Entrance into the Infinite

Lecture by Swami Satyananda Saraswati at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay on 15th March, 1979

Gradually people are coming to realise that they are part of a higher evolution of man and not only a body born to live and die. When the supply of electricity in our homes is constant and the wiring is made of strong material, there is continued illumination. In the same way we must learn to render the mind steady and develop an inner harmony, first through the practices of meditation and then continually at all times in the face of problems and conflicts in social and personal life.

Yoga is an ageless science. Although at times various methods of teaching yoga to the people have arisen, basically it has remained essentially the same.

From the primitive, uncivilised tribes to the modern age social systems, man has always needed yoga. By man I don't mean the way he looks, or talks, or his social or political views, but how he feels, reacts, dreams and expresses himself. Although he calls himself scientifically minded, and tries to understand everything- great and insignificant- in the light of science, still he has not made any departure at all from his essentially rajasic and tamasic nature. Our primitive ancestors also had anxieties, fears, worries, agonies, sorrows, guilt and psychosis but they didn't know it. Modern man not only suffers from the same number of problems but also from the knowledge of their existence and it affects the totality of his personality.

Fifty years from now our children are going to remind us that we have created this body, our houses, society and the nation around us from our mind. We have not been able to understand this mind because we have ignored it, believing that the body was first and last and that nothing existed beyond our physiological comprehension. But now a light is dawning and we have come to understand through the modern way of analysis that this body, our society, laws and religions, are all influenced by the mind and our personality. What we are today is what our nation is, what our home is, and what our diseases are.

In order to change every sphere of our social, political, economic, physical, mental and spiritual existence it is necessary for us to thoroughly re-orientate the man that has evolved within us. All forms of yoga- hatha yoga, raja yoga, bhakti yoga, karma yoga, gyana yoga, kundalini or laya yoga- have just one purpose in mind and that is to train the animal in man, to rend the instincts asunder and evolve a new personality.

The whole process of agony, living and suffering either physically, mentally or emotionally, originates from within us and not from without. This body is only a field of expression where we play the game. More than 90% of the diseases that we know today are basically psychosomatic in nature. Headaches, asthma, heart attack, peptic ulcer, constipation, blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, insomnia and sciatica are only a few examples. Scientific diagnosis of these and many other diseases attributes the cause to mental maladjustment. The psychological disorders like psychosis, neurosis, irrational fears and so on are deeper in nature.

Prana and chitta

In the view of yoga this body is a combination of two important elements. One is the life force, termed prana shakti and the other is the mental force known as chitta shakti. We are a composition of prana and chitta. When these two forces within us are balanced then life goes on smoothly. Such people are called saints or liberated beings, because they have transcended the pains of life. But when there is an imbalance between prana and consciousness then diseases of a physical, mental, emotional and psychic nature manifest.

In tantra these two elements are known as Shiva and Shakti. In yoga they are ida and pingala, the two great nadis that run within the framework of the spinal cord from its base at mooladhara chakra to the top in ajna chakra. Ida and pingala are powerful channels, carrying the cosmic energies in the human body.

Nadi comes from the Sanskrit 'nad'- to flow. It does not mean nerve or blood vessel as is commonly believed. They can't be seen like a cable wire. The flow of these two nadis is imperceptible to our physical eyes. However, it is definitely a reality in the same way as we cannot see the flows of thought, passion, anger or love, but still they exist.

This life force and mental force permeate the whole body, not only the parts of the body which are perceptible but every interior component and cell of the human body. When there is no prana there is death. Without chitta there is no awareness. Consciousness and prana move within the body, but normally remain separate. When they do unite and are in perfect balance with each other at the top of the spinal cord, the mind undergoes a state of fission and energy issues forth. There is an explosion of knowledge, a moment when you see everything as luminous.

Don't believe that this mind is just a bundle of habits or a collection of samskaras. It is not Satan or merely a psychological entity. Mind is consciousness, a substance holding infinite potentiality within its depth. It is the totality of awareness, karmas, emotions, thoughts, and every action and reaction. Once you learn to handle the mind through the practices of yoga you will be able to handle yourself like a master and not like a slave. Now, it is your mind that tells you what to do. It forces you to act sometimes even against your own wishes. The mind should not be suppressed, ignored or condemned because chitta is shakti, a great force in man which has to be tamed for evolution to continue.

Cultural, historical, political or economic evolution is not the evolution of man. Until man is able to tame the two infinite, universal energies within this micro cosmic unit, prana shakti and chitta shakti, there is no yoga and no evolution. We will continue to behave like animals, both in our physical form and in our level of awareness. Evolution means movement. For our spirit to move any further, the pranas must be balanced through hatha yoga- asanas, pranayama, mudras and bandhas. Chitta must be purified by nada yoga, kriya yoga, laya yoga and mantra yoga.

