Patanjali’s Science of Yoga
Osho on Yoga
YOU SAID THAT PATANJALI’S YOGA IS AN EXACT SCIENCE, ABSOLUTELY LOGICAL, IN WHICH THE RESULT IS AS CERTAIN AS TWO PLUS TWO MAKE FOUR. IF THE ATTAINMENT OF THE UNKNOWN AND INFINITE, CAN BE REDUCED TO MERE LOGIC, IS IT NOT TRUE AND AT THE SAME TIME ABSURD THAT THE INFINITE PHENOMENON IS WITHIN THE ORBIT OF THE FINITE MIND?
It looks absurd, it looks illogical, but existence is absurd and existence is illogical. The sky is infinite, but it can be reflected in a very tiny pool; the infinite sky can be reflected in a small mirror. Of course the whole of it will not be reflected; it cannot be reflected. But the part is also the whole and the part also belongs to the sky. Human mind is just a mirror. If it is pure then the infinite can have the reflection in it. The reflection will not be the infinite, it will be just a part, a glimpse. But that glimpse becomes the door. Then by and by, you can leave the mirror behind and enter into the infinite, leave the reflection behind and enter into the real. Out of your window, a small frame of the window, the infinite sky is there. You can look through the window, you will not see the whole sky, of course, but whatsoever you see is the sky. So the only thing to remember is don’t think that whatsoever you have seen is the infinite. It may be of the infinite, it is not the infinite. So whatsoever human mind can conceive may be divine, but it is just a part of it, a glimpse. If you continuously remember that, then there is no fallacy. Then by and by, destroy the frame; by and by, destroy the mind completely so the mirror is no more there and you are freed from the reflection and you enter the reality.
On the surface it looks absurd. How, in such a tiny mind, there can be any contact with the eternal, with the infinite, with the endless? Second thing has also to be understood. This tiny mind is not tiny really, because it is also part of the infinite. It looks tiny because of you; it looks finite because of you. You have created the boundaries. The boundaries are false. Even your tiny mind belongs to the infinite; it is part of it. And there are many things to be understood. One of the most paradoxical things about the infinite is this: that the part is always equal to the whole — because you cannot divide the infinite. All divisions are false. It may be utilitarian to divide it. I can say that the sky on my house, on my terrace, is my sky as India says the sky on the Indian continent is Indian sky. What do you mean? You cannot divide the sky. It cannot be Indian or Chinese, it is an undivided expanse. It begins nowhere, it ends nowhere. Just the same has happened with the mind. You call it your mind; that “your” is false. The mind is part of the infinite. Just as matter is part of the infinite, mind is part of the infinite. Your soul is also part of the infinite. When the “my” is lost, you are the infinite.
So if you appear finite, it is an illusion. Finiteness is not a reality; finiteness is just a conception, an illusion. And because of your conception you are confined in it. And whatsoever you think, you become.
Buddha has said — and he was repeating it continuously for forty years — that whatsoever you think you become. Thinking makes you whatsoever you are. If you are finite, it is a standpoint that you have taken. Drop the standpoint and you become infinite. And the whole process of yoga is how to drop — how to drop the frame, how to destroy the mirror, how to move from the reflection to the reality, how to go beyond the boundaries. Boundaries are self-created; they are not really there. They are just thoughts. That’s why, whenever there is no thought in the mind, you are not. A thoughtless mind is egoless; a thoughtless mind is boundary-less, a thoughtless mind is already the infinite. Even for a single moment, if there is no thought, you are the infinite — because without thought there can be no boundary; without thought you disappear and the divine descends. To be in thought is to be human; to be below thought is to be animal; to be beyond thought is to be divine.
But the logical mind will raise questions. The logical mind will say, “How the part can be equal to the whole? The part must be less than the whole. It cannot be the equal.”
