The aim and practice of Yoga
The great interest evinced in Yoga and other occult doctrines by a large number of people, both in the East and in the West, is a clear indication of a growing thirst in men to know more about themselves, their birth and death, the real nature of the conscious principle animating them, and about the mystery surrounding the universe. There is nothing new in the expression of this impulse.
It has been present in various forms from the day man began to lead the life of a rational being, from the day he began to use stone implements, of the crudest type, and to live a family and social life of the most primitive kind. That the thirst has always been present in one form or another is corroborated by the earliest relics of primitive men found in different parts of the earth.
Undoubtedly there is a difference in the intensity of its expression and the form of its manifestation, but that the thirst has not abated is clear beyond the least shadow of doubt.
There appears to be a misconception in the minds of some people that Yoga offers an easy and convenient method for gaining access to the occult. This notion is especially prevalent in the West, and the idea persists that there are secret practices which can work wonders in leading men to the realm of the spirit. Such a conception is not peculiar to this era alone, but, in various forms, has been present from the remote past, ever since primitive man began to experiment with different methods to gain psychic powers, to invoke spirits and ghosts, to practice the art of magical healing, or to trade in sorcery and witchcraft. The men who practiced or professed these arts were always a source of wonder and attraction to novices desirous of attaining similar powers. The idea underlying this belief, which persists to this day, suggests that there are latent possibilities in the human mind which, when developed through appropriate methods, can place at the command of an adept unseen, intelligent forces of nature which enable him to perform extraordinary feats utterly beyond the capacity of normal men. How far this concept is based on reality and how far it is a myth is the aim of this work to expound.
Properly speaking, Yoga is an adjunct to religion and has always been treated as such in
, the country of its birth. The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means to yoke or join. As such, Yoga signifies the union of the individual soul with universal Consciousness or, in the language of the Upanishads, with the uncreated, all-pervading Brahman. In other words, the spiritual practices, classified under the general name Yoga, constitute different methods for the attainment of spiritual objectives, for verifying the doctrines formulated by prophets and sages, and for experiencing the Transcendent. India
Yoga is not something different or divorced from religion. It is the experimental part of it, offering ways and means to the properly qualified aspirants, prepared to undergo the discipline and to follow the methods suggested, to prove for themselves the validity of religious doctrines and the results attained by those who successfully pursued the path prescribed.