The great objective of Raja Yoga

Book 2 – Sutra 17

17. The illusion that the Perceiver and that which is perceived are one and the same, is the cause (of the pain-producing effects) which must be warded off.

This sutra brings us right back to the great basic duality of manifestation, the union of spirit and matter. It is their interplay which produces all the form-producing modifications or activities on the various planes and which is the cause of the limitations which pure consciousness has imposed upon itself. In a small commentary such as this it is impossible to enter with any fullness into this subject. All that it is possible to do is to touch upon the subject as it affects man himself.

It might be summed up as follows: All pain and sorrow is caused by the spiritual man identifying himself with his objective forms in the three worlds and with the realm of phenomena in which those forms have their activities. When he can detach himself from the kingdom of the senses and know himself as the “one who is not that which is seen and touched and heard” then he can free himself from all form-limitations and stand apart as the divine perceiver and actor. He will use forms as he desires in order to attain certain specific ends but is not deluded into regarding them as himself. Students would do well to learn to hold the consciousness that in the three worlds (which is all that concerns the aspirant at this stage) he is the highest factor in the well-known triplicities:

The Perceiver Perception That which is perceived,
The Thinker Thought Thought forms,
The Knower Knowledge The field of knowledge,
The Seer Sight That which is seen,
The Observer Observation That which is observed,
The Spectator Vision The Spectacle,

and many others equally well known.

The great objective of Raja Yoga is to free the thinker from the modifications of the thinking principle so that he no longer merges himself in the great world of thought illusions nor identifies himself with that which is purely phenomenal. He stands free and detached and uses the world of the senses as the field of his intelligent activities and no longer as the field of his experiments and experience-gaining endeavors.

It must be remembered that the means of perception are the six senses; i.e. hearing, touch, sight, taste, smell and the mind, and that these six must be transcended and known for what they are. The means of perception reveal the great maya or world of illusion which is composed of forms of every kind, built of substance which must be studied as to its atomic and molecular construction and as to the basic elements which give to that substance its specific differentiations and qualities. For purposes of study the student will do well to remember that he must investigate the nature of the following factors in the polar opposite to spirit which we call matter:

  1. Atoms,
  2. Molecular matter,
  3. The elements,
  4. The three gunas or qualities,
  5. The tattvas or force differentiations in their seven forms.

Through an understanding of the nature and distinctions of matter he will come to a comprehension of the world of form which has held his spirit a prisoner for so long.


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