do will be good. It has become so deep in his being that no effort is needed. It has become his life. So you cannot say a sage is a good man. He doesn't know what is good, what is bad. Now there is no conflict. The good has penetrated so deeply that there is no need to be aware about it.

If you are aware about your goodness, the badness still exists side by side. And there is a constant struggle. And every time you have to move into action, you have to choose: "I have to do good; I have not to do bad." And this choice is going to be a deep turmoil, struggle, a constant inner violence, inner war. And if conflict is there, you cannot be at ease, at home.

Now we should enter the sutra. The cessation of mind is yoga, but how can the mind, and its modifications, cease?


Two things -- how the mind can cease with all its modifications: one -- abhyasa, persistent inner practice, and second -- non-attachment. Non-attachment will create the situation, and persistent practice is the technique to be used in that situation. Try to understand both.

Whatsoever you do, you do because you have certain desires. And those desires can be fulfilled only by doing certain things. Unless those desires are dropped your activities cannot be dropped. You have some investment in those activities, in those actions. This is one of the dilemmas of human character and mind, that you may want to stop certain actions because they lead you into misery.

But why you do them? You do them because you have certain desires, and those desires cannot be fulfilled without doing them. So these are two things. One, you have to do certain things. For example, anger. Why you get angry? You get angry only when somewhere, somehow, someone creates a hindrance. You are going to achieve something, and someone creates a hindrance. Your desire is obstructed. You get angry.

You can get angry even with things. If you are moving, and you are trying to reach somewhere immediately, and a chair comes in the way, you get angry with the chair. You try to unlock the door and the key is not working, you become angry with the door. It is absurd, because to be angry with a thing is nonsense. Anything that creates any type of obstruction createS anger.

You have a desire to reach, to do, to achieve something. Whosoever comes in between your desire appearS to be your enemy. You want to destroy him. This is what anger means: you want to destroy the obstacles. But anger leads in misery; anger becomes an illness. So you want not to be angry.

But how you can drop anger if you have desires goals? If you have desires and goals, then anger is bound to be there because life is complex; you are not alone here on this earth. Millions of people striving for their own desires, they criss-cross each other; they come into each other's path. If you have desires, then anger is bound to be there, frustration is bound to be there, violence is bound to be there. And whosoever comes in your path your mind will think to destroy.

This attitude to destroy the obstacle is anger. But anger creates misery, so you want not to be angry. But just wanting not to be angry will not be of much help because anger is part of a greater pattern -- of a mind which desires, a mind which has goals, a mind which wants to reach somewhere. You cannot drop anger.

So the first thing is not to desire. Then half of the possibility of anger is dropped; the base is dropped. But then too it is not necessary that anger should disappear because you have been angry for millions of years. It has become a deep-rooted habit.

You may drop desires, but anger will still persist. It will not be so forceful, but it will persist because it is now a habit. It has become unconscious habit. For many, many lives you have been carrying it. It has become your heredity. It is in your cells; the body has taken it. It is now chemical and physiological. Just by your dropping your desires your body is not going to change its pattern. The pattern is very old. You will have to change this pattern also.

For that change, repetitive practice will be needed. Just to change the inner mechanism, repetitive practice will be needed -- a reconditioning of the whole body-mind pattern. But this is possible only if you have dropped desiring.

Look at it from another point of view. One man came to me and he said, "I don't want to be sad, but I am always sad and depressed. Sometimes, I cannot even feel what is the reason why I am sad, but I am sad. No visible cause, nothing that I can pinpoint that this is the reason. It seems that it has just become my style to be sad. I don't remember," he said, "that I was ever happy. And I don't want to be sad. It is a dead burden. I am the unhappiest person. So how I can drop?"

So I asked him, "Have you got any investment in your sadness?" He said, "Why I should have any investment?" But he had. I knew the person well. I knew the person for many years, but he was not aware that there is some vested interest in it. So he wants to drop sadness, but he is not aware why the sadness is there. He has been maintaining it for some other reasons which he cannot connect.

