Most city dwellers have technical and complex jobs to fulfil. Some are able to face these challenges and still maintain a state of peace and equanimity. Others are confused and tense, not knowing what to do. They are constantly compelled to manipulate or fight with situations and people over the things that they need or want most. In the course of time this undermines their health both physically and mentally. They also find to their dismay that all sorts of adjustments in the external scheme of things do not give them a lasting solution to their problems; at best they get only a temporary relief. The root cause of all the ailments which afflict people today is their inability to live in harmony with the life around them.
This brings us to the question, what is life? To get an idea of life, we can make a comparison with its opposite situation, death. Imagine a dead dog. It does not respond even when we throw a stone at it. But if living it would have jumped up and started barking. So in life there is response and in death there is no response to external situations. Thus we can conclude that while living we go on experiencing, we go on responding to the situations which are external to us. From this we can conclude that life is a series of experiences. Just as a house is built of a large number of bricks, so life is built of a large number of experiences. In the course of our existence we have many experiences; some are good and give joy, other are bad and produce sorrow. A happy life results from having a majority of good experiences.
Next comes the question how to make each experience a happy one. But first we must determine what exactly is an experience? If we examine this very closely we will find that no experience is possible without three fundamental factors:
Without an experiencer, although the object of experience may be present, no experience can take place. If I am sleeping in my bedroom, and a good friend of mine walks in, I will not experience his arrival, because the experiencer is asleep at the moment of experience. Similarly, how can the experiencer have any experience without the objective world? Not only is there an experiencer and an object of experience, but a definite relationship between the two must be established in order to produce an experience. If I am absorbed in thought when a well-known friend passes by and greets me, even though my eyes may turn towards him, I may not register his passing. Thus I will not experience it. When we discover the triple content of each experience, we begin to see our entire life as experienced, experiencer and their relationship, the experiencing. If our experiences are to be good and bring us joy, then both the experienced as well as the experiencer must also be good. If the experienced is good but the experiencer is bad, then the resulting experience is bad and vice-versa. Both must be good.
What is this experienced world? It is the world of material objects, emotions and thoughts. The scientists, economists and politicians are continuously striving to improve the scheme of things in the external world so that the experienced becomes better and better. But this is only fifty per cent of the whole situation. We must also take care of the other side, the experiencer. Even if the total scheme of things in the external world could be made ideal, but the experiencer is not properly attuned, his life will be miserable.
Thus the yogic seers of yore found that unless the experiencer is evolved and properly developed, no happiness can be assured in this world. So they started concentrating on this particular work of evolving and developing the experiencer. Now who is this experiencer? It is one's own self, the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual components which together make up the total personality of each human being.
Now the next question is how can our total personality become properly oriented? The subjective thinkers of yore found in the course of their observations that when a subject perceives an object, it earns for itself an experience. The subject or experiencer, though he is physically one, has various subtle reactions to the object. Thus his composite structure is classified into four different personalities; the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual. They are so subtle and at the moment of experiencing they all work so quickly that ordinarily the superficial observer fails to recognise the fine distinction between these simultaneous reactions. The laborious experiments and exhaustive reports of yogic seers have crystallised for us the following clear theory. When a subject comes in contact with an object it does so, not as an integrated whole but as four distinct entities having different demands and values, from the four different layers of his being.
Supposing a cake has been offered as a casual present to you by your neighbour. The physical man in you at once jumps up to experience it. The eyes register its shape, the nose its smell, the skin its touch and perhaps the tongue, as a result, even starts to water. The mental man in you also rushes forth to experience it, but decides that since he is not very hungry, the cake will be more enjoyable after a couple of hours. The intellectual faculty may also rise up to evaluate the situation, telling you to remember the doctor's warning that cake is bad for your health since you are diabetic. The emotional faculty could gush forth in feeling of love and appreciation for such a kind and well-meaning neighbour, maybe even bringing tears to the eyes. While at the same time your intuition may warn you that acceptance of the cake will put you under an acquaintance's obligation.
Thus at every moment, in each of our experiences, four different I's protrude from us to suck at the situation and earn a synthetic profit from the experience. The four different powers behave just as unacquainted strangers from different realms, each entertaining different values of life. When they come together to enjoy any given object or situation, invariably, what brings satisfaction to one, conveys varying degrees of dissatisfaction to the other three. With this confusion of personalities within ourselves, our attempts to find peace and tranquillity are blasted. Thus the whole question boils down to integrating the personality so that we can eke out of the external world a series of satisfactory experiences. While investigating the threefold aspects of experience, the rishis of yore not only discovered that there are four different entities within the experiencer, but that every man must be ready to sacrifice the grosser in preference to the subtler entities in him.
Psychological satisfaction is richer than physical gratification. The subtler the personality, the greater is the satisfaction derived by the individual while identifying with it. Thus transcendence of the grosser world and its joys and sorrow occurs spontaneously in the process of evolution. This is a scientific fact, and there is a method by which we can all identify ourselves with the subtlest in us and learn to live in the world continuously in that state. This method is yoga.