The Right Proportion

From Conversations on the Science of Yoga – Bhakti Yoga Book 1: Experience of the Heart

Swami Satyananda: It is understood that the various systems of sadhanas have to be placed properly. If they are not placed properly, there is going to be chaos in one’s expressions of life, personality and behaviour. That is the reason why many spiritual people look very crazy. They look crazy because they are moving through a process that is responsible for lopsided development.

When I talk about yoga I talk about integral yoga, yoga of synthesis. I do not overemphasize just one aspect of yoga because I do not think it is right. One thing is certain. If one is cooking two kilos of vegetables, one does not put in two kilos of salt or two kilos of butter. There is a correct proportion. In the same way, in the practice of yoga there is also a correct proportion.

There must be seventy percent karma yoga; twenty percent raja yoga, hatha yoga, kundalini yoga, and so on; five percent jnana yoga and five percent bhakti yoga. If one tries to practise seventy percent dhyana yoga, kundalini yoga, kriya yoga, tantra yoga, then one will go to the mental hospital. Or if one practises seventy percent jnana yoga, then one becomes an intellectual giant but remains a pygmy in other areas of the personality. If one practises seventy percent bhakti yoga one will be saying, “Oh God, Oh God, this microphone is working because of God’s grace. This flower is red because of God’s grace. Oh, today it is not raining because of God’s grace.” You bring God everywhere, even into the toilet. Too much bhakti is not good for it brings about an imbalance. Too much raja yoga also causes an imbalance and too much of jnana yoga creates imbalance too. People are gross and therefore they need a greater proportion of karma yoga.

In order to purify the mind, it is necessary to practise karma yoga. Bhakti, raja and jnana yoga are important for a balanced development, but karma yoga should predominate because if the mind is not purified of the dross, if the samskaras are not properly resolved, they obstruct the process of inner as well as mundane experience. With an impure mind there are a lot of mental problems which arise from one’s interaction with day-to-day life and the people around.

With the awakening of kundalini or with the practice of tantra the perception changes, intuition changes, and the possibility of discovering deeper forms of knowledge becomes possible. Karma yoga, bhakti yoga and raja yoga are meant to deal with the various problems one faces during this process of transformation.

Bhakti yoga is necessary in order to overcome the hurdles; for the mind in its primordial stage has a lot of crude material in it.

Yoga is a system, a technique for stilling the turbulence of the mind, for harnessing it and maintaining its resilience. It aims at developing an integrated personality. The best way to achieve this is a synthesis of bhakti, karma, jnana and raja yoga. No one should be all intellect or all emotion. There should be a happy blending of both; otherwise one will have no peace in life.