Yoga Conquers Fear

A disciple of Swamiji

(Continued from the last issue)

I, in particular, know of a case, having read of the case in some magazine of course, who suffered from infantile paralysis right from the cradle. She was a girl without hope, was only for the reason that her ailment is merely a story of the past. She ails no more, she lives, and is still going strong as if nothing ever was the matter with her. A renowned Polish surgeon, an American nationalist also a specialist in the diseases of the brain, eyes, ears and nose, were responsible for bringing about her cure. This American-Pole has also enthusiasm for Yoga and never misses a day without half an hour of Asanas and Pranayama belonging to Yogic literature. There after, he spends 14 to 18 hours each day, Sundays inclusive, in his own hospital, without a minute to spare, making the sick and dejected, healthy and hopeful.

His said patient always yelled ‘keep quiet’ whenever anybody dared utter God's name in her presence. The first successful diagnosis the brain expert made with conviction was, that the girl, for from being an atheist, was sufficiently God fearing. He argued, in his mind, that the very fact that the ‘Name’ put her into commotion and turmoil to such an extent proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was fear of God rather than the hatred of Him that made the girl so excited and confused. He brought before the girl a painting of Lord Jesus Christ, and asked point blank, ‘do you happen to know who He is?’ The girl kept quiet, mum, didn't say a word, didn't yell any more, lost even guts to look at the doctor straight in the face and sank her head in shame. She wanted to weep but could not do so. Not because she was paralytic, her head structure was fine, only her limbs, and that too solely of the left hand side of the body, were victims of the cruelty of fate right from the first hour of her life on Earth.

'That's better,' encouraged the doctor, 'you have faith, little girl, all shall be well. You will be able to walk, I am very, very confident.'

With prescribed exercises and massages, proper diet and atmosphere around, as also with electric high frequency and other convulsions, together with ray therapy, the girl showed signs of progress and recovered completely within 9 months and five days. But the horrible experiences of life went with her on the day she walked out of the hospital premises. She could not forget and leave behind. Her moroseness and lack of interest in life persisted. Incessantly she kept on imagining that she had been cured only temporarily and feared a relapse, sooner or later, to the original state. She just could not believe that she was also destined to be completely well, that her ailments of the past would no more incapacitate her again. Her guardians (by the way, her real parents, both of them, had departed when she was only 10 and 12 years old) did their level best to make her smile. Nothing doing. A mental reaction of a worse character substituted her physical handicaps of the past. Hot temper and rudeness, disinterestedness in home and a craze to fly away to an entirely new world, such as Panama or Cairo, Bombay or Hong Kong, erupted day after day out of her mind. Often she would curtly retort, 'don't you know I am the cursed one in your home; perhaps the only one west of the Atlantic, for all I care? Keep away from me, don't talk to me, or better still, kill me. Killing in my case won't amount to murder, it will be an act of mercy. Or if you can't do all that, send me far away to Africa, Asia or Australia.' The guardians hurried to a church and arranged with a priest to eradicate the misconception of an anathema being on her head. She was blessed once again in the presence of 360. All in vain, the misconception did not vanish from her mind.

All efforts being of little avail, they approached the Pole again. The doctor surprisingly acquiesced to keep her in his home and be her new father for a while and even promised to employ her in his own hospital on light duties, should all go well in the initial stages with the well known yogic methods.

The very first thing the doctor decided to tell her clearly and is as simple a language as possible, at the breakfast table and during luncheon and supper intervals, was something about all that was contained in her body, heart, lungs, intestines, blood, air, waste matter, bladder, kidneys, liver, bones, joints, tissue, nerves, arteries, brain, ears, eyes, nose, etc. The girl showed interest and when she was ripe enough to understand the ABC of Yoga he introduced to her respiratory details, the benefits of breathing exercises (pranayamas) and asanas, and also the advantages of short meditation every day. Before teaching her Asanas, however, he made her walk in his garden, increasing the dose week by week. Within a couple of months she was able to walk like any other normal person, fast too if need arose. A little later, she could run as well. By the time the first year ended, she had perfect mastery of most of the conventional Asanas, including 'Sirshasana', the king of all Asanas. She competed with the doctor doing 'Nadi Shodhana' of 'Uttama' category, inhaling slowly for 20 seconds, retaining breath for as many as 83 seconds and exhaling very slowly in 40 seconds. The unison between her various bodily parts intensified and along with added suppleness and flexibility of the body, she gained four kilogrammes in weight during her first twelve months with the doctor.