Ouspensky writes, in one of the best, in one of the few best books in the world, TERTIUM ORGANUM, that the part can not only be the equal to the whole, it can be even greater than the whole. But he calls it a higher mathematics. That mathematics belongs to the Upanishads. In ‘Ishavasya’ it is said, “You can take out the whole from the whole, and still the whole remains behind. You can put the whole into the whole, and still the whole remains the whole.” It is absurd. If you like to call it absurd, you can call it absurd, but, really, it is a higher mathematics where boundaries are lost and the drop becomes the ocean. And the ocean is nothing but a drop. Logic raises questions; it goes on raising. That is the nature of the logical mind, to raise questions. And if you go on following those questions, you can go on ad infinitum. Put aside the mind — its logic, its reasoning and for few moments try to be without thought. Even for a single moment if you can achieve that state of non-thought, you will come to realize that the part is equal to the whole, because suddenly you will see all the boundaries have disappeared. They were dream boundaries. All the divisions have disappeared, and you and the whole have become one.
This can be an experience; this cannot be a logical inference. But when I say that Patanjali is logical, what do I mean? In the conclusions, nobody can be logical as far as the inner, the spiritual, the ultimate experience is concerned. But on the path you can be.
As far as the ultimate result of yoga is concerned, Patanjali also cannot be logical; nobody can be. But to reach that goal you can follow a logical path. In that sense Patanjali is logical and rational, mathematical, scientific. He does not ask any faith. He asks only courage to experiment, courage to move, courage to take a jump into the unknown. He does not say, “Believe, and then you will experience.” He says, “Experience, and then you will believe.” And he has made a structure how to proceed step by step. His path is not haphazard; it is not like a labyrinth, it is like a super-highway. Everything is clear and the shortest possible route. But you have to follow it in every detail; otherwise you will move out of the path and in the wilderness.
That’s why I say he is logical, and you will see how he is logical. He starts from the body because you are rooted in the body. He starts and works with your breathing because your breathing is your life. First he works on the body; then he works on the prana — the second layer of existence — your breathing; then he starts working on thoughts.
There are many methods which start directly with the thought. They are not so logical and scientific because the man you are working with is rooted in the body. He is a soma, a body. A scientific approach must start with the body. Your body must be changed first. When your body changes, then your breathing can be changed. When your breathing changes, then your thoughts can be changed. And when your thoughts change, then you can be changed. You may not have observed that you are a close-knit system of many layers. If you are running, then your breathing changes because more oxygen is needed. When you are running your breathing changes, and when your breathing changes your thoughts immediately change…
He will say if you have anger, that means you have a breathing pattern which helps anger, and unless that breathing pattern is changed you cannot drop anger. You may do struggle, but that is not going to help — or, it may take a very long time. Unnecessary. So he will watch your breathing pattern, the breathing rhythm, and if you have a certain breathing rhythm, that means you have a certain body posture for it. The grossest is the body and the subtlest is the mind. Don’t start from the subtle because it will be more difficult. It is vague; you cannot grasp it. Start with the body. That’s why Patanjali starts with body postures. You may not have observed, because we are so unalert in life, that whenever you have a certain mood in the mind you have a certain body posture associated with it. If you are angry, can you sit relaxed? Impossible. If you are angry your body posture will change; if you are attentive then your body posture will change; if you are sleepy your body posture will change. If you are completely silent you will sit Buddha-like, you will walk Buddha-like. If you walk Buddha-like, you will feel a certain silence merging within your heart. A certain silent bridge is being created by your Buddha-like walk. Just sit under a tree like a Buddha. Just sit, just the body. Suddenly you will see that your breathing is changing. It is more relaxed; it is more harmonious. When the breathing is harmonious and relaxed, you will feel the mind is less tense. Thoughts are less there, less clouds, more space, more sky. You will feel a silence in and out, flowing. Hence, I say Patanjali is scientific.
If you want to change the body posture, Patanjali will say change your food habits, because every food habit creates subtle body postures. If you are a meat eater you cannot sit Buddha-like. If you are non-vegetarian your posture will be different, if you are vegetarian your posture will be different — because the body is built by your food. It is not an accident. Whatsoever you are putting in the body, the body will reflect it. So vegetarianism for Patanjali is not a moralist cult, it is a scientific method.
