Yoga: A Pilgrimage to Samadhi
International Yoga Day
Yoga simply means the fusion, the merging or the act of becoming one. And when we talk about this in the sense of inner world, it is the merging into self or existence. Yoga is a broad term, not just physical postures. Physical postures are the part of methods used to achieve ultimate state of yoga. Starting from the physical body, creating a harmony, a balance and slowly slowly moving inwards.
Yoga could be the best way to live a balance, healthy and blissful life. Today, on international yoga day let us bring the peace, balance and joy in our life with yoga. Yoga is the true scientific way of life.
Osho says “Yoga is an effort to reach the oneness of being through the left hemisphere, using logic, mathematics, science and trying to go beyond. Zen is just the opposite: the aim is the same but Zen uses the right hemisphere to go beyond.”
Osho also explains the meaning of yoga and says “meaning of the word ‘yoga’ — that which unites. That is the meaning of the word ‘religion’ also — that which makes you one, that which puts you again together — ‘religere’. You are no longer split.”
Yam, niyam, asan, pranayam, pratyahar, dharana, Dhyan, samadhiya, ashto angani.
THE EIGHT STEPS OF YOGA ARE: YAM, SELF-RESTRAINT; NIYAM. FIXED OBSERVANCE; ASAN, POSTURE; PRANAYAM, BREATH REGULATION; PRATYAHAR, ABSTRACTION; DHARANA, CONCENTRATION; DHYAN, CONTEMPLATION; SAMADHI, TRANCE.
The eight steps of yoga. This is the whole science of yoga in one sentence, in one seed. Many things are implied. First, let me tell you the exact meaning of each step. And remember, Patanjali calls them steps and limbs, both. They are both. Steps they are because one has to be followed by another, there is a sequence of growth. But they are not only steps: they are limbs of the body of yoga. They have an internal unity, an organic unity also, that is the meaning of limbs. For example, my hands, my feet, my heart — they don’t function separately. They are not separate; they are an organic unity. If the heart stops, the hand will not move then. Everything is joined together. They are not just like steps on a ladder, because every rung on the ladder is separate. If one rung is broken the whole ladder is not broken. So Patanjali says they are steps, because they have a certain, sequential growth — but they are also angas, Limbs of a body, organic. You cannot drop any of them.
Steps can be dropped; limbs cannot be dropped. You can jump two steps in one jump, you can drop one step, but limbs cannot be dropped; they are not mechanical parts. You cannot remove them. They make you. They belong to the whole; they are not separate. The whole functions through them as a harmonious unit. So these eight limbs of yoga are both steps, steps in the sense that each follows the other, and they are in a deep relationship. The second cannot come before the first — the first has to be first and the second has to be second. And the eighth will come to be the eighth — it cannot be the fourth, it cannot be the first. So they are steps and they are an organic unity also.
Yam means self-restraint. In English the word becomes a little different. Not a little different, really, the whole meaning of yam is lost — because in English self-restraint looks like suppressing, repressing. And these two words, suppression and repression, after Freud, have become four-letter words, ugly. Self-restraint is not repression. In the days when Patanjali used the word yam it had a totally different meaning. Words go on changing. Even now, in India also, samyam, which comes from yam, means control, repression. The meaning is lost…
To Patanjali self-restraint does not mean to repress oneself. It simply means to direct one’s life — not to repress the energies, but to direct, to give them a direction. Because you can live such a life, which goes on moving in opposite directions, in many directions — then you will never reach anywhere…To create a self-restraint means, first, to give a direction to your life energy.