He needs love, but to be loving... If you need love you need to be loving. If you ask for love, you have to give love, and you have to give more than you can ask. But he is a miser; he cannot give love. Giving is impossible; he cannot give anything. Just the word "giving", and he will shrink within himself. He can only take; he cannot give. He is closed as far as giving is concerned.

But without love you cannot flower. Without love you cannot attain any joy; you cannot be happy. And he cannot love because love looks like giving something. It is a giving, wholehearted giving of all that you have, your being also. He cannot give love, he cannot receive love. Then what to do? But he hankers, as everybody hankers for love. It is a basic need just like food. Without food your body will die and without love your soul will shrink. It is a must.

Then he has created a substitute, and that substitute is sympathy. He cannot get love because he cannot give love, but he can get sympathy. Sympathy is a poor substitute for love. So he is sad. When he is sad people give him sympathy. Whosoever comes to him feels sympathetic because he is always crying and weeping. His mood is always that of a very miserable man. But he enjoys! Whenever you give him sympathy he enjoys it. He becomes more miserable, because the more he is miserable, the more he can get this sympathy.

So I told him, "You have a certain investment in your sadness. This whole pattern, just sadness, cannot be dropped. It is rooted somewhere else. Don't ask for sympathy. But you can stop asking for sympathy only when you start giving love, because it is a substitute. And once you start giving love, love will happen to you. Then you will be happy. Then a different pattern is created."

I have heard, one man entered one car-park. He was in a very ridiculous posture. It looked almost impossible how he was walking, because he was crouching as if he was driving a car. His hands on some invisible wheel, moving, his feet on some invisible accelerator, and he was walking. And it was so difficult, so impossible, how he was walking. A crowd gathered there. He was doing something impossible. And they asked the attendant, "What is the matter? What this man is doing?"

The attendant said, "Don't ask loudly. The man in his past loved cars. He was one of the best drivers. He has even won a national prize in car races. But now, due to some mental deficiency, he has been debarred. He is not allowed to drive a car, but just the old hobby."

The crowd said, "If you know that, then why don't you say to him,'You don't have a car. What are you doing here?' " The man said, "That's why I said,'Don't say so loudly.' I cannot do, because one rupee per day he gives me to wash the car. That I cannot do. I cannot say that 'You have no car.' He is going to park the car, and then I will wash."

That one rupee investment, the vested interest, is there. You have many vested interests in your misery also, in your anguish also, in your illness also. And then you go on saying, "We don't want. We don't want to be angry, we don't want to be this and that." But unless you come to see how all these things have happened to you, unless you see the whole pattern, nothing can be changed.

The deepest pattern of the mind is desire. You are whatsoever you are because you have certain desires, a group of desires. Patanjali says, "First thing is non-attachment." Drop all desires; don't be attached. And then, abhyasa.

For example, someone comes to me and he says, "I don't want to collect more fat in my body, but I go on eating. I want to stop it, but I go on eating."

The wanting is superficial. There is a pattern inside, why he goes on eating more and more. And even for a few days he stops, then again with more gusto he eats. And he will collect more weight than he has lost through few days fasting or dieting. And this has been continuously, for years. It is not just a question of eating less. Why he is eating more? Body doesn't need, then somewhere in the mind food has become a substitute for something.

He may be afraid of death. People who are afraid of death eat more because eating seems to be the base of life. The more you eat, the more alive. This is the arithmetic in their mind. Because if you don't eat you die. So non-eating is equivalent to death and more eating equivalent to more life. So if you are afraid of death you will eat more, or if nobody loves you, you will eat more.

Food can become a substitute for love, because the child, in the beginning, comes to associate food and love. The first thing the child is going to be aware is mother, the food from the mother and the love from the mother. Love and food enter in his consciousness simultaneously. And whenever the mother is loving, she gives more milk. The breast is given happy. But whenever mother is angry, non-loving, she snatches the breast.

