At the moment I am reading The Science of Yoga: The Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali in Sanskrit by I. K. Taimni. It’s not an easy reading, but it is worth the effort because the philosophy of Yoga deals with some of the greatest mysteries of life and the Universe. As Taimni says in the preface, those who feel that their life is not a meaningless and passing phenomenon of Nature naturally turn to the philosophy of Yoga for the solution of problems connected with their ‘inner’ life.
In the basic literature of Yoga, the Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali stand out as the most authoritative and useful book. In its 196 Sutras the author has condensed the essential philosophy and technique of Yoga in a manner which is a marvel of condensed and systematic exposition. This book is meant to give to the serious student of Yoga a clear idea with regard to the fundamental teachings of Yoga.
According to Taimni, Yoga as Science of sciences is too comprehensive in its nature and too profound in its doctrines to be fitted into the framework of any particular philosophy, ancient or modern. It stands in its own right as a Science based upon the eternal laws of the higher life and does not require the support of any science or philosophical system to uphold its claims. Its truths are based on the experiences and experiments of an unbroken line of mystics, occultists, saints and sages who have realized and borne witness to them throughout the ages.
Although an attempt has been made to explain the teachings of Yoga on a rational basis so that the student may be able to grasp them easily, nothing is sought to be proved in the ordinary sense. The facts of higher Yoga can neither be proved nor demonstrated. Their appeal is to the intuition and not to the intellect.
If the doctrines of Yoga are studied in the light of both ancient and modern thought it is much easier for the student to understand and appreciate them. The discoveries made in the field of Science are especially helpful in enabling the student to understand certain facts of Yogic life, for there is a certain analogous relationship between the laws of higher life and life as it exists on the physical plane, a relationship which is hinted at in the wellknown Occult maxim ‘As above, so below.’
Yoga has always been a living Science in the East and it has had an unbroken succession of living experts who continually verify by their own experiments and experiences the basic truths of this Science. This has helped not only to keep the traditions of Yogic culture alive and pure but to maintain the meanings of the technical words used in this Science in a fairly exact and clearly defined form. It is only when a Science is divorced completely from its practical application that it tends to lose itself in a morass of words which have lost their meaning and relation with the actual facts.
The secret of discovering the hidden and mysterious facts of life seems to lie in intensity of effort. We meet the phenomena of life superficially and so naturally do not get from them anything more than ordinary experiences. But the moment we do anything with great intensity and try to penetrate into the deeper recesses of life we come across the most extraordinary results and experiences. The extraordinary results achieved by Science in the field of atomic research should have brought home to us this great truth but we believe only in matter and consider the phenomena connected with the mind and consciousness as something intangible and therefore unreal.
The truth of the matter, however, is that the mysteries, which are hidden in the realm of matter, are as nothing compared to the mysteries which are related to mind and consciousness. This is what the Science of Yoga has proved. To the Yogi who has obtained even a faint glimpse of these mysteries the remarkable achievements of Science in the realm of matter and force pale into insignificance and seem hardly worth bothering about.
The progress of modern Science has shown conclusively that behind various phenomena which we observe in different spheres of life there is a hidden framework of laws of Nature which bring about and regulate these phenomena with mathematical precision. Formerly, man was mystified by natural phenomena and as he did not know that they were based on natural laws he felt helpless before them. But the advent of Science, and the discovery of natural laws to which it has led, has given him power and confidence.
He knows that if he can find the underlying laws in any sphere of natural phenomena he can control and manipulate them with utter certainty. He also knows that behind the external changes which he observes there are inner processes which bring about and account for the external changes, and much of the scientific work which is being done these days aims at tracing these inner processes and through their control and manipulation bringing about any desired result in the physical world.
It is especially necessary to emphasize this fact because of the strange attitude of the present-day scientists towards all phenomena which are not of a purely physical character and cannot be dealt with in a scientific laboratory through physical instruments. They not only distrust all things which cannot be investigated through physical instruments; they also consider them outside the realm of law. To them only physical phenomena are governed by natural laws. All other phenomena connected with the mental, psychic and spiritual experiences of mankind belong implicitly to a world of chaos in which there are no definite and exact laws and therefore no possibility of investigating them in a scientific manner.
The Yogic philosophy takes a more sensible and scientific view. It considers the whole of the manifested Universe as a cosmos. It declares emphatically that all phenomena within this Universe — superphysical as well as physical — are subject to natural laws which work with mathematical precision. It provides the means by which the superphysical phenomena can be investigated and the underlying laws discovered.
The philosophy and psychology upon which Yogic Science is based is the only one which is comprehensive enough to provide a sufficiently broad base for this Science. The modern psychology which confines its investigations to the expressions of mind and consciousness through the imperfect and limited physical vehicle and is afraid of losing contact with the physical world in its investigations, is utterly inadequate for this purpose.
Those who refuse to leave the shores of the physical world must content themselves with the limited knowledge and resources which they have got and should not sit in judgment on the experiences of those who have ventured on the high seas and found limitless lands of unimaginable splendour.
According to the Yogic philosophy the whole of the manifested Universe, seen and unseen, is governed by natural laws and therefore there is no place for ‘miracles’ in this philosophy. When things are made to take place in a way which appears miraculous to the ordinary observer this is done by using forces which are still under the domain of natural law, though yet unknown to modern Science. There is, and can be, no violation of natural law, but it is possible to do things which seem to violate physical laws by employing laws of the superphysical realms.
Knowledge and power are two aspects of the same reality so that anyone who has the knowledge with regard to the inner working of any set of phenomena has also the power to manipulate those phenomena. There is nothing irrational in this assumption because the control and manipulation of physical forces by modern science follows the discovery of the physical laws underlying those forces. But Science has knowledge of only physical forces and can therefore control only physical phenomena. The Yogi acquires knowledge of the far subtler and powerful forces of mind and consciousness and can, therefore, exercise powers connected with those inner forces.
To deny the existence of these powers because modern Science cannot accept or explain them is to attribute to the scientist omniscience which he himself does not claim. The scientist may or may not show the true scientific spirit and humility which is a part of that spirit.
But the true Yogi who discovers the infinitely more fascinating facts and powers of the inner worlds always attributes them to the Divine Life enshrined within him and in the world around him and when he uses those powers he uses them as an agent of that Life.
To assert that powers attributed to Yoga are not possible is not justified even from the scientific point of view. Things which were considered impossible before are passing into the realms of possibility as a result of new facts and laws which we are discovering.
Scientists would do well to remember that they have not made the facts and laws, the discovery of which has enabled them to do so many marvellous things. They have merely discovered those facts. How can they say what other facts and laws are hidden within the bosom of Nature?