Life energy is limited. If you go on using it in absurd undirected ways, you will not reach anywhere. You will be emptied of the energy sooner or later — and that emptiness will not be the emptiness of a Buddha; it will be simply a negative emptiness, nothing inside, an empty container. You will be dead before you are dead. But these limited energies that have been given to you by nature, existence, God, or whatsoever you like to call it; these limited energies can be used in such a way that they can become the door for the unlimited. If you move rightly, if you move consciously, if you move alert, gathering all your energies and moving in one direction, if you are not a crowd but become an individual — that is the meaning of yam…
If you are not an individual, a unitary being, wherever you are, you will always be missing. You will never be at home anywhere, you will always be going somewhere or other and never arriving anywhere. You will become mad. The life which is against yam will become mad. It is not surprising that in the West more mad people exist than in the East. The East — knowingly, unknowingly — still follows a life of a little self-restraint. In the West to think about self-restraint looks like becoming a slave; to be against self-restraint looks like you are free, independent. But unless you are an individual you cannot be free. Your freedom will be a deception; it will be nothing but suicide. You will kill yourself, destroy your possibilities, your energies; and one day you will feel that the whole life you tried so much but nothing has been gained, no growth has come out of it.
Self-restraint means, the first meaning: to give a direction to life. Self-restraint means to become a little more centered. How can you become a little more centered? Once you give a direction to your life, immediately a center starts happening within you. Direction creates the center; then the center gives direction. And they are mutually fulfilling.
Unless you are self-restrained, the second is not possible — that s why Patanjali calls them steps. The second is niyam, fixed observance: a life which has a discipline, a life which has a regularity about it, a life which is lived in a very disciplined way, not hectic. Regularity… but that too will sound to you like slavery. All beautiful words of Patanjali’s time have become ugly now. But I tell you, unless you have a regularity in your life, a discipline, you will be a slave of your instincts — and you may think this is freedom, but you will be a slave of all the vagrant thoughts. That is not freedom. You may not have any visible master, but you will have many invisible masters within you; and they will go on dominating you. Only a man who has a regularity about him can become the master someday. That too is far away still, because the real master happens only when the eighth step is achieved — that is the goal. Then a man becomes a jina, a conqueror. Then a man becomes a Buddha, one who is awakened. Then a man becomes a Christ, a savior, because if you are saved, suddenly, you become a savior for others. Not that you try to save them: just your presence is a saving influence. The second is niyam, fixed observance.
The third is posture. And every step comes out of the first, the preceding one: when you have regularity in life, only then can you attain to posture, asan. Try asan sometimes; just try to sit silently. You cannot sit — the body tries to revolt against you. Suddenly you start feeling pain here and there. The legs are going dead. Suddenly you feel, on many spots of the body, a restlessness. You had never felt it. Why is it that just sitting silently so many problems arise? You feel ants are crawling up. Look, and you will see there are no ants; the body is deceiving you. The body is not ready to be disciplined. The body is spoiled. The body does not want to listen to you. It has become its own master. And you have always followed it. Now, even to sit silently for a few minutes has become almost impossible. People pass through such hell if you tell them to just sit silently. If I say this to somebody he says, “Just to sit silently, not doing anything?” — as if “doing” is an obsession. He says, “At least give me a mantra so I can go on chanting inside.” He needs some occupation. Just sitting silently seems to be difficult. And that is the most beautiful possibility that can happen to a man: just sitting silently doing nothing.
Asan means a relaxed posture. You are so relaxed in it, you are so restful in it, that there is no need to move the body at all. In that moment, suddenly, you transcend body…
Asan comes only to a person who lives a life of restraint, fixed observance, regularity; then posture is possible. Then you can simply sit because the body knows that you are a disciplined man. If you want to sit, you will sit — nothing can be done against you. The body can go on saying things… by and by it stops. Nobody is there to listen. It is not suppression; you are not suppressing the body. On the contrary, the body is trying to suppress you. It is not suppression. You are not saying anything for the body to do; you are simply resting. But the body does not know any rest because you have never given rest to it. You have always been restless. The very word asan means rest, to be in deep rest; and if you can do that, many things will become possible to you.