Food is taken away whenever mother is non-loving; food is given whenever she is loving. Love and food become one. In the mind, in the child's mind, they become associated. So whenever the child will get more love, he will reduce his food, because the love is so much the food is not needed. Whenever love is not there, he will eat more because a balance has to be kept. If there is no love at all, then he will fill his belly.

You may be surprised -- whenever two persons are in love, they lose fat. That's why girls start gathering fat the moment they are married. When love is settled, they start getting fat because now there is no need. The love and the world of love is, in a way, finished.

In the countries where divorce has become more prevalent, the women are showing better figures. In the countries where divorce is not prevalent, women don't bother at all about their figures, because if divorce is possible then the women will have to find new lovers; they are figure conscious. The search for love helps the body figure. When love is settled, it is finished in a way. You need not worry about the body; you need not take any care.

So this person may be afraid of death; may be he is not in any deep, intimate love with anyone. And these two are again connected. If you are in deep love, you are not afraid of death. Love is so fulfilling that you don't care what is going to happen in the future. Love itself is the fulfillment. Even if death comes, it can be welcomed. But if you are not in love, then death creates a fear; because you have not even loved yet and death is approaching near. And death will finish and there will be no more time and no future after it.

If there is no love, fear of death will be more. If there is love, less fear of death. If total love, death disappears. These are all connected inside. Even very simple things are deeply rooted in greater patterns.

Mulla Nasruddin was standing before his veterinary doctor with his dog and insisting that, "Cut the tail of my dog." The doctor was saying, "But why, Nasruddin? If I cut the tail of your dog, this beautiful dog will be destroyed. He will look ugly. And why you are insisting this?" Nasruddin said, "Between you and me, don't say this to anybody: I want the dog's tail to be cut because my mother-in-law is going to come soon and I don't want any sign of welcome in my house. I have removed everything. Only this dog, he can welcome my mother-in-law."

Even a dog's tail has a bigger pattern of so many relationships. If Nasruddin cannot welcome even through his dog his mother-in-law, he cannot be in love with his wife; it is impossible, If you are in love with your wife, you will welcome the mother-in-law. You will be loving towards her.

Simple things on the surface are deeply rooted in complex things, and everything is interrelated. So just by changing a thought nothing is changed. Unless you go to the complex pattern, uncondition it, recondition it, create a new pattern, only then a new life can arise out of it. So these two things have to be done: non-attachment, non-attachment about everything.

That doesn't mean that you stop enjoying. That misunderstanding has been there, and yoga has been misinterpreted in many ways. One is this -- it seems that yoga is saying that you die to life because non-attachment means then you don't desire anything. If you don't desire anything, if you are not attached to anything, if you don't love anything, then you will be just a dead corpse. No, that is not the meaning.

Non-attachment means don't be dependent on anything, and don't make your life and happiness dependent on anything. Preference is okay, attachment is not okay. When I say preference is okay, I mean you can prefer, you have to prefer. If many persons are there, you have to love someone, you have to choose someone, you have to be friendly with someone. Prefer someone, but don't get attached.

What is the difference? If you get attached, then it becomes an obsession. If the person is not there, you are unhappy. If you miss the person, you are in misery. And attachment is such a disease that if the person is not there you are in misery, and if the person is there you are indifferent. Then it is okay; it is taken for granted. If the person is there it is okay -- no more than that. If the person is not there, then you are in misery. This is attachment.

Preference is just the reverse. If the person is not there, you are okay; if the person is there, you feel happy, thankful. If the person is there, you don't take it for granted. You are happy, you enjoy it, you celebrate it. But if the person is not there, you are okay. You don't demand, you are not obsessed. You can also be alone and happy. You would have preferred that the person was there, but this is not an obsession.

Preference is good, attachment is disease. And a man who lives with preference lives life in deep happiness. You cannot make him miserable. You can only make him happy, more happy. But you cannot make him miserable. And a person who lives with attachment -- you cannot make him happy, you can only make him more miserable. And you know this You know this well. If your friend is there you don't enjoy much; if the friend is not there you miss much.