Prana is a special force which we are born with, through which we came into existence. This life force is a part of the universal prana, and mind is a part of the universal chitta. You are individual prana and chitta, but through the practices of yoga you can extend the area of control of your existence. Just as in the administrative field you extend offices from one district to another, then from one province to the next, in the same way you have to extend the area of activity of prana from the present gross level to a higher one. Prana is purely life force, it is Om, smaller than an atom, but it can be extended out of the mind into greater levels of influence.

What to practise

Sit down every morning in siddhasana, the best of the asanas. Both men and women can practise it because in yogic life there is no difference between the two. Male and female are the same; any differences are only imagined by the ignorant. Become steady in siddhasana, then fix your hands in either yoni mudra or chin mudra.

Learn how to practise moola, uddiyana and jalandhara bandhas, nasikagra and bhrumadhya drishti. Learn the correct way of practising pooraka, rechaka and kumbhaka either from your guru or from an experienced teacher. Practise pranayama for five to twenty minutes every day. This is the easiest and quickest method to awaken the state of dhyana, but the preparations have to be perfect.

The body must undergo a process of purification to eliminate all toxins. You must take care of your diet. This body is not a graveyard for a dead man. You have to put living nourishment inside it, not dead substance. If you are definite about dedicating yourself to the fulfilment of the greatest of tasks in life called dhyana yoga, then you have to make certain sacrifices.

If this practice creates any kind of physical difficulty with you, then your preparations are not complete. In this case go back to the asanas. Practise sarvangasana, halasana, siddhasana, supta vajrasana, matsyasana, bhujangasana and so on. These asanas are intended to create light impulses in the chakras. Some asanas can even awaken certain chakras directly. It is not necessary for you to wait for higher practices. For example, sarvangasana will help you in awakening vishuddhi. The practice of sirshasana creates a light stirring in sahasrara and so on. All these simple practices contribute to the eventual awakening. Don't think that yoga is a form of physical exercise. These postures are designed to create a union between Shiva and Shakti, between prana and apana, and prana and chitta. When this union is perfected then the state of dhyana arises.


The practice of dhyana yoga is of utmost importance because it will become the basis of the future world cultures. It will become the spiritual light which philosophies and cultures of the past have failed to give us. Up to now the socio-political creeds have only spoken of spiritual life in terms of Hinduism, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, or Christianity. But we have to learn to unite all these branches and that is why man is going to take shelter within yoga.

A revolution is taking place, not only in this land, but all over the world. The future of man's cultures, communities and religions will not be able to resist the influence of dhyana yoga. They will have to turn to it for guidance.

Now is the right time for you to accept dhyana yoga as part of your daily activities. Don't say that you have no time or that, when you sit for meditation your mind escapes you. No. These are only false excuses. Who are you deceiving? Who are you betraying? What happens to a man when he goes to hospital for fifteen days? Where does he get the time from? When you pass sleepless nights worrying about the problems of your family, your business, your love and hatred, where do you get the time from? In order to practise yoga, all you need is from five to twenty minutes daily. If you don't have it, then borrow it. Even if you have to pay high interest, the benefits you will receive in return will amply pay it back.

The practices of dhyana yoga will show you the way to the nucleus of your existence, to the centre of your personality. Yoga is an absolutely clear science. The questions and doubts that people have been asking throughout the ages- 'Where am I coming from?' and 'Where am I going to?'- will automatically be answered.

I use the term 'dhyana yoga' because meditation does not fully convey its correct meaning. I have been trying for many years to find just one word to correctly convey the meaning of dhyana yoga, in English, Spanish, German, French or any language. Dhyana is not Sanskrit; it is a universal word meaning total awareness. When you expand the possibilities of your knowledge, of your mind, this is known as dhyana. In Patanjali's raja yoga it is said that when an idea flows constantly without any interruption, without awareness of a second object, and stretches without any division or separation, it is called dhyana.

When people begin to practise dhyana yoga they always face the same difficulty. They try to concentrate on one point again and again but the mind wanders away. Again they bring it back, but again it escapes. They go on like this, alternating between pleasant experiences and states of total unruliness, every day for many years but they never achieve dhyana. This battle between yourself and yourself will last life long. You are not fighting for the mind, the mind is not fighting for you. Remember you are the mind and the mind is you. When you withdraw and struggle with the mind you are only creating conflict with yourself.

