Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 9 Discourses on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali


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Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 9

Discourses on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Talks given from 21/04/76 am to 30/04/76 am

English Discourse series

10 Chapters

Year published:

During the early 1980's it was planned to publish the "Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega" volumes as "Yoga: The Science of the Soul". Only the first three volumes were actually published, the title stayed as "Alpha and Omega" for the other seven volumes.

Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 9

Chapter #1

Chapter title: Mastery over the five elements

21 April 1976 am in Buddha Hall

Archive code: 7604210

ShortTitle: YOGA901

Audio: Yes

Video: No

Length: 105 mins















THE yoga system of Patanjali is not a philosophical system. It is empirical. It is a tool to work with. But still it has a philosophy. That too is just to give an intellectual understanding where you are moving, what you are seeking. The philosophy is arbitrary, utilitarian, just to give a comprehensive picture of the territory you are going to discover; but the philosophy has to be understood.

The first thing about the philosophy of Patanjali. He divides human personality into five seeds, five bodies. He says you don't have one body; you have layers upon layers of bodies; and they are five. The first body he calls annamaya kosha -- the food body, the earth body, which is made of earth and is constantly to be nourished by food. Food comes from earth. If you stop taking food, your annamaya kosha will wither away. So one has to be very alert about what one is eating because that makes you and it will affect you in millions of ways, because sooner or later your food is not just food. It becomes blood, your bones, your very marrow. It circulates in your being and goes on affecting you. So the purity of food creates a pure annamaya kosha, the pure food body.

And if the first body is pure, light, not heavy, then it is easy to enter into the second body; otherwise it will be difficult -- you will be loaded. Have you watched when you have eaten too much and heavy foods. Immediately you start feeling a sort of sleep, a sort of lethargy. You would like to go to sleep; awareness immediately starts disappearing. When the first body is loaded it is difficult to create great awareness. Hence fasting became so important in all the religions. But fasting is a science and one should not fool around with it.

Just the other night one sannyasin came and she told me that she has been fasting and now her whole body, her whole being, is disturbed -- tremendously disturbed. Now the stomach is not functioning well. And when the stomach is not functioning well, everything is weakened, the vitality is lost, and you cannot be alive. You become more and more insensitive and dead.

But fasting is important. It should be done very carefully; one should understand the functioning of the annamaya kosha -- only then. And it should be done under proper guidance -- the guidance of one who has moved through all the phases of his annamaya kosha. Not only that -- one who has gone beyond it and who can look at the annamaya kosha as a witness. Otherwise fasting can be dangerous.

Then just the right amount of food and the right quality of food has to be practiced; fasting is not needed.

But this is important because this is your first body and, more or less, people cling to their first body; they never move to the second. Millions of people are not even aware that they have a second body, a deeper body, hidden behind the first sheath. The first covering is very gross.

The second body Patanjali calls pranamaya kosha -- energy body, electric body. The second consists of electric fields. That's what acupuncture is all about. This second body is more subtle than the first, and people who start moving from the first body to the second become fields of energy, tremendously attractive, magnetic, hypnotic. If you go near them, you will feel vitalized, charged.

If you go near a man who lives only in his food body, you will be depleted -- he will suck you. Many times you come across people and you fee] that they suck you. After they have left, you feel depleted, dissipated, as if somebody has exploited your energy. The first body is a sucker, and the first body is very gross. So if you live too much with the first -- body-oriented people, you will feel always burdened, tense, bored, sleepy, with no energy, always at the point of the lowest rung of your energy; and you will not have any amount of energy which can be used for higher growth.

This type, the first type, the annamaya-kosha-oriented person lives for food. He eats and eats and eats, and that's his whole life. He remains in a way childish. The first thing that the child docs in the world is to suck air, and then to suck milk. The first thing the child has to do in the world is to help the food body, and if a person remains food addicted, he remains childish. His growth suffers.

The second body, pranamaya kosha, gives you a new freedom, gives you more space. The second body is bigger than the first; it is not confined to your physical body. It is inside the physical body and it is outside the physical body. It surrounds you like a subtle climate, an aura of energy. Now in Soviet Russia they have discovered that photographs can be taken of the energy body. They call it bioplasma, but it exactly means prana. The energy, elan vital, or what Taoists call chi, it can be photographed now. Now it has become almost scientific.

And one very great discovery has been done in Soviet Russia, and that is before your physical body suffers some illness, the energy body suffers it -- six months before. Then it happens to the physical body. If you are going to have tuberculosis, or cancer, or any illness, your energy body starts showing indications of it six months before. No examination, no testing of the physical body shows anything, but the electric body starts showing it. First it appears in the pranamaya kosha, then it enters into the annamaya kosha. So now they say that it has become possible to treat a person before he has fallen ill. Once it becomes so, then there is no need for humanity to fall ill. Before you will become aware that you are ill, your photographs by Kirlian methods will show that some illness is going to happen to your physical body. It can be prevented in the pranamaya kosha.