Just a girl came a few days before to me. She had seen me two months before also with her boyfriend. And they were constantly fighting with each other and the fight has become just an illness, so I told them to be separate for a few weeks. They said it was impossible to live together, so I sent them away separately.

So the girl was here on Christmas Eve, and she said, "These two months, I have missed my boyfriend so much! I am thinking of him constantly. Even in my dreams he has started to appear. Never before it has happened. When we were together, never I have seen him in my dreams. In my dreams I was making love to other men. But now, constantly, my boyfriend is in my dreams. And now, allow us to live together again."

So I told her, "It is okay with me; you can live together again. But just remember this: that you were living together just two months before and you were never happy."

Attachment is a disease. When you are together, you are not happy. If you have riches, you are not happy. You will be miserable if you are poor. If you are healthy, you never feel thankfulness. If you are healthy, you never feel grateful to existence. But if you are ill you are condemning whole life and existence. Everything is meaningless, and there is no God.

Even an ordinary headache is enough to cancel all gods. But when you are happy and healthy, you never feel like going to a church or a temple just to thank, "I am happy and I am healthy, and I have not earned these. These are simply gifts from you."

Mulla Nasruddin once fell in a river, and he was just going to be drowned. He was not a religious man, but suddenly, at the verge of death, he cried loudly, "Allah, God, please save me, help me, and from today, now I will pray and I will do whatsoever is written in the scriptures."

While he was saying this "God help me", he caught hold of a branch hanging over on the river. And when he was grabbing and, coming toward safety, he felt relaxed, and he said, "Now it is okay. Now you need not worry." He told again to God, "Now you need not worry. Now I am safe." Suddenly the branch broke, and he fell again. So he said, "Can't you take a simple joke?"

But this is how our minds are moving. Attachment will make you more and more miserable; preference will make you more and more happy. Patanjali is against attachment, not against preference. Everybody has to prefer. You may like one food, you may not like another. But this is just a preference. If the food of your liking is not available, then you will choose the second food and you will be happy because you know the first is not available, and whatsoever is available had to be enjoyed. You will not cry and weep. You will accept life as it happens to you.

But a person who is constantly attached with everything never enjoys anything and misses always. The whole life becomes a continuous misery. If you are not attached, you are free; you have much energy; you are not dependent on anything. You are independent, and this energy can be moved into inner effort. It can become a practice. It can become abhyasa. What is abhyasa? Abhyasa is fighting the old habitual pattern. Every religion has developed many practices, but the base is this sutra of Patanjali.

For example, whenever you get angry, make it a constant practice that before entering into the anger you will take five deep breaths. A simple practice, apparently not related to anger at all. And somebody can even laugh, "How it is going to help?" But it is going to help. Whenever you feel anger is coming, before you express it take five deep exhalations, inhalations.

What it will do? It will do many things. Anger can be only if you are unconscious, and this is a conscious effort. Just before anger you consciously breathe in and out five times. This will make your mind alert, and with alertness anger cannot enter. This will not only make your mind alert, it will make your body also alert, because more oxygen in the body, the body is more alert. In this alert moment, suddenly you will feel that the anger has disappeared.

Secondly, your mind can be only one-pointed. Mind cannot think of two things simultaneously; it is impossible for the mind. It can change from one to another very swiftly, but it cannot have two points together in the mind simultaneously. One thing at a time. Mind has a very narrow window; only one thing at a time. So if anger is there, anger is there. If you breathe in and out five times suddenly the mind is with breathing. It has diverted. Now it is moving in a different direction. And even if you move again to anger, you cannot be the same again because the moment has been lost.

Gurdjieff says that, "When my father was dying, he told me to remember only one thing: 'Whenever you are angry wait for twenty-four hours, and then do whatsoever you like. Even if you want to murder, go and murder, but wait for twenty-four hours.'"

Twenty-four hours is too much, twenty-four seconds will do. Just the waiting changes you. The energy that was flowing towards anger has taken a new route. It is the same energy. It can become anger, it can become compassion. Just give it a chance.