Fifteen months after the doctor had volunteered to be her new daddy, she began to look after the hospital stores and kept inventories. To crown everything, she got quite a handsome pay too, and very soon paid her guardians twice the amount they had expended on her cure and, what is most important, her fear of a possible future relapse vanished for good.

Attentive and judicious readers of mine will justifiably jump at the opportunity I have given, whether foolishly or otherwise, and assail me with a storm of questions and counter arguments. The beginning would be something like this, 'you who seem to have visions of considerably greater misery, unhappiness and fear in the homes of the rich, have conveniently skipped the case of a birth with infantile paralysis in a poor hut, in a home where the parents may be finding it difficult to make the two ends meet. They may not be able to afford even one meal in a day. how can they afford such a prolonged and costly cure of infantile paralysis?' Perfectly right and in fact, I did have a desire to be questioned in this strain. That's the sort of questions I have myself asked my mind often. The powers of wealth are, in a sense, limitless, I do not deny.

Nevertheless, it is apt and proper to remember that centuries ago, when medicine and science had not yet found a renowned place in their cradles, methods and techniques to do something when humanity ailed were already existent. And something that was being done had also in those days lots of unrecorded successes. These facts are now well known and proofs thereof lie in innumerable narrated evidences from family to family, from generation to generation, century after century. The technique of Yoga is as old as that if not older. Yogis of those days, and even of the present modern age, did not and do not want to mint money trying to teach you Yoga. On the contrary, they and their munificent supporters and well wishers, have to shell out from their own pockets pots and pots of money so that the technique may become well known everywhere, and especially where it is badly needed - in the poor hut without means to afford. If you are conversant with the know how you haven't got to spend anything when applying Yogic methods to prevent and fight this ailment and that.

If the argument is of the nature that unrecorded failures in curing ailments in bygone ages were comparatively more numerous, then equally true and valid can be the counter argument that their disinterestedness and faithlessness, if not laziness, in knowingly seeing the superfluity of acquiring the right and proper knowledge freely available then could be one of the major causes of the failures of those days. Had they been less lazy to learn they could have definitely saved what they loved to save in the days when modern medicines were absolutely unknown. However, to be fair and just towards the populace of this ancient era, the Yogis of those days will also have to bear the brunt of the responsibility for failures.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry could not get acquaintanceship with Yoga at that time, the Yogis wouldn't teach. Only the few selected disciples of Gurus could practice Yoga, and the qualified ones had strict orders not to part with the knowledge they had acquired very readily, wherever they went. As such, ignorance of the peoples, promoted by false and exaggerated fears of the Yogis, account for the higher numerousness, should the argument be true as long as the veil of secrecy could not be lifted the proper integration between those who knew and those who did not know could not be realised.

You sorely must have read or heard of the calamity that befell dozens of score of poor huts in Morocco due to ruthlessness on the part of a few heartless merchants, who, only with the object of enhancing their profits, mixed a type of motor oil containing poisonous T.O.P.C. along with the cooking oil they used to sell. The poison would not react immediately and usually the symptoms become visible only after a couple of weeks. As such, no counter steps could be taken instantly, and as a result of this delay in hanging the culprits, thousands were and are still paralysed. The point I wish to stress in the present context is, that even today, in the modern scientific era the doctors and nurses of the International Red Cross units working in the stricken areas see hope for the crippled only in massage and exercise of the paralysed limbs.