If the body can be in rest, then you can regulate your breathing, You are moving deeper, because breath is the bridge from the body to the soul, from the body to the mind. If you Can regulate breathing — that is pranayam — you have power over your mind. Have you ever watched that whenever the mind changes, the rhythm of the breath immediately changes? If you do the opposite — if you change that rhythm of the breath — the mind has to change immediately. When you are angry you cannot breathe silently; otherwise the anger will disappear. Try. When you are feeling angry your breath goes chaotic, it becomes irregular, loses all rhythm, becomes noisy, restless. It is no longer a harmony. A discord starts being there; the accord is lost. Try one thing: whenever you are getting angry just relax and let the breath be in rhythm. Suddenly you will feel the anger has disappeared. The anger cannot exist without a particular type of breathing in your body…
After asan comes breath regulation, prarayam…And pranayam is not something which can be taught to you. You have to discover it because everybody has a different rhythm to his breathing. Everybody’s breathing and its rhythm is as much different as thumbprints. Breathing is an individual phenomenon, that’s why I never teach it. You have to discover your own rhythm. Your rhythm may not be a rhythm for somebody else, or may be harmful for somebody else. Your rhythm — you have to find. And that is not difficult. There is no need to ask any expert. Just keep a chart for one month of all your moods and states. Then you know which is the rhythm where you feel most restful, relaxed, in a deep let-go; which is the rhythm where you feel quiet, calm, collected, cool; which is the rhythm when, suddenly, you feel blissful, filled with something unknown, overflowing — you have so much in that moment, you can give to the whole world and it will not be exhausted. Feel and watch the moment when you feel that you are one with the universe, when you feel the separateness is there no more, a bridge, when you feel one with the trees and the birds and the rivers and the rocks, and the ocean and the sand — watch You will find that there are many rhythms of your breath, a great spectrum: from the most violent, ugly, miserable hell-type, to the most silent heaven-type.
And then when you have discovered your rhythm, practice it — make it a part of your life. By and by it becomes unconscious; then you only breathe in that rhythm. And with that rhythm your life will be a life of a yogi: you will not be angry, you will not feel so sexual, you will not feel so filled with hatred. Suddenly you will feel a transmutation is happening to you.
Pranayam is one of the greatest discoveries that has even happened to human consciousness. Compared to pranayam, going to the moon is nothing. It looks very exciting, but it is nothing, because even if you reach to the moon, what will you do there? Even if you reach to the moon you will remain the same. You will do the same nonsense that you are doing here. Pranayam is an inner journey. And pranayam is the fourth — and there are only eight steps. Half the journey is completed on pranayam. A man who has learned pranayam, not by a teacher — because that is a false thing, I don’t approve of it — but by his own discovery and alertness, a man who has learned his rhythm of being, has achieved half the goal already. Pranayam is one of the most significant discoveries.
And after pranayam, breath regulation, is pratyahar, abstraction. Pratyahar is the same as I was talking to you about yesterday. The “repent” of Christians is, in fact, in Hebrew “return” — not repent but return, going back. The toba of Mohammedans is nothing; it is not “repenting.” That too has become colored with the meaning of repentance; toba is also returning back. And pratyahar is also returning back, coming back — coming in, turning in, returning home. After pranayam that is possible — pratyahar — because pranayam will give you the rhythm. Now you know the whole spectrum: you know in what rhythm you are nearest to home and in what rhythm you are farthest from yourself. Violent, sexual, angry, jealous, possessive, you will find you are far away from yourself; in compassion, in love, in prayer, in gratitude, you will find yourself nearer home. After pranayam, pratyahar, return, is possible. Now you know the way — then you already know how to step backwards.
Then comes dharana. After pratyahar, when you have started coming back nearer home, coming nearer your innermost core, you are just at the gate of your own being. Pratyahar brings you near the gate; pranayam is the bridge from the out to the in. Pratyahar, returning, is the gate, and then is the possibility of dharana, concentration. Now you can become capable of bringing your mind to one object. First, you gave direction to your body; first, you gave direction to your life energy — now you give direction to your consciousness. Now the consciousness cannot be allowed to go anywhere and everywhere. Now it has to be brought to a goal. This goal is concentration, dharana: you fix your consciousness on one point. When consciousness is fixed on one point thoughts cease, because thoughts are possible only when your consciousness goes on wavering — from here to there, from there to somewhere else. When your consciousness is continuously jumping like a monkey, then there are many thoughts and your whole mind is just filled with crowds — a marketplace. Now there is a possibility — after pratyahar, pranayam, there is a possibility — you can concentrate on one point.