So old scriptures say, "If a good thought comes to your mind, don't postpone it; do it immediately. And if a bad thought comes to your mind, postpone it; never do it immediately." But we are very cunning or very clever, we think. Whenever a good thought comes we postpone it.

Mark Twain has written in his memoirs that he was listening to a priest in a church for ten minutes. The lecture was just wonderful, and he thought in his mind that, "Today I am going to donate ten dollars. The priest is wonderful. This church must be helped!" He decided for ten dollars he is going to donate after the lecture. Ten minutes more and he started thinking that ten dollars would be too much, five would do. Ten minutes more, and he thought, "This is not even worth five, this man."

Now he is not listening. He is worried about those ten dollars. He has not told anybody, but now is convincing himself that this is too much. "By the time", he says, "the lecture finished, I decided not to give anything. And when the man came before me to take the donations, the man who was moving, even I thought to take a few dollars and escape from the church!"

Mind is continuously changing. It is never static; it is a flow. If something bad is there, wait a little. You cannot fix the mind, mind is a flow. Just wait! Just wait a little, and you will not be able to do bad. If some good is there and you want to do it, do it immediately because mind is changing, and after a few minutes you will not be able to do it. So if it is a loving and kind act, don't postpone it. If it is something violent or destructive, postpone it a little.

If anger comes, postpone it even for five breaths, and you will not be able to do it. This will become a practice. Every time anger comes, first you breathe five times in and out. Then you are free to do. Go on continuously. It becomes a habit; you need not even think. The moment anger enters, immediately your mechanism starts breathing fast, deep. Within years it will become absolutely impossible for you to be angry. You will not be able to be angry.

Any practice, any conscious effort, can change your old patterns. And this is not a work which can be done immediately; it will take time -- because you have created your pattern of habits in many, many lives. Even in one life you can't change it-it is too soon.

My sannyasins come to me and they say, "When it will happen?" and I say, "Soon." And they say, "What do you mean by your 'soon', because for years you have been telling us 'soon'."

Even in one life it happens -- it is soon. Whenever it happens, it has happened before its time because you have created this pattern in so many lives. It has to be destroyed, recreated. So any time, even lives, is not too late.


The essence of abhyasa is to be centered in oneself. Whatsoever happens, you should not move immediately. First you should be centered in yourself, and from that centering you should look around and then decide.

Someone insults you and you are pulled by his insult. You have moved without consulting your center. Without even for a single moment going back to the center and then moving, you have moved

Abhyasa means inner practice. Conscious effort means, "Before I move out, I must move within. First movement must be toward my center; first I must be in contact with my center. There, centered, I will look at the situation and then decide." And this is such a tremendous, such a transforming phenomenon. Once you are centered within, the whole thing appears different; the perspective has changed. It may not look like an insult. The man may just look stupid. Or, if you are really centered, you will come to know that he is right, "This is not an insult. He has not said anything wrong about it."

I have heard that once it happened -- I don't know whether it is true or not, but I have heard this anecdote -- that one newspaper was continuously writing against Richard Nixon, continuously! -- defaming him, condemning him. So Richard Nixon went to the editor and said, "What are you doing? You are telling lies about me and you know it well!" The editor said, "Yes, we know that we are telling lies about you, but if we start telling truths about you, you will be in more trouble!"

So if someone is saying something about you he may be lying, but just look again. If he is really true, it may be worse. Or, whatsoever he is saying may apply to you. But when you are centered, you can look about yourself also dispassionately.

Patanjali says that of these two, abhyasa the inner practice-is the effort for being firmly established in oneself. Before moving into act, any sort of act, move within yourself. First be established there-even if for only a single moment -- and your action will be totally different. It cannot be the same unconscious pattern of old. It will be something new, it will be an alive response. Just try it. Whenever you feel that you are going to act or to do something, move first within, because whatsoever you have been doing up until now has become robot-like, mechanical. You go on doing it continuously in a repetitive circle.

