The Ultimate Aim of Yoga

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

It is true that through the practices of yoga you can attain physical health. Throughout the world, in hospitals, drug rehabilitation centres, mental hospitals and prisons, yoga is being taught for the welfare of humanity, but that is not the aim of yoga. Yoga therapy is a by-product, mental peace and relaxation are by-products, a disciplined life is a by-product, it cannot and should not be the ultimate aim of yoga.

Our generation is suffering from infirmity of understanding. It talks about spiritual things but it is rooted in matter, we are rooted in matter and sensuality; we are rooted in the mind. It was precisely because of this that the psychology of Freud could become international. Only a civilization which is suffering from poverty of intellect can talk about Freudian psychology.

Unless your culture has gone down you can’t talk about it. Can sensuality give you happiness? Do you believe it? Oh, you may believe in sensuality, because we are all sensualists, but sensuality cannot give health or peace of mind, sensuality cannot give normal human behaviour.

If you talk about treating your mind by sensual methods, you are going from darkness to death. Unless a culture is perverted and misguided, unless a culture has become absolutely idiotic, it cannot accept that sensuality can be the road to enlightenment and better health.

It is due to this background that today we teach yoga to everybody for physical and mental health. Our culture is suffering from hypertension, stress and anxiety. In order to bring this culture to a point of resilience, to a point of tranquillity and one-pointedness, we have to drag the people to yoga.

Two forms of yoga have been accepted: exoteric and esoteric. The exoteric forms of yoga are related to this physical body, to this mind and to the emotions, but exoteric yoga is only a stepping-stone. If you need it you should practise it, but the esoteric practices of yoga are more important. In the basic philosophy of yoga, it is said that if you can handle your consciousness, if you can handle your ego, if you can handle experiences, then you can handle your body as well, because this is not the only body.

Know the Self

In the esoteric science of yoga there are basically and primarily three bodies: the gross, the causal and the astral. These three are further divided into ten bodies. To consider this body to be ultimate is, therefore, a philosophical error. During one’s lifetime of fifty or eighty years, one should try to realize the greater and deeper and finer bodies. In order to realize these, it is important to have what we call the proper frame of mind.

In yogic philosophy we talk about the seven stages of consciousness which relate to seven final, ascending states of mind. If you like you can compare them to seven heavens, it’s up to you, but these seven stages of mind are inherent in you, not outside. You have to know how to transcend one state of mind and go on to another, and again transcend that and go on to the third and finally reach the seventh. The yoga which is known as kundalini yoga talks about the ascending states and ascending behaviour of consciousness.

You must also understand that there are two forms of consciousness: one manifested, the other unmanifested. The manifested consciousness is in the form of the mind, ego and emotions. It is through this manifested consciousness that you have cognition, but this is not the only consciousness, it is the tip of the iceberg. The unmanifested consciousness is known as ‘purusha’ in yoga, it was also spoken of as the Self. When the Upanishads, Buddha and Socrates told us to know the Self, they wanted us to know this unmanifested consciousness.

26 April 1984, Heraklio, Greece, published in History of Satyananda Yoga in Greece, Volume One with Swami Satyananda Saraswati