Indeed, it is high time I switched over to some theme of a more pleasant character; let us say, unrest and fear caused by envy, jealousy, rivalry, temptation, lust, family quarrels, abusiveness, blasphemy, infidelities, deceits, twists, etc; by robberies and forgeries, by losses in gambling dens and at the races, or by accidents and deaths; and so on and so forth. Of course, doctors and psychiatrists encounter these cases more frequently than Yogis do and those who can afford can readily be restored to health, howsoever temporarily or otherwise, by the former category, using tranquillizers and drugs, injections and shocks, etc. As I know, the effect is not lasting in quite a number of cases and in so far as the poor hut is concerned, there can be excitement due to these cases and causes is more probable than due to 'infantile paralysis'. And, furthermore, 99% of the poor class are in one sense lethargic and approach neither the Yogi nor the Doctor. Their lives just drag on and when one is worried and tempered, or even sick, the usual unanimous solution is, 'ah, let him alone, it couldn't possible be so bad, he will be alright again, time is the greatest healer'.

For those who think otherwise and bemoan repeatedly 'ha, if I knew yoga and yogic methods', let it be mentioned that the ancient era is long since past and today Gurus do not impart their knowledge only to disciples. Any aspirant and enthusiast (Sadhaka) is welcome, whether ill or not ill.

Once you have put together enough of courage and faith to believe in Yoga, and/or in methods and techniques similar to those of Yoga, or anything else you may have chosen for your salvation, you must surrender your selves completely. Nothing is incapable of solution when one has decided to be bent on locating and enhancing one's spiritual values. Your will and determination to withstand under all circumstances all discouraging factors and influences, if any, is the first proof of your having withstood successful the first test. With supreme confidence and with full realisation of one and the same soul being in one and all, without a single exception, the success is bound to be yours, slowly but surely.

The heartening fruits of successful meditation are worth discovering. The struggle is not easy and to be able to meditate properly with success and benefits, one just has got to learn, and that too, of course, in the right manner with earnest seriousness. You can't happily get away by deciding to be ignorant and as little educated as possible, just because they say, 'Ignorance is Bliss'. It is a coward's hide out, such weaklings just seek a pretext for their laziness. Knowledge is never going to add to one's unhappiness, on the contrary, can equip one to fight the battles of life with greater resoluteness and success, haphazard half-heartedness in learning is sure to ensure your failure. There is no remedy against it, if you have failed and again get possessed with a desire to pass, then it is only through your own efforts that a remedy can be found. Utmost concentration and devotion without loss of faith is the foundation stone of your 'castle', for your own self and for others, for you and me.

Generally speaking Meditation, which is one of the basic sections of Yoga, if seriously practiced, is bound to infuse spiritual qualities in anyone and in everyone. Everyone. Everybody has got the spirit. One has only got to be aware of it, consciously and with staid attention. If the spirit sleeps and makes you feel that you are devoid of spirit, then it is your solemn duty to awaken the spirit. The eternal SOUL in all of us, you and we, cannot be cut with a saw, cannot be burnt by fire, cannot be extinguished by water and cannot be destroyed by death. Super pessimists and atheists who sometimes talk of absence of SOUL and devoidness of spirit are absurdly fallacious. Everybody, right from childhood, ought to be warned and safeguarded against such obnoxiously fraudulent and nugatory enemies of our macrocosm, and of all of (excepting them, of course) who faithfully believe, staunchly and unansweringly.

To be spirited, and at the same time pretend to be spiritless, is an outrageous performance on the part of a child of God. Such a sin may remain eternally unforgivable in the eyes of God. If you are an atheist, you have got to adopt pleasures to please God also for a change, you have pleased those who never pray and those who never believe long enough. If, for instance, my title 'YOGA CONQUERS FEAR' is found to be erroneous and devoid of sense in any corner, I, for one, are not going to be least afraid. Even the smallest mature child can understand what I am driving at, which category of FEAR I am trying to tackle. If any body has a desire to wage a 'war' against my writings, then it can primarily be nothing else but a 'war of one word', and who else can be capable of pretence of not being able to understand such an easy thing but an atheist? In so far as these three words, 'FEAR OF GOD', are concerned YOGA pre-determined ultimate goal is to infuse in all, regardless of their past, fear of God. Conquest is not at all the objective in the present context.