Just note down a diary for thirty days -- from the morning to the evening, thirty days, and you will be able to see the pattern. You are moving like a machine; you are not a man. Your responses are dead. Whatsoever you do is predictable. And if you study your diary penetratingly, you may be able to decipher the pattern -- that Monday, every Monday, you are angry; every Sunday you feel sexual; every Saturday you are fighting. Or in the morning you are good, in the afternoon you feel bitter, by the evening you are against the whole world. You may see the pattern. And once you see the pattern then you can just observe that you are working like a robot. And to be a robot is what is the misery. You have to be conscious, not a mechanical thing.

Gurdjieff used to say that, "Man is machine, as he is. You become man only when you become conscious. And this constant effort to be established in oneself will make you conscious, will make you non-mechanical, will make you unpredictable, will make you free. Then someone can insult you and you can still laugh; you have never laughed before. Someone can insult you and you can feel love for the man; you have not felt that before. Someone can insult you and you can be thankful towards him. Something new is being born. Now you are creating a conscious being within yourself.

But the first thing to do before moving into act, because act means moving outward, moving without, moving toward others, going away from the self. Every act is a going away from the self. Before you go away, have a look, have a contact, have a dip in your inner being. First be established.

Before every moment, let there be a moment of meditation: this is what abhyasa is. Whatsoever you do, before doing it close your eyes, remain silent, move within. Just become dispassionate, non-attached, so you can look on as an observer, unprejudiced -- as if you are not involved, you are just a witness. And then move!

One day, just in the morning, Mulla Nasruddin's wife said to Mulla that, "In the night, while you were asleep, you were insulting me. You were saying things against me, swearing against me. What do you mean? You will have to explain." Mulla Nasruddin said, "But who says that I was asleep? I was not asleep. Just the things I want to say, I cannot say in the day. I cannot gather so much courage."

In your dreams, in your waking, you are constantly doing things, and those things are not consciously done -- as if you are being forced to do them. Even in your dreams, you are not free. This constant mechanical behavior is the bondage. So how to be established in oneself? Through abhyasa.

Sufis use continuously. Whatsoever they say, do; they sit, stand, whatsoever... Before a Sufi disciple stands, he will take Allah's name. First he will take God's name. He will sit, he will take God's name. An action is to be done -- even sitting is an action -- he will say, "Allah!" So, sitting, he will say, "Allah!" Standing he will say, "Allah!" If it is not possible to say loudly, he will say inside. Every action is done through the remembrance. And by and by, this remembrance becomes a constant barrier between him and the action -- a division, a gap.

And the more this gap grows, the more he can look at his own action as if he is not the doer. Continuous repetition of Allah, by and by, he starts seeing that only Allah is the doer. "I am not the doer. I am just a vehicle or an instrument." And the moment this gap grows, all that is evil falls. You cannot do evil. You can do evil only when there is no gap between the actor and the action. Then good flows automatically.

Greater the gap between the actor and the action, more the good. Life becomes a sacred thing. Your body becomes a temple. Anything that makes you alert, established within yourself, is abhyasa.


Two things. "Continuous practice for a long time." How much long? It will depend. It will depend on you, on each person, how long. The length will depend on the intensity. If the intensity is total, then very soon it can happen, even immediately. If the intensity is not so deep, then it will take a longer period.

I have heard one Sufi mystic, Junaid, was walking, just taking a walk outside his village in the morning. One man came running and asked Junaid that, "The capital of this kingdom... I want to reach the capital, how much long I will still have to travel? How much time it will take?"

Junaid looked at the man and, without answering him, again started walking. And the man was also going in the same direction, so the man followed. The man thought, "This old man seems to be deaf," so a second time asked more loudly that, "I want to know how much time it will take for me to reach the capital!"

But Junaid still continued walking. After walking two miles with that man, Junaid said, "You will have to walk at least ten hours." The man said, "But you could have said that before!" Junaid said, "How can I say it? I first must know your speed. It depends on your speed. So for these two miles I was watching, what is your speed. Only then I can answer." It depends on your intensity, your speed.