You will never win the fight with your mind because its very nature is a composition of the three gunas- tamas, rajas and sattva. When the state of tamas predominates the mind is dull, inactive and tense. When rajas is predominant the mental condition is scattered and dissipated. When sattva is in command the mind remains quiet and concentrated. The natural interplay of the three gunas exerts a great influence on the mind. If the mind loses one of these characteristics it is finished, it is dead.

Awakening sushumna

Yoga approaches the problem of concentration from a different viewpoint. The state of meditation is a culmination of the awakening of a third very important nadi known as sushumna. It flows within the framework of the spinal cord from its base at mooladhara chakra, straight to the top in ajna chakra, behind the mid-eyebrow centre in the medulla oblongata. As ida represents chitta, and pingala prana, sushumna represents atman, the spirit. It is a very powerful flow in man, a non-physical, absolutely transcendental, formless flow; a replica of the cosmic existence, of a god-like state.

Whereas the flow of ida and pingala functions alternately, sushumna normally lies in a dormant state often referred to as the eternal sleeping nadi. Once sushumna is awakened through the practices of yoga, you don't even have to try to meditate; it becomes a spontaneous process. If you can awaken sushumna for five minutes only, you will have the glimpse of a lifetime.

So now the question becomes how to awaken sushumna, not how to concentrate the mind, because no amount of effort or force can ever make the mind one-pointed. But you can enter into dhyana, into a state of samadhi through the practices of yoga by first awakening the sushumna nadi. Hatha yoga, the entire system of raja yoga, the philosophy of karma and bhakti yoga, the kriyas of laya and kundalini yoga and the esoteric science of mantra and japa yoga are directed to only one purpose- the awakening of this third great nadi.

Peace of mind, siddhis, psychic experiences, relief from blood pressure, diabetes and so on are all by products of yoga. There is no better system of therapy than yoga, but this is not the primary purpose. There are some people who practise long breath retentions or kumbhaka with moola bandha and uddiyana bandha, others practise vajroli, sahajoli and amaroli, concentration on the third eye, austerities, kriya yoga, repeating Gayatri mantra or 'Om' hundreds of thousands of times, while others take to LSD, ganja, heroin and indulge in so many activities in order to experience the absolute. But they are only floundering in the darkness. They don't realise the ultimate purpose of all these practices, so nothing happens. You cannot transcend time and space or the laws of gravity and mind unless sushumna, the great mother power in us, wakes up.

In Hindu mythology, sushumna is Durga and Kali. They represent the formless force. When Kali wakes up, she is pictured standing naked on Shiva who is lying in perfect shavasana, completely helpless. Shiva represents purusha or consciousness, and Kali represents prakriti or shakti. She is thoroughly dynamic and when she wakes up, kundalini automatically arises from its slumber in mooladhara chakra.

Awakening sushumna is not easy, but I have given you the clue. You may have to practise different systems of yoga, higher and lower forms, learned from your guru or from various teachers. The Patanjali system of yoga lists five methods of attaining this transcendental state, although I think there should be six. The first is awakening at birth, which is not your choice. It is the parents' choice, but most do not know how to produce children with an awakened sushumna. Secondly, take a mantra from your guru and practise it sincerely and regularly. Thirdly, practise tapas and austerity. Fourthly, the use of herbs is a perfect system but closely guarded by tradition and is usually confined to guru and chela. Fifthly, the methods of raja yoga and hatha yoga. The sixth method which I include is guru kripa, the grace of guru.

The message

We have to come to understand and believe how important dhyana yoga is for the evolution of man, for gaining total control over the pranic and mental forces in order to enable him to cast out diseases and soothe the mind. I am not talking about a miracle, but about how the mind controls itself through dhyana yoga.

Yoga is ageless and the problems of man have been the same throughout history. Man has not come out of the darkness although lie lives in illumined cities. He is no different from his great grand ancestors of the stone age. Somewhere we have to make a move, and the direction is dhyana. This is the message of yoga.

If you believe that the life you have been living to this day has given you something substantial and enduring then it is not necessary for you to carry this message back to your beautiful and happy homes. But if you think that there is something lacking in your life, a feeling of incompleteness and an inability to understand and solve your problems then dhyana yoga comes to you as a master key.

It has been handed down through the centuries. It is written in the Gita that Biwaswan passed this message onto Manu, then Manu spoke of it to Ikshavaku and now I am telling it to you. For some time this science went underground and became unknown. But again it has come up throughout the world as a panacea for the many physical and mental ills of human life.

Practise dhyana and awaken your sushumna. For you, it is too late to be awakened from birth, but maybe your children will be able to awaken their children. Now you must turn to the practices of yoga - karma, bhakti, gyana or kundalini. When your sushumna wakes up from time to time, then with eyes and mind closed your consciousness will open and beautiful images, fantastic experiences will unfold before your inner vision.