When you eat meat you are not only taking food, you are allowing a certain animal from which the meat has come to enter in you. The meat was part of a particular body; the meat was part of a particular instinct pattern. The meat was the animal just few hours before, and that meat carries all the impressions of the animal, all the habits of the animal. When you are eating meat your many attitudes will be affected by it. And if you are sensitive you can become aware that whenever you eat certain things, certain changes immediately come. You can take alcohol and then you are not the same. Immediately a new personality has come in. Alcohol cannot create a personality, but it changes your body pattern. The body chemistry is changed. With the change of the body chemistry, the mind has to change its pattern and when the mind changes pattern a new personality has come in.
I have heard one of the oldest Chinese parables, that once it happened a bottle of whisky fell down from a table — just by accident; a cat might have jumped. The bottle was broken and the whisky was spilled all over the floor. Three mice in the night lapped the whisky. One mouse immediately said, “Now, I am going to the king, to the palace, to put him right in his place.” The other said, “I am not worried about kings. I am myself going to be the emperor of the whole earth.” And the third said, “Do whatsoever you like, you fellows. I am going upstairs to make love to the cat.” The whole personality has changed — a mouse thinking of making love to a cat? It can happen; it happens every day. Whatsoever you eat changes you, whatsoever you drink changes you, because body is a great part. Ninety percent, you are your bodies.
Patanjali is scientific because he takes note of everything — the food, the posture, the way you sleep, the way you get up in the morning, when you get up in the morning, when you go to sleep. He takes note of everything so that your body becomes a situation for something higher. Then he takes note of your breathing.
If you are sad, you have a different rhythm of the breathing. Just note it down. You try; you can have a very beautiful experiment. Whenever you are sad just watch your breath — how much time you take in inhalation and then how much time you take in exhalation. Just note it down. Just count numbers inside: one, two, three, four, five… You count to five and the inhalation is over. Then you count — it comes to ten; the exhalation is over. Just watch it minutely so you can come to know the ratio. Then, whenever you feel happy, immediately try that sad pattern — five, ten. And the happiness will disappear. The reverse is also true. Whenever you feel happy, note it down how you are breathing. And whenever you feel sad, try that pattern. Immediately sadness will disappear, because mind cannot exist in a vacuum. It exists in a system, and breathing is the deepest system for the mind.
Breath is thought. If you stop breathing, immediately thoughts stop. Try it for a second. Stop the breathing. Immediately there is a break in the thinking process; the process is broken. Thinking is the invisible part of the visible breathing. That’s what I mean when I say Patanjali is scientific. He is not a poet. If he says, “Don’t eat meat,” he is not saying because eating meat is violence, no. He is saying it because eating meat is self-destructive. There are poets who say to be non-violent is beautiful; Patanjali says to be non-violent is to be healthy, to be non-violent is to be selfish. You are not having compassion on somebody else, you are having compassion on yourself. He is concerned with you and the transformation.
And you cannot change things just by thinking about change. You have to create the situation. Otherwise, all over the world, love has been taught, but love exists nowhere because the situation doesn’t exist. How can you be loving if you are a meat eater? If you are eating meat, the violence is there. And with such a deep violence how can you be loving? Your love will be just false. Or, it may be just a form of hate…
This is the situation of the whole human phenomenon, the whole humanity — just pious in thoughts; in deeds, man remains the animal. And this will be always so unless we don’t cling to thoughts but create situations in which thoughts change. Patanjali won’t say that it is good to be loving. He will help you to create the situation in which love can flower. This is why I say he is scientific. If you follow him step by step, you will see many flowerings in you which were inconceivable before, unimaginable. You could not have even dreamed about them. If you change your food, if you change your body postures, if you change your sleeping patterns, if you change ordinary habits, you will see a new person is arising in you. And then there are different changes possible. After one change other change becomes possible. Step by step, more possibilities open. That is why I say he is logical. He is not a logical philosopher, he is a logical, practical man.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 1
Chapter title: The purity of yoga
30 December 1973 pm in
Osho has spoken on ‘Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Shiva, Patanjali, Gorakh, Lao Tzu, Saraha, Tilopa, Zarathustra and many other enlightened Masters’ in many of His discourses. More on them can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- Tao: The Three Treasures
- Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
- The Mustard Seed: My Most Loved Gospel on Jesus
- The Path of Love
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- When the Shoe Fits
- Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
- Sermons in Stones
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Tantra Vision
- Tantra: The Supreme Understanding