The first thing is continued practice for a long time without interruption. This has to be remembered. If you interrupt, if you do for some days and then leave for some days, the whole effort is lost. And when you start again, it is again a beginning.

If you are meditating and then you say for a few days there is no problem, you feel lazy, you feel like sleeping in the morning, and you say, "I can postpone, I can do it tomorrow," -- even one day missed, you have undone the work of many days, because you are not doing meditation today, but you will be doing many other things. Those many other things belong to your old pattern, so a layer is created. Your yesterday and your tomorrow is cut off. Today has become a layer, a different layer. The continuity is lost, and when tomorrow you start again it is again a beginning. I see many persons starting, stopping, again starting. The work that can be done within months they take years.

So this is to be remembered: without interruption. Whatsoever practice you choose, then choose it for your whole life, and just go on hammering on it, don't listen to the mind. Mind will try to persuade you, and mind is a great seducer. It can give all kinds of reasons that today it is a must not to do because you are feeling ill, there is headache, you couldn't sleep in the night, you have been so much tired so you can just rest today. But these are tricks of the mind.

Mind wants to follow its old pattern. Why the mind wants to follow its old pattern? Because there is least resistance; it is easier. And everybody wants to follow the easier path, the easier course. It is easy for the mind just to follow the old. The new is difficult.

So mind resists everything that is new. If you are in practice, in abhyasa, don't listen to the mind, you go on doing. By and by this new practice will go deep in the mind, and mind will stop resisting it because then it will become easier. Then for mind it will be an easy flow. Unless it becomes an easy flow, don't interrupt. You can undo a long effort by a little laziness. So it must be uninterrupted.

And, second, with reverent devotion. You can do a practice mechanically, with no love, no devotion, no feeling of holiness about it. Then it will take very long, because through love things penetrate easily in you. Through devotion you are open, more open. Seeds fall deeper.

With no devotion you can do the same thing. Look at a temple, you can have a hired priest. He will do prayers continuously for years, with no result, with no fulfillment through it. He is doing as it is prescribed, but it is a work with no devotion. He may show devotion, but he is just a servant. He is interested in his salary -- not in the prayer, not in the puja, not in the ritual. It is to be done -- it is a duty; it is not a love. So he will do it, years. Even for his whole life he will be just a hired priest, a salaried man. In the end, he will die as if he has never prayed. He may die in the temple praying-but he will die as if he has never prayed, because there was no devotion.

So don't do abhyasa, a practice, without devotion, because then you are unnecessarily wasting energy. Much can come out of it if devotion is there. What is the difference? The difference is in duty and love. Duty is something you have to do; you don't enjoy doing it. You have to carry it on somehow; you have to finish it soon. It is just an outward work. If this is the attitude, then how it can penetrate in you?

A love is not a duty, you enjoy. There is no limit to its enjoyment; there is no hurry to finish it. The longer it is, the better. It is never enough. Always you feel something more, something more. It is always unfinished. If this is the attitude, then things go deep in you. The seeds reach to the deeper soil. Devotion means you are in love with a particular abhyasa, a particular practice.

I observe many people; I work with many people. This division is very clear. Those who practice meditation as if they are doing just a technique, they go on doing it for years, but no change happens. It may help a little, bodily. They may be more healthy; their physiques will get some benefits out of it. But it is just an exercise. And then they come to me and they say "Nothing is happening."

Nothing will happen, because the way they are doing, it is something outside, just like a work -- as they go to the office at eleven and leave the office at five. With no involvement, they can go to the meditation hall. They can meditate for one hour and come back, with no involvement. It is not in their heart.

The other category of people is those who do it with love. It is not a question of doing something. It is not quantitative, it is qualitative -- how much you are involved, how much deeply you love it, how much you enjoy it -not the goal, not the end, not the result, but the very practice.

Sufis say repetition of the name of God -- repetition of the name of Allah -- is in itself the bliss. They go on repeating and they enjoy. This becomes their whole life just the repetition of the name.