That's why yoga insists very much on the purity of breathing, because the pranamaya kosha is made of a subtle energy that travels inside you with the breathing. If you breathe rightly, your pranamaya kosha remains healthy and whole and alive. Such a person never feels tired, such a person is always available to do anything, such a person is always responsive, always ready to respond to the moment, ready to take the challenge. He is always ready. You will never find him unprepared for any moment. Not that he plans for the future, no. But he has so much energy that whatsoever happens he is ready to respond. He has overflowing energy. T'ai-chi works on pranamaya kosha. pranayam works on pranamaya kosha.

And if you know just how to breathe naturally, you will grow into your second body. And the second body is stronger than the first. And the second body lives longer than the first.

When somebody dies, for almost three days you can see his bioplasma. Sometimes that is mistaken for his ghost. The physical body dies, but the energy body continues to move. And those who have experimented deeply about death, they say that for three days it is very difficult for the person who has died to believe that he has died because the same form -- and more vital than ever, more healthy than ever, more beautiful than ever -- surrounds him. It depends on how big a bioplasma you have; then it can continue for thirteen days or even for more.

Around the samadhis of yogis.... In India we burn everybody's body except the body of one who has attained to samadhi. We don't burn his body, for a certain reason. Once you burn the body, the bioplasma starts moving away from the earth. You can feel it for a few days, but then it disappears into the cosmos. But if the physical body is left, then the bioplasma can cling to it. And a man who has attained samadhi, who has become enlightened, if his bioplasma can remain somewhere around his samadhi, many people will be benefited by it. That's how many people come to see their gurus' forms.

In Aurobindo ashram, Aurobindo's body is put in a samadhi, not destroyed, not burned. Many people have felt as if they have seen Aurobindo around it. Or sometimes they have heard the same footsteps the way Aurobindo used to walk. And sometimes he is there just standing before them. This is not Aurobindo; this is the bioplasma. Aurobindo is gone, but the bioplasma, the pranamaya kosha, can persist for centuries. If the person has been really in tune with his pranamaya kosha, it can persist. It can have its own eXistence.

Natural breathing has to be understood. Watch small children, they breathe naturally. That's why small children are so full of energy. The parents are tired, but they are not tired.

One child was saying to another child, "I am so full of energy that I wear out my shoes within seven days." Another said, "That's nothing. I am so full of energy I wear out my clothes within three days."

The third said, "That too is nothing. I am so full of energy I wear out my parents within one hour."

In America they have done an experiment where one very powerful man, with an athletic body, with tremendous energy, was told to follow a small child and imitate him. Whatsoever the child was going to do, this athlete had to do, just imitate for eight hours. Within four hours the athlete was gone, flat on the floor, because the child enjoyed it very much and he started doing many things -- jumping, jogging, shouting, yelling. And the athlete had to just repeat. The child was perfectly full of energy after four hours. The athlete -was gone; he said, "He will kill me. Eight hours! Finished! I cannot do anything more." He was a great boxer, but boxing is one thing. You cannot compete with a child.

From where does the energy come? It comes from pranamaya kosha. A child breathes naturally, and of course breathes more prana in, more chi in, and accumulates it in his belly. The belly is the accumulating place, the reservoir. Watch a child; that is the right way to breathe. When a child breathes, his chest is completely unaffected. His belly goes up and down. He breathes as if from the belly. All children have a little belly; that belly is there because of their breathing and the reservoir of energy.

That is the right way to breathe; remember not to use your chest too much. Sometimes it can be used -- in emergency periods. You are running to save your life; then the chest can be used. It is an emergency device. Then you can use shallow, fast breathing, and run. But ordinarily the chest should not be used. And one thing to be remembered: the chest is meant only for emergency situations because it is difficult in an emergency situation to breathe naturally, because if you breathe naturally you remain so calm and quiet you cannot run, you cannot fight. You are so calm and collected you are Buddhalike. And in an emergency -- the house is on fire -- if you breathe naturally you will not be able to save anything. Or a tiger jumps upon you in a forest and if you go on breathing naturally you will not be bothered; you will say, "Okay, let him do whatsoever he wants." You will not be able to protect yourself.

So nature has given an emergency device; the chest is an emergency device. When a tiger attacks you, you have to drop natural breathing and you have to breathe from the chest. Then you will have more capacity to run, to fight, to burn energy fast. And in an emergency situation there are only two alternatives -- flight or fight. Both need a very shallow but intense energy -- shallow, but a very disturbed, tense state.