Yoga does not demand of your prayers, belief, etc. because it wishes to conquer 'Fear of God'. Is it so very difficult to understand? And in so far as asana, pranayama and meditation are concerned, Yoga does not demand of its Gurus, disciples and Sadhakas, practice of these three for 24 hours of the day and night. Just a couple of hours, only half an hour or fifteen minutes, in case you are a very busy 'yogist'. The vital point in everything is, that you should never forget that you are NOT devoid of spirit. You first of all have to learn to respect your body and the spirit within. Respect of others for you will then come automatically, you haven't got to go a ‘hunting’.

The 'legless' girl I referred to previously really did exactly this. She was made to marvel with stupefying perplexity at the Wonder of Wonders, the structure of her body and mind. After knowing that such mighty mechanisms only God can contrive and build, she lost all temptation to feel the absence of Soul within her body. Whether she liked it or not she was made to abandon her insistence to be disrespectful and full of abhorrence for her own self. She became happy, fearful of God, and fearless of everything else. She made the small world around her, especially the doctor, happy and more experienced too.

We all know the famous saying, ‘Rome was not built in a day’. Similarly, if you have to equip yourself with powers and stamina to meditate, you can't possibly acquire all that overnight. You have to make small and humble beginnings, and build your castle brick by brick. The process demands formidable endurance and devoted patience. Small beginnings, with pranayamas in particular, appear easy at first sight. You shouldn't get hastily puffed up and say, ‘Ha, what is so very special in it? Even a child can do it.’ Just because you can do it, you haven't necessarily done with it. You have to do it all over again, nothing is proper and perfect in the manner in which you do it in the initial stages. Every child knows how to breath, automatically and without awareness there of. In Yoga it is a different story. Kumbhaka, i.e. retention of breath is not the only thing new, as you might initially discover. May be, right on the very next day, your views will be different. There are lots of other things which shall demand serious effort and perseverance from the learner. Just to mention a few of them:

  1. Proper relationship between inhalation and exhalation.
  2. Absence of Interrupted flow during respiration.
  3. Uniformity in the rate at which the respiration takes place, especially in the case of exhalation, which after a retention of, say, twice the duration of inhalation, will be very rapid and un-uniform in the initial states of a beginner's experiments with Yoga.
  4. Thorough consciousness and full knowledge of each and every breath.
  5. Adequate deepness of breathing and maintenance of same deepness and length, minute after minute, for several minutes, without any change. In the case of meditation with the aid of Ajapa Japa, to quote an example, if you inhale and exhale 14 times each in the first minute, 12 times each in the next minute, 15 times each in the third minute and so on, then everything is wrong in what you do. This means that the easy looking ABC of Pranayama was too hastily done away with and a beginning has to be made all anew.
  6. Motionlessness of body during the exercises and sufficient will and stamina to sit straight and erect in whatever posture you may have chosen to sit most comfortably. This is very important when the various pranayama have been combined and developed into meditation. The body should be absolutely steady, well settled on the seat, steady as a rock without stiffness and tension, and completely sober.
  7. Creation of vacuum (blankness) as and when demanded of the mind.
  8. Concentration on any one Chakra within you or even on all known Chakras - especially the four important ones within the spinal column's Sushumna and Mooladhara and Ajna - synchronising in the desired manner with rhythmic inhalations and exhalations, and indeed, without losing for a single second awareness of the respiratory functions. Preservation of one's calm and steady when the meditation is disturbed by circumstances beyond one's control. Ability to relax lightly, without the slightest stiffness in the body and heaviness in the head, if and when relaxation is demanded.

In conclusion, let us all remember one final vitally important point. The usual tendency, or better said, the usual weakness of the human mind is to seek a cause to everything, conveniently forgetting one's own self. If you are unhappy and fearful, no useful purpose is going to be served, in trying to make others responsible for your dilemma and discomfort. We should always be prepared to bear the responsibility for our restlessness on our own shoulders, even when we feel that we are absolutely in the wrong in doing so. It is suicidal trying to feel absolutely innocent every five minutes, and try to argue and argue with others and with one's own self. The sole thought during meditation should be only on things and subjects you are required to think of. The object of meditation is to restore your peace of mind, to re-establish the good tenets and characteristics of your mind, to make you fearless and happy. You only can help your selves to approach successfully these objectives. Success may be slow in coming, but for that reason, determination and patience should not be sacrificed. God willing, you must succeed.