Nanak says, nam smaran -- remembering the name is enough. You are eating, you are going to sleep, you are taking your bath, and continuously your heart is filled with the remembrance. Just go on repeating "Ram" or "Allah" or whatsoever, but not as a word, as a devotion, as a love.

Your whole being feels filled, vibrates with it, it becomes your deeper breath. You cannot live without it. And by and by it creates an inner harmony, a music. Your whole being starts falling into harmony. An ecstasy is born, a humming sensation, a sweetness surrounds you. By and by this sweetness becomes your nature. Then whatsoever you say, it becomes the name of Allah; whatsoever you say, it becomes the remembrance of the divine.

Any practice WITHOUT INTERRUPTION AND WITH REVERENT DEVOTION... for the western mind it is very difficult. They can understand practice; they cannot understand REVERENT DEVOTION. They have completely forgotten that language, and without that language practice is just Western seekers come to me and they say, "Whatsoever you say we will do," and they follow it exactly as it is said. But they work on it just as if they were working on any other know-how, a technique. They are not in love with it; they have not become mad; they are not lost in it. They remain manipulating.

They are the master, and they go on manipulating the technique just as any mechanical device they will manipulate. Just as you can push the button and the fan starts -- there is no need of any reverent devotion for the button or for the fan. And everything in life you do like that, but abhyasa cannot be done that way. You have to be so deeply related with your abhyasa, your practice, that you become secondary and the practice becomes primary, that you become the shadow and the practice becomes the soul -- as if it is not you who is doing the practice. But the practice is going on by itself, and you are just a part of it, vibrating with it. Then it may be that no time will be needed.

With deep devotion, results can follow immediately. In a single moment of devotion, you can undo many lives of the past. In a deep moment of devotion, you can become completely free from the past.

But it is difficult how to explain it, that reverent devotion. There is friendship, there is love, and there is a different quality of friendship plus love which is called reverend devotion. Friendship and love exist between equals. Love between opposite sex, freindship with the same sex, but on the same level -- you are equals.

Compassion is just the opposite of reverent devotion. Compassion exists from a higher source towards a lower source. Compassion is like a river flowing from the Himalayas to the ocean. A Buddha is compassion. Whosoever comes to him, his compassion is flowing downwards. Reverence is just the opposite, as if the Ganges is flowing from the ocean towards the Himalays, from the lower to the higher.

Love is between the equals, compassion from the higher to the lower; devotion is from the lower to the higher. Compassion and devotion both have disappeared; only friendship has remained. And without compassion and devotion friendship is just hanging in between, dead, because two poles are missing. And it can exist, living, only between those two poles.

If you are in devotion, then sooner or later compassion will start flowing towards you. If you are in de3votion,, then some higher peak will start flwoing towards you. But if you are not in devotion, compassion cannot flow towards you, you are not open to it.

All abhyasa, all practice, is to become the lowest so the highest can flow in you -- to become the lowest. As Jesus says, "Only those who stand last will become the first in my kingdom of God."

Become the lowest,, the last. Suddenly, when you are the lowest, you are capagble of receiving the highest. And to the lowest depth only is the highest attracted, pulled. It becomes the magnet. "With devotion" means you are the lowest. That is why Buddhists choose to be beggars,, Sufis have chosen to be beggars -- just the lowest, the beggars. And we have seen that in these beggars the highest has happened.

But this is their choice. They have put themselves in the last. They are the last ones -- not in competition with anybody, just valley-like, low, lowest.

That's why, in the old Sufi sayings it is said, "Become a slave of God" -- just a slave, repeating his name, constantly thanking him,, constantly feeling gratitude, constantly filled with so many blessings that he has poured upon you.

And with this reverence, devotion, uninterrupted abhyasa, practice. Patanjali says these two, vairagya and abhyasa, they help the mind to cease. And when mind ceases you are, for the first time, really taht which you are meant to be, that which is your destiny.


Next: Chapter 8, Stop, and it is Here! : First Question



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