Now if you continuously breathe from the chest, you will have tensions in your mind. If you continuously breathe from the chest, you will always be afraid. Because the chest breathing is meant to be only in fearful situations. And if you have made it a habit then you will be continuously afraid, tense, always in flight. The enemy is not there, but you will imagine the enemy is there. That's how paranoia is created.

In the West also a few people have come across this phenomenon -- Alexander Lowen or other bioenergetic people who have been working on bioenergy. That is prana. They have come to feel that people who are afraid, their chest is tense and they are breathing very shallow breaths. If their breathing can be made deeper, to go and touch the belly, the hara center, then their fear disappears. If their musculature can be relaxed, as it is done in Rolfing.... Ida Rolf has invented one of the most beautiful methods to change the inner structure of the body. Because if you have been breathing wrongly for many years, you have developed a musculature, and that musculature will be in the way and will not allow you to rightly breathe or deeply breathe. And even if you remember for a few seconds -- you will breathe deeply -- again when you are engaged in your work you will start breathing shallow chest breathings. The musculature has to be changed. Once the musculature is changed, the fear disappears and the tension disappears. Rolfing is tremendously helpful; but the working is on pranamaya kosha, the second -- bioplasma body, bioenergy body, chi body, or whatsoever you want to call it.

Watch a child and that is the natural breathing, and breathe that way. Let your belly come up when you inhale, let your belly go down when you exhale. And let it be in such a rhythm it becomes almost a song in your energy, a dance -- with rhythm, with harmony -- and you will feel so relaxed, so alive, so vital that you cannot imagine that such vitality is possible.

Then there is the third body, manumaya kosha -- the mental body. The third is bigger than the second, subtler than the second, higher than the second. Animals have the second body but not the third body. Animals are so vital. See a lion walking. What beauty, what grace, what grandeur. Man has always felt jealous. See a deer running. What weightlessness, what energy, what a great energy phenomenon. Man has always felt jealous. But man's energy is moving higher.

The third body is manumaya kosha, mental body. This is bigger, more spacious than the second. And if you don't grow it, you will remain almost just a possibility of man but not a real man. The word "man" comes from man, manumaya. The English word also comes from the Sanskrit root man. The Hindi word for man is manushya; that too comes from the same root man, the mind. It is mind that makes you man. But, more or less, you don't have it. What you have in its place is just a conditioned mechanism. You live by imitation: then you don't have a mind. When you start living on your own, spontaneous, when you start answering your life problems on your own, when you become responsible, you start growing in manumaya kosha. Then the mindbody grows.

Ordinarily if you are a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Christian you have a borrowed mind; it is not your mind. Maybe Christ attained to a great explosion of manumaya kosha; and then people have been simply repeating it. That repetition will not become a growth in you. That repetition will be a hindrance. Don't repeat; rather try to understand. Become more and more alive, authentic, responsive. Even if there is a possibility to go astray, go astray. Because there is no way to grow if you are so much afraid of committing errors. Errors are good. Mistakes have to be committed. Never commit the same mistake again, but never be afraid of committing mistakes. People who become so much afraid of committing mistakes never grow. They go on sitting in their place, afraid to move. They are not alive.

The mind grows when you face, encounter, situations on your own. You bring your own energy to solve them. Don't go asking for advice forever. Take the reins of your life in your own hands; that's what I mean when I say do your thing. You will be in trouble -- it is safer to follow others, it is convenient to follow the society, to follow the routine, the tradition, the scripture. It is very easy because everybody is following -- you have just to become a dead part of the herd, you have just to move with the crowd wherever it is going; it is none of your responsibility. But your mental body, your manumaya kosha, will suffer tremendously, terribly it will not grow. You will not have your Own mind, and you will miss something very, very beautiful and some -- thing which functions as a bridge for higher growth.

So always remember, whatsoever I say to you, you can take it in two ways. You can simply take it on my authority"Osho says so, it must be true" -- then you will suffer, then you will not grow. Whatsoever I say, listen to it, try to understand it, implement it in your life, see how it works, and then come to your own conclusions. They may be the same, they may not be. They can never be exactly the same because you have a different personality, a unique being. Whatsoever I am saying is my own. It is bound to be in deep ways rooted in me. You may come to similar conclusions, but they cannot be exactly the same. So my conclusions should not be made your conclusions. You should try to understand me, you should try to learn, but you should not collect knowledge from me, you should not collect conclusions from me. Then your mindbody will grow.

But people take shortcuts. They say, "If you have known, finished. What is the need for us to try and experiment? We will believe in you." A believer has no manumaya kosha. He has a false manumaya kosha which has not come out of his own being but has been forced from without.