If you can concentrate on one point, then the possibility of dhyan. In concentration you bring your mind to one point. In dhyan you drop that point also. Now you are totally centered, nowhere-going — because if you are going anywhere it is always going out. Even a single thought in concentration is something outside you — object exists; you are not alone, there are two. Even in concentration there are two: the object and you. After concentration the object has to be dropped. All the temples lead you only up to concentration. They cannot lead you beyond because all the temples have an object in them: the image of God is an object to concentrate on. All the temples lead you only up to dharana, concentration. That’s why the higher a religion goes, the temple and the image disappear. They have to disappear. The temple should be absolutely empty, so that only you are there — nobody, nobody else, no object: pure subjectivity.
Dhyan is pure subjectivity, contemplation — not contemplating “something,” because if you are contemplating something it is concentration. In English there are no better words. Concentration means something is there to concentrate upon. Dhyan is meditation: nothing is there, everything dropped, but you are in an intense state of awareness. The object has dropped, but the subject has not fallen into sleep.
Deeply concentrated, without any object, centered — but still the feeling of “I” will persist. It will hover. The object has fallen, but the subject is still there. You still feel you are. This is not ego. In Sanskrit we have two words, ahankar and asmita. Ahankar means “I am.” And asmita means ‘am.’ Just “amness” — no ego exists, just the shadow is left. You still feel, somehow, you are. It is not a thought, because if it is a thought, that “I am,” it is an ego. In meditation the ego has disappeared completely; but an amness, a shadowlike phenomenon, just a feeling, hovers around you — just a mist-like thing, that just in the morning hovers around you. In meditation it is morning the sun has not risen yet, it is misty: asmita, amness, is still there.
You can still fall back. A slight disturbance — somebody talking and you listen — meditation has disappeared; you have come back to concentration. If you not only listen but you have started thinking about it, even concentration has disappeared; you have come back to pratyahar. And if not only are you thinking but you have become identified with the thinking, pratyahar has disappeared; you have fallen to pranayam. And if the thought has taken so much possession of you that your breathing rhythm is lost, pranayam has disappeared: you have fallen to asan. But if the thought and the breathing are so much disturbed that the body starts shaking or becomes restless. Asan has disappeared. They are related. One can fall from meditation. Meditation is the most dangerous point in the world, because that is the highest point from where you can fall, and you can fall badly. In India we have a word, yogabhrasta: one who has fallen from yoga. This word is very, very strange. It appreciates and condemns together. When we say somebody is a yogi, it is a great appreciation. When we say somebody is yogabhrasta, it is also a condemnation: fallen from the yoga. This man had attained up to meditation somewhere in his past life and then fell down.
From meditation the possibility of going back to the world is still there — because of asmita, because of amness. The seed is still alive. It can sprout any moment; so the journey is not over. When asmita also disappears, when you no longer know that you are — of course, you are but there is no reflection upon it, that “I am,” or even amness — then happens samadhi, trance, ecstasy. Samadhi is going beyond; then one never comes back. Samadhi is a point of no return. From there nobody falls. A man in samadhi is a god: we call Buddha a god, Mahavir a god. A man in samadhi is no longer of this world. He may be in this world, but he is no longer of this world. He doesn’t belong to it. He is an outsider. He may be here, but his home is somewhere else. He may walk on this earth, but he no longer walks on the earth. It is said about the man of samadhi he lives in the world but the world does not live in him.
These are the eight steps and eight limbs together. Limbs because they are so interrelated and so organically related; steps because you have to pass one by one — you cannot start from just anywhere: you have to start from yam…
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 5
Chapter title: The eight limbs of yoga
5 July 1975 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Yoga’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 1, 2
- Ecstasy – The Forgotten Language
- From Misery to Enlightenment
- I Am That
- The Psychology of the Esoteric
- The Path of the Mystic
- The Secret of Secrets
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2
- Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
- Take It Easy, Vol 1
- Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 1, 2
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2