Then higher than manumaya kosha, bigger than manumaya kosha, is vigyanamaya kosha -- it is the intuitive body. It is very, very spacious. Now there is no reason in it; it goes beyond reason; has become very, very subtle; it is an intuitive grasp. It is a seeing directly into the nature of things. It is not trying to think about it. The cypress tree in the courtyard: you just look at it. You don't think about it; there is no "about" in intuition. You simply become available, receptive, and reality reveals to you its nature. You don't project. You are not searching for any argument, for any conclusion, nothing whatsoever. You are not searching even. You are simply waiting, and reality reveals -- it is a revelation. The intuitive body takes you to very far out horizons, but still there is one body more.

That is the fifth body, ANANDAMAYA KOSHA_ bliss body. That is really far out. It is made of pure bliss. Even intuition is transcended.

These five seeds are just seeds, remember. Beyond these five is your reality. These are just seeds surrounding you. The first is very gross; you are almost confined in a six-foot body. The second is bigger than it, the third still bigger, the fourth still bigger, the fifth is very big; but still these are seeds. All are limited. If all the seeds are dropped and you stand nude in your reality, then you are infinite. That's what yoga says: you are God -- aham brahmasmi. You are the very Brahman. Now you are ultimate reality itself; now all barriers are dropped.

Try to understand this. The barriers are there surrounding you in circles. The first barrier is very, very hard. To get out of it is very difficult. People remain confined to their physical bodies and they think their physical life is all that there is to life. Don't settle. The physical body is just a step to the energy body. The energy body is again just a step for the mind body. That too in its turn is just a step for the intuitive body. That too is a step for the bliss body. And from the bliss 60dy you take the jump -- now there are no more steps -- you take the jump into the abyss of your being, that is infinity, eternity.

These are five seeds. Corresponding to these five seeds, yoga has another doctrine about five bhutas, five great elements. Just as your body is made of food, earth; earth is the first element. It has nothing to do with this earth, remember. The element simply says wherever there is matter it is earth; the material is the earth, the gross is the earth. In you it is the body; outside you it is the body of all. The stars are made of earth. Everything that exists is made of earth. The first shell is of earth. Five bhutas means five great elements: earth, fire, water, air, ether.

Earth corresponds to your first, annamaya. kosha, the food body. Fire corresponds to your second body, energy body, bioplasma, chi, pranamaya kosha; it has the quality of fire. Third is water; it corresponds to the third, manumaya body, the mental body. It has the quality of water. Watch the mind, how it goes on like a flux, always moving, moving, riverlike. The fourth is air, almost invisible. You cannot see it, but it is there; you can only feel it. That corresponds to the intuitive body, vigyanamaya kosha. And then there is akash, ether; you cannot even feel it -- it has become even more subtle than air. You can simply believe it, trust it that it is there. It is pure space; that is bliss.

But you are purer than pure space, subtler than pure space. Your reality is almost as if it is not. That's why Buddha says anatta -- no-self. Your self is like a no-self; your being is al most like a nonbeing. Why nonbeing? Because it has gone so far away from all gross elements. It is pure is-ness. Nothing can be said about it, no description will be adequate for it.

These are five bhutas, five great elements, corresponding to five koshas, bodies, within you.

Then the third doctrine. I would like you to understand all these because they will be helpful in understanding the sutras that we will be discussing now. Then there are seven chakras. The word chakra does not really mean "center"; the word "center" cannot explain it or describe it or translate it rightly because when we say "the center," it seems something static. And chakra means something dynamic. The word chakra means "the wheel?" the moving wheel. So chakra is a dynamic center in your being, almost like a whirlpool, whirlwind, the center of the cyclone. It is dynamic; it creates an energy field around it.

Seven chakras. The first is a bridge and the last is also a bridge; the remaining five correspond to five mahabhutas, the great elements and the five seeds. Sex is a bridge, bridge between you and the grossest -- the prakriti, the nature. Sahasrar, the seventh chakra, is also a bridge, bridge between you and the abyss, the ultimate. These two are bridges. The remaining five centers correspond to five elements and five bodies.

This is the framework of Patanjali's system. Remember it is arbitrary. It has to be used as a tool, not discussed as a dogma. It is not a doctrine in any theology. It is just a utilitarian map. You go to some territory, to some strange country, unknown, and you take a map with you. The map does not really represent the territory; how can the map represent the territory? The map is so small, the territory is so big. On the map cities are just points. How can those points correspond to big cities? On the map roads are just lines. How can roads be just lines? Mountains are just marked, rivers are just marked -- and small ones are left out. Only big ones are marked. This is a map; it is not a doctrine.

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